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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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Deliver Us from Lyme's Disease -- a Republican Promise

Virginia Republicans have sent out a mailer promising to do all they can to prevent the spread of Lyme's Disease in the state.  They speak of how Virginia has been hit by “an epidemic of massive proportions.”

"How're they going to do that?" my wife asked.  "Go out and catch all the ticks?"

I've heard of going from the ridiculous to the absurd, but this campaign tactic still amazes me -- unless they've established that B. Obama is the cause of the disease, along with being responsible for the flaring of the sunspots.

 I seldom venture far beyond my property lines, but I am still in close contact with people who do get out into the world, massively.   Among them are my wife, and they have not informed me that Virginia is currently undergoing an epidemic of anything -- except for campaign ads.

I am naturally sanguine about this anyway, because I’ve been living in tick country here in west-central Virginia for 36 years, and every summer of those years has taken me out into territories where ticks hang out in abundance, even if lately it’s been no farther than into our two shrub and tree gardens.   There you will find a profusion of often shin-deep weeds and twigs reaching out to brush the unwary with countless leaves that could easily be harboring ticks eagerly waiting to catch a ride.   And in every one of those summers, including this one, I’ve gotten bitten so much that by now I ought to have long ago contracted Lyme’s plus the even older tick-borne disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, several times over.  Yet I have never contracted anything, nor can I recall hearing or reading about anyone getting a really, really serious case of either affliction in, like ...decades.  

Still, the Republicans pledge a multi-pronged attack on this vast, “existential threat.”  They propose to:

1. Improve synergy. But I wasn't aware that Virginia synergy had deteriorated.  By the way, what is "synergy?"  Is it something that you need to swallow first thing in the morning?

2. Increase awareness.   But, except for those locked up in closets in Norfolk, by now everybody in Virginia must've heard of Lyme's Disease, and it's not like dealing with ticks isn't an extended annual activity familiar to everyone who lives anywhere near  bushes and grass.  In fact, sometimes I can't help suspecting that it's become fashionable to say that one has Lyme's when actually they don’t.

A few years ago our neighbor across the road, K., was laid low for several days by Lyme's Disease, not here but while he was in New Jersey.   Things had gotten so bad there that the holders of the workshop he was attending had actually posted tick warning signs all over the place.  I guess that could be called taking a shot at "increasing awareness."  But that didn't help K. much, because those were New Jersey ticks.   There's a difference, and it must be one of the main reasons why so many New Jerseyans have seen the need to move here. 

3.  Support treatment.   But I can't believe that treatment is unsupported, even if it's not really Lyme's.

4.  Pass laws that keep doctors from being sued, because of the strong antibiotics that would be involved.  So is this vow really mainly about tort reform, a cause dear to all Teapublican hearts? But anyway, how does that help to avoid getting Lyme's Disease in the first place? 

It's getting a bit late in tick season for such a push anyway.  Hopefully the approaching winter will cool out those tiny, determined critters, at least for the next six or seven months. After all, Virginia is not comfortably tucked beween Alabama and Mississippi, as the Teapubs might desire it.  Those two swelter states are close, by crackey, but they’re not that close, and we’re glad.

That leads me to think that if they were really serious about this, the Teapubs would be wanting to join in to fight against climate change and global warming, instead of doing just the opposite, because what we need here in Virginia and in many other places is a long series of serious-no-kidding winters again, with spells of near zero cold and several big snowfalls.   Among other good things, that would go far toward cutting down the tick numbers.

That might not help right away, I admit, but it will eventually -- that is, if we don't all  migrate to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories in the meantime.  And, as I like to say because it always turns out to be true, the future is already here!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Deductions in Cats

You can't have had eight (outdoor) cats one year and then none at all a few years later, like now, without quite often having to deal with the legacy that dealing with them left engraved in your mind.

For instance, the other day in these fall times when pretty soon we will start hearing sounds of various hot pursuits through the woods,  I started wondering if, back in the day, a far distant day, modern cats of all sizes and kinds had a little knot of common ancestors all in one herd -- a few sister and brother deer who all happened to have born with the same nasty disposition.   Then, one afternoon, they got sick and tired of being chased by dogs all the time, and suddenly, in quick unison, first one, then another, and then all the rest doubled back on their by now far overconfident tormentors, big time, while putting their teeth to a far flashier use than just nibbling greens, after which those several family members with the now reddened teeth got used to the idea of being able to eat without having to look up and around every half-second.

Regularly I turn to evolution sites like Pharyngula and the Panda's Thumb to see what insights they have on a lot of questions, but so far I haven't seen anything relating to this particular one.  Though they always make for interesting reading nevertheless, those sites are too busy twitting the Creationists and the Intelligent Design wackos, when they're not pushing atheism -- a pursuit that will never be anything other than futile, when it's so completely obvious that there's no more proof for the one of those stands than there is for the other.   I mean the kind of proof that has left us completely sold on the idea that blood is red (we can see it), or that thunder is loud (we can hear it), or that boulders are not only heavy but also they're hard (at some point we've all seen what it's like to try to push one all the way up that proverbial hill).

And then, the other day in Detroit, a visitor to the local zoo was found inside the enclosure housing the tigers, and as was expected, he was badly injured.

After a two-day investigation the local police gravely announced that this man could only have entered that tiger pit voluntarily.  Thanks a lot.  How else could it have happened?   I am certain that throwing a man into a tiger pit is down near the very bottom of the enormously long list of ways for humans to terminate one another.

Actually this guy had jumped 17 feet down into the enclosure, his goal being the certainly reasonable one of wanting to share in their tigerness, and it seems that his injuries came more from the hard landing he made than it did from the ferocity of the occupants.

My longtime acquaintance with and study of our once large family of tabby cats has left me certain of two things.  One is that the lions, tigers, leopards, pumas, jaguars, and all the other big cats in the world are nothing more than over-sized editions of the little grays, blacks, and calicos that used to share our premises.  The other is therefore I think I know how cats think, and that much of the time, as with most animals, including humans, it is all a matter of the groceries.

So what happened in Detroit was that when this guy suddenly fell into their midst from above, the tigers at first were startled, and they jumped up and moved aside while they assessed the situation.   Then a little later they eased back over and examined the intruder, and if he later showed any effects of their teeth, it was only accidental and incidental to their investigation.   Finally, being well-fed from other sources, the tigers just gave it up and went on off to nearby vantage spots to resume their rests while watching to see whether anything else would happen next, along with, perhaps, a wish for this interloper to get up and get his behind out of their space.

I am so certain of this conjecture because once I came upon a field mouse that was still alive, and I set it inches away from one or two of our supposedly bloodthirsty tabby cats, only to observe how they merely took it to be a not particularly interesting toy of sorts, worth a nudge or two with a cautious paw but no more, before they wandered on off in search of better things to check out, since it was not yet time for those tall, two-legged jokers to set out the food dish.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The "H' of It All

No, it is not the humanity, or the humility of it all.   Neither of those was even vaguely recognizable as having been present at the time.

I think that I, a totally unknown and spectacularly insignificant weblogist who has no expertise in North Africa and the Middle East and who has never been to any of the areas in question and has no desire whatsoever to correct that terrible deficiency, can nevertheless come up with a totally logical and therefore credible explanation of what the wave of riots that have been sweeping the Islamic world is all about.

That is because exactly the same sort of thing happened right here in the U.S. a mere 44 years ago, and having been an adult of 37 in that year with all my faculties and brain processes reasonably intact, and also by having been a longtime citizen of the chief focal spot of American turmoil in that era (and in most other eras as well, wouldn't you say?), the Nation's Capital, I, unlike the great majority of Americans today, was around and conscious for the riots that were so common in the U.S. in that year of 1968, specifically right after Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis.  Of course, by not being that ridiculous entity called a ubiquitous god, I couldn't have been in all the many spots that were so widely hit by the disorders all at one time.   But if you just so happened to live in one of those several rainbow (i.e. "black" neighborhoods that were involved in D.C, as I did, you would essentially have seen and been affected -- that is to say, to some degree scarred --  by it all. 

Quite naturally, having been born with no sort of stomach for any of that kind of garbage, I didn't personally witness any of that burning and pillage and the conflicts with the police.  All of that was easily replicated by the imagination.  I stayed at home with my wife and my mother, several blocks from the nearest action, which involved severe damage to the big building on Bladensburg Road that housed the beloved and highly necessary local Sears Roebuck.  Mainly I just sat around uneasily, catching whiffs of the smoke and listening to the distant roar and ruckus, punctuated by the never before heard sounds, at least so close together -- maybe because D.C, and Federal laws prohibited such sorties as they did the building of excessively tall buildings -- of regular, loud, and threatening overflights of military helicopters overhead.

Later I also wrote what I think is a pretty good poem about what that was like.   Maybe I'll dig it out and for the first time give it whatever I have of the light of day here.

I expect that most authorities and experts will strongly disagree with me, because they have a myriad of other kinds of much more authoritative-sounding ideas and motivations that serve the purposes of their comfort zones, which must always be different from mine because even most people of my color who are around today have not had to live under the abiding indignity of official Jim Crow, or of the invasion, the confiscation, and the occupation that the Palestinians have been forced to endure at the hands of the Israelis for so many years.   But my attitude will always be, what do they know?   So I'm saying that those MLK riots of early April 1968 mainly stemmed from long-sustained racial humiliation, the "H" that I referred to, and I think that exactly the same thing can be said about what has been going on lately in so many of the Islamic countries, from Tunisia at least a third of the way around the globe to Indonesia, and that the insult of a badly made film to the Prophet Muhammad was merely an excuse for the rampaging and the flames, as was the killing of Dr. King.

But what else can be expected?

The Muslims saw European powers who traditionally billed themselves as being naturally superior to all other groups on earth, not the Chosen but the Favored People, appropriate for themselves by force of arms large swathes of what had been the lands of Muslims for centuries, including most of what stretched far to the south and the east of the Mediterranean.

   A little later, either in a rare moment of largeness of heart or, more likely, while thinking they would thereby hear no more from a group of what they regarded as nuisances who saw one particular part of those Arab lands as being their ancestral homeland, though few of the Zionists' people had tended the olive groves there for nearly two thousand years, the most voracious of those powers when it came to trying to gobble up other people's territory, the British, set aside that one small parcel as a refuge for those who had just recently managed to avoid the otherwise successful attempt by the Germans to exterminate every Jewish person that they could put their hands on -- one of the great war crimes of the Second World War, along with the even more gigantic losses of their kinfolk that the Russians and the Chinese suffered at the hands of those same endlessly homicidal Germans and the Japanese respectively.

The Muslims recalled, however, that it turned out that the British hadn't really done the resulting sudden influx of newly anointed Israelis a favor, just as as they had done less than nothing for those Muslims who had already been living in that same spot seemingly forever, even though to the uninformed eye that "precious place" appeared to be notably lacking in the virtues of almost any piece of land outside the worst of the Sahara Desert.  I mean when it came to the really valuable holy stuff, like enough rain and features other than ruins, rocks, sand, and scrubby vegetation.

Instead these aspiring "returnees" found themselves condemned to plunking themselves right down in the midst of numerous Muslims who could say that not only had their ancient ancestors lived there at the same time as the fabled but deposed ancient ancestors of the returnees, but also all their later ancestors had lived there in all the subsequent centuries as well, while the matching generations of these returnees had been mainly swinging around Europe instead, being alternately hideously despoiled and grudgingly cohabited with by the Europeans, so much so that ethnically the Jews had become a different people and no longer Semitic at all, but instead were essentially indistinguishable from Russians, Germans, and English folk.

However, if they wanted to stay in that Promised Land, the Israelis saw nothing for it but to use the same methods against the Palestinians that had been employed against their now wholesalely departed kin with such devastating efficiency and success by the Germans.

Soon enough the Israelis likewise succeeded in that first stage of ethnic cleansing while settling in, but only at the cost of selling their souls and wasting the enormous moral capital that they had been given by the Holocaust.   This put them in a trap from which today they have no hope of emerging, because of their habit of choosing leaders who choose only to add to the heights of those unspeakable walls snaking through the West Bank and Gaza that will only make a big mess when soon enough they will have to be torn down again and that meanwhile seal them off from the rest of humanity, though they think that instead those barriers keep them comfortably safe from the people that they have so busily been dispossessing and disenfranchising in the same barbarous ways that so habitually were used against their forerunners on another continent.

But though those walls may make the Palestinians largely invisible to the Israelis, the Palestinians can still be easily seen by everybody in the Islamic world, and therefore we have the riots of today.

The Palestinians are the clearest indicators of the sustained racial humiliation to the Arabs, the Persians, and all the others in the Middle East and North Africa and elsewhere have long felt inflicted on them by the Western nations, and due to one thing or another, including the time-honored one among all humans of the Arabs and the Persians adhering to leaders who don't lead at all but merely exploit, they have been unable to ward off these indignities.

It is exactly the same humiliation that for generations the descendants of the slaves brought over from Africa have felt in the U.S., coupled with that same powerlessness to do much about it.   Therefore some, a very small number among them, almost entirely young males careless of their lives, now and then resort to expressing their rage at the humiliation and helplessness that they found waiting for them when they came of age.   When enough of them can gather in one place, they resort to going out into the streets and raising a big ruckus -- even if to no useful purpose other than to blow off steam, and ultimately also to no avail, so that I likened it --  in the case of the Martin Luther King riots as also now in the Islamic riots -- to the act of defecating in one's own bathtub.

This is because the riots end up hurting only the rioters themselves, while having no effect at all on their oppressors, least of all on the Israeli and American guilty consciences.  The few businesses and other enterprises that have seen their way to set up shop in the rioters' neighborhoods are torched and destroyed in the riots, and they are not replaced quickly, if at all, for fear of the same thing happening all over again.   I saw that happen in D.C. and afterward, and it stands to happen in Tunisia, Egypt and all those other places today.

For all that, in the long run, one still finds himself feeling fortunate when he is reminded that, mainly by birth, he is not a member of the groups with the power and the intent to keep another group in a state of subjugation for years and even centuries on end.  He finds that he can feel the same way that, as Albert Camus assured us, Sisyphus did, not at the moment when he finally got the boulder pushed up to the top of the hill.  No, the relief comes at that other moment when one finds the rock again after it has slipped out of his grasp and has rolled all the way back down to the bottom of the hill.   At that point he can press his cheek to the stone and thereby can feel that cold and seemingly intractable and diabolical grainy surface impart to him an exquisite and supreme happiness that is always denied to the gods and those who are responsible for that rock never staying in place at the top of the hill.    

I suppose, though, that the rioters, the several who do any thinking at all, see themselves as putting the first little crack in that rock, after which water freezing and expanding in subsequent winters will eventually bust that rock to pieces, so that it can never roll anywhere again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Call for the Draft

The Huffington Post is carrying an article by someone named A. Smerconish, in which he makes the latest call for the re-instatement of the national military draft.  The main reason he gives is that a draft would make it much harder for Presidents and Congressmen to send young people out on questionable military adventures.    (I would have said "Congresspeople" so as to include women, but I've decided to make it my bloggal policy never to include them whenever some shaky deal is in the air.   They, by definition being the more sensible and less bloodthirsty of the two genders, notwithstanding the stupid and relentlessly evil harridans like S. Palin and A. Coulter, would definitely not care to involve themselves in such situations.)

As one of that smaller and smaller number of American citizens who has ever had the draft board on his case (during the Korean War it  was well on its way to finding a place for me in the Army, before I decided that seeing what P-51 fighter planes and B-29 bombers were into would be preferable to being a rifle-toting groundpounder and carrying around a heavy knapsack all day long), I find that argument hard to buy.   I would think that on the contrary, having more troops on hand to blow up other peoples' worlds and create new hordes of mourners would make bone-headed .American grayheads more, not less, inclined to wield the big stick up close and personal, here, there, and everywhere, to avenge even the slightest disobedience of a country one-tenth our size.

Another argument that Smerconish makes is that the draft would make things fairer all around, by pulling in draftees from all the social settings instead of depending on volunteers from mainly the poorer families, and that's a good point.   Still, I think it can be said that no draft in any era has kept the well-off from finding ways for their sons to avoid being called up, and working out those little diversions would merely be a welcome respite from figuring out yet another way to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

In any case there's one huge reason why no draft has been put into effect since the Vietnam War, and that is the expense, though you rarely see that factor mentioned whenever this issue comes up.    Except for an emergency in the class of a hurricane that ends up flooding the whole country, which doesn't happen often, the members of a large full-time draftee force, most of whom would be in the Army, wouldn't be doing much except sitting around and playing grab-ass with each other, and meanwhile they would need to be constantly housed, fed, clothed, medically treated, indoctrinated, entertained, and incarcerated, and all that takes money, real money, a LOT of it.   And if the Government thinks it's in debt now....   And short of renting them out as mercenaries for the use of the various warlords all over the world, they wouldn't be paying their way in any detectable way.

In addition the country is now far larger than it was during World War 2, when the draft actually worked to a great extent.   Now it has over 300 million people, and just  think of the gigantic admininstrative force it would take merely to process the many millions of young men, and I guess these days also women, who would be called up every year.   You would get the badly out of whack result that the closer that got to being fair, the more unthinkably costly it would be, according to my abacus.

A better and less expensive  solution would be to put into place some compulsory military training of all 18-year olds over some short period of months and then to call them up for refresher courses every two years or so, for the next  five or six years.  I went through some very loose approximation of that even before I was an adult, in the form of the high school cadets and later two years of ROTC in college.   At least I learned all about how to drill, that is, to march in formation with a frail 1903 Springfield rifle on my shoulder, and despite its regimented nature, that's not a bad thing, because it instills a certain clean kind of discipline and a sharpened awareness of what is involved to work in close accord with others.   Young guys today would never have heard of that, and that's all to their detriment, I'm certain.

This would be inconvenient to them, but they could be told to think of it as re-enactments, in the Civil War style, of World War 3 or 4.   They could even be allowed to wear their own civilian get-ups.   Within limits they wouldn't look any scroungier than those present-day "restagings" of the Battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg.

Hey!  I never said that, except when genuine self-defense is involved, rather than heeding the call of bilious slobs overseas and launching preemptive attacks on other, relatively defenseless countries, the military is ever anything other than an exercise in the absurd.

Finally -- and here's the biggest kicker of all -- as has been predicted by many, all signs point to the likelihood that, besides warfare having become no longer a matter of "winning" or "losing" but only of inflicting maximum damage and pain, the waging of it, as has been predicted by many, is now much more a matter of machines than it is of manpower.   The U.S. may even have already accomplished this transformation entirely on its own, if its  heavy use of drones means anything, and in that area all male Americans of recent birth have already received extensive advance training, through their deep immersions in video games.

Behind all that, I would say that renewing the draft would just be a big waste of time, effort, and resources, just like war itself.

Friday, September 21, 2012

P. Ryan and the Cuban Embargo

When M. Romney finally revealed his choice for a running mate, Paul Ryan, a bug-eyed professional walker-back from Wisconsin of this, that, and everything, I  happened to catch just a snippet of something that in my eyes stood out more than anything else on his rap sheet, though I guess that to most other people it was of towering insignficance when compared to budgets and Medicare.  So far nothing has been said about it in the campaigns of either party, because of the Cuban refugees in Florida, who draw attention because they are the most Republican group among the Latinos, and they have pretty much taken over the Miami-Dade County area in Florida, and neither side wants to risk kicking their hornet nest.

So what did Ryan do?  A while ago, long before he reached his present notoriety, he voted at least three times for an end to the Cuban Embargo!

Surprising as it was to hear of a Republican voting to end the pain and suffering of dark-skinned people by any means other than by shooting or starving them to death, Ryan probably did this back in the days when Republicans could now and then take a side excursion or two into the land of being reasonable.   Nowadays, within their party, that kind of thing isn't safe at all, and since then he has predictably and obediently voted the other, misguided way, just as he is now trying to make it look as if he didn't actually cuddle up inside Ayn Rand's petticoats.

It seems that Ryan voted that way not out of ordinary human decency but instead because he believed in free trade, and he was trying to be consistent in seeing trading with Cuba to be no different than doing business with the Chinese, which of course is the most sensible point of view.   But then China didn't have the bad luck of having its refugees turn against the mother country with as much malice aforethought as did the Cuban immigrants, and there is no enormous colony of Chinese Nasties that have taken over the entire city of San Francisco or any other American burg, as the Cubans have done in Miami.

Castro had hardly taken power in the late 1950's when it became clear as day to me that the best way for it to come back under the American armpits was to continue leaving that island purely in the hands of the tourists.  And I still believe that if that had been done, without Castro throwing up a stone wall completely around the place,  the tourists would have subverted things there so much without even trying, that Castro and his regime wouldn't have lasted much past ten years.

But what happened instead was that, ever since then , U.S. leaders of all persuasions have feared the political power of the vengeful refugees who kept pouring into and reproducing in Miami, and so we've had the enduring crime and failure of the Cuban Embargo.   By seeing that that embargo always remained firmly in place, the Cuban refugees, obviously short on gray matter, have kept the Castro Revolution going all these years, instead of ending it, as was allegedly always their intention.   That embargo merely threw the stayathome Cubans farther back on their own resources, and that has proven to be enough to keep them from going under.   And they take pride in that, and for one thing, they are said to have that all-important amenity, a great medical system, and it's hard to see how they would ever welcome back those who fled.

     But I think that, no matter what they preached, ending the Revolution was never the goal of the refugees.   Their intention, born of spite, was always instead to keep those who remained behind, voluntarily or for other reasons, deprived of the material things in life to the max and so to make those staybehinds suffer.  Above all, the key role that race always plays in nearly all of human life also can never be discarded here, since the refugees are reputed to be preponderantly European in origin, while those who remained behind with Castro have a much larger amount of African ancestry, and we know how that always goes. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


After resisting it for a long time, tonight I finally got around to looking up the official meaning of the often-used word or term or whatever it is that is spelled "meh" and that you regularly see on the Internet.   I saw looking it up as being an onerous task, even if it only involved typing a few words on Google and clicking twice.   It was onerous because I had thought I should've long since  been able to figure out that meaning merely by noting  the context in which "meh" is used.    After all, that's how I learned the meanings of all but a very tiny percentage of all the words that I know.   And after close to 75 years of the uninterrupted reading of each and every thing with letters that happened to catch my eye, by now the number of those words must amount to many, many  thousands, even though, due to advanced age, so many are now leaking back out of my cranium, slowly but still considerably faster than I can pick up new ones.

But the trouble with "meh" was that I saw it used in so many different contexts that it was impossible to find it used in enough of the same ways to give it not merely one consistent meaning but also any meaning at all.   And that had started leading me to thinking that all these Internet types who are plainly so much more hip and informed on presentday things than I am, actually don't know what "meh" really means anymore than I do, and that instead they just throw it in for effect, knowing that they won't be called out on it because everybody else is just as much in the dark as they are, and that it's really only the appearance of things that matters anyway, as they long ago learned from having mastered the art of snowing their college professors on essay exams.

Google's first offering, a site called "Internet Slang,"  which, due to reluctance to spend my time searching for anything better, I am taking to be an authority on such matters, gives the  official meaning of "meh" as "indifference, equivalent to a shoulder shrug."

So there you have it, as Mark Twain would've said.   --Or do you?

That definition didn't leave me a bit more satisfied than before, mainly because I couldn't and still can't relate it to anything.   You know, something tangible, like a good ol' abbreviation.   By contrast, one need not feel uncomfortable when faced with seeing "imho," because at least that's susceptible to the easily remembered expression, "in my humble opinion."  "Meh" doesn't succumb to any abbreviation relating to a shrug or anything else, as far as I am still able to perceive.

That leads to the addtional problem of shrugs themselves.   I have never been into them.    After heavy reflection on  the matter, I'm certain that I don't even know how to shrug, with my shoulders or any other part of me -- that is, unless you want to include slightly holding out both my palms, with my arms slightly akimbo.   But now that I think about it, I suspect that I've imagined doing that much more than I've actually done it, which could be never.   When faced with situations that call for shrugging, my reaction, at best, is always only a blank stare accompanied by a grin, as I wait for that moment of nonsense to wend its way on into the oblivion where it belongs.

However, I have said, once or twice, "Lots of luck!"   Maybe that's as good a real life physical equivalent of including "meh" in one's Internet text as any.

Monday, September 17, 2012

At the Mercy of Idiots 4:Yahoos

In my earliest days of seriously reading on my own, which must've been during the ages of 10 or 11, my two favorite books were "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe and "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift.  I can only guess how that came to be, since neither of these two English classics were from anywhere near my own times.   Instead both works were already more than 200 years old, and curiously, they first saw the light of day nearly back to back -- "Crusoe" in 1719 and "Gulliver" a tad later in 1726.

I still have my copy of "Robinson Crusoe," or maybe just one of the several copies that I may have had.   But  its pages are so yellowed and fragile that I always hesitate even to open it.  So it just sits on my shelf, a favored old friend to be lightly and reverently brushed with my fingertips every 20 years or so.

I wish I still had one of my first copies of "Gulliver's Travels," too, but I don't.  "Robinson Crusoe" doesn't stray far from being mainly what it always was, an adventure tale giving all kinds of interesting details about being stranded for years on a small and otherwise uninhabited Pacific Isle.   "Gulliver," on the other hand, is a work that can be read on several levels, from a children's story to an extremely deep and involved satire on a wide range of human failings that are still very much at work, and according to Wikipedia, it was also often amended and supplemented, even before Swift left the scene.

I guess I just had the simplest of the children's versions, but I would just want to see, to make sure.   I know that all the satire just sailed over my head, and anyway at that age I was entranced mainly by all the really cool stuff, such as the part where a Brobdingnagian lady giant newly delivered of a baby nearly drowns poor little Gulliver when she showers him with a single squirt of mother's milk from her more enormous than usual mammary glands.   You don't see that kind of thing often in a child's book of any era, and I thought it was out of sight, as you can tell from how it has stuck in my memory, to the extent that maybe that is the only thing that I can remember clearly from that section of the "Travels."

But another thing that I also remember, though only in the vaguest outline, was a part of the 4th and last part of the book, which, among other things, has to do with some thoroughly hideous and evil beings called "Yahoos" that physically had some resemblance to normal human beings but who these days would be prime candidates for incarceration in supermax prisons.   And I vividly recall how a person, even a mere child, had to come away from reading those pages in firm and lifelong possession of the knowledge that the last thing one ever wanted to be was anything anywhere near as repulsive and unnecessary as a Yahoo.

Years later, then, when computers came in, I kept wondering why the Yahoo people chose that name for themselves, though I never made any effort to find out.    I just supposed that for some strange reason they liked the sound of it and that they had never cracked a single page of "Gulliver's Travels."   Otherwise they would know how badly they had slipped up in choosing that name -- a common disease of the computer pioneers, by the way, when it came to naming things, such as "mice" for those hand-held pointing implements, and continuing to call portable memory disks "floppies" when those early 5-1/4-inch discs, which indeed were a touch too flabby, were replaced by 3-1/2-inchers, which don't have any voluntary flexibility at all.

And now, with the sir-name of the current prime minister of Israel, we have additional evidence, if any had ever been needed, that Jonathan Swift was just as accurate in foretelling certain injuries that were to come as he was in excoriating the numerous ills of mankind.

Today, you have to wonder just what B. Netanyahoo -- pardon me, "Netanyahu" -- thinks he's doing.   Have numerous American Congresspeople and even a President or two  kissed his and other Israeli leaders' rings so often that this man has come to believe that he's the giant in a land of Liliputians, as in the first Book of "Gulliver's Travels." instead of being merely the worst of his namesakes in the fourth section of Swift's opus?

How can it be that even in their all-consuming eagerness to "get that nigra voted out of the White House at all costs," so many in this country are willing to overlook so completely -- provided that they know anything at all about recent history, which I guess can never be assumed -- how, more than anything else, B. Netanyahu's current actions suggest how devotedly he's been studying at the feet of one of his masters, in this case those of none other than the German Reichchancellor of 1939?

  In his eagerness to push the U.S. into bringing widespread death and destruction to Iran on the grounds of nothing more than the mere suspicion that Iran is trying to produce the same nuclear weapons that both the U.S. and Israel itself already possess in profusion, Netanyahu's incessant pronouncements of Iran being an "existential threat" are exact replicas of the numerous charges that Herr Schickelgruber made of tiny, helpless Czechoslovakia being a "dagger pointed at Germany's heart."   But in trying by might and main to get the U.S. to do his dirty work for him, Netanyahu is being more cowardly than even his mentor-from-beyond-the-grave, who at least never thought to have anyone other than himself to turn that "dagger" aside.   Instead the Fuhrer's whole point was to have a pretense to act entirely on his own, and by naked brute force -- only to see himself and Germany reaping the whirlwind many times over just a few years later, at a gigantic cost to nearly all the rest of Europe and large chunks of North Africa and Asia as well.

Why then is it that so many in this country and in Israel can be so complacent in allowing Netanyahu to hustle them down the same all too obvious garden path?

It's because though he has a special claim to the name, he has a lot of compadres in the Yahoo persuasion on this side of the Atlantic as well.  They share a big liking for the color of blood.

Friday, September 14, 2012

At the Risk of Bringing the Salafis Howling After Me....

Though I would never support Muslims in this country being discriminated against in any way, and though I wouldn't protest even if a mosque were to be built right next door to me (Muslim architecture, after all, is second to none in the world, even if often wasted on somewhat doubtful activities), I still see nothing at all bigoted about saying how glad I am that instead of being in an Islamic setting, I live in a country that professes to be Christian, though it's decidedly half-ass about that at best. Yes, at best. (You heard it here first.)

It's easy to think that all those countries in North Africa and in the Middle East are blighted in their beliefs and practices, lightly in the cases of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt and gradually darkening down toward those rock bottom pits known as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, and a big part of the blame for this sad state of affairs has to rest in the ways that religion is practiced in all those places.

I've been moved to say these things by current events in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and also in Israel with its tendency, in the form of not only its endlessly snarling, war-hungry, imbecilic pit bull of a prime minister but also its fast-multiplying Ultra-Orthodoxers to ape the worst of the Islamic countries even while professmg to be absolutely unlike Muslims and instead claiming to be superior to them in every respect. These events remind me of how Islam has these rings of extremists whose big thing is to take offense at any perceived insult from the West toward their religion and to pick up firearms and carry out threats of violence against those nearest at hand whom they see as connected with the perpetrators of these unforgivable affronts.

Christianity in all its forms is noticeably lacking in those thuggish, vengeful outliers, and it is not because of a lack of pride in its presumptive belief system. Instead the reason must be that over its long history of interdenominational wars and other melees, all the Christian variants have grown used to slights and slurs, and they let it all go by like water off a duck's back -- a much more civilized way to be, I would say. Consider, for instance, the attacks that the Catholics have to endure because of a large number of their practices and priestly misdeeds, yet the Church shows no signs of crumbling nor does it issue fatwas or tolerate men who go out with AK-47's to avenge the insults at random or in any other respect.

But I am relieved at not living in an Islamic country for other, more personal reasons as well, the first of those being the intense dismay I would feel if I were expected to drop everything five times a day, unfold a rug on the ground, and start praying. At any time of the day or night there are always much better things to do.

Then there is the habit of saying, "God willing" in every other sentence. It seems to me that this has to foster an extremely weak sense of personal responsibility among Muslim men, if they can get away with leaving everything up to Allah. Plus it must cause the same sort of lasting damage to their conversational skills as the constant references to others as being either sexual partners of their mothers or two-legged rectums that numerous American male speakers of many ethnic groups inflict on their own verbal proficiency.

Worst of all is the Islamic and Ultra-Orthodox Israeli criminal mistreatment of those greatest glories of humankind: women (when they can be clearly identified as being women and not mobile tents, or, in the West, walking paper knives). Among other travesties, the drive of the Orthodoxers to prevent mere pictures of women from being displayed anywhere is exactly mirrored in the Islamic desire to drape women from head to foot inside dark, concealing sacks whenever they go out into public.

Women are the most inspiring forces that can be imagined, even to each other. Idiotically depriving themselves of that nicety on purpose could be the main reason why you hear of men in that part of the world accomplishing so little that makes them a credit to anything.

But maybe it's a good thing that their severely crippled outlooks on the better things in life give them so few occasions to rejoice and to congratulate themselves, when they've found no better way to celebrate than to rush outside in a body and wildly fire weapons of every type up toward the Sun. It must never occur to them that all those non-benign lumps of lead have to come back down somewhere on this planet, including right where they're wobbling.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Libya Subsequently

Two weeks after I came out of left field and interrupted a comment thread in Dr. Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" to inject a slightly extended comment on an entirely different though not at all off-topic subject, namely how I thought Obama's helping the rebels to defeat Gaddafi in Libya was probably his best foreign policy accomplishment to date, after nothing much had been heard about Libya in weeks things suddenly started pop-pop-popping there in a big and very tragic way, and suddenly put Libya front and center not only in the news but also in the Presidential elections.

At the same time that something similar was happening in Egypt (and now, later, is being duplicated in Yemen), a small mob staged a demonstration at a building in Benghazi where an American consulate had temporarily been placed. They were making another of those protests that ever since the Rushdie days have become almost commonplace in the Islamic world, wherein groups of radical Islamists, upon the publication of a book or of some cartoons or, in this case, the showing of a movie that they consider to be disrespectful of the Islam religion, turn violent, sometimes focusing directly on the said offense while at other times they have other, more wide-ranging purposes in mind.

Here the movie has been described as looking like a sorry mishmash of scenes that may have been cribbed from other movies and hurriedly dubbed, and was said to have had a Jewish director and to have been distributed by Christian Copts, and -- most improbably of all -- to be playing in American theaters. (Maybe the protestors imagined that to draw a surefire audience, the film even featured Kim Kardashian sashaying through it with those amazing hips of hers.)

Unfortunately, in the mob there was a guy armed with a grenade-firing RPG, and he loosed one, and it hit the consulate building and set it on fire, and burned it to the ground, leaving among the casualties, four dead, including none other than the U.S. ambassador to Libya, a man of exceptional substance named Christopher Stevens.

Till that moment, I don't think M. Romney knew one single thing about Libya, except that he may have heard of Gaddafi. As far as I know, he hadn't brought up Libya and Obama's activities thereof in his campaign or anywhere else, and I guess none of his advisers thought to remind him on the off-chance that maybe Obama's "insolence" in having helped the Libyans unlock Gaddafi's longtime iron grip from around their necks without first seeking Congress's permission to do so might make a talking point of sorts.

But now, no sooner had the news of the consulate tragedy started squeezing out than Romney, behind in the polls and eager to snatch up any chance that offered itself, grabbed Libya and started running with it. before he knew what was really involved. He accused the Obama adminstration of badly mishandling the U.S. reaction, long before Obama and H. Clinton had said anything at all. As a result, all Romney got out of it was a lot of egg on his face, an unusual amount of it thrown by figures in his own party.

You would think that meanwhile I would be feeling self-satisfied and sentient, at least in the context of the "Informed Comment" world, by having brought Libya up when no one else had been thinking about it, but one of my many failings totally deprived my ego of any such lift.

By never having any desire to get into debates of any kind -- for one thing, I am much too slow-thinking for that -- I almost never go back to see the reactions to anything I've posted on any one else's site. Yes, not even on LeftLeaningLady's site, where for sure I never have anything to fear. But I did go back to see how many comments had been posted on that thread on Cole's site, and at that point there had been five more, and maybe still others later on. Call it cowardice, or what you will -- I still have no idea what reaction my post about Obama and Libya had there, if any at all.

It's really strange that I would feel that way. I have posted comments here and sometimes there over a long period of years now, and even in some very hostile environments, and on none of the several occasions when I have gone back to check on the reactions have people gotten on my case that bad. In fact, almost always they've been pretty benign, even though they might not buy my points.

Still I manage to justify my reticence and timidity by thinking that I still want to avoid seeing any clouds of ignorance that my notions may have caused to rise up from the dust on the barnyard floor.

Strangely, even now, few commentators are remembering what Obama did for Libya just a short while ago, and he and also his people keep refraining from bringing it up.

I wonder why I do. Maybe it's because, many years ago, when I was in the Air Force, I dreamed of being stationed at the big Wheelus Air Force Base that the U.S. used to have in Libya, before Gaddafi came in and told the U.S. to speak sayonara. I imagined wandering through some Roman constructions that were supposed to be in an unusually high state of preservation near that base, in the home country of maybe the greatest general of all time -- that Carthaginian who crossed the Alps in the snow and took it to the Romans on their own ground. The guy with the elephants, Hannibal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Did NOT Do That

While reading in Daily Kos about the much-praised speech that former President W.J. Clinton gave at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, I was especially struck by one great line that he came out with either in that speech or on some earlier occasion, and that I am surprised not to see repeated since then, over and over. He said something to the effect that Republicans always would have you believe that they were born in log cabins that they built themselves.

This was a take on the "You Didn't Build That" idea that Obama recently threw out, as nearly as I can understand it, to illustrate how rarely one can do anything without building on the earlier efforts of others, many others -- a comment on the connection of everything, and also the "No man is an island" idea. Naturally the enemy threw all kinds of cowflops at Obama for saying that, and is still doing so, but the concept still holds up.

Actually the statement, "I built that myself" had already had a very loose meaning for a long time. Guys who like to claim that often are really just saying that they hired contractors to do all the major things, while they kept leaning over the contractors' shoulders.

However I can say that I live not in a log cabin but in something close to it, a green oak house made principally of locally fresh-sawn oak and other woods that I hammered together myself, though for a while I did contemplate building a log cabin, and to that end I accumulated nearly all the tools needed to do so -- a froe, a broadax, a timber carrier, crosscut saws -- nearly everything except log dogs -- before I came to my senses and saw that that could not ever be a one-man job. At least if I was that man.

But I was allowed by the local building inspectors to design and build my board and batten green oak myself, which I certainly did, every board, nail, wire, pipe, and idiosyncracy -- everything except the septic field. That's a picture of my house in the upper left corner here. Actually I could even say that I live in two such houses, because the same applies to my workshop, though, except for part of the floor construction, there I "reverted" to kiln-dried lumber, and I've spent a large part of my life in there ever since its original use as my "honeyhouse" or honey extraction building. And today I keep looking at both buildings with a mixture of awe and fear and trembling, because they are so completely and hopelessly past my present abilities -- that is, if I want to remain alive and without a host of broken bones.

But I did NOT hunt out and cut down all those large trees from which the wood came, and also I did NOT haul all those big, heavy logs to the various sawmills hereabouts, and I did NOT saw and grade all the planks that were sliced out from those logs.

But over a period of about three years I did drive regularly to four or five sawmills in a pickup truck, on an average of about 20 miles away and look through stacks of boards that were sound enough to load into my pickup, because I had no access to the really good boards, and I was restricted to the rejects. The good boards were always planed and then sent overseas to make furniture and stuff. And I did take all those big, heavy boards back home and unload them , all by myself, and at an eventual cost to my hands, especially my grip, because besides being very heavy, those boards, being uplaned, were rough, and this when I wasn't far short of 50.

That was a trying business, but still not to be compared with how it would have been if I had had to deal with all those huge trees and those giant logs myself. That always has to be emphasized -- and not to mention all that was involved in my having a pickup truck in the first place, and in having the roads for getting back and forth from the sawmillls, and a thousand other such factors similar to those that Obama's supporters keep having to point out to his "fools rush in" detractors.

Also, lest it be overlooked, not only was I not born in my little "green oak" shed roof palace that I built myself, but also I wasn't born in this county or even in this state. But I was born close enough, right across the Potomac, in D.C., in the kind of place that today's right wingers would not like to see existing -- a hospital that was originally built in the late 19th century for the health care of the newly emancipated slaves, called "Freedmen's Hospital," and is now a part of Howard University, which I later attended.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Abortions for Rape Victims -- Denied

I would never, ever, vote for any candidate whose party included a plank that would make it against the law for rape victims to get an abortion. Today's Republican party proudly stands on a platform that has just such a plank.

By my sense of logic and the decency of things, I can see no daylight whatsoever between that stand and the open support of rape. Yet the Republicans, with that policy dangling so noticeably out of their behinds, are as busy as they can be braying about something as picayune as the Democrats having at first excluded and then included the words "God" and "Jerusalem" in a plank on a different subject in their platform.

The Republicans would say that the life of the fetus trumps everything else by far, and that aborting it would be murder. But what else is rape but a murder of the soul, in this case of the unfortunate woman, and so to deny her the choice of getting rid of the worst result of her ordeal, a completely unwanted pregnancy, would be just to compound the murder of her inner being.

The victim with whom the anti-abortionists profess to be so concerned at this point is still just a tiny uterine growth, with nothing to speak of when it comes to having a brain and a soul. And that conjunction of the rapist's guilt-soaked sperm with the woman's innocent egg is not the only life involved. Besides what is to become of the mother who is forced to work her way through curtains of pain during the birth that are unknown to men, there is also the subsequent life of that rapist's child, and also of the lives of those who, in all the years that follow, are closest to that child. There is the Continuing Horror that could therefore be so easily perpetuated among a large group of people.

Those who who are so happy to adhere to a party that would take such a position obviously have no idea of what an absolutely desolating experience it must be to be raped. They are devoid of all feelings for women who undergo such an extreme trial not only at the time of the experience but also at the time a little later when the victim learns to her intense horror that she is pregnant by the rapist, and also all through the next nine long months when she tries but is strictly prevented from taking any measures to avoid bearing the rapist's "issue," and also all through the period after the child's birth when the mother either puts the child up for adoption or is forced to nurture and to raise the child herself, while trying to persuade herself, most likely without success, that it is all right. And even then the pain of the trauma is still not over or confined to the mother, because it will last all through the life of the child, when eventually she or he learns that he or she is the result of an obscenely criminal sexual attack on their mother that she was forced to endure not only by the rapist but also by the rapist's closest collaborators, the most rabid members of the badly misnamed "pro-life" movement of today. And it will last even more painfully all through the life of the mother, too, because for her that satanic moment of conception can never be put completely behind her, unless she is badly challenged in her mind processes. No, not ever, for all that the callous, indifferent, and congenitally cold-hearted Republicans might wish and seek to decree for her by pushing such an obscene anti-abortion policy.

One can only guess that the Repub voters can push that pro-rape lever at the polling places because not only do they completely lack the imagination to picture what it must be like to be raped, but also they think of rape as something that only happens to those "others," who, like as not, in their eyes deserve it. They are certain it will never happen to any of their loved ones -- unless, of course, the rapist is that voter himself, in which case all will be okay.

This all follows, however, because today's Republicans are the spiritual descendants of the slave-owners of 1860 who pushed the country into a long, ruinous Civil War in an enraged attempt to preserve what they saw as their rights and "ownership" over a subject people that they had the absolute power to oppress whenever the notion struck them, and in any of the myriad forms that humans can conceive to despoil other human beings, and raping slave women at will was a privilege of which the slaveholders availed themselves quite often.

Therefore it can be no surprise that those who look so fondly back on those bad old days and are trying to move Heaven and Earth to return the country as close as possible to that former state when rape in more than one form was one of their predecessors' most precious prerogatives, are dreaming of creating such a position for themselves, which is always that of the rapist and never of the raped, and therefore they would not have the slightest feeling for any woman -- or man, for that matter -- who has been so egregiously and horribly violated. Thus such a plank in their political platform -- and such a yawning gap in their moral makeup.

No doubt with a stand like this, Republicans poll heavily among rapists, because this plank gives them the message that not only is rape okay but also that in subsequent years they will be free to sneak proud peeks at their progeny from afar while not having had to endure any of the worry and expense of raising that child.

And we haven't even gotten to the idiot senatorial candidate in Missouri who this year tried to suggest that women don't get pregnant from rape anyway, by some internal means that automatically "shuts the door."

The accepted figure for the number of rapes that result in pregnancy nationally is 5 percent, and I am told that this works out to 34,000 a year, so that door must not work too well. To some that 34.000 may seem to be a small number, but neither of the two cities nearest here in Virginia is that much larger.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Obama's Libyan Success

Below is a comment that I submitteed for posting on Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" site last night. It was in response to an item he published on how Michael Dorn, the clearly rainbow actor who plays Worf, one of the assisting characters on the Starship Enterprise bridge, is promoting the idea of making a film in which Worf is the main character and a full-fledged Starship Captain. Cole sees this as being a reflection of Obama's deeds, and in the process he makes interesting comparisons of Obama's approaches to things with those of Worf in past Star Trek episodes.

Mr. Cole, you didn't mention Obama's actions re: the Libyan uprising. Yet I can't see why the way Obama handled the U.S.'s role in those events can't be seen as having most likely been his finest foreign policy achievement to date. I would even put that above the summary execution of Osama Bin Laden without interrogation or trial of any kind. I'm sorry, but I never saw the virtue of that. You don't get much out of villains when you kill them on the spot without hearing what they have to say for themselves, which could conceivably have value of some kind. And after all, Bin Laden had already had 10 years to savor his victories in NYC and D.C. and to observe how the GWBush reactions merely intensified the effects of his work, so that taking his life had become essentially meaningless when it came to taking anything from him. Bin Laden might have quoted from an old blues song: "I have had my fun, if I don't get well no more."

In Libya, while wasting a minimum of time, at first Obama took an active hand, and then, after a few days he stepped quietly back while letting other NATO countries, especially Britain and France, assume the leadership and do the heavy lifting, while he supported them with intelligence and other assistance from afar, and there can be no doubt that thereby a slaughter of Libyan citizens was averted that would have been much like what happened later in Syria.

By your own testimony from visits there-- and the stuff you say always has the ring of truth -- today things in Libya are not that bad, despite a few burps here and there. Yet people, predictably mostly the Reglubs, either would like to pretend that Obama's Libyan intervention never happened, lest he be credited with a foreign policy victory, or they attack the money that it cost, though that was small change compared to what was spent on Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan and Israel and what the hawks would now like to see spent on Iran, though so far Iran's threat isn't even "existential," despite the constant over-use of that pompous word.

Obama is also castigated for having left Congress out of his decision. I think we could easily get a majority vote that that "horrible" omission alone gave Obama's Libya venture all the appearance of having been the smartest thing he has done so far.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Weblog Observations

I just happened to notice -- my blogroll over there on the left is badly out of date -- though maybe not all that badly, considering that I haven't updated it for a number of years.

One of these rare days I will have to get around to that.

And what is going on with my site counter at the bottom? Somebody or something has crossed out what must've been there already, "Free site counter," and below that is the name of what could be another site counter, that isn't counting anything, at least not here, and when I click on it, I just get a message saying that that web site doesn't give out any information.

I should not waste any time getting around to that, too. I know that.

Another Bear Story

A lot of people in the Cleveland, Ohio suburbs now have a bear story of their own. A black bear estimated to weigh between 125 and 150 pounds and undoubtedly male was sighted making his way through various trees in an apartment complex. He quickly drew the attention of the police, the fire department, and numerous observers, for quite some time, before he finally hopped down out of one tree and ran off. According to the news reports the crowd tried to catch him, though I don't know how they proposed to do that. This was, after all, a BEAR!

But he easily eluded them all, as bears are able to do if they get their steam up, and he was seen no more.

My reaction: "Way to go, Brother Bear!"

And I'm glad that the worst the Cleveland folks could find it in their hearts to do by way of shooting him was with a spray of water from a fire hose, which had no effect.

Some people tried to coax him down by offering him honey. I wonder in what form? From personal experience, I could've told them that bears have one chief way that they like to see honey served up to them, and that is in the form of the combs in one of your precious hives. They don't want it on a dish or a bun or anything like that. They like it accompanied by the wreckage of your hive that they have just smashed to pieces, in the privacy of night, to get to those combs.

That is their idea of a night well spent. And who would argue with that? Very few people, unless they're the kind that think that with enough help they can catch a grown, running bear, barehanded.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The "Empty Chair" Deluge

An interesting thing happened, on the way out of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, which, after three interminable days, mercifully ended two days ago.

These national political conventions, held every four years by the two major parties, have long since cast off what must have been their original purposes, having to do with choosing candidates, and they have instead become merely gigantic, expensive galas for the party faithful, with the public invited to attend -- from a distance. And this particular Repub gathering had largely been a harmful entertainment for the evil, dark forces among the American body politic, until--

This past Thursday one man, age 82 and therefore one year older than even me, and immeasurably renowned, revered, prosperous, and successful in every way, soft-stepped his way up on that Tampa podium and, with the aid of a single, simple prop, a chair that he didn't even sit in, he put on a performance that took things out into the entertainment area so widely and deeply that this convention ever afterward figures to carry his name and none other, especially not that of the man who just moments before had been officially confirmed as the Repubs' Presidential candidate, M. Romney.

Without revealing or even hinting at his or her identity, the Repubs had for some time advertised that at or near the end of their convention, they would be graced by the presence of a so-called "mystery speaker." There had been a lot of conjecture as to that person's identity, and near the end the verdict had just about settled on being not an actual person but a hologram instead, of the late Bonzo, also known as R. Reagan -- the Repub President most revered by the thuggish element that has come to dominate that party.

When it was revealed that this speaker would be Clint Eastwood, at first I was a little disturbed. I have a lot of respect for him, no matter what he does and says. This is because of the consistently high caliber of nearly everything he has done in the movie field, both in the early films in which he "merely" acted, and in the later ones that he produced and directed and in which he also quite often acted.

As crusty and "potty-mouthed" as he often is, and given his grim aspect and his gravely voice, as in yards where a lot of tear- and blood-spattered rocks have been broken, and given even more that by now he's filthy rich, it was no surprise that Eastwood had opted to support the Republicans, even though he had done Obama a good turn just a year ago by having praised the government bailout of the U.S. auto industry, in a Chrysler ad aired during a football game. Also there have been the several great roles that he has given his apparently close friend, the equally renowned rainbow (or "black") actor, Morgan Freeman. So I thought that behind all that, whatever Eastwood did that night, he would give Romney and crew a big boost. But it turned out that I needn't have worried.

By now everybody knows what happened. Taking up almost 15 minutes instead of the three that he had been allotted and thus squeezing the Repubs badly short of their precious national TV time, of which they only had one hour left in this windup of things, Eastwood delivered a rambling, disoriented upbraiding liberally flecked with inaccuracies that he directed toward an imaginary B. Obama, while trying to suggest that Obama was sitting in the empty chair and responding to those charges in vicious, obscene terms, to which even the President's worst enemies will admit never having seen this always suave, gracious man resorting -- eternal finesse that is the thing about him that probably enrages the Repubs most of all, because in their thinking "everybody knows how rude and crude those nigras are."

--And that makes even more elegant and powerful the following graphic, which I lifted from Rook's Rant, the site of a longtime internet friend:

This graphic is one of the products of the outpouring of reactions that immediately followed Eastwood's turn on the Republican stage and that in its size and scope teamed with Eastwood's stint in completely eclipsing whatever the Republicans might have thought they had accomplished during their three days outside the famous strip joints of Tampa, Florida.

Among many other things, something called a "meme" on whatever it is called, on either Facebook or Twitter -- obviously I am not up on any of that kind of stuff -- immediately sprang up, called "Eastwooding" or some such, and many thousands of people outdid themselves sending in creative representations of empty chairs. These were typified by people having picked up their digital cameras and coaxed or otherwise waited for their dogs to take up what could be seen as being inquiring positions in front of empty seats in kitchens or even bathrooms.

Obama himself quickly joined in the fun by posting a tweet showing a shot of him from the back sitting next to a second but empty chair, with the caption, "This seat is taken."

Meanwhile what Eastwood had done, and the scene thereof, had been so favorable for satire as well as extensive analysis that there were hordes of textual takes that were also posted everywhere on the internet, most often in the form of those same "tweets." A statement that I thought did an especially good job of summing up the significance of what had just happened was at first wrongly attributed to Andrew Sullivan of "The Dish," before the credit was shifted to someone named Jamelle Boule. The statement, as nearly as I can remember, was to the effect that Eastwood did a great job of showing what the Repub convention was all about, namely "an angry old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama."

That tied in with something that I had also thought on hearing that Eastwood was to do a turn for the Repubs. I had wondered if his image of a crusty old man was really something that they wanted to project. Or had they completely thrown overboard any idea of wanting to appeal to youth and their always assumed forward thinking into the future, in favor of definitely regressing to the bad, old ways of the past? I had thought that in this country youth had not yet ceased being everything.

Or maybe the thing they liked about Eastwood that they would give him that all-important slot in the last moments of their Big Event was his long ago movie role as Dirty Harry, the reprobate cop who was so fond of blowing away suspects with his huge, heavy Magnum .45, and to that end they loved his famous line, delivered near the opening of one of those films, in which Harry tells some (who else?) rainbow robbers, "Go ahead. Make my day."

But if they had known anything about Eastwood and his canon, they would have known that another of his lines that is far more deserving of being universally known was one that I believe he had the same character directing toward a corrupt police official who is Calahan's bitter adversary throughout a film called "Magnum Force." That picture ends with the official trapped in a car that is quickly going under in the deep waters of a big city harbor, while Eastwood's character rings a change on a recurring theme in the film. He says, "A man should always know his limitations."

This is an admonition that M. Romney -- and the Ryan guy -- would have done well to have left that convention Thursday night with it freshly tattooed on some substantial area of their anatomies, preferably the part they use to cushion their behinds while sitting in empty chairs.