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Andrew Jackson and Fidel Castro

May 3, 2017 2 comments

I have been reading newspaper accounts of January 1959–refreshing my memory, not of the events, just their sequence–of the time when Fidel Castro gained power. There were lots of things that had to align just right for Fidel to succeed and for Batista to sneak away in the dead of night and it occurred to me that Fidel would have had no chance if Andrew Jackson had been president (instead of that wishy-washy Eisenhower who knew nothing of making war) Apparently Andrew Jackson was mad as hell when Castro won.

Zombies and vampires and the end of time, oh my!

April 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Some movie genres don’t connect with me. Zombies, vampires and evil geniuses intent on destroying Earth have never scared me because they aren’t real. End-time and post apocalyptic movies have never done much for me either. Jaws, on the other hand, scared the hell out of me; sharks exist and have been known to munch on people.
Nowadays I’m witnessing an evil entity—an asshole, clever albeit far from genius, but definitely evil—whose unwitting purpose seems to be precisely that, a global catastrophe of war and ecological devastation.
The most stunning aspects of this evil, amoral man are two-fold: a complete lack of ideology and his unique motivation, a narcissism so dominant, so overwhelming, it requires him to succeed, no matter the cost. He will trample everything in his path because he lacks empathy, he will foresee neither danger nor downside because he lacks intellectual curiosity, and he will neither perceive nor admit defeat because he lives within his own, gilded reality.
Contemplating the looming possibility of the apocalypse gives rise to other fears; if the rise to power of such a man is possible, can zombies and vampires be far behind?

Who needs a wall?

November 19, 2016 Leave a comment

If we really wanted to stop illegal immigration, we wouldn’t need a wall. If we really wanted the unknowable millions of illegals to return home, we wouldn’t need to round ‘em up.
All Congress would need to do is pass a law that jails those who employ illegals. Those employers would be fined—which would help balance the budget and reduce the national debt—but they would have to serve time. First offense: one year. And I don’t mean the lowly foreman. I mean everyone up the line to the top. It’s high time for CEOs to stop ‘taking responsibility’ while claiming no knowledge and suffering no consequences. [There might be a temporary building boom owing to the many new prisons needed]
We need not be draconian about it. Our wise Congress would surely include a provision to issue permits to allow the hiring of some illegals to, for instance, harvest tomatoes. [Or build new prisons] But to make sure illegals aren’t taking jobs away from hard working Americans, those workers would, by law, be paid at least minimum wage.
You may argue such a law would add yet another interfering governmental agency. Not at all. We could re-purpose immigration agents currently employed in keeping ‘em out, because no one would be coming in.
It could be that easy, if our government officials were really interested in addressing illegal immigration. And if the people that hire undocumented workers were equally interested. Once Congress passes such a law, we could sit back on our easy chairs, sipping (add your beverage of choice) and watch those many million unfortunate people return home. Keep in mind, though, we would be also watching the collapse of the US economy.

What scares white males?

September 29, 2016 3 comments

Eight years ago we elected our first black president. In a few weeks we are likely to elect our first female president. Rather than these been seen as great steps forward, they have given rise to fears, primarily among white males. I have been struggling with this, trying to understand what is so scary to my fellow white males.

I may have found an answer. According to Lynn Saxon in her book “Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn,” in some deep sea angler fish species, only the female becomes a full adult.

I am sure she doesn’t mean to imply that all males or only males remain childish. After all, quite a few women don’t believe a woman should be elected president.

But it can get scarier than that. Apparently Charles Darwin (as reported by Ms. Saxton) found in some barnacle species “a number of dwarf males inside the female.” Even worse, the female had two little pockets, in each of which she kept a little husband. The troubling issue of size was first brought up by Marco (‘little Marco’) Rubio and it must concern not only Donald (‘tiny hands’) Trump, but many of his white, male supporters as well.

And if that isn’t demeaning enough, consider the male redback spider, who intentionally flips his body into a position above the jaws of the female in order to be eaten during mating.

I don’t know how much of a difference there is between a redneck and a redback spider. I’d guess less than the difference between a redback and a wetback.

The final insult may be offered by honeybees in their nuptial flight, once more, according to Ms. Saxton. “When a successful male mates with the queen: his ‘endophallus’ explodes to become a copulatory plug inside her and he drops dead. Why? It is a strategy to prevent other males from mating with the queen but for that privilege he loses both his phallus and his life. What’s more, the queen is able to pop out the copulatory plug and to mate again anyway.”

Am I going insane? Someone is.

June 21, 2016 2 comments

There is an old joke–all my jokes are old–about a man about to marry into a Baptist family. [I think it would work almost as well if the man would be marrying into an orthodox Jewish family.] The man asks the cleric about dos and don’ts.
Dancing is a no-no, he is told, but sex is okay.
“Really?” the man asks, surprised.
“Absolutely.”
“Any sex.”
“Yes.”
“In the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the kitchen?”
“Yes, yes and yes.”
“Indoors and out?”
“Yes.”
“Standing up?”
“Uh, no, that might look like dancing.”
Sadly it reminds me of the Republican, right wing stance on terrorism and assault weapons. “We are waging a war against terrorism. We must,” they say, “kill ’em all. Bomb them back to the stone age, hunt them wherever they hide, pursue them to the ends of the earth, do everything we can, whatever it takes, even if we kill a few innocents, even if we have to snoop on Americans, or on leaders of friendly countries, do whatever you can, even if it means hacking away their money, blowing away their resources and weapon caches.”
“How about stopping them from buying assault weapons in the USA?
“Uh, no, that might look like dancing.”

How about Hillary as the GOP candidate?

March 3, 2016 1 comment

I haven’t always been a Hillary Clinton fan but I’d like to propose that the GOP nominate her for the presidency.
There are three arguments in favor of this action.
(A) Neither of the three top Republican candidates are qualified to be president. Not even close. Only Kasich, who is running a distant fourth, could pass a presidential qualification test. By the way, Congress should consider instituting such a test to avoid current and past embarrassments: Sara Palin? Barack Obama elected after a two-year, part-time stint as a US Senator? The presidency shouldn’t be an on-the-job training center. (See Cruz, Rubio)
(B) Hillary Clinton is not only qualified and experienced, she has been tested. She has endured and survived relentless unwarranted attacks, not for months or years, but for decades. Starting when Bill ran for president and she was accused of being a feminazi, followed by attacks on her hair, her figure, her laugh, her pant suits, her supposedly being a lesbian (not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say) and on and on. She was even attacked because her husband cheated on her. She wasn’t being attacked for her beliefs but for being a woman. No wonder she has become guarded and secretive.
A double nomination would not only restore our credibility and prestige in the world, it would lead to a functioning government, where members of both parties stop carping at one another and get down to their job: crafting the laws needed for the common good of our once, and still, great nation. And finally, (C) It would be such great fun.

We are a ‘great nation’ but, are things getting better?

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

I came across some interesting bits about the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.

One black speaker, Robert Russa Moton, the son of former slaves and president of the Tuskegee Institute, was invited to deliver an opening address. He was a late addition to the program, once the commissioners realized their failure to include even one African-American at the dedication.

Though a safe choice—he espoused Booker T. Washington’s conservative vision of race relations—Chief Justice [and former president] Taft and the Memorial Commission were worried about what Moton might say and asked to vet his speech. Moton was asked to delete a quarter of his speech including a Lincoln quote that ‘this nation cannot endure half slave and half free: it will become all one thing or all the other.’ Moton also agreed to delete, ‘With equal truth, it can be said today: no more can the nation endure half privileged and half repressed; half educated and half uneducated; half protected and half unprotected; half prosperous and half in poverty; half in health and half in sickness; half content and half in discontent; yes, half free and half yet in bondage.’

What Moton was prevented from stating ninety four years ago seems even more relevant today, particularly as we endure the current presidential election cycle.

By the way, the few African-Americans invited, got to watch and hear the dedication from the roped-off, segregated ‘colored’ section.

All this was gleaned from “Washington: A History of Our National City” by Tom Lewis.