Thursday, November 29, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Friday after Thanksgiving. That's 'Mokey up in a little tree. We had dinner with Libby's Dad yesterday, at his retirement digs. It was a delicious meal, and the turkey was true to form, knocking the three of us out within a half-hour of consumption. We all dozed through the afternoon, with bits of the weird game between Houston and Detroit flickering into our consciousnesses: I for one pondered the two clearly missed defensive interference calls (not to mention the apparently accepted lacunae in the Tort of NFL which allowed an ultimately winning touchdown, via overtime doings to be sure, to be grounded in an inadvertent review-flag toss by the losing coach) as Libby and I drove down the sunset to Liberty and a date in the Laundro. This is life, kiddos.
At home, our three Houdahenians have now developed their fairly adult personalities, which include some disturbing features. Gray Bear (formerly Bruiser, now officially 'Mokey which is a contraction of Smokey), has for the past couple of weeks become extremely finicky as eating goes. It's actually pretty disturbing for us. We returned from the Greenville contradance to the expected hunger displays, and put various dishes down for the boys. The two black twins ate, but 'Mokey disdained. We tried other dishes for him. Disinterest. This went on for days, and eventually he grew weak. Last week it was three trips to the vet, several meds to aid in what was diagnosed as a severely acid stomach, and a couple of subcutaneous fluid injections. After five days he started eating again, which was a relief. But the finickiness is recurring again with this morning's feed--he eventually nibbled a bit of "human tuna," but that was about it.
Meanwhile, the other two brothers have appetites like linebackers, particularly the kitten formerly known as Wuzzy, who will eat all the plates full if allowed, and has developed the initially charming habit of leaping onto the counter and ripping open the dry bits bag, eating his overfill, and then barfing it up in some other room for us to step in later. Hahaha, Wuz, funny the first time, but really, it's sophomoric, it's not charming really, you are an adult now, get real, and you might think about the fact that if you keep eating the way you do you'll not be able to jump up on the counter at some point, because already you're misjudging your jumps, unlike Puzzle, who eats plenty but can still lithely land on where ever he cares to jump like a Johnson, either Andre or Calvin take your pick. So which would you rather be, Wuz? Fat Albert, or Andre?
We think 'Mokey is reveling in his lassitude. At least somewhat. "I am ill," he murmurs from the sleeping nook. "Please bring me some water and a few of those fish flakes, that's simply all I can digest right now." Eye rolls from us'n seem to make no impact.
Beyond the door, Momma has not come around for about a week. This was very worrisome, as she'd been as regular as a clock for sometime. We think she may have returned to her former digs down the road. I drove up and down the road yesterday and spotted her yellow Tom paramour in a yard, lounging as though he owned the joint, and just a glimpse of a smaller black cat disappearing behind a shed. It's said by neighbors that this down-the-road address sports a number of cats, and we've read that feral cats establish a territory and inhabit it. Possibly we're an outer precinct. As the chill fall nights have arrived, possibly Momma and Pops have moved back to cent-com. Certainly if particularly Pops will stay away, the boys might be allowed to just go out in the fall and frolic in the falling leaves, which they enjoy capturing and growling about. If we could let them out more, possibly 'Mokey will realize he's just another cat, not a Romantic Poet.
On the ride home Libby and I discussed outdoor pens--since there is no assurance that Pops won't drift by and chomp an unruly teen. I favor a Folly, perhaps with a suspension bridge of some sort exiting the porch and alighting into an outdoor kitty condo fenced to keep out unwanted predators. That way we can still have an unobstructed walk ourselves to any corner of the house. Perhaps it'll happen, and if so, pictures will be posted here.
For today, it's time for me to start climbing the various roofs under my care and sweeping the leaves off them. Otherwise, the leaves will cause the roofs to rust through. This is something I've recently learned, along with the current price of roofing tin, which is not at all what it once was.
On the political front, out beyond the edge of the woods and down the road to the city on the hill, here's a couple somethings to read:
Saturday Update. I'll just stop reporting the tardiness of Momma until we actually find a body. This morning at 2 am she arrived on the porch, hungry. Libby fed her two bowls of cat food. She ate her fill, then sat on the edge of the stoop, grooming herself as though she lived here. I watched from the bedroom window. Libby also reported seeing a fox, which while not particularly good news, is and has been a part of the wild woods we live in for many many years.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Here's a good post:
Here in North Carolina the last Legislature voted to ignore any long-term data concerning ocean-level rise. We voted more Republicans in this time around too. After they get through with their efforts to destroy Planned Parenthood (there's that word again), they'll probably redouble their efforts at censoring scientific comment on the changing climate.
I have no idea why NC fell backwards into the lap of stupid that is our general regional condition to the south. We have, in recent elections, escaped the deadly radiation of Strom Thurmonism which destroys all consideration and cogitation within its zone of influence. Virginia does some pretty strange things, but it's not South Carolina. Now we've fallen back. We are but one of the Carolinas. Don't much matter which.
We're still the place where hurricanes arrive like Nolan Ryan fastballs into the big catcher's mitt that is our coastline between Wilmington and Ocracoke. Some years they all come straight on in. Maybe they'll arrive in November, or at Christmas, one of these days. Or at Easter. But they ain't a'goin' away as long as the planet spins.
That was one good reason, amongst many, why North Carolina bothered to put a lot of money into the system of universities we have. And of course even Mr. Fracked Up, Pat McCrory, Gov-elect, believes pretty much in the science of geology when it yields news such as that there's a bunch of natural gas residing under the water supply where I happen to live. No doubt the funds will continue to flow into the N.C. State Geology Department.
And no doubt the calendar will remain relevant past December 12, 2012. Which means one of these days there'll be another election here in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, I'm thankful that we get off tomorrow and Friday. I plan on climbing my tin roofs and sweeping the leaves off before they rust the tin through. Then I can watch some football and pick ticks off the Houdahenians. That's another indicator of climate change.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Here's a simple little post from Digby today:
Save this link! This is why I'm posting it, primarily. Because for mysterious reasons that must go deep into the psychology of people, Republicans keep imagining that they are not racists. Atwater offered them a new way of thinking I guess. They get to absolve themselves. Then the rich guys who are willing to actually shut down their businesses in some cases rather than give an inch on workers conditions poor billions into talking heads like Limbaugh, who keeps the Atwater mumbojumbo alive in his listeners subconscious, reinforced nearly every livelong day.
Did you see the percentages of the Presidential election broken down by race? In my sad state, North Carolina, only 31% of white folks voted for Mr. Obama. Now we have a hard right frackin' governor, Pat McCrory, who's closest advisor is Art Pope, who is the money behind "Americans for Prosperity."
Boy oh boy, it's going to be interesting here in the old Nawth State the next four years.
Friday, November 16, 2012
A few days after the election last week, Pat Buchanan appeared on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show. This would be the G. Gordon Liddy who went to jail for crimes committed during and after Nixon's Watergate break-in. The guy who said on the air, to aim for the head if the cop is wearing a bullet-proof vest. Buchanan and Liddy said the following, a mere excerpt:
Stunned by his clear racism, Liddy tried to walk his guest back from the ledge:
“With what you just said right there…You seem to imply that white people are better than other people. That’s not really what you’re saying is it?”
“Of course that’s what I’m saying,” Buchanan replied “Isn’t it obvious? Anything worth doing on this Earth was done first by white people.”
“Who landed on the moon? White people. Who climbed Mount Everest? White people. Who invented the transistor? White people. Who invented paper? White people. Who discovered algebra? White people.”
“And don’t give me all this nonsense about Martin Luther King and civil rights and all that. Who do you think freed the slaves? Abraham Lincoln. A white guy!”
The whole transcript is worth a read, if you care to understand how entirely racist Mr. Buchanan's thinking really is:
Not to mention, of course, how unconnected to reality Mr. Buchanan has become. After all, he's got all the facts he uses to ground his racist screed entirely wrong.
I mention this whole appearance because this week Buchanan, apparently hired on by Fox News since MSNBC blessedly fired him last year for other racist comments, appeared with Greta Van Susteren discussing Susan Rice and the issues of Benghazi, as framed by the right wing.
Some theoreticians back in the recesses of the right--they probably work for the Kochs--aim to make the Benghazi tragedy a new Watergate. McCain, one of the pointmen, has used the comparison frequently already. McCain's even said that Benghazi is "worse" than Watergate because people died. With that sort of framing, the hoped-for hearings should bring the Obama administration to a total halt. In the dreams of the Right, I mean.
So keep in mind, as this thing builds and builds in the media, with Fox taking the lead, CNN and the rest of them eventually skittering along behind, chasing the viewers. Pat Buchanan's right there, cheering.
[photo, National Geographic.]
Oh yeah, there's this too. Good point:
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The ongoing sex and security scandal is depressing. Seems like there might have been some time for the country to digest a decisive presidential election, and for everyone to think about the way forward on a number of serious matters. Used to be the press had a helpful, teaching function in this process. Given that the electoral victory was so strong for Mr. Obama, it's reasonable to think that a good majority of states stand behind his very centerist approach to the large issues of the moment. The handful of Republicans with actual governing responsibilities, such as those in the Congress, seem at least tentatively willing to have more serious conversations with the Administration than in the previous four years. It is even possible that the freeze-him-out strategy the Republicans had adopted on January 20, 2009, has been shelved, at least for the moment.
Now we have this utter mess, involving very top military people who we have always expected to remain professional, together with broken families, twin bombshells (my heavens!) who begin to seem like the adult versions of Monica Lewinsky's initial life choices, and on top of all this, a faux foreign policy scandal being ginned up by Fox News and VDare's Pat Buchanan. Last night on Hard Ball a reporter from the Washington Post assured Chris Matthews that there was no security breach. I wondered if she was using "security" is a rather technical sense. After all, we're at war with the Taliban in Afganistan, and the Taliban is a quasi-religious body which when in power there publicly shot women for adultery. Seems to me that they now have a rather striking observation to make, namely that the commanding General of the occupying force in their country is apparently an adulterer. Allegedly or possibly of course, at this point.
The further wrinkle in all this is that even the publicity of the scandal may well be a manipulation of public opinion, since the FBI agent who contacted Eric Cantor with information concerning the emails to Ms Kelly had, apparently, a political axe to grind. And the fact that Mr. Cantor stood silent until after the election possibly raises his diplomatic cred a notch or two, at least when compared to a few of the bumper cars that operate in the House. Would Michelle Bachmann or Darrell Issa or Steven King have been circumspect (as surely they should have been). One of course never knows, do one.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has an important agenda that we all ought to want to encourage. There must be conversation concerning the so-called fiscal cliff, including some changes in the ill-conceived tax structure that Mr. Bush created the moment he arrived in 2001-- unnecessary tax cuts which have contributed greatly to the current fiscal issues facing all of us. There must be an end to resistance to implementing the health care reforms--reforms which will help millions of Americans and should actually help fiscal matters. Perhaps there should be an end to the Afgan adventure in the light of the military train wreck that seems to have been going on in silence for a good long while--it's something to think about. (A guy at work yesterday compared the scandal to the Penn State situation, in that everybody on the inside covered things up--he has a point.)
Sadly, it appears that from now till Xmas obliterates all political conversation, mostly what we'll have is endless sordid details about something that isn't really news. While Mr. Huckabee pretends that the scandal is a symptom of our modern fallen state, King David actually engaged in similar shenanigans some goodly while back, and Mr. Shakespeare, writing in a most godly era, tells us similar tales. Oedipus was a Greek play before it was a complex.
Ahh, Huckabee. Ain't he a piece of work. I hope you watched him on the Jon Stewart show two nights back. He exemplifies lying to oneself as well as anyone around. If you opened him up, and compared his innards to the fallen General's, my guess is, Huckabee's heart is the blacker. The poor General just fell for a pretty woman. He's not much worse than the comedian who went hiking in Argentina instead of western NC a couple of years back. Huckabee, on the other hand, pretends to be a moral advisor to all of us, a politician preacher reaching the heights of Elmer Gantry and Jerry Falwell. And yet he lies as much to himself as to his public, as a matter of what he'd probably call "life style." In the case in point, Huckabee put out an ad that suggested that a vote for a Democrat might lead the vote caster to Hell, then when called on that by Stewart, had hisself a nice pat technical answer: "I wasn't talking about Hell, I was referring to some verse in Corinthians, as any Christian knows." "I'm Jewish," Stewart responded. Huckabee just went on and on, a used-car salesman working till the end to try to make the sale.
You'd think that a nice, decisive election would shut the manipulators and liars up for at least a few weeks. It's really kinda sad. For all of us.
[photo Mike Huckabee and family, some Xmas or other]
Saturday, November 10, 2012
It long has been my opinion that, sooner or later, it is the responsibility of the Democratic party to the future of the republic and the political commonwealth to beat the Republicans so badly in so many areas that the Republicans are faced with a choice of either historical irrelevance, or wringing the craziness out of their party by enforcing a set pf party orthodoxy that does not include creationism, gay-bashing, anti-science lunacy, and the crackpot economic theory that has infected the party ever since Arthur Laffer found that cocktail napkin in the airport bar. Until that glorious day when we have proportional voting, viable third parties, and sparkling white unicorn ponies, like it or not, the Democratic party is the only political institution capable of doing that job. That it largely has shirked that job ever since the first time somebody yelled "peacenik!" at it in the late autumn of 1972 does not make the job less real, or the urgency of doing it less immediate.
--Charles Pierce, Esquire, just now
Meanwhile, in the real world, one of the Boys just ate all the kitty bits I put out for all three of them, while one made the classic covering poop signs over the dish, and the third one, 'Mokey," looked plaintively at me while I ate the last piece of cherry pie for breakfast, even though if he were to jump directly into my plate, he would immediately think he'd been poisoned.
It is a gorgeous Saturday here in central North Carolina. It's the weekend where the leaves fall slowly through the still colorful backdrop of leaves, and the deer move like grey ghosts amongst the oaks and hickories. Towards evening there will be just a whiff of distant wood stoves cranking up. Somewhere not so far away, they are playing football, and oil is getting changed.
The following also goes with a crisp fall day:
Friday, November 9, 2012
Friday already, and almost a frost here into November. We used to have the first frost in early October. Warn't so long back neither. It's another big music weekend for us'n. We'll leave the Houds to their own devices for a good chunk of tomorrow and return to busted open bags of catfood and broken crockery on early Sunday morning, most likely. They've already managed to toss a bucket of sheet rock putty off the loft. They are capable of anything. They might even open a door and get the hell out into the night. Hopefully they'll mostly just sleep and eat, and oh yeah, poop, till we get back.
I'm finding the concern in progressive quarters about the utter failure of Republican prognosticators to predict the election's outcome of some interest. I think it's genuine, this concern, and addresses a deep national problem. Oh it's easy to laugh at them in their moment of despair and failure. There's a whole website of pictures of shocked Republicans in the moment when Romney's loss was mostly admitted. It's funny. And it's funny, some of the details. I like the part where Romney's staff found their credit cards canceled within seconds of the End. They might have seen that coming. It was predictable from much that he said.
But it's actually a pretty bad thing for our country that so many are living with seriously false perceptions. It's no wonder there's so much hate, and so little constructive work achieved. Maybe the problem was captured in the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. It was an utter misreading of reality that got him killed, and his murderer is now stuck in a trial that will probably lead to some years in prison, and a stunted life. It was all so unnecessary.
Just like all the hate and ill will coming from Republicans generally. And it continues. Meanwhile, the country actually needs all of its citizens. There is a lot to do and deal with in the next few years. People who call themselves Republicans can't get much of anything done as long as they think our President is an alien Marxist. It's a wonder they can get to the store, or spend their social security checks. The first thing they might want to do is stop listening to Limbaugh.
Will they? Well, this is what's getting said by allegedly serious prognosticators of the Right, three days in:
[photo found at http://whitepeoplemourningromney.tumblr.com/ ]
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Sometime in the middle of Tuesday night, long after I'd retired, Libby woke me up to tell me that Chris Matthews had just said that Obama owed his victory to Hurricane Sandy. There was shock and consternation amongst his fellow panalists at MSNBC, she said. I was sorry to hear that Matthews had made another of his fairly frequent gaffs, but I didn't let it wake me up.
Last night, Bill O'Reilly used a clip of Matthews' remark on the hurricane as the lynchpin of his "analysis" of Obama's victory. For the Republican punditry, of course, the goal is to "prove" that Mr. Obama won nothing except the office. There is no mandate, no sense of America wanting some better course, much less the idea that the 19th Century reactionary dream world that the entire Republican Party now strives and yearns for is not at all the goal of most Americans.
Last night Mr. Matthews looked somewhat ashen as he apologized for his gaff. "I was too much in the political moment," he said. "It wasn't that I was tired, I just wasn't thinking." It was a decent apology, and surely it is to be accepted. Matthews, for all his exasperating moments, has a place in the show. But it would be a good idea to understand what was really wrong about what he said.
It was not about hurting storm victims' feelings or sensibilities. Not that one shouldn't be sensitive to those feelings and sensitivities. Not that a news/opinion shop that aims to remain anchored in reality (unlike Fox) shouldn't be sensitive. But the problem with Matthews' remark about Hurricane Sandy was, it gives weight to the already burgeoning right-wing narrative. Now Mr. O'Reilly can truthfully point out that even Chris Matthews agrees with him.
Coming on the very moment Mr. Obama was declared the winner of this arcane house-of-mirrors thing we call an "election," Mr. Matthews gave an understanding of the moment which undercuts its importance and diminishes it's scope to little more than a personal milestone in the glittering success story that is Barack Obama's life. But this isn't true. The primary importance of Barack Obama's reelection is that it gives America some small hope of escaping the tentacles of big monied interests, of returning to some degree to a more rational understanding of the country and the world, to a development of Federal policies attune to the lives of real people, both here and everywhere in the world.
Such policies are harder and harder to achieve. They are anathema to the forces that entirely control the Republican Party, and these same forces control far too much of the Democratic Party as well. The worst thing a liberal voice could do, on Tuesday night, was to contribute to the false narrative, to essentially join hands with the neanderthals. Certainly Matthews didn't develop his "point" into the purple regions of Matalin and Limbaugh. (Check out the oft quoted Matalin rant at National Review if you've a steady stomach; Limbaugh is so bent on a return to chauvinism that it really does raise legitimate questions about his personal psychology in regard to women, and this tends to obscure his usual role in the conservative reconstruction of obvious realities.) But Matthews didn't need to do the developing. There were others a plenty for that effort.
No, Matthews was ashen-faced yesterday, during his apology, because he was twisting in the wind. And the question had to be raised, at least in the minds of his fellows at MSNBC. Whose side is this guy really on? And that would be a problem for a golden boy. Just look at poor Juan Williams.
By the way, at Huffington Post, from whence the photo of Mr. Williams was perloined, there was an adjoining headline noting that Fox News ignored Hurricane Sandy in favor of constant puffery on their Benghazi narrative, which they aim no doubt to inflate into impeachment proceedings if at all possible. Mr. Matthews succeeded at the least in reminding Fox that the Hurricane is also a player.
[photo from Huffington Post]
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I went to bed early last night, after watching the first bit of Fassbinder's Lola, which we'd recorded from a TCM premier airing at 2 am Monday morning. It looks as good as I expected, but my eyes were tired and amidst the edgy evening of continuous speculation about the various outcomes in the various states, based in some cases on 3.7% of the returns, it was hard to really engage with subtitles enough. My head hurt. I've lately been blown away by Fassbinder, the young German director genius who died mixing cocaine and sleeping pills while writing his next film script, his 43rd or so in a mere 15 years. After viewing Merchant of Four Seasons last week I ordered up several more from Netflix, and then TCM musta read my mind or something, and ran Lola, one I hadn't ordered.
Everyone ought to watch Merchant of Four Seasons. At least if you grew up in a family, and are adult enough to look beneath the placid surface at the sharks that swim below. That's what Merchant is about: being in a family chock full of Republicans. In Hans' clan there's one Democrat, the beautiful Hanna Schygulla, born the same year as I was it turns out. She's Hans' younger sister, a writer who sees the sharks that are consuming Hans, one piece at a time.
(This is Hanna in Fassbinder's Lili Marleen, ten years after Merchant.)
We're living in times that might benefit from Bertolt Brecht, or an American equivalent. We're living in times that might benefit from a more educated electorate, a body of voters who can at least glimpse the sharks swimming just below the surface. Over at Vdare, a racist website I wouldn't recommend with a ten foot pole in hand, noted commentator and former Nixon consultant and Presidential candidate Pat Buchannan now plies his racist agenda. He recommends that impeachment proceedings begin against President Obama in the Spring of '13. Hey, it worked (sorta) for Newt and the GOP back in the '90s, and now that genii is out of the box, just another political tool when it was once reserved for only the most serious offenses. I won't be surprised if it happens again. It's so easy to encourage and enflame the old lizard brain, the fearful region that sees only us and them as the great dichotomy that explains the chaos, the blooming buzzing confusion that is in fact where we always are. Joy or fear. It's easy to start fearing joy. Then you're on the slide, my dear friends, and you end up being an election official in Florida, setting things up to run out of ballots in black districts at 11 am on election day. How convenient. I mean, that Guantanamo brig is so close to Florida. I know a guy with a boat, Mr. President, Sir.
Last night we just missed an asteroid. I think I'll leave my Obama yard poster up for a few more days. Hell Yeah!
Saturday, November 3, 2012
This short piece by Juan Cole states exactly what I have suspected must be the truth about the Bengazi events of September:
It's by no means the first time that Republicans have played politics with real lives. Only a few years back Vice-President Dick Cheney ordered his aide, Scooter Libby, to execute some payback against Valerie Plame, then a covert CIA agent doing serious work in the field of nuclear proliferation, because her husband was viewed as a political problem for the Bush regime. By the time it took to even get Libby to trial, events had quite passed by the lies the Bush Administration had cooked up to get us into the Iraq War. People forget. It's a human problem. Libby got off with a relative slap on the wrist. He stood up for his boss, who still struts around rattling sabres between trips to the ER to fluff his heart. Nixon, of course, left office in some disgrace, but was refurbished eventually into an "elder statesman." And indeed, compared to the Republicans we now must endure, Nixon was in many ways an intellectual and a liberal. Susan Eisenhower just endorsed Mr. Obama, as has Mr. General Powell, sir, and Mayor Bloomberg.
It has become the expected truth that political crimes are not viewed these days as crimes at all. And indeed, as a liberal I am loath to take the draconian path. Henry Adams, grandson of the President I believe it was, said that they should have hung Marse Lee. That has always seemed greatly beyond the mark to me, although I didn't witness Lee's work close up and personal, as Adams must have. Still, Lee didn't start the damn Civil War, and was himself trapped by beliefs and presuppositions, a man who by heritage ought to have been President instead set against the country; a man who had he accepted Lincoln's offer would have ended the war with the first battle. Perhaps.
But on the other hand. Today we have the treasonous spectacle of a Republican Presidential Candidate being willing to meddle and outright lie in ongoing affairs of life and death merely for the sake of his own ambition--an ambition which on the face of it far outruns his actual abilities to do the job he begs us to give him. The Libyan situation is sensitive, tenuous, obviously fraught with danger. The Obama Administration has managed to maintain and even develop good relationships with a country in revolution, an Islamic country no less, a country which had been controlled for 40 or so years by a militaristic dictatorship and cult of personality as powerful as that of North Korea. Anyone--even an old stonemason and fiddler sitting on the far sidelines--can see that the United States has done a great job with a difficult and dangerous situation so far, and that the loss of our Ambassador is a major blow to our good efforts. Politicizing all this for political gain is entirely and obviously evil. Yet Romney, Ryan, Issa--not to mention the pundits who toil to muddle, mislead and inflame the electorate--do exactly this, and with no concern for any negative personal outcomes.
Can we come then to the sad conclusion of hoary sages like Gibbon? That even kindness and compassion sometime carry with them the seeds of their own destruction. Would the Republicans have gone this far had there been sterner lessons for them to ponder. Never mind hanging Nixon. Should they have hung Lee?
It's hard to know. For one thing, Mussolini's fate didn't seem to affect Mr. Berlusconi's attitude all that much. Maybe it's just this memory problem we humans suffer from. It would at any rate be sensible to pick the less treasonous Presidential candidate. That's simply following Robert's Creeley's dictum: "drive he said, fr christ's sake look out where you're going."