Sunday, December 20, 2015

'Round Midnight

'Round Midnight by Debra Hurd
Science calls it Seasonal Affective Disorder, that tendency towards wistfulness we can get this time of year. The days have gotten shorter and darker and so can our moods.

There is a reason the somber "White Christmas" is way more popular than "Holly Jolly Christmas." (Note to young folk: "White Christmas" refers to the fact that in prior years it would snow in winter over much of North America.)

In 1941, Thelonious Monk penned a song that has become a jazz standard, some say he wrote it as early as 1936 at the age of 19. "Round Midnight" has been recorded and embellished by countless jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald.

My favorite version was recorded by Linda Ronstadt with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. And, yes, I've had a crush on her for decades.

Indulge the wistful.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Is Vlad Putin a Vampire?

A series of photos have been discovered that suggest that Vladimir Putin is ageless.
According to his official bio, Putin was born in 1952 but, there he is serving in the Russian military decades before his birth.

Putin first appears in 1975 as a fully grown adult working in the KGB division responsibility for falsifying identities. His supervisors described him as having a "lowered sense of danger," as if he knew he was immortal.

This photo shows Putin in his KGB uniform looking exactly the same as he does now except for having a little more hair. His physical prowess is said to be superhuman. He killed a grizzly bear two years ago with his bare hand using the "force of a thousand men." Russia expert Sarah Palin says that Putin wrestles bears for fun.

Earlier this year, at the age of 63, he scored seven goals in a hockey game against former NHL players, a feat not even the great Wayne Gretzky accomplished in his prime.

The rumors aren't just that Putin is a vampire. He might even be The vampire, the real Dracula. They share the same first name, Vlad, and in Cyrillic lettering and allowing for the strange Slavic dialect of 15th century Transylvania, Putin is an anagram of Tepes (I don't have any actual proof of that but you can't prove me wrong).

Tepes had a large Roman nose while Putin's is rather petite, but plastic surgery was invented in the first century AD so he had plenty of time to get a nose job. They both have a notable dimple in their chin.

Putin's endorsement of Donald Trump proves Trump is not a werewolf, which I guess is a good thing. But Trump is known to associate with vampires so Putin's endorsement proves Trump is under the thrall of a vampire or a bloodsucking fiend himself, which is probably a bad thing.
The telltale signs of vampire enthrallment are weird hair and bizarre behavior. Trump is suspected of eating millions of spiders a day, and Trump's hair makes Renfield look normal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

More Christmas Traditions

Yes, I know there was a Republican debate filled with fear mongering, war mongering, and the extermination of "thousands of children." Not going to let it dim my holiday spirits.

Christmas Trees
What's Christmas without murdering some helpless conifer, hauling it inside, and dressing the corpse in lights and tinsel? (Sorry, still a little bummed about that debate.)

The Christmas tree is pagan, of course. Germanic pagans understood that woodland fairies got cold in winter just like everyone else. They would bring inside pine boughs so the sprites would have a comfy warm place to winter. In return, the fairies would give the family good luck the rest of the year.

Don't osculate under the tree parasite with anyone else but me. In Norse mythology the mistletoe was sacred to the goddess Frigga. Frigga feared for the life of her son, Baldar the god of the summer sun, and got pledges from all the plants and animals on earth to protect him. But she had neglected the lowly mistletoe. Loki snatched a sprig of the plant and fashioned it into an arrowhead which killed Baldar.

Frigga cried over her child, her tears becoming mistletoe's white berries, until he was resurrected. She then decreed that all who meet under the mistletoe should show no harm and kiss each other in greeting.

Wassailing began in the Celtic tradition of drinking toasts to fruit trees to make them happy and insure a bountiful harvest. It merged with Nordic caroling into an English tradition of door-to-door singing followed by a demand for fruity goodies like figgy pudding and cider or ale.

Christmas Pickle
I didn't know this was a thing but, hey, I love a good kosher dill.

In the 1880's, Woolworth department store sold a line of glass fruit and vegetable ornaments imported from Germany. The pickles were not moving because they were ugly, bumpy, kinda phallic looking. Woolworth had a stockpile of unpopular pickle ornaments.

Some advertising genius publicized the story that in Germany the pickle ornament was the last one put on the tree and a special present was set aside for the first child to find it. Utter poppycock but people flocked to the stores to buy their Christmas pickles and a new tradition was born.

Candy Canes
There is a fascinating story that the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral in 1670 was looking for a way to keep the children quiet during his interminable liturgical services. He went to a confectioner and asked him to put a curve in peppermint sticks to symbolize the shepherd's staff.

Another story is that an American candy maker around 1900 wanted to make a religious treat. His candy would look like a shepherd's staff but if you turn it around the hook becomes a J for Jesus. The white in the cane symbolized Christ's purity while the red symbolized the blood of His scourging at the crucifixion.

Both stories have no actual historical support. Peppermint sticks have been around for centuries. The hook was probably added as a seasonal marketing tool to make it easier to hang the treats on a tree. Just like marshmallow peeps have no religious significance.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Traditions

For the remainder of the Christmas season I am boycotting politics (unless Donald Trump get even more outrageous) and will think atheistically happy thoughts. The English language has a staggering array of words for the winter solstice season and traditions.

Yule comes from the Norse word jol, and like much of northern European religious celebrations has a pagan origin. The Norse jol celebrated the passing of the winter solstice and the slow return of daylight to the cold north.

It was a 12 day celebration and the source for the Twelve Days of Christmas tradition that is inexplicable under the Catholic calendar. There was drinking, feasting, and probably more than a little whoring.

No one knows the exact origin of the Yule Log but it probably came from the tradition of lighting a fire to keep warm. Sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one.

Another pagan Norse tradition cleaved onto a Middle Eastern religion. The jol celebrations included songs sung to Thor and Sunna, the Sun goddess. Early Christians worked tirelessly to replace the joyful Norse tunes with turgid Latin hymns. In 17th century England the humorless evangelicals of their day, the Puritans, banned the singing of carols along with any other Christmas celebrations. Caroling went underground, whispered in the privacy of home and hearth, until those fun loving Victorians made wandering minstrel shows of carol singing.

Boxing Day
Traditionally a day when employers give their employees gifts in celebration of the season. This is basically a British concept that, in the United States, is considered by bosses an obscenely evil act of generosity tantamount to theft of millionaire property.

In recent years, influenced by American businesses, Boxing Day has been turned into a Black Friday-like shopping day when low income workers are encouraged to go into staggering debt buying useless garbage to the greater profit of their bosses.

Nativity Creche
The first nativity scene was made by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. He was holding a Midnight Mass in the Italian town of Greccio and wanted an attraction to boost attendance. He gathered a few farm animals and put a actual baby in a feeding trough filled with hay and a Christmas tradition was born.

Wander most neighborhoods in America and you will find all sorts of nativity scenes - religious themed, cartoon character themed, serious representations and comic displays. In Sycamore, Ohio, a man designed a front yard nativity where the shepherds and and wise men were skeletal wraiths and baby Jesus was a demonic child. The local government has declared the creche a "zoning violation" even though similar but more reverent depictions are given a pass. He is being fined $500 a day for his blasphemy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The American Circus of Lunacy

The British have the Monster Raving Loony Party, we have Republicans.

Cruz Courage Failure
In a small, private meeting, just Ted Cruz and a few of his millionaire investors, Cruz tentatively questioned Donald Trump's judgement. The statement got out and Trump challenged Cruz to say publicly what he was whispering in private to his "bosses." Cruz, with the craven obsequiousness for which he is justly famous, immediately kowtowed and twitted, "Donald Trump is terrific."

Carson Will Bolt the Party If Trump Isn't Nominated
Republican leaders are musing about managing a brokered convention to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the party's leader. Ben Carson is having none of it. He is threatening to leave if party leaders use the delegate process to keep Trump from getting a majority of the convention delegates. In other words, if politicians use politics to influence a political party Carson will throw a tantrum.

Romney's White Horse
It is an LDS article of faith that should the US Constitution be hanging by a thread a Mormon leader will rise up at the last moment to save the nation. A growing theory is that, in a brokered convention, Mitt Romney will be selected by the delegates to save the nation from the joint threat of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. With neither money nor organization, Romney will ride to the rescue in a historic election.

'If Cruz Is Elected I'm Going to Canada'
An opinion that is showing up on many comment boards is if Ted Cruz becomes president people will seek asylum in Canada. It may not work. In 1938, the foreign born leader of Germany forced the country of his birth to join his greater German Empire. Jews who sought asylum in Austria didn't do well.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

More Frightening Than Trump

It is no longer Godwin Lawish to point out that Donald Trump is preaching a neo-Nazi brand of Republicanism that is resonating with substantial portion of the party.
We use to think Trump and Carson were funny. In the words of a 1943 American propaganda film...
When we saw these people [on the news] quite often we laughed. To us they seemed like characters in a musical comedy. But they weren't comic, they weren't funny, there were deadly serious. ~ Why We Fight
But more frightening than Trump, who I've likened to the popinjay dictator Mussolini, is the horror lurking in the shadows - Ted Cruz.

Whenever Trump promoted some ethnic cleansing of America, Cruz refuse to denounce it. Rather he offers finely nuanced support. In response to Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country for any reason Cruz said, "I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America's attention on the need to secure our borders." Cruz went on to imply he would do things differently.

No denouncement from Cruz for the most obscene policy position uttered by a presidential candidate since George Wallace. Just sly support followed by a subtle suggestion that Cruz be more efficient at the cleansing.

While the Trump barge breaks water, Cruz follows calmly in his wake. Cruz expects, in time, to pick up Trump's StormFront supporters and merge them with Carson's evangelicals into a coalition of racial and religious hate that will propel him to the White House. Ted Cruz is more frightening than Donald Trump. He is a kinder and gentler fascist who, if elected, will do unimaginable violence to both the concept of democracy and to the many enemies of the state (liberals, atheists, intellectuals, gays, Muslims) he sees surrounding him.

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Rage of Xenophobic Nativists

On May 15, 1972, I was talking to a college professor about the news that someone, then unknown to us, had attempted to assassinate segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace. She said that she prayed the shooter wasn't black because the backlash against all African-Americans and the civil rights movement would be devastating. Wallace at the time was running second to George McGovern in the Democratic primary race.

Fortunately, the shooter was a whiter than white lunatic named Arthur Bremer who had wanted to kill someone to prove his questionable manhood.

There will be no such check following San Bernadino on the rage of xenophobic nativists being fueled by the hate rhetoric of the leaders of the Republican presidential race. I've noticed two things while browsing right-wing opinion.
Collective Guilt - There is a growing belief that all Muslims are guilty of the acts of two individuals. Anti-Muslim hate crimes have skyrocketed in Europe since the Paris attacks and will blossom like an obscene flower in the US.

Guns Are an "Inalienable Right" - Any effort to keep military style weapons out of the hands of potential extremists will be opposed by the NRA and by the same people who would force all Muslims to register themselves. AR-15s are being spoken of with a holy reverence that I have never heard before. Semi-automatic weapons have reached the level of religious sacraments for many Americans who worship guns now before God.

Trump and Cruz will likely see another bump in their poll numbers in the coming days. Harassment of women wearing hijabs will increase. Bomb and death threats against mosques and Muslims have already spiked. Actual physical attacks will probably follow. If we are lucky we will not see actual pogroms in Muslim communities but that is possible in states like Texas where gun worshiping nativists abound.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

San Bernadino

I sit here watching coverage of the latest mass shooting, reading blogs (several commenters at right-wing Hotair described the massacre as "the cost of freedom"). One lone gunman or three concerted terrorists. The softest of soft targets, a facility treating developmentally disabled people.

You may have noticed a lack of verbs in those sentences. There are no verbs to describe the horror. Only adjectives.

My Political Refuge

I was going to write about presidential odds (Cruz and Rubio are 3 to 1, Trump is 5 to 1, everyone else double digits) But I just don't care. This is the time every election cycle I am grateful to not live in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Actually, there are lots of reason I'm glad to not live in Iowa where the most popular pastimes are meth addiction and cow tipping.
What passes for a tourist attraction in Iowa.
But most pleasing is, unlike Iowans, I don't have candidate advocates descending like locusts whenever I step out the door.

As for New Hampshire, a winter cold snap in Southern California is three consecutive days when no one is wearing shorts and a tank top, so there's that. But mostly I am happy that I can sit down in a diner and not have some stranger running for president trying to get his picture taken with me like I'm some sort of celebrity.

I do pay for living in SoCal - literally, the cost of living is freaking high. Then there is the need to measure out my bath water with a thimble and constantly wondering if I can afford to flush the toilet this week. And don't get me talking about the football team.

Still, living in a True Blue state with a late primary (June 7) means I can pretend the presidential nominating process is happening in some crazy foreign land where illegally entering the country is punished by summary execution.

It'll get real soon enough but give me my winter refuge.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Police Killings Continue

The death of Officer Garrett Swasey in Colorado Springs is ample proof that many officers risk their lives daily to protect the public. Unfortunately, there are some police officers, ill-trained and too quick to anger or panic, who are putting the public at daily risk. Eighty-four people were killed by police officers across the United States in November.
Jeremy Mardis was shot multiple times by police on Nov. 3.

Six year-old Jeremy Mardis was killed when police unloaded a hail of bullets into the car holding Jeremy and his father. At least eighteen bullets were fired into the car, five struck the child, killing him instantly, while two bullets hit his father. Given that the smaller target was hit more frequently, I suspect the officers were firing into the passenger side of the car. According to reports, the father was holding his arms up the the universal sign of surrender when the barrage began.

The killing took place in the small central Louisiana town of Marksville. Marksville strikes me as one of those frightening Southern towns that are a cross between Mayberry and Touch of Evil. Allegedly, officers there assaulted someone on the street in July because he was an outsider, "definitely not a local boy." The city marshal is an elected position allegedly belonging to a school bus driver with no law enforcement training who, apparently, is running a speed trap scam.

Two of the four officers involved have been charged with murder.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

America: One of the Most Violent Nations on Earth

On Monday, I visited my doctor (thanks Obamacare) to make sure my inoculations were up to date for a bucket list trip to Israel next Spring. My doctor's first question was, "Aren't you afraid of all the violence?"

My answer was the same as every other time I've been asked that question since I first considered the trip. I am far more likely to meet a violent end in the United States than any other civilized country. The per capita murder rate in the US is five times higher than Israel.

Following the terrorist attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood building by a white, middle-age wacko, President Obama said, "We can’t let it become normal." I'm sorry, but mass killings in the US are the norm. Nearly every day in the country there is a incident where at least four people are killed or wounded in a gun attack.

So, no I'm not at all afraid of visiting Israel. I am a little afraid about coming home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Parable for Our Times

In 1943 Walt Disney turned a 100 year-old fairy tale, "The Remarkable Story of Chicken Little" into a cartoon short. He choose to underplay the fascism reference so it is a useful story for our Trumpism times.

Quotes from the book:
Foxy Loxy reads from a Psychology book. The quotes are drawn from Mein Kampf.
  • To influence the masses, aim first at the least intelligent.
  • If you tell a lie don't tell a little one, tell a big one.
  • Undermine the faith of the masses in their leaders.
  • By the use of flattery insignificant people can be made to look upon themselves as born leaders.
My question, is Donald Trump Foxy Loxy or Chicken Little?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Initial Thought on the Turks Shooting Down a Russian Jet

This is the list of candidates who have advocated shooting down Russian planes in Syria.

Jeb Bush - "We need to have no fly zones. The argument is, well we’ll get into the conflict with Russia, maybe Russia shouldn’t want to be in conflict with us."

Ben Carson -  "We need to stand our ground with the airspace. I would establish a no-fly zone along the border with Turkey. In no way would I back off."

Hillary Clinton - "I personally would be advocating now for a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors to try to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air."

Chris Christie - "My first phone call would be to Vladimir, and I’d say to him, listen, we’re enforcing this no-fly zone. And I mean we’re enforcing it against anyone, including you."

Carly Fiorina - "This is a tricky maneuver, it’s a dangerous maneuver, but it’s a maneuver that we must undertake. The Russians do not get to move into the Middle East and become the dominant outside power."

Lindsey Graham - "I don’t know if there’s anybody left to train, but a no-fly zone would be a great relief to the Syrian people."

John Kasich - "You enter that no-fly zone, you enter at your own peril. No more red lines, no more looking the other way. If any hostile aircraft should enter that, there will be a great consequence to them."

Marco Rubio - "The United States should work with our allies, both Arab and European, to impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria."

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Test of Courage

Trump went there. "Absolutely" would he establish a database of American Muslims.
On January 21, 2016 President Donald Trump will issue an executive order requiring all Muslims or people with at least one-quarter Muslim heritage to report to their local post office and be registered with the federal government.

Here is your test. Would you go too? Christian, Jew, Buddhist, atheist - would you register along side your friends and neighbors? This is no idle act. Quite literally, it would put your lives, fortunes, and sacred honor at risk. I don't know that I would have that kind of courage. I like to think I would but there would be genuine fear once Trump's Thugs inevitably are given the registry.

But, yielding to the fear would only postpone the same result. In the eyes of Trump's Party, I am also a traitor. My time will come. Trump used to be a joke. He no longer is. Trump is now a genuine threat to the very concept of Americanism.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Is Trump Going There?

"We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule." (source)

Donald Trump said that in answer to a question if he would support requiring Muslims to carry special religious identification with them and allowing warrantless searches of Muslim homes, businesses, and mosques.

I know I've violated Goodwin's Law repeatedly regarding Trump and not without reason. But this is as close to going full National Socialist as he has ever gone. What is more frightening (yes, some things frighten me) is that even the mainstream Republican National Review readers fall mostly into two camps: defending the stance as a negotiation ploy and saying it's a great idea.

I expect Ted Cruz (Trump's Mini-Me) to imply support for the concept in coming days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fear Itself

nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. ~ the rest of the sentence from FDR's famous "fear itself" speech
I am no more afraid of being killed by terrorists now than I was last week, which is to say not at all.  I am far more likely to die violently at the hands of a drunk driver. There is a tiny chance a mugger will kill me, but it is still greater than a terrorist. A nervous cop shooting me? Very unlikely but still more likely than a terrorist. A terrified concealed carry gunist popping a cap in me by mistake is improbable but more possible than a terrorist offing me.

Terrorists want to instill terror - the occasional random attack is just a means to that end. The pants pissing reaction of Republican governors and legislators is their submissively yielding to the terrorists. It is pathetic, cowardly, and shows all the emotional maturity of a three year-old screaming in horror at the sight of a birthday clown.
Actually, this makes more sense.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Great Nativist Competition

Republicans are battling each other to absurd degrees to be crowned the most intensely racist nativist and thereby win their party's nomination for President.
1903 - "The Unrestricted Dumping Ground" opposed immigration from southern and eastern Europe, calling them criminals and terrorists. Familiar?
Nativism has a long history in American politics. The target of the xenophobia changes with the times. Protestants hated Irish Catholic immigrants. Irish hated Italian and Jewish immigrants. Just about everybody hated Chinese immigrants.

Ben Carson, the only African-American in the race, has hired a notorious white supremacist to chair his Mississippi campaign. Carson has stated that Islam is inherently incompatible with the US Constitution. This is a clear echo of the 19th century Know Nothing Party accusation that Catholic immigrants would follow the Pope's orders to destroy America.

Circa 1900 - "Pauper" immigrant labor will inevitably steal food from the table of the American working man.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are two second generation Americans with Spanish surnames who are locked in a battle over who will keep more Spanish surnamed immigrants out of the country. Both use the argument that poor Mexicans are stealing the jobs of hard working Americans.

1919 - "Put them out and keep them out." Keep terrorist Europeans out of the US.
Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz both recently suggested a religious test for refugees - Christians in, Muslims out. Religious exclusions are a recurring theme in American history. The Know Nothings were anti-Catholic. The Red Scare in the 1920's excluded and even expelled Eastern European Jews suspected of socialist beliefs.

Operation Wetback was one tenth the size of the Trump deportation plan.

Donald Trump is, of course, at the top of the dung heap. Most recently he has suggest closing mosques to curtail terrorism, like that wouldn't just radicalize more people. He wants to engage in the greatest mass deportation of humanity since Nazi Germany, but do it "humanely." Even the right wing Federalist has called Trump's plan hardcore pornography for nativists.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris Terror: Winners and Losers

Wiser people than me will decided on the whys and responses to the horrible attack on Paris last night. I will look at a simpler question.

Obviously. They successfully struck back at one of the nations fighting their den of thieves and rapists. Also, they may be able to stop the depopulation of their Caliphate.

10,000 attend anti-immigrant protest in Dresden, Germany
They are the biggest winners, to the point I briefly considered that Marine Le Pen's National Front was behind the attacks. They are still a tiny factor in French elections, just two seats in the national assembly, but these attacks will greatly increase their appeal.

Other anti-immigrant parties that will get a boost are UKIP and BNP (United Kingdom), Freedom Party (Austria), NDP (Germany), National Revival (Poland), and the Northern League (Italy). So far, most of these are insignificant legislative parties, Austria is an exception, but the combination of terrorist attacks and the flood of refugees could change that.

In the United States we can expect another bump in Donald Trump's support.

Yeah, here too. France, especially, is going to want bloody revenge.
Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Will finally pay the price!
~ lyrics of La Marseillaise not usually sung
Syrian Refugees
The doors are being closed to new refugees and there will be great agitation to expel those already in Europe. Thousands of innocents will be punished for the sins of a handful if the refugees are sent back into the jaws of ISIS.

Muslims as a Whole
The Charlie Hebdo attack in January triggered anti-Muslim protests. This attack is exponentially worse and will probably bring more violent protests.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What a 'Deportation Force' Looks Like

Donald Trump recently said he would have a "deportation force" to "humanely" remove eleven million Mexican "rapists." This has been done before so we know what it will look like.
"The Spider," an evil ethnic rapist
Here, a uniformed deportation official humanely directs undesirable aliens into comfortable railroad cars.
Alien women preparing to enjoy the scenery in a wonderful open-air transport under the care of humane deportation officials. Making deportation fun!
Deportees arriving at their destination. Note the joyful expressions on their faces.
Children being loaded onto trucks for a fun deportation journey.
Criminal aliens being escorted by watchful deportation officials
Deportation agents greeting illegal aliens on their arrival. The truncheons will be used to gently and humanely urge them to their final solution destination.
And, because Trump mentioned it directly, armed deportation officials during Operation Wetback in 1954.
While Operation Wetback did not have extermination camps as such, thousands died. A key component of Operation Wetback was to leave people without assets far from any population centers so they could not ever get back to the United States. In just one incident in July, 1954, 88 people were deposited in the Mexican desert without provisions and died from the heat. Hundreds of US citizens of Hispanic descent were rounded up, stripped of the possessions, and expelled from the United States to die in poverty in a foreign country.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Would You Kill Baby Hitler?

The real baby Hitler.
Killing baby Hitler is a test of ones ethics. Jeb Bush stupidly choose to answer this hypothetical, he said he would butcher a toddler he though might grow up to commit genocide.

A Man of His Times
There are thousands of psychopaths walking around all the time. Some of them make great CEOs (Al Dunlap) while others turn to a career in law enforcement or become Vice-President. The best way to keep Hitler from killing would have been to prevent World War I from ever happening.

Deprive Hitler of the economic devastation and social angst that Germany suffered following the Versailles Treaty and little Adolph might have spent his life wandering the streets of Vienna content with killing the occasional stray dog.

His Replacement Could Have Been Worse
Okay, we killed baby Hitler but didn't change the cauldron of post-war Germany that cultivated him. The German Socialist Worker's Party existed before Hitler joined. It was already nationalist and antisemitic and had all of the philosophies Hitler later embraced. Any number of future members like Ernst Rohm, who organized the SA into a force of two million thugs, or Heinrich Himmler might have risen to leadership in the absence of Hitler and done a much better job of it.

Both were far better organizers than Hitler. When British Intelligence proposed assassinating Hitler in 1944, Churchill canceled the project because Hitler's battlefield decisions were so incredibly stupid it was decided he was an asset to the Allied military cause.

Karmic Disaster
Not real baby Hitler.
You've considered the options. You know it probably won't make a difference and if it does it might just make things worse. You've decided, the hell with it, you are going to smother baby Hitler in his crib.

You've decided to kill someone whose greatest crime, at that point in his life, is being fussy about going to sleep. For a pro-life advocate, like Bush, you've committed a horrific sin.

For a pro-choice person like me who believe life begins when you draw your first breath, killing a baby on spec is an ultimate evil. It is the sort of thing someone gripped with schizophrenic delusions might do.

So, Jeb, just saying, you are one sick son of a bitch.

But I would have assassinated him in 1933 and not thought twice about it even if that meant I'd have to go back and assassinate a half dozen other German leaders that followed him.And it probably still won't have made a significant difference

Saturday, November 07, 2015

When the Lunatics Run the Asylum

Many years ago (early 1973 to be exact) I read an essay by Susan Sontag that I remember to this day. Susan had gone out to watch a movie. At some point she realized that many, even a majority, of the people in the theater with her that night had voted for Richard Nixon. It was an inconceivable concept that was also undoubtedly true.

It was a couple of months after Nixon had won reelection by a huge majority. A majority so large supporters were considering repealing the 22nd Amendment so Nixon could be President in perpetuity. The country was full of Nixon voters and people like Songtag and me couldn't wrap our minds around the bizarreness of that fact.
The fact that Ben Carson and Donald Trump combined have the support of half the Republican electorate is similarly baffling. Yes, I know a substantial percentage of Republican voters have brains the consistency of tapioca pudding, but even during the madness of the 2012 primary season lunatic Michele Bachmann peaked at just 16%. While Herman Cain has a brief sojourn at the top of the polls nobody thought he might actually get nominated.

Things are different today. There are really just five people at this point with a chance at the nomination. The only one with a resume (Bush) is hated by his party's base. A rookie Senator (Cruz) is hated by his party's elites. The guy with the best chance, another rookie Senator (Rubio), may be a childlike toady but at least nobody hates him.

Then we have two men who have commanding leads over everyone but each other. Carson is a straight up loon with a world view so distorted it would be unbelievable as fiction. Trump thinks knowledge is a dangerous thing so he refuses any association with it. In the latest FOX poll, Rubio, Bush, and Cruz combined have less support than Trump. If it were not for Carson he'd be running away with the nomination.
The lunatic asylum of Bedlam
I live in a conservative enclave of Southern California that once elected to the state legislature a man who ran on an anti-witchcraft platform and we have a megachurch just a few miles up the road. I know I must have neighbors who are enthusiastic supporters of Carson or Trump. And that terrifies me. I have long ago accepted that I am surrounded by Republicans but this, this is too much.

I don't understand it and I don't want to understand it. Understanding it leads to madness.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Grifters, Conmen, and Other Presidential Candidates

There are many reasons people choose to run for President, probably the rarest is a dedication to public service.

Ben Carson - Grifter
Carson is the clearest example of a grifter candidate I've ever seen. Most of the millions of dollars donated to his campaign have disappeared into a black hole called "fundraising." It is being laundered into various pockets with Dr. Ben, as the mastermind, certain to get the largest share. Carson's runs the God Scam to perfection, I expect there are several televangelists green with envy. Greenest of all is Mike Huckabee who expected to fleece the faithful as well as he did four years ago only to see Carson steal his flock.

Donald Trump - Egoist
I'm not the only person to see the Mussolini-Trump nexus. Trump's campaign is based on a cult of personality. There is no issue more important to Trump than Trump. It is quite literally all about him. Throw in extreme nationalism and more than a hint of racism and you have, well, a political movement Benito would have been proud of.

Marco Rubio - Conman
It's really hard to figure Marco out. Everything about Rubio is a bit off, a bit phony, like he can't quite keep his stories straight. He feels to me like the character Elmer Gantry (picture), someone who has told so many lies all his life he doesn't even know what the truth is anymore. Rubio sells out to billionaires like Norman Braman like a common toady. Marco is a just cheap carny conman.

Jeb Bush - Disappointing Son
One thing is clear, Jeb doesn't want to run for President. It clear in every statement, every appearance that he'd rather be doing anything else. He's running because daddy told him to and he always does what daddy says. It's a sad thing to watch, embarrassing really. You get the feeling Jeb could have a happy life if he didn't have the family obligation burden.

Carly Fiorina - Huckster
She wrote a book published in May, 2015 that nobody was buying (it is currently ranked #21,336th on Amazon). She ran for President trying to juice sales. It hasn't worked but maybe if she gets picked as someone's Veep sales will finally take off. Carly's just trying to hawk books.

Ted Cruz - Ghost Grifter
Yes, Cruz is a grifter and he will use any tragedy for money. But he is after so much more. Cruz wants to have power over people. Power so he can make them suffer. Cruz is a stealth candidate, he refuses to say exactly what he wants to do. Like Sauron, he will do whatever he has to to gain the power to rule us all.