Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Looking Ahead

It's likely that Jeb Bush will be running for President in 2016, against Hillary Clinton. This is a strange state of affairs, but then the U.S.of A. is a pretty strange place, in many way cut off from plain common sense and reason. Who would expect representatives of the police in large American cities to act as though any criticism of the police was tantamount to calling for vigilante action against them. Just for example.

Charles Pierce wrote most of this piece a few years back, an account of the horrible politicization of a dying woman's last weeks at the hands of Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida. The account is an antidote to those who might think that the Clintons don't need another chance at power, and for those who think voting for the likes of Ralph Nader is actually a moral choice in the real world.
Read it and weep, it's all true:

Meanwhile, in the early months of 2015, we can only pray that the Supreme Court will not make a disputable academic decision which will result in several million people losing their health insurance due to their inability to pay for it.

Merry Christmas, ya'll. Here's the best song I've heard in a long time:

(You can buy the CD, it's the Austin City Limits concert of 2003.)

Since we have easily traversed the vast distance from the pig stye to the sublime in but a few paragraphs, here's a beautiful post by the best blogger out there, on the sublime:


Long ago (well, 1979 I think it might have been) the band I used to be in, that shares a name with a current local corporate entity, toured the upper peninsula of Michigan, including stops at the Calumet Opera House, and the town of Hancock. It was one of the nicest tours I've ever experienced, and I still have good friends who live up there in the "UP," and our current outfit, the Craver Hicks Watson Newberry Combo, played their great local festival, the Hiawatha Festival, in Marquette, a couple of summers back. Here's a piece of the history of the UP I found today on the tubes:

It's nice to hear Ramblin' Jack again. I first saw him play in September of 1961, in Chapel Hill. He got mad when some frat boys from UNC asked him repeatedly to play Ghost Riders in the Sky. In the late '70s I got to play on a festival venue with him, which I took as a high mark in my touring life on the road.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cuba Libre

John McCutcheon took the photo a few years ago, in Havana. I hate the idea that so many Americans think we're going to save Cuba with Walmart, and F-150s. I hate it's been such a terrible wasted 50 years for all those folks. Prisons, torture, rubber rafts and shark fins, but free medicine, great music, a sense of who they are, and that they stood up to us. All the commentators are using this phrase, "the Castro brothers." I never heard it before yesterday, now it's cache. The ESPN guys are dreaming of a major league team in Havana. Would it be all Cuban? Will Cuba now have its underclass, unable at last to afford medical care?

Obama, whatever else, has now earned his Nobel Peace Prize. Nothing is more obvious than that the American foreign policy viz Cuba of the last 50 plus years has been an utter failure. Nixon went to China and the world continued to turn.

Let's bring in 2015 with a round of Cuba Libres. Let's hope the pathetic Republican response to normalizing relations with a little island just 90 miles south of Homestead will be seen for what it is: stupid, lame, dumb as a post. Let's hope that even the Cuban Americans, or at least a majority of them, rejoice. They'll get a lot out of this. They'll get to go back home now and then.

On another subject, has no one at all wondered about the fact that Sony was once a Japanese Corporation, and that Japan has traditionally viewed Koreans as pretty much dirt under their feet. And did not anyone at all think the premise of "Interview" was just a tad undiplomatic in the real world, no matter how funny the pitch in fantasyland and tinseltown. Steve Correll is aggrieved. Tell it to Chaplin and Dalton Trumbo. They said on NPR that indeed, the leader of North Korea is assassinated in the movie, and it's supposed nontheless to be a comedy. Cue up the Zapruder reel, Charlie, and sync the laff track. It's pretty funny when Jackie can't brush the brains off her skirt, and get a load of Oswald's face when the bullet hits his guts. Fifty years ago. Hard to imagine. Eventually, Sony will make it's money. Now the film is notorious. Thus doth capitalism triumph, one way or the other.

From a link at Crooked Timber:


Saturday Update. There was quite a lot on the Sony hack and the corporate decision to cancel the release of Interview last night on the tele. Rachel Maddow did a long piece comparing the situation to the Salman Rushdie fatwah, and the author's being driven into years of seclusion. The current case is complicated. That's my point. Here's a very good piece by Marcy Wheeler on the subject:

She raises a significant point, and one others have noted as well, namely that Sony has been almost notoriously lax in its defense against hacking--hacking being a universal if unwanted feature of our modern wired universe. I'll quote one sentence on this, but the whole piece is worth a read:

Sony Corp. gets hacked a lot, more than 50 breaches in 15 years, and more than some of its rivals, including some fairly significant attacks in recent years that bear no resemblance to this attack. Maybe that’s because it did things like store all its passwords in a file called “password.”

The fact is, Sony has many alternatives to theatre release which allow it's freedom of speech to remain unfettered. The issue is not about freedom of speech, but about property rights. And as Rachel Maddow pointed out in her segment on the story last night, Obama notwithstanding, the "proof" that North Korea did the hacking is not iron-clad, at least not yet. As Maddow said, the bright trail leading to North Korea might be there for a reason.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ships in the Night

Ari Melber presented a heartfelt interview with the Cleveland Browns player who had worn a shirt, Sunday, asking for justice for the 12-year-old boy gunned down by Cleveland's finest, and for John Crawford, shot to death in a Walmart in Ohio for carrying a plastic toy gun that he was planning to buy for his kid. Then he asked a Cleveland police spokesman to respond. The officer had already strongly criticized the player for wearing the shirt.

Apparently, to the police, to ask for justice is the same thing as a lynching. The police guy also says in the interview that the police were justified in killing Tamir Rice because they acted under the impression that he was a grown-up and the weapon was real. As someone pointed out in the conversation following the interview, even following the exact orders of the police can get you shot, particularly if you're black. See, e.g., the guy in South Carolina who went into his car to get his ID at the orders of the patrolman, who then shot him when he emerged from the car with the ID. The argument supporting the police killing in the Rice case is basically stand-your-ground logic. Reality is utterly dismissed. It's all about fear. This, by the way, is exactly the logic offered by Mr. Cheney for his decisions to torture even the innocent.

The Melber/Maddow team should have connected the dots, since Maddow's lead piece was on the Sandy Hook suit against the arms manufacturer of the "Bushmaster" assault rifle. Surely one reason for the police being on a hair-trigger is the appalling proliferation of weapons in the general population--a fact which is a result of the NRA's opposition to all attempts to reduce the number of weapons in the general population. Police, for the most part, have objected over and over again to the absolutist reading of the 2nd Amendment, and have for the most part supported sensible gun regulation.

It would have been a nice follow up for Melber to ask the police spokesman about this weapons proliferation issue. Why come out of the car with weapons blazing? It doesn't justify the crime of killing the boy, but it might explain some of the fear driving the cops to shoot first.

[Note: I tried to embed the interview, but at the moment the link is not working. I'll try again later, or you can go to the Chris Hayes part of MSNBC's site and hunt it up from last night's (12/15/14) show.]

Wednesday Update: may I draw your attention to this:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Houdahenian Blow Up

Last week Libby got me up about 2 AM. Mr. Puzzle, the king dawg cat, was growling at the others. They were all in the kitchen, where Libby was reading. When Puzzle growls it's a pretty sure sign he has caught a mouse. What he likes to do is play with it. He does not like his bothers getting in on the fun, and since they are equally attracted to the mouse, he stands his ground and growls. It's a kind of standoff, really. They can't take the mouse away from him, but he can't drop it either, and see if it runs or not.

I went in the kitchen and there was the described scene. I went over to Puzzle and tried to take the mouse, but he wouldn't let go and growled louder. I don't think he'd bite me, but still. It's a fairly fierce growl. I tried a few more times. He got tired of it and went back behind a set of shelves, still growling and with the mouse. I couldn't reach him, so I left him alone for a while. When I came back he was back in the middle of the floor again, circled by the others. This time when I got close he dropped the mouse. The mouse revived and ran off under the refrigerator. They all gathered around the refrigerator. I went back to bed. Mouse or no mouse, I had to get up about 5:30 for work. I hoped the critter wouldn't die under the fridge. These things have happened. A dead mouse, after a time, is not a happy thought.

When I got up, all the boys were in the living room. Puzzle was in the middle, mouse in mouth, growling. Apparently he'd either gotten the mouse out, or the mouse had come out on its own. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and throw water on my face. When I came out and into the kitchen, Kirby, the little yellow step-brother who we'd rescued last year, was sitting by the mouse. The mouse had passed away. Kirby let me pick it up and I took it outside and tossed it into the woods. None of the Houdahenians actually saw me do this. Kirby was looking all around, thinking the mouse had taken it on the lam again. While I had breakfast, they all searched the kitchen. By late afternoon, when I came back from work, they seemed to have given it up. Puzzle jumped into my lap as I sat by the woodstove, as he does every evening. He stretched himself out, full length, along my legs, which were propped up almost horizontally on a stool. He stretched his front paws, which have very sharp claws, against my jeans, just barely missing my exposed ankles. He went to sleep that way.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

No "Credible" Person

Strange to use two football photos in less than a week on here, and I tend to think the NFL is so corrupt it probably ought to go away. Nonetheless, I draw attention to the ongoing clamor to anoint the late Ferguson Grand Jury result with the olympian flavor of received truth. Now, everywhere we look, no "credible" person believes Mr. Wilson, late of the Ferguson PD, was guilty of anything. For most of the same "credible" folks, Mr. Brown was guilty of pretty much everything. Thus doth the circle close.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the receiving corps of the Saint Louis Rams made a small show of solidarity with those folks who are still doubting the Authoritative Voice from on high. The fellers didn't boycott the game, they just raised their hands. They were nontheless booed. Then the St. Louis police got into it. As with other voices of authority, they opined that credible people support Wilson's innocence. Moreover, who does the NFL support--the paying customers, or the "thugs." It's the Romney line, in D major.

I'll give the NFL some credit, if it lasts. They have not given in to calls that the Rams' receiving corps be "disciplined." The whole point of the players' exercise in free speech was to raise questions, to resist this blanket of faux "credibility" descending over the whole landscape. It's a tough job these days. Whole tv networks are devoted to silencing all criticism of unbridled police authority. Anyone who objects simply is cast out, into the land of the non-credible. As Mr. Rumsfeld made a point of remarking on many occasions, there will always be someone who disagrees. It's the perfect answer. It demolishes all complaint and criticism, when coupled with enough social leverage. You think you're eyes are credible? Try saying that at some dinner party where everyone has already had plenty of the koolaid. You'll be lucky to keep even one eye working.

This is how it works in the so-called land of the free. In our state they're considering whether to start teaching American History without the usual "heros," and with some eye to the well-known and highly documented atrocities which embellish our history, start to now. Perhaps there'll be a day devoted to the Matewan massacre, or to the Flint riots, or to Gastonia. Perhaps someone will at least note that in the Founders' way of looking at things, for all that folderol about freedom, black people counted as 3/5ths of a person. Maybe in a few classes, though that might be a vain hope on my part, it might even be noted that even today, in NC, black folks count about 3/5ths. After all, more people in NC voted for Democrats in past November's election, yet we got more Republican congressmen. Strange math. Credible folks say shut the F up. Since the credible folks run our state, I'll be pretty amazed if this very sensible revamp of our public school history curricula gets beyond the in-house committee. Tom Tillis will be on the case and that'll be that. Robert E. Lee and George Washington and George Washington Carver, that's the ticket.

Thanks to the NFL, and to the Rams, last Sunday. It is for the moment marginally harder to generate the fog and make it stick.

Tuesday Night Update: Fox bought out the "big guns" last night, in their continuing effort to discredit any and all persons protesting the police treatment of Michael Brown: Allen West. Here's West's own record:

I was pleased to hear Chris Hayes clarify the obvious fact--the Wilson grand jury's decision did not prove anything at all about the question of whether Brown's hands were raised when he received the fatal wound from Wilson. The grand jury's decision was that it couldn't make a decision. It was led to that position by the prosecutor.

Meanwhile, the other MSNBC Chris is pretty much campaigning for Jeb Bush for President now. "Jeb will bring the country together," Matthews said. Where's my eye roll key?