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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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac

After bypassing Tampa and thus failing to protest the Republican National Convention in any meaningful way, beyond having caused them to begin things a day late, Tropical Storm Isaac, now a hurricane though just barely, with winds just five miles over the lowest limit of 75 mph, has made landfall -- kind of, according to the latest blog update by Dr. Jeff Masters, the Weather Underground authority on such matters. He said that the storm wasn't moving very fast, and its center, at the time he wrote his update, which is dated just a few hours ago, was still over water, which suggests that it will intensify some more before it finally moves entirely over the land.

You don't see that often -- a hurricane just hanging there for a while, with one foot over the land and the other over the water. Usually, once they've decided to come in, they don't waste any time about it.

Dr. Masters also said this: The storm's large size and large 50 - 60 mile diameter eye kept the intensification rate slow today, but it came quite close to becoming a significantly more dangerous storm. That's because at landfall, Isaac was in the midst of establishing a small inner eyewall within its large 50-mile diameter eye, a very rare feat I've never seen before. Usually, when an eye first forms, it gradually contracts, eventually becoming so small that it becomes unstable. An outer concentric eyewall then forms around the small inner eyewall, eventually becoming the only eyewall when the inner eyewall collapses.

I don't quite understand what he said there, because it seemed to me that there wasn't that much difference between what Isaac is doing and the thing that he described as being what usually happens.

But it is almost 2 in the morning in my head and in my world.

Meanwhile, if you look carefully at the following highly colorful map, also found on Masters' blog and which shows the expected rainfall that Isaac is expected to bring to the country's midsection, you will notice that Virginia appears to be comfortably tucked away in the bend of the least affected areas, and so we here are not scheduled to get as much of as it as many other areas. Virginia hasn't been as lacking in rain as much of the rest of this drought-stricken country, and Isaac isn't expected to break the drought, but it will still help in a lot of places, and I still believe that, floods notwithstanding, in general it's much better to get too much water than it is to get little or none.

The Real Republican Keynote Speaker

This past morning a guy on the radio named Rush (his life's work has resulted in his having made his last name far too ugly to type) made a number of statements as the Republican national convention was getting underway in Tampa. Romney and his people had designated another man to make the keynote speech, and that was dutifully done -- though most likely in full recognition that the real chords on which the Repubs have been and will be ringing all their changes till Election Day had already been struck a few hours earlier by the guy on the radio.

Among other unbelievably hateful things, this High Priest of Hatred, R.L., recommended to his fellow Republicans that, with the imminent landfall of Tropical Storm Isaac in Louisiana, they should fill up sandbags with cash money instead and stow those in the New Orleans levees, with the idea being that on hearing of that, the poor people of New Orleans will flock to the levees posthaste to dig out the money and thereby will be drowned by the surge waves and the flood waters that will be rushing up the river into the city. He said that this would greatly decrease the number of Democratic voters in Louisiana, and thus Republicans would be aided in getting things their way.

By all reports this man was deliriously pleased with his "wit" and the quality of his thinking in having come up with this unbelievably cruel and thoroughly unfunny idea.

But what do you want to bet that this will come nowhere near being reported on the national news -- even though in expressing the true spirit of the Republican agenda this year, it trumps by far all the routine stuff that is being said at their convention this week. However, the news media should. After all, there has never been doubt for years already that this man is the spiritual leader of that party.

Meanwhile no one can claim that the man was just making a joke. Nothing that the Repubs say is ever a joke. They are just as lacking in humor as they are in compassion.

Once, a while ago, a friend, in speaking of another man that we both knew, said that whenever this man came out with something vicious, he wasn't joking, and that instead he meant it. Exactly the same can always be said of the Republicans, and to call them crazy is only providing them with a lame excuse.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recent Bear Sightings

A few days ago, while driving home, at a point less than two miles from here, my wife saw two bear cubs cross the road in front of her.

To her they looked too small to be out there on their own, and she thought they were adorable, bumping up against each other as they hustled across the road and into the underbrush and soon vanished from sight in the woods.

The operative question, naturally, is, where was the mama bear? She was nowhere to be seen. Yet these cubs looked well-fed and healthy, and Esther was struck by how deeply black and glossy their fur was.

Could they have been members of the same family that our neighbors right across the road, K. and L. saw just a few weeks ago, right up the road from here -- a mother bear and her two cubs? And L., too, had been struck by the deep, pure, blackness of their coats and their sheen, as well as by the sheer size and powerful appearance of the mother bear.

But the main thing I know is that I don't need bears of any kind walking around at night while I am making one of my regular treks between my house and my shop 100 feet away. I have already had my nocturnal encounters with bears, years ago, and one daytime event, too. I think I've already written about them here, and though they were in no way dangerous to me, that was still plenty enough of that for me.

Still, a couple of weeks ago, not here but way out in a national park in Montana, Glacier it must've been, K. and B., the two sons of K. and L., were taking a six-mile hike together from their car to a campsite that they had signed up for with the park authorities. But the bear population hadn't been notified, and when at length the brothers arrived at their destination, just at twilight and when they were weary and ready to pitch their tent and call it a day and commune with nature on a somewhat grander scale than it exists here in humble Virginia, it turned out that a mother bear and her two cubs had already claimed that site.

Knowing ahead of time just what to do in cases of that kind, and being the naturally prudent kind anyway, K. and B. calmly backed up till the bear family was out of sight, then they trudged the six miles all the way back to their car, while contenting themselves with the story that they would have to tell.

People who have lived here in the Virginia rural sticks learn early what to do in the case of bears, for it is well known that they're around and far beyond the confines of zoo bars, lots of them, and nearly everyone has a bear story.

When they had a yoga class together, Esther's great, good friend, K., who can always be depended on for a vivid personal story, especially when it comes to the wild life, had a good one to tell her.

A nephew of K.'s husband, from Holland, came over here determined to take a picture of a bear on his cellphone. (So why are they called "cellphones" or "mobile phones." People don't talk on them. Instead they type on them, or they snap photos with those jivetime far too tiny things.) I'm guessing that that wonderful "Dutch Light" so beloved by painters still doesn't show too many bears roaming about at will.

K. tried to tell her in-law that bears can't be depended on to show up just because she has visitors from Holland, but this guy insisted, and so they took a long walk through the woods, and lo and behold, wouldn't you know it! A bear did show up, in plain sight, and not far away.

This guy, overjoyed, immediately started shooting away, and after he took what K., a highly experienced photographer herself, considered to be enough pictures, told him it was way past time for them to leave. She had some trouble convincing him, but eventually they did part company from the bear without incident, to K.s' enormous relief.

But just yesterday, out in Denali National Park in Alaska, which is a long way even from Anchorage or Fairbanks, one guy with his camera and this Dutchman's attitude wasn't so lucky, and he wound up the next day with a huge male grizzly sitting on top of him and using his dead body as what the investigators called a "food cache."

This links to an article that tells the story. For now let's just note that this guy was out there hiking alone, and he came upon a bear peacefully grazing in a meadow and not engaging in any aggressive behavior. Maybe believing his great, good luck, and though he had just attended a course given by the park people, in which the main advice is never to get closer than a quarter-mile from any bear, and to quickly decrease that by backing away, and though he was only about 50 yards away from the bear, this guy still unlimbered his camera and kept shooting pics for a full EIGHT (8) minutes, before deciding that it was time to leave.

Unfortunately, though, he had given that bear plenty of time to get another idea, and the thing about bears -- that is, the ones that are no longer cute, cuddly little cubs -- especially grizzlies -- is that they can easily outrun a man and outpunch a bunch of them.

Remembrance, In Passing

Had he not become so unaccountably dissatisfied with his lot here and instead decided to take up permanent residence in another universe 11 years ago, our son and only child would've been 42 years old today, in this one.

The Pushbutton Ways

I just love these businesses and other enterprises that don't have the common decency to communicate with you using their natural, human voices. Instead they assign machines to do all that and many other kinds of work as well. No wonder jobs are so hard to come by. Therefore can't it said that one of the most important causes of the currently high national unemployment rate is often that force so uneasily called "progress?"

Still, if these orgs expect you to have a cellphone or any other kind of new-fangled pushbutton telephone, then the least they could do would be to make sure that everybody gets issued one of those things free of charge whenever their idea of replacement time rolls around, instead of arrogantly assuming that everybody has upgraded to the latest little thing strictly on their own, when in fact you still have several dial-up, pull-around phones that continue to work just as well -- except when some dummy machine in the other world expects you to instantly set down all the important things that you are doing and instead hearken quickly to all that unexpected and rude ringing, only to be told, first thing, that if so and so is true, then push "1," and so forth and so on, and because you have no means to do that even if you wanted to, you must hang up then and there.

I can't help often recalling one fine day way back in 1950 or thereabouts when a bunch of us "colored boys" in ROTC were taking a break from all the rigors of that activity, not least of which was the indignity of having to wear a military uniform on certain days to school instead of one's usual raggedy and therefore comfortable college attire, and someone asked what was so important about all that drilling and marching hither and yon with antique, emasculated rifles.

"The next war will be a pushbutton war anyway," he said. "The white boys will push 'em and the niggers will polish 'em."

I guess that's why I have always avoided letting myself get into pushbutton situations and why I will continue to do so for as long as possible, and my wife will just have to stay home more often if she doesn't want to miss getting any of those phone calls from out-of-body electrons.

At the Mercy of Idiots 3 -- the "Niggerization" Tumult

The other day on MSNBC, one of the hosts, a rainbow (i.e. "black") guy named Toure, said of the Romney campaign that it was using "niggerization" of B. Obama as one of its weapons.

That this is true is as plain as the nose on your face -- that is, if you've checked lately to make sure that that appendage is still there -- and his contention wasn't denied by any rainbow voices that I know of, not even by the several who are using the Republican masquerade to keep their egos and their bank accounts pumped up to very high levels indeed.

But a fierce outcry immediately rose up from the ranks of the euro (i.e. "white") racists,and they fell all over themselves demanding a quick retraction from Toure or worse, while using the occasion to say smugly and ridiculously that this shows that it is not they but the Democrats who are the racists. They raised so much racket about this that a day or two later Toure, having obviously been told by his superiors at MSNBC to do so or else, obediently and abjectly apologized for what he had said.

When it comes to keeping his high-flying job and all the loose change and the perks that that involves, Toure, of course, did the right thing, But his big mistake was not at all in what he had originally said but consisted instead of apologizing for it even at the risk of instantly being thrown out on the street.

It's been obvious for a good many years -- probably since even before the Southern demagogues started deserting the Democratic party in the wake of the Civil Rights laws and joined the Republicans -- that the Republicans, in all kinds of ways, not all them subtle, have been using attacking rainbows as part of their bread and butter tactics, and they have long been the party of choice for bigots of all kinds, and few seem to have noticed how in our own era the American political pretzel has completed its latest twist into the slave-owners' Democratic party of Lincoln's time having switched into becoming the Republican party of today, while Lincoln's abolitionist Republican party has metamorphosized into being today's Democrats.

Actually you would think that the Repubs would just love B. Obama to death. After all, it is widely recognized that he is much more of a moderate Republican with whom Jacob Javits would have been comfortable than he is a true-blue Democrat who would have warmed the cockles of Ted Kennedy's heart. Obama has reached out to the Republicans in every conceivable way, climaxed by slyly choosing to base his healthcare plan on one that had already been set up in Massachusetts by the very man who, with his people, is now fiercely trying to blacken Obama in every possible way, not least of them being racially, M. Romney.

Obama has in fact, hied to the Republican cause, at least the one of not so long ago, in so many ways that pure logic alone tells us that there must be something else about him that has driven them to be so determined about maligning him unmercifully, and what can that possibly be? It is the color of his father, of course, the only thing that really sets him apart from the few remaining rational individuals in their midst, and it is the thing about him that is most repugnant to what passes for the Republican base of today, as shown vividly during the many debates of the various people who tried to beat out Romney to get the ultimate nod in the Republican primaries, and which seemed to be attended mainly by plainclothes members of the Klan.

We should never forget, however, that the "white" racists had another reason for their outrage at Toure's remark, one deeper and more visceral than just defending Romney, and that is that they will fight to the death any attempt to de-fang the term "nigger." Recognizing full well that rainbows, for all their vaunted language abilities, have still never come up with a derogatory term for "white" people that comes anywhere close to what the Euro racists want their use of "nigger" forever to hold for rainbows, they will always try to make sure that it never loses one drop of that poison for those that they despise so deeply and eternally. The hatred in their hearts far outdoes anything that rainbows could or would even try to dredge up from the depths of their souls.

Therefore those rainbows who profess to be offended by use of the word "nigger" are just playing into the hands of the racists. Unfortunately there are still too many who haven't figured that out yet. Toure was doing racists' targets a very good turn, while his bosses at his network were doing exactly the opposite by demanding that he apologize for his remark.

This is another good example of how we are constantly at the mercy of the idiots among us.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney and his Recently Cast Dark Shadow

The other day M. Romney made official the identity of the person whom he had for several weeks already obviously settled upon as being his running mate.

So Wisconsin, a state that we would ordinarily associate with clean living, extreme cold, lots of milk cows, and forward-thinking young people in Madison, has once again regurgitated something noxious all over the sofas, coffee tables, and rugs in America's living rooms. Following the deadly examples of J. McCarthy, of yesteryear, and S. Walker, unfortunately still very much of today, we have this P. Ryan Wisconsin Upchuck of bad intentions and pretensions.

And the odd thing is that he's almost more of a poor reflection on B. Obama than he is on Romney, Apparently till recently Ryan was one of those Republicans that Obama had this bad habit of trying to reach out to, before, entirely predictably, they would break wind in his face.

Borrowing the immortal expression of Red Skelton's most memorable character, Clem Kadiddlehopper, P. Ryan just doesn't look right to me, and his thinking, especially about budgets and health care, go right along with that. As such he is the dark shadow of evil behind the pale, glaring blankness of M. Romney.

People are comparing S. Palin very unfavorably with Ryan, but say what you will of J. McCain, in picking her he at least displayed a much better artistic sense than Romney, to say nothing of showing a greater awareness of which group is the real majority in this country The Haley woman in South Carolina would have been a much more interesting and fitting choice.

But choice, in the other sense beside that of picking a person, is something that one never expects to find in the Repub ranks.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Senator Reid, and Romney's Taxes

H. Reid, of Nevada, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, insists that the Republican candidate for President, M. Romney, didn't pay any Federal taxes for 10 years. Reid says his sources for this charge are quite reliable. Disregarding for a moment the extreme outrage that this has sparked in the Repubs, a few who are normally on the better side of things, such as Jon Stewart and Field Negro, also think this is a dumb move, probably reasoning that this failure to pay taxes for that long is basically impossible, and therefore it leaves Romney with a golden chance to make Reid, and by extension the Democrats, look very bad, by simply releasing his returns for those years at some time purely of his own choosing.

But the more I think about it, the more that Reid's ploy looks like a brilliant move in this election game that is now in progress.

This accusation is in the context of the fact that M. Romney, unlike B. Obama and also unlike all previous candidates of either party, absolutely refuses to release any more than the one year (2010) of his tax returns that he has already shown. Said to be "worth" a quarter of a billion dollars (as if he or anyone like him could be really worth even a small fraction of that much money in any sense at all), Romney's great wealth seems to be a sore point with him, and he says he won't release any more of his returns simply because of what might be concocted out of them.

Instead of pushing their candidate to go ahead and release those returns and so leave Reid with total egg on his face, regardless of the timing, as quite a few Republicans have already urged, other Repub leaders have responded by vilifying Reid up, down, and sideways, with Romney himself thinking he's scoring quite a few homespun points by telling Reid "to put up or shut up." Instead of Romney showing those returns, in which everybody is more interested than anything else, they want Reid to reveal his sources of information, presumably so that those informants can be whipped on the stocks forthwith. On this past Sunday's TV talk shows, these leaders, having obviously conferred beforehand and decided upon using one key derogatory shot, uniformly accused Reid of "lying."

That struck me as being a bad misuse of language, though it's been a long time since any Republican could be accused of wanting to use the language accurately. Instead they seem happy to want to twist and pervert it in any way possible. To say that Reid "lied" means to me, in a context like this, that he had right in front of him some documents showing that Romney had in fact paid those taxes, but for some reason (are you suggesting political?), he chose instead to tell the world just the opposite.

But how could that be? That is really the thing that couldn't be true here, because why would Reid have put himself at such risk of being sunk right there without a bubble, by Romney's release of those returns at whatever moment?

And from what surefire source would Reid have gotten that information that was burning holes in his hands but about which he prefered to fib big time? From the tax monsters, the Internal Revenue Service, the efficient and therefore widely dreaded IRS?

That's one of the best questions here, because nothing is being made of the role of the IRS in this matter. As a plain, ordinary citizen I would've thought that they would be the best ones, even more dependable than Romney himself, to know whether or not he filed any returns fora whole decade. Doesn't the IRS know all that stuff about everybody, even one-quarter-of-the-way billionaires?

And so, if they know for a fact that Romney paid those taxes, even given Reid's high position in government the IRS wouldn't be disposed to have his back, and he wouldn't have depended on them to have it anyway, if he had been lying. Nobody has that much power over the IRS, do they? They're almost like the CIA, aren't they? A fully independent, free-standing government within a government?

But Reid can't be accused of lying, for the simple reason that he never said he knew for a fact that Romney hadn't paid those taxes. He said instead that he had been told that by highly reliable sources. Thus Romney's highly placed defenders should have told their Sunday listeners instead that Reid had been "misinformed" about those taxes, and that would've been the real truth about the matter -- that is, if indeed he was misinformed. But that wouldn't have been nearly vitriolic enough for Republicans, and therefore they had to make the much less polite and badly askew accusation that he was "lying."

It would seem that if Romney has nothing to hide, nothing could be simpler and more effective than to release those returns right now. His continuing refusal to do so suggests beyond all doubt that it's not that simple.

Joshua Holland of Alternet published a highly convincing article on 10 things that those returns could show that account for Romney's refusal to show them. At least one of those reasons is so certain that it can't be refuted by the release of the returns no matter what's in them, and that is that the supremely haughty Romney absolutely can't stand the idea of "the Help," (as in the celebrated movie about the rainbow kitchenmaids in Mississippi days of yore and maybe still now). poring over what he considers to be his purely personal and stratospherically elevated financial affairs.

Meanwhile others say that Romney has an often-demonstrated fetish for extreme secrecy. They say that, after he finished his stint as Massacusetts governor, he bought new computers and had all his records of what he had done there put on them, and now those computers no longer seem to exist. He doesn't seem to have given researchers much of a helping hand either in the details of what happened in other phases of his career, such his missionary work in France, his running the Winter Olympics in 2000, and his days as CEO of the Bain Corporation.

Others believe that there's method to his madness, and that it's like a gigantic tug of war, and that at a certain strategic point, if he suddenly lets go of his end of the rope by releasing those returns, say about six weeks before Election Day, the still fiercely pulling Democrats, though they will in one sense have won the contest, in another sense they will suddenly be sent reeling helplessly backward by their own momentum and so fatally off the cliff.

But I think it much more likely that thereupon there will be so much interest in finally seeing what's in those long-sought tax returns that the tug of war will be promptly forgotten, and there will be something in them that won't be right, including at least some of the things that Holland mentioned, because the man who made those returns is so far from being a straight-up kind of guy, as even many Republicans seem to know, and therefore, regardless of what those returns show, they'll be going to the polls with many a spring-loaded clothespin gripping their noses.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Planetary (E)Motions

I suppose that most people would agree that there is no prettier a sight than that of a soon-to-be-wedded woman wearing her gauzy white bridal veil. I, on the other hand, have come to think that actually there is no more deceptive a sight, and it usually starts turning my stomach instead.

The reason for this is my feeling that this hopeful bride -- and her equally optimistic and soon-to-be husband, too -- are actually making a desperate bet on the worst kind of horse race, a years-long gallop gradually degrading down to a limp around the broken oval, for which no kind of a tip sheet can ever be available to shed enough reliable information on their choice for the winner or even a respectable runner-up. No sooner is the last rice grain and rose blossom thrown than things start changing and shifting in one or another of the countless other directions that offer themselves away from the ideal, and that process keeps going on ever afterward. No amount of careful investigation beforehand, no close knowledge of prospective mates all the way back to kindergarten and even farther back, to all that is knowable of the person's family and friends, suffices enough to be any kind of a guarantee.

Meanwhile, through doing stained glass, I have become acquainted with an impressive young lady who has been wary enough of marriage to have steered clear of it so far, and she is now 33, yet she is amazingly quick to say that she does know and therefore can report with complete authority on one long and enduring and deliriously happy marriage, and that is the one of her own parents, and for her that is evidence enough of the essential validity of the institution.

At that point sheer prudence instantly immobilizes my vocal cords -- though that of course has no effect on the operations in my brain, and all the data stored away in there during well over double her number of years keeps showing me again the picture that I have seen everywhere, and that is of how marriage, much more often than not, takes the form of two heavenly bodies that, at the moment of the wedding, are in reasonably close confluence with each other, but then the never interrupted swings of their orbits take them farther and farther away from each other, until finally they have drifted so far apart that the one can scarcely be glimpsed anymore by the other.

This ever increasing separation by planetary motion has always struck me as being one of the ineluctable, immutable laws of human nature, and so I can never help being deeply suspicious of all such reports of "happy" marriages. Instead, since no two persons are exactly alike when it comes to the intro-extro garbage, it follows all too easily that one person, usually the man, always ends up being the leader of sorts, while the other, just to keep the peace, docilely but resentfully follows along. And for things to be any other way, that is, of a "happy" marriage, it's because one partner, usually the woman, will go to unbelievable lengths to keep up appearances, and that becomes all that matters, keeping up appearances.

After all, a second immutable Law of Human Nature is the one that causes people always to want to think the best of themselves, regardless, and that involves drawing others into that deception as well -- such as all the near swooning at the sight of a bride in her ethereally white wedding veil.

The New Rover on Mars

It's a good thing that the latest land rover that NASA has sent to Mars, named "Curiosity," has made a perfect landing on that less than friendly surface, despite its never-before-attempted method of doing so, and now it is free to go rumbling and rolling all over the place looking for living Martians of whatever species and stripe. If instead Curiosity had crashed and burned, the Republicans would be having a field day, attacking Obama for that failure up one side and down the other.

Funny thing. There has no been no sighting whatsoever, on the other hand, of Romney or any other Repub congratulating the Prez for this amazing technical success on the part of himself and the U.S. Government, as they would do if they were real people.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Guilties Abroad -- Romney's Foray

A short while ago -- and a month before the Republican convention in Tampa, in which M. Romney is to have his big moment of glory by being officially crowned as their candidate for President -- he and his people thought they could afford to take some time out for a trek to the oddly chosen trio of Britain, Israel, and Poland, so that he could show how fit he is to perform on the international, that is, the diplomatic, foreign policy stage.

I wondered about this, because I couldn't understand how it could help but come out badly for him.

Republicans don't make good diplomats at all. They never have, and, in their current guise, they never will. Diplomacy calls for a certain degree of pleasantness, and they are not naturally pleasant people, as Democrats are. They come to tell people what to do, not to ask what they would like to do.

The natural mode for Republicans is to be ultra-pugnacious and habitually prickly. They're powerless to avoid that. If they weren't that way, they wouldn't be modern Republicans. They drove out all their nice guys long ago, by bitterly accusing them of being moderates -- as if the education they received never mentioned the ancient Greek wisdom that urges moderation in all things, to say nothing of a related Biblical passage that speaks of the three leading virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, "These three. But the greatest of these is Charity." The Republicans have no idea whatsoever of what "charity" is, except toward the already filthy rich, and all their political tenets show that, over and over again.

Diplomacy calls for liberal amounts of tact and humility. Republicans never heard of those things either.

Therefore Romney steps off the plane in Britain and almost at once questions the readiness of Londoners to host the Olympics that were about to start. He probably thought that such a remark was only his due, because he is said to have had something to do with an Olympics that was apparently held somewhere in the desert fastnesses of Utah back in the early twos, when people were deeply preoccupied with what would happen on their computers when the new millennium would begin. And being the naturally superior type, M. Romney thought that nothing would do but that the Brits must immediately have the benefit of his experience in such matters.

Ironically a lot of Londoners had already had the same opinion, because having an Olympics in town doesn't make things easy for any big city's citizens, what with the traffic, the dislocations, the expense, and all the rest of that garbage. But Londoners are like all other human beings -- something that never seemed to occur to the chronically obtuse M. Romney -- and they don't appreciate a foreigner suddenly showing up and passing bad judgments on the place and its inhabitants, no matter who he is and no matter what those locals themselves had said previously. And that was just one of many such stumbles that Romney and his people made in merry olde England before those Guilties Abroad (with a salute to Mark Twain) finally made their escape, with their capacious behinds bristling with a myriad of the typically subtle but stinging British barbs.

They headed for Israel with relief and high optimism, secure in their belief that, as good regressives, they would be received there with the greatest appreciation. But just to make sure, they and their hosts dropped an almost complete blanket of silence over the media, and several days passed with scarcely a mention in the news about how Romney's visit was going. But finally grumbles began being heard, questioning the timing and the wisdom of Romney even making this trip, because not only were the Guilties in Israel being completely blanked out by their own caution, but also back in London the Olympics had started, and sports-happy Americans and others all over the world couldn't have cared less about where the Republican candidate was and whether his feet were at the ends of his legs instead of the other place where he usually keeps them.

It was only spoilsports that took an interest in seeing that even in Israel, Romney had done his bit to back up the contention of those like myself that the right wing shows its butt every time it opens its mouth. First he pledged that if he became President, he would back up Israel to the hilt, should it bow to its hawks and conduct an unprovoked attack on Iran -- a monumental and completely unnecessary act of stupidity that would be sure to create a tie-up in oil supplies to the West like one wouldn't believe, and that would be bad for business, usually a strict no-no for Republicans. Also there would be the tilt it would make of a much greater proportion of that oil toward countries in East Asia, especially the Chinese.

As if that kneejerk salute to numbskullery wasn't enough, Romney then went on to praise the Israelis for their culture, comparing it with that of the Palestinians and saying that that superiority of the Israelis was clearly shown in the great disparity between the gross domestic product of Israelis, which he put at 30K per person, with the Palestinian GDP per person, which he put at only 10K. But it turned out that actually his Israeli figure is a little low, being closer to 35K, while his Palestinian figure was far too high, being actually less than 3K, so that the ratio of prosperity is really closer to 20 to 1 in Israel's favor, instead of the 2 to 1 that Romney stated.

That even greater disparity in relative wealth between the two groups would seem to boost Romney's point sky high -- were it not for about a hundred little inconvenient factors that haven't seemed to penetrate any part of his skull -- such as the fact that both Gaza and the West Bank are little more than open-air prison camps, which Israel keeps the clamps on by any and all possible means, controlling the borders, making it impossible for the Palestinians to export and import stuff as needed, depositing criminal gangs called settlers everywhere and using them to steal Palestinian land piece by piece, cutting down Palestinian orchards, diverting or poisoning as much Palestinian water as they can, making Palestinian travel between their own towns as difficult as possible by segregating the roads, maintaining numerous checkpoints, and especially by erecting enormously high walls that cross-cross the West Bank in every direction--

The list of the ways that Israeli keeps a chokehold on the Palestinians' necks and keeps tightening that grip goes on and on, so that the Palestinians must be geniuses culturally and in every other wise to be able to generate any income at all.

One irony here is that some Israelis themselves are not at all pleased by Romney's remarks on the superiority of their culture as shown by the huge disparity in incomes, and they always try to stay away from such comparisons, feeling that it plays into the hands of the stereotypes about Jews and money.

Actually, it does much more than that. It reminds us of why such a massive disparity exists, and the Israelis don't like any threat of a light being shone on their myriad misdeeds in that respect, the same as the exception that Romney always takes toward any mention of the tremendous difference between the size of his bank account(s) and that of the average American.

If Romney and his folks did anything at all in the third and last leg of his trip, Poland, that is not widely known. It doesn't seem that whoever is in charge there greeted him with open arms. But he did get the endorsement of Lech Walesa. When he led the great Polish trade union, "Solidarity," Walesa was tough enough and trouble enough that he unexpectedly ended up having as much to do with the subsequent breakup of the USSR as anybody, even R. Reagan. But now he is obviously badly off his game, and Solidarity, which is still very much in the business of being a union, loudly rejected any notion of supporting the visiting American whose party does all it can to break up old unions and prevent any formation of new ones..

In a WW 2 movie -- I believe it was "Battleground" -- a chaplain goes around posing this question to the GI's -- "Is this trip necessary?"

In relation to M. Romney and his side of things, the answer to the same question must increasingly be "No." But from the point of view of the rest of us, it has to be a resounding "Yes!" And it's actually too bad that his antics overseas weren't more closely observed and reported. Ever since the arrival of S. Palin, Republicans have been great for staging all manner of clown shows, and M. Romney is constantly right in there, doing his bit, though the laughs he induces are always closer to groans.