Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hey you! Shut up!

Yes, you.  It's the time of year at which I start to bitch and moan more than usual about what you have been doing to my language in that pathetically  passionate and Sisyphean pursuit of  being like the cool kids, the hip, with-it, urban, hang around the mall texting, thug pretending Clearasil crowd you wish you were like instead of the afraid-to-grow-up nerd with the 6000 word vocabulary you are.   Don't take comfort in the idea that I'm the only one.  I have allies.

Lake Superior State University may be seeking status by publishing their annual list of banned words.  I admit I would never have heard of them otherwise, but standing up for human dignity, taking a risk or even sticking their necks out (which is a cliche on my own banned list ) is easier for the little guy than for the English Department at Yale or Princeton or Harvard who have so much jargon laden linguistic naughtiness of their own to hide. I mean listen to those people some time.

It's to be noted that the Oxford dictionary folks have given us "selfie" as the word of the year, as though the nickname, the childish contraction, the conveyor of infantile cuteness makes the useless word preferable to 'self portrait' or simply 'picture' and as though we've made a statement  as important, as piquant, as precious as wearing your hat backwards some 40 years after the cuteness and uniqueness turned rancid.  Like most of this pretentious pre-teen babble, it says, "I'm not a stodgy grown up, I'm a kid, a street urchin, a rebel."   The hell you are.

No wonder then that  LSSU puts 'selfie' at the top of the annual banned list and suggests that we all teach by example and not use it no matter how much the idiot press tries to gain favor from the never-grow-ups.  It doesn't make you younger and  more charming than covering your encroaching baldness by wearing a hat in a restaurant or running shoes with a business suit.

Sure, many or maybe most people will giggle at the list and perhaps snicker about the rural pretentiousness  of  some college housed in some igloo somewhere on the frigid shores of Lake Superior and offers majors in  Fisheries and Wildlife Management, but they're heroes to me. Back when I was riding about alone with a lance and tin pot helmet like trying to like get people to like not say like so much it was encouraging to have them out there with me, not that anything ever retards the advance of  acid dripping aliens or drooling Americans yearning to be hip.  But you do what you have to do. You make a point of  ignoring the latest media infatuation, the latest gleeful descent into ever more nearly transcendental  vulgarity like  that culture destroying practice of  waving one's genitals in the public face like a blue-assed baboon in heat or a moose in rut: twerking. It's on their list and mine, targeted for destruction.

It's equally as encouraging to have LSSU riding at my side when approaching that  overripe, fly-blown and stinking cliche that has has anything larger than common as "on steroids."   Perhaps we should start the rumor that saying "on steroids" does the same thing to your genitals as actually being on steroids.  Maybe untrue, but anything for the cause. 

But there's a gorilla in the room, to pick another beaten to death trope, and although this year's list doesn't mention it, it may be the most vile, most overused, most needful of a quick and merciful death and it's "awesome."   There must be some psychological principle involved but most of us don't notice that you can't get through a dozen words without one of them being Awesome.  You can't say it without a certain smile, inflection, gesture or bit of micro-theater -- everything from relieving your bladder to the contemplation of the cosmos is just Awesome!  Didja hear that smile in my voice? Ain't I childlike and cute?  I just hope the next time something seems just 'Ahhhhsome' that you choke on it and don't expect no stinking Heimlich from me or my buddy on the donkey here: LSSU the fighting Lakers.

And then there's "urban."  That accursed term which no longer has much to do with metropolitan life. We have definitions and we have "urban" definitions. We have an "urban" dictionary which serves to give some ersatz dignity to any ignorant patois and attempts to explain those great linguistic questions of the difference between big and big ass and all the strange agglutinative properties of  affixes like ass.   Indeed "urban" stands for a subculture and the language it uses.  I have only one thing to say about it: don't.  By the time it gets into the Urban Dictionary it's too damn late and probably inaccurate at that.  That makes you a follower, a  loser a poseur. 

So look, if you really speak English, if you enjoy novel and creative usage and know something about the history of the words you're building something out of, go ahead.  It's how language progresses, it's where poetry and literature begin, but if you use it to cover up ignorance or even to promote it, if everything is awesome only because it's all you know. you're on the list bud. You're got me and the LSSU Lakers on your trail and they're not just bad-ass, they're awesome and might just do something impactful, if you know what  I mean.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

We can forget the Norse
Gods here -- their trees and fires.
The Winter nights aren't all that cold
or long
and we don't need their help.

The inns don't have room
in tourist season
if you don't have reservations,
and there aren't many of them.

But if you have to sleep outdoors
in the balmy night
behind the dumpster at the Winn-Dixie
or even on the beach
it's not so bad.

Not hard to find an old cooler
to put the baby in.
Hey, I know an abandoned car
if it rains.

No shepherds in Florida.
Thank God.
But watch for the cops
and no worries,

any wise men from the east
won't get past the Coasties.

Will the armadillos come to marvel?
The hoot owls hoot Hosanna in the night?

Monday, December 23, 2013

What goes around, comes around.

So here's me looking at this guy in the store selecting Christmas lights. He's got a little kid with him - shorts and tank top and skin covered top to bottom with graffiti like a subway car from the 60's. Looked like Bible quotes.  

"What the fuck you looking at?  You like my legs, huh?"  It's one of those "shoulda said" in retrospect moments, but  I didn't say "if you didn't want anyone to read it you should have tattooed it on your ass," discretion being very much the better part of valor particularly for someone who's left his Colt .380 at home since the Zimmerman incident.

So again, a bit later,  I'm about to pull into a parking space at the post office, sunny day, top down, feeling merry -- but there's a guy there - old dude about my age about to step in front on his way to the other side.  I stop and wave for him to go ahead because I'm polite to other geezers and good looking women. 

"What the fuck does that mean, asshole? What the fuck you wavin' at you cocksucker? I'm tryina walk, dooya fuckin'  mind?"  

"Merry fucking Christmas to you too, you crazy bastard" I said with a grin and getting out of the car. Not worried about this one.  The postal employee emptying the outside box pretended he saw and heard nothing, going postal being a metaphor for good reason.  Ran inside, grabbed the flat rate box I came for and saw Mr. Nice guy rummaging in his late model Mustang convertible for something in the console.

Now here's that better part of valor again. I didn't wait --  and once  again, didn't have weaponry in the car like so many other Floridians. If I had,  it would have been a felony just to have it there much less to take it out and show it, whether standing my ground or not, concealed weapon permit or not. 

Sometimes it's nice to have 400+ horsepower. So here's the old man in white beard, red sled with presents in the trunk pulling out on to Old Dixie Highway with Christmas spirit and lotsa tire smoke -- and he looks over his shoulder as he steps on the gas:   

Merry Christmas to all and y'all kiss my ass!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Faith Drivers

Faith Driven Consumer is an "on-line community" (business) that steers the Faith Driven toward businesses that seem compatible with their beliefs.  There's nothing unique about it really, no different than the dating service for farmers,  or directories of gay-owned companies or of environmentally friendly enterprises. Hey, it's a free country - unless of course you ask the people who despise censorship, but still want to dictate to retail stores what language their signage can use (English, of course) or can't use (Spanish or course - it's still OK to call snails Escargot or Dolphin fish Mahi-Mahi.) It's OK When We Do It is as much the foundation for American politics and popular sentiment as it ever was.

I can't say that I reject the idea of putting pressure on private business concerns with regard to all kinds of things per se, but it's as close to being censorship to do so as is the firing of Phil Robertson because of some offensive comments.

I've had it emphatically pointed out to me that with certain exceptions, a business may hire or fire whom they please for any reason they please and this is certainly a right that's staunchly defended by conservatives.  Tell a business it has to hire minorities and we'll certainly hear about freedom to hire and fire as we please. Tell a business it has to send a paycheck to someone who damages the marketability of the product and hear the conservatives quack like ducks - and rightly so.

The FDC folks have put up a website where you're asked to sign a petition demanding that A&E reinstate Robertson, red neck and all.  It's a free country, what can I say?   If they have a right to petition the government they should have the right to petition a company even if  supporting one person's right to self expression while denying it to another would tickle a dead duck with the irony.

As I've said previously, I have certain misgivings about someone being punished for statements made outside of business premises and outside of business hours. I'm irritated, I'm worried when Wal-Mart fires someone for privately discussing a Union.  It worries me that someone has a right to fire me for calling George Bush a dangerous and dishonest delusional.  The whole concept of corporations holding us hostage in that way is irritating, if legal, but  free country means free country and I'm sure conservatives would agree and perhaps that's why the frenzy.  You have to draft them into your mission before they stop to think,

So lets talk, yet once again, about the Framing effect. Frame it in terms of  a man's right to free speech and do it before we remember that the protection is against the government, not against Wal-Mart. Make it about religion and do it before anyone suggests that a man's right to stop sending a paycheck to someone whose actions damage the marketability of his product, because if you frame it as a right to profit, to do business free of regulation?  Do I have to continue?

Such a contradiction might prompt cynicism in certain people. Some might even find it funny to see how an attempt to avoid one boycott has fostered another, that people who "stand with Phil" will start to watch a show they didn't watch before making the show more profitable for the network they're boycotting, that standing up for the right to do dumb things doesn't make sense when you're attacking someone else's right to do dumb things.  I say certain people because, although it may sound arrogant, most people react and are prompted to react the the frame long before they look at the picture and think -- and even then, they don't think all that well.  It's like the people who called me anti-American for criticizing W, yet call themselves "Patriots" for criticizing Obama.

So before we drive this vehicle, let's look under the hood and wouldn't you know - Faith Drivers really is driven by faith and not by truth or logic or even a consistent argument.  It's not a defense of freedom for all, at all but a defense of special rights for special believers.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A&E fires Phil Robertson.

I didn't know who Phil Robertson was until just the other day when I stumbled upon A&E's Duck Dynasty and watched a bit before moving on. I had never watched the show, despite it's immense popularity, despite my fondness for shows about people who live in swamps, tiny towns and remote places -- People who hunt alligators, catch crawfish and run bait shops in towns like  Pierre Part  (the end of the world as the sign says) or Bayou Pigeon -- their cuisine, their music and culture, so quickly fading in an urbanizing country that still, as it always has, is forcing people into a cash economy, into paying jobs with regular hours while their environment - our country- is cut down, paved over and polluted. 

In general I'm comfortable with people who love the 'outdoors,' that odd term we call the actual environment of planet Earth -- people who own fishing gear, snake boots, snowshoes, canoes and all that and still prize the ability to use them in unspoiled country.   That's partially because such people are environmentalists although most will carefully explain that "they ain't no treehuggers or hippies."

That love of nature often sets them against entities like Florida's sugar cartel which has done more damage to our formerly vast wilderness than any terrorist could dream of,  so you'd think that the rapacious right would despise anyone who didn't support fracking, strip mining, clear-cutting, toxic waste dumping, smoke belching and generally destructive industry, and perhaps you'd expect to hear the voice of  the Right raised against such folks, but no.  The American Family Association is calling him a New American Hero. now that the network has suspended the release of next season's show.

Robertson likes to spend his time

"daydreaming about what he calls a “pristine earth”: a world where nothing gets in the way of nature or the hunters who lovingly maintain it. No cities. No buildings. No highways."  

says Drew Magary in a GC magazine interview.  But he also hates sinners and takes the Christian Bible as the standard of morality for the world, or at least the nastier parts favored by the Christian Right. That's where we part company. He's a gracious gentleman, says Magary and he doesn't like swearing or any of the other things Bible thumpers insist God doesn't like either, like people who don't subscribe to current, Christian Right sexual prohibitions.  Like the loathsome 'Reverend' Phelps's God, Robertson's god damns homosexuals and assorted other non-conformists.

“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” 

he says peremptorily and without regard to empiricism.  Fox News and the extremists in it's orbit  can hardly fail to come to his defense because impediments to religious authoritarianism attract them more than the Robertson's duck calls draw ducks to your blind.  Now of course anything Fox Condemns, anyone Sarah Palin supports ordinarily demands my opposition, but I have to ask myself, should a man be fired for expressing his opinions because we don't like them? 

That's not so easy to be sure about.  If Fox had fired someone for an opinion, for saying their position was "just wrong," I wouldn't hesitate to make it slime time for Fox, so I have to question Robertson's suspension.  After all, his opinion is that one never judges people but leaves it to God to sort out.  He believes in redemption as much as he believes that legal behavior that hurts no one can be "just wrong."

I have no way of knowing whether his contract with A&E stipulated that he make no controversial statements, no expostulations on his religious beliefs, but lacking that, I have to wonder about silencing people for "moral" reasons no matter who does it.   Certainly a network has the right to air or not to air any content, but it's not about the content of Duck Dynasty, but about the opinions expressed elsewhere.

 Some small voice still continues to ask me something the ACLU is asked all the time: are we attacking our own freedom when we curtail anyone's ability to say what "we just know" are ignorant, nasty and disgusting things?


Monday, December 16, 2013

In marketing we trust

When is science not science? When you read about it in e-mail or see it on TV.  Hyperbole in advertising is universal and the more ludicrous the claim, the less it seems to violate FTC truth in advertising laws at least in terms of enforcement. I'm not talking about the ability of advertisers to distract from facts, like running a Toyota Camry through some kind of  roller coaster contraption to 'prove' that's it's not a boring, soulless transportation appliance for dull people, or inventing "the star safety system" to distract from stories about how people are dying because of it's defects. I'm not even talking about TV ads claiming that after driving a Nissan, the speed of light doesn't seem so fast or showing SUVs beating sports cars on a track.  I'm talking about the level of deceit in the marketing of health and science products and advice -- the kind of pervasive disinformation that makes people believe they can eat double bacon cheeseburgers with impunity as long as they don't eat the bun -- eat chili cheese fries  and lose weight by buying Dr. Oz's magic beans and miracle berries, or put their faith in "the proven science of the glycemic index" as though an index could be science. -- as though that handsome guy in the lab coat were a real scientist and his doctorate not in marketing.

It's about the kind of massive promotion of ideas about gluten and fructose that have no scientific support, about making your brain work better by doing 'exercises' that really doesn't have support from neuroscience as claimed, about getting "grain brain" or removing those mysterious "toxins" from your blood or colon. Never mind none of these "studies" ever appear in professional, peer reviewed journals, but only in advertising. Never mind that what they call "studies" never are more than anecdotes, inventions, gross distortions and deliberate misrepresentations.  You just can't get to the science through the smokescreen of marketing -- and in marketing we trust.

We live in an age of snake oil where all it takes is some actor in a white coat, some diet book salesman posing as a scientist to convince our gullible nation that unhealthy things will make them well, that lethal germs and 'toxins' are lurking under the bed, that green tea or green coffee beans or Doctor Bonkers' Egyptian Oil will let them eat 10,000 calories a day while they stay thin and live forever. The sun will kill you quick, we just know it and even on cloudy days and even wrapping yourself like a Bedouin in wool won't help unless the clothing has extra sun protection chemicals in it. Your kitchen counter of course is a dangerous place that needs to be laved with "anti-bacterial" products lest your family die horribly and everything we touch has to be anti-bacterial. Does it surprise you that SPF 50 doesn't give you twice the protection of SPF 25 -- hell no and while the marketing guys smile we cover ourselves with lead foil and hide in the basement.

UV and Toxins and Germs, oh my! Unless you buy anti-bacterial products you'll be eaten alive by bacteria, no matter that there are more of them inside and all over you than there are people in the world and you wouldn't be healthy otherwise. Anti-bacterial soap, lotion, shampoo, body wash, eye drops, sprays, food, gels, creams, toothpastes -- there are kitchen utensils, toys, bedding, socks, and trash bags -- we're told to be afraid of such things on the food we eat, but we're soaking in it. is it even practical, necessary, healthy or smart to attempt living in a bacteria free bubble? Is that attempt involved with all the allergies everyone seems to have these days?

We never ask what anti-bacterial means, do we?  If cleaning our hands with soap and water removes adequate amounts of bacteria according to real double blind scientific studies, we still want to be righteous and hip and enlightened and we don't bother to ask why some chemical that prevents bacteria from reproducing is needed after the bacteria already has been removed by plain water.  We all feel much better eating "organic" food in the faith based belief that chemicals used by those farmers are safer than the chemicals used by regular farmers and the food is healthier and more nutritious. We obsess about unnamed "toxins" and chemicals and preservatives but we don't ask if long term exposure to the serious toxins in anti-bacterial products might have side effects. But hey, better safe than sorry, right? and if it's on TV it must be true!

There are at least 2000 anti-bacterial products on the market says the FDA.  They're finally going to begin to ask for evidence that they are safe. It's about time. In fact scientists have been pressing for the FDA to remove one chemical, triclosan, that interferes with the thyroid gland in rats, since 1978 even though there is no evidence that soaps containing it are any more effective at preventing disease in your home than washing with plain soap and water. The Government is  finally going to demand evidence of safety and effectiveness and it's about time!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Yes, Virginia, it depends on what you mean by Santa.

The disappearance of widespread fear of witches, (sorry Mrs. Palin) and the age old need for blaming things on them has left us trying to fill the void with Communists, sexual predators and racists, amongst a few others.  So when the somewhat loathsome Megyn Kelly, used her position on the always loathsome Fox News to stress that like Jesus, Santa Claus was a white man, the accusations of racism were not far behind.

I have to wonder however. Leaving the Jesus question aside -- the question of whether Jews are considered white by most modern 'authorities' -- I have to wonder just how biased it might be to assert that St. Nicholas, a 4th century Greek resident (and Bishop) of  Patara was white as well.  The sort of saint we Americans call Santa Claus  seems to have lost the connection with the real 4th century Saint in more ways than weight. The department store employee and Coca Cola pitch man whose nickname now rhymes with 'straws' rather than 'house' in America now only gives gifts to children and leaves prostitutes to fend for themselves. But he's still of European extraction.

Does that mean, as  Aisha Harris asserted in Slate.com, that 'forcing' Santa only to be white caused non-white children “insecurity and shame.”  Argue about the color of God and perhaps she has a valid idea, but I'm sorry, God is a human creation, created in our image. St. Nicholas was what he was - a Greek white male. Jesus was still Jewish even if it makes everyone else feel left out during Simchat Torah. If you want to get Biblicaly literal here, the first man was Red and if he was an image of God himself -- well then. More scientifically the first man was African and dark skinned.  Am I offended?  Seriously?

Now if she's suggesting that the real Santa is the guy at Macy's I once visited in the late 40's, that's a different question.  If he's the incarnate spirit of generosity Virginia was told about,?  Kindess, compassion, love -- these have no color.  I'm all for black Santas, Mohican Santas, Mexican Santas and Chinese elves because for atheist me, that's all there is to Christmas, but hey, some people are still serious about their religion and about history and have a right to be.  As Americans we get to determine our own traditions, or should and the often malicious Megyn may be right.  If history offends thee, thou getteth not  to rewrite it.

I have to wonder  about the controversy in the Netherlands, where the traditional Dutch Sinterklaas, a strong influence on our tradition is accompanied by companion Black Pete or Zwarte Piet,  giver of sweet treats to children. Wouldn't you know that the character, usually a Dutchman in blackface and curly wig, according to the racially sensitive Dutch could be interpreted as a "racist caricature of a black man."   I suppose it could be, but as an immensely loved character, which children is he alienating?  

Isn't racism, or at least the kind we rightly object to, about imputing negative things to a distinctive group? Is it racist to insist Michael Jordan is black?  Nelson Mandela? So we, or some of us,  are damned if he's black and damned if he's white and we go on arguing about which of us is free of prejudice while real racists are left alone.

You know what I want for Christmas? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Paranoia, Inc.

If you've read this blog over the years you know I'm always griping about the "changes" occurring in my favorite language and I'm sorry but the "language has to change" argument misses my point. "Yes everything has to change but that's hardly a defense of sabotage, ignorance and malicious marketing schemes.

Sure it's usually some phrase like "We're efforting the details" or "here's a genius new technique."  It may be nothing more than some bozo saying "snap" over and over again as though he were selling Rice Crispies and couldn't remember the rest of the slogan. But these things things are probably no more than symptoms of a population in transition from thinking citizens to consumers and the products of American education trying to put a gloss of sorts on weak vocabulary and make up for confusion with jargon.  Worse things are happening.

Pernicious hipness is one thing, but for many Americans the fact that "patriot" now primarily means you think the President, the government and the "takers" are plotting to kill us all, that the nuclear attack from North Korea is imminent and inevitable and that the big question for the future is whether or not Obama will catastrophically destroy the economy first.  Yes, Patriots know all about the mass graves being prepared, the secret laws enabling  millions of us to be rounded up and incarcerated or worse.  Patriots know that before long, when the food stamps and Social Security payments stop, the armed mobs will be breaking down your doors, emptying your refrigerator and raping wives, daughters and grandaughters while you watch.  Patriots know that unless you fortify, arm and provision yourself today, the Liberals, Koreans, Obamaheads and the poor are gonna getcha.

How do I know this?  For some reason I attract salesmen. Every fear peddler on earth has my e-mail address and I suspect that if you ever bought hunting equipment or even fishing gear from a catalog, or searched for a crossbow or a gun cleaning kit on the internet, you're on a list too, the internet being a far more effective and perhaps intrusive method of surveillance and intelligence gathering than the NSA could ever cook up on their own.  Order some gizmo for your boat and be deluged with adds for boating gear on every web page you open up for weeks.  Somewhere, somehow, someone has me listed as a PATRIOT.

FEMA plans for massive depopulation, it screams.

FEMA Banned This Video...
First off.
If you care about your safety...
Stop what you're doing.
And watch this video with the door shut.

I wish this was a joke.
Unfortunately it isn't.
It's deadly serious.
I'm sending this to all my friends, family and patriot brothers...
As quickly as I can...
Because it's the ONLY video I've seen that reveals the lethal "December surprise" nobody is talking about...

The "December surprise" is bigger and far more dangerous than Sandy could have ever been.
And it's headed to YOUR neighborhood...
WAY faster than you think.

The chilling speaker on the video (my new favorite patriot)...is going to give you the 3 practical steps you need to take TODAY...
To make it out alive and well...
This is the big one folks.
Don't take this lightly..
The "December surprise" has already begun in certain parts of the country.
And it's about to make Hurricane Sandy look like a six year old flower girl.
Your fellow Patriot,
Jason Richards
P.S. Do both Obama and Romney know ALL about this, but are SWORN to secrecy...?
 Read it and weep.

If you truly are a "Patriot" of course you won't be bothered that FEMA did not, has not, could not ban this video or any other video.  Patriots just know and never mind that this is a rerun of something that firswt ran over a year ago and that the author predicts the utter collapse of civilization by 2013. Never mind that the narrator is the same one selling a book that promises to make you irresistible to women if you know the three secret questions to ask them -- Patriots just know it's all true and only Patriots like Bubba and Bevis will survive to lead us all into the future.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in the retail Earth

Stopped for gas yesterday, the kind of magnificent, glorious day that makes your heart sing and your body forget its age.  74 degrees, with a few little clouds, the bright sun shining off the newly waxed red convertible, air as fresh as it is anywhere wafting like the smell of jasmine off the blue Atlantic. 

The advertising sign on the gas pump has a picture of bundled up people on a toboggan and snow. My neighbors have begun to put up fake icicles, fake frost, chrome caribou and sleds festooned with lights and  other reminders that Christmas, a month away, is really a pastiche of ancient Northern European winter celebrations.  It's jarring, a disturbing denial of reality as though all the world were northern. It's jarring like wearing a wool suit and wing tip shoes on the beach.

It's in the teens up North where I used to live and when I say live I mean huddle in the dark waiting for Spring, leaving for work in the dark, returning in the dark, spending hours each week shoveling snow in subzero temperatures, but you can't have Christmas without archaic imagery and the more modern but strictly above the 40th parallel iconography as given to us by such bards as the Coca Cola company, Montgomery Wards and all the commercial interests that have latched on to the holiday. The plastic fat men, robed in plastic furs -- the descendants of  a skinny Nikolaos of Myra, will bloom on manicured green lawns bordered by bougainvillea and hibiscus and not an iota of irony will spoil the spirit unless the polystyrene saint is shattered by a falling coconut.

But right on schedule, as it seems, it's cold today, probably won't be more than 70 although with the southern sun it will feel warmer. Wool wrapped people will wait outside Wal-Mart for the retail rampage to begin and driving to dinner with my few remaining family members I may wear one of my old leather jackets and if I can find one, a pair of long pants. It's Thanksgiving in this formerly Spanish bit of the tropics.  Florida where the flowers still bloom, where oranges and bananas and lemons ripen behind the house; Florida where the "pilgrims" never came and the Puritan ventureth not nor did the Europeans ever sit down to dinner with the natives.

But never mind the latitude, it's about the attitude. It's about tradition. It's about a fictional past from far away and as people do, we'll make up our own reality even though it's nowhere as good as the one nature provides and I'll sit indoors eating things I shouldn't instead of sitting by the pool or at a restaurant by the water listening to steel drums and  being thankful for where and what and who I am.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering the hero

The CNN crawl today is informing us over and over that depending how old the segment of the population is, President John Kennedy's approval rating runs from 89 to 93% or thereabouts.  That's far higher than any incumbent president has enjoyed since we started producing such statistics and considerably higher than he enjoyed in office.  I'm not sure George Washington could match it and I'm pretty sure that's higher than Jesus by a bit.  Of course time, like absence makes the heart grow fonder and of course it makes many of us forget how controversial he was; how much of the same drooling, scurrilous calumny presidents who attempt to make this a greater nation endure from the same sources, the same elements that just can't stop railing and raving about the evil Obaminator.

The route of the Presidential motorcade was lined with spectators and there were signs blaring "all the way with JFK" but there were also posters accusing him of treason, for " betraying the Constitution" and giving support to Communists. There were newspaper editorials condemning him. Like syphilis, crab lice and delusional politics the two legged vermin and their followers are still with us -- and not just in Texas.

History and circumstance have a way of  changing what we think we once stood for. Those millions of Americans who listened to Father Coughlin's radio broadcasts, sympathized with the rise of  fascism and racism in Germany and Jim Crow and racism in the US had to tone it down in December of 1941and the public has largely forgotten the depth of right wing outrage since the hundred year struggle for basic civil rights legislation is remembered only in history books and in simplified form. Sure, JFK enjoyed approval ratings of 70% while in office -- a level that has not been equaled since, but had he been able to serve out a term or two: had he been able to achieve detente with Castro and Khrushchev and Ho Chi Min we can be sure the same kind of  right wing rabble would have reduced it to the level Barack Obama now enjoys. 

But we've forgotten.  JFK is a hero, not a Popish danger to Protestant America and  the people who printed those posters, started those rumors, made those accusations slunk back into the baseboards and behind the cupboards before the blood was dry.  We never got an apology, a retraction or an admission from the hate mongers nor will we get any acknowledgement from their heirs and assigns who have taken it all to new depths. We never will.  JFK was a hero - of course we always thought that.   Oh yes it was a terrible thing that someone shot him, but his blood is on their hands, not ours. We never suggested anything and of course we're not suggesting anything when we tell you about that Kenyan, Muslim, tyrant -- that constitution trashing traitor, that murderer of children, that Hitleresque purveyor of Communist inspired health care and Marxist redistributer of wealth who pals around with terrorists, but violence?  Perish the thought!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A life for a life

summa awilum in mar awilim uhtappid insu uhappadu
-Code of Hammurabi-

If a man has destroyed the sight of another man's son, they shall poke out his eye.

It's no secret that I think the execution of criminals is not a power that should be given a government. Reenacting a murder, repeating the act of violence whether quietly with a needle or loudly with a squad of rifles serves no purpose other than to dignify anger, hatred and blood lust.

The State of Missouri killed serial killer and white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin yesterday, in a little room and in front of witnesses. It took the mechanism of institutional homicide over 30 years to exhaust all appeals and procedures and last minute delays before strapping him to a table and running phenobarbital into his veins. 

Franklin has been convicted of 8 racially motivated murders and has confessed to a dozen more. He is thought to have committed over 20 in Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Ohio. He has confessed to shooting publisher Larry Flynt, paralyzing him permanently and to wounding civil rights leader Vernon Jordan.  Using a 'deer rifle' he killed two young cousins Dante Brown and Darrell Lane in Cincinnati because they were African American and fully 18 years later was given a life sentence for it, but of course that was moot since he had already been given a death sentence for the similar sniper shooting of Gerald Gordon outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977. He fired 5 shots into a group of Jewish worshipers, killing Gordon and wounding two others.  God gave him this mission, he said.

So I'm not in mourning for Franklin.  Given the chance to stop his 'divine' calling to kill Blacks and Jews, I would not have hesitated to use lethal force, nor chastised anyone else for doing so,  but of course his mission was long over when they killed him.  Larry Flynt will never walk again nor will those  killed be restored to life. The lives diminished by grief  will not likely be restored to happiness. 

"I hate him for destroying my life, for taking away something precious to me, a life that I brought into this world,"

 said  Abbie Evans Clark, Dante Brown's mother. I hate him too and it wasn't my son he killed. She will likely always hate him.

 "It's devastating. It's a void. You never get over it."

 I'm sure she's right. She feels no forgiveness, she says, and although she knows it won't bring the two boys back,

 "It lets you know that justice will be done for the senseless murders of two innocent boys."

Justice.  One has to ask: what is justice if it's not the undoing of wrong? What is justice if it changes nothing, restores nothing?  

If a man dieth -- doth he revive?
-Job 14:14- 

What is justice if it's inspired by hate and why then is it called justice if hate itself is not justice?  Children are not fungible, not property that can be replaced, like money that can be repaid, like debits and credits on a balance sheet. The death of a murderer does not repay a mother for the loss of her son nor can his life be restored to him. Even El could not restore Job's murdered family to him but only a substitute. Those he once loved are gone forever.

Lex Talionis is what we often call reciprocal punishment. In it's favor, we can say that it determines the limits of punishment -- only one eye for one eye. We talk about repayment, but some crimes cannot be payed back  nor is the victim's sight restored when someone else's is taken away.  Indeed can we talk about justice at all when we admit we want someone dead or worse that God wants someone dead and we need to fulfill his divine will?

I'm glad Joseph Paul Franklin is dead.  I hate him down to the bottom of my soul, but I do not love my hatred. I do not ennoble it. I do not justify it or try to reconcile it with my reverence for life. I feel no better and am no better now that he's dead. I don't think we are safer. I don't think we are any closer to fulfilling that longing for harmony in all things we've likely had since our beginning. I don't think we reach it in our various faiths -- neither in the laws of Missouri or the law codes of Ur-Nammu or Hammurabi or edicts of Telepinu or the Hebrew Halacha.

Some things cannot be made right nor losses recovered and when we act out of hate, when we justify hatred,  perhaps only hate itself is served or preserved.

Friday, November 15, 2013


The notion that the Government is cracking down on freedom in general and preparing to freeze our accounts and restrict movement of money because of that elusive financial apocalypse the right wing has been predicting since Obama was elected, is the bread and butter of such opinion sources as the Daily Paul,  Natural News, and Alex Jones' Infowars.com  who amongst too many others to count are celebrating the false report that Chase Bank is limiting cash withdrawals and outgoing international wire transfers.  The story lacks only truth to be shocking. You can read a more honest appraisal at Forbes.  True, Chase is upping fees on certain kinds of business checking accounts, but pace the Liberterrorists, no one in Government is forcing them to do it and what we're seeing is Capitalism at work. Chase simply wants to make more money. Don't we all?

According to an e-mail from PT Shamrock.com, a Libertarian organization dedicated to misleading people about the need to get their money out of the country before the Liberals confiscate it and give it to "the takers," Chase customers have received the following letter:

Dear Business Customer,

Starting November 17, 2013:
- You will no longer be able to send international wire transfers. 
You will still be able to send domestic wires and receive
both domestic and international wires. We'll cancel any international
wire transfers, including reccurring [sic] ones, you scheduled to be sent
after this date.

- Your cash activity limit for these accounts(s) will be $50,000 per
statement cycle, per account. Cash activity is the combined total
of cash deposits made at branches, night drops and ATMs and cash
withdrawals made at branches (including purchases of money orders)
and ATMs.

These changes will help us more effectively manage the risks involved
with these types of transactions. 
No they haven't.  Unfortunately devotees of Paul and Jones and all the other panic profiteers will take it at face value without taking a moment to check the facts. Some won't even notice the misspelling and poor wording, the urge to believe being as strong as it is.  The confusion between the artifacts of free market capitalism and  Federal authoritarianism  continues to be the medium in which the fungus of  Right Wing politics is grown -- and grown in the dark, of course.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

In cold blood

It happens all the time.  It happened in my small town this Summer as the police questioned a man parked behind a restaurant after closing time.  Whether confused or inebriated, the man didn't get out of his car and it began to roll. The policeman stood his ground instead of stepping aside and emptied his pistol into him.  A grand jury decided against charging him and  like so many other stories involving citizens being shot by police for such things as asking for help or going out to their driveways to get a pack of cigarettes from their car, we will hear no more of it. No matter what a citizen is or is not guilty of, instant and abject obedience or summary execution is the law on the street.

I still remember a TV news story from back in the 1980s because the victim drove the same 1985 Pontiac Fiero GT I did at the time. The video, shot by a bystander, showed a police officer copying down the front plate number while the driver sat in his car parked at the curb. The nervous driver let his foot slip off the brake and the car rolled ever so slightly forward.  Instead of stepping to the side the officer drew his Beretta service pistol and emptied a magazine into the driver at point blank range.  That report was the last attention the media payed to the incident, but as I said, it happens all the time and it happened again in Ames Iowa on the university campus to a young, unarmed driver sitting in his van with the motor running.

Tyler Comstock and his father were working together as landscapers and when the elder Comstock refused to give his son a cigarette his teenage son got in the company truck to go out to buy  some. The father decided to "teach him a lesson" and reported it stolen. A police officer pursued him despite the dispatcher's telling him to back off. . There was a crash.  The officer's car was hit. Tyler didn't shut the engine off as directed and so the officer opened fire, killing the 19 year old.  Yet another senseless killing by someone either in a panic or in a fit of indignation at someone not obeying orders quickly enough. It happens all the time.  An officer fears for his life, feels his authority is being threatened or disrespected, mistakes a gesture sees a pack of cigarettes or a wallet as a weapon, a moving vehicle as a deadly attack -- pulls a gun, makes an excuse. . .

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Matrix Unloaded

Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate. Academic Latin for don't make up stories unless you have to.  I don't think that's an argument for making up facts to shore up wishful assumptions, do you?

I had one of those "never assume" moments this summer; a conversation with a stylish and charming young lady with a degree in nursing from Washington State at a Yacht Club dinner. We were discussing healthy diets and it came out that she and her husband would provide all the meat for her family by shooting a moose and perhaps a deer or two every year.  Who would have guessed? An avid gun enthusiast without all the "symptoms!"

I remembered it when a guest on Bill Maher's show opined recently that "nobody hunts any more" with the kind of off-hand certainty that buttresses too many conversations about life and politics.  Of course the opinion originated in the desire to make guns seem irrelevant and unnecessary and therefore to invalidate the argument for the right to own them.  It was the kind of invented fact that William of Occam warned against creating without necessity and it reminded me of another similar pronouncement someone made to me about the hobby of Amateur Radio being in steep decline  because of cell phones. Both arguments triggered some 6th or 7th sense of having been cooked up to support another argument much in need of a factual basis -- and so I did what is so easy to do these days.  I looked up the facts. 

Of course Amateur Radio is booming with more of us today than ever, and doing more things with new technology than the average guy can comprehend, but surprise, surprise as Gomer Pyle was wont to say -- more people are hunting and fishing than ever according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.Whether it's about economic necessity or the growing desire for "natural' sources of food, I can't say, but there's more of it.

Almost 38 percent of Americans participated in some wildlife-related activity in 2011. 12 and half million are hunters who buy over 620,000 firearm hunting licenses every year. That's a lot of people. 2.6 million Americans hunt wild turkey - double the number 40 years ago. 10.7 million hunt big game. almost 13 billion dollars are spent annually on hunting. Hunting alone supports a million jobs.
Nobody hunts any more? 

 Many people in this affluent county supplement their diet with fish caught from beaches, boats, bridges and piers. Many of  my county's poor benefit from the donation of wild boar meat shot by local farmers and land owners. America hunts -- from the bayous to the North Slope of Alaska, from Maine to Montana. It seems to be a way of life unknown to Brooklyn Boys and Valley Girls, unless they watch such people on TV, but Americans are and always have been outdoorsmen and without them, we wouldn't have national parks and conservation laws and the only wildlife in Yosemite would be Mickey Mouse.
With the increased urbanization of American life, it can be too easy to assume that everyone lives in cities and gets their food wrapped in plastic from refrigerated showcases in supermarkets and that that meat is produced in factories. That's a valid assumption for some, but an assumption with a political motivation. Fly over America and tell me it's an urbanized hive paved with concrete and plastic where New York's Central Park is "Nature" and where nature exists as a sort of health club for running and skating and 'doing cardio.'  This artificial view may be in part an artifact of the business of making life artificial -- a product to be sold us like tract houses  and theme parks and packaged vacations and is inhabited by people who do one specialized thing all their lives and long for things authentic and "artisinal" they can buy at the mall.

Is it any wonder that more people long for the woods, the lakes and rivers and hills, dream about finding their own food and being self-sufficient?  Such people don't fit into the plan and don't provide as much profit for those who need to sell our lives to us and so they tell us they don't exist, they're fading away, they're dangerous, old-fashioned, laughable, obsolete -- dangerous.  Now forget them. Think about the good life, about your cubicle and all the good things that Apple, Toyota, Disney, Nike, Coca Cola, McDonalds and ATT&T provide for you. Just watch the screen and relax.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Something is happening here

What the hell is going on with the rampage shootings?  Sometimes what's obvious isn't what's true, but hate mongering is now the American Passtime.  Even Baseball doesn't get round the clock coverage even during the World Series while anti-government rants and raves have more opinion shouters on more stations than I can count.  And then there's Fox News.  Is it any wonder the loose cannons of America are aimed at authority.

Who likes the TSA?   They've made traveling by air so unpleasant, I avoid it when at all possible, but apparently, some take it more seriously. Paul Anthony Ciancia took it with all the deadly seriousness only a madman can muster.  How he could walk into an airport with a rifle under his arm, like someone on a hunting trip, I don't know. Airports in Europe that I've been in have armed commandos in plain view, but apparently LAX does not and it seems almost miraculous that more people were not shot yesterday morning. At  this point I don't know who was responsible for wounding him multiple times, but fortunately he was captured before his suicide by cop plan came to fruition.

Ciancia was obviously deranged and apparently suicidal according to family members who called LAPD. At this point, I don't know who was responsible for wounding him multiple times, but fortunately he was captured before his suicide by cop plan came to fruition. We shall see, but at this point, the usual sources have been, since the original reports, concentrating on the military appearance of his "high powered" rifle as though that mattered in this day of handguns with 30 round magazines.  If  experience teaches anything, I'll bet that the choreographed media response will concentrate on repeating failed approaches and avoid any discussion of how people like Ciancia can buy any kind of weapon, how anyone can carry a rifle into an airport unopposed and how the anti-government hate mongers can act appalled while they continue to tell the idiots and madmen of America that the government is out to rob them of their freedom and property and put them in death camps.

It seems as though the TSA at LAX has been confiscating a frightening number of handguns, most loaded, at security checkpoints. We should be concerned.  We should wonder why
Because something is happening here. 
But you don't know what it is.  
Do you, Mister Jones?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Can't get there from here

This is one of those busy days that somehow dominate what was supposed to be my "golden" years, but scanning the headlines an article about the opening of  the Marmoray Link, a railroad tunnel under the Bosphorus, linking Europe and Asia. Turkish projects include more bridges and canals to facilitate transportation and trade.  Ours are falling down from neglect.  They build seaports and massive flood control projects, we build Wal-Marts to sell their goods and bitch when the government spends money rebuilding after natural disasters. We used to be at the forefront of progress and innovation. Now?

We are the can't do, won't do nation.

 In case you're a typical American who has never been abroad or who thinks Epcot Center is the real world, Transportation in America is pathetic.  We no longer have the ability to get places without private cars, flying is time consuming and expensive and weather dependent. We don't have the biggest bridges or the best roads and we don't have trains that go anywhere you want to go and the ones we have left are slower than they were in my Father's youth.  We don't have 300 mph magnetic levitation trains, nor even the 180 mph trains they have in Europe.  You know, Europe, that place we look down on for their educational opportunities, general health, social mobility, low crime rates and lack of  John Wayne bellicosity.

It wasn't long ago that our Republican governor in Florida turned down a few billion in Federal funds to build a high speed railroad because it would "cost jobs."  That's the same reason my recently pristine part of the State is becoming an open sewer with the full complicity and support of the Republican lead government:  hiring people for water projects only a government can do offends industry and Republican principles.

Progress offends Republican principles and indeed they consider it a dirty word.

Civilization began with the necessity to implement irrigation projects, build roads, fortifications and canals. Regulation was needed to control distribution, collect taxes, provide security, enforce laws, decide cases and make civilization possible. We're told none of that matters because government cannot do anything and should not do anything.  Where those things failed or were inadequate, civilizations failed. Ours is failing now and perhaps if we weren't so militarily huge, it would have already, because every time something that only a government can do needs to be done, that howling chorus on the right begins to sing the song of private enterprise.

The US isn't capable of building railroads, or intercontinental tunnels.  We couldn't build a Panama Canal today. We don't build Golden Gate or Brooklyn bridges today, we don't even maintain what our father's America built and I place our economic catatonia at the feet of the Right, with it's whining about privatization, with its psychotic parsimony, its Paranoid horror of  Communism and its worship of corporate entities.

Any country that can't get me to Chicago in under two days without flying cannot hope to endure. Any country that can't repair an earthen dike build 80 years ago and would rather make a huge estuary that was a naturalists delight a few years ago into a sewer so filthy that skin contact with the water is dangerous, is already failing and all the flags waving from all the cars, all the slogans and speeches and denunciations of Law and government and civilization itself are the real poison in the air and water and spirit.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Song of the South

" If it hurts a bunch of lazy Blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” 

Said North Carolina state GOP executive committee member and precinct chairman Don Yelton, about the new, more restrictive voting laws  --  and there you have it, the cornerstone, the key assumption, the basis of Republican philosophy.  I can't say, as much as it might seem otherwise, that there's been no progress in the old, old, quest for recognition of people of color as fully human; as real citizens with the same rights and privileges and responsibilities as white, Anglo-Saxon Americans.  After all when I was a kid, he wouldn't have said "lazy Blacks."

Barack Obama is of course all about buckets of chicken, watermelons, welfare checks and leering at white women, or at least he is in the imaginations of people like Yelton who is after all, the sad remainder of what was once a political party.  All else, all that purports to be principle, philosophy, policy and patriotism is simply camouflage. It's not a coincidence that what others might think of as undeserving categories of white people aren't mentioned, the kind of folks that a previous generation subjected to forced sterilization so that they wouldn't pass on their inferior genes. Undereducated, malnourished, uncivilized, unmotivated, intoxicated made dependent by welfare and ill-suited for informed citizenship, they're nevertheless white and at the very least more nearly all right.  In fact so many of them vote Republican they're needed, if for no other reason.

People that may have been Dixiecrats back before the civil rights movement alienated them from the Democratic Party,  have been feeling sorry for themselves since before the Civil War, burdened by the requirements of modern civilization which they see in terms of their hard earned money and privilege being taken away by the damn Yankees and given to the "takers."

And now one of "them" has taken the presidency. Ain't gonna let that happen again!

I often think of Republicans like Winnie the Pooh without the charm: as creatures of very  little brain, but of course they have their wicked wizards, smart enough to fire people like Yelton who make too much noise from behind the curtain and expose the game.

The County GOP Chairman, in firing Yelton's ass this week said in a statement to a local TV station that Yelton's statements were:

“offensive, uniformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party.
“Let me make it very clear: Mr. Yelton’s comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe Republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon, This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party.”
Except of course in practice.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Feeling the Elephant

Ur-Zababa King of Sumer
Ur-Zababa King of Kish
Ur-Zababa had a nightmare
Ur-Zababa had a dream
Sargon in a raft of rushes
Sargon of the floating basket
Pours the wine for Ur-Zababa
One last time.

The parallels between the literature that eventually became the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and other ancient legends in all their versions are inescapable, even for a beginning student of ancient history:  the eye for an eye of Hammurabi, the Story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, the story of the infant Sargon found floating in a basket on the Tigris, like Moses on the Nile.  Such observations are striking at first glance to the untrained eye, but sometimes that untrained eye may also be the unprejudiced eye.

 Does anyone not recall the first time they saw a globe, how obvious was the fit between the European and African coast of the Atlantic?  Studying Geology ages ago, we were taught that it was only a coincidence and Plate Tectonics was a radical, almost heretical concept.  The world, of course was still just as it was made, only cooler and with mountains perhaps thrust up by contraction. Of course, Eppur si muove, as Galileo may or may not have said about the 'stationary' Earth. And still it moves, or at least the continents do. Did that plucked turkey look like a dinosaur?  Coincidence. That ape like a man?

Was the Moses Story embellished with older folk tales?  There are so many other examples of plots and even phrases in Bible stories that it's tempting to say so and it's hard to say that it isn't so.  It's hard, at least for history buffs and students of ancient literature to deny it and yet easy, if perhaps the desperation shows a little, in the always condescending and often irrelevant or fallacious dismissals written by Biblical certainty advocates.

Yes, there are minor differences.  Moses' mother was not a princess; he was adopted by one. The Tigris is a fast river, the Nile is a slower one. the Atlantic coasts do not exactly mesh. Jesus is not an exact copy of Mithras or Osiris or Ganesh or any of the many other Biblical or extra Biblical sons of gods or resurrected saviors of nations or souls. Noah and Ut-Napishtim are different.  None of the myth makers whose stories appear in the Bible could have read the Popol Vuh with it's resurrection of Hun-Hunahpu -- but as Joseph Campbell said, when you get down to the deepest well of myth you find a deeper one at the bottom.  Such stories are archetypes perhaps; rooted in our basic human desire or propensity to concoct explanatory stories about what we cannot know or understand. Each culture creates the same stories in its own image.

Perhaps the Sargon story, in it's obviously mythologized form, comes from the same instinct or from the same primordial urge or instinct we all share that produced the obviously mythologized Moses tale.  We do have hard evidence for Sargon of Akkad, conqueror of Sumer, scourge of Elam. We have none whatever for Moses and we have so many contradictions and no evidence whatever in that story. yet look at how fiercely we defend it's inerrant accuracy!

All this is just another stanza in my long lament about the illusion of reason and truth and objectivity in the way we humans see reality.  Some of us do so more than others; more often that others do and about more things, but we are what we are. Like the blind men and the elephant we see dimly if at all, but the tragedy is not in our blindness, but in the fact that in gaining sight, we cling to the things we became comfortable with back when we were blind, even as the elephant laughs.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Facts Lie

So what did we learn here?  Oh come on, we're Americans, we already know everything we need to know and if fact and experience differ from received wisdom?  Facts lie.

What did experience have to say about the shutdown?  That we love our National Parks says CNN, but did we learn that Democrats want to shut them down and keep veterans from seeing veterans' memorials?  Depends on whether you're a Palinist or not, because veterans weren't actually kept out of such places even if she did the dance of the Sugar Plum Furies at the WW II memorial. If you saw it on Fox you'll do doubt see it that way - a humiliation for Obama.

We believe what we want to, and if you think Obama was "inflexible" in refusing to bend over and let the minority party nullify the law,  you still think so. Why should a false equivalence be anything but false?   If you still think the failure of years worth of legislative initiatives and court battles and seditious propaganda crusades against the Affordable Health Care Act means the will of the people is not served by Democracy you still think so.  If you think a system of providing universal care opportunity at lower cost using private insurers who compete in the free market  is Marxism, then you must think the Swiss are Marxists who hate Capitalism and  will sleep soundly through the cognitive dissonance.

And you know, people who can support the plan designed by Republicans  as long as a Democrat isn't selling it never have a problem with that dissonance, now do they?  Losing in the courts, losing in Congress, losing in public estimation isn't a learning experience for people like Rising Star Ted Cruz. He wants to do it all over again, because after all doing something than has never, ever worked needs to be done until it does. If you think that's stupid of him, you probably never supported him in the first place.

No,  Instead of acknowledging error, instead of recognizing that the public doesn't share their double-thinking delusion; instead of admitting that the principle of nullification has been rejected by the courts for over 200 years as being unconstitutional, the Republican Berserkers will simply reformulate their views in some new way.  A way that still supports their old opinions and makes true their old lies, and with the confidence that comes from blind stupidity we'll see it all again.  It's America and November 2014 is a long, long time from now.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Crazy Party goes wild!

Feels like Groundhog day, like déjà vu and Kafka too.  Pat Buchanan says it's better to destroy America than to "give in" to a health care system we voted for - never mind that or that it's the law. The President should stop being a tyrant and start overriding the law by fiat. Just like the less government more freedom Republicans did when they illegally made it illegal for a Democrat to open his mouth in Congress.

Fox News dredges up a "psychiatrist" to tell us that Obama likes food stamps and accused the Republican Party of hostage taking  because his father “abandoned” him as a child and his grandmother “didn’t trust men of color.”  and no, there's no "partisan rhetoric" here, they say.  Only Democrats do that.

Waiting now for some hint of progress while the insanity escalates beyond hysteria, beyond delusional fugue while visions of  Mad Mullah Obama, the Muslim tyrant from Africa forces us to have the health care bill we voted for which as you know, is just like Hitler and worse than anything that's ever happened since the beginning of time - don't ask why, just trust us because after all we're the ones who showed you how to pay for a war by cutting taxes and getting free oil from Iraq.

Waiting by the TV -- waiting and watching that old Republican rag. . .

It's frantic
It's antic
It's Corybantic.

The worst thing since slavery, it is -- oh don't ask why!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A darkling plain. . .

So is it desperation making them pull out all the stops and stomp on the loud pedal, or is it just another Tea Hall Putsch; rowdies, thugs and goons colluding to bring down the government and the economy so they can bring on a new and lower world order?

It's become difficult for the Rebel Right to sell the idea that the markets and the economy itself are teetering on the brink of collapse; that there will be a "double-dip" recession, breadlines and trains full of hobos,  a degree of health care reform is about to kick in -- one that the public may just find to be a lot better than the apocalyptic predictions from the professional screamers would have us believe.  Maybe it's now or never for the Rebels. Apocalypse now as whores and horsemen like Cruz and Palin kick in their stalls and empty their bowels in anticipation.

"I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town,” 

Said Larry Klaman to a crowd of foam-flecked idiots in Washington, rallied around memorials his band of Bolsheviks as shut down, telling them to demand that the president  to

 “… get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”

And why?  Because not one of their predictions of doom has EVER come true ( or ones of success either) and they don't have the votes to elect one of their incompetent number or the courage to wait until 2016 and risk further recovery?  What can they do but make a "hail Mary" or a "Heil Hitler" appeal to racism, bigotry and fake history before real history sweeps the stable clean?

“In 237 years, our country has declined more than Rome took 2000 years to do,” he said. “We are ruled, quote-unquote, by a president that bows down to Allah.”

Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since Slavery" said Ben Carson, a Fox Favorite at the "Values Voter Summit"  and attributed the Republican designed plan to Vladimir Lenin -- something only someone as devoid of honesty as Klaman could say and only someone either clinically insane or more ignorant than a baboon could believe.

“one of the most insidious laws ever created by man,”

 said another verbal  terrorist to an audience totally ignorant of the law and what it says, but as always willing to believe anything to support their racist insanity.

I don't worry so much about the ease of assembling an ignorant army at a moment's notice. I think that at any time and in any place enough willing participants to staff a pogrom, man a concentration camp or burn children in a school could be assembled.  It's the highly organized heavily financed group of insurgents that now control a major political party hell bent on taking over absolute control of the United States by whatever means they can.  It's the domination of our news sources by propaganda organizations and corporations with no commitment to the truth and interested only in profit that scare me, because now, as it was a hundred years ago, our country is a pack of dogs happy to turn on itself, but unlike the days of race riots, labor riots, weekly terrorist bombings, lynchings, deportations and suppression of rights, we have 24 hour insanity, 24 hour hate speech, 24 hour lies and hardly a whisper of opposition.

How do we fight by the rules and beat such a ruthless and unscrupulous army?  Is it any wonder that we have a surplus of apocalyptic movies about armies of brainless corpses overwhelming civilization?  Unfortunately we don't have the option of chopping off heads. We don't have the ability to debunk an endless quantity of lies to an audience desperate to believe them. We can't outspend them, we can't shut them up.  We have to hope that in their stupidity they will overreach and fail, but it's a dim hope and it's getting really dark outside.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vidit ergo Lesus. . .

Yes, yes, we've all heard, Pope Francis may be infallible but the guy who mints the medals isn't. Somebody substituted an L for an I (which can look damned similar in certain typefaces) and somebody else didn't notice and so it went out the door as Lesus instead of Iesus.  I'm an old man, I can sympathize about reading small print and at least it didn't say Lexus. We have too many of those on the road as it is.

Of course growing up in the Galilee, the name was  יהושע
or Yehushua but we won't quibble. The sign on the Cross said IHS, not LHS and of course the J is not part of the Roman alphabet.

Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum et quia miserando antque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequre me. says the Gospel of Matthew.  If we're going to be talking about alphabets of course, it's really מַתִּתְיָהוּ Matityahu or 'gift of Yahoo' (you see, the Bible predicts the Internet) and it's a story about how Jesus didn't despise the tax collector and so the tax collector became a follower, or so I think. My latin has become a bit like a Toyota after ten winters in Chicago.  But anyway, like most Bible stories, there's good advice there:  "Don't get too chummy with the man from IRS lest he followeth you around, asking questions.

Anyway, I don't know how many have already been sold in Rome.  I don't see any on eBay yet, but I'll bet collectors will bid them up if he faithful can part with them. Will we see money changer's booths in Vatican Square exchanging new medals for old, or will they find their way out the back door and onto the collector market?   Inquiring minds and maybe pious minds want to know but if you flip these things for a profit, don't forget that publicanus cognoscere cupit nimis -- the tax man wants to know too.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Consider the source

There is no shortage of polls about the Shutdown, the Affordable Care Act and President Obama, mony of them showing completely opposite results.  I got a survey from something called Newsmax.com this morning showing that respondents very strongly blame Obama and the Congressional Democrats for the shutdown and like the Affordable Care Act even less than they like Judas Iscariot. Newsmax of course, although it covers general interest stories, seems to have more inflammatory and  paranoid items that Chips Ahoy has bits of chocolate. One has to consider the source. One has to remember that voluntary polls are not scientific.

That's hardly the results one sees in the probably more objective Gallup polls that show America's opinion of  the Republican party at a lower ebb than it was during the last Republican forced shutdown in 1999.  It was 31% favorable then.  Now it's 28%. There has been a precipitous drop in approval since the beginning of 2013. Perhaps it was the end of an era after all.

With so much effort being made to portray Obama and "his policies" as being increasingly rejected, it's interesting to note that at least according to Gallup, unfavorable ratings of the GOP are a bit higher than they were at the end of the Cheney/Bush era and the economy was losing altitude faster than a coyote running off a cliff.  61% when Obama was elected, 62% now and in a country so heavily intransigent it is nothing short of amazing that lifelong Republicans I've talked to of late don't want to be called that any more.

The obvious seems invisible to the entrenched opinion shouters and faux news sources. Glenn Beck all but spits out his tonsils execrating his array of standard demons and everywhere you look are polls and surveys with as much credibility as goat entrails.  I suspect we're getting to theoretical low point of public approval for the Tea Twinkies and the corporate backed opinion shouters, given that insanity is not as subject to persuasion as reason is.  Many would still listen to Beck and Bachmann and their ilk despite all the spinning heads and green vomit and sulfur smoke the Devil himself could demonstrate.  People on that side of the fence tattoo swastikas on their necks after all.

But as the shutdown continues and as the GOP has to rely on publicity stunts like Michelle Bachmanns at the WWII memorial, the bailouts will continue. With each family ruined by lack of health care, with each family ruined by the furlough, with each business bankrupted by Republican spite, the "Base" will shrink.  Were an election held today, it would hardly be a tea party for the Tea Party and tomorrow could be worse.

Of course this being the Amnesiac States of America, who knows about 2014? 

Thursday, October 03, 2013


Got another robo call today - the kind you can't hang up on while the recorded voice tells you they can lower your credit card rates if you give them your card numbers -- numbers  they promptly use to bleed you dry. It's fraud, it's a felony.  It goes on and on uninterrupted because it makes money and money votes.

616-613-2227. It belongs to Lucre, inc in Michigan although the caller ID says Credit Crd Svcs.

I'm on the do not call list and I regularly report robo calls which are illegal in this state and other telemarketing calls that violate the law by calling me and refusing to remove my name from their lists, so, being furious at this umpteenth violation because I'm trying to keep the line free because my father is very ill, I went on line to the FCC.  Of course all I've ever got to reward my efforts is a form letter, but logging on to https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/ just now, what I saw was:

Due to the Government shutdown, we are unable to offer this website service at this time. We will resume normal operations when the government is funded.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

NIH shutdown

Well isn't that special?  You know that RomneyObamacare bill forced on us by the people we elected to do just that is a terrible thing, not only because of the Death Panels that it does not include which replace the Insurance company death panels that do exist but because it's going make the US just like those backward countries like - well like most countries actually - that provide health care insurance or at least make it possible to buy it.  When something is passed in Congress, by duly elected representatives, signed by a duly elected president and confirmed as to its legality by the Supreme Court -- it's not enough. The Tea Party after all is the only authority and  your vote just doesn't mean shit.

Republican doctors, even those who are not doctors tell us that "Obamacare" is just awful because you might have to wait for that ingrown toenail operation so that someone with chest pains or cancer can get immediate assistance. Even those Republicans who thought it was great before Obama are now shouting themselves hoarse

To make sure that doesn't happen, they have decided to sabotage the government and miliary operations and if people who were waiting for clinical trials through the National Institutes of Health, they can just go to Canada, or Sweden or Switzerland or any of those damned Godless Communist hell-holes because overthrowing the US government against the wished of the electorate is the patriotic thing to do.  About 200 people register for NIH clinical trials every week, many of them children with cancer who are expendable after all  considering the importance of making sure they never get health insurance in their lives even if they survive -- and making sure their parents have to declare bankruptcy - if they can under the Republican sponsored bankruptcy laws, but such things are just collateral damage after all.  It's only a small thing compared to the rest of the consequences of the shutdown in terms of the economy and national security and those consequences are exactly what the Republicans hope for, economic collapse, some major attack we could have prevented if  we hadn't laid off  all those DHS people and civilian employees.  Hell, taking food stamps away from military families already unable to survive on their salaries is part of the same effort:  the end of the USA as we know it.

Declare Martial Law for Jesus

I don't know if you're getting your TV using an antenna, but if you are, it's a different world than the TVland you see on satellite or cable.  Docked at a marina, looking for something to watch on the tube with no access to cable, one thing you'll notice is that there are a lot of Christian stations and a lot of boisterous preachers pounding away on the Bible. 6 to 1 on a Sunday afternoon in places like Vero Beach, Florida.

So if your idiot box is fed by an antenna, perhaps you know about Rick Joyner.  Perhaps you have watched his internet program. Perhaps you've identified him as as much of a subversive seditionist as Luigi Galleani, as much of a terrorist as any of the bomb throwing anarchists of that day or ours.  There was a time when Eugene Debbs was thrown in jail for simply mentioning his distaste for US involvement in a European war and Conservative fear of  subversives has continued through the McCarthy era and into the present. Show up at a Quaker prayer vigil for peace in 1965, as I once did and you got yourself on an FBI list. George Bush era government agents were tapping the phones of Quakers not long ago and now, of course they can and they may be tapping yours and mine to make sure nobody is plotting terrorist acts.

But not so for Joyner. He gets to tell us that because Obama's America is so immoral, he's suggesting to God, as his special adviser, that God should use the United States Armed forces to overthrow the government and institute martial law -- to save Democracy.

 “The people are not always right, it depends on what people they are. And another thing the founders warned about is this thing will only work for a moral and a religious people. You remove morality, you remove the religious influence, and it cannot work.” 

Says Rick, God's own Dick Cheney. You see Obama isn't white moral and Americans who voted for him or support better access to health care are pissing off God. We have to overthrow the US government with violence. We have to put an end to Democracy in order to save it for the coming Kingdom of Joyner God.

So you think Christians are being persecuted in America, by those Liberal hellhounds of religious freedom?  Calling for the violent military overthrow of the United States of America by a military junta dedicated to God rather than the lawful Commander in Chief is what the Constitution supports?  If Joyner were Muslim, he'd have been deported or jailed by now and if subversives and terrorist supporters and haters of democracy like him are still out there stinking up the air, the argument that there's a war on Christianity and its special prerogatives smells worse than a manure pile in August. These hate mongers are exempt from taxes and exempt from the law as surely as they are exempt from sanity.

It takes a hell of a lot of dishonesty to prattle about external threats to the US when a cabal of criminals dedicate their lives to crippling it, subverting it, overthrowing it and handing it over to corporate and religious warlords, but it takes something else to sit in front of a TV screen, drink beer and ignore it. Am I talking to you here?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


In principio erat verbum

That first word; can we imagine it being spoken as something more than infantile balbation, something more like a concept than a name? Names are spoken, but we invented them. We have names because we have want and that want came before the name. Without it there were no names nor those to name them.  In any sort of beginning there was a word and we made that word because we want, and what we want is more. In the beginning there was desire and want became word.  I want, therefore I am aware. I am aware, therefore I am.  In the beginning there was the word and the word was more.

Do we imagine some Lord uttering a command to the emptiness, or do we wonder why something so primordial and infinite embedded in a finite chaos of dirt and water and wind and nothingness would have words?  Was there a beginning without a prior want?  In whom dwelt the want that became God? Would words arise without anyone to listen?  But in any kind of beginning -- of man, of  God -- any dawn of any ego, that decision to change what had always been and what is now -- the want that made that decision became the word and the word was more. Let there be more than there is.

A lord of dust and gas and particles and heat; it means little to be lord of nothing. A God who never did anything and never wanted to: a Lord without volition is no more than dead matter and empty space. A lord, to be a lord needs more and so want itself  makes the Lord and so he makes the world, orders it, speaks the word to himself and creates his creation so that what he says can be a word.  From more, existence proceeds. God said more and there was more.

A lord: meaning us; us being separate from the nothing, separate from oblivion and the chaos and the word that separates is more.  The word that defines consciousness is more; we wake, we perceive we want and in that beginning the word becomes flesh, the flesh becomes word: let there be more.

Do we ever progress far beyond the primordial word?  We strive we desire we achieve, we preserve, we pile thing upon thing, experience upon experience -- we live and we want more. We want more life and we want more of desire itself because desire is life and life must want  more or it dies.

We struggle against entropy and we want more and in the face of ravenous oblivion, in the end, we want more and we invent agencies from which to beg for more as possibility fades. We want new realities where we can have more and there always is more to have -- and we imagine them, we fight to imagine them and we fight to preserve the imagining; the imagining of more and more forever when forever, nonetheless, is only nothing more.

In the beginning we say .  . .  but that was too long ago to matter. In our beginning was desire and if more comes after us, there will be no words at all.

Desiderium erat in princípio. In finis est solum nihil

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The sky is falling

Candy Crowley's State of the Union this morning with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).  It seems the Republican line is that Congress needs to have a debate on health care because the public is panicked, confused -- because health care is being denied because of it, because hospitals aren't buying new technology because of it -- because they're making it all up as it goes along. The desperation alone gives them away. At what time were they ever so animated at any question affecting the security of the United States? 

Polls seem to show the public does not want this "debate," does not want ACA defunded or delayed.

Congress already had the debate.  It passed, it was signed into law, it survived a challenge in the Supreme court.

Health insurance premiums will soar says Sen. John Barrasso M.D. (R-WY). People ae going to die in the streets, chaos will ensue.

They've gone down 40% in his state says Howard Dean M.D. ,  Doctors won't see patients. You won't be able to find a doctor says the Wyoming dude.  The sky is falling, just like it was going to with Social Security, with Medicare, with female suffrage, with integration. . . .

My prayer for this Sunday morning?

God damn the Republican party.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deny, Deny, DeMint

If 2012 was the end of an era, I haven't noticed. The era of denialism is still rolling along, thank you very much and the ridiculous Right is getting better with practice.  The 2012 Election you see, didn't accurately reflect public sentiment at least the sentiment as viewed through ruby red glasses. 

Jim DeMint seems to think the Right didn't get a fair hearing, even though the echo of their primal scream still is as detectible as the Cosmic Background Radiation.  And besides it's just not fair.  In a fair and balanced world elections don't count, you know, because the true voice of the people is only communicated in Gnostic fashion by a mystical connection, not by those lying ballots.  In a Fair and Balanced world people wouldn't notice that Jim strongly endorsed Romneycare in 2007: they wouldn't notice that the voters elected someone who promised health care reform and re-elected him over the guy who couldn't stop inventing reasons why it was no longer good now that the Democrats endorsed it. They wouldn't notice that the Supreme Court endorsed the legality.

Of course Jim and all the GOP DeMintos hope you don't remember the era of "the silent majority" whose silence was the result of their not actually being there because he seems to be offering the same pathetic Nixonian explanation for the rejection of his own imaginary majority. But of course we do remember, we do notice and even the Sultan of Slime, Karl Rove himself seems bewildered by the insanity he's nourished into full monsterhood, shuffling toward Fort Sumpter to be born.

No, October first won't be the end of an era either, since some eras go on as if in a parallel universe, close to but separate from ours.  It may be the beginning of one however; an era in which the burden of illness and the cost of healthcare won't be a drag on upward mobility and entrepreneurship, but the old one will continue like some antique and grotesque paganism and people will continue to profit from the hysteria. More appeals to stock up on emergency supplies, special vaults in which to hide your guns and ammunition (stock up now before Obama takes them away) for the coming apocalypse and the horrible hordes of marauding minorities. . .