Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No, No, No!

I may regret this, and I may end up looking foolish indeed, but I do not believe this election is as close as the polls and the pundits are claiming. With President Obama looking extremely Presidential and Romney exposed as the outrageous liar he is, and Obama most probably winning in Ohio, it looks to me like it is about over. I hope I am right. In any case, I am turning my attention to the question of regulations.

I basically like regulations, especially those designed to protect the population from unscrupulous Republicans out to steal them blind, and I like regulations even more when they are designed protect the environment . I’m pretty sure we need more regulations rather than less. Of course if there are cases where regulations are not truly needed, or honestly cause honest people trouble, they should be abolished.

There are some cases where regulations should be created if for no other reason than to help us preserve our sanity, as well as our connection with reality. Advertising comes to mind, particularly television ads, that have now become so frequent, idiotic, repetitive, and long lasting as to make you wonder when television will surrender completely to the ads and give up any pretense at programming.

I am not certain this is so, but I am pretty sure that we have more ads per hour now than ever before, they are often so frequent you are left to wonder when or even if the program is ever going to begin. There definitely should be regulations limiting the number of ads per hour with fines for those who violate the rules. Similarly, there should be rules that govern how often any given ad can be repeated in a certain amount of time. Certainly the same ad should not be repeated immediately after it was first shown, which sometimes occurs. Along the same lines there should be regulations about how long any particular ad can be used. I realize that some ads are probably more productive than others, but even so, no ad, no matter how successful it is, should be allowed to run for months or even years. Nor should ads be permitted to be aired more than perhaps once or twice per day. I should think that any more than that would not be productive but clearly some do not seem to think so. I personally find it maddening when the same ad plays over and over throughout the course of a program or evening.

More importantly, there should be some form of control over the relative idiocy of any particular ad. Those that are idiotic almost beyond belief, as many are, should simply not be allowed to see the light of day. Those that might well fall into this category are ads featuring talking automobiles, cookies, insects, cows and horses, and so on. And if someone has to make an ad featuring a talking bee they should certainly make it speak without a foreign accent. Ads that feature old people acting and talking cute like children, or conversely, children acting and talking cute like adults, should be completely banned. To insure quality control of television ads I would suggest a permanent panel of, say, fourth graders, both girls and boys, that would have the authority to authorize or ban ads, depending upon how idiotic they are. I am sure such a panel would improve immeasurably the quality of televisions advertising fairly quickly.

I wonder if this is not a more serious matter than we might think. When you consider how much time both children and adults spend in front of the idiot box, where they are constantly exposed to talking animals, cars, insects, and even inanimate objects, they must over time lose touch more and more with reality. In real life animals and cars and cookies and bananas, and cats and dogs just don’t talk, and they certainly don’t sell products. I wonder what the long term affects of television ads really might be. I don’t know where this all started but I bet Walt Disney had much to do with it. There are good reasons why television has come to be regarded as a wasteland, advertising has probably as much to do with it as the programs themselves as they, too, deal mostly with fantasy worlds.

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Stephen Leacock

Monday, October 29, 2012

Character Disorder

As you are quite likely aware, the Romney campaign is running an ad that consists of a blatant falsehood, namely, Jeep is going to move all of its manufacturing to China. This is untrue, Jeep has been so successful in the U.S. they are now going to expand into China (I think they have already been manufacturing Jeeps in China). This ad has been exposed as false, even Jeep itself has come out denouncing it as false, and it is by now well known to be false. Even Romney has admitted it is false. But when asked to remove it and desist Romney has refused to do so. This has prompted some to suggest that Romney’s failure to stop this ad, even though he knows it is false, represents some form of character of disorder. I think there is some merit in this accusation. You might recall that in Romney’s very first anti-Obama ad he quoted Obama as saying “If we continue to take about the economy we will lose.” In fact when Obama said this he was actually quoting something John McCain had said, but Romney wanted us to believe it was something Obama himself had said. And in this case, like this more recent one, even though he acknowledge it was false he continued to run it, suggesting as I recall, that “Everyone does it.” If you have been following the campaigns you must know that this kind of distortion and lying has been characteristic of the Romney campaign all along. This does, in my opinion, represent some kind of character flaw, at the very least a “win at any cost” mentality that is far less than desirable. There may be some Democratic ads that are somewhat misleading, but there is nothing comparable to the blatant hypocrisy and lying of Romney. Some suggest that Romney’s dishonesty represents his desperation and fear of defeat. It might, but it still doesn’t excuse it. I am not much for psychiatric terminology but I suppose that chronic lying might well be considered a character disorder.

This situation raises for me an additional and more important question. What about all the people that are still apparently going to vote for Romney. Most of them must be aware that Romney has ran a campaign of lying and distortion, he has even admitted it, but they are still going to vote for him. What does that tell you about their character? Are we to accept the fact that a huge number of American voters apparently do not care about a campaign of lies and exaggerations? That almost 50% seem willing to accept the premise that the end justifies the means? That in our politics anything goes, no matter how deceitful and dishonest? I do not want to believe this but the evidence seems to be mounting that it may be true that a very large proportion of the voting public share the same kind of character defect that seems to be true of Romney? Or is it merely the case that so many voters simply do not want a Black man to sit in the White House? As I have said repeatedly, I do not understand how this race for the Presidency can be as close as it seems to be, how anyone can support this candidate that is a known liar and flip-flopper, who changes his mind probably much more often than his underwear, and was not even wanted by his own party. To me this is an even greater mystery than the two elections of George W. Bush.

But what do I know? Today is my birthday. I am now 83 years old. I seem to be no wiser than I was at 20. As my dear friend, Professor Mel Firestone once said, “We’re all still just infants in increasingly decaying bodies.” And so it is on the Journey to the West.

Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters.

Margaret Halsey

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Over Saturated

I confess to being so over saturated with so-called “news” about the coming election, that is mostly just the repetition over and over and over of the same few themes and claims, I am almost ready to conclude that I don’t really care anymore who wins, almost but not quite. I find the possibility of a Romney/Ryan victory so terrifying as to be virtually unthinkable. And as I have said before, more than once I fear, I do not see how it is possible Romney could win, what with almost all voting blocks known to be in favor of Obama: Blacks, Latinos, Women, Seniors, Young voters, etc. Do less educated White racists really make up 50% of the voting public? This seems unlikely.

Even so, we are being told more and more now that the election is so close it could go either way, Obama is ahead but only by one or two points, Romney is leading by a many as 5 points, and so on. There are now so many different polls, and they vary so widely from day to day and week to week, I do not see how they can possibly be trusted. Many people believe, perhaps rightly so, that the polls are being manipulated by those in charge of them. There seem to be at least two hypotheses about this. Mine, which I think I mentioned previously, is that the polls are deliberately being kept so close because if they reflected the truth it would become too difficult for Republicans to try to steal the election. Somewhere the other day I saw an alternative and opposite explanation, namely, they are being kept artificially close to give the Tea Party an explanation for why Romney/Ryan lost. That is, recognizing they might well lose, they will argue the reason was because they deviated from the Tea Party line, thus giving them ammunition to repeat the same attempt again in 2016. I have no idea if either of these suggestions truly makes sense, but, then, I have long since given up believing that our American political system makes sense, as I am absolutely convinced it does not. We are just plain and simply not really interested in governing ourselves. I can see no other explanation. There is no excuse for elections that go on for two or more years, that require billions of dollars, that offer only two parties, that disenfranchise everyone who does not live and vote in a “swing” state, and so on. At this point in time I am not sanguine about the possibilities for change.

Having now been following this farcical process for the past couple of years, and having thought long and hard about it, I am, as usual, forced to choose between two candidates neither of whom I can wholeheartedly embrace. This does not represent a Hobson’ choice (picking one thing or nothing), but is more of a Morton’s fork (having to choose between two equally undesirable choices). So, I have concluded that being forced to choose in this way, I will stick with President Obama, to my mind clearly the least objectionable of the two. I find Romney/Ryan and their Republican agenda so outrageously awful I cannot imagine anyone with a mind larger than a split pea voting for them. This makes me all the more suspicious of polls that claim such a close election.

It is being claimed by some there are only a few undecided voters remaining and I guess maybe that is so. And there are those who cannot understand how anyone could remain undecided at this point because the process has gone on so long. I am personally surprised there are not more undecided voters. There are at least two ways to looks at this, (1) voters cannot decide which of the two Wall Street candidates would be the best (this assumes there is very little actual difference between them), or (2) there are genuine differences between the candidates and they cannot decide which one is the worst (there is the pathological flip-flopping liar on the one hand and the murderous drone killer on the other). Granted this is a bit of an oversimplification

''Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.''

—President George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Watch Out!

With all the discussion of rape that is now occupying the news virtually 24 hours a day there is an element that I think is not receiving the attention it deserves. You are no doubt aware of the Atkins (and Ryan) attempt to redefine rape, or at least to classify different kinds of rape (apparently rape is rape is not clear to them), and now we have Mourdock’s ridiculous argument that if a woman becomes pregnant from rape she should have to bear the rapist’s child because, somehow, it is God’s will. These arguments apparently come from two different but related sources, ignorance and religion. The claim from Ryan and Atkins has to do with their fundamental religious belief that life begins at conception, the Mourdock claim is also from his religious beliefs. From the point of view of those who do not share their particular religious beliefs these arguments are simply nonsensical and extreme.

But notice here there is a difference between the issues of abortion and rape. Abortion has long been a controversial issue, with people on both sides of the issue holding strong personal (and religious) differences of opinion. Abortion has mostly to do with the difference between those who believe life begins at conception and those who presumably doubt it. There is a problem here in that “life” in the abstract probably could be said to begin at conception, but the issue is really about when “human life” begins. That is, even those who believe in life at conception have no compunction about interfering with the lives of animals, breeding them and ending them at will, whatever suits them. But human life is regarded as a more sacred form of life, an assumption I believe may be unfounded as the judgment is made only by humans themselves. As I think humans are basically part of the animal kingdom, being merely mammals and primates, I wonder why human life should be regarded as more precious than that of their close primate relatives, or even any other form of life for that matter? It is so regarded only by humans, and mainly because of human religious beliefs about such things, souls and such.

But unlike abortion, rape has never until now been a controversial subject. Rape has always been rape and has long been considered a crime. Abortion has always been a problem for our constitutional separation of church and state, but rape has not. The problem with introducing rape as a fit subject for politics is that, like the abortion controversy, it clearly ignores the constitutional separation of church and state and slowly sneaks in the idea that these personal religious beliefs are not being kept separate from politics and are somehow a legitimate subject for political consideration they should not be. This is a serious problem in that it implies that candidates for political office, including even the Presidency, should be allowed to bring their religious baggage with them, legislate and vote according to their religious beliefs, and so on. This is dangerous, the very thing the Founding Fathers attempted to avoid, and the very thing the religious right is trying to unconstitutionally sneak back into our politics. In my opinion this is even more dangerous than the threat of terrorism from the outside, especially as it obviously spills over into the Israeli/Palestinian issue, beliefs about the end times, and so on. Indeed, I suspect the rest of the world, especially the Europeans, think we are absolutely insane when it comes to things like evolution, creationism, which side God is on, and so forth.

It would be a great help if in this election these Tea Party nut cases could be so soundly defeated they would disappear never to rise again, but with so many religious fundamentalists these days I guess that is not likely to happen. It will, however, have to happen if the U.S. is ever going to recover and regain the status we once had. We will not go far with the idea the earth was created in six days, is only 8000 years old, and that our ancestors kept dinosaurs as pets. Nor will we go far with the idea that whatever happens is just going to be “God’s will.”

In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.

Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Do They Hate Us?

Why do they hate us? Let me suggest some ways, merely by perusing the internet this morning:

First there is the issue of the drones, quite possibly at the moment the main reason we are hated.

Then there is the U.S. demand (get this, DEMAND) that Lebanon change its government.

The U.S. has issued new kill lists.

U.S. troops kill four children.

The U.S. seeks more demands (DEMANDS) before entering into talks with Iran.

The NYPD has been paying people to “bait” Muslims.

Romney, who could possibly become our next President, has suggested that Ahmadinejad should be prosecuted for anti-Israel statements (one of the most fantastic and unprecedented proposals ever suggested by a candidate for President of a country that prides itself on free speech, a suggestion so profoundly ignorant it should automatically disqualify the speaker from holding any office above that of, say, dogcatcher).

Not stupid enough, Romney also has claimed that Russia is our most important geopolitical foe, a claim sure to improve our relations with that great and powerful country. Stupid is as stupid does, especially when apparently still living in the 1950”s.

Let us continue down the road of stupidity. Romney would also, on his first day in office, proclaim China (probably the next most powerful nation on earth) a currency manipulator that is not playing by the rules. China has thoughtfully replied, the rules the U.S. suggests are rules that are completely pro-American (we would never do that, would we?). This idea also indicates an obliviousness to the symbiotic relationship between our two countries that is fundamental to our survival. It is common knowledge that Romney has no foreign policy experience. He apparently has no brain either.

Now we have learned that Israel, our “greatest ally,” that we uncritically support no matter how criminal, has been systematically starving the more than a million Palestinians they have herded into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military calculated how many calories a Palestinian in Gaza would need per day to adequately survive and then reduced the amount to malnutrition levels, an idea they must have learned from the Holocaust.

These are merely a few examples of our benign foreign policy, spreading democracy around the globe, continuing to do well by doing good.

There is a really fine article on this subject by Morton Abramowitz, that appears in the November/December issue of The National Interest, “How America Exceptionalism Dooms U. S. Foreign Policy.” Everyone should read it.

Our completely ridiculous, utterly absurd, seemingly endless carnival-like extravaganza considered to be the campaign for our Presidency continues with only a couple of weeks to go. It is said, mysteriously, to be a very close race. In any case, let the Obamaramadrama continue to overcome the forces of ignorance, greed, and hate.

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.

Oscar Levant

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney Endorses Obama!

Well, of course that isn’t exactly true. But if I was a columnist for some important publication, covering the debate last night, that would have been my headline. I know there will always be differences of opinion about everything, but how anyone could possibly argue that Romney won or even did well during last night’s debate is a mystery to me. Apparently Romney and his advisors have decided there is no way he can win following the Tea Party line so they have given him license to pretend to be a peace candidate while following more closely to the Obama line. I guess they think peace is more appealing to women than the usual bellicosity Romney has been spouting all these months. Romney seemed to just agree with everything Obama has been doing, playing it safe, trying desperately not to offend anyone. While Republicans are trying to spin this as a victory for Romney, or at least a tie, there is no doubt he lost the debate badly. Republicans seem to think that as he survived the debate at all somehow that is a victory.

One of the main themes I have heard from Republicans is that Romney appeared Presidential and that was his main objective. I don’t think he looked Presidential at all, he looked nervous and out of his depth, and merely agreeing with everything Obama was doing was hardly Presidential. His performance may have been intended to make him look Presidential but as far as I am concerned he looked completely out of touch, uninformed, and rather stupid. I would not have thought it possible to find a candidate for President worse than Nixon , Carter, Reagan, and George W. Bush, but Romney has surpassed them all in being the worst by far in my lifetime. It is easy to forget that even his own party didn’t want him, tried desperately to find someone else, are not even now enthusiastic about him, but are stuck with him and have no choice but to support him even though he is basically hopeless, a spoiled rich kid bully now taking his turn in the Republican barrel. The MSM continues to insist this is going to be a neck-and-neck race, a virtual tie, and so on. I don’t believe it. At least I do not see how it can possibly be that close unless you assume that fully 50% of the voting public are absolute lunatics who think voting is something you do just for fun. I resist believing there are enough racist White men to offset the votes of Blacks, Latinos, Women, Elders, Students, and other minorities. But maybe they aren’t all racists who don’t want a Black President. Maybe they are just voting against their wives and uppity women in general. As one of my neighbors is fond of saying, “Who knows what goes on in the mind of a baboon?”

A Black woman was assaulted and set on fire in a park by three men dressed in white robes who also spelled out KKK on the hood of her car. The FBI is said to be considering this as a POSSIBLE hate crime! Really?

Anyway, look on the bright side. This absurd contest will be over in two weeks now and we will be able to start over afresh on the 2016 election. Whee! More billions wasted, more time wasted, more utter nonsense, more lies, anything to distract us from actually having to seriously govern ourselves. I guess the best we can hope for now is perhaps some form of benevolent Fascism.

Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.
Richard M. Nixon

Monday, October 22, 2012


I think when President Obama called Romney’s remarks about Libya “offensive” he picked precisely the right word in that: (1) they were offensive in the sense of being an attack, (2) they resulted in painful or unpleasant sensations, and (3) they caused displeasure or resentment, the three meanings given in my online dictionary for the word “offensive.” And even though he picked the right word I don’t think he went quite far enough. One synonym for offensive is ”disgusting,” that would also imply, along with the many other synonyms that accompany that word. If pushed to an extreme this would result in a massive overkill so I think merely offensive and disgusting are in order.

I do not know how President Obama truly feels about Romney but I know how I feel about him and that can be summed up as “offensive” in virtually every way. His trying to score political points on the deaths in Libya is offensive. His chronic and almost non-stop lying I find offensive. His flip-flopping is offensive. His failure to come clean about his taxes is offensive. His refusal to tell us what loopholes and/or deductions he will eliminate is offensive. Also on the same order of offensiveness: cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, appointing a Supreme Court Justice who would overturn Roe vs Wade, doing away with regulations that would allow virtually unlimited damage to the environment, his stupid (and pretty thoughtless) boasting about what he would tell China on “Day one,” his apparent eagerness to go to war with Iran, Russia, or anyone else that resists American hegemony, and virtually any other position he has taken at one time or another on any other issue of importance.

In addition to finding his positions as above offensive, I also find his personal beliefs and behaviors offensive. He seems to have no appreciation whatsoever of the problems of ordinary citizens as his suggestion that children simply borrow money from their parents to start a business or whatever. His complete boorishness in interpersonal relations as when he insulted the English preparations for the Olympics or suggested to some individuals their cookies must have come from 7-ll, and his “binders full of women” are examples of this personal attribute he displays repeatedly. I find almost unbearable his cavalier attitude towards health care, suggesting that only those with previous exemptions for existing conditions should continue to have them, or if you don’t have health insurance you just need to go to the Emergency services. His suggestion that his son’s working to further his campaign or go as missionaries is somehow the equivalent of military service I think is offensive almost beyond belief.

Not only is he a boor and a liar, he is also a bully. We know this from what we know of his behavior as a schoolboy and it is perfectly obvious in his approach to debating when he attempts to bully his opponent and even the moderator.

Even worse, for me, is that he is an unregenerate capitalist that makes his fortune by exploiting the cheapest labor he can find, avoiding regulations whenever possible, making shady investments, taking equally questionable tax breaks and deductions, and so forth. Not only does he behave in this way, he boasts about it, how successful he is, how he has “made it” in the private sector, and by implication how he alone is responsible for his obscene fortune. The fact that such greedy, selfish, ruthless people could exist at all I find offensive, in fact, detestable.

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.

Woody Allen

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What "Peace Process?"

Once again the Palestinians are approaching the United Nations for recognition for some sort of statehood, if only non-member statehood. And as always the Uni ted States opposes any recognition by the U.N. and threatens to veto it once again, arguing, I gather, that it will interfere with the peace process. I wonder what peace process they have in mind, perhaps the one that has gone on endlessly for years and years and accomplishes absolutely nothing. It is no secret that the Israeli government wants to maintain the status quo for as long as possible. Any meaningful peace settlement would mean Israel would have to give up some of the land and water it has stolen from the Palestinians. The Israeli theft of Palestinian land has already made it impossible for the Palestinians to have a geographically contiguous state as Israel has illegally settled portions of the West Bank in such a way as to fragment what lands the Palestinians would still claim as their state. And of course the Palestinian dream of statehood with their capitol in Jerusalem can never be realized as long as Israel vows to never cede their control of that ancient city.

The so-called peace process that has been talked about for years now is nothing more than a farce. Many have claimed for years that only the United States could bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians, but that is little more than a bad joke as the U.S. is not an objective third party. The U.S. has supported Israel unconditionally for years, providing them with massive financial assistance, weaponry, and vetoes whenever necessary. Any claim the U.S. might have had for objective third party status evaporated long ago. And we stand by as Israel has herded more than a million Palestinians into the tiny Gaza strip where they control their food supply as well as everything else. The latest outrage, or at least it should be an outrage, is the discovery that the Israeli military even went so far as to calculate just how many calories the residents of Gaza should be permitted.

I frankly do not understand who gave the Israelis the authority to control the lives of the Palestinians in the first place. They have consistently violated every U.N. mandate, broken international law repeatedly, are engaged in what one can arguably describe as a kind of ethnic cleansing, as it is no secret they murder Palestinian leaders and others at will and would love to drive the Palestinians into Egypt or elsewhere. They allow their settlers to attack Palestinians, steal their homes, destroy their orchards and gardens, and no one seems to intervene. The problem is there is no higher authority that can force them to desist from their illegal conquest. The U.N. can condemn them, as it has often done, but they pay no attention, safe in the knowledge that the U.S. will remain complicit in their ongoing atrocities. The slavish and shameless support of the U.S. in what is happening to the Palestinians is a national disgrace. There is no peace process worthy of that name and will never be one as long as the U.S. is controlled by Israel.

We here in the U.S. suffer from our own lack of a higher authority that could demand attention and solutions to some of our problems. For example, there is little doubt the both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are guilty of war crimes, they have even admitted it, but nothing has been done about it, and apparently never will. Supposedly our Constitution demands that our current President and Department of Justice are required to take action, but they don’t, and it seems nothing can be done to force them to act. Similarly, there is no doubt that some actions of the Republican Party are blatantly illegal, like trying to suppress the votes of certain segments of the population, and quite likely their refusal to participate in governing is, or at least ought to be, illegal. But there seems little can be done about it as if they were prosecuted for any such offenses there would probably be at least chaos if not a civil war. There is no outside higher authority to make us behave, we are supposed to govern ourselves, but if we do not, nothing can be done about it except to wait for the next election by which time the damage will have already been done. When those who in principle have the authority to rule refuse to exercise it we do, indeed, “reap what we sow.”

You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.

Stephen W. Comiskey

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Measure of Success

The One percent seems to be fond of whining they are not being given credit for success, often saying that here in America we usually reward success, so why should they be punished or castigated for their success. It seems to me this argument clearly equates success with making money, usually lots of it. This indicates to me their preoccupation with money as well as their apparent ignorance of any other form of success.

Romney in particular, but I am sure this is true of many others, seems to have so little understanding of how ordinary people live he has no other measure for success, to get rich is to him, success, but what about the other 99%? Do they never achieve success? How does one measure success if not in the amount of money accumulated (ignore for the moment the obvious questions that might arise about how these fortunes are actually accumulated). Clearly there are all kinds of successful people, and most of these people were not interested in making lots of money. What about successful doctors, lawyers, nurses, dentists, carpenters, plumbers, teachers, mechanics, and any of the other occupations that people choose. Some, if they are good at what they do, become successful, and their success is not measured by their incomes, but by their abilities to do better than what their peers do. What about a nun who is about to be canonized for her lifetime of work with lepers? Is she not considered successful? If the standard of success is merely accumulating money the vast majority of ordinary citizens would and could never become successful. It is true that we do reward success in America, people receive awards, trophies, letters of appreciation, blue and other ribbons, medals, and so on, all indications of success. And it is most usually the case these people deserve their rewards for being successful.

The standards of ordinary success do not really apply to those whose sole interest lies in accumulating as much money as possible and even more. This is because most people realize there is much more to life than making as much money as possible, often by questionable means. Depending upon how you look at it, it is perhaps not possible to make fortunes except through socially undesirable means. As near as I can tell the most common ways of making money are through exploiting the labor of others, or exploiting the environment, neither of which is, in my opinion, very satisfactory. As Marx insightfully observed, capital essentially represents dead labor, and we all know what results in the unregulated exploitation of the environment. The notion that capitalists should be praised as successful for exploiting the world and others seems rather outrageous when you stop to think about it, especially as in most cases they produce nothing and basically just move money around. But I suppose when you live in a capitalistic society, where the main and virtually only goal is making as much profit as possible, such a standard is perhaps inevitable.

And speaking of such things, there is a strange contradiction involved when people complain about losing their jobs overseas. That is, if these same people are proud to live in a capitalistic society, claimed to be the best economic system in the world, they should not complain when the profits are to found overseas, where labor is cheaper and the regulations are fewer. It is basically the American way for aren’t we all better off for living under capitalism than (horrors) any form of socialism? Under some form of socialism we might actually have much less expensive and more efficient universal health care, free public education, sound infrastructure, and so on, just a thought.

And finally, appropros of nothing, I note that some court has decided it is perfectly legal to forcibly shave a man’s beard prior to his court appearance. I confess I do not understand this. What has having a beard or not have to do with whether he might or might not get a fair trial? I am not familiar with this case but I do not think it far-fetched to believe that having a beard may be a religious belief held by the victim. If this is so, it raises interesting questions about such things. If this is a precedent of some kind could we not insist that a Muslim or a Jew eat pork prior to their appearance, or force a Hindu to eat beef? Why could we not insist that appropriate candidates be circumcised? And why should Sikhs be allowed to wear turbans? And of course Muslim females should be forced to dress in the latest American fashion before they appear in court. I don’t know, maybe there is some good reason for forcibly removing the man’s beard, but I can’t imagine what it is and I don’t think someone’s religious beliefs should be violated before their trials.

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

Steven Weinberg

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hidden Emotion

Perhaps what I have in mind is not so well hidden. I think I detect under the surface of the current contest for the Presidency a genuine loathing on the part of some for their opponents. I notice, for example, there is a not very well disguised animosity on the part of some, Chris Matthews, for example, towards the Republicans. Matthews and some others do not come right out and say what they feel but their contempt for what is going on is pretty obvious and seems to me has been growing over time. Maybe this is my imagination because this is precisely the growing animosity I have myself developed towards Republicans I have increasingly come to perceive as totally dishonest, unprincipled, and even somewhat criminal in their behavior. Not only do I feel this way, I believe there is good reason for this attitude. I think is undisputedly true their entire campaign has been nothing but a remarkable collection of lies, distortions, half-truths and extremely devious and hypocritical attacks on President Obama. Not the least of these has been their continuous insistence that he has failed to create jobs when in fact the failure to create jobs is a result of their own intransigence and lack of cooperation. As I have said previously, more than once, I think this began during the Clinton administration and has become increasingly worse over time.

During the last debate between Romney and President Obama I think it must be true that Obama was actually seething under the surface when he finally told Romney his behavior was offensive. It was offensive and the rebuke was perfectly deserved. And I also must say I think Obama has been remarkably tolerant of the disrespect he and his office have experienced over time. Being called a liar during his speech, having the disgusting governor of Arizona wagging her finger at him, having Sununu suggesting he was not an American, having to listen to Trump’s absolutely inane accusations about his birth, and the thousands of other slights he has endured by the likes of mental midgets like Palin and others, must have affected him seriously even though he seems to have kept his emotions remarkably in check. Most of these critics are simply too dishonest to just come out and admit they don’t want a Black man in the White House and resort to all kinds of code words, innuendoes and fantastic lies rather than admit their quite obvious prejudice.

When their behavior becomes so egregious that even Matthews, Maddow, Bashir, and others can barely conceal their contempt you begin to realize just how truly terrible it has become. These are supposed to be more or less objective reporters who obviously have lost their supposed objectivity and cannot any longer conceal their feelings. To me this seems to have culminated this evening when Lawrence O’Donnell, an obvious partisan but usually well controlled, I think went too far when he attacked the Romney’s for their failure to serve in the military even though they have supported all the wars. It might well have been okay to point this out but to imply they are cowardly and even challenge one of them to a fight went well beyond what I think was appropriate. It seems to me this could only have happened because O’Donnell, like others, has become so completely fed up with their devious, dishonest, disgusting, divisive, disreputable, and even despicable attacks, culminating in one of the sons saying he wanted to punch Obama, apparently caused him to temporarily snap. As much as I sympathize with his disgust and frustration I think he went too far.

I think it is quite remarkable that politicians, especially those at the higher echelons of politics, can manage to keep their emotions under control as well as they do. I believe Obama must have nothing but contempt for Romney but he seems to conceal it well, and I also suspect his feeling about Netanyahu must be even more difficult to control. I guess if it were otherwise we would probably be far worse off than we are. It must be the same for leaders of other countries, forced to be respectful to more powerful leaders they know are trying to dominate and even undermine them. I confess I do not think I could do this.

Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock.

Will Rogers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No "News"

I don’t know anything about the etymology of the word “news,” but I would think it must having something to do with information that is “new.” If that is the case can we conclude that after something is announced once it is no longer news? Apparently it does matter to anyone involved in what we consider to be news as presented in radio and television. It is true that eventually every news item eventually plays itself out and disappears, but why does it take so long? How much longer do you think we will have to hear about the latest debate where it seems to be agreed by most “newspersons” (outside of Fox which does not really deal with news) that President Obama won the debate. Some say he won it overwhelmingly, others that he won but only marginally. I side with the overwhelmingly crowd as I think he made Romney look like the spoiled bully he seems to be and left him with egg on his face.

Anyway, I am certain this bit of news has been reported over and over again at least all day long and as far as I am concerned is no longer news at all.

Related to this mindless repetition of the same story on all major channels is the apparent belief there is no news anywhere worthy of reporting. This cannot be because it is not necessarily new, it doesn’t seem to exist whether it is new or not. I guess that nowhere in the world did anything happen that might be considered as worthy of being treated as news as long as the non-news of the debate rages on. This is really pretty stupid. I guess it is related to the fact the news organizations no longer spend money on reporters when they can all get the news from AP. There are rare exceptions to this, and there are some fine foreign correspondents, but they do not seem to compete with all the non-news that we are given to believe is actually news. I think it is fair to say that our present news is for the most part not news and is basically pathetic.

I swear the current Republican Party seems to inhabit a fantasyland all their own, a land where reality hs no place. Where Obama clearly won the debate, for them, he didn’t really win at all, or Romney would have won if it had not been for the evil Candy Crowley. When the polls don’t go their way it’s because the polls are fixed. Obama is not really President because he is some kind of “other.” Obama is trying to turn America into a socialist country, he is going to take our guns away, he is a rabid abortionist, and on and on, one ridiculous conspiracy or absolute falsehood after another. They seem to live in a kind of childhood of make-believe, as if they have never grown up.

This is, I guess, reflected in the polls that still claim the race for the Presidency is essentially a dead heat between Romney and Obama. I find this literally impossible to believe but perhaps it is true. If it is true I conclude that half of the voting population of the United States would like to elect a known, chronic liar as their President, or a man who represents the one percent of the most greedy and selfish individuals that have managed to monopolize power and refuse to give it up no matter what, people who believe their own interests far outweigh those of their country, or do not believe a Black man should occupy the White House. I do not like this image of so many of my countrymen but to me that is what the polls must represent.

Based on what I take to be the facts of the matter, about the Black and Latino votes, the Women’s vote, the votes of the young and the elderly, and so on, I conclude that Obama should win in a landslide. But of course this is what I thought about the chances of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush and was so wrong. Either the facts are wrong, or I am misreading them, or I am so far out of step with my fellow Americans as to be living in my own fantasyland. Perhaps I need a good psychiatrist, but, alas, that is just another oxymoron.

No wonder Americans hate politics when, year in and year out, they hear politicians make promises that won't come true because they don't even mean them - campaign fantasies that win elections but don't get nations moving again.

Bill Clinton

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perusing the News

I confess to watching a bit more news than usual since losing my wonderful wife. I thought I might share with you the remarkable things I learned today after ignoring the nonsense about the coming debate.

Early this morning I learned what the soup of the day was going to be for Congress. I thought that was a particularly interesting thing to know. Then I learned there have been six Presidents whose last names ended in a vowel (I think six was the right number), but only Obama’s ended in an “o.” that was kind of cool. Then I saw a report that in a poll that asked which Presidential candidate would be most likely to engage in bungee jumping, President Obama “won,” 60 percent to 30 percent (roughly). I filed that away as important information to remember when I entered the voting booth.

But in addition to these important news stories I really learned a lot about what is apparently called “Celebrity skin” and “nip slip,” concepts with which I was not familiar. Kim Kardashian, for example, went to lunch (maybe it was dinner) with someone while wearing a revealing bra and, more importantly, a see-through skirt. It really was a see-through outfit when viewed from behind. I learned that she apparently does not wear “undies” and that she has a quite handsome butt. Then there was a video of Jennifer Lopez at a concert in Italy during which she suffered a “nip slip,” revealing the edge of one of her nipples. That was quite exciting. Not to be outdone someone named Jenny Dewan was featured in a dress that exposed her side as completely bare, thus accenting what was said to be her incredible figure (that appears to be real). Miley Cyrus, apparently a teen age upcoming “star” was reported to be risking her own nip slip by wearing a revealing low-cut dress on the Jay Leno show (I think it was the Leno show). Kate Hudson was a “knockout” in a low-cut red dress, Katy Perry “turned heads in a sexy plunging dress, Jennifer Aniston was featured in a series of bikini photos, and someone named Taylor Momsen was shown completely nude in a movie called The Pretty Reckless. Pretty reckless indeed! Finally, if that was not enough for lascivious aged viewers there was a record of 61 celebrities “showing off their cleavage.” Wow! I haven’t had such thrills since I thumbed the Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues for the lingerie ads when I was a mere lad.

All of this coming after the recent scandal involving pictures of Kate Middleton topless (and maybe even bottomless) made me pause to wonder, what in the hell is going on with this obsession with lady body parts? I mean, like, has no one ever seen naked women before? Is there something really special about Kate Middleton’s breasts that make them worth the price of admission? What is there about celebrity skin that is so different from other women’s skin? Are there really significant differences in the female anatomy from one woman to another? Do those skimpy bikinis hide something that no one knows anything about? Having spent a good deal of time in cultures where women (and men) go topless (and almost bottomless, too) I confess I do not understand the concern we have here in the U.S. for ordinary human anatomy. It is, I believe, downright weird. But, then, I think most of American culture is downright weird, a culture of the absurd.

Nowhere does this seem more true than when it comes to our elections that have now reached the point of ridiculous non-stop speculation and entertainment rather than serious governing. I, like everyone else, will watch the spectacle tomorrow evening because, as is said, “it’s the only game in town.” Will Obama redeem himself? Will Romney continue to lie? Will form reign over substance? Will anyone get a bounce? Does anyone’s performance really matter? How many days of review will we have to endure? Who are you going to believe, your own eyes and ears, or the pundits? Is this really going to be the most important event in the history of our country? Will they even mention the truly important issues of the day like global warming, environmental degradation, universal health care, the Supreme Court? The charade continues, sit back, relax, enjoy the show, pretend it really matters, root for your champion, the Black Kenyan Socialist or the Great White Dope, but vote, voting is important (if they will let you or if the machine doesn’t mysteriously change it). Your vote cannot be bought , that privilege is reserved for Congresspersons. Whatever happens, prepare yourself for the 2016 campaign that is already starting.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Toads and other Mysteries

I’m sure this is of little interest to anyone but me but I have this problem with toads, little toads that appear mysteriously every week or ten days. I assume they are toads rather than frogs because the nearest viable water for frogs is several miles away. These creatures are all the same size. I do not believe the cats bring them in as they are never damaged in any way, unlike the birds, mice, bats, squirrels, lizards, and other creatures they drag in with some regularity. I am beginning to believe that hidden somewhere in my house there may be a mother toad who is producing these miniature replicas of herself. I am so convinced that may be so I am afraid to even look. Just another facet of rural life I guess.

I cannot maintain any interest in the seemingly endlessly ongoing farce that pretends to be the Presidential campaign. I cannot wait until it is over, not that it will ever be over as it has now become the longest running soap opera and guaranteed money maker for the media. As it has been ongoing for years now it is hard to believe there is anyone who does not know what is what, except for the fact that the American public does not seem to know what is what no matter what. I am absolutely convinced that we here in the United States have abandoned any serious attempt to govern ourselves and regard our politics as little more than burlesque. “Come in, see our show, and you’ll go out happy, happy, happy.” It remains a mystery to me how Romney/Ryan could possibly be tied with Obama/Biden. If it is true (which I tend to doubt) I can only attribute it to the appalling ignorance and inattention of the electorate. And yes, by the way, I do think the Electoral College should be eliminated. Maybe if it were eliminated my vote here in Idaho might actually count.

Now that my wife is gone and I am here alone my life has become so uneventful as to reach the point of absurdity. I find the most important thing at the moment is the imminently expected birth of my first grandson who is, as yet, unnamed. My son’s idea of a boy’s name is so ridiculous his wife and her mother refuse to take him seriously, along with most everyone else who has heard about it. The problem is how is to refer to this coming being, should we refer to it as “It,” “Him,”, “No-name,” just “Baby,” or what? When this is the most important issue you face you realize just how inconsequential your life has become.

Of course there is also the problem of firewood. I don’t burn a lot of firewood since we were lulled into believing natural gas would be less expensive. But I do burn some and, having now cut and split (along with a friend) what I thought would be sufficient we have now concluded it is too green to burn this year and we will have to do it all again. Oh, well, it helps keep my mind off the election, toads, and the name of an as yet unknown person.

Yes, there is to be another debate on Tuesday evening, as I am sure you must know (unless you are deaf, blind, and being held in solitary confinement somewhere in the Himalayas. And yes, I believe Obama will be more awake and aggressive, Romney will continue to lie and distort, Democrats will come to one conclusion, Republicans an opposite one, and so on. And yes, we will be told from now until the event what it is that Obama and Romney will probably say, and yes, we will hear them say it, and yes, we will then be told what it is they said, probably for several days. It is all part of the mysterious obsession the media has with making sure nothing newsworthy will actually be reported (other than perhaps a car chase somewhere or a house fire or maybe a cat up a tree).

Too bad about Arlen Spector, he was an okay guy, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but certainly a cut above most of the Senate survivors. And by the way, he did not “Pass on,” “Go to meet his maker,” or be “Called to heaven,” he died.

I think we agree, the past is over.

George W. Bush

Friday, October 12, 2012

Body Language and Such

Much has been made of the facts that President Obama appeared quiet and uninterested in his first debate and that Joe Biden smiled and laughed during his debate. I don’t believe this has anything much to do with their relative preparations for their debates or necessarily even with their deliberate plans. I would suggest these are two different means of coping with the same problem, namely, trying to have conversations with individuals who present virtually insurmountable problems with ordinary communications.

Having had years of experience trying to communicate with those who do not speak my language, nor I theirs, or with mentally retarded individuals, or people known to be schizophrenic or otherwise mentally ill, I recognize what is involved in such situations. I believe this holds true for conversations with those known to be chronic, even pathological liars, whether it be in ordinary daily conversation or in debates. When trying to engage in conversation with such people there are basically only two things you can do, other than avoiding such situations entirely. You can do as President Obama did in his first debate with Romney, simply remain mostly silent, avoiding argumentation you know is doomed to be unproductive and may prove to be disastrous. Obama himself recognized this when he said something to the effect that you cannot just accuse someone of lying after everything they say without creating an even worse situation.

In Biden’s case he employed a different strategy for the same problem. When he smiled or laughed, or rolled his eyes, or whatever, he basically signaled that he knew the person was lying but was humoring him rather than being deliberately and rudely insulting. Rather like humoring the crazy uncle who gets his news only from Rush Limbaugh and threatens the dinner conversation with his utter nonsense. You cannot completely ignore such people as they will not tolerate being ignored no matter how offensive they are.

It must have become apparent to Obama and the Democrats during the past few years there is no point in trying to have meaningful exchanges with Republicans. After all, when they have announced they are determined to do everything in their power to destroy you and your Presidency, what is the point of trying to reason with them, or even trying to communicate with them at all. I think Obama’s greatest mistake has been his insistence, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that it would be possible to work in a bipartisan manner with such people, a kind of perennial and optimistic assumption that has proven to be wrong. I think I understand this because I, too, would have thought the same thing, although I realized it was not true apparently before Obama gave up trying. It simply never occurred to me, or Obama, or I suspect to most other people, there were individuals in the United States that would put Party before the national interest. I’m not at all sure the Founding Fathers believed this either. It could not have occurred to them that one of two political parties would simply refuse to participate in governing, that the “loyal opposition” would become the “disloyal opposition.” But that is what has come to pass. It began in earnest, I think, when they found they could not defeat Clinton by ordinary political means and turned to more unprecedented and criminal-like behavior to do so, when Karl Rove and his not very jolly and destructive band of near gangsters came into prominence, when it was apparently decided by Republicans that the ends justified the means, when greed became good and “community” an anachronism. This has been an absolutely shameful period in our history in more ways than one.

It appears to be shaping up to a brutal contest between global warming and human inactivity, a seemingly insignificant matter when compared with the titanic struggle between two would-be leaders over who will come away with the most loot.

Yet ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.

Thomas Gray

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Calling a Spade a Spade

No, I am not referring here to using “Spade” as a euphemism for Black people, although that would be an interesting topic for a future blog. That is, an analysis of all the code words, innuendos, and racial slurs being employed by Republicans and other racists for President Obama, would be, I am certain, quite revealing. No, here I am referring to what is euphemistically referred to as the “Defense Budget.”

When you realize the Defense Budget of the United States exceeds that of all other major nations combined it makes you wonder how that can truly be merely for defense. Indeed, even for a know-nothing like me, that would seem a really enormous amount merely for defense. And when you also learn that the Pentagon rather routinely loses a billion here and a billion there with no apparent accountability it makes you wonder even further. Similarly, when you begin to question just who we are preparing to defend against, as there seem to be no serious or major threats to our country anymore, it becomes even more difficult to justify this enormous budget. The major threat to our country seems pretty clearly to be terrorists. No amount of tanks, submarines, aircraft carriers, howitzers, nuclear bombs, and such military hardware will do anything to protect us from terrorists, so who needs all this massively expensive stuff? Then, finally, when you learn that much of this equipment is not actually requested by the military, and not even wanted, the truth begins to dawn on you. This defense budget actually has little or nothing to do with defense.

You might note also that Mitt Romney has indicated he wants to increase the military budget by two trillion dollars over the next ten years. This apparently is to include three new submarines that have not been requested and apparently not even wanted, to say nothing of who-knows-how-much new military hardware pretty obviously not needed for the actual defense of our country. This kind of behavior is all too characteristic of Republicans who have long prided themselves on being really strong on defense. Even my ignorance of foreign affairs, of serious threats to our country, of the basics of military hardware, possible invasions from outer space, communists in Congress, the appalling ignorance of our legislators, the albatross of Israel making our nation a rogue state, our dysfunctional political system, even the continued advice of John McCain and John Bolton, does not keep me from proclaiming that in my opinion we could cut the Defense Budget in half and it would make no difference whatsoever in our ability to defend ourselves. It might render our far-flung “empire” less far-flung, less plush, less grandiose, but I doubt it would affect our defenses even one iota.

And so it is I am suggesting we stop using the term “Defense Budget” to describe our obscene waste of money on the pretense of defense. I think we should consider an acronym instead, perhaps something like IMPOBB (the Industrial/Military/Political Ongoing Budget Boondoggle). It seems perfectly clear to me the Defense Budget has much less to do with defense that it does with keeping the corporations that manufacture all this basically useless junk (increasingly sold for scrap in Army Surplus Stores) in business. Of course every state that has companies that participate in this scam will resist giving up their cannonball- making jobs and profits no matter what, which seems to be near the heart of this absurd farce.

If you have an enormous military budget and a military machine said to be the best in the world you must, of course, find something to do with it. Nowhere is it more true, I guess, that “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” I mean, we have all these young men and women trained to kill and capture, with all this state-of-the-art technology, they can’t just sit around with nothing to do. Let’s find some little more or less defenseless country to conquer, especially if they have oil or other resources we covet, let’s show them who’s the boss, the shining beacon on the hill, the home of the brave and the used-to-be land of the free.

By all means let us not cut the vital Defense Budget. Instead let’s cut Medicare and Medicaid, Pell Grants, Public Broadcasting, Planned Parenthood, Food Stamps, Aid to dependent children, school lunches, teachers, firemen, policemen, education, all that unimportant stuff. As Madeleine Albright warned us, the black helicopters are coming to steal our lawn chairs! And as I learned in the Army, “There’s fungus among us,” and “Malaria in the area.”

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

Albert Einstein (attributed)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

American Values

President Obama is fond of speaking of “American values.” In fact this seems to be one of the main ideas he uses repeatedly in his speeches, saying things like “There are no Republican values or Democratic values, there are only American values.” I understand why he does this, or at least I think I do, but it seems to be to be demonstrably wrong. I suspect this claim or assumption of his is one of the reasons he has not been more successful than he might have been. Because he tends to believe this claim, or at least seems desperately to want to, he mistakenly assumed he would be able to work with both Republicans and members of his own party. He has obviously been disappointed but still seems to optimistically believe there are widely shared important values common to all Americans.

It does seem to me that throughout all of his Presidency so far It has become clear that Republicans do not share the same values as Democrats. Indeed, is this not the main theme of the current campaign? Obama insists that as Americans “we are all in this together,” whereas the Republicans believe in every person for him or herself, a kind of primitive social Darwinism not even shared by the great apes. I guess this is why Republicans keep insisting that Obama is a socialist even though he is so far from being one as to be laughable. The question seems to be not whether Americans share the same values, but do enough of them share the same values to re-elect Obama? Will enough Americans believe in sharing and helping each other as members of a genuine community or will they abandon such values in pursuit of even more individual profits?

It is not only in the matter of rampant individualism versus community that we do not seem to share the same values. Most Americans it seems to me are not at all in favor of more “wars” or even in empire building, but there are those who appear to not be able to get enough of war and the killing and misery that goes with it. Here again there is a fairly stark contrast between Romney’s idea of foreign policy and Obama’s. Romney, along with John McCain and others seems, to believe it is America’s right, even obligation, to manage the affairs of the world through the use of American power alone. Diplomacy they seem to believe is a sign of weakness. Whereas I believe Obama has been much too warlike in general he does seem to at least want to use diplomacy and negotiation rather than immediate aggression to further American goals. I think he deserves much credit for avoiding a war with Iran but I think it is shameful he has imposed such severe sanctions to achieve that aim. The sanctions of course impact innocent Iranian civilians, women and children, far more than anyone else. At least Netanyahu has had to back down on his demands we start a war on his behalf.

I still cannot come to terms with the claim that Romney and Obama are running neck-and-neck in the polls. Can it possibly be the case that at least half of the American public hates Obama enough to vote for the Great White Dope who speaks constantly with such an obviously “forked tongue?” Can a basically “Empty Suit,” running with a smart aleck “Mr. Know-it-all” turn out to be a winning combination? I cannot believe it, but the polls claim it might be possible. After all, American did vote twice for both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, almost certainly the worst two American Presidents ever. Please tell me it can’t happen again.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

H. L. Mencken

Monday, October 08, 2012


I confess to being reduced to merely asking this simple childish question as I think I no longer have any idea of what is going on.

How, for example, can anyone take seriously what is going on in our current Presidential race? How can you deal with a candidate who changes his positions every time he opens his mouth? How can you take seriously a candidate who obviously knows nothing of foreign policy but gives a major speech on the subject during which he manages to say virtually nothing? How can you cope with a campaign in which a candidate lies repeatedly, even admits he lies, and then just goes on lying? How is it that chronic lying is now consider both right and proper because during a campaign “everyone does it?” How can you take politics seriously in a country where half the population doesn’t bother to vote, most who do vote are so misinformed as to be more or less useless in terms of making informed, intelligent choices? And how can the contest between Obama and Romney be too close to call when Romney has managed to alienate virtually every voting block there is other than his racist “base?”

As I can see no conceivable reason for voting for Romney, given his apparent lack of any consistent program or values, his unbelievable lying and flip-flopping, his lack of likeability and rather dismal record as a governor and businessman, I have concluded this is an election basically devoted to racial hatred. As there seems to be such a lack of enthusiasm for Romney on the part of both Republicans and Democrats, it appears to me people will really be voting against Obama, and as Obama’s record is pretty much middle-of-the road (in spite of the mythical figure of him they have created) , the vote against him must be more because he is black rather than anything else. It is not hard to find people, especially around here, who firmly believe a Black man does not belong in the White House, a situation that violates everything they have been brought up to believe about racial differences and inequality, sad but true.

Having virtually lost interest in this ongoing farce I now wait impatiently for it to be over. Everything considered, I believe voting for Obama is the better choice, but of course I would prefer someone less warlike, less committed to empire, less in bed with the big banks, less interested in overlooking civil rights, and, indeed, more socialistic in intent. But better to have a real person than an empty suit.

In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.

Bertrand Russell

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Beware of Helplessness

As I have concluded the Presidential election is little more than a farce organized and engineered by the banks and corporations I have found it increasingly difficult to even bother to blog about it. My attitude has not been helped by the recent death of my wife which I have found to be increasingly depressing as the days go by.

I do not want anyone to think my remarks here are intended to be complaints, they merely reflect what I am finding to be the realities of unexpected calamities. I do not think the word calamity is too strong to describe the unexpected and basically unfair demise of a perfectly healthy, strong, and gifted woman who was much younger than her surviving spouse. This was not the way it was supposed to be.

My main problem as a survivor of this terrible injustice is that I am so helpless. Throughout virtually all of my adult life I have been surrounded by secretaries, administrative assistants, research associates, graduate students, and much more importantly, wives. These wonderful assets have been immeasurably valuable and much appreciated, but they have also helped to render me virtually helpless. I find I do not know how to do almost anything, and I am having to learn even the most basic survival skills. I find driving anywhere beyond the the mile and a half to the city dump or the three miles to town uncomfortable, as my wife has always driven everywhere else, especially any long distances. I did not know how to use the washer/dryer and had to be schooled by my daughter-in-law. I even have trouble using the microwave that I basically despise, my wife’s stove, with gas burners but an electric oven , plus a convection, self-cleaning feature I find overly complicated. Making the bed I can more or less handle as I was once in the army, but I did not know where she kept the sheets and pillow cases. Similarly, I don’t know even yet where she keeps tablecloths and such. We have a fine new barbecue and a Bradley smoker, neither of which I have ever used and will have to learn. I know, I know, these things are not that complicated, but when someone else has always used them and you have not they are foreign machines that threaten your basic competence. Fortunately I do know how to cook passably well, but certainly not up to the level of my wife. I am finding ingredients and foodstuffs in the pantry and freezer that I never heard of before.

Even so these basic day-to-day physical matters of living are relatively easy to learn or re-learn as the case may be. But I am even more helpless when it comes to other matters, such as computers, for example. Other than being able to write a blog I know nothing about these infernal machines. If something goes wrong with one, my wife always managed to take care of the problem. I’m not even confident I can change the ink cartridge in the printer. I’m pretty sure I can manage to learn that but there is no way I will ever be able to do anything else when it comes to the computers. Similarly, I know nothing whatsoever about our medical insurance, our time shares, Airline miles, her online book business, even our family histories, and so on.

I was, of course, always well-intentioned, I really meant to learn all these things, but procrastination really is the thief of time and I never did. I never asked anyone to do something I would not do myself, but not ever having to do things is not the same as actually doing them. In certain respects my wife was not much better. She said for years she would have to learn about our domestic expenses, how much we spent, for what, and so on, including what she would need to know then something happened to me, but she never did. Of course it is all moot now. It wasn’ t supposed to be this way. My wife was a great deal younger than me, I always expected to go first, even by several years, but it was not to be. It was all terribly unfair, unexpected, and unprepared for. We lived quite happily together for almost thirty years, blissfully ignoring the possibilities that might befall us, unprepared for disaster, well-intentioned but in a form of (I guess lazy) perennial denial.

I repeat, this is not meant to be complaining about what happened or the current situation, and I know this is by no means a unique experience as similar things have happened to my friends. It is clearly my own fault, I should have paid more attention to my life and the possibilities in store for me. I sincerely hope that others may do better.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


I am not even certain there is such a word as meaninglessness but it will do for the moment. Yes, I am thinking of last night’s debate that, it is widely agreed, was lost by President Obama to a new and aggressive Willard M. Romney. There seems to be general agreement that Romney “won.” I am not certain what that means. What exactly did he “win?” He did not win a trophy, nor did he win a cash prize, and I do not believe he won the election. Perhaps he won a few votes. That is possible. But then perhaps he lost a few votes also. So what does it mean to say he won? In fact I don’t believe it even matters who won or lost the debate last night as It is all part of the meaninglessness of the ongoing Soap Opera designated as the campaign for the Presidency of the widely touted most powerful nation on earth now repeatedly defeated by a bunch of local citizens armed with a few small arms. Being a loyal American now for more than 80 years I do not like to admit it, but I think it is true, the “American Century” is coming to a close. Central and South America, as well as the Middle East, are making it pretty clear they are no longer going to put up with America’s meddling and trying to control their countries, and as we will quite likely be bankrupt soon we will no doubt be unable to continue to dominate the world. Osama bin Laden will have won, just as they won over the Russians. Failing a “war” on Iran that we cannot afford and will surely lose it seems clear that American hegemony is everywhere slipping away. Of course we could go on following the advice of John McCain and the other warmongers “dying with our boots on,” but that would seem even too foolish even for us. I guess if Romney should somehow manage to win the election that may well be our fate.

What was wrong with President Obama last night? Why did he let Romney ride roughshod over the truth without much in the way of defense? I have no idea. Maybe he was struck by the absurdity of it all and was preoccupied with the demands of office, realizing that Romney has little or no idea of what the Presidency is all about, maybe he was tired, maybe he realized that arguing with apparently schizophrenic politicians is a hopeless cause. I don’t believe the real Mitt Romney will ever stand up because I don’t believe there even is a real Mitt Romney. And even assuming there might be I don’t think I would like to know him.

If there was ever any doubt that John Sununu was a racist scumbag (I doubt there was for many of us) he made it clear that he was with his recent claims that President Obama is lazy and disengaged and does not want to work. These insulting and degrading remarks, along with others he has made in the past, make it quite clear he is an out-and-out racist and as such is a perfect spokesman for the current Republican Party. I wonder how he managed to omit “shiftless” from his description of the “Darky” who is presently illegally and unfortunately occupying the White House and “doesn’t even understand his own policies.” Some may want us to believe that Sununu is just the “cranky old uncle in the family” but I think he is in fact the spokesman for the Party itself. Now that the election is drawing near and Obama seems to be leading in the polls the desperation of the Republicans is leading them to throw all caution to the winds and express their racist beliefs much more openly. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that their disrespectful treatment of Obama, and even the office of the President itself, has to do with the fact that our President is Black. Our previous President, George W. Bush, even though most probably borderline retarded, was not treated with such disrespect, nor was the office of the Presidency. As much as they try they have been unable to goad Obama into their image of an angry Black man, thus becoming more frustrated and angry themselves.

I am not at all certain that Obama isn’t just playing “rope a dope,” allowing Romney the freedom to continue his unabashed lying that will inevitably be exposed by the fact checkers, much to the ultimate dismay of independent voters. I could be wrong, of course, as I often am. But the media has certainly been treating this debate as a contest between “Muhammad Obama” and the” Great White Dope,” as if it represents the battle of the century rather than an ordinary debate between two Presidential hopefuls. Even if most of the pundits seem to agree that Obama “lost” the contest last night it is not really the end of the election, and certainly not the end of the world.

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Big Lie Continues

The Republicans may actually get away with the greatest falsehood of all time, President Obama has failed to create jobs. I realize that when things go wrong the President, being the one at the top, is usually blamed. It is true that unemployment remains above 8%, but blaming this on the President is ridiculous, especially given the facts of the matter. The idea that the President is uniquely responsible for creating jobs is, at best, a gross oversimplification, but in this particular case hypocrisy is carried to heretofore unknown heights. Republicans have refused to cooperate with Obama at every turn, have opposed every attempt he has made to improve the employment situation, and now have the continued audacity to blame him for the problem. The employment situation can easily be remedied if Republicans would make any effort to help, if instead of opposing every jobs bill, for no other reason that they want to see Obama fail, they would seriously cooperate to solve the problem. The fact that they are far more responsible than Obama for the high unemployment rate is bad enough, but their continued hypocrisy on the subject I find infuriating, especially as it is so obvious but no one seems to zero in on the truth of the matter. In effect Republicans have conspired to destroy the economy and are now boasting of their success by attempting to use the situation for their advantage. I personally find this absolutely disgusting.

The first debate is not until tomorrow evening. I am already sick of hearing about it. Both sides have been rehearsing for days as if this is to be the opening night of the greatest play ever written when, in fact, it is unlikely to have much of an effect on anyone, especially the outcome of the coming election. It is just another part of the great charade we have been witnessing for the past three years. Indeed, it is so “last year” we are now already discussing who will run in 2016. Will it be Hillary, perhaps Christie, maybe Santorum again, Ryan, that weird Governor of Texas, maybe even Bachmann, who, who, who? Who cares as long as it keeps us all entertained for the next few years. Ultimately it will be whoever the powers that be decide who will best serve their interests, another fake contest in our pretend democracy. Whoever the “Chosen” turns out to be, don’t expect any but a few cosmetic changes. As Americans we have basically abandoned any serious attempt to maintain our system of government, half the people don’t even bother to vote, most that do vote have little or no real information about what is going on, citizens are so increasingly “out of the loop” they might as well not even exist, and the true fascist state is more and more imminent. All three branches of our government are virtually out of democratic control and merely perform the tasks they are given by those who pay them. The “best government you can buy” is no longer merely sarcasm.

So here we are in 2012 faced with the same choice of two undesirable candidates for the most powerful figurehead position in the world, the usual lesser of two evils, not exactly the choice of a lifetime. It appears that Obama will probably win, perhaps he will improve the situation of the middle class a bit, all the while sending his immoral drones around the world killing innocents and creating more hatred of our colonial government, incarcerating people at will, ignoring our suicidal capitalistic behavior, blissfully creating more hatred and ill will everywhere we go, waiting for Armageddon.

I am sick of hearing Romney, Ryan, and other Republicans complaining about “entitlements,” expecting to have health insurance, minimum wages, unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, and other such social programs. People should be entitled to such things, that is the whole point of living in a decent, caring, moral, and responsible community, it should be the major function of government to provide such things for their citizens. Wealthy capitalists, sitting on the loot they have gathered from the blood, sweat and tears of those they have exploited, do not exist in the same jungle as others, do not understand it, have ceased to respect it, and think they are the “entitled.”

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.

John Kenneth Galbraith