Friday, August 31, 2012

Eastwood's speech

EASTWOOD: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Save a little for Mitt.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, what’s a movie tradesman doing out here? You know they are all left wingers out there, left of Lenin. At least that is what people think. That is not really the case. There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot dogging it.
So -- but they are there, believe me, they are there. I just think, in fact, some of them around town, I saw John Voigt, a lot of people around.
John’s here, an academy award winner. A terrific guy. These people are all like-minded, like all of us.  [After Voigt Clint seems genuinely stumped. A lot of who?]

So I -- so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here. And he’s -- I was going to ask him a couple of questions. But -- you know about -- I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles.

They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying.
EASTWOOD: I was even crying. And then finally -- and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.
Now that is something to cry for because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven’t done enough, obviously -- this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. Whenever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.
So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?
I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- you know -- I know -- people were wondering -- you don’t -- handle that OK. Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo -- why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?
OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.
I’ve got to to hand it to you. I have to give credit where credit is due. You did finally overrule that finally. And that’s -- now we are moving onward. I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean -- you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it -- they did there for 10 years.
But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to maybe -- I think you’ve mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning
And I thought -- I thought, yeah -- I am not going to shut up, it is my turn.
So anyway, we’re going to have -- we’re going to have to have a little chat about that. And then, I just wondered, all these promises -- I wondered about when the -- what do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.
You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden.
Of course we all now Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.
Kind of a grin with a body behind it.
But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along. See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to the president, anyway.
I think attorneys are so busy -- you know they’re always taught to argue everything, and always weight everything -- weigh both sides.

They are always devil’s advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time -- what do you think -- for maybe a businessman. How about that?
A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, “a stellar businessman.”

And I think it’s that time. And I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane.
Though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that.
You are an -- an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around?
OK, well anyway. All right, I’m sorry. I can’t do that to myself either.
I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we -- we own this country.
We -- we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours.
And -- so -- they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal. But I just think it is important that you realize , that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.
Okay, just remember that. And I’m speaking out for everybody out there. It doesn’t hurt, we don’t have to be
I do not say that word anymore. Well, maybe one last time.
We don’t have to be -- what I’m saying, we do not have to be metal (ph) masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.
But OK. You want to make my day?
All right. I started, you finish it. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: Make my day!
EASTWOOD: Thank you. Thank you very much.

I follow one left website regularly around election time, Kos, mainly for polls, & stop by other progressive sites as individual bloggers link to them.  I read only two personal political blogs on a daily basis, as others I like tend to be irregular. News headlines are from five  feeds on my Yahoo homepage, five headlines each: New York Times, BBC, Yahoo US News, Yahoo World News, & NJ.Com/Star-Ledger based in Newark from drawing from several Jersey papers in the chain. I have Fox News but usually keep it closed. Yahoo draws heavily from Associated Press   & also pulls from TV networks & Reuters. I'm not the most politically-engaged person around.

The impression I've gotten of the Republican Convention was that it was nothing much. The most "exciting" moment was also the strangest, Clint Eastwood's rambling debate with an empty chair. I need to read the transcript of that, might be some found poetry in it.

Hurricane Isaac was the major news story of the week, dating back well into last week when it appeared to be tracking toward Florida's west coast. That would combine hurricane & convention, not a bad thing. But Isaac bent west, following Katrina's path so closely on the same dates that weather websites were posting overlays of the two storms' five day cones.

I don't know how the RNC played in the rest of America, but it was no big deal around New York, even with Jersey's governor Christie as a keynote speaker delivering what was generally adjudged here at home less than his best loud, bullying effort.

Four years ago Sarah Palin electrified the RNC & party base & terrified half of America.  Cooler, rational minds at time noted her nomination for V.P. doomed John McCain's campaign, but Palin was the horrid living embodiment of everything loathsome about the right,  so monstrous, like a gorgon sister of Medusa,  many of us were temporarily paralyzed,  turned to stone.

Anyway, there'll be no 11 point bounce for Rmoney/Ryan. President Obama has great opportunity next week. Hope he takes advantage of it.

Clint's Chair

Oh, Clint & I thought up that gag while we were shooting baskets with Shaq here last month. Didn't think he'd actually get a chance to do it. Really, nobody vetted his speech?

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert Crumb

The great "underground" cartoonist.
When I first became attracted to the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, millions of Americans in my parents' & grandparents' generations shared my admiration. I encountered photos of Roosevelt in basement family rooms hanging next to portraits of John Kennedy & Pope John XXIII. Little did I know I was embarking on a journey into ultra-left wing radicalism simply by continuing to admire Roosevelt. I suppose my protestant respect for Pope John XXIII is mistaken, too.

I just placed a second Facebook friend on "restricted" status until after the election. In part for his own good, as he was making an idiot of himself in front of my other FB friends, & he's "family" in a tenuous sort of way. Restricted means when he views my wall he'll think I took a sabbatical. Here's the posted image & the comment that sent him over the line: "Ya think it was built by those two or three men, a bunch of women and those kids. They're a talented bunch."


 He'd also latched on to an unfunny  running "gag" that I'd rather be a Republican (I think I mentioned this in earlier blog post) based on his inability to understand what some FB friends & I meant when we discussed our fondness for traditions & dislike of sudden, radical change.  That's just insulting after awhile.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stonewall Jackson reconsidered

Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson, Jr.

(Macmillan Pub.; 1st edition; February 18, 1997)

Not so impressed on second reading over a decade later. Still huge, still wonderfully researched. But my fascination with Jackson's story & personality the first time around made me overlook the book's flaws, the author's slant & prejudices (among them an aversion to calling a slave a slave, as if we might be reminded what this war was really about). In a book so cognizant of the importance of Jackson's religious beliefs that hardly a page passes without reference to them, the author will not face up to their terrible wrong-headedness, even as he compiles a massive testimony to how mistaken Jackson was. It all culminated, by Jackson's own harsh faith, in his "Prince of Peace" smiting him at the hour of his greatest triumph, insuring the escape of Hooker's army & the failure of Lee's attack on Meade's left at Gettysburg, thereby sealing the fate of a treasonous slave "nation" that never had a moment of political or moral legitimacy,

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wildwood NJ

Marine Pier, now Mariner's Landing

More Wildwood postcards  & stories

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

NYPD Gunfire In Empire State Building Shooting Wounded All Nine Bystanders 

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said all nine bystanders wounded in Friday's Empire State Building shooting had been hit with police gunfire, CNN reported Saturday morning.
According to Kelly, of the nine wounded, three suffered gunshot wounds and six were hit by fragments.
Gunfire broke out shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday when a gunman identified as 58-year old Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed former coworker Steve Ercolino near the Empire State Building.
That's right, all nine of them. One more reason I oppose license to carry  sidearms unless a job requires it.  These were professional law enforcement officers. According to another report, neither had previously  fired a gun in performance of duty. Most cops go through their entire careers without firing their weapon. But they do undergo training for situations where they may have to. They must re-qualify on their sidearm annually at the police range.

In both the Colorado theater shootings & the Sikh Temple shootings, some eyewitnesses, people under fire, believed there was more than one shooter. One might find that mistaken assessment in most mass shootings. There's fear, panic & turmoil, few if any clear minds. Some law enforcement & military personnel  train as specialists in those situations.  The average cop does not.  Civilians  desiring such training have to attend  special camps & courses. The vast majority of gun owners do not. But a lot of gun owners believe they would be the exceptions, the cool heads, if caught in an armed  robbery or an insane situation where a heavily armed lunatic is intent on killing as many people as he can. This is nonsense.  Even with  "cool heads" cops & civilians wrongly assess what they're up against. These two NYPD cops had one target. They hit it plus nine others.

In a story I'm writing piece by piece out of sequence, I wanted to give  a private investigator a license to carry concealed. Since such licenses  are extremely difficult to obtain in New Jersey - we are in effect a no-carry state,  I concluded it would be easier to create a brief back story implying that an unnamed government agency employed my P.I. character   in order to have him granted  the permit,  as payment for some investigating he did benefiting  national security, & that he traded the information for the permit. All local police depts in South Jersey, as well  as the state police, are aware he has the permit. The P.I. himself never explains how he obtained the permit.  The story is considered only  the most plausible & commonly accepted one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fatal Fail

When our NJ Department of Children & Families  fucks up, it can fuck up tragically big time. DCF administers what used to be Division of Youth & Family Services, now called The Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Call it "reform."

Frantic 911 call from Camden woman who allegedly decapitated her son: 'I did it, I did it'

Oh yeah, she did it, then stabbed herself to death. The head was in a freezer.  A FREEZER!  "I know what I'll do with my kid's head - stick it the freezer. Then call police. Or may call police first, head in freezer second."

Thomas only recently regained custody of son Zahree after allegedly leaving the boy unattended in a car in 2010, telling police she had smoked marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP and blacked out in a nearby park.

PCP! A dope that makes you insane.  You have to be deranged just to ingest  it.  The shit made lab rats schizophrenic. Think 1980, South Bronx, angel dust.  No matter she was supposed to be taking Prozac. Prozac can make you crazy too. Prozac plus dope & booze? Good luck. We must wait on the toxology report.

Some neighbors described strange behavior by Thomas, who had just moved to the neighborhood from elsewhere in the city. Others saw no evidence of problems

Let me tell you something about cities, since I reside in one. People can't agree on what the hell constitutes "strange behavior." Or how to distinguish eccentricity from serious fucked-up-ness.  Too many people believe it's "normal" to beat children. Not "spank" them; beat them. Treat their dogs better than  their children, & not too kindly to their dogs. Over in Newark, police sirens & yellow crime scene tape attract hundreds  to their  own neighborhood "reality show" complete with corpse, weeping relatives, & lots of unfounded rumors.  Street corner shrines for dead gangbangers with holy candles, flowers, stuffed animals. Strange to me, normal in Newark.

Supposedly Thomas was being supervised with access to a range of services & counseling. We shall see how closely.

Just last year, a few miles from here,  three children slipped through the "safety net" & disappeared. Their Haitian mother  came under the sway of a crazy Haitian cult preacher - he's still out there.  The local school district was told they were being home-schooled.  End of school district involvement. Jersey's home schooling regulations are so bad that even red states with thousands of children being home schooled in evangelical Christian homes have far stricter rules & testing requirements. The children were imprisoned, beaten, starved, &  a little girl died. Only then was the horror exposed. Family knew, neighbors suspected.

To my knowledge there's only one independent watch dog group watching the DCF, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, headed by a  great woman named Cecelia Zalkind.

But if a DCF  agency wrongs you, & you want to prove your custodial fitness on your own timetable, it'll ruin you financially. It can even kill you, as it did to a guy I knew falsely accused of child molestation when he refused his ex-wife permission to relocate their child to Texas. He eventually cleared himself in court, while proving his ex's unfitness for full custody. All on his own "dime" - many thousands  of  dollars in legal expenses he could never recoup. Meanwhile, there's a psychotic parent out there with a knife at her child's throat.

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Higgins gets his Irish up

This encounter with a right wing American radio host occurred two years ago before Michael D. Higgins was elected President of Ireland (largely a ceremonial post, but a great honor), just going viral now. I was unaware of it.

My grandmother used to caution, "You're getting your Irish up," which was about the only direct reference to being Irish my Irish-American "Nana" ever made.

When you "get your Irish up" you take the floor, there's no back & forth argument - that's over. It happens when you realize you're dealing with a complete fool. You intend to have your say all at once. You're angry. You step up on your "soapbox." With Higgins It's no longer a matter of "facts" but of decency. It's personal. If you're inspired enough, your language flies. Problem was, I stuttered.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Keep running, Akin

Akin rebuffs Romney, Republican, calls to quit Senate race 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressman Todd Akin, under fire for controversial remarks on abortion and rape, insisted on Tuesday he would not leave the Missouri Senate race, despite pressure from fellow Republicans and talk of who might replace him on the November 6 ballot.Akin - a staunch abortion opponent - vowed to stay in the contest against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, indicating he represents a conservative movement that must be heard.

To the dismay of many Republicans, Akin's woes have cast a spotlight on a part of the platform party members again endorsed on Tuesday: a call to oppose abortion with no mention of exceptions in cases of rape and incest.

Why would Akin feel compelled to quit? He can win this election anyway, & he knows it. Missouri is now a red state, Sen. McCaskill's election in 2006 flukey.

Akin may have "misspoken," but his views are those of the Republican Party, & of Paul Ryan (a hypocrite when he says otherwise), & endorsed in the past by Romney himself.

The problem for the Repugs is that the Missouri senate race now has a national spotlight, & Akin's positions - the same as the Republican platform - will not play well to the few hundred thousand white suburban women I claim will largely decide this election in swing states. He's a Naked Republican: No abortion option for victims of rape & incest. Women receiving an illegal abortion under proposed Republican law would be subject to prosecution along with their rapists.

We could be in the middle of the second Great Depression instead of a stubborn recession (excepting the "1%") & I think you'd have to be fucking crazy to vote for Romney/Ryan if you cared at all about civil rights, that you'd sell out the rights of women, gays, minority voters, all under attack by Repugs. Democrats bought into most of the National Security State excesses, but we got something to hang on to.


Monday, August 20, 2012

An Encounter

She asked, "Sir, do you speak English?" That stopped me a block from Dunkin' Donuts around sunset.

"We need some money to get a cup of coffee & ...." I missed the rest of the spiel. I was looking past her for the "we," saw none, then looked at her. 40 plus, I'm not good at guessing age. Around 5'4". Dark hair brushed straight to just below shoulders. Plain oval face. Clear complexion. Not emaciated. Clean. Eyes focused, although they didn't communicate an excess of intelligence. What was wrong with her?

She finished the request. I had a good deal of loose change in both pockets, so I reached in, pulled out about a dollar worth & placed it in her palm.

She said, "You look like my former boyfriend." I'm pretty sure I recall all my former girlfriends, & she was young, but I said,

"Maybe I am."

As I turned & walked away she said, "Maybe you'd like my number."

I called back, "It's too late. You turned me into a desperate recluse."


Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Summertime will be a love-in there"

Scott McKenzie had a good life, & thank heavens he had only one "hit."

"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" was not only one of the worst pop songs ever to climb into the upper reaches of the charts (1967), it was also phony & deceitful beyond belief. But many thousands of teenagers believed it, to their everlasting regret if it enticed them from their small towns to Haight-Ashbury. If they chose to go to L.A., the song's composer, John Phillips & his bag of coke were waiting in Laurel Canyon for the under-aged girls.

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Wildwood NJ

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Right wingers tell me I'm an ideologue. But some dope over at Kos dredged up a four year old comment of mine where I expressed disappointment with both the Obama & Clinton primary campaigns, proving I'm not an ideologue, & therefore contemptibly inconsistent. The Kossack forgets that in April 2008 Clinton & Obama were bashing each other so badly there was serious anxiety the party couldn't unify. Hillary won the Feb 6 2008 NJ primary popular vote by 10 points. I voted for Obama. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have voted for Clinton. I'll still vote Obama in November. But I think I represent a large, grumbling part of the party base. Ironically, we get attacked by partisans because we now believe Hillary is more "liberal." When I've published a poem I later wished I hadn't, that bothered me.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Nationals 6, Mets 4

Mets pitcher Johan Santana set a negative club record tonight by giving up six runs in his sixth consecutive game. Johan is the Mets' ace who pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history back on June 1. He's pitched a couple of good games since, but mostly he's been awful. He had Tommy John surgery last year & was on the disabled list for three weeks this season with a sprained ankle.

Mets manager Terry Collins was so deeply moved by Santana's gutsy no-hitter & what it meant to Mets fans that he called Johan his "hero" & could not restrain tears. We all felt that way that night. But Collins also expressed anxiety in his post-game press conference over leaving Santana in the game to throw 134 pitches on his recently repaired arm. Of course, he had no choice. But he had plenty of call to worry. Collins is an emotional man & he cares deeply about his players; most of them are kids up from the minors he had over-achieving for half the season until they ran outta gas. Santana is an old pro. Maybe the no-hitter did something not good to Santana.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Emil Richards - Emerald (May)

West Coast vibraphone & marimba player deluxe, from his 1966 LP Stones.

The old 12 song two-side LP was a natural for concepts based on months or astrological signs. This is an album I wish I'd heard when it was released.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Republiborg Empire

If you tell me, "I know you really want to be a conservative. Resistance is futile," you get this as my response.
They are really square.

Monday, August 13, 2012

You wouldn't believe how much liberals can piss me off.

There's one liberal here in Jersey -  from an advocacy organization, not an elected politico - who annoys the hell out of me. Throw his contradictions right back in his face & he won't acknowledge them.   He's probably gonna toss  me off his FB friend list because I just got on him about his anti-hunting attitude, "hideous" that hunters actually pose "grinning" with their kills.   I'm surprised he didn't say it makes him "cry." He can summon up tears faster than Bette Midler  on a TV talk show when the host mentions "The Wind Beneath My Wings." Go protest McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, the smiling faces in their commercials biting chunks out of double bacon cheeseburgers & awful chicken tacos.  Go demonstrate outside  the meat death factories of the Midwest,  chicken "farms" of the South,  those grim conveyor lines of indifference,  that hire hundreds of undocumented workers, Americans find the jobs so distasteful.

A problem with liberals is we get sidetracked.  Take some advice from the way  Bernie Sanders thinks.  Decide what you really want your governments  to do,  & get outta people's faces on  the other stuff. I think the whole whole human race should stop eating meat. I think it would be a wonderful evolutionary step. Climate change might eventually force us to do it, or drastically cut down.   But I  haven't stopped. Don Imus is a vegetarian, entirely organic.  It's part of his cancer therapy, he's 72 years old  &  it seems to be working. But he's said, "If I could do anything I wanted  right now, I'd drive into town & order a steak."

Not the only thing about him irritates me. His group endorsed a Republican State Senate candidate here because she's pro-choice & pro marriage equality (which condemns her  to total irrelevance in  her party).  Raised money for her! But she's off to the Repug Convention next week as a delegate where she'll dutifully cast her vote for Romney, Ryan (by acclamation), & probably the party platform (I'll be checking up on the latter).   Then he'll be at the Democratic Convention as a delegate.

I can handle contradictions. Hypocrisy, no.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Asbury Park NJ

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan

Being a professional politician with a government paycheck & benefits was Paul Ryan's first & only choice of a career. I find that very strange in conservatives, especially so in one who loves Ayn Rand. Wasn't Ryan supposed to work in a marble quarry or something for awhile as he became increasingly enraged?

When Paul Ryan said today, "America is more than just a place, though. America is an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not from government," I thought, whoa, knock me down with a feather, fella. What president or presidential candidate going back to George Washington wouldn't sign on to that? I wouldn't call it a rationally defensible statement, although I happen to believe most of  it myself.*   But they are rights in the abstract until  a sword is put - literally or figuratively -   to the  neck of the tyrant claiming divine rights for himself &/or the exclusive right to grant them & take them away at will.   Rights are guaranteed by legal code, which require a government strong enough & representative enough to protect them, not by nature or God, or a king who says, "Just trust me."  Our Constitution springs entirely  from the minds of humans. There's no precedent for it in nature or The Bible.

* There are many other nations in existence right now founded on ideas. The ideas are mostly bad ones.

I'm of the opinion that vice presidential candidates are a wash. They have a job to do in the campaign & they do it. That job is usually to help hold the party base in place while the boss mines the center for votes needed to win. Even poorly vetted mistakes like Thomas Eagleton & Palin didn't effect the ultimate outcome. Someone on Mitt's team convinced him that his party base neither likes nor trusts him. This is a problem. Mitt can't waste his time campaigning in red states he's going to win anyway, just to smack down homosexuals & remind Southern Baptists he loves Jesus. He has to go to Virgina, Ohio, PA, Florida, Colorado, appear in televised debates, & sound like a sane human being to the several hundred thousand independent white middle class suburban women who will probably decide this election. Right now, Mitt reminds them of their first husbands. As for Ryan, he's a good spotlight guy, articulate, & a  right wing screwball.  But I looked up his election history: He hasn't had to run against a strong Democrat, he hasn't had a close election, & most intriguing, he's never faced off against another Irish-Catholic, much less one as wonky as him but with a pugnacious, battle-tested personality. Ever see Irish-Americans of opposing political views fight?  Right wing Irish-Americans  are often lunatics with fascistic sympathies & are outrageously anti-union. I mean shoot the fucking strikers kind of loony. You gotta push the right buttons to bring it out of them.

There is something particular about Paul Ryan, though: He comes to the ticket with his own agenda, one he has loudly advocated: The Paul Ryan Budget Plan. Mitt either avows this plan in whole or in part. If in part, Ryan must disavow it in part, & both the avowed & disaowed parts will be scrutinized by the right & left. We're getting a Romney/Ryan Plan, & it's the one Ryan has to sell to the faithful. He can try to do so with a wink.


Friday, August 10, 2012

USDA: Corn estimates drop amid deepening drought
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A deepening drought in the nation's farm states has cut further into this fall's harvest, with farmers now expected to pull from their fields the lowest corn yield in more than a decade.
But American farmers are still expected to produce their eighth-largest harvest ever, and while there's sure to be a rise in prices at the grocery stores, there's little risk of a failed harvest that would lead to shortages on the shelves. 
The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted the nation's biggest harvest ever in the spring, when farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn — the most since 1937. But it cut its estimate a month ago and again Friday, saying it now expects the nation to produce 10.8 billion bushels, the least since 2006. 
If that estimate holds, the federal government says it will be enough to meet the world's needs and ensure there are no shortages. But experts say food prices will almost certainly climb as corn is a widely used ingredient found in everything from cosmetics to cereal, colas and candy bars.
Has anyone yet suggested God is punishing us for our Muslim president. Just a matter of time.

Commodity prices aren't an interest of mine. Weather is. There's a lot of contradictory information being fed to the public about the drought, even from different Federal agencies. Food prices up (they are going up), meat prices down, at least temporarily. Enough corn for export, not enough corn. What if the drought continues through 2013? Or instead, there are ruinous rains & floods? Extreme weather seems to be becoming the norm. But there's nothing unusual about this summer in Jersey so far as I've observed. The winter was mild. We had a blizzard last October turned out to be our most significant snowfall of the season.

The better safe than sorry solution? Get rid of the Muslim president, elect a Mormon?  Still not quite right given the de facto religion of the Republican base is fundamentalist Baptist.  Mormon folklore has it that an enormous flock of seagulls saved them from starvation  by eating the massive swarm of katydids devouring their crops in 1848.  There's a famous seagull monument in Salt Lake City.

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Dear Facebook friend

When poets  sign up to be poets, it's not long before we  realize we also signed up to be damned fools in public. We can't  grow thick skins or wear armor, because it would  insulate us  from what  we need to feel to be  poets. So basically, when you interact  with me, you're interacting  with a crazy person from an ancient  tribe of crazy people.

We used to sit on hillsides   & watch armies  slaughter each other,  protected by consent of the leaders of the armies so  we would live to write about it;  some armies commanded by beautiful women with ten foot long spears , fifty pounds of exquisite  silver jewelry on their necks & arms,   & tangled red hair down to their butts, &  warriors who spread phosphorescent fungi on their genitals &  fought at night. It may appear to the uninformed that we're doing something else, perhaps something frivolous or petty or useless. We saw lineages of a thousand years wiped off the face of the earth. Who, after witnessing such an  event, wouldn't prefer to praise a single golden samphire clinging to a sand dune?

Those right wing assholes on the radio are a whole different kind of crazy, chickenshit most of them. When they came up the hillside to sit with the poets, thinking we were chickenshit too, we cut off their  dishonorable fuckin' heads & stuck them on poles for the birds to eat.  Just thought you needed a little history lesson before you posted your next comment.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Mitt's Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Ol' Blue Eyes @99 cents

Friend & music journalist Rob O'Connor relayed the word today that Amazon is selling the entire 22 song Nothing But the Best Frank Sinatra collection for 99 cents. It won't replace the complete classic Capitol albums In the Wee Small Hours, or Songs for Swingin' Lovers!- the collection is from the Reprise years.  but I didn't have most of the 22 songs. I jumped on it. The remastering isn't consistently good - anyone remember "analog?" - but at the incredible price I ain't complaining. Yeah, I doubt I'll listen to "Somethin' Stupid" or "Strangers in the Night" or "My Way," & I get enough of "New York, New York" whenever I catch the end of a Yankees game. "The Way You Look Tonight" is alone worth the 99 cents.

 Frank Sinatra was one of the few musical artists I couldn't openly like as a teenager, & pretty much didn't despite his string of Sixties hits (only one, "Summer Wind," I really liked anyway). Nancy was fine, sometimes better than fine. But The Rat Pack, difficult as it is to believe now, was radically uncool in mid-Sixties teen culture. Neither of my parents liked Sinatra. Mom was by her own admission a silk stocking girl, not a bobbysoxer.  She was married when Frank went Cafe Society. Dad detested Sinatra, as he did many worthy artists & kinds of music. But he was a bit before Frank's time & so far as I could tell wasn't even a fan of quality popular 30's big bands like Goodman & Basie. You didn't look to Dad for hip.   He liked American operetta,  Victor Herbert & Sigmund Romberg, specialties of a nearby regional professional theater, Papermill Playhouse. I figure his commendable taste for Kurt Weill was quite unintentional.

Everyone in my house liked some kind of music. Actually, there's no  precedent for me in my family. The oddballness, sure.   But the musical why? of it has no explanation. Reclaiming the lost, unappreciated & weird has always been a mission. But what  credibility I have comes from being grounded in what could be called "The Classic Recordings" of a number of major & minor genres. I didn't get that growing up - except rock & roll, although I didn't know it at the time.   & I'm still willing to learn, even if  age has somewhat diminished my curiosity  & patience.

Monday, August 06, 2012

He's in the apple pie, too.

What happens now is obvious. Sikhs are one variety of otherness, so Wade Michael Page must also be reduced to his otherness: white supremacist, skinhead rock band, tattoos, "less than honorable discharge," a drunk, & of  course "evil." As if one has to be all those things to hate Sikhs. There you have it: lone crazy white male hating men wearing turbans & their families. Now we can all feel exonerated. Got news for you. The hatred isn't aberrant in America. Americans killing people we hate isn't unusual either. We had a guy firebombing synagogues in Jersey last year. Only reason he did it at night when the buildings were empty was he didn't want to be caught. They can't stamp "evil" on Page's forehead & make me believe he's truly exceptional. He's in the apple pie, too.
If you ask someone about their unfamiliar religion, because you're curious, they're usually glad to explain it to you, at least all the surface features;  the basic history, style of worship, traditions & symbolism. I was fortunate to have worked with a Sikh woman at Pearl arts supply store. The store was owned by an Indian-American. This woman worked mainly to provide health insurance for her husband, a New York City taxi driver, & her family. Much of the day she sat at a table in the stockroom pricing doo dads for the craft dept. One day I asked about the necklace she always wore & she began telling me about Sikhism. It was pretty elementary & a lot of it was the dailyness of an observant Sikh wife & mother & her family.  But it was enough to  demystify Sikhism. She did mention I was welcome to attend a service, but I could even skip the service  & come  for the community meal afterward (I've received the same invitation from Unitarian-Universalists, Reformed Jews, & Bhakti Hindus) .   If you have a problem with religious people  that want you to be like them, you won't have any problem with Sikhs. Their problem - & the tragedy in their history - is that others try to stop them from being Sikhs. Even in Wisconsin.  Bad as that attack was, they've suffered so much worse. Horrifying persecution. Centuries of it.   Page was a stupid man. Page will disappear into the "mists of  history," but Sikhs will never forget those six people he murdered.
I have read so many comments on NJ.Com, the Star-Ledger website, denigrating Sikhs  Hindus, Muslims, all these haters need is a phony  name to hide behind &  it all comes out of them. Then of course there's the so-called  "dog-whistles," the code words of bigotry Republican candidates must master in order to speak to the "base." Otherwise they'd never make it through the primaries.

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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Do you live here?

About 4 am this morning some guy was going bonkers in the first floor lobby. Just yelling stuff. It was like he was having an argument with himself or an invisible person. The cops came. I put on my sneakers & wandered downstairs. The man was on his back on the floor, hands secured behind him, & calm. Three cops. One asked me, "Does he live here?"

I leaned over the man & asked, "Do you live here?"

He answered, "Yeah."

I turned to the cop & said, "This man belongs at the Trinitas psychiatric emergency room."

The cop said, "You can go back to bed now."

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Ocean City NJ

Diving board girls posing at the Flanders Hotel pool. 

Please visit my blog series A Week in Ocean City. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Some thoughts related to yesterday's post.   I don't know many observant "conservative" Christians. By observant I mean people upfront about what they believe & for whom it's more than a convenient rationalization for their political views. Those people - they number two or three - get a bye from me on marriage equality. I've found them over time  to be  kind people, not vicious in their beliefs. They support some protections for LGBT in the workplace, & legal acknowledgement of some  levels of LGBT personal relationships but stopping short of "marriage." Marriage is sacred & untouchable.

Marriage equality for me is essentially a civil human rights  issue. As much as I'd like various religious denominations & churches to change their views, it's not that important to me what they require members to believe, only how they as institutions influence public opinion.

However, just mumbling you're a Christian will not do. If you say your civil ethics & most of your right wing political views are determined by your Christian beliefs, then I'm not going to accept  you sitting around on your butt  Sunday morning reading the newspaper,  or doing lawn work, or going fishing,  or cracking an early can of beer. I'm not buying any garbage  about not being interested in "organized religion" or that you're Christian in your "own way." Once you've removed yourself from a "Church," you've announced two things: The first is that Christian practice doesn't intend  an actual, physical  community of believers.  It most certainly does; although Jesus never expressed himself on homosexuality, he made his intentions clear on community, through both word & personal example. The early history of the movement in the New Testament is mainly about the establishment, organization, education,  & occasionally the disciplining of scattered communities. It is here, in letters dubiously attributed to Paul, that we encounter some apparent condemnations of homosexuality. Paul does not condemn slavery. We also find the first strictures on the role of women, who had been community sponsors,  & important preachers of the Gospel from the moment Mary Magdalen (possibly other women) ran from the tomb, the first to proclaim the risen Christ, having seen him (or in Luke, angels: "two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning"). The second is that you cherry pick scripture according to what suits you, refusing to submit yourself to the  creeds, doctrines, & charitable, social & mssion  duties  of Christian community (a "mission" in a church may be anything from singing in a choir to  helping in a soup kitchen).


Friday, August 03, 2012

Eating Godly Values

Somebody tried to tell me that the Chick-Fil-A "Appreciation Day " was in defense of free speech. Utter bullshit. There's no serious free speech issue involving the owners of Chick-Fil-A.  Mike Huckabee wrote:
"The goal is simple: Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1."
In other words, show up at Chick-Fil-A if you're against marriage equality & LGBT rights. Those are the "godly values."  When you give me the free speech nonsense, what you're really saying is you won't express your honest opinion on the issue at hand, so you set up a strawman, "Those People Against Free Speech," & knock that down.  We want the views of the Cathy family known, & the anti-LGBT organizations they & the non-profit arm of Chick-fil-A contribute to exposed.

I grew up with the same kind of evasive  bigotry in the form of racism, the personal distancing from  actual racist acts, the "states rights" crap justifying Jim Crow,  the pretensions to innocence or even naivete.  Letting proxies do your talking (& violence).  I'm not  fooled by it. No surprise that the person with the "free speech" excuse grew up in my hometown. He wouldn't have had  the nerve to go to a Chick-fil-A on "Appreciation Day."

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Thursday, August 02, 2012

On  Tuesday afternoon I took a taxi to my shrink's office across town. From there I walked one mile to the main library. From the library I took a bus to CVS, & walked home from there, 1/2 mile. That's pretty good for me these days.  My legs were tired. Wednesday I walked another mile, to & from CVS. Not strenuous "exercise" walking, but any walking is good for me right now.

The main library has a very large selection of paperback novels & a much larger selection of "new" 14 day books.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Gore Vidal, 1925 - 2012

I've read only three novels by Gore Vidal: Burr, Lincoln, Myra Breckenridge,  though I've long  intended  to read the other novels in his "Empire" series. But I've never passed up a Vidal essay or op-ed, or  a TV interview if I could watch it.

Never a doubt in my mind Gore Vidal & I would not have related well to each other. (Well, he would've liked me at age 20 with my cute butt.) I'm an intellectual weenie, product of modest public education, not a trace of American aristocracy in my family.   My "extreme" political views were hardly extreme when I first settled on them. There is the first common ground I find with Gore. He admired Franklin D. Roosevelt &, speaking as an aristocrat himself, he considered the great traitors in America to be aristocrats who do not betray their class.  For Gore, George W. Bush & Mitt Romney must have represented  the final death of American noblesse oblige.

Gore Vidal was a curmudgeon.   Back-biting, name-dropping, verbal bitch slapping, Gore, Norman, Truman & William F, four names always linked together.

Gore was  profoundly conservative in ways that are difficult for us to understand now, with our absurd right wing that believes  we can't obtain  good government without persecuting homosexuals,  rolling back rights for women, denying the scientific method,  repudiating the British Enlightenment, & allowing our financial institutions to be run more loosely than a Macau casino. As an American  "aristocrat" - he never tired of reminding us, he believed,  with some justification, he was fully, personally  vested in the sweep of American history, its most important events & people.  For Gore, this was an entitlement. It was his "license" to speak out. He spoke to power past & present.

An ideal America had never existed for Gore, only idiots believe that fallacy,  but the ideals existed. Against these ideals was the impossibility of realizing them in all their glorious idealism.

He was an elegant, patriotic man, & a wonderful writer & speaker.  I shall miss him.


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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