Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here Are Some Websites for You

Every so often, the spirit moves me to let you in on some websites I've stumbled across in my travels that I found helpful or just interesting. And every so often, I suppose, you might find one or more of them either helpful or interesting. Which is why I share.

1. I Can Has Cheeseburger
Not new, this site. But I've never told you about it before. Built around the notion that pets, especially cats, can really be funny.

2. NinjaWords
The fastest dictionary on the planet. I recently turned my daughter on to it. She loves it and uses it, as far as I know.

3. digg
This is not new either but it has a great new look and it's one of those places that can really suck you in. Go here to find out what's being most talked about right this minute or in the past hour or so. Great place for me to find blog topics. Great place for you to get lost in.

4. Desk
A really silly site . . . unless you like desks and like to see the way people have arranged their desks and, in most cases, the environs of the desk too. I'm tempted to put a picture of my own pretty damn busy World War II army-issue desk up there. Pretty much all I've seen are these hypermodern looking set-ups. But I'll bet it would not pass muster.

5. kuvva
Very cool wallpapers for your desktop. You subscribe and you get an artist's stuff for a week up there on your screen. One new design a day. Here's a look at something by the guy who's on my desktop now, a Norwegian illustrator, Mads Berg. This is not the design that's there. The one that is is much cooler, but I could not figure how to put it here.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When in Doubt . . .

. . . post a list. Here, verbatim from a site (blogger) called "Buffalo Beast" is the first five of fifty loathesome Americans. I cannot say I have any violent disagreement with this. Listed in reverse order. Fifth to first and worst.
5) Mitt Romney
Crimes: The Schrödinger’s cat of American politics, Mittens is simultaneously on both sides of every issue, and no one truly knows his position until he opens his mouth. He’s so incapable of honesty that he’s even lied about his own name. Morally dissonant, too, much of the seed money for Bain Capital — which made Mittens millions by gutting companies, killing jobs and raiding pensions — came from an El Salvadorian family that financed death squads in the ’80′s, but when it came time to do business with Artisan Entertainment, Romney refused because they produce R-rated movies. But what can you expect from a guy who purports to believe that Native Americans descended from Jews and hung out with Jesus, God lives on the planet Kolob, the devil invented coffee, and underwear can be magic. And he’s so damn white he makes Justin Bieber seem like Gil Scott-Heron.
Smoking Gun: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”

4) Jon Corzine
Crimes: As the Goldman CEO who made the firm public, Corzine scored an instant $400 million, and then spent $100 million becoming senator then governor of New Jersey. He managed the state so poorly that he floated the idea of privatizing the Turnpike, which sent New Jersey running into the fat arms of Chris Christie. Obama’s biggest Wall Street fundraiser reentered the world of high finance in 2010 as CEO of MF Global brokerage firm, where he repeated the shady dealings that led to the ’08 economic collapse — using a billion in client cash to cover insane gambles like some compulsive OTB degenerate raiding his child’s college fund.
Smoking Gun: “I never intended to break any rules.”

3) Grover Norquist
Crimes: Born with money and without decency, young Norquist got into politics as a Nixon campaign volunteer, and his filthy mitts have been picking the pockets of the poor and working class ever since. A coauthor of Gingrich’s Contract With America, and integral in designing the Bush tax cuts, Norquist is best known for his anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform — a member of the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (which crafts corporate-friendly legislation for state reps to pass off as their own). All but two Republicans in D.C. have signed Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which binds them through implied shaming and character assassination to never raise taxes on the rich, thus ensuring a return to a better time in America when children worked in coalmines, got black lung and died hungry without whining about it. Although complicit in the illegal schemes of swine like Oliver North, Jack Abramoff, and Tom Delay, Norquist’s naked duplicity is best summed up with his take on two recent tax issues: He was fine with raising payroll taxes, which would’ve hurt average Americans, but if Obama lets the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire, Norquist thinks he should be impeached.
Smoking Gun: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

2) Rupert Murdoch
Crimes: Who’d have thought that a country founded as a prison, and inhabited by the world’s deadliest snakes, could produce such venomous turpitude? News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal, wherein their Brit tabloids snooped the voice mail of celebs, royals, relatives of terrorism victims, and a missing girl (also erasing her messages and giving her family false hope that she was still alive), can safely be counted among Murdoch’s least offenses as the modern-day William Randolph Hearst. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing resembling journalism his media empire’s done in some time. Back in ’03 a Florida court unanimously ruled that FOX News has the legal right to lie, and, as evidenced by the profound ignorance of its viewership, they’ve since made Goebbels seem a small-time fibber  – beating the drums for war, reporting innuendo and racist opinion as fact, and subverting public understanding on every basic issue from Obama’s citizenship to man-made global warming. Fox News is no longer a propaganda arm for the Republican party; it’s the brain, fanning the flames of extremism, and exploiting white middle class prejudice to the point of economic cannibalism. And he’s ultimately responsible for subjecting you to the intolerable smarminess of Piers Morgan.
Smoking Gun: “I do not accept ultimate responsibility.”

1) David (and Charles) Koch
Crimes: Heirs to a fortune created largely by their John-Birch-crazy father’s oil deals with Stalin, the putrid fruit didn’t fall far from the hypocritical tree. The billionaire Kochs are still profiting from business with America’s enemies in Iran and, as the Tea Party’s sugar daddies, spending big to trump reason at home. Their cash and ideology can be found lurking behind nearly every “free market” think tank, anti-labor front group, global warming-denying sophist, and malfeasant politician hellbent on making the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. Perhaps the most sinister Koch-bankrolled endeavor is the American Legislative Exchange Council. As mentioned above, ALEC drafts corporate-approved legislation for state representatives to introduce as their own. These model bills primarily focus on union busting, instituting discriminatory voter ID, and privatizing every state institution imaginable. There’s a multi-front war being waged on the middle class in which these guys are the generals. And in a fitting tribute to the disingenuous gods of irony, Koch scaremongering over socialism and wealth redistribution is subsidized in part by the American taxpayer.
Smoking Gun: “If I called up a senator or a congressman to discuss something with them, and they heard ‘David Koch is on the line,’ they’d immediately say, ‘That’s that fraud again — tell him to get lost!’”

Friday, September 28, 2012


My latest.


Two hours a week, local PBS plays the blues,
not nearly long enough to do them justice.
Life has its ways of putting the screws
to all the best plans, short-term or long.

Blues move in with the weak and the strong,
build nests in the basement, reside in the attic.
They don’t respect age or reverence the worthy:
doling out misery is automatic.

Blues must be sung whatever the season.
Suffering never sleeps or goes on vacation,
but changes its guise to fit the occasion,
shape-shifter of grimace and fallen faces.

So wail out the woe for what’s long proven:
blues are the theme to call yourself human.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Newsroom

Susan and I are hooked on an HBO TV series that our son Stu turned us on to. "The Newsroom" starring Jeff Daniels, Sam Watterson, and Emily Mortimer, among others. (Information on cast here.) We've burned through six of the ten first (and only)-season episodes in a couple of days. It's about the team of people who put out a nightly newscast. This is a product of the same guy, Aaron Sorkin, who created "The West Wing." Susan liked that better than I, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, too.

Is the show flawless . . . oh, no. It's got quite a few. See the "how to fix" article cited below. But it's entertaining--zippy dialog, good looking women, and idealism (pretty good qualities for me) and a great fantasy for me to imagine a news show that really was dedicated to reporting the news truthfully. What a concept.

Here's a taste.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just What I Was Thinking

Matt Taibbi is out this week taking notice as are many other writers and pundits of Mittens Romney's steady erosion of support in the polls. You can't be surprised at this what with the incredible ineptness he's displayed in just about any forum in which he has appeared. The surreptitiously taped slam on half the population of the country--the infamous 47-percent recording--is just the latest. But Taibbi is wondering why this race, even given Romney's laughable campaign, is in any way close. Fact is, Obama is just now pulling away, and depending on the margin of error and what poll you're looking at, the lead ranges from 5-10 points, including leads in practically all of the key contested states.

Here's part of what he writes: 
The Times, meanwhile, ran a house editorial blaming Romney's general obliqueness, his willingness to stretch the truth and his inability to connect with ordinary people for his fall. David Brooks ran a column suggesting that Romney's overreliance on a message of strict market conservatism, ignoring the values message of "traditional" conservatism, was what killed him in the end.

All of these points of view have merit, I guess, but to me they're mostly irrelevant. The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and tried just a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned all of us to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.

Think about it. Four years ago, we had an economic crash that wiped out somewhere between a quarter to 40% of the world's wealth, depending on whom you believe. The crash was caused by an utterly disgusting and irresponsible class of Wall Street paper-pushers who loaded the world up with deadly leverage in pursuit of their own bonuses, then ran screaming to the government for a handout (and got it) the instant it all went south.

These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don't oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, financing the construction of new factories in places like China and India.
They've relentlessly lobbied the government to give themselves tax holidays and shelters, and have succeeded at turning the graduated income tax idea on its head by getting the IRS to accept a sprawling buffet of absurd semantic precepts, like the notions that "capital gains" and "carried interest" are somehow not the same as "income."

The people in this group inevitably support every war that America has even the slimmest chance of involving itself in, but neither they nor their children ever fight in these conflicts. They are largely irreligious and incidentally they do massive amounts of drugs, from cocaine on down, but almost never suffer any kind of criminal penalty for their behavior.
 Further in the article, Taibbi speculates that the press also contributes to the closeness of the race in its lust for ratings. As usual, Taibbi is worth the read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where Does It Say I Have to Vote for Obama?

Very interesting article in Atlantic Online by Conor Friedersdorf. He puts voice to the kind of thoughts I've expressed much less coherently than he. Basically what he says is he's not voting for Obama, and that he is not buying the argument that Romney is so terrible that one must vote for the president. He rejects this line of thinking. What he argues is "some actions are so ruinous to human rights, so destructive of the Constitution, and so contrary to basic morals that they are disqualifying." And he sees these kinds of actions throughout the Obama presidency. I've mentioned them here and there throughout the past four years. And I've noted especially that the infernal, eternal wars continue, and that as far as I can tell, Obama pursues with all the relish of a born militarist.

Not only that, but he has refused to prosecute either torturers or the scoundrel Wall Street shysters that brought the country to its knees and who continue to enjoy outrageous affluence while the rest of the country suffers through a recession that shows no sign of ending.

But what bothers Friedersdorf are the scarlet sins against individual liberties that Obama has now engrafted onto presidential powers. He's absolutely right.
  1. Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn't "precise" or "surgical" as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue. 
  2. Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.  
  3. Contrary to his own previously stated understanding of what the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution demand, President Obama committed U.S. forces to war in Libya without Congressional approval, despite the lack of anything like an imminent threat to national security.
There's a lot more to this article. This is just a taste. Recommended.

Monday, September 24, 2012

We're in 1856

James Kuntsler was incisive today
In reality - that alternative universe to flat-screen America - all the mechanisms that allow us to keep running this wondrous show teeter on a razor's age of extreme fragility.  We're one bomb-vest or HFT keystroke away from a possible dark age, or at least a world made by hand. The true sense of entitlement extends light-years beyond the peevish carpings of the tea-bags-for-brains bunch.

     The only issue in this election contest between Pee Wee Herman and Captain Kangaroo is how to do nothing to disturb the fantasy that we can keep living the way we do. I am coming to detest Mr. Obama for the unforgivable feats of doing absolutely nothing to oppose, resist, or remedy the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and doing absolutely nothing to restore the rule-of-law in banking. Mr. Romney, at this point, can only be pitied as some kind of thought-experiment gone awry in an evil consumer product testing lab on a planet of oafs. His fecklessness has no modern analog. Next to Romney, Bob Dole looks Lincolnesque.
     Which brings me in a very roundabout way to my point: Lincoln emerged out of a political age as mendacious as ours, after decades of gaming the issue of slavery. Out of that morass of lying connected to immense human suffering somebody had to bring the clarity of real moral duty to broad consciousness and Lincoln was selected by the same hand of Providence that would lodge a bullet in his brain-pan five years later -- so it is not that hard to understand the awe of Providence that attended the terrible convulsion of the 1860s and all its long-resounding ramifications. It took most of the 20th century and then some for us to un-learn that life is tragic.
     In the history that doesn't repeat but only rhymes, we're in the 1856 equivalent of the cycle now, short of the moment when mere clowning turns to savagery. I can barely stand to watch the antics, dogged by visions of where this is all tending. We have achieved something that few cultures ever have before: made ourselves unworthy even of our own low standards. There is no center left to hold, only ragged edges around a core of darkness.
And what was it I was saying yesterday about the nonsense that is this election?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

So Just Who's Entitled?

I've refrained from much political commentary as some of the half-dozen of you that read me semi-regularly might have noticed. I could cite several reasons, but really, are you all that interested in hearing them? I'm just sick to death of the whole damn presidential race. It's been going on literally for a couple of years and the sight of the media feeding frenzy that surrounds the election is enough to sicken the strongest stomach. I'm sure I'm the same as millions of Americans who simply cannot wait for this infernal sham to be over with. Let's face it, folks, we're going to continue to get corporate governance, war, and fraud in high places. It doesn't make any difference who we vote for. The fat cats are calling the tune in both parties.

So the campaign is just theater really. What the US needs is a new people's party. Neither of the current ones represent the ordinary people of the country. Both lie when they say they do. Only the Republicans are more brazen about it. Their lies are more bald-faced, their hypocrisy more flamboyant, their chutzpa more flagrant--exhibit A that little Wisconsin weasel Paul Ryan who would not know the truth if it slept in his bed with him, but who utters falsehood every time he opens his mouth.

I've already gone off on that clueless clown Mittens the other day (see here) for his remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes. What I didn't talk about was all the welfare corporate America reaps out of the hides of the rest of us.
Real entitlement programs are ones where beneficiaries do not contribute, like when we working taxpayers pay bankers hundreds of billions of dollars "interest" on their reserves, or pay for puffed-up and no-bid government contracts or farm and oil subsidies, or pay pharmaceutical companies full retail price instead of negotiating discounts, or "borrow" money from the Federal Reserve bankers instead of our U.S. Treasury, or start wars to benefit defense contractors, or bail-out bankers, and spend trillions of dollars buying gutted mortgage packages from banks, brokerage houses, and insurance companies. We taxpayers are also paying hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare, subsidies, and tax loopholes.

Twelve U.S. corporations that made a collective $171 billion in profit from 2008 to 2010 got tax refunds of $2.5 billion and received $62.4 billion in subsidies. . . . Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren stated, "Republicans say they don't believe in government.   Sure they do.  They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends."

Economic researcher, James S. Henry adds, "Indeed, if there is a class that is truly dependent on government subsidies, handouts and protection that it doesn't pay for, it is this new American aristocracy. So it is no accident that we may soon come very close to electing a president whose sole passion and preoccupation is to serve and defend the interests of this ruling, avaricious, tax-dodging class." (Source)

Friday, September 21, 2012

You're Entitled to Your Own Opinion

. . . but not to your own facts. A neat quotation from former NY Senator Daniel Patrick Monihan I recently learned from this New York Times piece.The piece reports good news, a ripening trend away from the asinine, insane journalistic practice that demands equal time for both sides of the story, no matter the established truth on one side. The article refers to this as "false balance." Take for example, the so-called debate over the "theory" of evolution and creationism, under-girded by "creation science," of course. And then there is global warming, a fact accepted by an overwhelming majority of scientists, and yet our lamestream media sometimes portrays it, this fact of the warming of the globe, as something that is in dispute on scientific grounds.
"Recently, there’s been pressure to be more aggressive on fact-checking and truth-squading,” said Richard Stevenson, The Times’s political editor. “It’s one of the most positive trends in journalism that I can remember.”

It’s all a part of a movement — brought about, in part, by a more demanding public, fueled by media critics, bloggers and denizens of the social media world — to present the truth, not just conflicting arguments leading to confusion.
This can only be a good thing. The whole article is worth reading.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Just to balance off yesterday's story about people going to jail for possession of tiny amounts of that "dangerous" drug marijuana, here comes a story that's truly amazing. It appears that a non-psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, a substance called Cannabidiol or CBD, acts to turn off the gene that causes cancer to spread. Got that, folks? We're talking about a possible breakthrough that will kill metastasizing cancer cells. Laboratory results show that the substance acts on This is HUGE. The two California scientists who have made the discovery are hoping for a quick approval to begin testing with human subjects. Lab tests and tests on animals have already been done with the astonishing results now coming to light.  (Read the story here.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Heart Goes Out to Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple, felon
Who? you say. Fiona Apple. She's a singer, a good singer, but not one of my favorites. But that's neither here nor there. She just got busted in Texas for possession of marijuana and hashish. The latter is a more concentrated form of the former. Police found a backpack with about four grams of each substance in her tour bus in a far western county of the state near the Mexican border. A place famous for busting celebrities in transit. Former victims include Willie Nelson and the rapper Snoop Dogg. If you can believe it, possession of this about of marijuana in Texas is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. And no less than two years.

Are you frigging kidding me? Nobody deserves this. While the Wall Street pirates are sucking down their champagne and wallowing in their wealth with nobody making the slightest move to arrest their felonious asses, we have the spectacle of people getting thrown in jail possession of a harmless drug. The number of people we have incarcerated for this kind of "crime" is an absolute scandal. But there are too many people in the system who profit from the scandalous state of affairs. So injustices like this just continue, and certain people get fat on the misery of others. It's the law this country, didn't ya know?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

True Colors

It appears that Mitt Romney can barely talk anymore. Having to articulate around your own foot that's constantly in your mouth and halfway down your throat is not easy. And the fact of the matter is, every time we get new reports of some frightful gaffe the man has made, we get more insight into this guy's character. His latest is to my way of thinking the most revealing yet into who this guy really is.

The insight comes to us via Mother Jones magazine, which obtained a tape of Romney talking to a $50,000-a-plate fund-raiser this past May. A room full of fat cats like him. And the remarks which came to light have raised a lot a hell. As well they might because Romney says exactly what he really thinks of Obama supporters. Here's what he had to say about them:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
The words speak for themselves. This man has first, no idea what he's talking about. The people who don't pay income tax comprise many of the elderly, slews of people who are working and paying payroll taxes, but who are not making enough money to pay income tax, and others. But the worst part of this statement is the contempt with which this multimillionaire holds the ordinary people of the country. Dismissing them as basically freeloaders, people who feel "entitled." It's really hard for me to fathom that anybody with a brain, much less a conscience, could be so misinformed about people. But here's a guy who believes his own bullshit. It's his true colors.This guy's a rat.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Silence for Sharpsburg

Confederate dead at the Bloody Lane, Sharpsburg, MD, 18 September 1862
It was and still is the most horrific day of battle in American history. Almost 23,000 men, killed, wounded, and missing. 3,600 were dead. More than at Pearl Harbor, D-day, or 9/11. I've always reminded people that Americans were far more skilled at killing each other than killing any other enemy we've ever fought.

You can read about the battle at numerous places on the web. The National Park Service site is excellent; there's about a 20-minute animated run through of the battle here, and worth your time. And YouTube has a fine narrative if you want to settle in for 45 minutes of history lesson. Here it is:

We should take some sober time today to think about what these horrible events mean. Are we any closer to a more perfect union today? How? Are we any closer to realizing the futility of war? Why did these boys die?

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Country Home" - Neil Young and Crazy Horse

So I'm riding in the car with my daughter today, and she has the nerve to dis a copy of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest CD, "Americana," a free copy of which she had just received from me. Intolerable!

So feeling real  proud of Neil, my number one guy since . . . oh, about 1968, I present herewith a video of him and Crazy Horse playing at the Farm Aid Concert in 1986. Neil is one of the founders of Farm Aid along with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, I think. (Information about Farm Aid here.)

The tune is "Country Home."

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Somebody commented: "Is it sexist to say she's stacked?" (har, har)

Just one of a collection of librarian tats. I mean, how cool is a librarian tattoo? And how cool is the librarian who wears one? You can see the rest of 'em here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Here's a Timely Snippet

. . . from the New York Review of Books a long-time friend shared with me. In case any of you are wondering why I have said virtually nothing about the ongoing political campaign, or why I didn't say anything during the dreary, oh so dreary pointless useless conventions recently concluded. Good God! What exercises in meaningless blather! Anyway, this little piece will help you understand.
One night, watching the Republicans with growing panic for the deteriorating state of my mental health, I remembered H.L. Mencken, who covered every national convention of both political parties from 1904 to 1948 for The Baltimore Sun. After locating The Impossible Mencken on my shelf, I sat down to read and learn how they were conducted in the past, and even more importantly how the quality of the speeches and the character and qualifications of various candidates has changed. I wasn’t disappointed. As an analysis of the type of men who run for public office in the United States, and their motives, these pieces are not only still right on the mark; they are lots of fun to read too. “Consider the matter of the so-called keynote speech,” Mencken writes in 1924. “Some hollow party hack is put up to rant and snort for an hour and a half, and when he is finished it is discovered that he has said precisely nothing.” Sure, there are exceptions. Obama gave a pretty good one in 2004. But as a rule, as Mencken points out, they consist of several thousands words of puerile platitudes and drivel, the very worst among them managing to be both instantly forgettable and enduringly irritating.
Though our political system is now unimaginably more corrupt than it ever was in the past, and our conventions are becoming carefully scripted, usually foreclosing any possibility of delegates’ choosing how they are conducted, many of the forces that have made it so today have been working on rigging the game for a long time. Here, for instance, is Mencken, again in 1924, describing Big Business’s support for the candidacy of Honorable Calvin Coolidge:
Big Business, in America, is almost wholly devoid of anything even poetically describable as public spirit. It is frankly on the make, day in and day out, and hence for the sort of politician who gives it the best chance. In order to get that chance it is willing to make any conceivable sacrifice of common sense and the common decencies. Big Business was in favor of Prohibition, believing that a sober workman would make a better slave than the one with a few drinks in him. It was in favor of gross robberies and extortions that went on during the war, and profited by all of them. It was in favor of the crude throttling of free speech that was then undertaken in the name of patriotism, and is still in favor of it.
If you are thinking Mencken was a leftist, you are wrong. He loathed Franklin Roosevelt, and was a conservative on most matters. What he witnessed and what today’s reporters witness too, but are not allowed to describe as bluntly as he did, is that a great many men and women Americans elect to office are frauds, with no interest in helping anyone but themselves, but who know to never lose sight of who their masters are and how to serve them. They also have the good fortune of a trusting herd of mentally lazy or downright ignorant voters, who cannot tell the difference between a crook and an honest person and who return them to office again and again, seemingly unperturbed by the incumbent’s repeatedly lying to them and demonstrating a total lack of moral character.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not Hard to Explain

When you have your kids around, whom you don't see for months at a stretch, it's difficult to focus on anything worth saying in a blog entry. So you are forced to easy expedients. Like this: sharing a pretty amusing video a friend has sent you.

One Term More - With Subtitles from One Term More on Vimeo.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Some people have them; some people don't. Take, for example, a woman in Virginia who doesn't want anybody to know her name discovers in a box of two-bit trash she bought for a pittance at a flea market--including a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll--a genuine Renoir. Yep. Six-and-a-half inches by five-and-a-half. A Seine River scene.  Now think about the fact that since she didn't really like the damn thing--it was one of those impressionistic "modern" things, ya know--she was ready to shred it. But her Mama noticing the signature "Renoir" on it--duh!!--advised her daughter go get it appraised. It's expected to sell for somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000.

I don't have horseshoes . . . at least ones that could fit Paul Bunyan's horse.

Source here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Do Believe . . .

. . . that aside from times of long trips, this is the longest I've gone since I began blogging without an entry. For those half dozen or so of you who regularly read my stuff, don't worry, I'm back and I don't plan on going anywhere. But I have really been sick. I think I mentioned the family wedding we had to attend in Houston. That took place last Sunday, but the trip down there began on Friday. The wedding was quite enjoyable, the best part, of course, being with so many members of the family who we get to see so infrequently. Especially, the young people, all my kids' cousins. If there was one big disappointment in the whole thing, it was that my two sons could not be at the wedding. Every time there's a big family event like this, people ask after them.

But of course they've got busy lives, and I can understand why it's difficult to get away . . . and they, like everybody else, has to prioritize travel. Which is why the prospect of spending time with my son Stu this coming week is such a great thrill. Those guys are just too damn far away. Tanya is three miles away, and I don't see her or hear from her often enough. The boys are half a continent away.

Man, was I sick. Susan says she has never seen me that sick . . . and we've been married 45 years. That's a pretty long time and a pretty good indication of just how lousy sick I was. I had some fever, but mostly diarrhea--four days of it--cramps, a beat-down feeling of no energy at all, and no appetite. It was awful.

However, I'm well again, and I intend to be writing. Stay tuned.