Friday, July 30, 2010

If Anybody's Watching

Over there on the right, a little bit down the column is a counter for the cost of the Iraq war to the taxpayers of this country. If anybody's watching, you will have noticed that it turned over to $800 billion recently. And that, brothers and sisters, does not include the cost of the war in Afghanistan, both the enduring legacies of that vile little fraud who occupied the White House during most of the past decade. Might I also observe that it's fine by most people to spend these obscene sums of money to kill people halfway around the world, and engage in a conflict that apparently will never be over, but it's not fine to extend the unemployment benefits for some of the millions of people who cannot find work because of a global financial crisis also abetted by the same vile little fraud and his administration. Yes, I know the Congress did indeed vote to extend the unemployment payments, but no thanks to the Republicans; all but the Maine lady senators voted against it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sometimes It's Just Fun . . .

. . . to put something up that you didn't write, but enjoy immensely for whatever reason. In the case of the sample below, from Jim Kuntsler's "Clusterfuck Nation" of last Monday, I love two things about the snippet. First, it's true. (Apologies to any economists or relatives of economists out there, but really, you people are more confused than a roomful of historians.) And second, I truly wish I could write with the flash and crash that Kuntsler does. Reminds me a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, whom I really liked. Truth wrapped in grim humor. It's what I like. To put the quote in context, Kuntsler is discussing the whole raft of characters who failed to see what was happening when the entire economy tanked in 2008.
     The most confused of any putative authorities are the academic economists, lost in the wilderness of their models and equations and their quaint expectations of the way things ought to go if you can tweak numbers. These are the people who believe with the faith of little children that if you can measure anything you can control it. They will go down in history as the greatest convocation of clowns ever assembled, surpassing all the collected alchemists, priests, and vizeers employed in the 1500 years following the fall of Rome.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Prepared to Be Angry

Elizabeth Warren--possible shunning coming?
If there's one thing that's perfectly indisputable in my mind--and in the minds of just about every progressive in the country--it's that President Obama must appoint Elizabeth Warren to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the financial reform legislation recently passed by Congress. On the whole, this bill is actually pretty trivial in its actual effects, although its being held as the most sweeping reform "since the Great Depression," a phrase that all of us have heard ad nauseam since the financial crisis hit us full in the face in 2008. The consumer financial protection agency is one of the few aspects of the law that actually might accomplish something tangible for the rest of us. And why Warren? Because it was Warren who basically conceived the idea of a consumer watchdog agency over the financial industry in the first place, and it is she who has been ubiquitous in the media articulating the necessity for a strong consumer voice in the affairs of Wall Street and the big banks who control our lives.

But this perfectly logical choice from the standpoint of all the rest of us is anathema to Wall Street. First of all, the banks have succeeded in getting the new agency to be placed under the Federal Reserve; the original plan was to have this agency as a free-standing entity reporting to the president. Of course, pushing something down in the government bureaucracy dilutes its potency. But now the banks don't want anybody whose actually likely to be a real watchdog and ride herd on the shameless thieves who brought the country and the world to its knees two years ago. And what's more, Timothy Geithner, our secretary of the treasury, who has been a cats paw for Wall Street from the beginning, is opposed to her also.

So what will Obama do with this chance to send a clear signal that he is all for consumer protection? Well, do we really doubt that he will slap the jowls of the left and not appoint Warren? And why? In a word, fear. Fear of the banks, fear of Wall Street. Fear of the very people who made the consumer financial protection agency necessary in the first place. How much more proof do we need that the U.S. government is permanently in the hands of corporate America? I am prepared to be thoroughly pissed off at this administration once again. What a disappointment Obama has turned out to be.

Hey, faithful and few readers, Susan and I are on the road again to Louisiana from tomorrow till next Monday. I've put up a few blog entries to tide you over till we get back. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We've Been Here Before

Who among us remembers the Pentagon Papers? This was a top-secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam from right after World War II until the mid-1960s. The New York Times got hold of them and began publishing excerpts in 1971. What this document showed was the depth of the duplicity that had been and was still being practiced by the government to conceal the fact that early on in the war, it was determined that it could not be won. The hero of that hour who made sure that the document got out to the public was Daniel Ellsberg.*

A similar hero, as yet unnamed, has been responsible for leaking 92,000 documents on our present war in Afghanistan. These documents, and apparently there are yet hundreds of thousands more, have been put on the Net via Wikileaks simultaneously with articles in the New York Times, The Guardian, and the German magazine Der Spiegel. What these are telling us is that Pakistan, our erstwhile ally in the war, has been working with the Taliban to kill American troops. They are also documenting a lot more killing of civilians by US troops. In general, this vast collection of mostly boots-on-the-ground reports verifies that the war in Afghanistan is not being won and probably cannot be won.

What's the most disturbing about this document dump is that it is essentially causing a huge collective yawn in the mainstream media. As in: oh, the war in Afghanistan is not going swimmingly? Tell us something we don't know. But as one writer asked, "Am I alone in thinking that the fact that this document dump has prompted so many in the media to simply admit that the war in Afghanistan is not going well is an extraordinary development in itself?"

Oh, no. You're not alone, sir.

*Ellsberg was brought to trial under the espionage act, but when it came to light that the Nixon administration had carried out a systematic campaign to discredit him--raiding his psychiatrist's office for files, tapping his phone--the judge dismissed all the charges.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Creeping Common Sense

I know, I know. It's a peculiar hobby horse of mine that every so often--maybe too often for some of you--I find it necessary to ride. But I mounted up again today when I read that two recent polls are showing the sentiment in the U.S. for legalization of marijuana on the rise. In fact, there's a greater percentage (43%) in favor of legalization than outright opposed (42%) with 15% undecided on the matter. It's already clear that marijuana has beneficial medicinal effects for people suffering from a variety of ailments.

I don't think it's too much of a  stretch to conclude that once age and time flush out a lot of the oldies among us who date their beliefs about this subject back to the beliefs expressed in "Reefer Madness"--if you have not seen this movie, you really should--by the time these people are gone, I say, there will be nothing left but millions upon millions of Americans who have ingested pot in some form and know it to be essentially harmless. Far less damaging and dangerous than legal-everywhere booze. A substantial percentage of people--65 percent--think it is likely that marijuana will be legalized within the next ten years.

The article parses all the numbers, but the bottom line here is perfectly clear: public opinion is going to alter the U.S. laws on marijuana fairly soon. And I say, it's about damn time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Contemplating Contemplation

Every day in email I get a short little reflection from a priest named Richard Rohr, a Franciscan who runs a place of stillness (it's not really a retreat house) called the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albequerque, NM. It would not be an inaccurate description to call him a Christian mystic. He is always wise, almost always provocative, and often challenging. The very nature of what he does and what he is to stand for the Truth beyond our quotidian experiences of everyday life. And yet, paradoxically, it is only through these experiences that we can access the real world beyond our senses, beyond our petty conflicts, beyond our dictatorial egos. I only wish I could come half as close to understanding the world and myself as Richard Rohr does.

Here's something he posted just recently to chew on:
The contemplative mind is the most absolute assault on the secular worldview that one can have, because it is a different mind from what we’ve been taught in our time.  The calculative mind, or the egocentric mind, reads everything in terms of personal advantage and personal preferences.  As long as we read reality from that small self with a narrow and calculating mind, I don’t think we’re going to see things in any new or truly helpful way.
All the great religions have talked about a different way of seeing that is actually a different perspective, a different vantage point, a different goal than what I want or need the moment to be.  Christians called it contemplation, and some Eastern religions called it meditation.  To quote Albert Einstein, “No problem can be solved with the same consciousness that caused it.”  Contemplation is a different consciousness, and its starting point is precisely not what I prefer or whatI need things to be.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I go there about once a week now. When I first signed on, I used to go several times a day. And then two things happened: the novelty wore off, and I realized how much time you can just piss away at a place like this on the Internet. Plus the site is constantly adding cutesy stuff that doesn't particularly float my boat. But if it does that for others, then you are going to have to put up with it, or turn those people off as friends on Facebook. So I decided FB doesn't need me there but about, say, once a week.

This seemingly innocuous entry is prompted by a story I just read about Facebook's membership topping 500 million users. This, friends, is half a billion people. If FB were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. In short, just a hell of lot of people. I don't know how many of them are people who are there sparingly, like me. Or how many users are being counted who signed up, got an account, and when the novelty wore off, just dropped off the site altogether. The company, which is only six years old and which began in a college dorm room, aims to have 1 billion users within a year.

What I do know is that some people are trapped in the Facebook whirlpool. I turned off several of these people The others who are always on there . . . well, I just wonder what they do with the rest of their lives.

Heads up: I'm going to be out of town Thursday and Friday. I'm going to Arlington to watch the Texas Rangers play a couple of games. So, hang on, as Arnold Schwartzenager would say: I'll be back.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Really Respect This Guy

Tyson is probably the premier "popular" scientist that almost everyone is familiar with. He's always sensible; he's super personable, has a great sense of humor, and he's probably the most well-known scientist--an astrophysicist, no less--in the country. In this clip he's playing on a theme I touch on frequently, i.e., the ignorance of the American people. Although here there's a mixed message. On the one hand, he's optimistic about the course of science in the U.S., which is a result of people's interest in the subject. On the other, "children don't read horoscopes!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are You Reading . . .

. . . the Washington Post articles on the US intelligence establishment? "Top Secret America." You should. You'll be shocked. What I've seen so far doesn't surprise me, but it does give me the creeps. Bottom line up top: the intelligence operations of this country are monstrous, sprawling, expensive, and out of control.

Here's the lead paragraph:
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
I spent enough time around "intel" people, both civilian and military, including "Agency" people--that's CIA for you uninitiated--to know that there's nothing specially intelligent about them. But, my friends, they are tentacles stretching everywhere across this country. There are almost a million--a million--people with top secret security clearances. Can you believe that? These operations are costing us taxpayers over $75 billion a year. Nobody really knows. An already bloated intelligence "community"--why we call aggregations of human beings doing anything together "communities" is beyond me, but that's another post. Anyway, the intelligence establishment in this country has tripled since 9/11. Think about that for a second. We had a monstrous intelligence operation before 9/11. Just how many people are employed in the secrets business no one really knows. They're military, they're civilian government employees, and of course they're contractors, who get paid very, very well. (SOP in the hiring of contractors for defense/intelligence jobs.) The bottom line of all this is that we really don't know too much of anything about what these hundreds of thousands of people are doing. What we do know is that you don't have to think too long to realize that these people have not been too successful for all those billions we pay them. They didn't predict the fall of the Soviet Union, they didn't warn about 9/11, the onset of the Korean War and the entry of China into it, the Christmas Day bomber, and on and on.

I'll have some more to say about this subject when I've read all the articles. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still MAD

I read a piece in the New York Times the other day that stirred out of my subconscious reflections on the wasteful stupidity that is our so-called "defense" posture in the world. Timothy Egan was reflecting on the surfacing in Puget Sound of a gigantic Trident submarine. The kind that carries two dozen multi-warhead nuclear missiles. The destructive power on one of these boats is enough to just about destroy the world single-handedly. Egan asks, with a good deal more calm than I, just what is the purpose of these damn things? They epitomize (and fossilize) the Cold War doctrine of MAD, mutually assured destruction, that kept the entire world under a blanket of terror for almost 50 years. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent restoration of more or less normal relations between the US and Russia, it would seem that the need for these behemoths--560 feet long--would be gone. Egan spends a lot of time talking about their being relics of a bygone era. But he doesn't get really pissed, more just puzzled.

Not the way I approach the story . . . it's just ridiculous that the taxpayers of this country still pay billions of dollars every year for weapon systems that are only existing to provide millions of dollars to the people who build them. Think these missiles, think the ungodly number of fighters and bombers the Air Force has, the number of tanks the Army's got. How many people's unemployment benefits could be extended for the money we pay to operate just one of these frigging things? How many good things could we do for people? How many lives could we save in hospitals? And on and on and on.

No, we have to have four of these nuclear armed subs. And further, plans are already made to replace these Ohio-class boats with a whole new class of subs which will cost about $8.2 billion each. This is the everyday insanity we endure in this country.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It May Mean Nothing at All

Draw your own conclusions about this. A study by a couple of UCLA professors into "subtle socioeconomic responses to detailed information about power consumption" indicates that conservatives don't really have much taste for conservation. They tend to doubt global warming, too. I'm not surprised. Are you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hmmm. Made Me Think

It's about seeing beyond . . . but you have to come back down again. But why do you have to go up? And do you have to wait your turn? And what's that in the far corner? A chair? Why is it empty? Where does the door on the left lead? What's the first guy in line wearing? Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Are You Going to Do with These People?

Did you know that if you're a Democrat you're wreaking severe spiritual harm on your neighbors? Yep. You're actually assisting Satan in keeping people out of heaven, according to one Ed Martin, a candidate for Congress in Missouri.* Now, listen, we've been treated to a ton of insanity from these yahoos over the past few months, but as a man of faith and a follower of Jesus I find this unspeakably offensive. Here's what the guy said:
We're great because we created a place and space where people can be free. And they can choose Christ, they can choose to be faithful. They can worship, and they find their way to the Lord. And that's one of the things that's most destructive about the growth of government. It's this taking away that freedom. The freedom -- the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation. And I think that's one of the things that we have to be very, very aware of that the Obama Administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.
Normally, who would be concerned with this kind of drivel . . . but as you might have noticed we are not living in a place that's dealing with things "normally." The thing that cannot escape my attention is that this latest nonsense--and of course what else can we call it? It makes no sense, literally--is part of a pattern of extreme distortions that are passing as gospel truth (if you will pardon the expression) among the frenzied Tea Baggers and their hangers-on. Is not talk like this just the sort of rationale that's needed to justify persecution and extermination of the anti-Christs? Oh, and there's a lot more.

Take, for example, this sign which was put up in Mason City, Iowa, by the northern Iowa Tea Party:

Even fellow Tea Party nut cases thought this was going to far. But the thing to take away from this is that hundreds of thousands of over-heated idiots are abroad in the land who believe this shit. It's only getting worse, brothers and sisters. And it's getting more scary by the minute.

*I hate to think what this guy would say about such obviously lost souls as socialists and--great God in heaven spare us!--communists. I shudder to contemplate it!! But seriously, don't you think Jesus had some pronounced socialist and communist tendencies? And what about those communistic early Christian communities? Let's not be disturbed by facts, right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woe Lifting

What is it about these hunks of chips and plastic that so controls our lives? I should amend by saying "some of our lives." My wife would certainly argue that the computer controls my life. And my sons have long accused me of putting them below dogs, computers, and other animate and inanimate objects on the "what I love best" scale. What can I say? I use my computer for hours every day. I keep up with the news, I do my baseball stuff, email, and I do a great deal of my work--research and writing--right here at the keyboard. I'm sorry, the Net is an information junky's fix, and I readily admit I'm hopelessly hooked.

I type this on a new computer. Not because I wanted a new computer. Who actually enjoys the myriad hassles of getting a new computer up to speed, as much like the old computer as possible? Only the veriest geek could enjoy such a thing. It's hours of labor, and no matter how diligent you are, you are never going to get things back like they were before. Everybody knows, everybody who uses their computer a lot I should say, that you constantly fiddle with this or that setting, this or that sequence, this or that look to always have the computer doing exactly what you want it to. During the course of a computer's life, let's say 4-5 years, you download countless programs, you make just as many little adjustments here and there. When a computer crashes, all of this is lost.

I actually have been able to recover more speedily this time than last, although I'm not finished yet; I'm just functional. Quicker because I was able to salvage the hard drive out of my old computer and connect it to this one. Didn't even know such a thing was possible. Which means the recovery went a lot faster. But everything is not the same, of course. The new computer, an HP, is a 64-bit machine. Don't ask me what that means, but it does mean that you simply don't have a load-old-onto-new situation. The process has been fraught with all kinds of unexpected little glitches. Nothing earth-shaking, but the annoyance factor rises with as the sum of little glitches increases. Nonetheless, the closer I get to getting everything loaded back on and resuming a more-or-less "normal" course with the computer, the lower my anxiety level. The woe of the past few days, brothers and sisters, is lifting.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Uh Oh

Readers, gentle and true. Bad news. I have got serious computer problems. Likely the motherboard. Which means new computer. Which means the better part of a week to get back up and running again. Everybody understands, I think, what a pain in the rear it is to have to reload a whole hard drive's worth of stuff. Last time this happened, not that long ago actually, it was a full ten days to recover. All by way of saying that Powderfinger may be sporadic for the next few days. My apologies. Not that you hang on every word, of course, but because I feel committed and I can not live up to the commitment. So hang in there with me. I will keep you advised.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Praise the Lord and Pass the Money

Yet another piece of good news from the Catholic Church. One of their "reverend" pastors in Waterbury, Connecticut, has been caught with his anointed hands in the till. Since 2003. To the tune of $1.3 million. (Read about it here and here.) This guy, Kevin J. Gray, is a real sweetheart. Which is fitting because he had himself a male sweetheart in New York City, ensconced in splendid style in an apartment funded by the parishioners of  Sacred Heart, which has been described as a "mostly poor" parish.* Their pastor, however, may be described as "mostly opulent." Father Gray likes the finer things of life, you see. He stayed at expensive hotels such as the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and Copley Square in Boston;  he took his meals only at the finest establishments, such as Arturo's and Tavern on the Green in NYC, Union League Cafe in New Haven. And only the best threads, too, for this representative of Christ on earth: suits from Saks Fifth Avenue, Armani, and Brooks Brothers. Oh, and frolics at strip bars and a male escort here and there. And financing a college education at Harvard for his paramour.

And how, you may ask, did he he manage to get away with this for seven years? Easy to do when you are the only person who can get into the church computer with all the financial records. And every time the people from the diocesan financial office showed up at the parish to look at the books,** Gray was not there. Father Gray had cancer, you see--that's what he told everyone--and he was receiving treatments all those times he wasn't around.

Well, he doesn't have cancer, and he's now under arrest for first-degree larceny and being held under a $750,000 bond in Waterbury. As yet, nobody has come up with the money to bail his butt out of jail.

Believe it or not, some of his Hispanic parishioners don't believe any of this about Father. As for the diocese, they are all concerned. "'At the spiritual level, we continue to pray for healing and consolation for the parish family as it moves forward and for guidance and reconciliation for Father Gray as he encounters the legal proceedings that await him,' they said in a statement."

Right. You can bet the Diocese of Hartford ain't gonna be coming up with reimbursement to the parish for the money this scumbag priest ripped off of them. But don't worry. They're praying.

*If Sacred Heart is representative of the case in most Catholic parishes, and there is no reason to think it isn't, about 17 percent of the parish population, provides about 90 percent of the contributions. And there are always extremely generous deep-pockets who shoulder most of the load.
**Not unusual. The Church always keeps a keen eye on the exchequer. A much keener eye than on, say, which of their priests is regularly practicing pedophilia.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This Is One of Those Only-in-America Stories

Here's the gist of the story, but you can read all about it here. Dateline Prescott, Arizona, where the ongoing civic project at the Miller Valley Elementary School is the painting of a "Go on Green" mural which covers the sides of two buildings. The point of the mural is to promote environmentally benign methods of transportation. The mural features pictures of four children, with a Hispanic child being the prominent one.

Are you ready for this? The group of artists painting the mural have been told by the school principal to lighten the faces of the non-Caucasian children. The principal, Jeff Lane, claims that his request has nothing whatever to do with race. "We asked them to fix the shading of the children's faces," he said. "We were looking at it from an artistic view. Nothing at all to do with race." Yeah, right. And polar bears can be found at the equator.

The project director, however, says that for two months he and the other artists on the project were subjected to a constant stream of racial slander from the vehicles of people passing through one of the busiest intersections in town. So the kids from the school helping to paint got to hear the grown-ups yelling all these hateful things.

The local yahoo city councilman campaigned to have the mural removed altogether, claiming it wasn't an accurate depiction of the realities in Prescott. You know, he's probably right: the reality of life and attitudes in Prescott emanate from the mouths of its sterling citizens yelling about "niggers" and "spics" at a group of artists and children.

And you wonder why I don't have much faith in this country.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Horror . . .

Courtesy The Rude Pundit*
A picture that speaks a thousand words. That's Susan Sundell from New Hampshire discovering last week that everything she'd seen on the news is real (and probably worse). All of the waters from Pensacola to the Florida state line are now under a health advisory.

*Here's the link.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ignorance, Er, Independence Day

Another in my continuing (and never-ending) series on just how ignorant the American people are. A recent Maris poll reports the good news that 74 percent of Americans actually know that the U.S. declared its independence from and separated from Great Britain. The bad news is that 26 percent--that's a little over one-quarter of the population of this country--don't know this. Among the countries mentioned by these people that the US declared its independence from: Spain, France, Mexico, Japan, and China.

Think about it: in 1776 the U.S. declared its independence from China (!). How is possible anybody could even conceive of this? I give.

Happy 4th of July.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just Like That: Another $33 Billion

Did you know that  our esteemed leaders in Washington just appropriated another $33 billion for continuation of the the war in Afghanistan? It just so happens that this is just about the same amount of money required to fund an extension of  unemployment benefits for the next six months for about 5 million Americans trying to survive this recession. Not that the US has a very generous unemployment setup as it is. But now the Republicans in the House and Senate have advertised once again their true selves as exemplars of the worst of the meanness and cruelty in the American character.

Nobody in the Congress of the US is poor, but the Republican party is especially the friend of the rich Americans, and this sort of grinding down of people already down plays very well with the well-to-do classes. A  large majority of whom would, if they had their way, allow no unemployment benefits, no food stamps, no social programs at all. 

But I'm losing my train of thought, which was to point out once again, what this country could be accomplishing with $33 billion if it were not pissing it away in a useless, pointless war in Afghanistan. First, there's the matter of who is getting this $33 billion. Well, it's like this: the soldiers get some; corrupt Afghan warlords (who are squirreling their blood money away in Swiss bank accounts) get some; we give some to the poppy farmers and drug lords so they can create heroin; we give some to the very people we're fighting, the Taliban, bribes not to attack our people and convoys; and let's not forget the war profiteers, all those armaments and munitions manufacturers who never, ever saw a war they didn't support.

So what could be done with $33 billion if we weren't wasting it in fruitless war? Well, for starters there's the horrendous oil spill in the Gulf. It's reported that BP is spending a billion dollars a month on clean up. Just think how many of those unemployed people could be employed in the cleanup operations with just a small portion of that $33 billion. What about part of $33 billion to shore up local school districts who are laying off teachers all over the country in frantic efforts to cope with this recession?

But, no. It's in our national interest to continue a wasteful and scandalous war that has already gone on longer than any other this country has fought. Killing people half a world away is more important than anything that needs doing in this country. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Incident at Citi Field -- A Reflection for the 4th

We sat a little higher and closer to home plate. And stadium was just about full. 
But is is a pretty good representation of the view we had Sunday.

Last Sunday, a scorching hot day, we went to see the Mets play the Minnesota Twins in an Inter-league game at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. (Real long subway ride from where we were in Manhattan.) For those of you who don't know baseball, come the 7th inning, it's traditional for everybody in the stands to get out of their seats for a little while. Most places I've been, the crowd sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," or listens to the organ play something obnoxious or undergoes some other diversion that's been devised by the owners to "entertain" the multitudes that don't know anything about baseball and who come out to the park to eat overpriced food, drink overpriced drinks and beer, watch a few innings of baseball in between their trips to the concession stands. It's a baseball tradition: the "seventh inning stretch."

Well, when the bottom of the 7th rolled around at Citi Park, the crowd was instructed to stand, remove their caps or hats and join in singing "God Bless America." Now wait a second, didn't the beginning of the game already require everybody to stand, remove their caps or hats, and join in singing The National Anthem (and even placing your hand on your heart like you were burying a loved one or paying obeisance to some Ottoman sheik?) OK, I've heard of this and even seen it once or twice before on TV, but I'd never actually encountered it. What to do? Well, I kept my Rangers cap on my head and I did not rise and I did not sing. This is not any different from what I do with all overt shows of patriotism. I don't feel compelled to make outward manifestations of patriotism. Or patriotism so-called. I haven't for years. Naturally, some yahoo who was leaving the game a few moments later after the thousands had implored the deity in song to bless the country, told me on his way down the stairs to "take off your hat and stand up." He looked to be mid-20s or so. I just looked at him in response to his glare.

I cannot help but think about the inevitable repression that's coming when I see what a to-do is made about the flag, about overt and ostentatious shows of patriotism, about "supporting the troops," etc., etc. We in this country have been undergoing a slow steady militarization of our society for many years. It's now reaching its apex. Every time you turn around now, it seems, we witness yet another demonstration of "support for the troops." Once a society starts deifying the military, it's in trouble. You heard it here first. Same goes for the flag. I know of no other society in the world where people feel it necessary to fly the national flag over used car lots.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hmmm. I Can Agree with That

According to  Newsweek this week, the highlighted quote is what Sarah Palin has to say about enforcing marijuana restrictions. Brothers and sisters, when we have somebody like Palin saying things like this, there's room for optimism. I read yesterday or the day before that 14 states now allow medical marijuana and another 10, I think it was, have decriminalized possession of marijuana. How far can we be from completely coming to our senses on this subject? (Pretty good article on the subject here.)

If somebody's gonna
smoke a joint in
their house and not
do anybody any
harm, then perhaps
there are other 
things our cops
should be looking at.

And by the way, I've been married to the most wonderful woman in the world this day 43 years. I love you, Susan. You're the world to me.