THE WAR ON RUBBER STAMPS

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I want to call your attention to a dreadful strategy being employed all over this great nation of ours.

We are accustomed to our politicians debating about and then even legislating against various perceived enemies

Drugs? We have a war on them.

Poverty? We have a war on it.

Terror? Check, another war.

Women? We have far more women than we do any of the rest and a war on them to match.

But there is one inexplicable innocent victim. A victim that has been derided and used as a pawn for political gain, A victim of politicians everywhere with no regard for party. A victim with no ideology of its own. A victim with no history of endangering a soul, though on occasion it has been involuntarily made into a weapon.

That victim…that target of opprobrium…that scapegoat sacrificed to the whims and impure agendas of those seeking our votes…is the formerly lowly rubber stamp.

Oh, sure, you argue that the rubber stamp is capable of making you angry. Many a writer has received a response to submission of a manuscript with nothing but the word REJECTED boldly imprinted.

Your bank may send an ominous looking envelope your way and, once opened and the check you just sent for the payment on your Lamborghini is stamped INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. (Better get that raise from McDonalds, huh?)

And then you have the notice from the electric company that tells you your bill is OVERDUE.

But though you have received bad news is that really the fault of the rubber stamp? It just had the misfortune of being employed by some ham-fisted, faceless bureaucrat working for uncaring corporations who probably purchased that stamp as simply one of many, with no regard for its individuality.

Now, viewing campaign ads, we are inundated with admonitions to vote for a Republican because the Democratic opponent will be a “rubber stamp for Obama”. That’s even true in the race for Pacoima Dog Catcher.

Or, if not a rubber stamp for Obama and, depending on which House is at issue, It seems Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have plenty of rubber stamps in their arsenals.

It happens on both sides. Democratic House and Senate candidates warn that their election rivals will be rubber stamps for John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. At least in Boehner’s case the rubber stamps come with a gift certificate to a tanning salon.

In Pennsylvania Pat Stefano is seeking a place in the state Senate as a Republican.He is facing off against Deb Kula, a Democrat who warns Stefano will be a rubber stamp for Republican Governor Tom Corbett. However,looking at the polls, if Stefano is such a rubber stamp it will read “EX-GOVERNOR”

Why can’t we promote the peaceful and benevolent uses of rubber stamps? “APPROVED”, “PAID IN FULL”, ACCEPTED AT HARVARD”, TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEXT BOYFRIEND” are just a few of the good, positive, and pleasing messages rubber stamps deliver every day.

Maybe we can restore sanity to the issue of rubber stamps when the candidates promoting this shallow, simplistic, and deceptive practice by ensuring that, on the day after the election, this stamp appears next to their names:

LOSER

FOOLS PARADE

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You may be familiar with this title from the Davis Grubb novel and the movie adaptation starring Jimmy Stewart. You may also be familiar with another Grubb novel, Night of The Hunter, and its subsequent big screen depiction starring Robert Mitchum.

While both stories are set in Depression era West Virginia (Grubb was born in Moundsville) Fools is somewhat lighter hearted and has a happy ending. Hunter, on the other hand, is downright scary as ex-con Mitchum tries to get his hands on some hidden loot and threatens the lives of two children, among others, to fulfill his money lust.

But I’m not speaking here of fiction and made-up characters. I’m presenting, sadly, real life characters eminently qualified for mockery but who are also eminently scary for what they want to do to children AND adults, consenting or not.

This is a parade of fools masquerading as serious candidates for public office. Coincidentally they are all Republicans. Or maybe there is no coincidence. As a character in Anthony Horowitz’s Point Blank observes

Where some
people see coincidence, I see conspiracy. That’s my job

Considering the commonality of the statements and actions of these GOP office seekers I see no coincidence. I see conspiracy.

Kicking off the parade, merrily making his way down Main Street as Drum Major, is one Thom Tillis, hoping to unseat Kay Hagan as Senator from North Carolina. In a recent debate with Hagan he claimed “By voting for Obamacare, Sen. Kay Hagan ‘voted to kill the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs.’ ” That’s false information presented in a distorted manner.

Scott Walker is campaigning to be re-elected governor of Wisconsin. He doesn’t like the minimum wage. “Jobs that involve the minimum wage are overwhelmingly jobs for young people starting out in the workforce.” Now, if overwhelmingly means slightly more than 50% he’s right. But any dictionary definition of “overwhelmingly” will reveal that is not what it means.

Next down the street in a flaming red convertible is Scott Brown, the peripatetic Senate candidate who may soon show up on your doorstep soliciting votes. He combine his worries about our Mexican border with the current unwarranted Ebola hysteria into this, “One of the reasons why I’ve been so adamant about closing our border because if people are coming through normal channels, can you imagine what they can do through a porous border,”

Yes, cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers from Ebola ravaged West Africa are docking in Cancun every day and discharging their infectees to wend their way to Laredo where they intend to immediately discharge their rotten bodily fluids into the local water supply.

(What is it with these guys named Scott, and whatever happened to Randolph Scott?)

Riding on The Conspiracy Theory Float is one Joni Ernst.”All of us agreed that Agenda 21 is a horrible idea. One of those implications to Americans, again, going back to what did it does do to the individual family here in the state of Iowa, and what I’ve seen, the implications that it has here is moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers, and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore. These are all things that the UN is behind, and it’s bad for the United States and bad for families here in the state of Iowa.”

Agenda 21 is a United Nations sustainability program, voluntary and non-binding on the U.S. and signed by that well-known Commie, President George H.W. Bush in 1992. I can tell you exactly how many Iowa farm families have been forced to move to urban areas. ZERO! Field of Dreams is less fantasy than her Agenda 21 silliness.

Arriving next on the Koch brothers float …actually a train of fifty floats because, well because they have the money to do anything they want, buying parades and elections and countries alike…we have Mitch McConnell who is fighting for his political life in Kentucky with Alison Lundergan Grimes mounting a strong challenge for his Senate seat.

“Kentucky Kynect is a Web site. It was paid for by a $200-and-some-odd-million grant from the federal government. The Web site can continue. But in my view, the best interest of the country would be achieved by pulling out Obamacare, root and branch…. Now, with regard to Kynect, it’s a state exchange. They can continue it if they’d like to. They’ll have to pay for it because the grant will be over. And with regard to the Medicaid expansion, that’s a state decision. The states can decide whether to expand Medicaid or not. In our state, the governor decided to expand Medicaid.

Well the web site, which he adores, does not exist without the Affordable Care Act, and neither does the Medicaid expansion which he feels is all right because it’s a state choice. If the law is repealed the health insurance for over 400,000 Kentuckians goes in the crapper.

And now occupying the esteemed position of Grand Marshal of the Fools Parade is the truly amazing Louie Gohmert of Texas, looking to retain the seat in the House of Representatives on which he has parked his brain since 2005.

Befitting Gohmert’s superiority, his place as a Fool among fools, his spoken inanities are so frequent and so numerous, that to list them here would take more time than I have since I need to see my urologist for followup on December 18. However, I do have one collection of them judged to be his worst. Like favorite Baroque composers, or rock guitarists, or home run hitters you may have your own favorites. And like those categories there are many possible choices that you must sort through to come up with your own rankings.

But check out the ones to be found here. http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2013/05/gohmert_muslim_brotherhood_ter.php?page=2

I won’t spoil all the fun but one has to do with nominating Allen West for Speaker of the House AFTER he had lost his bid for re-election.

Time to go home and let the cleanup begin.While it has been fun and joyous to witness this spectacular, our next entry for this biennial event is not due until 2016. Who will be the Grand Marshal then? Christie? Cruz? Walker? Santorum?

Tune in then and hope there is no cause to turn on and drop out prior to then.

JIM CROW HAS MANY FACES

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Do you see a difference between these images? If you do I ask you to re-think that.

The first, the sign depicting legal restrictions on the mixing of whites and blacks from early in the last century is itself an anachronism. Such discrimination….thankfully…is no longer legal. But as a practical matter these Jim Crow laws still exist in spirit and as a residue of nearly two hundred fifty years of slavery in what became the United States and another hundred years of Post-Civil War and post abolition open and often legislated bias against blacks.

And the second, of course, is an image from the recent demonstrations in Ferguson.

This discrimination festered in housing and education and voting and jobs and the military and the criminal (in)justice system and public accommodations and just about every aspect of life. Largely in the South but also in other parts of the nation blacks were subject to lynching for actual but often only presumed offenses against white people.

And, while the South was the geographical focus of the Civil Rights Movement, some discriminatory practices were also prevalent north of the Mason-Dixon line, much subtler in tone or even application but with no less a devastating effect on the lives of African-Americans.

When allowed to participate beyond service in behind the lines units black soldiers such in the famed 92nd Division and the even more famous Tuskegee Airmen acquitted themselves well when permitted to engage in the combat  that saved the world from fascism and Naziism. Yet the black veterans returned home to the same limitations on their freedoms as existed before the war.

Well thank goodness for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as well as Brown v Board of Education and Loving v Virginia and other court decisions that forever eliminated racial discrimination for our sea to shining sea totally unified country.

Well eliminated all the discrimination except that remaining in housing and education and voting and jobs and the military and the criminal (in)justice system and public accommodations.

I will say that the military is probably more of a meritocracy than these other institutions. The eminent Colin Powell rose to general and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and even Secretary of State. And neither his color nor his real life demonstration of the Peter Principle at work prevented Allen West from becoming a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army.

The August shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson has generated not only the subsequent protests and demonstrations about that incident but also at least some discussion about endemic racism still apparent in American society especially manifest in law enforcement. With similar shootings both prior to and after the Brown killing many political, religious, and other leaders and common citizens have recognized a nexus between this violence and racial attitudes that regard young black men as extremely dangerous when, in similar situations, white men of any age are given the benefit of the doubt about possible criminal intent.

Richard Rothstein, a research fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, has developed a theory that the current climate and experience in Ferguson, even aside from the Brown shooting, is the natural outgrowth of a series of intentionally discriminatory policies at the local, state and federal levels. As recently as 1970 Ferguson’s population was 99% white and now it is 2/3 black.

Rothstein’s theories and the paper he wrote are the subject of this story, complete with a link to his paper that is down loadable.http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/how-a-century-of-racist-policies-made-ferguson-into-a-pocket-of-concentrated-despair/

Whether one subscribes to his conclusions point by point…and I’m not certain I do…there is overwhelming evidence of some of the phenomena he cites in other areas of the country  that have contributed to the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and resultant discrimination. Just in the area of urban renewal ghettoizing blacks the story of Pittsburgh;s Renaissance is instructive. A huge part of the lower Hill District there was demolished in the early 1960’s to build the Civic Arena, a concert and public light opera venue cum sports palace. As a consequence, what was at one time a vibrant multi-cultural, multi-ethnic  neighborhood became a black ghetto cut off from the heart of the city by accompanying highways, and lacking the variety of businesses that sustain such urban neighborhoods.

But aside from the Ferguson cause and effect theory itself there are other palpable, unmistakable explicit examples of the theory at work. Among them are much of the media’s reaction to the Ferguson demonstrations, characterizing the participants as themselves racist and barely controllable animals and excoriated by various TV and talk radio pundits with practically non-existent qualifications to speak on racial issues objectively. Indeed two instances of far more destructive white rage…the Pumpkin riots in Keene, N.H. and the post football game hooliganism in Morgantown, W.Va. drew little opprobrium from the self-appointed experts on proper public behavior.

And then we come to the voter ID movement, a response to extremely rare in person voter fraud that targets those of lesser means which, far too often in this country, means large concentrations of African-Americans.

So our old buddy Jim has been reincarnated and is still alive and kicking though his corporeal presence has been greatly altered.

But a thorn by any other name is still a prick.

MONDAY MUSINGS ON TRUE VOTER FRAUD

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Voter fraud can take many forms, but in person, false representation of oneself, to be cured by photo ID, is probably the least common.

Some forms do not even exist in relation to the ballot box itself but lie somewhere in the ether of pre-election activity designed to affect voter decisions with the same results from counting votes as the far more common deceptions practiced by elected or appointed voting officials.

Here I am not addressing the great tradition of campaign promises or attacks  which stretch credulity to the snapping point. If you want bipartisan political efforts one need look no further than the present and historic rhetoric utilizing lies, distortion, and obfuscation to sway the electorate. Instead I highlight one far less obvious but just as effective tactic of particular interest in 2014.

In that regard I ask simply, What is the status of the lawsuit filed by Republican members of the House of Representatives against President Barack Obama (or, as his detractors like to emphasize…President Barack HUSSEIN Obama) alleging the worst kind of violations of the United States Constitution in addition to the complaint that he took his ball and went home, wah, wah, wah.

The status of that lawsuit is easy to explain in laymen’s terms. rather than providing an interpretation of the motions, what discovery entails, or pre-trial conferences, I need tell you only this. That suit has never been filed. Moreover, I say with every confidence, that suit will never be filed.

Speaker of the House John Boehner and company amped up their electoral base by promising to use the legal system to rein in an unlawful President. Of course to many of them he was not only unlawful in his actions but illegal in his ascendancy to the title of The Most Powerful Man on Earth.

The GOP and its propaganda arm, FOX News, made it clear that this litigation was the only way to save the nation from a dictator wanna-be. They had only the interests of the nation at heart and going to court was the only way available to protect those interests.

I doubt that cost of filing is a factor. Though filing and administrative fees can vary from one federal district court to another, generally the cost will be less than $500. The Republicans favorite sugar daddies, the Koch Brothers, leave more than that amount in their pants pockets when they drop them off at the dry cleaner.

The promise this lawsuit offered to disaffected , mainly Republican, voters, and the publicity generated from it could do nothing but provide confirmation to the GOP base that their concerns (most imaginary or exaggerated beyond reason) with THIS President would be removed in another institution they ironically also often maintain is biased against them, the federal court system.

In the intervening months, especially as the election draws nigh and early voting for white folks with time off from their jobs proceeds apace in red and blue states alike, the issue of the lawsuit has been muted. After all, if the drumbeat remained persistent there are Republican voters with enough common sense to ask about its status.

The talk of a lawsuit was never reality but always illusion, a sleight of hand distraction to divert audience attention from how they were being bamboozled.

Having served the purpose of misdirection the lawsuit is now the proverbial Out of sight—Out of mind.

ANOTHER DIMENSION OF SOUND, OF SIGHT, AND OF MIND

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Citing the classic television series The Twilight Zone and its episodes as analogies to current and real life situations is, admittedly, not a very original proposition. Rod Serling’s seminal depictions of overweening paranoia and exposes of the foibles of human greed and vanity remain etched in the minds and hearts are those of us old enough to have viewed them when first broadcast or who have seen them in a variety of rerun incarnations.

That the choicest of these episodes are instructive for and illustrative of our present circumstances only enhances our appreciation of them. Only two days ago this blogger presented his take on certain aspects of paranoia titled The Inanity Of Fear    http://umoc193.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/the-inanity-of-fear/

As noted in that piece one of my favorite writers, Reg Henry, had just offered his views in his weekly Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column.

He and I are not alone in our attention to the phenomenon of public paranoia sweeping across the range of political partisanship endemic in these United States.

And this article from the Huffington Post provides a helpful reminder of the prescience of The Twilight Zone.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/22/twilight-zone-episodes_n_5978194.html

It centers on “6 “Twilight Zone’ Episodes That Prove Society Is Way More Terrifying Than Any Monster”

For an example:

As a response to communist paranoia, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” became an instant classic of “The Twilight Zone” when it aired during Season 1. An otherwise “calm and reflective” neighborhood responds to warnings of aliens with mounting accusations that quickly reach the point of hysteria. As the installment comes to a close amid total chaos, the camera pans out to reveal the aliens do exist. “They pick the most dangerous enemy that they can find,” one says to the other. “And it’s themselves.”

In that episode residents of a typical American neighborhood are faced with a sudden loss of electrical power. Soon, after listening to tales of space invaders heard by a young teen boy, the good folks of maple Street are soon looking upon each other with suspicion and begin accusing others of being the space monsters masquerading as a family, out to get them and theirs.

The denouement comes when, witnessing the chaos developing, the actual space aliens are seen when there is a cut to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the mysterious meteor that had flown overhead is indeed an alien spaceship. Its inhabitants, two alien observers, are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood’s power. They comment on how easy it was to create paranoia and panic, and conclude that the easiest way to conquer Earth is to let the people of Earth destroy themselves as their own worst enemy.

I consider this apt allegory for what we Americans have done to ourselves post 9/11. We are suffering from Post Patriot Act Distress wrapped in vastly increased NSA surveillance; torture memos; wars of poor choice; warrantless searches and seizures of property and persons; religious persecution; and spineless war-mongering.

What has our paranoia wrought?

The sight of thousands of our own citizens dead, some beheaded, because we haven’t learned that aggression breeds counter aggression.

The sound of many political lips flapping proposing one more absurd response after another to the chaos our own misdeeds have generated.

And our mind? Well our collective MIND appears to have its thought processes and ability to reason blurred by the violent rhetoric we subscribe ourselves to and, in another sense, we do not seem to MIND any of this at all.

I can only imagine the riotous laughing to occur when the aliens return home to report on what paranoid over-reacting pushovers we are.

MEAT THE PRESS

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The Sunday morning network news/interview programs used to have a certain cachet. Led by Meet The Press—the oldest such entity having debuted scant months after your favorite blogger emerged from the womb—these shows often presented newsmakers actually making news. That is, many politicians would drop by offering their ideas and opinions. Lo and behold, many of these ideas and opinions were thoughtful, logical, and offered valuable insight into how our nation was being run or could be run if these ideas were implemented.

The press, for its part, knew not to take these ideas and opinions at face value and were capable of…even more importantly…desirous of asking probing questions and challenging the interview subjects to expose hidden agendas and self-serving interests.

Those of us at home tuned in, probably on a VHF TV channel brought into the home via rabbit ears or a roof antenna requiring frequent adjustment to receive the proper frequency.

Not that these shows necessarily provided a fully sating seven course gourmet dinner of politics and policy. But they did treat us to a healthy appetizer that many Americans used as incentive to surfeit their own intellectual curiosity by..and this is the funny part…searching on their own for the ingredients needed to complete the meal and possibly even add a scrumptious dessert by voting for candidates for office based on issues not images.

Okay, perhaps my notions and memories are more romance than reality. We have always had craven politicians willing to say or do pretty much anything to advance their careers and political visions, visions that could turn into nightmares for their constituencies. And there were members of the press (now the all-inclusive media) who, if not acceding to these politicians’ visions, at least did little to impede them. You can explore on your own the history of the usual suspect known as Exhibit A, Tailgunner Joe McCarthy.

Today these Sunday morning not so much news shows are akin to a Sunday much more than you can healthily stomach breakfast brunch buffet. Instead of being greeted by friendly, efficient, underpaid servers in tidy aprons catering to your needs, these shows are hosted by obsequious interchangeable overpaid hosts who cater to the delusions of their guests rather than to an audience hungering for genuine political analysis and a cogent and valid interpretation of verifiable facts that may affect their lives. Indeed the facts served are anything but, the equivalent of the near tasty pastrami on rye that is, in truth, nothing but an artificially formed collection of ground turkey parts including the gobble.

Watching these shows on the cable outlet of your local government’s choice today leads one to recognize they have descended into an agglomeration of unpalatable sound bites consisting of rehashed talking points and red meat lies seasoned with the crusty overlay of a virtual packet of Shake and Bake adding no intellectual nutritional value but which merely disguises a paucity of real ideas.

Of late the focus has been on the venerable Meet The Press and its devolution of emcees from the (inexplicably) revered Tim Russert to the nearly universally condemned David Gregory (known as “Stretch” to George W. Bush—whether for his lanky height or his elastic credulity is unknown) to the…no not King of Kings…but Tool of Tools Chuck Todd.

Todd, who made his NBC bones as network White House Correspondent and MSNBC morning commentator, is facile to the extreme. Since he took over MTP he has drawn fire for being a Republican lackey. Oh, who the hell cares?

True nourishment for your political health is as rare on network and cable TV news shows…Sunday or any other day…as nourishment for your corporeal survival is in a steady diet of nothing but bacon and M&M’s.

THE INANITY OF FEAR

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The most recent column by Reg Henry appearing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerns how much fear is generated in the news lately, especially focused on the spread of the Ebola virus. He handles the topic with his usual aplomb while poking gentle fun at the fear mongers.  http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/reg-henry/2014/10/22/Reg-Henry-The-fear-factor-is-one-frightening-trend/stories/201410220046

I am not such a nice guy as is Reg. I may not even possess a poking gentle fun gene in my body. My purpose here is to mock and ridicule and deride and denigrate the fear mongers.

Is Ebola a threat? Sure, if you come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone unfortunately affected. I make it a practice to stay away from the bodily fluids of others regardless of infected status. Though, in light of my illustration employing Kim Kardashian, I might be willing to subject myself to intermingling bodily fluids with her.

In recent days there have been similar postings to Facebook pointing out, for instance, that singer Taylor Swift has shed more boyfriends than the number of Americans contracting Ebola in this country or a similar comparison with the number of Rush Limbaugh marriages (or divorces…take your pick). I even volunteered my own, without illustration, noting that Texas Governor Rick Perry has approved the execution of more innocent men than  the number of Americans dying from Ebola here.

Then there is “it is what ISIS” in Iraq, and Syria, and, if you believe the alarmists, soon to be appearing in a suburb near you. I’m just wondering how they get here. Maybe, along with the tanks, guns, and other military hardware left behind in Iraq by our own American troops a stray C-17 Globemaster or three may be found. That possibility is subject to a severe logistics problem, though. Each of those huge planes has a capacity of only 105 paratroopers, a number that could easily be disposed of by those zealous patriots protecting Cliven Bundy.

Then again, they could hi-jack an ocean liner. Since Italy is relatively close I suppose an Italian liner is a realistic target, but then they have the probability of crashing on the rocks and being abandoned by the Captain. Or, if their aim is one of the behemoths operating for the benefit of U.S. departures they face either the potential for a never ending cruise due to problems with the ship or massive intestinal disorders bound to turn the adventure into one shitty mess. (Just like our invasion of Iraq, metaphorically speaking)

Now I am shamefully admitting to a guilty pleasure of mine, being a more than rare visitor to MSNBC’ s Hardball with Chris Mathews. In my defense I find Mathews himself both amusing and puzzling and odds are that any questions he asks of his guests will be answered by Chris himself. (Who needs guests, eh?) And when I do watch I first tune in during commercials on Jeopardy and then mainly to watch the Sideshow segment, often entailing clips from late night comedians poking fun at politicians.

That said, on Wednesday October 22, the day a mad gunmen killed a Canadian soldier and began shooting up that nation’s Parliament, Mathews discussed with his guests this act of terrorism and its effects and ramifications.

First I will not deny the tragedy of the soldier losing his life and the absolute terror experienced by the people possibly in danger from the continued onslaught. But, despite the apparent religion of the shooter, himself now dead, reports are he was also a long time drug abuser probably acting alone.

But Mathews and company, especially Mathews, speculated on what if terrorists chose to shoot up public places in the U.S. like malls. He feared the resultant disruption to the nation’s economy.

HUH? I don’t know that people stopped going to theaters after 12 died in the Aurora slaughter in 2012.  Or that they stopped going to McDonalds after 21 humans  were gunned down in one in San Ysidro, Calif. in 1984. Or that they stopped going to cafeterias and restaurant buffets after Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeeen, Texas was the site of 23 murder victims in 1991. And Virginia Tech still draws 31,000 students to its Blacksburg campus despite the horrific deaths of 32 students and staff members in 2007.

Hell, so far as shopping malls are concerned, the day after Thanksgiving is more dangerous than terror attacks. See this headline from TIME magazine from 2013 ballyhooing the news that only one person had been killed in the usual insane Black Friday assault on stores by unarmed shoppers.  http://business.time.com/2013/12/02/calm-black-friday-only-1-death-15-injuries-attributed-to-big-shopping-day/

FDR famously said in his first inaugural address that the

Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

For the twenty-first century those words now become

The only thing we have to fear is the fear mongering of craven politicians and irresponsible media.

Kind of lacks the same ring, eh?

 

 

 

FAN NO MORE

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On Saturday, October 18, my college Alma Mater, West Virginia University, sent its hired football guns out to play against the hired guns of Baylor University.

The latter was then ranked as the fourth best team in the country, a ranking achieved by…yes, beating all the other teams on its schedule prior to Saturday…but mainly by dint of publicity that exploits the inexplicable interest in what amounts to blatant immoral activity condoned by craven university presidents, played out on the athletic field led by coaches and other personnel allegedly with the best interests of the football players at heart.

They call them student-athletes but that is a misnomer, intentionally so.The players are recruited after success playing the game during their high school careers. Now just how kids in high school have “careers” is a puzzle to me. Most of these players have no realistic expectations of playing at the professional level, and even fewer will, in fact, ever see the inside of an NFL stadium without buying a ticket. But somehow their coaches..and probably their family and friends and fans back home…feed them the notion that perhaps, just maybe, could be, that they will do well enough to “go to the next level”, to play on SUNDAY (or Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday, or any other day that suits the TV monster which finances all this).

But back to our game in Morgantown, West By God Virginia. The Mountaineers defeated the Bears (and in this state that happens during the appropriate hunting season all the time) and the normal joy attendant to such activities when you are on the winning side, mushroomed, snowballed, escalated, exploded into a night of violence and fires and pepper spray and tear gas and foul language and probably even some hair pulling and beer can littering. (Just a feeling I have about the last item.)

Today on Facebook a friend posted a story about the rioting. It’s intent was to show how a bunch of white folks could exhibit such destructive behavior without drawing a peep from FOX News (like the pumpkin riots in Keene, N.H.a few days prior) but if three blacks broke windows in Ferguson, Missouri during demonstrations regarding the Michael Brown shooting, FOX would have been all over the story.

I don’t disagree but that argument, if any, is for another time and place. To me this serves as an example of another aspect of big time college sports being thoroughly corrupt. Fan behavior manifests itself in various ways in support of this immorality. In Morgantown for nearly forty years it far too often has taken this form, though usually to a lesser extent.

This took place just blocks from where I live. I’m surprised some didn’t occur out my window because my senior high rise is only two blocks from campus and the back of the building (including my window) overlooks a student residential neighborhood.

In years past I would have been celebrating such a victory, albeit without the lawlessness. I watched part of the game just so I would know when it was over as I was meeting friends downtown afterwards. I’ll admit a part of me had a twinge of satisfaction at the win. After all,over forty years of rabid fandom isn’t fully erased from four plus years of disgust at the whole enterprise and eschewing any pretense of rooting for “my team”.

I used to delude myself that WVU was somehow above the fray, better than, morally superior to other schools frequently caught up in recruiting and other scandals. That is not now and never was true.

However, this manifestation of malfeasance in the pursuit of athletic glory…actually more in the pursuit of identifying with athletic glory while having exactly zero influence on the outcome…is different only in kind and in the casting of participants in this episode.

This long running anthology series manages to supply original programming or innovative takes on old programs on a nearly weekly basis and draws high TV ratings in the process, even in the months when no games are scheduled.

I have stopped watching except in limited circumstances as explained above. But I am admittedly a fan of cable’s Investigation Discovery, a true crime show. Do you think that network could add college football to its repertoire as a spinoff?

MAD MEN

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There’s mad and then there’s mad. And the latter, more in tune with the second graphic than the first, is very sexist, very chauvinistic, very macho, and very deadly. It is the madness that begets war upon war upon minor skirmish  upon police action upon humanitarian intervention upon air strike upon incursion upon boots on the ground upon strategic drone strikes and, most of all, upon the bodies of millions…indeed hundreds of millions….victims of this mentality.

This madness has inhabited men since time immemorial and its rancid legacy pervades the pages of our history books and perverts our national character and falsifies our self-image as a people.

The us I speak of is a collective of all the nations, all the religions, all the ethnic groups and any other formal or informal collaborations or subsets of human groupings that have ever acted as a single entity to spread violence and mayhem and spill blood and guts that uglify our planet’s natural beauty and warps and burns and crumbles the wood and glass and steel and bricks and mortar or even simple earth that form the constructs of great architects and simple tribesmen alike.

The only admirable residue of these infernal conflicts are the quotes that survive telling us how terrible war is but which have absolutely no influence or preventative or deterrent effect when another opportunity to fire when you see the whites of their eyes the quality of their oil or diamonds or gold or the vastness of their lands.

War is Hell–Sherman… War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men–Eisenhower… There was never a good war, or a bad peace–Franklin

I castigate the men who direct these actions but recognize that there are ample numbers of women capable of just as much disregard for the value and sanctity of human life as does any common serial killer.

Names such as Cleopatra and Catherine The Great and Margaret Thatcher come trippingly to the tongue as examples of distaff war mongers with the power to execute their blood lusts (and famously, on occasion, their carnal lusts, too).  But what about Queen Artemisia of Caria; Fu Hao; sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi; Boudicca; Joan of Arc; Laskarina Bouboulina; Juana Azurduy; Lakshmibai; Yaa Asantewaa; or Marina Raskova?

They are the 10 Hardcore Female Military Leaders From History  cited by Dan Wohl here.http://www.themarysue.com/female-military-leaders-300-artemisia/2/

Outnumbered to be sure by the Alexander The Greats, and Julius Caesars, and Hannibals, and our more modern versions of bellicose men like Lee and Grant and Sherman, and Kaisers, Fuehrers, Il Duces and Bushes more familiar to us in America.

Yet, by and large the fulminations of hostility and promulgations of justification for hostility reside in the psyches of men and the death wishes for the faceless enemy are carried out by men though women, not to mention children, the elderly, and any manner of bystander yield their lives to the inevitabilities of collateral damage and direct criminal mayhem that befall them due to their presence at the wrong place at the very worst of wrong times.

“But”, I hear the unconscientious objectors to this diatribe declare, “wars are just and wars are righteous and wars are for great causes”, all rationalizations adopted by one or more of the participants in any conflict. The maintenance of these rationalizations is often a mere cloak for the motivations of power and greed.

And before another objection is raised that I seem to be coating our proud troops or the rank and file Centurians and Mongols and Huns of the past with the patina of the immoral and wanton, let me remind you of my openly expressed admiration for some of this nation’s “heroes” here. http://umoc193.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/my-heroes-i-hope-yours-too/ And I’ve also explored the ultimate sacrifice here.  http://umoc193.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/goodbye-mr-chip/

Is war natural? Is it a part of any man, whether he is aware of it or not. Is he prone to be at war regardless of clas or race or wealth or station in life? I would like to think not and evidence of this may lie in the fact that, before marching off to destroy lives in the flesh, they are subject to the indoctrination of dehumanizing their opponents to make the destruction of flesh more palatable.

Jap, Gook, Chink, Kraut, Camel Jockey, Redskin, Savage, Slope and many more epithets and pejorations are used to make firing that bullet between the eyes so much easier as are the terms used by the nationalities or groups identified as such in return. I’m sure the Macedonians employed like terms for their enemies and it’s simple to envision the Spartans doing likewise and the Crusaders were the original Islamaphobes.

This madness infuriates me. It enrages me. I employ my own set of epithets  to describe these Mad Men.

Would that they had ears to hear and sanity to understand.

p.s. As I was composing this Foo Fighters were on Letterman performing Black Sabbath’s War Pigs

ASSHOLES—NATURE OR NURTURE?

ass

This is intended for the assholes who still want to repeal the ACA; deny equal marriage rights; claim that ISIS has crossed our border with intent to wipe Little Rock off the map; still assert that the trickle down theory works (hint, that’s piss, not money and it ain’t trickling it’s a torrent); deny equal pay for equal work; prevent far too many of our citizens who do work from earning a life sustaining living for these citizens and their families  fuck over the poor at every opportunity; don’t know of a country they wouldn’t send our troops to invade while their butts sit in front of their TV screens with the only operable channel being FOX News; claim racism doesn’t exist despite the ever growing number of young  (and some old) black men and women shot, tazed, choked, arrested, beaten, etc. with the only justification for doing so being the color of their skin; are perfectly willing to put all kinds of shit into our air, water and anyplace else it’s probably going to harm us; cheat the public out of billions even trillions of dollars and continue to live in McMansions while somebody found with a joint or who commits petty theft rots in jail; keep calling for more tax cuts when they already have tax advantages more than all of us; run corporations that they claim are people despite the fact that forming a corporation in the first place means you are (legally) avoiding being treated as a person for your fuckups and the money you make can be taxed at lower rates than if you were an individual; refuse to take the steps necessary to repair or replace our crumbling infrastructure; object to establishing a theocracy in the United States—unless of course it is a Christian one; use religion (usually Christianity) to discriminate against people and/or treat them like shit when they don’t share their narrow-minded views; deny climate change; spend ungodly sums of money in an effort to buy elections; want to gut or eliminate Social Security and Medicare; maintain an insane war on drugs that has wasted so much of our tax dollars to no effect but which leads to status crimes putting people in ugly violent prisons for years if not for life; refusing to end the death penalty that far too often (too often being at least once) has sent innocent folks to death row for years if not to their executions; pervert what were intended to be physically challenging collegiate extracurricular activities into valueless enterprises which do not serve the students but primarily act as a farm system for professional teams and the greedy owners of those same professional teams who simply love someone else paying for the player development that benefits only them; act overly concerned with the union of sperm and egg up to the moment when that union becomes a living and breathing human being and then seemingly ignoring and abandoning them if they are not the right color or member of the proper economic and/or social class; AND, last but certainly not least, the millions of our citizens perfectly content with the quo of this status.

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