Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Republican Ideas

Whaddya mean Republicans have no ideas? They have all kinds of great ideas. In fact I will be sad when the election is over as I would like to see how some of their ideas might come to fruition. One idea I am particularly interested in is Herman Cain’s idea that in order to be President of the United States you don’t have to know anything. This great idea seems to rest on the assumption that if you don’t know everything about everywhere you don’t need to know anything about anything (you just listen to your advisors and presumably do whatever they say). This is an idea that has had at least some confirmation in the person of Rick Perry who has demonstrated pretty clearly that you don’t have to know anything to be Governor of Texas. He’s having a bit of trouble transferring his know-nothingness to the national stage, but he’s still in the running. He has the idea that if you are 21 years of age you should vote on November 12th (three years after you are eligible and six days after the election is over). Great idea!

Rick Santorum’s great idea, I’m not sure he has more than one or two at most, is that we should be teaching creationism in our schools (and trying to prevent Gay marriages). Surely these are ideas whose time has come. It’s true that the 19th and 20th centuries have come and gone, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t use the 21st century to make up for lost time by just turning the clock back on whatever progress science and culture have to offer. I guess Michele Bachmann might be considered here as well, she seems to have no connection with facts or reality. She has the idea she has never said anything inaccurate during the campaign, and also that God has instructed her to run (I wonder where she has been all this time).

Ron Paul is a more difficult case. He does have one truly super idea, no more “wars.” But when you consider his more basic ideas you have to imagine what life would be like living back in the 18th century (or before). For example, his claim there is no natural right for health care and that people are entirely responsible for their own health care, employment, and everything else. He is right, of course, on health care, but he seems oblivious to the human need for health care. There are, as far as I know, no natural or god-given rights of any kind. The various rights humans possess, like health care in particular, are rights they are granted by their governments, they possess them by being members of civilized societies that have as their responsibility the health and well-being of their citizens. Paul seems to envision a group of people living basically without government, a situation that has never prevailed in human society. Indeed, it is generally the purpose of human society (government) to organize and provide for the citizens. As far as returning to the gold standard goes, another Paul idea, that is not even as realistic as teaching pigs to fly and breed with creatures from outer space. No human society has ever existed without “government” no matter how “primitive.”

Of course the really great idea man of the Republican Party (if you don’t believe it just ask him) is Newt Gingrich, self-proclaimed intellectual, number one egomaniacal hypocrite, con man extraordinary, and flip-flopping hired gun. You pay for it, he delivers. Among his more recent great ideas is firing union janitors from the schools and making children do the work. He also has an idea for treating Mexican drug dealers, simply execute them (I don’t know if he has cleared this with the Mexican government). He also thinks Singapore has the proper approach to the drug problem, just execute anyone found with a tad too many drugs. This is a great idea, especially if you have no knowledge or understanding of the problem, treat all drug users the same, deny that it is basically a medical rather than a political problem, and etc. Gingrich also has the idea that if he, personally, is not elected President, it will only be a short time until a Gay and Secular Fascism will take control of our country. He has other ideas, too numerous to mention, all of which are predicated on the assumption that only he possesses wisdom in any form and that whatever he says must be taken as gospel. I can’t wait to see him as President.

We must not forget Mitt Romney. I’m not sure he actually has any ideas of his own, other than getting rich and becoming President. He seems to select whatever ideas seem to fit his needs of the moment. I will not comment on his religious ideas as he has assured us they have nothing to do with politics. A glance at Romney’s ideas (I gather taken from others) on Foreign Policy are enough to make you want to run and hide. John Huntsman may or may not have ideas, decent or otherwise, but he is not allowed to participate as he thinks science is meaningful and at least some knowledge of Foreign Affairs is helpful.

The latest great Republican idea has to do with paying for the extension of the payroll tax exemption. Democrats, and Obama, have the crazy idea it might be paid for with a 2% increase in taxes paid by those making more than one million dollars a year, money they would almost surely never miss, and money that many of them think they should pay. Republicans have a better idea. While they begrudgingly will agree to the payroll tax extension, they insist it should be paid for by freezing the wages of Federal employees and taking more from ordinary working people. See, I told you, they have all kinds of great ideas. The Divine Right of Kings was child’s play compared to the new Divine Right of the Obscenely Wealthy.

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.

Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Am I Missing?

What am I missing: a few brain cells? Perhaps a few synapses? Maybe some grey matter? Spark plugs? Maybe an oil change? I confess I absolutely cannot understand what is going on, with respect to the Republican plans for the 2012 election, that is. What on earth can they be thinking? Or are they even thinking? It is a complete and total mystery to me.

The Republicans announced long ago they would vote “no” for anything Obama wanted to do. They have been faithful to that pledge even though it has been extremely harmful to the country. They have alienated Black voters to the point where Obama is assured of the vast majority of their votes. They have alienated Hispanic voters with their stand on immigration. They have attacked the unions. More importantly, I should think, they have engaged in a war on women, on abortion, and even on contraception. They have consistently voted in favor of the 1% and against the Middle and Lower Classes. They have opposed universal health care, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the EPA, education, infrastructure, the arts, humanities, and anything that would in any way help ordinary people live more fruitful and happy lives. As I recall, we supposedly live in a democracy (even though perhaps merely a sham democracy) where one person equals one vote. The 99% represents just that, 99% of the voters. So just who do Republicans think are going to vote for them? Granted there are quite a lot of millionaires these days, and even some billionaires, but do they collectively have enough votes to elect the next President? Somehow they seem to think they do. I cannot understand this. I cannot understand how Republicans could possibly believe they are going to defeat Obama. I agree he is vulnerable, especially because of the unemployment problem. But really: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum? Please, how about even a modicum of reality. But what is truly frightening is that large numbers of voters actually will probably vote Republican in spite of their absolutely abysmal behavior of the past few years. I find this every bit as mysterious as how the world was formed.

This current bunch of Republican clowns, and I mean that quite literally, have stretched my credibility to levels never heretofore even approximated. Romney a flip-flopper so extraordinary it almost amounts to a bad joke; Gingrich, every bit as much of a flip-flopper and almost surely the world’s greatest hypocrite; Herman Cain, a cartoon character mocking the system; Rick Perry, who doesn’t know when the election is scheduled or how old you have to be to vote; Michele Bachmann, only borderline sane, if that; Rick Santorum obsessed with sex and homophobic. You could shuffle all of these candidates together and still fail to have a full deck. The more mainstream Republicans (remember them) just stand by idly and let these nitwits represent them and their party, apparently just helpless and afraid.

President Obama seems to have finally outwitted them on at least one issue, the Payroll tax. If Republicans had not caved on this and apparently agreed to continue it they would have in effect raised taxes for some 160 million working class Americans. I guess that would have been too outrageous and too obvious even for those who would otherwise just as soon bury us as not. It seems to me that much of the American public has (finally) caught on the criminal conspiracy that has been ripping them off for so long and may well be preparing to make some much needed changes in the way things work, (up to now almost exclusively for the wealthy and the corporations). This is going to prove extremely difficult and will no doubt take quite a while, but I believe the worst may be behind us. True justice will probably never be attained, full accountability will evade us, but I am beginning to actually once again have hope for the future. In the meanwhile let’s get this charade of a democratic election over with, get rid of the morons that managed to get elected in 2010, and begin again with what will hopefully be a Congress of at least the moderately sane and a President in his second term, free of the Tea Party, more able to govern. Perhaps with a bit of luck we might be able to get Arizona and Texas to secede.

When it comes to elections I am usually wrong. With my record of predictions (Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush, Schwartzeneger could never be elected) I wouldn’t be too surprised if we end up with a Gingrich/Cain ticket and a platform of adultery for everyone (but no Gay marriage, abortion, birth control, gender equality), and “a chicken in every pot,” two cars in every garage, and unsupervised erotic play on Sunday.

I think we agree, the past is over.

George W. Bush

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gingrich the Humane?

I do not believe even for one minute that Newt Gingrich is any the less inhumane that the rest of the Republican capitalistic cutthroats he represents. When he says we should treat immigrants humanely he is really saying to Hispanics, vote for me. While the Republicans have universally condemned any attempt whatsoever to deal humanely with the immigrant problem, Gingrich is at least smart enough to know that Republicans cannot win without a substantial Hispanic vote. Thus he took a calculated risk by saying what he did, and he can probably convince Republicans that it was a wise thing to say, whether he meant it or not. He can now argue that one reason he should get the nomination is because he can get Hispanic votes. Of course it probably isn’t going to matter much as Gingrich has little chance of getting the nomination and no chance of ever becoming President. Gingrich as the Republican candidate would be virtually suicidal for Republicans as he has all the baggage of Romney plus several additional freight cars more. In fact it is virtually incomprehensible that he is the current leading candidate. He is a known hypocrite (actually a hypocrite’s hypocrite), an admitted adulterer (virtually an adulterer’s adulterer), a big time lobbyist (a lobbyist’s lobbyist, even though he denies actually being a lobbyist), a failed and disgraced Leader of the House, and, like all other Republicans, a chronic (but consummate) liar, a self-proclaimed intellectual (in the land of mental midgets anyone with even one idea is an intellectual). If I were Obama I’d say “Bring him on.” I doubt he will stay on top long enough for that to happen. But, then, strange things are done in the midnight sun (and in the dark secrecy of corporate boardrooms). Why would anyone name their son after a semi-aquatic salamander in the first place?

Ho hum, just another sexual problem for Herman Cain. If several accusations of sexual harassment are not enough, now he is charged with a 13 year adulterous relationship. She says she has proof. His lawyer says it is no one’s business what his private sex life has been or is. Someone should remind them the Republicans started this insidious business of invading someone’s private sex life when they introduced it as a totally unprecedented attempt to bring down Bill Clinton. What goes around, comes around. It doesn ‘t matter anyway, as Cain is finished as a candidate even though he somehow hangs on, as do Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman, Paul, and Gingrich.

Try as they might Republicans cannot find a suitable non-Romney candidate. It seems the only way they can avoid his candidacy is if their convention deadlocks and someone as yet unknown and undeclared can emerge triumphant. Some say it might be Jeb Bush. Who knows what goes on in the minds of baboons? You almost have to feel sorry for them, stumbling around like Keystone Cops in an old comedy. I don’t feel sorry for them, I believe they deserve all “their bad” and more. By all that is right and just and sensible and honest and true, Republicans should be voted out of office en masse, perhaps even deported to regions so “nether” as to never be seen again. Of course that won’t happen, the American electorate, at least substantial portions of it, are apparently too dense to even vote in their own best interests. Don’t forget all them Gay marriages, abortions, birth controllers, Obama socialists, communists, fascists, immigrant loving, gun hating liberal atheists trying to take away our right-to-work laws and make us eat more healthily. We can’t have them in charge of the country, they might destroy the free enterprise culture that has reduced us all to poverty and despair.

That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.

Edgar Allen Poe, from ”The Conqueror Worm”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coeur d'Alene Diary - book

Coeur d’Alene Diary, Richard G. Magnuson (Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon, 1968)

I have been aware of this book virtually since its publication in 1968. I have only just now read it, as someone gave me a first edition of it, knowing it was about my home turf and that I like first editions. I didn’t read it previously because of my sometimes foolishly preconceived ideas and biases. I don’t generally think much about reading diaries, and besides, it was written by a former High School classmate of mine that I knew was not really a writer, and was also about a place I thought I already knew something about. More importantly, although many of my friends and classmates worked in the mines, I had no interest in the mines. I’m pretty sure my parents would rather have died that see their only son swallowed up in the bowels of the earth living the dirty, dangerous, unhealthy life of a hardrock miner. But as usual my preconceived ideas and biases were exposed for the foolishness they represented. This may not be a great book but it is a most unusual and rewarding one in many ways, some of which were perhaps not necessarily intended. The book claims to be a month by month diary of the first ten years of hardrock mining in North Idaho, and it is that, but somewhat more.

There is nothing pretentious about Coeur d’Alene Diary. It is plainly written, descriptive, with no soaring prose or unusual style, no author interpretations or re-interpretations, and very few authorial comments. It portrays what happened during the first tumultuous years as things were presented at the time by the local newspapers and other sources. This is most unusual because as it is, it represents almost the purest form of history, or even historical ethnography you are likely to find. It is not presented through the eyes or biases of the author, just what was reported about events of the time at the time. It not only offers detailed information about hardrock mining, but also insights into how it was people actually lived at the time. And how they did live!

One of the first things that I found somewhat surprising is that it is possible the first discovery of gold in the Coeur d’Alene district was made by a Black man, whose name is unfortunately unknown. A Montana paper reported that in 1884 a Black man arrived in Missoula with a large amount of gold that he spent recklessly, reporting that he knew where there was a lot more. He and a Flathead Indian left together and were known to be living in a small cabin just inside the Idaho/Montana line. He was subsequently found shot to death, the Indian was believed to have been the culprit, but nothing was done about it. Because of this the area around what is now Mullan, Idaho, was known for a time as “Nigger Prairie.” This surprised me, I guess, because when I was a boy living in Wallace, Idaho, the townspeople took pride in the saying, “The sun will never set on a (Black man) in Wallace.” I knew this was due to the fact that early in the 20th century a battalion of Black soldiers had been brought in as strikebreakers. I also knew there had been Blacks on certain early expeditions to the Northwest and also Black Frontiersmen. What surprised me was the mention elsewhere in this book of the presence of Black people, with no obvious indication of any particular prejudice. Indeed, it would appear that early Italian miners may have been subjected to more discrimination than anyone else, aside, of course, from the Chinese who were truly regarded as the lowest of the low, and were eventually prohibited from even mining for gold. “The newspapers, when writing stories involving a Negro, usually included his name, but it was a rarity when the name of an Italian or Slav was used in an article. The Chinese received the roughest treatment of all.”

As minerals, gold, silver, lead, and zinc were discovered, small named communities were formed at those points, often merely tent communities, most of which soon disappeared either entirely or from prominence. Murray, Idaho is a good case in point, although it still exists, barely, it was a major community at one time. Burke, Gem, Osburn, and others, also prominent at the time barely survive, or lost out in the competition for recognition. Even the survivors, Wallace, Kellogg, and Mullan, are mere shadows of what they once were. As the activity during this time was similar to a gold rush, and as the mines paid relatively high wages, men were attracted from many different places, most were poorly educated or immigrants who did not speak English. “This problem was overcome by district merchants and craftsmen by placing some sign or standard in front of their place of business…Druggists advertised by placing and mortar and pestle, Shoemakers hung a sign in the shape of a boot, the jeweler set up a clock…the barber a striped pole, and the livery would show the picture of a horse.” A major problem was solved when finally a sign in the shape of a bathtub was raised indicating for the first time the availability of public baths. As there was no agriculture in the narrow valleys and gulches, food had to be brought in, mostly by ships and barges from Lake Coeur d’Alene and then overland from the landing near the present Cataldo Mission. Of course stores and restaurants quickly appeared, along with hotels. Included on the menu in one of the better restaurants: Porterhouse steak, 65 cents, Half a pheasant, 65 cents, Russian caviar, 20 cents, 3-star Hennessey cognac, $2.50 a quart, booming times for those who were making $3.50 a day in the underground mines.

Nothing boomed more than the saloon business. “In February, 1891, Wallace had thirty places licensed for the sale of liquor and two gambling licenses were issued…Wardner had 19 saloons, Murray, 5; Mullan, 15; Burke, 6; Gem, 5; Osburn, 3; McAuley, 4; Kellogg, 2; Eagle, 2; Delta, 1; and four more scheduled elsewhere.” The entire population of the district was probably little more than four thousand. Although the papers seldom mentioned it there was, of course, prostitution. “On the 32rd of October, 1891, Lulu Dumont drove a stiletto into Frankie Dunbar seven times. Frankie was a girl of eighteen years. Both women were of the ‘fallen sisterhood’ located on Pine Street and they had been fighting over money.” I knew there had been quite a lot of violence at the time but I had no idea how commonplace it actually was. It seems that on every other page of Magnuson’s account someone is getting shot, stabbed, or beaten. Not only that, miners were often killed in the mines, by falling down mine shafts or victims of other accidents. Justice was a kind of hit or miss affair, depending on who was involved, the circumstances and apparently the condition of the juries:

“At a later date Reed was convicted of the crime (of murder) and appealed the decision to the Idaho Supreme Court. One of the grounds for his appeal concerned the fact that the jury which heard his case was furnished liquor during the trial by the bailiff. The Idaho Supreme Court held that the mere fact that the jury was furnished with a quart of whiskey each morning, under the direction of the District Judge, and that beer was served them, did not in itself constitute grounds for a new trial, unless there was some reason to suppose that the liquor was drunk in such quantity as to ‘unfit the jurors for duty.’”

It was apparently a common practice for jurors to be furnished or allowed liquor during their deliberations. Many cases, even of murder, did not even reach a jury. In one case a man shot and killed another during a dispute over a poker game. He was not charged as it was reported, “The dead man had shot first.”

I found this book a fascinating account of how communities developed and people lived during such tumultuous times. But here I have gone on far too long and have not even mentioned the two main themes of the book. First, the development of the mines themselves, the amounts of ore delivered from them, the methods and techniques employed, the innovations that made the work easier, the problems that arose over the costs of shipping, the fortunes that were made, the melting pot of humanity that was created; and second, the creation and growth of unions and the monumental struggles between unions and the mine owners. Thus I have revealed my biases and interests while avoiding what I should, more objectively reported. It is possible, of course, that author Richard Magnuson might have had his own biases, and could have selected what he wanted to present so as to slant the picture he wished us to see, to emphasize the sensational, for example. I see no reason to believe he did this, had he wished to sensationalize for perhaps a wider readership I’m sure he could have found much more sensational accounts. As it is, I believe he did a wonderfully objective job of presenting accurately what transpired at the time, the growth and development of mining in the Silver Valley, the (still ongoing) problems of unions versus management, and indirectly perhaps, a picture of a genuine frontier culture. Anyone interested further in the turbulent history of life and mining in North Idaho should consider Big Trouble (J. Anthony Lucas, 1997), and The Big Burn (Timothy Egan, 2009).

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Starving Chinese

When I was a little boy and refused to eat egg yolks, broccoli, spinach, oatmeal, or whatever other things she served me I didn’t like, my mother (bless her) would usually say, “Remember the starving Chinese.” Occasionally, if I remember correctly, it was the starving Armenians. The point, of course, was that I was lucky to have food to eat, unlike unfortunate others around the world. I believe I would be perfectly safe in saying now, if my mother were still with us, she would not be worrying about the Chinese or the Armenians. She would be more than merely worried about the starving Americans. I doubt my mother would even believe the depths to which American culture has sunk. We no longer hear about the starving Chinese or Armenians. There may be some, but if so they have faded away as our own poor and starving have come to the forefront. Generally speaking I would think it is true to say the Chinese have been slowly improving their lot while we in America have been slowly deteriorating.

I do not have actual figures available at the moment but I don’t think they would be hard to come by. We apparently have more children living in poverty than ever before in history, more people on food stamps, millions without health insurance, thousands having lost their homes, living in their cars or on the streets, and unusually high unemployment rates. We also have, at the moment, thousands taking to the streets protesting the obscene wealth inequality in our country, greater than most any other country on earth (with perhaps a very few exceptions). There seems to be no end in sight. I find this shameful, so shameful I no longer like to claim to be an American. Indeed, as I understand it, many Americans already pretend to be Canadians when they travel overseas.

I believe our current situation is basically unprecedented among so-called industrial civilizations. However bad things may be elsewhere in the “civilized” world, nothing compares to the shockingly terrible situation that exists here in our country at the moment. Rather than trying to provide some form of safety net for the poor and less fortunate we seem to be trying as hard as we can to make things even worse for them. If culture (with a small “c”) is supposedly a human development in response to the lack of basic instincts for social life, and if cultures are supposed to meet human needs for basic human necessities such as housing, food, social and psychological well-being, in our particular jargon, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” I think it might be fair to say American culture at the present time fails miserably. If the measure of culture is the well-being of its citizens it might well be argued that we are on the road to developing a non-culture, a reversion to a more primitive state of nature where it is literally “dog eat dog,” only the strong (read wealthy) shall survive, the most primitive form of Darwinism that is, I believe, basically a non-human condition, as all other human societies recognize the necessity for social solidarity and the obligations of the strong to look after and help the less strong. Even in what we claim to be the most “primitive” cultures on earth, the Bushmen of the Kalahari, for example, or Australian Aborigines, or tribal peoples everywhere, food is generally shared fairly equitably, there are no orphans, the elderly are cared for, and so on. Apparently there are those who believe that now that we have attained the very “apex of civilization” these basic human values no longer need apply. When people in positions of power and influence actually say those who do not work should not eat, or people are out of work because they are just lazy, or those who protest should just “take a bath and get a job,” or people are entirely responsible for their own welfare and health care, you know you are dealing with a new and different kind of human, one devoid of the basic human attributes of empathy, understanding, sharing, altruism, sociality, and community. You are also dealing with people who have little or no understanding of how it is human societies and cultures have evolved into the enormously complex and difficult conditions they currently present. To suggest that someone should “take a bath and get a job” under existing conditions betrays an arrogant ignorance quite probably below that of the average earthworm. As this was said by a man currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President I think it is symbolic of what we are in danger of losing.

Of all the economic systems that have existed: communism, socialism, monarchies, dictatorships, tribal and clan-based, even primitive bands, none has ever been as blatantly, antithetical, and diametrically opposed to basic successful socio-cultural human life as unregulated capitalism. As such, it sows the seeds of its own inevitable destruction. We are witnessing the beginnings of this at the moment.

On the level plain, simple mounds look like hills; and the imbecile flatness of the present bourgeoisie is to be measured by the altitude of its great intellects..
Karl Marx

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whatever Happened to Government?

Either I am terribly old-fashioned and completely out-of-date or the idea of government or governing has essentially disappeared. I thought that we, the voters, selected representatives to become leaders who would effectively (or maybe not entirely effectively) manage the country, decide on issues of importance, plan for the future and the defense of the country, and in general act in the public interest with respect to budgetary matters, health care, education, environmental protection, super structure, foreign affairs, and what-have-you. I thought this was true of both of our political parties. This does not seem to me what our elected representatives have been doing for the past few years. So what have they been doing?

Certainly they have not been governing, effectively or not, during the entire administration of President Obama. They have not been governing at all. They have divided roughly into two camps, representing the respective political parties, one of which has devoted its entire attention to attacking Obama and trying to ensure he will not regain a second term. I would like to say the other one has spent their time trying to defend Obama, but unfortunately it is somewhat more complicated than that. But even if they have not been always directly defending Obama they have for the most part attempted to defend many of his policies, most of which have always been standards of the Democrats: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, public education, and so on, the very programs the Republicans have consistently opposed (conveniently now as they think this will help them destroy Obama). The Republicans announced early on in the Obama Presidency their number one goal was to prevent Obama from having a second term. They said they would vote “no” to anything and everything, and have done so. I do not believe there can by any doubt about what they have been doing and this raises the basic question, is this “governing?” The answer clearly is “no,” whatever it is, it is not governing.

I cannot believe the Founding Fathers ever conceived of a system in which two political parties would spend the bulk of their time trying to wrest power back and forth from each other. I think Mitch McConnell, when asked about Republican strategy, said something to the effect of “Isn’t that what has always been the case?, “ implying that the party out of power has always tried to unseat the incumbent. The answer, unfortunately, is “yes and no.” It is obviously true that with elections for President every four years there is always a contest to see which candidate will win, but this does not mean, nor has it ever meant, that governing the country would cease in order for one candidate to win. Important affairs of state were not ignored, actions were not suspended, government did not cease while one party concentrated exclusively on destroying the other. The obsessive, single-minded destruction of a President has never before led to the abandonment of government for years at a time.

Why has this change come about? I’m sure it has to do with the fact that influence has come to be a commodity, just like pork bellies, sugar and corn. Our representatives not longer represent their traditional constituents but, rather, the corporations that fund them and in return expect to get their way when it comes to legislation and the rules of the game. This has become so obviously true it has now been accepted as “just the way it works.” If there was ever any doubt about it the Supreme Court put it to rest when they declared that Corporations were Persons, the most absurd and devastating to democracy decision ever made (by a court itself part of the ongoing corruption).

We no longer have a functioning government, if by government is meant a system for managing public affairs in the best interest of its constituents. What we have is a kind of Mafia-like criminal conspiracy that does what the various Corporate Godfathers decree. In its simplest form it is a scheme to take money from taxpayers and give it to the already wealthy and powerful, essentially laundering the money through various defense and other industries. It has echoes of a protection racket, too, in that Representatives do what they are told or face the threat of not being re-elected. It is a system where money is not only considered speech, it actually talks.

I basically despise Newt Gingrich, whom I consider a completely dishonest, hypocritical, arrogant, pompous windbag with a fantastically self-exaggerated reputation as an intellectual. But in the spirit of “Even a blind dog finds a bone sometimes,” I think he did actually stumble on a potentially good thing, and truly kind of mysterious win-win situation. He said that when it comes to immigration policy we should strive for a “humane” solution. Some think this will doom his chances for the nomination because the Tea Party will not tolerate anything humane when it comes to immigration (or much of anything else). But from my standpoint, if it does doom his nomination, that would be a good thing, a win. On the other hand if he did (he won’t, but if he did) win the Presidency we would have a more humane immigration policy, another win. Good on ya, Newt!

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scromelets and Other Aberrations

I am so weary of having to think about the idiocy of Republicans I have decided to take a break and consider something closer to home and more meaningful to me, my stomach. As near as I can tell the entire Republican philosophy (if it can be described in such a grandiose term) comes down to about six basic beliefs: Lie and Steal, Snatch and Grab, Hoard and Gloat. Anyway, on to my stomach:

I have been blessed in my life by having had two wives who were wonderful and serious cooks. My current wife of 27 years is a Gourmet-class chef who has fed me so unbelievably well over the years it is remarkable that I still remain merely somewhat overweight but not obese. I once had a wife for a time whose culinary skills were restricted to two things: bananas wrapped in bacon for breakfast and tongue. How she had mastered merely these two dishes has always been a mystery to me. As she also claimed not to know how to use a broom I did not pursue the issue as I might have. But I digress.

The problem with my current wife is not that she is quite likely the greatest cook in Idaho, but, rather, because of her teaching duties, she is not always home to feed me. This means, of course, that I must sometimes cook. The title of this blog should probably be: Scromlettes and Other Aberrations: Cooking By and For Little Old Men. I have already discussed food a couple of times, my adventures with pig’s feet, for example (Morialekafa 8-14-05), and also my fondness for sardines (Morialekafa 6-07-06), but there is more in the way of food that challenges me.

When I was a child my father (and thus also myself) were strictly meat and potato eaters. If every meal did not include meat we did not consider it food. Vegetables, blah, pasta, never, rice, foreign, and so on. It was so bad my poor mother tried to serve us steaks on beds of lettuce in the vain hope we might actually consume some, if only by accident. Until I left home, traveled, and eventually married, I stuck pretty much to the regimen of meat and potatoes. Gradually, over the years, I began to appreciate a much broader menu. I can cook, of course, and if I stick to the basics, pretty well. Ham and eggs and scrambled eggs I do fine, steaks too, although I seldom eat one anymore, partly because of the exorbitant price but mostly for health reasons. Fish and shell fish I have no trouble with. I have come to enjoy vegetables and can cook them passably well. The basic techniques of frying, roasting, baking, barbecuing and steaming I can handle. My problem is, that having been exposed to somewhat more complicated things, I generally fail. Omelettes are perhaps the best example. I consistently fail at them. I love Spanish omelets, but when I try to make one at the very last moment I fail. That is why I refer to them as “scromelets,” Spanish omelets in the style of scrambled eggs. This is a constant source of frustration for me (as well as embarrassment). Baked oysters have also given me trouble, although I cannot understand why, the basic recipe is so simple even a child should be able to do it. I found a recipe for “Baked Oysters Italiano,” seemingly simple, but when I made them they did not turn out as expected. I did not enjoy them. I stubbornly kept at it until after many attempts I managed to make baked oysters that I could enjoy. But by this time they deviated so markedly from Baked Oysters Italiano I now refer to those I make as Baked Oysters Morialekafa, but at least I enjoy them. I have mastered at least one form of apple pie but pumpkin pies still rather eludes me. I did not understand that when you assemble a pumpkin pie to go into the oven the pumpkin is still a liquid. By the time I get one to the oven there are little splotches of pumpkin all over the kitchen floor, a real nuisance to clean up.

It is, as you are probably aware, difficult to cook just for one person, and recipes do not always do well when arbitrarily reduced. For this reason I sometimes disdain the recipe and just “wing it.” I sometimes do a pretty good version of Shrimp Vera Cruz but it is probably more like Shrimp a la Kitchen Sink. Once when my wife was gone for a week I made a terrific Paella, but as it lasted for the entire week I was pretty tired of it by the time she returned. By now I have developed a repertoire and stick to it fairly well: Pork Schnitzel, Breaded Rockfish, Oyster stew, Baked and Fried Oysters, Shrimp a la Kitchen Sink, Steamed Cod, Hangtown Fry, Beef stew, Liver and onions, Ham and eggs, Scromelets, and Sausages and Beans, as well as an occasional roast chicken. When I can I also try Salmon, Whitefish, Mussels, and even Octopus (some of these we can only find in Canada). Sometimes I dream of Cassoulet, Choucrute, Ossobuco, Lapin au Saupiquet, and even Pied de Cochon, but, alas, they are not for Little Old Men cooking for themselves (happily I have my wife).

A couple of years ago my wife came home with a book on Charcuterie (Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn). Naturally, being an unrepentant carnivore, I plunged into it, quickly making bacon, corned beef, and Guanchiale, all of which I thought were very successful (my wife complained that I over-smoked the bacon). Now, for the past year, she has been involved in an international contest, Charcutapalooza, that has required her to make a different kind of cured meat each month that she has done very successfully (see her blog, In Linda’s Kitchen). As this is entirely her show I do not help her, but I have been inspired by her efforts. I am now thinking of attempting an air-dried ham (ham being one of my favorite things in all the world). But as someone who now has to pause before even buying green bananas, and as the ham has to hang for at least six months or a year, this may be a bit overoptimistic. But what the hell, if worst comes to worst it can be part of my Estate.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, November 21, 2011

Anything to Please

These Republicans, they certainly know what to say to please…the Greedy Ghouls that are eager to feast on the slowly desiccating carcasses of what used to be the American Middle Class. A brief review of some of the latest Republican comments is most interesting. Newt Gingrich, who mysteriously finds himself at or near the top of the polls is a good place to start. Never one to mince words when any outrageous statement might do, Gingrich announced in his usual pompous, arrogant style that the Occupy Wall Street participants should “Take a bath and get a job.” He neglected to mention where they should apply. Maybe he should hire some to help peddle his ridiculous snake oil to more predatory corporations. Appealing even more shamelessly to corporate desires he also announced that child labor laws are “stupid,” and children should be put to work as janitors in their schools, but only after all the unionized janitors have been fired. Vintage Newt, what a guy!

Let us not overlook Representative Joe Walsh, you know the guy who refuses to pay his back child support that now totals somewhere in the vicinity of $120,000, and might well be the Poster Boy for the only marginally sane in Congress. Joe believes that the (very few, according to him) Veterans who are taking part in Occupy Wall Street just don’t understand our country. He seems to think they are in the vanguard of a great socialist movement threatening our very well-being. Hey, no doubt Joe knows best.

Good ol’ Rush has not been silent on recent developments (is he ever). He has announced to his dittoheads that Michelle Obama is guilty of “uppityism.” It seems that the crowd at Nascar booed when she appeared there as they apparently don’t approve of her attempts to tell people to eat more healthily. I guess they don’t like her working to improve the lives of Veterans either. Somehow I don’t think booing the First Lady will get them many points with the public at large.

Alaskan Congressman Don Young, whose major claim to fame up to now was waving a Walrus penis bone at the Female head of U.S. Fish and Game, has now told a Professor from Rice University that his testimony on the environment was “garbage.” Young, of course, is an avowed anti-environmentalist as well as an outspoken homophobe. And you wonder why Congress rates below Attila the Hun?

But wait! Don’t change that dial, there’s more astute Republican comments. Rick Santorum, still obsessed with the sexual behavior of homo sapiens (and other species as well, I guess), has now made it clear that Gay Marriage is going to cause the U.S. to “fall.” I’m not sure where it is he thinks we will fall to, and I’m not too sure we haven’t already fallen about as far as possible, but who knows what he thinks about other than about sex? He also has now explained that suffering is good and Americans need to suffer. If suffering is good many Americans must be piling up a lot of “good” because they are certainly suffering at the moment. Perhaps we should begin flagellating ourselves more often to accumulate even more good. I say Santorum for President, we’d certainly suffer then.

But the prize for the most idiotic comment of all, one that even dwarfs Madeleine Albright’s absurd, sadistic claim that sanctions against Iraq that caused the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was “worth it,” came from conservative writer David Frum. Apparently speaking for millions of Iraqi citizens, Frum assured us that “No price was too high for the Iraqis to be free of Saddam Hussein.” I don’t know if he checked this out with the millions of Iraqis who either were killed or maimed, lost their homes, their families, and everything they owned, and suffered miseries beyond description to the point that some wished for the return of Saddam. Perhaps he could join with Santorum and explain to them that suffering is good.

The so-called Super Committee has failed. I wonder if anyone is really surprised. Why would a committee of six Democrats and six Republicans be expected not to fail? Now, unless Congress takes some serious action to cut at least 1.2 trillion over ten years (a ridiculously small amount when amortized over ten years) the automatic cuts agreed to will eventually go into effect. This will mean large budget cuts to the National Defense Budget, already so bloated it wastes billions without even batting an eye. But McCain and his sidekick Graham are already trying to welsh on the deal, no amount of money can ever be enough for the defense budget, according to Republicans. Cuts there would make it more difficult to rip off the taxpayers without revealing the underlying absurdity of the military/industrial/political system that really isn’t much different from an ordinary protection racket, except for its fantastic size and complexity.

A country which proposes to make use of modern war as an instrument of policy must possess a highly centralized, all-powerful executive, hence the absurdity of talking about the defense of democracy by force of arms. A democracy which makes or effectively prepares for modern scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic.

Aldous Huxley

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reality and the Unthinkable

Bubblehead: If you made comments that did not appear on Morialekafa I’m sorry, but I assure you it was not because I refused them . For the past couple of months, perhaps a bit longer, I simply have not seen any comments so that I could either refuse them or not. I don’t know how this happened. My computer skills are so primitive I could not have arranged this change, unless I somehow did it accidentally and was totally unaware of it. One possibility is that someone else did it. Other people occasionally use my computer, especially my wife and my son (although they do have their own computers). Another possibility was a visit at about that time of a somewhat shiftless brother-in-law. But I can’t really blame anyone as I have no idea what happened. I did not want to inhibit any comments other than spam or those too obscene even for me . For anyone else whose comments did not appear I also apologize. Anyway, I hope it has gone back to the way it was. I truly enjoy the comments even if I sometimes do not agree with them.

Somehow our political system has strayed farther and farther from reality in recent years. The current Republican slate of candidates for President would have been unthinkable not too many years ago, except perhaps for one or two of them. This is, I suppose, at least partly due to the fact that there are no formal prerequisites for the position. But I think there is more to it than that although I can’t exactly point out why. It seems to me that most usually throughout our history candidates for President were chosen by the Political Parties from the ranks of known and seasoned politicians, those who had served in Congress or were well-known Governors, Generals, or the like. It was not the case that just anyone or everyone who wanted to run was allowed to do so (or at least were not taken seriously). This has changed and there are now candidates who are clearly not viable (or perhaps even serious) candidates.

The reality is, the United States is still the largest economy on earth and indisputably the most awesomely powerful militarily, with weapons and responsibilities almost beyond imagination. There is an unbelievably complicated web of relationships with virtually every other country on earth, as well as a population of citizens numbering in the billions that must be protected and nourished. As a result of this the President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, responsible at the moment for virtually all the people on the planet, as well as their well-being. Not, then, a job for just any man or woman. I submit for one reason or another none of the present Republican candidates is truly suitable for, or up to, the job.

Does anyone (reasonably sentient) seriously believe that Sarah Palin, for example, could be President? It seems obvious to me she cannot be accepted as a candidate for the most powerful position on earth. It is true she was a Governor (at least for part of a term), but she also revealed herself to be virtually dimwitted when it comes to world affairs and is also a religious nutcase. Much the same can be said for Michele Bachmann. It’s true she has served in Congress but, like Palin, is a religious extremist, and, in fact is considered even only borderline sane by some. Donald Trump as a candidate for President is beneath contempt. Herman Cain, too, cannot, in my opinion at least, be considered a serious or viable candidacy for the Presidency. He has revealed an awesome ignorance of world affairs as well as even local political realities, and being a successful businessman is not of itself a qualification for the job. Ron Paul, another senior Congressperson, has a small following that seems very loyal to him, but his ideas appear to come out of the dark ages and very few even now take him seriously. Rick Santorum is a somewhat sad case of essentially a one issue candidate, the issue being Gay marriage, certainly at the moment not a winner for anyone. Then there is Newt Gingrich, thrice divorced, known hypocrite, pompous blowhard, disgraced former Speaker of the House, chronic liar, and self-proclaimed savant. I believe it is entirely fair to say that even 30 or 40 years ago none of these candidates would have even been considered seriously for the Presidency, certainly not Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, or Gingrich.

This leaves us with three former Governors that at least have the apparent credentials for candidacy. But two of them are Mormons who even now face considerable opposition just on religious grounds alone (however unfair that may be). The third, Rick Perry of Texas, ought, by all means, to be considered a viable candidate, but has shown himself to be not only an ignoramus and a religious nutcase, but also a flop as a debator and a student of world affairs, not, as they say, suitable for the “big time.” Huntsman, the only candidate with any significant Foreign Affairs experience, has failed to connect with the Republican base as he is apparently too honest for them, and Romney has proven himself over several years to be a man with no permanent principles. I do not believe that even fifty years ago any of these current candidates would have been considered acceptable, nor would they have received the media attention they have.

I would attribute this rather strange development to several factors. One of them I think is just plain ignorance on the part of the electorate. When you have relatively large numbers of voters who think the President should be just like themselves, someone you would like to have a beer with, this indicates to me ignorance of reality on a truly grand scale. Another factor has to do with the control of the media by a few corporations who apparently don’t care who the President is, as long as he or she does what they desire. Third seems to be the fact that if someone can generate enough funds to run, or have enough funds of their own to run, it doesn’t matter if they are truly worthy candidates or not, the very fact they can raise money seems to indicate they are desirable candidates. Fourth, the Party regulars, partly because of the media, no longer seem to be in control of the selection of candidates, having ceded their previous authority to the fringes of the Party and the media.

What this seems to indicate is that although previous experience, such as being a Governor or Congressperson, or even a celebrity, may be a necessary condition for becoming a candidate, it is by no means a sufficient condition. A candidate cannot be regarded as either dishonest, wishy-washy, an extremist of some kind, or a religious nutcase, and must have that elusive appearance of appearing Presidential. I do not believe any of the current Republican candidates meet the test. It doesn’t seem to matter as one of them will no doubt get the nomination anyway (and will probably face an ignominious defeat). Although I do not agree with or approve of some of President Obama’s decisions I believe he has demonstrated Presidential qualities. Charges that he has not been a leader I think are totally bogus, you cannot be a leader when large numbers of people have announced arbitrarily they will not cooperate, no matter what. I think Obama SHOULD win in a landslide in 2012 (but I am more often wrong than not).

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

Groucho Marx

Friday, November 18, 2011


Morialekafa has never received many comments but there have always been a few. Recently, however, there have been none. I do not know why this happened. There was a time when I was receiving almost daily comments in Asian languages I could not possibly understand. I suspected these of carrying viruses and had them blocked. There was also a time when I was fairly commonly receiving anonymous comments. I do not approve of anonymous comments so I had them blocked. For a long time I was receiving comments on my email that I could either agree to have published or refuse them. I do not recall ever refusing one. I would like to say that I welcome comments, provided they are not some form of spam or contain language I regard as unfit for decent communication. I believe this problem has been cleared up. If you have a comment please do not hesitate to send it.

I confess I am finding it harder and harder to blog as often as I once did. The political situation at the moment is so absurd I find it difficult to take it seriously. It seems to me the Republican criminal conspiracy (that once was a legitimate political party) is inevitably going to crash and burn (or at least it certainly ought to) and then perhaps it will be possible for someone to actually govern our country in a manner at least approximating some form of quasi-democratic Republic where all citizens share somewhat more equally in opportunity, health, and happiness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Shocking Stupidity of the Stubbornly Short-Sighted

Apparently 72 Republican members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter (or some other document) saying they will never agree to any increase in taxes. I gather they mean what they say, no increase in taxes no matter what. It seems from the reports I have seen that the Republican members of the so-called Super Committee have also refused to give in to any new taxes. I gather they are also opposed to closing corporate loopholes and are holding out passionately to keep on making the rich and the corporations even richer than they are. With hundreds of American citizens now taking to the streets in our major cities demanding action on jobs, something that will require some increased revenues to produce, just where do these Republicans ideologues think the Occupy movement will go?

As I understand it, some 68% of Americans want to see the rich and the corporations pay more in taxes (or at least “their fair share”). I also saw today that even 68% of millionaires have requested they be taxed more heavily. Warren Buffet and other billionaires have also suggested they should pay more. It is also obvious that those with millions and billions could easily pay more and not even miss it. Some 40 or more Republicans have announced they will not honor the no taxes pledge they signed for Grover Norquist. Even so, the Republican leadership (if it can be called that) seems to be determined not to budge on their position. I find this virtually impossible to understand, and I cannot help but wonder if they have any ideas of the potential consequences of their complete unwillingness to help our country out when it desperately needs help. Similarly, I cannot understand their apparent total lack of either understanding or compassion for the lives of those out of work that have in many cases also lost their pensions and their homes.

These Republican holdouts apparently believe that “It can’t happen here.” That is, there cannot be a genuine revolution in the United States. I guess they believe this because there has not been a violent revolution since the original Tea Party, and because they believe the current rebellion will either exhaust itself and go away or the police will destroy it for the 1%. I suspect they do not know how dangerous the times may become. I also suspect that at least some of the billionaires and millionaires might well understand the dangers and hope that by giving in a bit this eventuality might be avoided. So far, even after more than 60 days of protests, the protests have remained non-violent. One can only hope they will remain so, but I’m not so certain the protestors cannot be prone to more violent acts if they see no activity on behalf of Congress and the Administration to seriously attend their grievances. Frustration, if prolonged, does almost inevitably lead to violence. In the present case the majority of the population is being frustrated by a relatively small minority that seems to believe they can get their way (and get rid of Obama) by just standing pat.

Paradoxically, the position of this stubborn minority is being undermined by the only true thing they have ever said – they are dedicated to making President Obama a one term President. As they announced this with some pride, and have religiously stuck to it, it has become obvious that anything else they say about Obama will almost certainly not be true (and hasn’t been). Try to remember if you have ever heard them claim anything about Obama that is actually true. They have tried everything: he wasn’t born in America, he’s a socialist/communist/fascist/racist/Muslim/Dictator/visitor from outer space/weak on national defense/dumb on Foreign Policy/economics/etc., all claims with no substance whatsoever. The latest as of today, a la Rick Perry, is that he is “a child of privilege,” a claim so outrageously false as to inevitably make Perry look like more of a fool than he has already revealed himself to be.

It appears there will be no Great White Dope to unseat Obama, and as Herman Cain is basically little more than a practical joker he, too, will be of no consequence. Romney will probably get the nomination by default, but even he is now under fire for destroying the records of his Governorship. This, however, will probably make little difference as Romney is already known to be completely wishy-washy on virtual any subject you can name, "inauthentic" is the most flattering thing you can say for him.

If I had anything to say to the Occupy people it would be: Don’t waste your bodies or health trying to make it through the winter in tents and sleeping bags. Withdraw temporarily for the winter, make it clear you are using the time to organize a nationwide Spring offensive that will make what you have accomplished so far look like child’s play. Continue to pressure Congress to act before it becomes too late, see if they take the obviously not subtle hints and actually begin to act responsibly. If not, Spring and Summer will make the point both inescapable and inevitable.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is it Possible?

Is it, I cannot help but wonder, even possible for the Republican attempt to find a candidate to run against President Obama any more ridiculous than it has become? I mean, really, can this be any more than just a bad joke? Mitt Romney still manages to be considered as the most probable candidate to run against Obama, even though no more than about 25% of Republican voters support him, and even though they have desperately sought someone else in a sort of “Anyone but Romney” frenzy. By now they have pretty much exhausted the possibilities and at the moment, if you can possibly believe it, Newt Gingrich is leading in the polls. This will not last more than a week. First there was Bachmann, leading in Iowa, where you have to be certifiably loony to even be considered, and once she left Iowa she flunked out miserably. Then there was the Great White Dope from Texas, who was to immediately become the leader of the pack, who then flunked out on Brains 101, to say nothing of basic memory. Then it was the turn of Herman Cain, possible sex offender, admitted know-nothing when it comes to foreign policy or much of anything else. Still going so far but with virtually no hope are Ron Paul, with his marvelous imitation of Pa Kettle, Rick Santorum obsessed with sex and the single parent, and Huntsman with the temerity to suggest that science might be important. Santorum and Huntsman have not yet had their turn in the barrel and probably won’t. With the possible exception of Romney, who has been a candidate for President for a long time, the rest of this dismal field has little or nothing to offer. Even more ridiculous possibilities like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have (understandably) gone the way of Dodo birds, and more serious Republican candidates have declined to run.

So, at the moment it is Gingrich, a truly marvelous candidate, almost certainly one of the world’s greatest hypocrites, a serial adulterer, lost the Speakership of the House and was fined for illegal activities therein, self-proclaimed intellectual, Pontificator extraordinaire, Dumpy chronic prevaricator, egomaniacal self-promoter basically out merely to sell books, and transparently fake candidate. He has managed somehow (after years of self-promotion) to convince at least some members of his party to believe he is the most intellectual of them all, no small feat given the reality of his intellect (tells you something about the intellectual abilities of Republicans in general). Gingrich’s hypocrisy is so pronounced he cannot possibly survive as the leading candidate for long. His latest hypocrisy has to do with his loud and obnoxious claims that anyone who had anything to do with Freddy Mac or Fannie Mae should be put in jail, while neglecting to mention that he, himself, had received 1.6 million from them for “Historical advice.” Actually, while I think about it, he probably is an ideal candidate for the gang of greedy thieves that currently makes up the Republican Party, he has, as they say “what it takes.” But really, seriously, is this not an absurdity to about the nth level of absurdity?

And so, after one after another of these prospective candidates bites the dust, we inevitably come back to Romney. Even though few seem to want him he probably will get the nomination. Why someone who must know his peers have tried desperately to find someone else, and thus obviously do not want him, continues to run I find somewhat mysterious. But it is indicative of his apparently unbelievable lust for the Presidency. He has demonstrated consistently he is willing to say anything to achieve this goal, to the point where it is impossible to believe he has any basic values or principles at all. He says things that are at time so preposterous and transparently absurd one can only marvel at his willingness to even say them. One of my recent favorites is “If Obama is re-elected Iran will have a nuclear bomb, if you elect me, they won’t.” You have to reflect on this for a moment before the full impact of the stupidity hits you. First, there is no basis in fact whatsoever for such a claim. Iran may not even be working on a bomb, and even if they were/are what makes him believe Obama will be any less effective about stopping it than he would be, and even if he were President he could not necessarily stop it anyway. Such a statement is simply ridiculous and designed to please an audience of numbskulls. It also betrays Romney’s assumption that the U.S. is going to unilaterally determine what goes on in the Middle East and the world at large. Romney, were he to actually become President, I’m convinced, would be a disaster even beyond the scale of Bush/Cheney (something I might have thought impossible until listening to Romney’s plans for the Middle East).

And so there you have it, Willard and the six useless mental midgets, all determined to overthrow the Obama administration and lead us inevitably to further humiliation and defeat in the eyes of the (real) world. I would never have thought it possible for (what used to be) a legitimate political party to be so self-destructive. Republicans seems to have inverted the old tattoo, “Death before Dishonor,” into “Death before Honor.” What goes on in the mind of baboons?

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

P. J. O'Rourke

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Right and Wrong

Matters of right and wrong can hardly be settled in a brief essay, but developments in recent years, and even days, have made me consider the problem, however superficially. Let us concede first of all that the doctrine of cultural relativism is true: values, matters of right and wrong, very considerably from one culture to another. As this is so it means that what is considered right or wrong is culturally determined just as all values are. Put aside for the moment the deeper, more profound question of whether or not there might be rights and wrongs universal to all members of the human species. This is, of course, an interesting philosophical and even scientific question, but for practical matters of everyday life is largely irrelevant. The culture in which you are born and raised determines what your values and ideas about right and wrong are going to be. But as this is true, it is also true that values can change over time so that something that was once considered right or wrong can vary over time. We have certainly seen such changes in American culture over the years, especially (but certainly not only) with matters having to do with human sexuality.

Who, for example, even fifty years ago, would have considered Gay marriages as right? And certainly no one would have expected to see explicit sex acts in movies, and words that were once absolutely taboo are now used every day on television and even in everyday speech. Even so, at any given moment in time people generally know what is and is not permissible in their own culture, what things are prescribed and proscribed (even though there can be some variation and all people might not agree all the time, as in the case of abortion, for example). It is difficult to speak for all Americans as there are so many different ethnic and religious groups and sub-cultures. I doubt, however, there are many Americans who believe sex between a man and a boy is right (permissible). Speaking to the case of Penn State, the assistant coach that actually witnessed the boy being raped knew it was wrong, even though he did nothing about it at the time. He did, however, report it to his father and then subsequently to other officials at the University. In ancient Greece, and currently in at least one Middle Eastern country, such sex acts are rather common and apparently considered right (or appropriate). I’m not sure about rape, but I suppose even rape might be permissible during wartime and even expected. The fact that the witness did nothing to intervene is separate from his knowledge that the act was clearly wrong and needs to be dealt with at another time.

If we can take it as given that values vary from culture to culture, and also that values can change over time, I believe this behooves us to consider the changing values in the United States, that, I am sure, are vastly more important to our lives than sexual aberrations. You may be familiar with Max Weber’s famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, where he argues the rise of capitalism would not have been possible without the rise of the Protestant Ethic (that valued secular work in ways that had previously not been so valued). But it seems to me that Capitalism itself, has its own ethic, that has been influencing and changing our culture and our notions of right and wrong for some time now.

When I was a boy, living in a small Northwestern town, that I believe was not out of the mainstream of American culture, I learned that certain things were right and others were wrong. In the spirit of Protestant/capitalism I learned that one valued hard, honest work and education, that bullying was wrong, hitting or kicking people when they were down was wrong, lying was wrong, women wearing pants was wrong (or at least very questionable), speaking publicly about sex was taboo, certainly homosexual sex, married women should stay at home and take care of their families as that was right, violence was permissible only in self-defense, killing was wrong (except during wars), human dignity and fair-play were important, and I suspect most of the same values my peers were learning, some subliminally, some intentionally, and all being transmitted to us extra-genetically. We also learned that we should help the needy if at all possible, and that greed (one of the seven deadly sins) was wrong.

I believe that the ethics (or lack of them) in our version of capitalism, acting over time, have had an insidious influence over at least some relatively large segments of the American population. Many of our citizens have become obsessed with “profits” and the related greed that seems to accompany that obsession. This can be seen in those who in recent years have reinvigorated the spirit of Ayn Rand, and also in slogans such as “Shop until you drop,” and “He who has the most toys wins,” or even the more blatant “Greed is good.” Perhaps more significant of the acceptance of the Capitalist ethic can be seen in those on Wall Street putting signs in their windows boasting of being part of the 1%, or drinking champaigne and mocking the demonstrators. Capitalism is basically cannibalistic, consuming those who cannot adequately compete. This can be seen in modern day Republican culture that wants to write off the poor as useless parasites, refuse them unemployment insurance, minimum wages, health care, food stamps, and claims they are not poor because they have (empty) refrigerators. Everything they do is designed to destroy the poor and the middle class, while at the same time giving more and more to the obscenely wealthy and the corporations already bloated with profits. I find it virtually impossible to believe that one of the Republican candidates recently actually said that those who don’t work, shouldn’t eat! I believe these attitudes are directly attributable to the ideas promoted by those who have seduced us into the misnamed but disastrous “free-market capitalism,” and convinced us that “socialism” is such an evil as to be unthinkable. Many seem to believe that capitalism is not only right, but is the only good economic model, and there is nothing wrong with more and more capital handed to the “haves” while taking more and more from the poor and the middle class. They insist we should have more of it. These were not the values I was taught as a child. I sincerely hope they are not now the values of the majority of American citizens. I cannot help but wonder if all Republicans have come to believe what they are doing is right. I suspect that at least some of them must realize that what they are doing is actually wrong, but do it anyway, either because of greed or because of pressure from the Tea Party and the corporations they represent.

"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas."

― Karl Marx

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nonsense and Insanity

Herman Cain has now announced that God told him to run for President. Of course God had already apparently chosen Michele Bachmann. Can God really be of two minds about this or is he changing his tune depending upon what the odds look like from time to time? I’m not certain but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that God also had something to do with the Rick Perry campaign. Does anyone take these nonsensical claims seriously, and if so, why?

Republican accusations of socialism are so commonplace these days they, too, can hardly be taken seriously. Now they are accusing Elizabeth Warren of being a socialist. I guess that is the most derogatory term they can muster for anyone who dares to suggest anything that might favor the poor and the middle class. If you fight for the rights of anyone other than millionaires, billionaires, and corporations you become automatically tarred with this incredibly horrible (in their minds) label. Bernie Sanders, by far one of our very best Congresspersons, isn’t accused of socialism because he is one and admits it freely while trying to do something other than make more profit for the rich and the corporations. If all our Congresspersons were like Sanders, and all the Republicans in the Party of “No”were in hell where they clearly deserve to be, think how much better the world would be.

Moving on from the primarily nonsensical to the more seriously insane behavior of the U.S., consider our attempt to undo the ban on cluster bombs. Every country in the world with the exception of the U.S. (and maybe Israel and the U.K.) have signed a pledge to ban cluster bombs, and not satisfied with merely refusing to sign it we are now apparently trying to undermine it. It is common knowledge that cluster bombs kill far more innocent people, primarily children, than anyone else. So isn’t it a good feeling to know you’re on the side of using an basically unnecessary and especially horrible type of bomb to kill and maim children all around the world? How much you want to bet the military/industrial/political complex wants to continue producing these awful weapons? Profits can be made anywhere if you’re deranged enough.

If the above isn’t crazy enough for you, consider that we are now going to station American troops in Australia. I guess Australia, like Germany, France, South Korea, England, and who knows all else, is incapable of looking after their interests without American aid. Maybe, like Germany, they just can’t afford to maintain a military of their own. And just what is the threat to Australia that requires our presence? It doesn’t seem to be very clear although there are some mumblings here and there about China. We are seriously considering a war with China, an even more insane idea than attacking Iran? I suppose there is some rationale for stationing troops in Australia, perhaps some vital secret reason I cannot comprehend or shouldn’t know about? I still think it’s another really crazy and unnecessary way to waste more money on the military.

Speaking of Iran leads me immediately to Israel and the Palestinians, the real hotbed of insanity that just keeps on giving and giving (more misery and trouble for all concerned). Our official policy is our stated desire for a two state solution, the creation of a Palestinian state living in relative peace with a neighboring Israel. The Palestinians are asking the United Nations to award them statehood, something that might actually happen, if the U.S. wasn’t actively working against it and using our veto to prevent it. Why are we doing this? Ostensibly, because we claim (along with Israel, of course) the solution to the problem can only be achieved by negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. There might be some credibility to this claim if it were not already known that negotiations will never be settled between the two parties because Israel does not want a solution to the problem, favoring the status quo of racism and apartheid. The real reason we (the U.S.) are preventing the Palestinians from gaining statehood (or much of anything else) is because we are afraid Netanyahu (the apparent ruler of the Middle East) might spank us for being naughty and not doing precisely what we are told to do. It is hardly a secret that the (Israeli) tail has been wagging the (U.S.) dog for years and, given our nitwit-filled Congress with their delusions of Armageddon, will probably continue to do so into eternity (if Armageddon doesn’t come first).

Not to be outdone on the insanity frontier, Newt Gingrich, apparently the new Republican flavor of the month, has announced that if he were elected President he would offer a cabinet appointment to, of all people (I think he might be a people) John Bolton! I suggest he just dynamite the U.N. instead, it would be quicker and less painful.

As if there were safety in stupidity alone.

Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 11, 2011

Student Loans

As it turns out students apparently owe somewhere in the vicinity of a trillion dollars for their student loans. This has led to an outburst of criticism of the student loan program. Ron Paul says student loans have been a “total failure.” Newt Gingrich says they are a “complete absurdity.” Rick Perry says the government shouldn’t be in the business of giving loans to students. There seems to be pretty much agreement on the part of Republicans that student loans are a bad thing. I agree, student loans are not only a bad thing, absurd, and best avoided, but this is so for reasons that soar above these petty Republican objections. Students should not have to have loans to go to Colleges and Universities, attendance at such institutions should be free and subsidized by the government.

Margaret Halsey, a witty but also very insightful writer, among other works, wrote a book called the Pseudo-Ethic. Wikopedia describes this as a defense of Alger Hiss. As I recall Halsey was persecuted as being a communist or at least communist sympathizer, probably because of this and her other works on social problems at the time (she also wrote a book titled “Color Blind…” that had to do with integrating the USO). I remember reading these books quite a long time ago and do not think of them as being so problematical, but as they were written about the time of McCarthyism, anything written was suspect. What I remember about The Pseudo-Ethic has nothing whatsoever to do with Alger Hiss, but, rather, what Halsey had to say about Business (the pseudo-ethic). She argued that societies that were dependent upon one single institution were basically somewhat “primitive,” and the U.S. was such a society because of its dependence upon the single institution of business. She discussed how it was that business was inserting itself into all aspects of American life, including the Universities (my memory of this might be a bit faulty but I don’t think it is wide of the mark). In any case, I remember being impressed by her insights on this matter and have admired her ever since. But even Halsey had no idea just how insidious this business ethic was to become.
In fact, she must be rolling over and over in her grave.
It would seem obvious that for any nation to flourish and survive it is necessary to have an educated citizenry. In some successful countries, as Scandinavia, Finland, the Netherlands, University education is basically free, paid for by the taxpayers, but clearly this in the best interest of the country. To fail to provide educational opportunities for the young over time will quite likely spell big trouble for the future of that nation. We are actually seeing this begin to occur in the U.S., where, in spite of massive unemployment, we also lack enough sufficiently trained people to fill the jobs that are available. This is a suicidal course if allowed to continue. Why has this happened? Because we have allowed business to in effect turn our Colleges and Universities into “cash cows,” forcing our young people, the future of our country, to have to take out loans in order to attend, thus having to pay interest on their loans to the banking industry. In other words our schools have become just another form of business where the goal is not in the national interest, or even in the best interest of education, but, rather, just another source of profit. The Universities have been complicit in this massive business enterprise, perhaps not willingly but out of necessity. As they receive so little funding from the States or the Federal Government, in order to keep functioning they have to raise tuition and other charges, thus demanding more and more money from students who are forced to go into debt to pay off their loans, and thus provide more and more profit to the lenders. The move to more and more privatization of education has exacerbated this situation and made it worse. Universities, and education in general, should not exist to make profits for business. Indeed, they should be completely independent of business interests, and this is true for research as well as education in general. But business has now insinuated itself so insidiously into our educational system as to convert it into just another part of the business economy. Education for its own sake has long since ceased to be a value in the U.S., at best our schools have been converted into little more than trade schools, training people at the moment for jobs that do not even exist. They do, however, among other things, keep large numbers off the unemployment line while at the same time lining the pockets of increasingly greedy capitalists. When schools are run for profit they cease to offer genuine educational opportunities to individuals and at the same time sacrifice the well-being of the nation itself. Republicans are right, student loans are absurd, but for far more important reasons than they seem to be aware. Not only are they absurd, they are an absolute abomination and fatally harmful for the future of our country. Our young people are the future, they should be given every opportunity to have a first-rate education, not treated as sharecroppers in debt to “the company store” at the end of their studies. It is absurd, it is crazy, it is disgusting, it is national suicide, but when you are forced to depend so exclusively on a single institution, and that institution is business, and business is in business solely to make profit, what else might you expect?

Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.

Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh, No, They wouldn't...

Oh, no, they wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, no, no, say it ain’t so, won’t be, can’t be, it would be unthinkable, almost unimaginable, perhaps even worse than that. Newt Gingrich, that is. It is almost certainly the case that Rick Perry has completely blown it, having badly flunked debating 101, and now even failed short-term memory. I cannot imagine anyone continuing to believe he is Presidential material and has basically doomed his chances. Then there is the case of Herman Cain, most probably a fake candidate to begin with, a practical joker of rather awesome ability, but still just a joker. Even without the multiple accusations against him of sexual aggression he has little chance to get the nomination and no chance at all of ever being President. We are, however, learning some interesting things about sexual harassment and how to deal with it. Cain says he has never acted inappropriately towards anyone, I suspect that in his mind he hasn’t. For Cain and many others, treating women purely as sex objects is considered appropriate, especially in certain circumstances, like when they are vulnerable for certain reaons. I don’t know if Cain is guilty or not, I suspect he probably is, but even if he’s not he has no chance of successfully pulling off his attempt to get the Republican nomination. Bachmann, of course, has failed miserably, Santorum has never had any chance, Ron Paul is treated basically as the eccentric uncle, Huntsman is far too honest when it comes to science and global warming, Romney is too dishonest, too disingenuous, and the entire Republican lineup is little more than a bad joke.

But who has been lurking in the background all this time, none other than Newt Gingrich, most probably the world’s greatest hypocrite, liar extraordinary, pompous pontificator, self proclaimed intellectual, questionable historian, and a man of (generally bad) ideas. With the rest of the field so ridiculously awful, Newt has been slowly edging up in the polls. I cannot help but wonder if they really dislike Romney so much they might actually have to turn to Gingrich. It might actually be a marriage made in heaven, the world’s greatest hypocrite, in charge of the most hypocrital party, in the most hypocritical country in the world. A perfect fit.

The “Iran is the greatest threat to the world” nonsense continues. It is, of course, impossible to really understand what is going on by trying to follow the MSM. First, Israel is likely to attack Iran on their own, then they are not capable and want the U.S. to do it for them, then the Saudis and Israel both want Iran attacked (by the U.S., of course), but then we are told the U.S. doesn’t intend to attack, but wants to impose even more rigorous sanctions, but the Russians and Chinese are not in favor of more sanctions, then the U.N. condemns Israel for the (maybe) 1000th time, but as usual nothing comes of it and Israel just thumbs their nose at the rest of the world again, and goes on building more and more illegal settlements, and then Obama tells them not to, and they go ahead anyway, and nothing comes of that, and then the Palestinians ask the U.N. for statehood, and the U.S. opposes it because although we claim we want to see a Palestinian state we think it will only come about through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, negotiations that have failed for years and years and are obviously doomed to fail again because Israelis really don’t want a Palestinian state, and what Israel wants is regarded as the divine word on the subject, and the ridiculous charade continues year after year as more Palestinians are killed and starved and abused, and, and, and there is no end in sight.

All of this is totally unnecessary and absurd because Iran is not a threat to the U.S. or really even to Israel, at least not in a military sense. Iran has not attacked anyone for over 200 years, they have made overtures to the U.S. repeatedly, are willing to negotiate, and are summarily rejected every time. Even if they did have a nuclear bomb they, like every other country that has one would not use it for fear of massive retaliation, and of course there is no proof they have one or are even about to have one. The Iranian “threat,” insofar as there is one, is to Western hegemony in the Middle East. Iran is apparently not supposed to have any national interests in their own region of the world, whereas the U.S., Britain, and France, thousands of miles away do have national interests there (like getting their hands on Iranian oil). Iran is constantly being threatened by Israel and the U.S., is it any wonder they might want to have a nuclear capability? I don’t know if they are truly trying to accomplish a bomb or not, but I also know that is not a military threat to the rest of the world. I do not doubt that Iran would be delighted to negotiate if they could do so without prior conditions and were treated as equals, but the continuing U.S./Israel colonial attitudes seem to preclude that possibility. Some like to believe colonialism is dead, and it is elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S. and Israel (it is now presented as having to act as the world’s policeman).

When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.

Sir Winston Churchill

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Actually, I think amazing may not be sufficient, perhaps “astonishing” is more appropriate. I am speaking, of course, about the Herman Cain phenomenon. I don’t know what one might call it other than a phenomenon, and a strange one at that. Day before yesterday Rachel Maddow provided what I regard as a rather brilliant expose of Herman Cain’s candidacy. She demonstrated that virtually every one of his statements and claims were traceable to essentially silly roots in the media. His initial quote of a poet came from Pokeyman, his 9-9-9 plan came from the video game Sim City, and his famous line “I am the Koch brothers brother from another mother” from some stupid movie. There seems little doubt these allegations are correct. Maddow wants to paint Cain as a “performance artist” who is basically just “pulling our leg.” She thinks he wanted to be exposed as such and thinks the only reason he has not been so exposed is that most of the audience just doesn’t get it. The implication of this is that he had no intention of ever becoming a serious candidate and now is having trouble getting out of that role. I think Maddow is probably correct in her assessment, but I would not describe him as a performance artist, rather a practical joker, a truly great practical joker perhaps, but a merely a practical joker nonetheless. If you did not see Maddow’s presentation of this you should have.

Maddow thinks we are being “punk’d” by a person who thought he would be exposed before he got this far. She believes he never believed he would be taken seriously for this long. Personally, I agree he has not been serious. What serious candidate for President would admit such awesome ignorance of political affairs? He says he has no idea what a neo-conservative is, he makes fun of some small country (that happens to be of importance) in central Asia, he is unaware that China has had nuclear energy since the l960’s, and so on. These are not indicative of someone who has a serious interest in becoming President.

But what is truly astonishing about this is that he continues to receive rather substantial contributions from supporters and continues to engage in the Republican “debates” as if he is a serious candidate. No one seems to be in the least bit concerned with the fact that he is basically a practical joker or a performance artist. This could be, I suppose, because Maddow’s expose has not been widely disseminated. I’m pretty certain that those who would be supporting Cain are not followers of the Rachel Maddow Show. There may be others aware of what she has exposed but simply refuse to believe her. It could also be the case that some of his supporters simply do not care if he has used completely nonsensical materials for his campaign, they just do not want Romney or Perry. It could also be that most people do not want to admit they have been taken in by a practical joke.

More importantly, it may be that Herman Cain’s problem with sexual harassment has just completely obscured his performance art or practical joking. Given the media obsession with sexual matters this is quite likely the case. There are now at least four, perhaps six, and maybe even more women who have complained of sexual misbehavior on the part of Herman Cain. One of them has become public with her accusations, apparently one other is about to go public, and who knows about the others. With so many accusers there would seem to be some substance to the claim that he was/is some form of sexual predator. Cain seems to be taking the position that all of these women are lying and making false accusations, and he claims to not know who any of them are and has, in essence, no memory of any of them. I suppose in one sense he has to take this position, but it could be the case that as he regarded all of them simply as sex objects he does have no recollection of any of them as persons.

I of course don’t know if Herman Cain is guilty of anything or not, but with four to six accusers it is difficult to believe there might not be something to the charges. His claim that it is the “Democrat machine” behind the charges is obviously nonsensical, especially as the accusers are not all Democrats, and Gloria Allred, the attorney for one of them has gone after Democratic offenders as well as Republicans in the past. His claim that “they” will do anything to keep a businessman from becoming President is equally nonsensical. What I find truly astonishing, however, is that here is a man with no qualifications for the Presidency whatsoever, probably just a practical joker or performance artist, who admits to almost total ignorance of the most basic things one would expect a candidate to know, is not only continuing to compete for the highest office in the world, but continues to raise money and is, in fact one of the leading contenders at the moment. If you do not find this amazing, or even astonishing, I would have to question your sanity. I fully expect Cain to quickly go the way of Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Santorum, and other absurd pretenders, if not I will admit to being a “Monkey’s uncle.” I confess, however, that I do not want to see a genuine practical joker (or performance artist) go completely unappreciated. At this moment in time perhaps a phony this clever, and of this magnitude, actually deserves to be President.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

H. L. Mencken

Sunday, November 06, 2011


A postscript to my blog of last night: There is another possibility having to do with the question of I.O.U.’s replacing Social Security funds. I suggested merely that the so-called I.O.U.’s were supposed to be United States Treasury bonds, and that such bonds could, in a sense, be considered I.O.U.’s. But there is another, more complicated and more frightening possibility. What if, for example, the monies that were supposed to be put into Treasury bonds for the Social Security Trust Fund were not actually used for that purpose? What if they were used for other purposes? There are some who believe this may be the case, the reason Social Security may be claimed to be insolvent is because the funds were used for other purposes and replaced with (probably useless) Congressional I.O.U.’s, so the funds are in fact probably not available. I do not know if this is true, but I would not be entirely surprised if it was.

Think about it. If the money that should have been invested in secure U.S. Treasury Bonds was taken and then used for purposes other than for what was intended, it was in fact simply stolen, filched, commandeered, embezzled, or whatever, and the people responsible for the theft are criminals and should be held accountable. This should be true if indeed, the money was used for other purposes without the permission of the rightful owners. I certainly do not remember ever being asked if my Social Security payments could be used for other purposes. There are many who believe the Social Security funds were in fact used for other purposes, primarily to make it possible to hide the deficit that was inevitably increasing.

If this were shown to be true, the implications would be difficult and complicated almost beyond belief. I suppose it might be possible to trace exactly what the monies were used for, which Congresspersons were responsible for it, and when and why it happened. But could Congresspersons be held responsible and thrown into jail? That seems highly unlikely to me. Could they be held responsible for paying it back? That seems an impossibility as the sums involved are so huge. Would taxpayers be responsible for replacing the illegally used funds? That’s a good bet, even though it would be absurd that people would have to pay back money that was actually stolen from them.

I don’t know if the funds were misused, but I suspect they might well have been. Another question would obviously be, who benefitted from this illegal maneuver? I don’t know, I don’t know if it is even possible to know, but I would imagine the money went where all the rest of taxpayer money has gone in the past few years, to corporations and the wealthy, in the form of tax breaks and loopholes. If evidence could be produced to verify this, it would seem only fair that the wealthy and the corporations should have to refund it through much higher taxes, fewer loopholes, and so on. Is that likely to happen? It is probably about as likely as ordering a frozen daiquiri in hell. I suspect that a theft of this kind is likely to have happened, and I also believe that is exactly why Republicans are so desperate to do away with Social Security – they have stolen the money and don’t want to pay it back. Do I know this for certain, of course not, I don’t know much of anything for certain anymore, as the MSM and the Republican Party have made that impossible. But so far they have not yet taken away entirely my ability to think at all. Social Security is a problem, but it is not related to the deficit in any very important way, is not imminently to be insolvent, and it needs to be dealt with as an independent problem. It is far too big and independent to simply be tacked on the discussion of the deficit, treated as an “entitlement” or a form of socialism.

There is a video today of Rachel Maddow on Buzzflash that if you have not seen it, you definitely should. She has demonstrated, certainly to my satisfaction, that Herman Cain’s candidacy is really just a form of Performance Art, cleverly put together with all the clues we should have perceived but have not. I think it is a brilliant performance and I do not see how anyone can possibly take Cain seriously any longer. If Cain’s performance was not so fiendishly clever we should all be red-faced with embarrassment. I cannot wait to see what the fallout of Maddow’s claims may involve.

The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld