Sunday, January 30, 2005

I Remember Bernard - short story

It is too early to know or say anything about the "Democratic election" in Iraq. Be prepared for anything. In the meanwhile here is another short story to pass the time.

A standard snooker table is twelve feet long and exactly six feet one and one half inches wide, the same size as an English billiards table. There are six pockets, one at each corner and one in the middle of each of the long side rails. The game is played with 22 balls, l5 of which are solid red. There is a white cue ball, a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 ball. The object of the game is to pocket a red ball, then a numbered ball, then a red ball, numbered ball, and so on.
I mention snooker only because it was while watching it that I first saw Bernard. You could not help but notice him. He was a player more interested in style than performance. He had an unusual stance and positioned himself very precisely before each shot. Once in position his derriere was level with his head so he could sight directly along his cue. It was hard not to watch Bernard for he approached the game with such unusual grace and elegance, moving around the table like a panther, chalking his cue with meticulous care, carefully studying the position of the balls. When satisfied, he assumed his idiosyncratic position. For anyone else this elaborate routine would have seemed an obvious affectation. For Bernard it was natural. He was fastidious and careful about everything.
I envied Bernard as only an underweight fourteen year old with glasses and braces can envy. He was everything I wanted to be: a star in three different sports, handsome, six feet tall with broad shoulders and muscular biceps, an attractive smile, and a personality that attracted everyone, especially girls. Bernard was eighteen and just graduating from High School. It was the Spring following the declaration of war.
In our little town snooker was a fad for Bernard's generation. He and his classmates played it daily in our local pool hall after school and on weekends. Of course we weren't supposed go beyond the "No Minors Allowed" sign that hung on the partition which separated the pool room from the rest of the establishment. Indeed, we weren't supposed to go past the small ice cream counter and into the bar which led into the pool room. But it was a small town. Everyone knew we hung out there. It was a convenient way to keep us out of trouble, idle hands being the devil's workshop and all. From the high chairs that surrounded the various tables we watched the older boys and men and strove to grow up and be men ourselves.
Although the war was far from our parochial community it was a reality we lived with nonetheless. We learned about Hitler and Tojo, dive bombers and blitzkriegs, depth bombs and commandos, Bataan and Corregidor, and other places and things we would otherwise never have heard of. We traded ration stamps and collected paper and tinfoil and scrap metal and rubber and even kitchen grease, all for the "war effort." Occasionally someone received a letter from relatives in England or Holland or even Germany and we came to see how fortunate we were to be Americans. A slender young man crooned and tugged at his bow tie while hordes of girls screamed and swooned. We listened to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and Stan Kenton and jitterbugged and went to proms and life went on pretty much as it always had. The snooker games became less frequent as Bernard's generation began to scatter.
Bernard found a steady girlfriend. We saw the two of them occasionally walking hand in hand oblivious to anyone or anything. They were forever engaged in long and serious conversations and seldom laughed. It was odd for lovers, I guess, but it fit the prevailing ethos. Bernard no longer came to the pool room and eventually disappearaed from my thoughts entirely.
The war, which at first had not gone well, began to change for the better. The German Afrika Korps was eliminated, Sicily was invaded and the fascist government fell. The Russians, after their incredible suffering, finally began to push the German forces back to the west. When Normandy Beach was successfully occupied and the allied presence firmly established again on European soil we began to believe that perhaps the long and dreadful conflict would end someday after all. Then the Allied forces invaded the Philippines, the Japanese Navy was defeated, Iwo Jima and Okinawa fell after some of the bloodiest battles in history, and the war ended more suddenly and dramatically than anyone expected with the dropping of the first atomic bombs.
Earl Bryan, the first of Bernard's generation to return from the war, told of how when he landed at Normandy he immediately jettisoned his backpack to insure his mobility. Rex Lambert recounted matter-of-factly how his tank battalion had orders to run over women and children rather than stop or slow their advance. Ivan Eastman reported how some of his buddies collected the ears of Japanese soldiers. My cousin, William, who as a child had cried when seeing kittens being drowned, reported with pride how he had shot "gooks" as fast as he could.
The euphoria of victory began to disappear. People settled back pretty much into their pre-war roles and began to produce children at an accelerated rate. We watched in horrified fascination as the Nuremberg trials began to reveal depths of bestiality and depravity not previously recorded by "civilized" nations, even in war.
A few of the veterans, including Max Moore who had returned minus his left arm, began to play snooker again. Max played by resting his cue on the crease in his hat and in fact played rather well. It was while watching him play that my thoughts turned to Bernard for the first time in years. I wondered what had happened to him, where he was, what he might be doing. And then, what should have been always obvious suddenly became so. Bernard was never going to return.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

We'll all be dead by then

Ted Kennedy gave a marvelous speech in which he said we should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq now. He pointed out rightly, I believe, that the presence of our troops is part of the problem, not of the solution. I have seen elsewhere there is much talk around Washington about withdrawing our forces. This was discussed today on Capital Gang with virtually everyone agreeing that things were getting worse in Iraq rather than better and we should think about withdrawing. Some people report that even Bush is trying to figure out how to withdraw as quickly as possible. I admit to finding all this talk about withdrawing to be nothing but utter nonsense. Because, and not one person I heard today mentioned this basic fact, Bush/Cheney and their neocons do not want to withdraw from Iraq. Not without the oil. We are building fourteen permanent bases in Iraq. No one mentioned this either. No one! If it is true, and it seems to be, it should be obvious that talk of withdrawal is nothing but errant nonsense, balderdash, folderol, twaddle, blather, claptrap, poppycock, bunkum, and etc., etc. Why is no one saying this? Why does everyone carry on about an exit strategy when we know those in charge don’t want to exit?

This absolute farce of a “democratic election” is supposed to clarify matters. Fat chance. First, what kind of election is it when the people running for office are afraid to identify themselves and the polling places are announced only at the very last minute? And on top of that the whole thing is fixed. Allawi and his people will win because he’s Bush’s candidate and has already agreed to do what is required of him. He has certainly agreed not to ask American troops to leave. What would happen if someone else was elected and asked us to leave? There would simply be more violence and more American troops put in to make sure we were still “in control.” Let’s face it, we are not going to leave unless somehow we are defeated and have to leave, just as we did in Vietnam. We should know in a few days, if not before, what has happened with this so-called election. We can be pretty sure the Bush/Cheney spin machine, along with their controlled press, will turn it into some kind of victory. After all, no matter how it comes out, it was conducted under difficult circumstances. And the fact that an election was held at all will be itself regarded as a victory. If a full-fledged civil war results, which it quite likely will sometime in the near future, all bets are off.

Of course we should withdraw, and do so as quickly as possible. The neocons will just have to give up their insane plans for an empire and control of the Middle East (and the rest of the world as well). This whole disastrous episode was wrong from the very beginning. And those who are responsible for it will have to be held accountable. History will surely hold them accountable. But, as Bush so cleverly put it, we’ll all be dead by then.

Friday, January 28, 2005

On chewing - essay

Watch 'n Wait: I truly enjoy your comments. Please keep them coming. Best wishes.

My poor mother, God bless her. If she were alive today she'd be turning over in her grave. Having spent much of her life teaching me to chew with my mouth shut and to not speak with my mouth full, she mercifully passed away before the advent of television advertising.
Nowadays it is virtually impossible to watch any television program for any length of time without having to watch people in commercials vulgarly gulping down something-or-other, making as much noise as possible, presumably to demonstrate how really good it is. And not only must you watch them cramming cereal or chips or whatever into their gaping mouths, you must also listen to them telling you with their mouths crammed full how tasty and healthy it is.
Cereals seem to be the worst offenders although, as below, other foods can be just as bad. It seems to be necessary to prove that not only does such-and-such a cereal taste good but it also doesn't become soggy before you get the last delicious spoonful shoveled in. I have little doubt that we now have generations of young people who believe that it is entirely proper to both eat with your mouth wide open and to talk about it at the same time. Shades of adenoids!
Chips probably run a close second in terms of the sheer offensiveness of television advertising. Apparently the louder the crunch the better the flavor. The most recent example of this shows a group of beautiful and generously endowed young ladies literally cramming handfuls of this particular brand of chips into their mouths as fast as possible, the message being, I gather, that as the chips have no fat or cholesterol (and quite likely no nutritional value whatsoever) women can therefore eat them like men (men, presumably, always eat like pigs). Not only do they engage in this form of gluttony, but after consuming handfuls of these noisy tidbits they tip the bag up and pour in all of the remaining contents. They then proceed to lick their fingers and smack their lips in a most revolting manner. I suspect this is meant to imply that sexual gratification is to be experienced by indulging in this ostentatious orality.
Of course it is not only cereals and chips that engage in this form of oral advertising. Pizza and burgers are also right up there in this form of slobbery. One is inspired daily by watching, usually famous athletes or movie stars, opening wide to shovel in crust first or double patties. They are paid big bucks to provide these lessons in good manners and etiquette for our hero-worshipping youngsters. How do you teach your ten-year-old to eat silently and keep his mouth shut when everyday he observes his (girls do not seem to be targeted quite as much) heroes gulping and slurping while verbally extolling the virtues of this or that junk food? Indeed, how do you get them to eat decent food at all?
Do you suppose the individuals who take money for these disgraceful ads were actually raised to eat like hogs? Or does the money simply seduce them into this particular form of prostitution? While I agree we need to be concerned with too much sex and violence on television, I submit we should not overlook the influence of too much blatant slobbery.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Are Republicans civilized?

Are Republicans civilized? This is a question that may be answered next week. No civilized country would appoint an Attorney General who favored torture, would they? And presumably no civilized country would appoint an Attorney General who thought the president was really a king, and thus entirely above all laws, both national and international, would they? Next week the Senate will vote either to confirm Gonzales or not. If most or all Democrats vote against him, and the Republican majority closes ranks and votes for him, will that not indicate that Republicans are in favor of torture and Kingship? In my humble opinion, if Gonzales is confirmed by the Republicans, it will signal not only war against all other nations, but war against all non-Republicans in the United States itself. Of course not all Democrats might vote against Gonzales (there will always be Liebermans), but they should. This would make it entirely clear to everyone, everywhere, who are in favor of torture and who are not. One very good sign that something like this might happen is that Russ Feingold, the most non-partisan Senator of all, has indicated he will vote against Gonzales. Let’s hope that enough other Democrats will do the same to make clear what is happening to the United States. Will Republicans stick to their usual routine of putting loyalty to party above loyalty to country? Stay tuned.

Scott Ritter has a piece out today that says we are all guilty (of the war in Iraq). While I have great admiration for Ritter I absolutely refuse to accept any blame whatsoever for what is going on in Iraq. I was not in favor of the Bush people stealing the election (twice), I was not in favor of going to war, I did not believe Iraq was a threat to the United States (or anyone else, for that matter), and I have done whatever I could to oppose this neocon madness at every opportunity. I believe we should withdraw our troops from Iraq as immediately as practical, and I believe that Bush/Cheney and the neocons are all war criminals and should be treated as such. So, Scott Ritter, don’t blame me! Of course I know he doesn’t mean me personally but, rather, the American people in general who are just too uninformed, uninterested, or unintelligent to learn what is happening and get out and vote. He’s right.

Please tell me this was a nightmare and not something I just read today. Apparently there are hyperconservatives who want to erase Lincoln from Mount Rushmore so they can replace him with guess who – Ronald Reagan! They have long wanted Reagan on Mount Rushmore but were stymied because there just wasn’t enough room. But if they could deface Lincoln and remake his image into Reagan’s that would be paradise enow. And now that someone has written a book suggesting Lincoln might have been gay they see their opportunity. Unhappily I am not making this up. They actually want to replace one of our greatest Presidents with one of the worst, the Great Emancipator with the brainless communicator. But remember, “if you’ve seen one redwood tree you’ve seen em all.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Lying and incompetence are good

Once again it is proven that the way to success and promotion in the Bush/Cheney Administration is by lying and incompetence. Condoleeza Rice confirmed as Secretary of State by a Senate vote of 85 to 13. I don’t know who the 13 were but they should certainly be commended for their honesty and good sense. The truly disturbing thing about this is that there is no doubt whatsoever that she did, in fact, blatantly lie about going to “war” with Iraq. This is not a matter of interpretation. She lied repeatedly and everyone knows she lied. But our Senators are apparently not concerned with lies anymore, as long as they don’t concern some Democrat’s sexual behavior. How anyone, let alone a Democratic Senator, could listen to Byrd, Kennedy, and Boxer, and then still vote to confirm Rice absolutely boggles my mind. They just don’t care. I guess they all worry about being on the Bush/Cheney hit list. In other words, they are scared silly and more concerned about their jobs and perquisites than fulfilling their duties to the electorate. They are just like Republicans who have made it quite clear that their loyalty to party far exceeds their concern for the United States and its citizens. We need to get rid of the whole sorry lot of them with perhaps a very few exceptions, and start over from scratch. This will require an enormous amount of grass roots pressure and protest because our elitist millionaire Congressmen and Senators will not go gracefully. It is, indeed, déjà vu all over again, right back to the 1920’s and 30’s when the robber barons tried to maintain the slave wage system for their own greedy benefits. Corporate power and greed has to be muzzled, it’s the only way out of this sorry mess we have allowed to grow like a neglected cancer. Time is running out for the United States, indeed, for the world. Nothing much can be accomplished so long as the U.S. believes they uniquely know what is right and proper for everyone. Nothing positively can happen in the Middle East until the United States stops supporting and defending Israel’s defiance of every U.N. resolution and insists on stealing more and more Palestinian land. Nothing decent can happen until the Bush/Cheney Administration is gone for good. That means Jeb as well as George Dubya.

The real test of America’s character will come next week when the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales occur. If he is confirmed it will certainly send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is repudiating not only the Geneva Convention but even the most basic of democratic and human values. It doesn’t even matter how good a lawyer Gonzales is, or how he has risen from his Hispanic background, or even if he does not in fact believe in torture or his Kingship. The world knows that he did everything he could to allow Bush/Cheney and their henchmen to abandon all principles of national and international law, to incarcerate and torture at will, to set themselves above all law and decency, and to violate even the semblance of civil rights. This is not the message we should be sending to the rest of the world, especially at this moment in time when we have already alienated virtually all of the known world. Call and write your Senators that this abominable appointment should not be confirmed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Just ignore each other

I confess I was unable to watch the Senate confirmation hearings today except for a few brief and random peeks. What I did see was appalling. It was also, in its way, fascinating. It was, of course, merely a charade. Republicans stepped up to the podium to declare how absolutely wonderful Rice is, Democrats (some of them) stepped up to say how awful she was. Neither side paid any attention whatsoever to the other. Byrd gave a truly good account of why Rice should not be confirmed, followed by Hegel who, paying absolutely no attention to anything Byrd said, demanded that she be confirmed. Neither Hegel, nor any other Republican argued that what Byrd said was wrong, they just ignored him completely. Democrats did not comment directly on anything Republicans said. The whole thing was merely for show. Everyone knew what everyone else would say and they just ignored each other. One would think that for an appointment of this magnitude someone should have at least considered the arguments of the others. But they didn’t. The Republicans, as always, just followed the party line, no matter how strange or bizarre it may be. Rice will, of course, be confirmed, as all Republicans will vote for her. And there will be some Democrats, like Lieberman (a Republican in a very bad disguise), who will also vote to confirm her. Why, I cannot fathom. After listening to Byrd and Boxer I cannot imagine why anyone would vote to confirm her. They will. It’s a lost cause but at least they managed to drag some of her lies and inconsistencies out into the open (not that most Americans were watching, being too busy with reality TV and the soaps).

The Bush/Cheney Administration and their Corporate Cronies have certainly managed to take over the ball game. What a fit. The Corporations manage to get their way from the Administration by donating tons of money. In return for this the Bush/Cheney bunch stay in power by promoting anti-abortionists and homophobics. Does anyone believe that Corporate America gives a damn one way or the other about abortion, homosexuality, or faith-based initiatives? Of course not. But it helps keep those in power they want to continue in power. Do you think that Bush/Cheney and the neocons really care about abortion, homosexuality, and faith-based charity? Of course not, they could care less, witness Cheney’s support of his daughter while at the same time claiming to support Bush’s attack on homosexual marriages (the Constitutional Amendment that has now simply been abandoned as the election is over).

You have to come to realize that for many on the political scene this is all just a game. They obviously don’t really care one way or the other who wins or what happens as long as they draw their bloated salaries for promoting whoever is paying them at the moment. Witness the case of James Carville and Mary Matalan. Do you believe they can marry and be happy when they support opposing candidates? The only way they can is because they basically don’t give a damn. Politics in the United States is nothing but a huge money game and this is just as true for Democrats as it is for Republicans. If the Democratic party cannot reform itself and return to championing the little guy against the Fascist Corporate conspiracy that is slowly taking over our wonderful country it is surely time for a new and viable third party.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Why not a billion?

There is talk now of raising the reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden from a mere 25 million to 50 million. Is there any reason to believe this would be a good idea? The 25 million reward has been offered for two or three years and no one has stepped forward to claim it. Is the assumption that 25 million is just not enough to motivate someone to rat on him? You mean all those Middle-Easterners are just turning up their noses at a reward so niggardly? Does anyone believe they will change their minds now because instead of having far more money than they could ever spend they might now have double that amount? Frankly, it sounds to me like another stupid idea from an Administration that has been and continues to be a veritable hotbed of stupid ideas – like invading Iraq instead of concentrating on Afghanistan and bin Laden. Actually, like invading Iraq at all. But what do I know? What’s a few hundred thousand innocent lives here and there in the Blush/Cheney scheme of things?

Barbara Boxer and Richard Byrd are apparently going to hold Condi’s feet to the fire again tomorrow, along with a few other Democrats, or so I am led to believe. I can’t imagine that ultimately this will make much difference as she will almost certainly be confirmed. Republicans think she is perfectly well qualified to be Secretary of State and should be automatically confirmed. I guess they believe that a record of lying, incompetence, and slavish mindless hero worship are the only qualifications one needs for such a position. Wouldn’t it be great if every Democrat voted against her? Fat chance. But it would be even nicer and far more important if every Democrat voted against Gonzales. That would make it clear to the world that Democrats, at least, do not sanction torture, and also do not want a king instead of a president. I can dream can’t I?

Someone suggested to me the other day that George W. Bush is basically a good man who is simply being led astray by others. Other people have suggested that as well. Personally, I don’t believe it. There is nothing in Bush’s background that would lead me to conclude that he is a “good man.” As a youngster he blew up live frogs just for fun. As Governor of Texas he executed more people than any other Governor in history, and all of them with no more than a cursory and inadequate review of their cases. He even mocked one women who pleaded with him for mercy. Now he has personally authorized a totally unnecessary, illegal, unconstitutional, and totally immoral “war.” In addition to all this he was a drunkard, quite probably arranged for an abortion earlier in his life, failed to complete his National Guard duties and lied about it, was involved in very questionable business practices, and has, as near as I can determine, never told the truth about anything since his time in office. I fail to see how this qualifies him as a good man. Of course he claims to be a “born again.” I think he was born again to continue his evil, greedy, thoughtless, and completely uncaring ways. Am I prejudiced? You bet!

Sunday, January 23, 2005


It is hard to know where to begin these days. But let’s see. First, it appears almost certain the Senate will confirm Alberto Gonzales. This means to me, and I know to more than just a few others, that the United States Senate, representing the American people, believes that torture is justified. In other words, the United States repudiates the Geneva Convention and their own laws respecting torture. There is no other way to interpret this action. So welcome to your new country.

It is also the case that Condoleeza Rice, demonstrably a liar and sycophant, will also be confirmed as our new Secretary of State. Apparently the Bush/Cheney Administration thinks the time for diplomacy is now. How they could possibly arrive at this idea is truly a mystery given the fact that the time for diplomacy was more than three years ago. Do not look for any diplomatic breakthroughs in the immediate future.

Apparently Donald Rumsfeld, having failed dismally in the “war” against Iraq, is now taking over much of the intelligence apparatus of the Pentagon and establishing his own spy network. This new organization has apparently been functioning for two years, funded in some mysterious and apparently unauthorized manner, and under the control of Donald himself (although they now claim no one reports directly to Rumsfeld himself). I guess he has been allowed to do this because of his record of unbroken success in Iraq.

Oh, yes, Iraq. They are going to have a democratic election soon. It is going to be something to behold. Candidates are afraid to identify themselves, polling places are being kept secret, large numbers of Iraqis are intending to boycott the election, and it is a foregone conclusion that whoever is elected will be candidates the U.S. will want to win. How can an election held under the auspices of an occupying power be considered truly democratic? I guess the Bush/Cheney Administration thinks the Iraqis are as stupid as Americans.

I guess the Bush/Cheney people have decided to jettison the idea of a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage. This is not surprising given that they obviously never had any intention of doing it in the first place and merely used it as an election gimmick. While it is said the religious right is still lobbying for it they might as well be baying at the moon. Here in Idaho, however, our State Government not only wants to ban gay marriage, they want to ban even any form of civil unions for gays and lesbians. Wouldn’t it be easier to just pass a law to eliminate them entirely? You know, like the Nazis did for the Jews and Gypsies and others. In all fairness, you have to understand that Idaho has not yet quite made it into the 20th century. Don’t forget that not long ago the State Legislature discussed changing the State Constitution so the State would have no responsibility for the schools. Ah, Idaho. The Gem State. It sparkles.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

On perversity - essay

Having been taken to task for being overly depressed and downhearted in last night's blog I am ignoring politics for tonight in favor of another essay. I am not certain, however, that if you reflect too carefully on this subject matter you might still be somewhat down on things.

What is it that makes people so perverse? I am compelled to
ask as a result of a recent shopping trip. But let me begin with the obvious. Drivers do not obey the speed limit. No matter what the limit may be virtually everyone exceeds it most if not all of the time. Indeed, a person who follows the limit is regarded as a troublemaker and most usually villified by those drivers lucky enough to manage to pass him or her. Similarly, they do not obey other signs as, for example, "Keep Right Except to Pass." They stubbornly cling to the inside lane until absolutely forced to move over by those dedicated enough to stay so close behind them as to threaten their lives. I need not mention here people who park wherever they damn please no matter what the signs say, refuse to stop for pedestrian zones, make illegal turns, etc., etc. We all recognize how common these things are. And we all know that people have difficulty with "Keep off the grass," "No Fishing," "No Fires," "No hunting," "No smoking," and similar instructions.
On this particular shopping trip I had occasion see human perversity on a truly monumental scale. I entered a large store that specializes in feed, seed, bulbs, plants, and garden supplies of all kinds. It also has a pet department. It was here that I found human perversity in rare form. Above the pens where puppies were being kept, and directly at eye level so it could not possibly be overlooked, hung a very large sign mounted on a round piece of cardboard. It's message was clear: "Do not pick up puppies!" I watched in fascinated disbelief as three of every four people invariably picked up a puppy, sometimes more than one. Proceeding from puppyland to the aquarium section I found similarly perverse behaviors. In spite of signs everywhere that said, "Do Not Tap on Glass!" a large majority of customers proceeded to do just that. And not only little children who might be excused because they could not yet read. Older children and adults were just as bad or worse. This aquarium store keeps a pet crocodile. Actually I think it's a cayman. As such beasts are wont to do the cayman spends ninety-nine percent of its time just lying there without moving. It has a small sort of pond and a small area where it can rest in this fashion. On the wire fence that makes up the front of the cage are signs that say very plainly, "Do not throw pennies. They make me sick." Is that difficult to understand? Apparently it is for large numbers of people because the cage is literally covered in pennies from time to time. One might wonder why anyone would want to throw pennies in an alligator's cage in the first place. But they do. In large numbers. In spite of very visible directions to the contrary. They are perverse.
But this is not all. Where the birds are kept for sale there was a display of live birds, cockatiels I guess, that were uncaged and perching where they could easily be reached. There was a large sign in plan English that said clearly, "Do Not Handle the Birds" Is it necessary for me to point out that of course people handled the birds. At every opportunity they picked them up and petted them, cooed at them, talked to them, and behaved in general, in my opinion, like genuine lunatics.
This is a large pet store with a wide variety of animals, birds, and fish. On many of the cages there are signs that say quite plainly, "Do not put fingers into the cage." Everyone seems to be too busy pushing their fingers into the cages to bother to read the directions. "Do not pick up the bunnies. Ask for Assistance" Again, few pay attention.
I confess I could never work in such a place. Such a wholesale disregard of simple instructions would have me out of my mind in a very short time. I do not know how to account for this mass perversity. One might argue that a few people might be legitimately illiterate, especially small children. But this could only account for a very small percentage of offenders. I suppose some people just don't pay attention to the signs and thus, it could be argued, they are not deliberately disobeying. And there are no doubt those, resentful of authority of all kinds, who engage in perversity on purpose. Finally, I suppose there are a lot of just plain stupid people.
I have come up with a solution. They should post signs at every entrance and throughout the store that say in large easy to read print: PLEASE DISOBEY ALL OTHER SIGNS! After what I have said here about perversity this ought to work. But I know it won't. Why not? Because human beings are just plain perverse.

Friday, January 21, 2005


I did not watch the coronation, er, inauguration, as I cannot stand hearing Bush speak. I also cannot stand to see him. Seeing him and hearing him simultaneously makes me start to feel physically ill. So all I know of what he said is what I have picked up from other accounts, including some that analyzed the actual word counts from his 17 minute speech. I learned that he used the word freedom approximately 28 times and the word liberty about half that many times. If this is correct, or close enough, that means in 17 minutes he used freedom/liberty almost three times per minute. Wow! That must have been some speech. Actually, it would appear to me to be the most incredible mish-mash of freedom/liberty goobledy-gook ever composed by the mind of someone-or-other. I think it boiled down to: I, George W. Bush, do solemnly swear that I will abolish tyranny in the world wherever it is found, no matter who objects. He will apparently do this with the Lord’s blessing, his massive international coalition, and his not so slowly deteriorating army. Along with his sidekick Sancho Condaleeza he will tilt at windmills and kick ass all around the world.

I am not a fan of IQ testing, or even of the concept of IQ. But again today I saw somewhere that Bush’s IQ is estimated to be 91. Average is 100. That tells you something. What it tells me is that if any credence whatsoever can be placed on such figures Bush is borderline retarded. When you consider that Clinton’s IQ is estimated at somewhere around 180 it does make one pause and reflect on the nature of things. Of course Clinton didn’t have the advantage of all the major media conveniently covering up for him. If the media hadn’t been part of the Bush/Cheney Administration they wouldn’t have lasted more than two weeks, tops. This is the most corrupt, scandal-ridden, criminal, disgusting, reprehensible, greedy, foul, incompetent, and secretive Administration in all of U.S. history. But how it seems to be loved by the morons that have kept it in power. But that’s okay, the Fascists now in power will eventually give the morons their just rewards: poverty, wage slavery, no health care, useless education, terrible air and water, environmental degradation, few, if any, civil liberties, and no doubt the priviledge of kissing their feet now and then.

If I sound down, I am. I keep waiting for something to happen. But nothing does. I cannot fathom how an Administration so inept and evil can continue to survive. But it has, at least so far. Am I just losing my marbles or what?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

On "integrity"

According to the only dictionary I have at hand:

integrity n. 1. moral uprightness; honesty. 2. wholeness; soundness.

Condaleeza Rice, in her exchange with Barbara Boxer, was very concerned that her integrity not be impugned. This implies, of course, that she believes she has integrity. If the above definition is correct I suggest that she has none. She lied repeatedly about Iraq and Iraq’s capabilities in order to promote an illegal, unconstitutional, and totally unnecessary war. She lied about the content of memos having to do with the intentions of terrorists. And she lied about numerous other matters. Certainly many of her statements and actions also could not be considered very sound. Under questioning she admitted that mistakes had been made – although she didn’t name any and did not accept any blame for any. Democrats managed today to stall her confirmation until next week although why that will make much difference is not at all clear. She will surely be confirmed.

By the above definition it can be said quite definitively that the entire Bush/Cheney Administration lacks integrity. They have not only lacked moral uprightness but have been consistently dishonest. And their conduct of the “war” and international relations could be considered “sound” only by the most fantastic stretch of imagination. How is it they have managed to fool most of the people all the time? According to the latest numbers I have seen, fully 39% of Americans believe the “war” is not going well and we should withdraw as soon as possible. Where were these people in the last election (if, indeed, you can even consider it an election, more like an abomination).

Not content with having virtually destroyed the United States military with their misguided and stupid Iraqi venture, they are now making noises about attacking Iran. If this isn’t insanity on a grand scale I don’t know what is. And today, apparently Cheney suggested that Israel may take it upon themselves to take action against Iran, leaving others to pick up the pieces (who do you suppose those “others” might be). I say if Israel wants to start something with Iran let them pick up their own pieces, if there will be any left to pick up. There will never be any chance whatsoever for peace in the Middle East until Israeli greed for territory and water is curbed. And there may not be even then, given the fact that Israel should probably never have been given Palestinian lands in the first place. How would we have liked it if the British had decided to give the Jews a homeland in Rhode Island? In fact, the whole damn mess in the Middle East, and in much of Africa and other parts of the world, can be attributed to the acts of the British Empire, trying to create nations where there were none, trying to merge ethnic groups that were traditional enemies, and etc. As the British created the mess they should be made to deal with it now. But oh, I forgot about the oil. Silly me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A license to vote? Why not?

Well, tomorrow is the big day. George W. Bush will be sworn in as President even though, as before, he apparently “won” only by extensive cheating. Even if he didn’t cheat (which is highly unlikely) he seems to have won mainly because he was going to push for a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage – an enterprise he has now abandoned because, of course, the election is over and that particular piece of nonsense is no longer required. True, the religious right is after him to continue to pursue it but it will never happen. Just as well, it was/is a complete waste of time and effort.

Is it just me or is it the case that Condi Rice is some kind of pre-programmed robot who, when once given the chance to speak, spiels out an almost endless litany of Administration lies, deceptions, contradictions, and obfuscations? It is almost like every answer is an already prepared filibuster. It is quite amazing. Thank heaven that Barbara Boxer held Condi’s feet to the fire, as did Kerry and a couple of others, but of course for no particular reason as she will be confirmed anyway, just as will our torture master Gonzales. Apparently both confirmations will be delayed for a while, but don’t look for anything substantial to happen (we can always wish).

I have a new idea. Why should people who want to vote not have to have a license to vote? I mean, after all, we have to have a license to drive, to hunt, to have a car, sometimes to own a gun, and so on. Isn’t voting more important than any of those things? If you want to vote, get a license. You could get a license by attending a few completely nonpartisan classes: on the Constitution, American History, Civil Rights, Democracy, and such. You have to study to become an American citizen so why not study to be a responsible voter? Surely this would eliminate people like my mother-in-law who votes Republican every time just because she and her husband always voted Republican. She knows absolutely nothing about issues, current events, differences of opinion, etc. She would have a choice, either don’t vote or at least get a minimal knowledge of what in the hell is going on. Remember, you cannot have a viable democracy without an informed public, and it is obviously true that we do not have an informed public, especially now with reality shows and television geared to the lowest common denominator. I wouldn’t care if large numbers of citizens didn’t vote. I’d rather they didn’t if they are totally uninformed about what’s at stake. Those who are so disinterested in the democratic process they can’t be bothered to vote wouldn’t have to, and those who are interested would at least be better prepared. You could have a photo identification proving that you had undergone the requisite training. I know, you’re supposed to get this kind of stuff in school, but somehow we don’t. You’re supposed to learn to read and write too, but often we don’t even learn that. Remember O.J.Simpson? He attended USC and couldn’t write a letter any better than your average five year old – not that the media paid much attention to his dismal attempt. What is happening to our democracy? Does anyone even care? We will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. Oh, I forgot, we have people who don’t believe dinosaurs even existed. They are right here in our High School. But then, on the other hand, we have people who believe humans existed at the same time as dinosaurs. What to believe? Never mind, just get out there and vote.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Charades. What else can be made of what has been going on in the Senate hearings? We have Alberto Gonzales, the torture advocate who would also make Bush the King instead of merely president, and we have Condoleeza Rice the worshipfull, both undergoing examination by the Senate, and in both cases already assured of confirmation. So what, exactly, is the point? Oh, yeah, I forgot, they are going to be asked really tough questions, the answers to which they are going to avoid, lie, or otherwise obfuscate because they know they are going to be confirmed no matter what. American democracy really does move in strange ways. Barbara Boxer, bless her, did ask some embarrassing questions, but Condaleeza, never at a loss for words, countered with her claim that she would never deviate from the truth no matter what (hee, hee). Oh, I guess she really believed that Saddam Hussein was about to drop an atomic bomb in the immediate future. Remember mushroom clouds, etc. What I am at a complete loss to understand is why anyone believed Iraq was a threat to the U.S. even if they had had nuclear bombs. I guess they thought that Iraq had a death wish, the only way of bringing it about would be by attacking the U.S. with nuclear weapons that would have resulted in their immediate destruction. Similarly, does anyone truly believe that Iran wants nuclear weapons to attack the U.S.? They might want nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the U.S., and at the moment who could blame them, but surely they are not about to attack (indeed, this is about the most ridiculous scenario one can imagine). But, if Social Security is about to go bankrupt almost immediately, why should Iran not be regarded as an immediate threat. Frankly, I believe that everyone should have nuclear weapons, even Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. If everyone had them, no one would have them. The very idea that the U.S., Britain, France, Israel, and others should have nuclear weapons that are denied to the rest of the world is no more than a continuation of the belief in the “white man’s burden.” Iran, surrounded by hostile neighbors with nuclear weapons, Pakistan, India, and Israel, are supposed to not be interested in them? Come on, get real.

Of course, the world would be far better off if there were no nuclear weapons, but that is not going to happen, especially if those who have them are not going to allow anyone else to have them. And, as those who now have them can’t use them in any case, what is the point? Furthermore, if those who have them did actually use them, and if others who have them retaliated, life would not be worth living. The very idea that countries who now have nuclear weapons are going to prevent others from developing them, short of preventive wars, is absurd. And preventive wars are not going to promote peace on earth, not now, not ever. But who wants peace on earth anyway? It’s not profitable.

Monday, January 17, 2005


The cold spell we have had for the past four or five days has passed. Now it is snowing. In fact, it has snowed all day long and there is now an estimated 15-18 inches on the ground. But it is, mercifully, warmer (up to 20 degrees today). This is a curious place where life goes on more or less like everywhere else. For example, one of our well known professionals went to visit his lady friend and found a rival there. He was so incensed he fired 14 shots into his rival’s pickup. One of our local wags was heard to observe, “heck, I coulda killed a little pickup like that with only three or four shots.” As far as I know there was no arrest and the episode somehow just disappeared from the local news. We look after our own.

We live very near the Canadian border. When you try to enter Canada you are, of course, asked about your business, citizenship, etc. One of the female Canadian border officers stopped a man in a truck who was delivering lettuce to a store in Canada. She asked him if he had any record that might be of relevance. He said that he did not. She looked him up on her computer and found out he had murdered his wife. When she confronted him with this fact he said, “so, I was very angry and I strangled my wife. I went to jail and served my time and now I am just trying to make a living. Upset, and somewhat frightened, the officer said, “okay, just go.” My wife, upon hearing this, said, “maybe he was just turning over a new leaf.” Ha ha. Something has to pass for humor up here in the long winters.

And something has to take your mind off the dismal situation in American politics. Iraq, it is very clear, is an almost total disaster. Various agencies are telling this to the “President” but he seems to pay no attention. He is too busy lying about Social Security and preparing for his coronation. I think he can’t decide between the purple robe with the ermine trim, or the gold lame with the mink. It is hard being President. Anyway, we only have to wait a short time for this glorious $40,000,000 extravaganza which will show the world once and for all what this Administration (and country) thinks is important. No doubt good will will just ooze across the world and the United States will maintain its current position at the bottom of the moral and responsible totem pole. It’s a great time to be an American!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Beyond hubris

“President Bush said that the public’s decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.
“We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.”
Taken from Smirking Chimp, January 16, 2005.

This is an absolutely fascinating statement, if for no other reason that it makes hubris merely inconsequential. First, he seems to think he was actually elected in the first place which, of course, he wasn’t. Then it assumes that he was elected fairly in 2004 which is highly doubtful. It also assumes that he was elected solely on the basis of his management of the “war” in Iraq, which is at best a gross oversimplification. Finally, true to form for Bush, he denies that any mistakes were made at any level of his Administration, which is not only a complete denial of reality but, indeed, an indication that he has long since totally left the realm of reality. I guess that is what happens when you are completely surrounded by yes-men and toadies.

He goes on to say that he has no timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq and refuses to agree to Powell’s recent statement to that effect. I take this to mean the neocons have not given up their dream of empire and intend to maintain their permanent bases in Iraq as long as necessary (until they have managed to steal all the oil and whatever else they wish). In effect this will make Iraq a 51st state or at least a United States’ protectorate. This will certify the U.S. as an occupying power similar to Israel and doom us to never ending terrorist attacks, profitable for Bush and his cronies but disastrous for us and everyone else in the Middle East.

He also said he will not increase the size of the National Guard and Army. He is apparently totally unaware of the fact they are spread too thin and suffering badly from it. Or, if he is aware of it, he doesn’t care. Or if he is aware and does care he knows he probably can’t do anything about it short of causing a revolution. In this case he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t, a situation of his own making.

And of course he reiterated his claim that he would not cut benefits for Social Security recipients even though he has never stated how on earth he would pay for his grand designs on that marvelous and successful program.

What does one conclude from this? Bush is an absolute fool being manipulated by the most evil cabal ever assembled, a puppet who has come to believe he is in fact somehow doing God’s will. Democrats in the House and Senate also apparently believe it as they do little or nothing to stop this doomsday scenario. Heil Bush! Heil Cheney! Heil Fascism. Let us all salute the coming coronation and hope that somehow, someday, someway, something will eventually trickle down to us before we end up in the concentration camps. And don’t try to tell me that Bush is a “good man” or “compassionate.” He is demonstrably neither.

The sadness that tears my heart
stems not from the said,
but from what was left unsaid.
The icy silence
lays bare your heart of stone.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Bush is a liar

I know that for most of you it will not come as a surprise that George W. Bush is a liar, especially as it appears he has never told the truth about anything at all during his “Presidency.” Up until now the media has always let him get away with it, given the fact that the major media seem to be part of the Administration. And, of course, he has been able to say that although no WMD’s were found, they actually believed they existed and therefore they weren’t actually lying. But he should not be allowed to get away with his blatant lying when it comes to Social Security. Unless he is gullible and stupid beyond the belief of mere mortals he has to know that what he is saying about Social Security is simply untrue. It is absolutely, positively, the case that Social Security is not about to go bankrupt, and certainly not in the near future. He has to know this. But he says it just the same. What does that mean? It means he is LYING. He is a LIAR. Not only is he a liar, he is a deliberate liar. So let us not hear anyone argue that Bush is wrong about Social Security, let us hear the truth. He is LYING about it. He is a LIAR. Let everyone know, Bush is not merely stretching the truth, he is an out and out liar. It doesn’t even matter what eventually happens to Social Security reform, at the moment Bush is lying about it. I guess the only lies that matter to Republicans are those that have to do with private consenting sexual matters between adults.

Let me here go on record saying that I am absolutely, totally, irrevocably opposed to torture in any form whatsoever at any time or in any place. If the Senate and House and Executive Branch want to approve of torture, as it appears they will, I want it made clear that I do not approve of this and do not want to be held responsible for it in any way. If Gonzales is confirmed I believe this means that the Senate approves of torture. And not only that, they apparently approve that the President has dictatorial powers. I believe this is absolutely wrong, unconstitutionally wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, and the most blatant violation of everything that is honest and decent in human affairs. Gonzales, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, etc., are war criminals and should eventually be held responsible for their crimes against humanity. And please, don’t tell me we are bringing democracy to the Middle East. I would much prefer to hear about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, to say nothing of the Tooth Fairy.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Huckleberries - a short story

I simply cannot deal with politics at the moment. How often can you explain that the Bush/Cheney Administration is the most corrupt, disgusting, warmongering, criminal, secretive, lying, greedy, rapacious, murderous, uncaring, unAmerican, and evil bunch ever to come into power? I have decided to add a new dimenstion to this blog, a short story. Anything to take my mind away from the awful events of the moment.

The summer weather in Stuttgart is unpredictable; either unseasonably cold or unpleasantly warm. On one such latter afternoon we were sitting in our Landlord's garden sharing a bottle of chilled wine, making conversation. The Landlord was proud of his garden and remarked, immodestly I thought, on how beautiful it was. It was beautiful, although more Japanese than German; a melange of rhododendrons, azaleas, pines, ferns and other plants that grew essentially as they did in the wild. The casualness of the garden was in dramatic contrast with the exaggerated orderliness of his home and daily routine. Perhaps that is why he enjoyed it so much. Wild strawberries were blooming, their tiny white flowers adding color here and there to the lush green carpet at our feet. It was a pleasant, quiet and private place. The strawberries made me think of the Markthalle, which in turn made me think of huckleberries.
"I was surprised to learn that you can buy huckleberries in the Markthalle. You'd never find them in a market back home."
"Oh, yes. Yes, we have them," the Landlord replied. "But they are very expensive."
"I know. We bought some this morning. I love huckleberries. I haven't eaten them since I was a child. We used to pick them every summer and my mother would make huckleberry pie. I loved it. But that was long ago. I haven't had them since. Until now, that is."
The landlord's wife, a small quiet woman who rarely spoke, surprised us by announcing: "There are lots of them in the Black Forest. The people there pick them and bring them here to the market. There are more than you can pick."
I laughed. "When I was a boy, if we found a huckleberry patch we never told anyone. We kept it secret and we'd go back year after year. My father always warned me to watch out for bears. Bears love huckleberries. But I never saw one."
"There are no bears in Germany," the Landlord observed matter-of-factly. "Not since before I was born."
We fell silent, each staring into the lovely little pool they had created. Water trickled slowly into the pool over moss covered rocks then re-emerged as a miniature waterfall, cascaded downward and suddenly disappeared. Sunlight filtered through the pines, sparkling as it hit the moving water and dancing in tune with the softly moving branches above. The landlord's wife began to speak again, quietly, as if to herself.
"During the war we were often hungry. Once we went into the forest to look for huckleberries. It was somewhere near the Swiss border. I was a little girl, only eight or nine years old. It must have been l944. I remember because there were planes overhead and I was afraid. The Americans had been bombing Stuttgart and much of it was destroyed. The windows in our apartment were shattered. We carried water from a well. There was no electricity. People were living in the streets. It was a terrible time. I went to the forest with my mother and my two brothers. We were all picking huckleberries. There were other people there too, in the same area. But there were lots of berries. The bushes were high, above my waist, and they were spread out all over..." she paused. I poured her a second glass of wine.
"As we picked we began to get separated. Without realizing it I was soon off by myself, quite a long way from my mother and everyone else. Then suddenly I saw this horrible person. He was hiding under some bushes. He looked awful! Like a skeleton. At first I thought it was a dead body, it was so thin and bony. But then it smiled and there was huckleberry all over its mouth and teeth. It was grotesque! I was terrified. I didn't know what to do. I stood there, staring. The face was like a skull. There was hardly any hair. I wanted to scream but couldn't. I opened my mouth but no sound came out. It motioned for me to come closer and held its finger to his mouth so I would be quiet. I was so frightened I couldn't bring myself to go near. I started to back away but its eyes begged me not to go. It kept motioning insistently that I come closer. I was transfixed. I didn't know what to do. I took a step forward, but then I turned and ran. I ran as fast as I could to find my mother. 'Mama! Mama!' I cried over and over. 'Mama! Mama!' Finally I heard her voice and I ran to her, crying in terror. It was a horrible experience! Even now, thinking of it, I am frightened."
"It must have been awful!" my wife exclaimed. "But what happened? What did you do?"
"I did a strange thing. I was so frightened I couldn't explain what had happened. When I reached my mother I said, 'Mama, I'm frightened of the planes. They're going to bomb us! Let's go away from here! Please, let's go!' But of course Mama wanted the huckleberries; we were so hungry. And she didn't know what had happened. She said, 'Don't be silly, the planes are not going to bomb the forest. Go and pick berries.' But I clung to her skirt and cried until finally she sat down and held me in her arms. Later we picked berries again. But I didn't leave her side. I stayed as close to her as I could. But still I said nothing. I couldn't wait to get away from there."
"But what happened to the man in the bushes?" I demanded. "Who was he? Why was he there?"
She stared deeply into her husband's eyes for a moment, then down toward her feet. "I don't know," she said softly. "I never told anyone before."

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is he insane or what?

No blog last night. Local politics. Not as absurd as national politics but pretty absurd. One thing we learned is that the local Peace Group has a greater turnout than the local Democratic party and also has more money. What does that tell you about Democratic politics here in Idaho? We are hoping to change things. Actually we are thinking of asking Bill Gates to simply buy the state of Idaho and turn it over to a manager of his choice. It would be a great favor and things could surely not be much worse.

Is he absolutely insane or what? When Bush was asked whether the “war” in Iraq was worth it even though no WMP’s were found he replied “absolutely.” Think of that. With 1500 or so American troops killed, thousands wounded and many maimed for life, probably more than 100,000 innocent Iraq civilians killed, and somewhere in the vicinity of 200 billion dollars wasted, Bush thinks it was worth it – and he would do it again! All of this for a “war” against a small country that was no threat to anyone and had not attacked, or even threatened to attack, the United States. A nation that has made it completely clear they do not want us there, will not accept democracy at the point of a gun, and are never going to give in to permanent U.S. bases on their territory if they can possibly resist. And not only that, we haven’t managed to even steal their oil, which is what the whole disastrous, illegal, and unconstitutional business was actually all about. So what is it that was worth it? Bush is either totally insane, unbelievably stupid, or just plain evil. There is no way anyone in their right mind could possibly conclude that this tragic adventure in empire building was worth it. Obviously he has to claim it was because otherwise he would have to admit the truth – he and his Administration are war criminals, and this was the worst foreign policy disaster in American history. We know by now the truth is not in him, never was, and never will be. Will Bush/Cheney and the rest of the neocons ever have to pay the price?

Will Alberto Gonzales be confirmed? It looks like he will. But does anyone realize the full implications of his confirmation? Not only does he sanction torture, he also believes that the President of the United States has absolutely dictatorial powers. This is far more alarming that his position on torture. He believes the President can ignore the Constitution, ignore international treaties, lock people away for life just on his desire, and otherwise exercise absolute dictatorial power. If the Senate confirms Gonzales they will in effect have neutered themselves as they will no longer have the power to curb Executive priviledge. They will have surrendered. I don’t know about you¸ but I find this terrifying.

Then there is still Iraq. Remember Iraq? Where we were going to be greeting with flowers and cheers for getting rid of Sadam Hussein? Now they are admitting that maybe the election is not going to go as well or be as useful as they thought. And Powell, in his last week in office, is suggesting that perhaps some troops will be allowed to withdraw within the year. What does this suggest? It suggests to me that we are going to hold this totally mock election and then beat it out of there with our tail between our legs, but claiming victory at the same time. Bush may believe it was all worth it. I believe it was/is a total shameful disaster, the negative effects of which will be with us for probably decades.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Men and their secretaries - essay

Where do men go who run off with their secretaries? First memories are a strange bit. People I know recount first memories like "I peed in my pants" and "I was walking down the street holding my mother's hand," and "I got carsick and they had to stop while I threw up," and things like that. It may seem odd but my first memory, or at least one of them, was standing around a group of adults talking. The conversation, as I can remember it, went something like "...glubba glubba, snarfle, dingle mumble mumble...ran off with his secretary...sniggle snicker." At the time, obviously being very young, I didn't know what to make of this, although even then I could recognize scandal and disapproval when I heard it. I have heard this same conversation several times in my life. I still don't know what to make of it. But I do wonder, "whatever happens to men who run off with their secretaries?" I mean, you never hear of them again. At least I never do. Is there some special place where such people congregate? A whole city of men who ran off with their secretaries? But how could you have a city with nothing but secretaries and the men who ran off with them? How could they live? Who would do the work?
While I don't condone such behavior I can understand it. After all, men with secretaries spend almost a third of their time with them. Its only natural that they should be a little friendly, so to speak. But running off? That's a very different thing. Maybe they just go to another city and change their names? Perhaps, if they can afford it, they skip the country and go to Mexico or Portugal or some such place where they can retire in quaint little fishing villages and live off the land happily ever after. Nothing against secretaries, or even the men who run off with them, but somehow this scenario doesn't seem plausible.
Maybe there's an island somewhere, a secret paradise in the South Pacific known only to executives who want to run away with their secretaries, the knowledge of which is passed on only by word of mouth from one insider to another? They must go somewhere, they certainly don't hang around their home towns or their old friends once they have taken such an unacceptable path or, perhaps, "way out." On the other hand, it happens often enough that maybe it is more acceptable than we think, one of those "culturally patterned ways or misbehaving" or "time outs" that the anthropolgists talk about. If, on the other hand, it's merely a time out, what happens when time is back in? Do these liasons between boss and secretary last? How many of those men come crawling back, spent and broke, begging their wives to understand, to forgive and take them back? Like a lot of important questions you want to know about, I'll bet there are no figures, no statistics, probably no real information of any kind. But whether they go forever or for just a short time they still have to go somewhere. They don't just disappear into thin air although it may seem that way. How many men do you know who are living with or married to their former secretaries? How about your neighbors? The guy in the office next door? No, he'd be the last person to do such a thing. Aha! That's what we always say, just after the guy has left his wife and children and run off with the mindless boopsie with the figure like Marilyn, the one who always had to moisten her lips before she could take dictation, who wore the revealing outfits even in the dead of winter, who always needed the advice about her love life and was willing to stay after regular working hours to "help out." Do you suppose she's now tending the kids, slaving over a hot stove, scrubbing the bathroom floor? Is that why she ran off with the boss, helped to wreck a home? Well, if not, where is she? Is she with him? And where, pray tell is he?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Robbers of the Washington Forest

I was really worried there for a while before the election. I thought our Merry Band of Robbers in Washington might actually lose the election. I should have known they were far too sly to let that happen. Now I can breathe easy again knowing we are in good hands. We managed to retain our charismatic leader, Bush the Infallible. And, of course, his right hand man, Dick the Slimy (the real brains of the outfit). We’re going to lose Powell the Useless, but he’ll be ably replaced by Condoleeza the Incompetent. This is good as she will be able to work well with the new Director of the CIA, Goss the Toady. And of course Rumsfeld the Failed will be kept on board because he is doing such a “spectacular” job. He is going to be joined soon by our new Attorney General, Gonzales the Evil (to insure no change in our torture policy). Hastert the Dumb will continue as head of the House and Frist the Unsure will continue to run the Senate. Then, of course, there will still be Wolfowitz the Schemer and Perle the Nasty. Of course there is all the rest of the Cabinet, so undistinguished as to be unnoticeable unless they really screw something up – toadies all. Yes-men and women to a fault. Rest assured, we have nothing to worry about. This band of merry thieves will continue to lurk in the Washington Forest in their sleek limousines, passing up no opportunity to steal from the poor and give to the rich. Happy days are with us still.

I see that Newt the Hypocrite Gingrich is thinking of running for President in 2008. This is the guy who has been married three times, divorced one wife while she was in the hospital with cancer. commited adultery, and was engaged in an illicit relationship at the very same time he was criticizing Clinton for the same thing. He wants to be President? I guess the morals crowd will be glad to have him, along with their doper Limbaugh and sex mad O’Reilly, to say nothing of their gambling friend Bennett and the assorted fundamentalists already convicted to just about everything under the sun. It’s a Grand Old Party indeed! I guess nobody told Gingrich that Jeb is going to be the candidate and the fix is already in.

Things are going really well in Iraq. That is why Rumsfeld is thinking of sending in the death squads. The national debt is not a problem, as Reagan showed us. Social Security is going broke tomorrow. The lawyers are ruining the country. The minimum wage can’t be raised because it would totally destroy business. We need more tax breaks for the wealthy. Gays are recruiting in the schools and threatening to get married. Anti-abortionists are encouraging illegal abortionists to sharpen their coat hangers, and the tsunami was brought about as God’s punishment for liberals. Not to worry, George the Infallible has it all under control. It’s a wonderful world.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The coming obscenity

There is only one word to describe the coming $50,000,000 coronation – OBSCENE! With hundreds of thousands of tsunami victims without homes and hungry, with probably just as many in Iraq, with genocide in Africa, and near genocide in Palestine, with rampant poverty in the United States and most of the world, with forty million people in the United States without medical insurance, with the national debt at unprecedented levels, and with virtually no hope at all to get out of Iraq without the further loss of hundreds or thousands of innocent lives, to spend fifty million on a coronation ceremony in Washington, D.C. is simply unacceptable. It is so obviously unacceptable you would think that even the morons in charge would realize it. But apparently not. Remember, we are dealing with COMPASSIONATE conservatives. This is the most sickening example of human behavior, short of the actual killing going on, that I can imagine. Where is the outrage? Why are we tolerating this absolute travesty? What is wrong with us?

On top of this is the fact that Alberto Gonzales will almost certainly be confirmed as our next Attorney General. How can we turn him down? A Hispanic boy raised in poverty who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and became a high-powered lawyer counseling the President of the United States? Never mind that he thinks Presidential power is totally unlimited, torture is acceptable, and you need not be overly concerned with those who are about to be put to death. A President should have the Attorney General he wants – BALDERDASH! The President has an obligation to the country and the rest of the world. To have as your Attorney General someone who has claimed torture and incarceration without trial is legitimate is plain and simply unacceptable. Oh, I keep forgetting, the rest of the world, along with half or more of the U.S. population, are not important. The King must have his way¸ God has told him what is right and anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously a communist or a traitor. Perhaps it is true, we get the President we deserve. Aaaaaagh! Tell me this is all just a nightmare.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The apex of irresponsibility

When, if ever, will anything actually be done? That is, whatever happened to the Plame problem? Whatever happened to the Cheney secret energy meetings problem that was supposed to be returned to a lower court for some kind of action? Whatever happened to the continuation of the 9/11 investigation? What about Enron? What about the DeLay problem? What about Bush’s AWOL problem? How about the Ohio election scandal? Whatever happened to the Sibel Edmonds charges? What about our completely illegal “war” in Iraq? What about the torture? On and on. Some these problems have been dragging on for almost four years. Is any action ever going to be taken on anything? I realize that Americans have very short attention spans but this is ridiculous. Have we truly become so disinterested in the current Adminstration’s outrageous lies, secrecy, cover-ups, and war crimes that we just no longer care? I hate to say it, but it appears to be true. The American public has reached the apex of irresponsibility, the pinnacle of thoughtlessness, the heights of reckless idiocy. But, as it’s apparently all in the hands of the Lord, I guess it’s okay.

Certainly one symptom of this current American illness is the fact that Alberto Gonzales will almost certainly be confirmed as Attorney General. Gonzales is the Bush toady who didn’t bother to adequately brief then Governor Bush about the backgrounds and details of all those poor souls executed in Texas by the most execution minded Governor in history – George W. Bush. The same George W. Bush who as a child blew up frogs for fun and later, as an adult, mocked a woman pleading with him for mercy. A compassionate conservative with all the compassion of a great white shark. And this same Gonzales advised him there were no limits whatsoever on Presidential power so he could torture, execute, and imprison at will, even for life with not even the semblance of legal representation or a trial. What message do you think this will send to the rest of the world? Oh, I forgot, the rest of the world no longer matters when his excellency decides otherwise. Perhaps he can borrow some horses and a gilt carriage from his buddy Blair for his coronation. Maybe even a jewel encrusted crown to go with the ermine robes they might let him wear. George W. Bush is the most deceitful, dishonest, lying, incompetent, criminal, and probably marginally retarded individual by far to somehow become President of the United States. How we all revere him. He talks with God. Am I bitter and disillusioned? You better believe it.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Prophet Mencken

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

A statement from H.L.Mencken, 1920, as quoted in the most recent issue of The Washington Spectator. Is it not perfect? Does it not represent precisely what has happened in the years since Mencken wrote it? Does it not have religious fundamentalists written all over it? Does it not say Red States, Red States, Red States? Creationism? Homophobia? Ignorance? Intolerance? Utter foolishness? Turning our backs on the scientific revolutions that have brought us where we thought we might be in the 21st century? These are not idle questions when you consider the plans being developed by the Falwells, Robertsons, Dobsons, and others of the lunatic religious right. They appear to truly believe they can return us to the 18th century. And they will unless enough of us get off our televisions and onto the streets. This is no joke.

I could not bring myself to watch the “telly” today. I have no idea what happened with Alberto Gonzales. I assume he will be confirmed. Why not? He is just as much a part of the murderous gang of thieves and yes-persons as any of the other White House toadies. So he approved of torture, so what? He was only acting on behalf of the President. Now that he will be acting on the part of everyone he won’t be like that. You bet!

And did you notice that Condaleeza Rice is actually not dead. She has surfaced recently and is appointing somebody-or-other as her assistant instead of Bolton the Destroyer who thought he would get the job. He’s leaving for the “private sector” where he can no doubt cause even more trouble.

And Colin, our Colin, is flying around the world pretending that he is still Secretary of State and speaking for the Administration. He noticed there was a lot of devastation in India and Sri Lanka. Bill Frist noticed it too and insisted that the requisite amount of devastation should be in the background of his photo-ops. Don’t you just love these guys?

Most of my friends are depressed. I, too, am depressed. We believe that the current Democratic leadership in Washington is out of touch with the rank and file Democrats. We do not want anymore Republican-lite, no more trying to cater to centrists, no more simply giving in to the outrageous behavior of Republicans. We want to fight, to expose the absolutely Fascist nature of what is going on under the current Republican Administration. This is an absolutely nasty bunch of bastards that deserve no cooperation whatsoever. They are war criminals, thieves, liars, and worse. Until the world is rid of them there is no chance whatsoever of peace and goodwill. If you want any form of progress in the Middle East start with Israel, the most criminal nation on earth. Israel, in terms of violating U.N. resolutions, make the Iraqis, even under Hussein, look like solid citizens in the world community. There can never be progress in the Middle East until Israel’s lust for land and water is curbed and the Palestinians are given their due.

Depression can be overcome. Hopelessness cannot. So do not give in to hopelessness. Be of good cheer and gird your loins for what is to come. Believe in truth and beauty and it will come to you, however difficult the road.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Barbara Boxer, heroine

There was lots of excitement today in the House and Senate. As I am sure you all know by now Barbara Boxer (God bless her) signed on with the House members to challenge the Ohio vote count. Of course we knew nothing much would come of this but it certainly was a refreshing change from the usual Democratic cowardice. Interestingly enough, the Senate voted 74 to 1 against the challenge, with Boxer being the only positive vote to uphold the challenge. I don’t quite know what to make of this as I do not really want to believe that all Senators are in favor of denying people, especially minorities, the right to vote. Nor do I want to believe they all think Barbara Boxer is some kind of mentally handicapped person. There has to be an explanation that I do not as yet understand. But it was certainly no surprise to learn that the Senate, just like the House, is basically unconcerned about the voting rights of minorities – especially blacks.

The House vote was not much different. I forget the precise figures but I think it was something like 267 against the challenge to 33 votes in favor. I assume that most or all of the 33 votes in favor were from blacks. If you are still foolish enough to believe that the U.S. is not a racist country I will sell you the Bonners Ferry bridge over the Kootenai river cheap. Very cheap.

What was the most interesting about the challenge and the subsequent 2 hour debates was that it was as if the two parties were debating entirely different things. For the Democrats, they seem to have been debating the question of voting rights for all, and the fact that such rights were systematically denied to minorities, especially blacks. The Republicans were seemingly oblivious to this problem and were simply debating whether or not the Democrats were merely complaining in the sense of “sour grapes.” In other words Republicans simply ignored the question of whether or not there were irregularities in the voting in favor of castigating Democrats for even raising the question. This is not surprising, given the ill-disguised racism of the Republican party.

Even more interesting today was the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales. Obviously I did not watch the entire day of hearings (I’m sure I would have had a heart attack had I tried). I did hear the testimony of the Dean of the Yale Law School and the Dean of another Law School (a retired Admiral). If Gonzales is confirmed after the testimony of these two individuals you might as well wave goodbye to the rule of law, as well as common sense, in the United States. Gonzales is the mother of all toadies, a lawyer that believes his role is to serve the President no matter what, an absolute and total yes-man. I bet he still gets confirmed because no matter what, he is an Hispanic and better than John Ashcroft (as if anyone could possibly not be better than Ashcroft).

Perhaps the best news of the day is that CNN is getting rid of Tucker Carlson and probably Crossfire. It is not at all clear what is behind this but CNN seems to think Crossfire has worn out its welcome (it certainly wore it out with me many months ago), and that Tucker Carlson’s talents might be better used somewhere else. Frankly, I wasn’t aware that Tucker Carlson had any talents.

Will Barbara Boxer suffer any damage because of her support of the Challenge? I don’t think so. In fact, I think she will have earned the respect of the entire country, minus, of course, the utter nitwits that make up the Republican party. After today I do not believe there is any chance whatsoever of any bipartisan legislation, nor do I believe there should be. Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet and invited something they are going to eventually regret. The question of what is best for the United States has long ago been abandoned in favor of what is best for Corporations and the Republican party.

Oh, and by the way, things are going really well in Iraq; remember Iraq, that helpless little country that we illegally, unconstitutionally, and unnecessarily invaded in order to steal their oil and enrich Halliburton and others of the same ilk (not to mention Dick Cheney, the Bush family, and the rest of their crony capitalists)? But not to worry, we are spreading Democracy and Christianity around the world.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Stand up or surrender

Historian Joseph Stromberg’s First Law: “there is virtually no situation anywhere in the world that can’t be made worse by U.S intervention.”

Ivan Eland’s book, The Empire Has No Clothes, concentrates on the expansion of the “American Empire” following the close of WW II. Prior to about 1950 there was no American Empire, we basically adhered to the policies of our founding fathers and did not meddle much in things beyond our borders. But starting with Truman we more and more began to meddle in far flung affairs that had no real relationship to our own security. The result of this has been the creation of an American (informal) empire that stretches clear across the globe. Eland argues, very cogently I believe, that like all empires in history ours will inevitably expand to the point that we cannot afford it and it will fail. He points out that the some 170 countries that we now maintain troops in have little or nothing to do with our security – and everything to do with promoting our corporate business interests and our false need for empire. He argues that we would be far better off to abandon most of these bases, retreat to our own borders, and, following the advice of our founders, simply stop meddling in affairs that do not truly concern us. This would enable us to save billions of dollars that could be much better used to strengthen our own economy and thus increase our ability to compete in the international marketplace:

“America’s geographical advantages should allow it the luxury of narrowing its list of vital interests and safeguarding them, while adopting a policy of military restraint overseas. The United States needs to monitor the balance of power in two key regions – Europe and East Asia – and take action only if regional powers or organizations fail to maintain the balance of power. The policy of military restraint should allow the United States to cut its military budget by more than half, but would still require American to have a capable Navy to protect U.S. trade and a minimum strategic nuclear force to act as the ultimate deterrent to an attack on the United States. Using a policy of military restraint to defend a narrower set of vital interests will lower the cost to the taxpayer and actually increase the security of the United States by lowering the motivation of outside parties to attack them.” (p. 252).

Eland suggests reasons why neither conservatives or liberals should be in favor of an American Empire, and, indeed, why anyone should. He has a persuasive argument that everyone should read and consider. But of course as virtually no one in America reads, and certainly not serious books like this one, his well reasoned and historical precedents will be lost except for a few “pointy-headed intellectuals.” I hate to sound like a true elitist, but I have come to believe that no one should be allowed to vote without having completed at least 40 hours of non-partisan socio-political-economic study. They should then be given a certificate that would have to be presented to their precinct before they would be allowed to vote. If you have to study to become an American citizen why should you not have to study to be an informed voter? I guess we prefer voters like my mother-in-law who simply says, “my husband and I have always voted Republican and I am going to vote Republican now.” She pays absolutely no attention to what is happening in the world, doesn’t watch the news (maybe that is a good thing), and spends her days in shopping and watching movies (much to her credit I don’t think she watches the soaps).

Tomorrow, January 6, 2005, members of the House are prepared to challenge the Ohio electoral votes. For this to actually happen they need at least one Senator to join them. As of now, as far as I know, they still have no Senatorial commitment to this important and historical act, not even John Kerry, who is conveniently going to be out of the country. This is a monumentally important step for our Democracy. If no Senator steps forward to be counted on this momentous occasion you can conclude that on January 6, 2005, our nation was surrendered to Fascism.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Ah, Alberto

There is much talk about how Alberto Gonzalez is going to be grilled about his torture memo and his previous performance in Texas advising (or apparently sort of not advising) then Governor Bush on executions.Many people and groups are saying that because of his questionable opinions on torture he is not fit to be Attorney General (and by implication not fit for the Supreme Court either). This whole business is further complicated by the fact that the White House is refusing to turn over his memos. So far, however, I haven’t heard of anyone willing to bet that he won’t be appointed. And why not? Given that our President and Vice President are known war criminals why should anyone balk at a mere torturer?

So far there still does not appear to be a Senator willing to join the House in challenging the Ohio electoral votes. I guess it is long past time to expect any Democrats to do anything to challenge our soon to be Fascist Masters. They are all too involved in the same corrupt system. Only the people can do anything about this – but it seems they can’t be bothered to pull themselves away from the idiot box long enough. The Ship of State is clearly sinking.

It is also thrilling to learn that according to the Iraqi intelligence people the “insurgents” now outnumber the American troops with an estimated 200,000 or so active and involved combatants. I am not at all certain that insurgents is the proper term. Under the circumstances “patriots” might be more appropriate. After all, it is their country we are occupying against their will. Having completely destroyed Fallujah there is now the question of what to do with Mosul. Perhaps like Fallujah, we should destroy it in order to save it.

There is still some doubt the elections will be held on schedule, and even more doubt that they will be regarded as legitimate. The U.N. monitors are apparently not going to monitor the elections in Iraq by actually being in Iraq – they are going to monitor them from another country (Jordan?). Do you think this absolutely idiotic and unnecessary “war” will ever end? You can be sure now that if and when it does the United States will be the big loser. Let’s lose now rather than later as there is little point in continuing along this disastrous and foolish path. And please, don’t tell me anymore that things are going well and we are making progress. I have been overdosed with lies already. In fact, I don’t believe the Bush/Cheney Administration has ever told the truth about anything – even once.

The silence of evening
is like a blessing
after the noise of the day.
We wait quietly
for the setting of the sun.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hope for the best

I thought there was supposed to be some kind of confrontation in Ohio today led by Jesse Jackson. I have seen nothing whatsoever about it on the news. Did it not happen? Did I not understand what it was supposed to be? Or true to form did the major media simply ignore it?

Historian Joseph Stromberg postulated Stromberg’s First Law:
“there is virtually no situation anywhere in the world that cannot be made worse by U.S. intervention.”

This is pretty much the theme of Ivan Eland’s book, The Empire Has No Clothes, which I am presently reading. As I have not yet finished it I will get back to you soon.

I have been writing this blog for almost six months. In that time I have had only three comments: one from someone in San Diego I have never known, and two from someone in India that I have also never known. I truly appreciate their comments, but I have to say I cannot understand how they managed to find morialekafa. There must be hundreds of thousands of monkeys randomly typing on hundreds of thousands of computers for this to have happened. However it came about, I hope it will continue and grow. As I started this blog basically for myself, the fact that others might find it of interest is both flattering and rewarding.

I think I see signs that the Bush/Cheney Administration is starting to come apart. If I read the situation right there should start to be some genuine anti-war and anti-Bush demonstrations, especially during the “coronation” ceremonies. I truly wish I could be there. There are also strong indications that many Democrats are about to desert the DLC and the DNC in favor of a more progressive party. Even here in our conservative little town there is a strong movement in this direction. As it is obvious by now that we cannot depend upon the current Democratic Party to do anything except Republican Lite what other choice is there? The clock is being turned back to the early 1900’s when the so-called Robber Barons ruled, only to be ultimately defeated by people marching in the streets. As we obviously cannot depend upon the Corporate Fascists to look out for the people we will simply have to look out for ourselves. It has happened before and it will happen again. Bush/Cheney and their absolutely despicable and criminal Administration will fall, maybe sooner than you think. That is my belief and my hope and while I have been often wrong I still believe in truth and beauty. Will at least one Senator have the courage to stand up for truth and beauty? We will soon know.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The time is now

I have finished reading Esther Kaplan’s book, With God on Their Side. It is a truly fine book but not very easy to read. It is not easy to read because it is thorough, detailed, well researched, and has to discuss far too many Christian Fundamentalist organizations – because there are far too many of these organizations these days. And they have far too much influence. Although I was aware of the fact that such groups were gaining in influence I had no idea of just how much they have infiltrated all levels of our government. It is truly frightening to realize how much of the Administration is being controlled by the most intolerant and ignorant among us. Kaplan discusses how they have affected foreign policy, creationism in the public parks, science, Roe vs Wade, Gays, Aids, the media, and the whole issue of “family values.” It is not the kind of book that is likely to make the best seller list, which is too bad, because everyone ought to read it. For me, the single most disturbing aspect of their insidious campaign is the assault on science and the fact that Bush has repeatedly replaced scientists in very important places with these lunatic true believers. This is not something to be taken lightly.

Now that the holiday season is over perhaps the world can come back to life. I guess most people enjoy the time off, the holidays, the hustling and bustling and buying and returning and all that. Frankly, I don’t. I don’t like crowds, commercialism, carols, traffic, eggnog, and false claims that all is well with the world. I don’t like it when the banks are closed, the market is closed, the Post Office is closed, and, according to the major media, nothing is happening in the entire world (the tsunami actually made them report on something other than Janet Jackson’s itty bitty titty). Anyway, tomorrow may bring about something. There is supposed to be some kind of demonstration in Ohio which, hopefully, will set the stage for more to come. And we should learn within the next couple of days whether any Senator is going to actually stand up and be counted (don’t hold your breath). If, as in 2000, no Senator is willing to sign on to the challenge, you can kiss your democracy goodby.

I have been a Democrat all my life. I have never once voted for a Republican. Never. But I can tell you that if the Democrats don’t now stand up for our Democracy, don’t challenge the obvious, incredible and flagrant violations of our elections by the Bush/Cheney Administration, I will no longer consider myself a Democrat, and I will seriously support any third party no matter how much time it takes to make a difference. Our Democracy is dangerously at risk. Fascism is on the rise. Corporations are taking over the world with the support of the Christian Right, too stupid to realize how they are being exploited, and too much under the influcnce of the “Good Book” to even try to understand. The entire world is laughing at us and hating us at the same time – and for good reason. The time to stake a stand is NOW!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Wearing glasses - essay

When I was in the fourth grade it was discovered, more or less accidentally, that I was nearsighted. VERY. In fact, I was legally blind without glasses. Why no one had figured this out previously I really don't know. I hadn't figured it out. I had no other experience of seeing. I guess I thought everyone experienced the world as a great blurry mass of confusion. My teachers in the first three grades should certainly have been aware of it. But if they were they apparently didn't care. They preferred, I suppose, to just think I was stupid. I was stupid. How could one not be stupid if they can't read the blackboard or the flash cards from which they are supposed to be learning the multiplication tables or how to read and pronounce and so forth? So I was given glasses. Thick ones.
Interestingly, people do not seem to perceive being extremely myopic as a handicap. Where they might sympathize with someone who is totally blind they don't sympathize with someone who is really blind but wears glasses. My school chums, otherwise reasonably friendly and understanding, immediately labeled me "four eyes." They didn't think it was mean, I guess, it was just that wearing glasses was not what they did. And although it was occasionally used as an insult, it did not seem to cost me any friends. I was still accepted, still part of the "gang."
But later I learned that wearing thick glasses did not help in growing up. If I tried any form of sports with the glasses on I inevitably broke them invoking my father's ire (and his ire was considerable when it came to paying for new glasses). If I played without my glasses...well, I just couldn't. But even so I don't think anyone ever thought of me as being handicapped, or as even personally sensitive about my affliction. Many people, including some I know to have been unusually sensitive when it came to other things, thought nothing whatsoever about commenting, "they're just like coke bottles," after trying on my glasses. Or they would feign dizziness and stagger around remarking, "how can you see ANYTHING out of these," or, "My god, they're so thick," and etc. From my point of view this was insensitivity with a vengeance. From their point of view it was apparently just conversation.
I've never seen anyone approach a one legged person with, "that's a really interesting stump you've got there, mind if I try on your artificial leg?" I've never seen anyone tell someone in a wheelchair, "what's the matter, can't you walk," or observing to someone with cerebral palsy that, "that's a mighty funny twitch," or some such thing. But charity doesn't extend to the myopic. Granted its funny to see someone without their glasses addressing the store manikin instead of the salesperson. And the "Nearsighted Mr. Magoo" is not without humor. Sort of like a slapstick comedy about the mentally retarded (another group, by the way, that doesn't get much sympathy). I notice, however, that they don't make cartoons about the "Legless Mr. McGimpy," or "Palsy Walsy Palsy," or whatever.
If you really need glasses badly and don't happen to have them you can't drive, can't watch television, can't recognize your friends unless they come right up to you, and can't even read unless you hold the book a couple of inches from your nose, which is most embarrassing. Its not much fun going to parties and having everyone insist on trying on your glasses and then carrying on about how blind you must be without even a trace of delicacy. They don't go around asking people to let them try on their hearing aid, or play with their wheelchair, or wear their catheter, or their artificial arm. Nor do you ever see in a movie the hero having to remove his glasses before kissing the fair young maiden. The cowboy riding through the snow doesn't stop every few minutes to wipe off his glasses. Cowboys and detectives and heroes of all kinds just don't wear glasses. Only milquetoasts, sissies, and the boy next door. You know, the scrawny one who talks in the squeaky voice and always loses the girl to Mr. Noglasses Macho. Thank heaven for contact lenses. Nobody asks to try them on.