Friday, May 30, 2008


Neat and tidy homeless Japanese
woman sneaks in unlocked home and
lives secretly for a year in man’s closet.

I hesitate to bring this up as it is such a sensitive subject, but I cannot help myself. I previously warned Obama that Hillary Clinton’s strategy lies in the unreasonableness she was/is portraying, rather than anything she was saying about Obama per se. I feel I should elaborate on this theme. I have heard it said by some that Clinton’s problem is that she is trying too hard to be like a man. You know, with her tough talk, backing the war, threatening obliteration, and general hawkishness. There is probably some truth to this accusation. But I think her real problem may be just the opposite. She is, or has become, I think unfortunately, the very personification of the stereotypical female in American culture. Do not misunderstand me, I am not claiming any accuracy for this stereotypical view of females, merely that it exists and has existed for a very long time. It is not particularly favorable. There are certain characteristics that have been long applied to women in our culture. For example, they can be inconsistent. Hillary agreed that the Michigan votes would be meaningless, now she insists they must be counted. Women are believed to change their minds a lot. Hillary accepted the notion that the delegates would determine who won the nomination. Since then she has changed her mind repeatedly: only swing states should count, only states with primaries rather than caucuses, only the largest states like California, Florida, etc. Her changes of mind have been widely commented upon by others. Women do not have the same capacity for reason as men. Is it not unreasonable for her to demand that all Michigan and Florida delegates be seated and all their votes counted? Most “reasonable” people think so. Women are not as logical as men, or employ faulty logic. Is it not completely illogical to argue that only states with primaries should be counted, but not states with caucuses? Women are believed to be quick to deceive. Hillary is now claiming to have the popular vote, but that is deceptive because she wants to count all the Michigan and Florida votes, and so on. Furthermore, he claim of sniper fire in Bosnia was clearly deceptive, as is the way she has presented her vast experience. Women are believed to be deficient in common sense. Common sense would surely suggest to her that she is pursuing what is now a lost cause, but she continues nonetheless. Is it not completely unreasonable for her to argue that as she has won the popular vote (which is not true) she is therefore the best candidate to take on John McCain. This is not only unreasonable it is also illogical. When women can’t win an argument they resort to tears (enough said). While women are believed to lack reason they are said to be passionate. How many times have we heard Hillary express her passion for her cause. Women are not believed to be very good with money. Hillary’s campaign is known to be in debt.

I am not claiming that women in general actually have these attributes, or even that Hillary Clinton necessarily possesses them. I am saying that these attributes have been and still are often described as characteristic of the behavior of women (generally, and as opposed to men). However, if there is any merit in the above account of her behavior during this campaign, it is difficult not to see some parallels. I do not believe these behaviors set much of a standard for future women candidates. While it is possible for a woman to be too “manly,” it may be it is equally possible to be too “womanly.” It is hard to deny that Hillary has acted in these ways, make of that as you will. And while there is obviously an element of racism in the contest between Hillary and Obama, so far no one has had the temerity to stereotype Obama as “lazy,” “shiftless,” and “no-account.” Don’t bet it won’t happen, even though at the moment he seems to be criticized for the opposite (too elite, another stereotype). Americans like to cling to their stereotypes no matter how foolish and inaccurate they may be.

"Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult."
Charlotte Whitten

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Hillary Clinton is threatening to take her campaign all the way to the convention. Nancy Pelosi has announced she is not going to permit that to happen. So much for all those sexist males picking on Hillary. Of course it wouldn’t have to go to the convention in the first place if the superdelegates would just get off the fence and give in to the inevitable. Obama is going to be the candidate. Period. The rest is simply Hillaryous. Leave it to the Democrats to screw up even the most simple process.

The MSM is in seventh heaven, what with the new Scott McClellan book giving them more grist than the ordinary mill can grind, even though it basically tells us nothing we didn’t already know. What I find the most interesting about this non-stop book review is that way everyone is managing to avoid asking even the most rudimentary questions about the claims McClellan is making, like, for example, are they actually true. The discussion involves mostly questions about McClellan’s motives, the timing of the publication, whether he was actually privy to some of the information, what happened to change McClellan’s attitude, and so on. No one is asking if it is true that they lied to bring about the war, whether Bush is indeed, incurious and rigid once a decision has been made, whether he did, in fact, authorize the Plame leak, and so on. Nor do they challenge the contention that Bush believed Presidential greatness could only be achieved through a war, or that he has the ability to come to believe whatever he needs to believe at the moment. Is it because everyone just already believes this is all true? Or is it, as more likely, they don’t dare challenge the facts as that would lead to further questions they don’t want to have to deal with? I suspect the latter.

But what I find fascinating are the various responses to the book. The best one that I have heard from several people in the administration, including Karl Rove himself, is “it’s not the Scott McClellan we knew.” Just what in the hell does that mean? Does it mean the McClellan we knew would never lie? As there is no reason to believe he is lying I guess that wouldn’t be what is meant. Does it mean, the Scott McClellan we knew would never rat on his friends? Maybe. Does it mean he never rocked the boat before? Does it mean, we never realized he was anything more than a patsy who could always be expected just to do as he was told? Perhaps it means simply that he was always loyal to Bush before, so how could he do such a thing? Who knows what it means? What else can they say when they really have no defense. Another tack is to maintain that he is just disgruntled. They want us to believe he is disgruntled because he was eased out of his job as Press Secretary. Perhaps he is, but he’s obviously more disgruntled because Rove and Libby lied to him and he was forced into saying something that destroyed whatever credibility he had. Then, of course, they say, why didn’t he speak up at the time if he didn’t approve of what was happening? Perhaps he should have (although such things are far easier said than done), but the fact that he didn’t doesn’t mean his objections aren’t just as valid and true now as they were before. There are also those who just think he did it for the money. That probably has something to do with it. He was disgruntled (probably also ashamed) and wanted money, why not write a book about it? He better hope for a lot of money because he’s burned his bridges behind him now and will always be seen by some as a traitor to the cause (however horrible a cause it was). The one thing none of his critics in the administration say is that he developed a conscience after all those years of lying on behalf of a murderous tyrant that has been responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands and misery untold. When Bush admitted to being involved in the Plame “outing” perhaps that was the final straw. “What Happened” doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, or at least suspect, but it does stamp it with a seal of authenticity.
Finally, some, like Bush himself, have said merely they are “puzzled” by it. What are they puzzled about, that someone finally told the truth about something? As we have had to live in a veritable sea of lies for the past eight years they probably cannot even conceive of someone telling the truth.

The Hummingbird

There are lots of hummingbirds here at Sandhill, along with many other birds. We used to have birdfeeders outside but our three cats killed so many birds we stopped feeding them a long time ago. We do not feed the hummingbirds but we do plant flowers that attract them. The other day one of our cats, Ceci, the oldest, a kind of calico, who is also a bit fat and slow moving, somehow managed to catch a hummingbird and bring it in the house. The first I knew of this is when I heard Ceci meowing in the living room. When I went to investigate I found her proudly standing over the tiny little bird as if showing me what a mighty hunter she still was. The gorgeous little creature was still warm but seemed to me to be quite dead. I admired her plumage and the needle-like black bill when I picked her up, wrapped her in a paper towel, and sadly placed her in the garbage can. Happily, an hour later, my wife opened the can, and out flew the hummingbird, good as new! As hummingbirds fly at what seems to me the speed of light, and as Ceci is as slow as molasses in winter, I have no idea how she managed to catch it in the first place. I guess it just proves, “you’re never too old.” More importantly, it shows there can still be happy endings in these nightmare years.

“Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.”
Norman Mailer

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Scott McClellan’s book, What Happened, is creating quite a stir. .I guess because it’s by an “insider.” It can’t be because it’s telling us anything we didn’t already know. Bush/Cheney et al “catapaulted the propaganda” to lead us into the “war” with Iraq, Bush is basically incurious, he doesn’t reflect much on what he’s doing, he doesn’t like to revisit decisions already made, thinks one can only be a great President if he has a war, wanted to finish something his father started, ran the White House as if it were in a continual campaign mode, and so on. Anyone who has been paying attention already knows this stuff. But McClelland’s verification is, indeed, quite a blockbuster. No one seems to know his motivation for finally coming clean about all this. It would never occur to any of the Brafia that he might just have a guilty conscience (as none of the others seem to have any conscience at all). Maybe he is just pissed off about the way he was treated. Maybe he’s just in it for the money. Maybe his publisher pushed him into it. Maybe, maybe, maybe, what does it matter. He’s obviously telling the truth about this unbelievably rotten administration and giving us some of the reasons for its rottenness. I haven’t read the book yet and quite likely won’t read it because having listened to it described in endless detail today I think I know what it says. I may have to read it just to satisfy my endless and still unsatisfied curiosity about the Gannon/Guckert matter. Why, that is, was a known male prostitute given more or less free run of the White House on occasions when there was not ostensible reason he should have been there. I have heard rumors that it was McClellan himself that might have been responsible. I wonder if he mentions this in his book. If anyone reads the book please let me know if this strange episode is mentioned (otherwise I might actually have to read it myself). McClellan also reports that Bush doesn’t remember if he used cocaine or not, which he finds strange. I find it strange, too, but perhaps Bush was never sober long enough to remember most of what he did. I had not known that McClellan had been with Bush in Texas and went with him to the White House. They were friends and McClellan must know him pretty well by now. All this does for me is remind me that Bush is probably a marginally retarded jerk who had (has) no interest in governing or in the citizenry, and is only interested in power and how he can use it to transfer money from the taxpayers to his corporate backers and cronies. Good job McClellan! I hope you make a lot of money because you’ll probably never find another job.

John McCain seems to be setting some kind of record for having the worst candidacy ever. Now, having had several of his advisors already resign because of their corporate lobbying (for some of the worst people on the planet), it turns out that his senior economic advisor is Phil Gramm. At the very moment Gramm is advising him on economic policy he is working for one of the Swiss Banks that is involved in the mortgage scandal (a scandal brought about through Gramm’s help in deregulating the industry). This is the same John McCain who railed against lobbyists and their role in government, while at the same time involved with them up to his eyeballs. It turns out the “Straight Talk Express” is more like the “Forked Tongue Express.” For me, the McCain candidacy can only be summed up as simply laughable.

And speaking of laughable, that is about the status of Clinton’s campaign as well. It would be entirely laughable if it were not threatening to destroy the Democratic party. If she does not get out in June and takes her whining to the convention in Denver it will be apparent that her motive really is to doom Obama for a chance to run in 2012. I used to admire her and thought she was even sort of inspirational, now I think of her (and Bill) as basically despicable, with thoughts only of themselves and absolutely no shame in pursuing her unabashed ambition.

“Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices, so climbing is performed in the same posture as creeping.”
Jonathan Swift

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Deal me out

She won’t let him in. He crashes
Humvee through garage door, is
arrested for second time that day.

Let me say right now that from this moment until the November election you should pay no attention to anything I say about politics. I have realized that my views on what is happening are apparently so far from everyone else’s, and my biases are so profound, I will not be able to objectively view what might happen. I say this because (1) I find it utterly incomprehensible that anyone (McCain) would attempt to run on the Bush record, (2) the Brafia would even allow him to do this if they expect to win, (3) the MSM keep covering this as if McCain is a serious candidate who actually has a chance to win, and (4) this is happening at all. From my admittedly biased perspective I find it incredible that McCain could expect to win a single state, aside perhaps from a couple of the hopelessly racist enclaves in West Virginia and Kentucky. Eighty one percent of the American people believe we are on the wrong track, they hate this phony “war,” that McCain wants to continue, and they are fed up with Washington D.C. in general. So running on another four years of the same is supposed to produce votes? And not only is McCain tied to Bush policies, he has also surrounded himself with lobbyists of the worst kind and sought out endorsements from religious leaders who are demonstrably insane. The MSM are taking this candidate seriously? They seem to be. They keep analyzing which states he will win as opposed to Obama and treat him as if his apparent senility (experience) is an asset. He keeps insisting that Obama is too young and inexperienced to even understand the problems, the very problems he wants to try to keep solving by the already failed policies that created them in the first place (a sure sign of insanity). I will not be surprised to hear him start addressing Obama as “boy” any day now. Just today McCain said in a speech that our troops will eventually come home with a “victory,” and he will never “surrender.” The very fact that he would use such language indicates just how far from reality he obviously is. There can be no victory in Iraq, victory was lost when we invaded illegally and immorally in the first place. Nothing that could possibly happen now could ever make up for the horrors we have inflicted unnecessarily on that unfortunate country, horrors that McCain wants to continue because of his mindless view that to face up to reality and admit a horrible blunder is to somehow surrender. Having put up with all this nonsense for so many months, and having observed the performance of the Clintons, I have concluded that not only is Obama our best hope, he is the only one that is even sane, and it is not easy to remain sane when surrounded by a veritable sea of insanity. Bush/Cheney and their henchpersons have committed war crimes of the most serious kind. Everyone knows this. They have even admitted it. McCain wants to continue in the same way. We are being asked to suspend reason and common sense and pretend all of this has not happened and what we need is more of the same? I’m sorry, just deal me out.

“They were going to look at war, the red animal – war, the blood-swollen god.”
Stephen Crane

Monday, May 26, 2008


Is it just me, or does everyone else think things have come to a complete standstill? Maybe it’s just because of the three day holiday. Is there still a “war” in Iraq? Is there still a contest between Obama and Clinton for the Democratic nomination? Is anything happening at all, anywhere in the world, except Memorial Day Parades? As much as I dislike Sundays, they are nowhere near as bad as three day holidays.

One thing that seems to be happening, thanks to Hillary, is that everyone now has assassination on their mind. I’m sure that many people, like myself, had a suspicion that Obama might be a candidate for assassination if for no other reason than he is (part) black. But Hillary’s faux pas appears to have brought it much more into the light of day. Fox news apparently thinks it’s a great idea. Others are writing about it, wondering about the adequacy of his safety precautions and etc. So thanks, Hillary, you certainly planted the seed in everyone’s mind, or at least nurtured it along. If I were Obama I wouldn‘t let you near the White House, or Bill either. At this point does anyone really care what people in Puerto Rico, Montano, or South Dakota think about the candidates? Let’s get it over with, PLEASE. Bill and Hillary, presumably the consummate political strategists, certainly screwed this one up. Why don’t they just retire with their millions? Maybe they could join their friends, the Bushes, in Paraguay.

I am amazed at the continuing amount of support there is for Ron Paul. Interestingly, in Seattle it seems to be more among young people whereas here it seems to be the elderly. And according to our local Spokane paper there is a great deal of support there as well. I guess they are going to press their case at the coming convention. I can’t see anything much coming from it. Strange that so many people seem to want to return to the 19th century.

An absolutely gorgeous, comfortable day today here at Sandpile (er. Sandhill). We worked almost all day in the garden and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll have a good one this year (the weather here can be fickle). The deer continue to outsmart me at every turn. They are already in the orchard. Nothing I do seems to work. Do scarecrows work on deer as well as on birds?

Perhaps thing will return to normal tomorrow (whatever normal is in the current madness that seems to have engulfed us). I love Tanka poems, but there are very few truly good ones.

“A drizzly day,
with yellow leaves pasted
to wet black pavement—
Returning the library books
she left behind…”

Larry Kimmel

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Server problem

We are having trouble with our server and have been mostly unable to blog or do anything else on the web until just now. And of course as it is a long weekend there isn’t much news on TV either. I guess everyone is either caught up with Indiana Jones or Recount. Why people are so obsessed with the former, a kind of glorified “B” picture, and the latter, which we already know all about, is not entirely clear to me. Maybe we should be excited that Bob Barr finally won the right to represent the Libertarians after several votes. I find it difficult to be excited about any of these subjects. I find Hillary Clinton’s unfortunate slip of the tongue about assassination no longer of interest. In fact, I’m sick of the whole business and just want it to be over soon.

What I do find of interest is the fact that developments in the Middle East are now going on more or less as if the U.S. is irrelevant. Bush/Cheney have apparently managed to screw things up so badly, and have weakened the U.S. so badly that Israel, Syria, Turkey, and the Saudis, among others, no longer pay any attention to us. A really great job Bush! The danger here is that Bush/Cheney may try to regain attention (or on the other hand, escape attention for their crimes) by an attack on Iran, which will make the Iraqi disaster look like a picnic. As they are already guilty of war crimes what will it matter if they do it again? Murderers are murderers whether they have committed only one murder or many. Cheney, I heard, owns a house in Dubai, and it is also known (I think) that the Bush people own a huge tract of land in Paraguay. Is that of significance or not? In any case, time is now running out for the Brafia criminals. Will justice prevail or has justice become just a joke here in what used to be our fair country?

“Did he see his reflection
in adoring eyes
and lose perspective?
Or did he, like Icarus
simply fly too near the sun?”

Sue-Stapleton Tkach

Friday, May 23, 2008

Foot in the mouth disease

Alas, poor Hillary’s occasional bouts of foot-in-the-mouth disease may have finally become too serious to be conveniently overlooked (although many are trying to overlook it). Unless you are both blind and deaf and communicate with no one you must have heard of her recent gaffe: she mentioned the word assassination in the context of current politics. She said something to the effect that “as her husband did not sew up his nomination until mid-June, and Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June, she did not understand…” That is the video clip that has been repeated endlessly all day. She says she was simply trying to make the point that her not dropping out of the race as yet was not unusual. Personally, I believe her, but I fear it is a bit more complicated than it seems. It was immediately assumed by some that she really meant she was sticking around because something terrible, like an assassination, could happen to Obama, a thought so dark many refuse to believe she could have meant it that way. I don’t believe she meant it that way, at least consciously. But how about subconsciously? I believe it would be only human for her to have at least a subconscious desire or hope that something might happen to give her the nomination, and assassination is just one of the things that could, potentially happen. The idea of assassination is in the air. I have heard several people over the past few months suggest it could happen to Obama (they are assuming, of course, there might be some screwballs out there that do not want a black President and would exercise this option if given a chance). But even beyond that, Huckabee tried to make a joke out of a loud noise while he was speaking to a crowd, saying it was Obama worrying about an assassination. None of these people would come right out and say they wished Obama would be assassinated, or even that they hoped he would, and I would give them the benefit of the doubt, just as I do Hillary. Nonetheless, the term has surfaced from somewhere, and I believe it lingers in the subconscious of many who are concerned with the current political scene. When you consider the fate of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, is must resonate strongly within the black community. There will be many who will not forgive Hillary this time as they did when she misspoke about her Bosnia trip. Some even believe this will be the end of her campaign. She is obviously aware she made a blunder of massive proportions, whether this means she will finally be forced to give up remains to be seen.

Our little community here in a relatively remote corner of the country has a population of just over 2000. But as it is the only real town of any size and is also the country seat, it embraces about 10,000 people who inhabit the entire county. It is mainly an agricultural community but has also been importantly known for logging. In recent years there has been an influx of people from elsewhere, many from California, so the diversity for such a small population is quite considerable. This diversity has been enhanced by computer technology that allows people to work from home in various ways, while at the same time continuing in more traditional pursuits. Some live here for the natural beauty, some for the hunting and fishing, some because they have always lived here, and some because they want to be left alone. I have decided to offer an occasional vignette to illustrate what it is like to live here at the beginning of the 21st century.

For such a small community we have a rather nice hospital that offers most of the basic services you require (there is a helicopter service for services they are not equipped for). I had to have a blood test the other morning. For some reason they were much busier than usual. I had to wait. While waiting, two men entered and sat down across from me. One was very old and frail, walked slowly with a cane, and was wearing bedroom slippers. The other one was huge. He must have weighed a minimum of 250 pounds, was just under six feet tall, barrel-chested, and had an incredibly full black beard that, along with his bushy eyebrows, obscured most of his facial features, other than his dark brown eyes. He had long black hair that stuck out under a worn baseball cap, and wore a black t-shirt with an elk head outlined in white, heavy lumberjack suspenders, and a pair of heavy brown cotton work pants that stopped just short of his boot tops. It was easy to imagine him gutting an elk and even eating raw liver. I could not estimate his age, he could have anywhere from 35 to 50. While he was not downright terrifying he was not someone I would seek out for a friendly visit or a beer. My imagination being what it is, I could actually visualize him biting the heads of chickens for breakfast. As I watched the pair it became obvious the old man was his father and he was bringing him to the hospital. After a few minutes the bearded one rose, went to a magazine rack, picked up a National Geographic, and returned to his seat where he commenced reading to the old man. Such are my prejudices, I was surprised to see he could read. But he did, quietly, while gently pointing out pictures to the Old Man, who seemed to be interested at first, but then began to fall asleep. The reader shut the magazine, tried to make his father comfortable, and sat staring at the floor. Suddenly, and without warning, the large high-ceilinged waiting room was engulfed in the most incredible loud sounds. It took me a moment to realize it was the sound of dozens of flapping, honking, migrating Canadian geese. I couldn’t believe it! I stupidly looked at the ceiling to see if they were actually flying around the room. Then, as suddenly as it began, it stopped! I realized with amazing disbelief it was his cell phone ringing. He answered. I heard him say, “Yes, dear, I will, as soon as I take Dad home.”

“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments—there are consequences.”
Robert G. Ingersoll

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pause for a moment

Pause for a moment and reflect on what is happening. If you are my age you probably never even imagined that an African-American would be the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Certainly I would not have believed this fifty or sixty years ago, but I also wouldn’t have believed it even ten years ago. This is not because I was or am prejudiced, it just would not have seemed possible. It would not have even occurred to me. Similarly, although I suppose somewhere buried in the depths of my subconscious there might have been the notion that someday a woman would become President, I would not have thought it would happen quite so soon that a woman would have mounted a serious campaign for President. What is perhaps most interesting about this is that we don’t appear at the moment to think that it is particularly unusual. We seem to have just accepted it as part of the normal course of events (at least it seems that way to me). That is, we do not perceive it as exceptional.

I find this most interesting because we have always had rare exceptions to the norms of our society. For example, in the small mining town where I was raised people sort of boasted about the fact that “the sun will never set on a black person here.” But there was a curious exception, a black man and his wife who lived and worked there, and even played bridge with the white families that indulged in that activity. Somehow their presence was just not acknowledged as unusual or exceptional or even undesirable. There was also a considerable anti-semitic attitude in our town, but, again, there were one or two Jewish families who lived there and they, too, were somehow considered normal (it was as if their Jewishness was just simply denied). And we also know now there were strange and seemingly aberrant presences throughout our history. There was, for example, a black man who accompanied Lewis and Clark. There were black cowboys and mountain men. And there were women like Annie Oakley and Poker Alice who made it in the so-called men’s world. But we do not think of Obama and Clinton in those terms. In this sense I think we have, indeed, come a long way (but obviously racism and sexism are still present in some corners of our society). If Obama goes on to become President, as it looks like he will, I think it will be a very proud moment in our history. And even in losing out Clinton will have, as Obama put it, shattered myths and created new conditions for women in our country. Perhaps she will become our first female Vice-President (and conceivably our first female President). These are not developments in our history to be taken lightly.

What I do think is unusual is what has happened to the Brafia candidate. John McCain has been transformed into John McBush and his Straight talk Express has become the Forked Tongue Wagon Train. It is said that he wants the Presidency so bad he has engaged in this strange transformation. But I for one find it strange that a man who wants the Presidency so bad would employ a strategy so unlikely to succeed. That is, why would he believe that promoting another term of the dismal Bush/Cheney disaster would be the road to the White House? Either he truly believes in these failed and discredited policies or he is too stupid to realize what he is doing. In some ways he seems to be just lost in the past, a past when the solution to every foreign problem was military force. Or a past in which marriage was the exclusive provenience of heterosexuals and abortions were performed in alleys with bent coat hangers. He is, after all, 72 years of age, and seems to have to have his minders with him at all times. So take your pick, an African-American, a woman, or an old guy tied to the presumed glories of the past and a somewhat jaundiced view of the present.

It is surely going to be Obama versus McCain. Now the interest will shift to the VP picks. Rest assured, we’ll hear about little else for probably weeks. Will it be x? Will it be y? Will it be vegetable, mineral, or animal? Will it be of this gender or that? I will predict only that if Obama picks a woman it will have to be Hillary. McCain will pick a younger, healthier, family man, not a woman. So how does the old poem go: “gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flyin, and this fair flower that blooms today, tomorrow will be dyin”” or something like that.

“don’t take me
into your old age
with you, mother—
even the waning moon
keeps its distance”

Jeanne Emrick

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The popular vote

Escaped African Grey Parrot
refuses to talk to police, gives
name and address to veterinarian.

Is it politics as usual? I guess it is if you think politics is an intrinsically sleazy business that need not follow the rules. Why else would Clinton keep pushing the popular vote scenario? Whatever you might think of Clinton I don’t think anyone believes she is stupid. She knows the rules, and she herself agreed to them. The Democratic candidate is to be picked on the basis of delegates won. It has nothing to do with the popular vote. So why does she persist in trying to change the rules in the middle of the game? First, it is not certain that she will have won the popular vote. Second, it doesn’t make any difference if she does. Third, the argument that because she might win the popular vote she would necessarily be the best candidate against McCain is not self-evident. Fourth, the argument that Obama cannot win the election is highly questionable and is contradicted by the polls that show Obama would defeat McCain. Fifth, her argument that Obama cannot win the white working-class vote seems to apply only in Appalachia where racism is obviously much of the problem, and where a Democratic candidate probably can’t win in the general election anyway. Sixth, it is inconceivable that even if Clinton did win the popular vote the superdelegates would award the nomination to her that would, at best, destroy the Democratic Party and at worst risk another American revolution. As she is not stupid she has to be aware of this. So why does she persist in pursing this doomed strategy? Is she merely trying to prove how much (part of) the American public loves her? Does she have a specific goal in mind, like the vice-presidency? It seems unlikely to me that Obama would agree to her on the ticket and she must be aware of that also. Does she want to become Senate majority leader? Perhaps. Does she want to be nominated for the Supreme Court? Perhaps. Is she gambling on weakening Obama enough so she can become President in 2012? Maybe. Will we ever know just what she is trying to do? I hope so. In the meanwhile we just have to go along with this monumental charade, promoted and encouraged by the MSM in spite of it’s being nonsensical.

And speaking of the MSM and their 24/7 news, today it has gone much like this:

The latest on the medical condition of Senator Ted Kennedy. He has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor (shot of Kennedy leaving the hospital).

Ten minutes or so later: The latest on the condition of Senator Ted Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor (shot of Kennedy entering a car and leaving the hospital)

Fifteen minutes later: The latest on the condition of Senator Ted Kennedy. He has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He is on his way to Kennybunkport.

Another fifteen minutes later: The latest on the condition of Senator Ted Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He says he wants to go sailing.

An hour later: The latest on the medical condition of Senator Ted Kennedy. He has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He is sailing with his family. He likes to sail.

Aaaaaagh!!! I feel terrible for Senator Kennedy and his family. It is a terrible tragedy. I wish him all the best luck in the world and sincerely hope he will fully recover. But, really, do we need this kind of “news” coverage? Can’t they leave it alone even for a minute. Can’t he have any privacy even while ill? I fully expect we’ll be getting reports on his appetite soon, perhaps, given the absolutely dismal performance of the media, we’ll even start hearing about his bowel movements. Enough, god damn it! Leave it alone. We should never have allowed 24/7 news if they are not going to actually give us meaningful news from all around the world (and even then could they really fill up the full 24 hours)? I do not either want or need to see any more car chases in Los Angeles, or any house fires in Birmingham, or any minor explosions in Perth Amboy, or the latest Britney episode, and I certainly do not need everything repeated endlessly hour after hour after hour. Furthermore, I don’t want to see any sheriff or fireman interviewed to tell me they don’t yet have any information. I want them to wait until there is some information, I want it announced as simply and clearly as possible, and then I want them to move on to some other REAL news story. And if they persist in spending as much or more time per hour on ridiculous commercials as they do on “news” they can just count me out. I’ll stick to the internet until they manage to commercialize it, too, and then, happily, I’ll probably be dead and gone. Why have we allowed our culture to deteriorate so completely?

“weathered dock
half as long today
I too
have wished to vanish
into winter mist”

Fred Donovan


It’s confusing, but not very amusing. So Clinton, as predicted, won big in Kentucky. Obama, as predicted, won in Oregon. In Kentucky, as in West Virginia, about one fifth of the voters admitted that race was involved in their decision. This means there must have been many more voters who felt that way but did not admit it. So now Clinton keeps harping about Obama’s failure to win the “working-class white vote.” However, he won it at least reasonably in Oregon and also previously in Wisconsin, Indiana, and other states. What does that tell you? It tells me what I have known all along; white working-class racists will not vote for an African-American. How else would you explain, for example, that some 30% of voters in Kentucky say they won’t vote for Obama in the national election. They will presumably switch and vote for McCain, or they won’t vote. Why? Obviously because they are racists. I see no other explanation. In Oregon, Obama also did well with white women, usually Clinton voters. It is sad, but true, that racism lives in the U.S., and it lives mostly in Appalachia, and among relatively uneducated voters, which is not in the least bit surprising. Thus, when asking what could Clinton bring to the ticket, should she become the VP candidate, the answer would have to be at best, the racist vote, and some of the women’s vote. So who would be proud to claim the racist vote? But she probably couldn’t deliver the racist vote. Why would a racist changae his/her mind and vote for Obama just because Clinton was on the ticket? Curiously, the pundits on MSNBC don’t seem to be able to come right out and admit this. They keep talking about his failure to win the white working-class vote, which is true only in Appalachia. And they keep arguing that he has to somehow overcome this “flaw” in his campaign. One might well ask, how is he to overcome this blatant racism? Racists are not easily converted, at least not without considerable education. And while it may be true that Bush received a large cross-over vote in the last election, that had nothing to do with race as race was not an issue. Strangely, Americans seem to think that college educated voters have no more credence than non-college educated Americans. This fits completely with the tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, a tradition that is going to guarantee our gradual decline in all affairs of the world. We have been and continue, to lose out more and more to the Japanese, Chinese, Indians, and others who admire education and the advantages that accrue to it. We don’t let “no pointy-headed intellectuals tell us what to do.” If it’s someone you’d like to have a beer with, that’s plenty good enough to elect them as President of the most powerful nation on earth. It makes you wonder why anyone need bother getting an education as it doesn’t seem to improve them in any way. Only in America.

I guess I should think it was confusing that the Brafia is so opposed to change, but I don’t. They seem to be opposed to anything that makes sense at all. For example, they are now criticizing Obama by claiming that he wants to do away with the sanctions on Cuba. These sanctions have been in place for years and have achieved basically nothing. Many people have talked of abandoning them over the years but somehow it doesn’t happen. They make no sense whatsoever, especially given the fact that we deal openly with China, a communist country far more important than Cuba. Then they fuss about the fact that Hamas favors Obama. Why wouldn’t Hamas favor Obama. I suspect almost the whole world favors Obama, and why not when McCain offers only a continuation of the failed policies of Bush. Wouldn’t it be in our best interest to try to work out the problems rather than just continuing on in the same failed way? And of course they shudder at the thought that Obama might actually engage in diplomacy with Iran, something that would clearly be in our best interest (as opposed to threatening war and obliteration). Apparently they also fear that Obama might actually do something to try to settle the Israeli/Palestinian problem in a way that might treat the Palestinians as equals. Then there is Obama’s desire to get us out of Iraq which doesn’t play well with the Brafia as it threatens their continued war-profiteering. In short, it appears to me the Brafia does not want anyone to do anything to change the status quo. It would be difficult to be more anti-American.

Finally, I am confused over this continual talk about the popular vote. First, it was decided, and agreed to by everyone, that the delegates would decide the nomination. Clinton wants to change the rules in the middle of the game. Not only that, she wants to claim all the votes cast for her in Florida, where Obama did not complete, and even in Michigan, where his name was not even on the ballot. The MSM for some peculiar reason seems to go along with the nonsense that the popular vote is important. This is all the more confusing when you realize that at least four states (I think) do not even release the popular vote. Minnesota is one of them and Obama won Minnesota big time. So why don’t they simply laugh Clinton out of the game instead of pretending somehow that the popular vote is even worthy of mention. Like I say, it’s all very confusing and not in the least bit amusing, or even edifying. It’s the American way!

“One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.
T. S. Eliot

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Always the fool

Colorado restaurant owner and
Security Guard taser each other
in dispute over parked van.

It’s true I don’t like Sundays. But you can find some truly amusing things if you look. For example, Bush now claims that the plight of the Palestinians, “breaks his heart.” Bush does not lack for chutzpah. After more than seven years of aiding and abetting Israel’s neo-genocidal attack on the Palestinians, he now has the gall to announce that their plight is breaking his heart? Having encouraged the Palestinians to have democratic elections, when they did so and legally elected a government (Hamas), Bush and the Israelis refused to recognize it. Not only that, they have treated it as a terrorist group! Now, with the sanction of the Bush administration, Israel has crowded a million and a half Palestinians into Gaza and is systematically starving and shooting them. The Palestinians, with virtually no choice, are firing a few primitive rockets into Israel so of course the problem is all their fault. “When you’re slapped,” says Humphrey Bogart, “you’ll just take it and like it.” The Israelis have been systematically stealing Palestinian land and water for years, with the full connivance of the Bush/Cheney administration and refuse to stop. Indeed, they are stepping up their illegal building programs on the West Bank. Bush’s heart is broken over the Palestinian plight, but not enough to do anything about it. Bush, if you do not already know, is a lying hypocrite and a scoundrel of the first order. He is apparently too stupid to know it.

Perhaps not as horrible as his claims about the Palestinians is the report today that he has been “lecturing” the Arabs about good government and the rights of women. George W. Bush, the greatest know-nothing President in American history, has the nerve to lecture anyone about good government and the rights of women? I wonder if he’s using his administration as a model of good government. I’m sure the Arabs were more than mildly amused to listen to this absolute moron “lecturing” them. They were so impressed by their “friend,” they turned his request for more oil down flat. I can’t understand why anyone lets laughing-stock-of-the-century even make speeches anymore. I guess they are just hard up for laughs.

The most hilarious of all is Bush’s absurd claim that it will be possible to solve the Palestinian/Israeli problem before the end of his administration. That is, in just the few remaining months of his lame duck Presidency. This is a most serious problem that has been festering for 60 years and has resisted all attempts to settle it up until now. In the meanwhile, thanks in great part to Bush’s allowing the Israelis to alienate even more land and water, it has grown even worse. Given the current situation with respect to both land and water, it may not even be possible to have a viable two state solution. Bush’s claim that it can be solved in the next few months betrays an appalling ignorance of the facts and the reality. But when did he ever bother about either facts or reality? Every speech he makes, and every claim he makes, only serve to prove what a complete and utter fool he really is. He is apparently too stupid to realize this so he just proceeds with his ridiculous babble day after day, knowing that his pal, Pelosi, is protecting him. By the way, you don’t hear much from “Condi Rice or Dick the Slimy these days. Are even they too embarrassed to defend him? McCain isn’t, he’s prepared to run on this platform of “war,” fear, and incompetence

I believe Hillary Clinton has been and is a victim of sexism, just as Obama has been and is a victim of racism. But did anyone believe even for a moment this would not happen with a woman and a black man both running for President? If so, they were terribly naïve. It appears that Obama may succeed where Clinton failed (she did not fail simply because of sexism, of course). These prejudices are fading, perhaps not quickly enough, but if Obama succeeds, a woman President will not be far behind, and it will be about time.

“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Unreasonable expectations

Biochemist parks divorcing
husband in 55 gallon drum of acid,
wants money, gets life without.

In a recent letter to the editor of our only major newspaper, a local man acknowledges that neither McCain or Clinton are worthwhile candidates for President, and then goes on to add that “he doesn’t trust Obama.” He doesn’t say why (pretty typical of such letters). I trust him. I believe he is entirely sincere when he says he wants to bring about change for the better. I believe he understands the problems and has ideas about how to go about fixing them. I believe he will appoint cabinet members and others who, unlike Bush appointees, will be appointed on the basis of their expertise rather than simply their loyalty. I think he will be open to the opinions of others and will not surround himself with a mob of sycophants. However, I worry about unrealistic expectations. Obama is not superman (oh, how I wish he was). He may not be able to bring about the changes we need very quickly. You know the pharmaceuticals, the insurance companies and banks, along with the military/industrial/political complex will not readily or easily give up their various super-lucrative rackets. They will oppose realistic changes with all their might, and their might, of course, is considerable. The problems Obama faces I think are unprecedented. No President in history will have confronted such a monumental disaster as the one Bush/Cheney are leaving behind. A “war” that, however endless it seems, cannot be won, and withdrawing from it will not be a simple matter. A military that is broken, not only in personnel but also in equipment, a national economy that is a shambles, the largest national debt ever recorded, infrastructure that is decaying before our eyes, global warming, a recession, and a nation that has become an international pariah, having been run by a gang of war criminals. However well-intentioned Obama may be, and I believe he is well-intentioned, He will be a mere mortal confronting problems that even the Gods would find potentially impossible. I know we will merely be able to give him our support and best wishes and be patient, very patient. I think he has the potential to be a great President, a potential certainly not shared by either Clinton or McCain, but that potential can only realize itself in an atmosphere of trust and good faith.

And speaking of McCain, does anyone think he truly has any chance of becoming President? I know the MSM keeps pretending that he is a serious candidate and may win, and all that, but, really, I don’t think so. How could anyone at the moment seriously run on the Bush/Cheney record? It has been eight years of unmitigated disaster. The illegal and unconstitutional “war,” torture, profiteering, war crimes, stealing from the taxpayers to give more and more wealth to those who don’t even need it, and feeding the greed of giant corporations that have no more regard for the citizens than a bunch of ants. This is the record McCain expects to win on? This has to be sheer fantasy. A third term for Bush? By any standards of reason or logic one would have to be surprised if McCain could win more than half a dozen states, if that. Of course reason and logic don’t often apply to the American electorate. But really, I’m surprised the Brafia is even allowing him to run. I think they know they will lose and he is just their political version of cannon-fodder. Even the Republican base doesn’t like him. I don’t worry about his age (after all, I’m older than he is), but I am a bit concerned with what I think are hints of senility

So listen up (whoever came up with that ridiculous phrase), Obama is going to be our candidate. And he is going to become our next President (barring some act of God or the Devil). Jokes about assassination are not funny. Huckabee is a jerk (and he’s certainly in good company).

“Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth, the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

It isn't fun anymore

Egyptian woman demands elderly husband
stage expensive marriage for her cat.
He balks, she sues for divorce, he relents.

When George Saunders reached his 65th birthday he left a note saying, “life isn’t fun anymore,” and shot himself. I think I understand at least part of his problem. We have in some cases carried trivialities to extremes. This is especially true, I think, when it comes to the relations between men and women, although I’m sure there will be some who disagree. Take the latest example. Yesterday Barack Obama made the mistake of addressing a woman, a reporter I believe, as “sweetie.” Sensing his mistake he immediately apologized. For what? Is addressing a woman you don’t know as sweetie truly derogatory? What is derogatory about it? Should he have said Ms. Whatever-your- name-is? I can’t see this as much of a problem. Of course if he had addressed a woman much older than himself as sweetie it might have been a bit different. But why should a man addressing a reporter who is there ostensibly to ask him questions, when he doesn’t know her name, have to apologize for addressing her as sweetie? Seems silly to me. Lots of women address me as “honey.” Waitresses, clerks, salesladies, and others often address me this way. Rarely, one even addresses me as sweetie. No one seems to think it is inappropriate or derogatory (I suppose there may be extremists who might think so). But, again, this is trivial. I don’t take offense, I don’t think they are “talking down” to me. They don’t know my name, so what should they call me, Mr. so-and-so? “Hey, you,” I might find offensive.

There are terms that are obviously derogatory in context. Everyone knows, for example, that addressing a black man as “boy” is a real no-no. You would never say, “hey, boy, move your car.” But you would probably say, “hey, man, mind moving your car?” Most of us know the limits of culturally appropriate and inappropriate terms of address.

But the problem, I think, goes beyond just these truly trivial matters. I believe, for example, there are differences between women and men. I don’t mean obvious physical differences, but differences in behavior, in attitudes, and even in values. These are not important differences, but they used to be fodder for humorists. I think women have different attitudes and behaviors towards many things, and men sometimes think these can be amusing. For example, I think women have very different attitudes towards ice cream and chocolates, tending to think they are just a little bit “sinful.” Similarly, I think that (in general, mind you) women have different approaches to the telephone and its use. Women drivers were the subject of jokes for many years. Men, myself included, used to write essays about some of these differences. They were not intended to be “put-downs,” just interesting observations about interesting but not very important things. But no more. If you dare to say anything about women drivers, or women on the telephone, or in the ice cream parlor, you risk being pilloried.

As above, I don’t believe that men, in general, would demand an expensive hotel wedding for their cat. Men, in general, if left on their own, would not decorate their houses as women do. Women, in general, are not as interested in tools as are men. Men’s inability, or unwillingness to ask for directions, is a constant theme in our culture. No one takes offense at that. But say something about women drivers and watch out. Women are, I’m pretty certain, much more interested in clothes than men, and they are almost certainly more interested in shopping. These are differences that exist. They’re no big deal. They are not differences that make a difference. But they used to be grist for the humor mills. We seem to have lost that. Life is just not fun anymore (at least not as fun as it used to be).

“I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me to be the most civilized music in the world.”
Peter Ustinov

Thursday, May 15, 2008


It’s simple. He’s a Nitwit. Keith Olberman, among others, is outraged that Bush claimed to have given up golf as his sacrifice for the “war.” He said he didn’t want mothers whose sons had died in Iraq to see him playing golf. I guess he didn’t mind them seeing him at McCain’s birthday party, or dancing on the White House steps, or searching under chairs and tables for non-existent WMD’s, or claiming that the best moment of his Presidency was when he caught a seven pound bass in the stocked lake on his pig farm, or playing the guitar while New Orleans was destroyed, or walking hand in hand with the Saudis, or riding his bike, or sailing with his father, or hugging a giant Easter Bunny, or whatever. Besides, he lied, he was playing golf two months after he claimed he had stopped. Now Democrats are outraged because he compared Obama’s willingness to talk with Iran with the appeasement of Hitler prior to his attack on Poland. Granted this was pretty vile, to say nothing of completely absurd, as well as devoid of common sense, but things like this don’t bother Bush. They don’t even bother me (anymore) because I know from almost eight years of experience that the reason he does these things is simple, He’s a nitwit. This has been apparent from the very beginning of his Presidency. I have said all along that he is marginally retarded. I believe it’s true. I also believe that he reads speeches as they are given to him. He has neither the knowledge nor interest to read and edit them in advance and I don’t believe he even understands them (I’m not sure but I believe even one of his speechwriters claimed this was true). Bewildered by the criticism, as he has no idea what he did, he and his spokesperson now claim he wasn’t talking about Obama. He was apparently unaware that the person he referred to as wishing to have talked to Hitler (before he attacked Poland) was, in fact, a Republican Senator from Idaho, Senator Borah (who established the Borah Peace Conference at the University of Idaho way back when). I have no doubt a clever speech writer could get him to say anything, no matter how outrageous, because he is basically oblivious to anything more complicated than “My Pet Goat.” He reminds me of a bar owner in my home town who was known to be a few cards short of a full deck, so to speak. One of the local wags proved this by getting him to cash a check. The check was made out on “The Bank of Nowhere,” and was signed by someone named “U. R. Stuck.”

Those Senators and Congresspersons who used to be known as Republicans, are now in a panic, suddenly realizing that what they have done for the past eight years is going to finally catch up with them. Having been fully complicit in allowing Bush/Cheney to get away with war crimes and repeated violations of the Constitution, to the point where they converted what was the Republican Party into a vast criminal conspiracy (the Bush Republican Mafia, otherwise known as the Brafia), they are now in a tizzy over the fact that they are going to suffer a monumental defeat in the coming elections. They have lost three consecutive special elections to Democrats in areas that were strongly Brafia, some are predicting a 20 seat loss in the House (I think it might even be worse). I believe, at least I hope, we are about to see enacted on a massive scale, that old adage, “crime doesn’t pay.” Unfortunately, it has certainly paid off handsomely for them for the past eight years, systematically transferring taxpayer monies into the pockets of fat cats and corporations. They know they would be safe with McCain or even Hillary, but are terrified of Obama who might actually enact some changes. Of course it remains to be seen how actively or conscientiously Obama will try to confront the robber barons and other criminals who have succeeded for so long in their campaign of murder, arson, pillage and rape. You know they will attack and oppose him in every way possible. Ironically, our White Hope, our White Knight, may turn out to be part black. I love it. He may not come to our rescue but at the moment, “he’s the only game in town.”

Do you think there is a crash course for those who agree to act as the White House Spokesperson, at the end of which they agree to say anything they are told to say no matter how dishonest, hypocritical, stupid, ridiculous, evil, or humiliating? The young lady currently serving in this capacity must have been at the top of her class. She says with a perfectly straight face that Bush was not referring to Obama when he made his idiotic statement about appeasement, just as she also claimed that “Mission Accomplished” really referred to the fact that the voyage of the aircraft carrier was over. What will her experience as White House Spokesperson qualify her for in the future? This reminds me of an ex-Marine who, when filling out a job application, came to a question about what his previous job qualified him to do. He wrote, “Murder, Arson, and Rape.” Ms. Perino’s performance seems to demonstrate a remarkable capacity for dishonest and mindless loyalty. No doubt she will move up in the Brafia hierarchy (if it survives at all).

“Take hope from the heart of man, and you make him a beast of prey.”

West Virginia?

Man wishing to be buried
alongside his mother, finds his
gravesite already occupied.

The big and happy news of the day is, of course, John Edwards endorsing Obama, and giving a rousing speech to that effect. This will keep the pundits and the MSM busy for several days. Will he be the VP nominee? Will he get a cabinet position? Will it be the Supreme Court? Where was his wife? Is she still endorsing Clinton? Was this deliberately planned to such the wind out of Hillary’s West Virginia triumph? When did Edwards decide? What could he bring to the ticket? Blah, blah, blah. Don’t misunderstand, I think it’s great, but there is no doubt we’ll be hearing about it for some time and the less anyone actually knows about it, the more they’ll talk about it. Probably of greater importance is the fact that the Democrats won another Congressional seat in Mississippi in the heart of a Republican district.

As for me, I’m still puzzling over West Virginia. It was predicted that Clinton would win in a landslide there, and she did. But what does it actually mean? And what does it suggest for the future? It is easy to just dismiss her victory there as the inevitable outcome of a virtually all-white state, populated mostly by working-class white men and older white women. Apparently, fully 20% of voters interviewed admitted that race was important to them in their decision. You know if that many admitted it there had to be many more that felt that way but wouldn’t admit it. But what does it mean to those who are claiming that Hillary as VP could deliver the white working-class vote? Will these voters give up their racism just because Hillary is on the ticket? I doubt it. Also, I strongly suspect that these voters who are racist are most likely to be also sexist. Does this mean that race takes priority over sexism when it comes to voting? Do they just prefer a white woman to a black man, no matter what? This might mean that if Hillary is on the ticket they will not only lose the black vote but also the sexist vote (if they are not more or less one and the same). What could Hillary offer Obama other than claiming she can deliver “the stupid vote?” The same thing would be true of anyone running with Obama. Thus I believe we should just write West Virginia off as totally unrepresentative of the rest of the United States and not even worry about it in the context of the national election (which it looks like Obama is prepared to do). Perhaps there is some solace in the fact that at least many citizens of West Virginia seem to be honest.

Could either Clinton or Edwards actually deliver the hard-working white vote (minus the racists and sexists)? Could they help dispel the mistaken image they have created of Obama as an elitist? Clinton with her 20 million dollar earnings last year and her elitist background, Edwards with his fortune and $400 haircuts? Obama is more of a populist than either of them but somehow he has been labeled as an elitist (I guess because he went to the University on scholarships?). It should be obvious by now that facts have nothing to do with the elections, and certainly don’t affect the MSM. Even now they still want us to believe Hillary has a chance. Why? It sells news, or at least what we are being told is news. Actually, it all just balderdash.

I suppose you heard that Bush’s big sacrifice for the “war” effort was giving up golf. Poor guy, he must really be suffering. In case you are unaware of it, George W. Bush gives buffoons a bad name.

Someone I know, whose opinions I respect, and who knows more than I do about politics and the Democratic Party, suggested to me that the party is much more divided than they let on. Much to my surprise, and even amazement, he thinks McCain could end up winning the Presidency because of this split. I don’t know if this is true but it does occur to me that Hillary Clinton, even though she cannot win the nomination, has the potential power to insure that Democrats, and Obama, lose. She could do this presumably by instructing her followers to either not vote, or to vote for McCain. This would then allow her to run in 2012. It is claimed that all the talk of unity, especially by Clinton, is just a front and that, in fact, the whole show could be torpedoed. I find this frightening and I sincerely hope it is not so. But we should know before long whether Hillary is sincere in wanting to unite the party and back Obama. Why does it seem there is always a dark threatening cloud on the horizon?

“Facts are stupid things.”
Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hillary wins big (in West Virginia)

Airline pilot forces man to
sit on toilet for three hours;
he sues for two million.

As predicted, Hillary Clinton won West Virginia, big! Some will say she won the “stupid vote.” I don’t know exactly just what to think. It’s true that 65% of voters in West Virginia fall under her category of hard-working white voters with less education. It’s also true there are lots of older people in West Virginia. It is probably true there are quite a few racists. All of these voters would certainly tend to favor Clinton. But the fact that she won by such a large margin seems to tell us something else, but I don’t know what. It certainly doesn’t tell us she is going to go on to win the nomination. Even with such a big win she would still have to get all of Michigan votes counted for her (impossible, I think), would have to win all of the remaining races, and would have to somehow recapture a bunch of superdelegates (which seems highly unlikely). So are West Virginia voters stupid, out-of-touch, or just more astute that the rest of us? Hopefully the analyses will give us a hint.

The really big news today, however, is that John Conyers sent a letter to President Bush warning him that if he attacks another country without Congressional authorization he will be impeached. This should have happened earlier but at least it has now happened and the line has been drawn. Frankly, I should think that if Bush/Cheney attacked Iran now, under the present circumstances, it would be an act of utter madness. But given their past record I guess nothing can be taken for granted.

General Betrayus, who failed to train the Iraqis to “stand up” so we can “stand down,” and who also failed with the so-called “surge,” and who repeatedly lied to Congress on behalf of Bush/Cheney, and who was described by his predecessor, General Fallon, as a true “ass-kisser,” has been promoted. He is now in charge of the entire Middle East. Some see this as a prelude to war with Iran. Perhaps Conyer’s letter may dampen their enthusiasm for such an absurd new war crime. Perhaps. I wonder when Bush will award a Congressional Medal to Dick the Slimy, he is far more undeserving than any of Bush’s previous medal winners.

Terry McCauliffe must have been a cheerleader when he was younger. He has all the enthusiasm of a young puppy, but unfortunately he also seems to have the brain of one. Remember before North Carolina and Indiana he predicted that Hillary would win both contests. She lost badly in North Carolina and barely squeaked out a victory in Indiana, almost certainly because of some Republican crossover votes motivated by Rush Limbaugh to vote for Clinton, for reasons that I do not think are as obvious as they have been portrayed. After this victory in West Virginia, McCauliffe already has her in the White House, predicting that she will win all the remaining contests, the superdelegates will flock to her, the Whoopee fairies will descend from the heavens to anoint her, and etc. Both Hillary and Terry keep insisting she still has a chance, and of course she does, about the same chance she has of being struck by lightning while riding sidesaddle on her Fairy Godmother’s white horse. But I guess a chance is better than no chance. I do not want to wish her good luck. She should have dropped out long ago.

“You can’t say that civilization don’t advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.”
Will Rogers

Monday, May 12, 2008

As usual, I don't get it

Is Pig-pig a pig or a hog?
Tacoma court will decide fate
of man’s pot-bellied pet.

As is often the case, I don’t get it. Why would Hamas not want to see Barack Obama as President of the United States? Need I remind you that Hamas is the legally and democratically elected government of the Palestinians (in a fair election monitored by. among others, Jimmy Carter). Israel and the U.S. did not anticipate such a result and of course refuse to recognize it as such. So much for democracy in the Middle East. The Bush/Cheney administration not only turned their backs on Hamas but are idly looking on while Israel has herded a million and half of them into Gaza where they are slowly starving and shooting them. So Hamas would be expected to welcome a third term for Bush in the form of John McCain? President Jimmy Carter has recently written about this tragic episode, brought about by our unprincipled and mindless support for anything the Israelis wish. Having labeled Hamas as terrorists, and refused to even speak with them, it is not at all surprising that Hamas would welcome a change in our administration. Where do they find people like John McCain and Joe Lieberman and why are they allowed to go on trying to slander Obama? As far as I can tell virtually the entire world wants to see Obama become President.

I don’t mean to be insulting but I have a question about West Virginia. It is generally believed that Hillary Clinton will win West Virginia tomorrow in a landslide, perhaps as much as 30 or 40 percent. My question is, why? Are the people of West Virginia really stupid or what? It is common knowledge that Hillary Clinton cannot win the nomination whether she wins West Virginia or not. So if they are voting for her because of some far-fetched idea she can be the nominee, that’s pretty dumb. Some people have suggested that they won’t be voting for Hillary as much as voting against Obama. So why would they most probably be voting against Obama? Because they are racists (at least that’s the best bet, I don’t believe they are ardent feminists in West Virginia). Are racists dumb? I think so. If they are voting for Clinton because they don’t know what is going on (they don’t have TV or newspapers or don’t bother to keep up), then perhaps we can say they are ignorant rather than stupid (there is a real difference). Maybe they actually fell for Hillary’s claim to be one of them – a whiskey drinking, beer guzzling, bowling, good ol’ gal from down home, in which case they are really dumb. I could be completely wrong about my assessment of West Virginians. Perhaps they are all knowledgeable and well-informed, fair-minded, free of racial bias, pro-feminine, and exceptionally thoughtful, truly believing that Clinton would be the best President. You know, like the ones that believe Obama is a Muslim, or is going to take their guns away, or promote same-sex marriages or the homosexual life style. I think the vote tomorrow will tell us a great deal about West Virginians. I’m not sure I want our next President to be picked solely by the citizens of West Virginia (or Idaho). As Obama has won more states, more delegates, the popular vote, and now more superdelegates, I sort of think he ought to be the candidate. But Hillary has told the people of West Virginia it is up to them (next it will be up to Puerto Rico, no doubt).

Virtually no one believes Hillary Clinton is going to be able to win the nomination. All we are waiting for now it to see what kind of deal she can cut with Obama. I think it is highly unlikely she will be picked as the Vice-Presidential candidate, or even in any cabinet position. If Obama is as smart as I think he is, he’ll keep the Clintons at arm’s length and take no risks. Won’t it be wonderful when this is all over, especially the nightmare years of the beginning of the 21st century?

“Human beings are dangerous predators and cannot be trusted with power over their fellows.”
Charley Reese

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Last One Syndrome

Another Sunday in the doldrums. I’ve said it before, I repeat it here. I don’t like Sundays. There’s no mail, no real news of any kind, nothing on TV (of course there is never anything worth watching on TV), and on this Sunday it is raining and gloomy and not at all conducive to working in the garden. It makes me brood about things.

For example, according to the Mountain Goat Report, an Idaho business has been making money for years by importing hazardous waste. Apparently over a million tons of hazardous waste has been brought in and placed somewhere in our fair state. Now is that dumb or what? Importing hazardous waste for profit does not seem to me to be a business we ought to allow. Naturally, they had to have some special dispensation to do this, such dispensation must have come from our Idaho Legislature. Only a Republican Legislature could have bought into this travesty. This is the same bunch of demented Republicans who have fought for years to avoid paying for education in our state. They are still fighting in the courts so as to not have to pay for education if they can help it. As I recall, one of them several years ago even suggested changing the Idaho Constitution so the state wouldn’t have to fund education at all. There is not space here to go into detail but not funding education is even more crazy and short-sighed than importing hazardous waste. Not funding education is like betting against the future, importing hazardous waste is much the same. I wonder if they would import smallpox if someone would pay them for it. Anyway, enough brooding about that for the moment.

Another thing to brood about is the drug “war.” Our drug czar, whoever he is, has announced that people who smoke marijuana are depressed. Our drug czar is always picked from a group of people who know absolutely nothing about drugs. I don’t believe him. I don’t believe him because of personal experience and observations on many friends and acquaintances for more than sixty years. If there is any grain of truth at all in this claim it has to be related to the simple fact that under our completely absurd drug laws marijuana is illegal. People who smoke it know they are in danger of going to jail for something that millions of other Americans do year after year, and something that is nowhere near as bad as drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco that, paradoxically, is legal. No wonder they might be a bit depressed (if, indeed, they are). Anyway, just another feature of our culture of the totally absurd.

Then there is the matter of pet food. Millions of people are going hungry and the situation is getting progressively worse. This is partly because we would rather have gasoline for our gas-guzzlers than food for everyone. But worse, I think, is that at the very moment human hunger and starvation are serious problems we see ads on TV for expensive cat food called Fancy Feast and other such unthinking and stupid things. The ads for dog food, like the ones for something called Benefical (or something like that), actually display a container of absolutely delicious looking food that anyone would probably eat. Of course we have never worried about people starving, we don’t even worry much about people starving right here at home. That’s why the Reverend Wright can say his church feeds 5000 people a year while the administration cuts their food stamps. Of course we know those people are hungry only because they are lazy and won’t work (don’t we?). You see, there’s plenty to brood about on a gloomy Sunday, if you’re a brooding type like me.

One final disturbing thought that has to do with aging. I find myself suffering from what I have named the “Last One Syndrome.” This doubtless affects people at different ages depending upon their health and personalities. It takes the form of tending to believe that the things you must do may be the last of them. Like, for example, buying a car. I always think, “this is probably the last car I’ll ever buy” (I have felt this for the last three cars I’ve purchased). But it’s not only cars and big things like that. Take shampoo, for another example. I buy a big bottle of shampoo and I can’t help but think it’ll be my last one. Mennen Speed Stick deodorant is worse as I know just how long it can last. I pay for a magazine subscription thinking it will be the last time. Getting a new pair of contact lenses, too, brings this disturbing thought about. Going on trips, as well, brings this to mind. A friend of mine, even older than I am, once announced to a roomful of older people that he and his wife were going to Paris, adding, “I guess for the last time.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I’d like to believe that this syndrome would make you enjoy your last meals and such even more, knowing they might be the last ones you’ll ever have. But I don’t. It’s uncomfortable. I can’t believe the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t focused on this and given us a pill for it. I mean, after all, they give us pills to make us happy and make us sleep, and make us stay awake, and relieve pain, and, nowadays, it seems, for myriad illnesses we don’t even have, and that may not even be real illnesses in the first place. I know it doesn’t do to brood too much about this, and there is an “up side” to it.

Now when I go to a dentist or a doctor I always assume it’s for the last time. That’s a very pleasant thought. And I won’t have to live through any more wars. Even better though, is when I realize I will probably never again have to either see or hear George W. Bush or Dick the Slimy, or any of their idiotic followers. Now there’s genuine pleasure!

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”
Groucho Marx

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Stuck firmly in mud while digging
for geoducks, man is saved by
quick thinking innovative fireman.

Has anyone asked any of those hard-working, non-college educated, white voters how they feel about the insinuation they are racists? I have known and still do know quite a few such individuals and I am certain they are not all racists. Their failure to vote in large numbers for Obama may have little to do with racism as such. The Clintons are well-known, Obama is not so well known. Those who get to know him seem to like him. The longer the Clintons claim hard-working whites as their base (with the insinuation they are racists),the more they may lose them (I think). There are some racists, of course. But there are a lot of nuts, too. Just yesterday a man came into my friend’s shop and announced in stentorian tones, “I’d vote for a communist before I’d vote for Obama.” Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) my friend simply dismissed him as an idiot and didn’t bother to ask him why (there is no point in engaging such individuals in conversation unless you enjoy completely wasting your time). Happily, most hard-working whites, at least the ones I know, basically want to be left alone to raise their children and enjoy life as much as they can. While there is obviously still racism in American society we have come a very long way. There have been Black Governors, Congresspersons, Senators, successful business persons, entertainers, athletes, and even billionaires. Blacks are featured on TV, in movies, in interracial situations of all kinds, marriages, and so on. These things are just taken for granted now (certainly by the younger generations) in ways they were absolutely not when I was younger. And if our hard-working, non-college educated people favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, that does not mean they will favor John McCain over him (they might, but I think that is unlikely given our current situation).

And speaking of our current situation, I think John McCain is really little more than a sacrificial candidate. Brafians know they have no chance of winning the 2008 election. The record of the Bush/Cheney disaster of the past eight years is so obvious there is little or no chance any Brafia criminal could be elected. Remember many of them did not want McCain (and still don’t), but they still allowed him to win the nomination. Can any of them seriously believe that a candidate who wants to continue the Bush/Cheney reign of lies, terror, and illegal war could be elected? Bush has the lowest poll ratings of any President in recorded history. Cheney has no poll ratings at all in all probability. Everyone is sick of the Iraq disaster, the economy is in the tank, everyone knows what Bush/Cheney have been up to with their torture and “strong executive” policies. Everyone knows they have violated the Constitution repeatedly and also committed war crimes of a very serious nature. They are now little more than laughingtocks that everyone is waiting impatiently to go away as quickly as possible. Polls show the momentum is overwhelmingly on the side of the Democrats. And democrats have been registering and volunteering in record numbers. It is said there may be as many as one million volunteers for Obama. This is totally unprecedented, just as a million and a half donors to his campaign is unprecedented. McCain has lukewarm financial and other support. In spite of this the MSM keep telling us that he is running even with the Democratic candidates, and implying that he might even win the Presidency. I could be wrong about this (and I certainly have been wrong a lot in the past), but I believe this is sheer fantasy, McCain has virtually no chance at all to win. But as he is an old man and a war hero I guess they are willing to let him have his day, knowing full well that it is little more than a feeble gesture. This is the reason they would like Hillary to win as she is basically one of them. I think this has been their strategy from the very beginning. But Obama will win, the Brafia will spend the next four years doing everything they can to keep him from being successful, and then they will get serious about a candidate for 2012. In the loony words of our current useless President, “bring it on.”

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”
Blaise Pascal

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Last Duck - short story

As there is nothing much to discuss other than the usual nonsense about Hillary Clinton and why she won't give in to reality, I will offer this short piece from my uncollected, unwanted, unfinished, unknown, and unpublished volume entitled, "Encounters, The Short Stories of Morialekafa."

“Masta! Masta! Masta b’long kofi, i kom!” Aipa, my houseboy, almost out of breath, was excited by his news.
“Wonem Masta i kom?” I demanded.
“Masta b’long kofi, long hap,” he replied, pointing to the west.
I had been living in the village for almost three months. I knew there was a coffee planter living several miles away. I wondered what would bring him to visit me. Two minutes later a Land Rover drove up to my house and stopped on the bare ground of the village square. This was no mean feat, as no one before had driven into our small village; there was only a wide footpath from the main road above. The Land Rover was the most decrepit looking vehicle I’d seen among the few that existed in the Highlands at that time. It had a badly weathered canvas top and leaned awkwardly to the driver’s side with a broken spring. The original dark green color had faded and was caked with mud. Emerging from this apparition was my nearest neighbor. I extended my hand, and said “hi.”
The stranger looked at me briefly while he held out his hand, then he inspected my new and modest house of woven cane and grass. “Stan Kostka,” he said, shaking my hand. “your neighbor from up the road. I’ve come to invite you to dinner.”
“Adrian Brant,” I replied.“Dinner?”
“Yes. I know it’s unusual, but I have only one duck left, so I decided to eat it before the kanakas got it. I thought you might enjoy it.”
“One duck?” I said.
“Yeah, I had twelve, but the kanakas got them all, except this one. So come on, get in. I’ll bring you back later.” He spoke English remarkably well, but had an obvious Slavik accent. He looked the part: stocky, wide shoulders, a large head with a pompadour of generous brown hair just beginning to grey, bluish grey eyes, and strong legs that added to a picture of strength and durability. His face and arms were brown from the tropical sun.
“I’ll get my stuff,” I said, relishing the opportunity to meet my neighbor and enjoy a meal outside my usual menu of tinned corned beef and an occasional piece of badly cooked pork. I had learned not to travel anywhere without being prepared. My shoulder bag held my notebooks and pens, a flashlight, a small canteen, a Swiss Army Knife, a tightly folded plastic poncho, malaria pills, and a much treasured can of sardines.
Kostka said nothing as the Land Rover bounced along what was euphemistically referred to as the “Highlands Highway.” A heavy rain could render it impassable. The small plantation was off the road far enough as to be invisible unless you knew exactly where it was. As we drove in I estimated it to be ten, perhaps twelve acres, planted with neat rows of coffee trees shaded by casuarina trees. The coffee looked healthy and well tended. Three natives were weeding with machetes as we drove by.
Kostka’s “house” was essentially a warehouse, with one room set aside for living quarters. It was constructed of the same materials as my temporary dwelling, but was more substantial, having heavy rough plank floors rather than just woven cane on the otherwise bare earth. The walls were of the same tough woven cane, but they were securely fastened to stout posts with nails rather than tied in place with ropes of vine. The grass roof was weathered to the point of needing repairs. One generous room served as kitchen, living, dining, and utility room. The remainder of the building, one other much large room, was mostly filled with burlap bags of coffee. In one corner a bunk bed had been fashioned.
“Have you lived here long?” I asked, after we seated ourselves on benches at a large plank table. The room, like the coffee, was neat and tidy and quite comfortable.
“Six, seven years,” he replied. “I think I came in 1948. Maybe it was 49.”
“Did you start this place?”
“No, it was here when I came. But it was all run down and overgrown with weeds. Some of the coffee trees were dying. I had to replace them. It was a big job. It took me a long time.”
“Well, it certainly looks fine now,” I observed. “But how did you manage to end up managing a coffee plantation in the New Guinea Highlands? You must have come here from somewhere. Where did you learn about coffee?”
Kostka opened two cans of Foster’s beer and handed one to me. “I didn’t know anything about coffee,” he said. “I just learned about it when I came here.”
“What did you do before?” Kostka paused for a moment before answering, as if perhaps he thought I was being overly inquisitive.
“I was a gardener, a master gardener. In Prague. During the war, when the Fascists took over my country, I escaped to Australia. But I couldn’t find work there. Then I heard about this job and I’ve been here ever since. The coffee isn’t much different from other plants, you just have to tend it and take good care of it.”
“You don’t own it then? “ Again he paused, as if wondering if he should answer any more questions. Finally, he continued.
“No,” he replied. “It belongs to a man in Sydney. He’s a bookie. He doesn’t really care about it. He just uses it for some kind of tax purposes. He never comes here. In fact, he doesn’t even pay me regularly. I haven’t been paid for three months. I don’t have enough money to keep the place going. I need some new machinery. I keep writing and asking, but he only sends me money sometimes, I guess maybe when he has it.”
“Why don’t you quit?”
He looked at me with a strange look of disbelief. “Quit?” he said. “I can’t quit. Where would I go? What would I do? This is all I have. It’s my home. My only home. I left my wife and daughter behind when I fled Czekoslovakia. I was going to send for them when I could. Now I don’t know where they are. I never hear from them. I don’t even know if they are still alive.” Kostka blurted this out quickly, as if wanting to get rid of it, but strangely there was no tone of bitterness or despair, merely a hint of resignation and acceptance. “Let’s have some music,” he said, obviously wanting to change the subject. He rose, went to an old battery powered record player and a small pile of records, and carefully selected one.
The strains of “Moonlight Becomes You,” struck me as absolutely surreal, sitting as we were in the New Guinea Highlands, miles from anyone except the natives that surrounded us, most of whom still carried their bows and arrows and wore ornaments in their noses. I watched while he lighted a small gas stove and placed a large cast-iron Dutch oven over the flame.
“What about you?” he queried, upon returning to his seat. “What are you doing here, living down there with the kanakas?” Oddly, when Kostka said “kanakas,” clearly a term of disrespect, it was more like a factual description than a term of disdain.
“I’m an anthropologist. I guess you must already know that. I’m interested in learning how they live, and especially in how they are coping with change.”
“Do you like living with them? Don’t they steal everything? They steal everything here, all the time. That’s what happened to my ducks.”
“As far as I know they haven’t stolen anything. I know all the Europeans here think they steal, but they don’t steal from me. Maybe it’s because I don’t employ them and order them around and abuse them. Do you have a lot of trouble with them?”
“No, just the stealing,” he said, “I try to treat them well but they still steal. Here, let me get us something.” From a screened in food safe he took a smoked pork belly and some homemade bread. He brought them with a pair of sharp knives. The bacon was virtually pure fat. I watched as he carefully cut a piece and spread it on a slice of bread. I’d never seen this before, but I did likewise, and found it pleasantly appetizing. Kostka opened two more beers and pushed open a large window at our end of the room. There was no windowpane, just a window made of the same woven cane as the house. He pushed it open and propped it with a stick. The only view it provided was of an enormous pile of discarded cans and bottles, testimony to his presence there for some time.
“I bury everything else,” he explained. “But there’s not much point in trying to bury cans and bottles. The Andrews Sisters were singing in the background, “I’ll be with you in apple blossom time…” He excused himself and left the house. Shortly I heard him speaking in pidgin to one of the workers. It had something to do with feeding his “line.” I noticed that he treated the man with a kind of respect unusual between an employer and his native help. While waiting, I gazed casually around the room. The kitchen consisted of a high countertop, beneath which were shelves containing a few dishes, pots and pans, and a stack of neatly folded dishtowels. On the counter, in addition to the stove, were a number of tins that obviously held flour, sugar, rice, and other things, protected from the rodents I knew had to be ever-present. A large tin can held an assortment of mixed silverware. At the far end of the room was another set of open shelves containing his modest wardrobe. Some nails driven into the posts held the remainder, including coats and some well-worn hats. There were two heavy metal patrol boxes secured with padlocks. The raised food safe and a huge crock with a metal dipper hanging nearby completed the scene.
Kostka returned carrying some carrots and a few small potatoes that he placed in a cheap enameled pan. He added a generous dipperful of water.
“You have a garden?”
“Sure,” he said. “It’s small but I raise most everything. You know, you can grow almost anything here, anything, at least, that doesn’t require a cold dormant period.” Of course you have to keep it fenced if you don’t want the pigs to destroy it.”
“You raise pigs?”
“No. But there are wild pigs. And there’s a village not far from here and sometimes their pigs wander over here. They can be a real nuisance.”
“You seem to get along well with the natives,” I observed. “I notice most of the other Europeans here treat them like dirt.”
“Yes,” he said, “I treat them as well as I can. But you do have to discipline them sometimes. They don’t always seem to understand what’s yours and what’s theirs. I get along with them well, but they still steal everything that isn’t tied down. I guess you can’t blame them. They naturally want what we have, knives, axes, shovels, stuff like that. And of course I can’t afford to pay them very well. I try to be as generous as I can, but you can’t be very generous if you want to make any money raising coffee on a small plantation up here.”
“I stayed for a few days with some of your compatriots up near town. I was appalled at the way they treated them, kicking and punching them and treating them like animals, cheating them out of money, and taking every advantage of them you can imagine. I wanted to say something but I knew it would be of no use. Who am I to come here and tell people how to behave? The villagers tell me all kinds of horror stories about working there and refuse to do it anymore.”
“Yes, I know,” Kostka said. “That’s the way things are here. Everyone takes advantage of them. They all want to get rich and they think that’s the way to do it.”
“And you, you don’t want to get rich?”
“No, not like that. I gave up wanting to be rich a long time ago. I just want to live in peace. I’ve had quite enough of this world. I’m happy here. At least as happy as I can be without my wife and daughter. I’ve no hope now of ever seeing them again.” A look of profound sadness crept over his face. For an instant I thought he might cry, but it passed as quickly as it came. As he reached for the bacon I noticed the tattoo on his left forearm, a number, six digits. He noticed my staring at it.
“Theresienstadt,” he said. “A concentration camp. I was there for a time.” Kostka related this with no particular emotion as he rose and went for still another beer. The smell of the cooking duck was filling the air. He lifted the lid of the pot and dropped in carrots, potatoes and some small onions. The phonograph was silent. The predictable afternoon rain began to fall. I felt isolated in space and time, as if nothing existed except this room, the present moment, and the two of us.
“Where?” I said. “I never heard of that place. I don’t know anything about it. Can you tell me about it? Will you tell me about it? I’d like to know because… you know… it was before my time and, well, I just want to know.
“As he handed me a beer he said softly, “I don’t like to talk about it. It was a terrible time. I was very lucky, very lucky. I don’t like to think of those who were not so lucky. Hundreds died there. Thousands more were sent to Auschwitz where they all died in the gas chambers. I was to be sent there, too, but I managed to escape.”
“Why were you there in the first place? You’re not Jewish are you?”
“It’s not really a long story,” Kostka replied. “Theresienstadt was originally an armed city built for the nobility. Now it’s called Terezin. It’s about 60 kilometers from Prague. The Nazis converted it into a concentration camp for Jews early in the war, certainly by 1940. They needed labor to do the job so many of us were rounded up and taken there to work on it. It didn’t matter who you were, they just took you anyway. They might have thought I was Jewish because my wife’s parents were Jewish, I don’t know. Anyway, I was held there and forced to work for over two years. That’s when I got this number. When the place was finished, it was kind of a fake city so the Germans could dupe people into seeing how nice it was for the Jews. When they had no further use for us we were to be sent us to Auschwitz. We learned of this because one of us worked in the office and found out about it. This was in the early fall of 1943. They weren’t as well organized then as they were later. Three of us managed to escape during the confusion of loading the train. I managed to get to Austria where I had friends who helped me get to Switzerland. From there I eventually made it to Australia. That’s it, the story of my life.” Kostka finished his third beer and tossed he can out the window onto the pile. “Let’s eat,” he said.
“But what happened to the others, the other two?”
“I don’t know. We separated. I don’t know if they made it or not.” I know things became much worse there later. So many passed through there on their way to Auschwitz, and many died there before they could even be processed.” Kostka rose and put on another record. We ate our duck to the sounds of Benny Goodman. It was all quite delicious.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What does she want?

What does Hillary Clinton want? Why is she behaving so strangely? Or at least what I take to be strangely. Why, for example, has she decided to blatantly play the race card? She insists that white working class voters, those without college educations, prefer her to Obama, and that she has the white vote. Is this not throwing black voters under the bus, so to speak? After all, they constitute much of the base of the Democratic Party. She seems to think that no matter what she says the black vote will always be there because they would have nowhere else to go. They could just stay home and it’s a pretty good bet that many of them would if somehow the nomination was given to Clinton in spite of Obama’s lead. Is she deliberately trying to destroy the party? It’s very difficult to understand why she is doing this. Is it, as some believe, because she wants to destroy Obama for a chance to run in 2012? I confess it does look that way at the moment. Why does she keep putting her own money into what is obviously a lost cause. It would seem like throwing good money after bad, or flushing it down the drain. This is especially true given the fact that her campaign is already in debt. Whatever you might think about Hillary Clinton I don’t think you can believe she is stupid. She has to know she is fighting a lost cause. I suppose it could be the case that her ambition and ego are distorting her thought processes, but that seems unlikely. She seems determined to see this contest through to the bitter end, even to taking it all the way to the convention. But she has to know that they are not going to take it away from Obama if he continues to be ahead, which he undoubtedly will be. And even if they gave her Michigan and Florida she still couldn’t overcome Obama’s lead. So what is she doing, and why? I have heard she may demand the Vice-Presidency, and she may do this even if she doesn’t really want it, just to prove that she deserves it. Does she want it? I kind of doubt it because it would be pretty much a dead end for her, especially if she was not allowed the power that Cheney has taken over. Vice-Presidents tend to just disappear into oblivion. I’ve also heard she might want to take over from Harry Reid and run the Senate. That would certainly give her her own power base. A Supreme Court appointment has also been mentioned. I have also heard the Governorship of New York mentioned but apparently she has already said she was not interested. Maybe she wants something for Bill, or perhaps one of her other people? I can only imagine she is prolonging the inevitable because it will give her more ammunition to get whatever it is she wants. She knows she is finished as a candidate. Her people are already deserting her and some of her best people are reportedly seeking out book deals that they would not be pursuing now if they thought she would still be viable in November. We may not know what she wants for some time but it’s a sure bet she wants something pretty valuable for all her efforts.

Once Obama is free to pursue the Presidency and takes on McCain it will be time for the American people to put up or shut up when it comes to race and discrimination. Will someone hang out a sign over the White House saying, “Vacancy, Blacks need not apply?” Remember, we never managed to pass an open housing ordinance, blacks still have trouble getting cabs, discrimination has not disappeared by any means. There is a difference between reality and our stated ideology. This is supposed to be the land of liberty and justice for all, equality for all, opportunity for all. So when the time comes will we be able to elect an African-American as President or will we expose our hypocrisy for the entire world to witness? I do not believe we are in a position to deny Obama, no matter there will continue to be white racists in our midst. Besides, who wants the Presidency decided by white voters without college educations, the same people who were largely responsible for giving us George W. Bush, the worst President in history? Obama will be our candidate. Elect him, support, him, and hope that he will be able to restore our country and begin, at least, to solve the unbelievable mess he will inherit from the present criminal administration.

“When they discover the center of the universe, a log of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.”
Bernard Bailey