Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Random late autumn thoughts


Let's get political. Again. Wesley Clark is speaking to the Commonwealth Club as I write. He's a 4 star general and apparently a Democrat because he disses the President. But he goes on to say that the various generals and officers in Iraq should not express their concerns about the way the war is going because they would be in violation of their oaths to defend the Constitution and apparently he has the idea that somewhere in the Constitution there is a requirement that all military people should be loyal to the Commander in Chief. Curious. How can one be loyal to the Constitution, with it's provisions for ridding the country of an incompetent President (incompetent in that they have broken the law) and at the same time have nothing contrary to say to that same person? In other words, if the generals know that the President is lying about just about everything going on over there, lying about the actions of our troops, lying about the ability of America to win, lying about the ability of the Iraqi's to defend themselves the US Constitution requires that they lie to the public and support the President because he's their leader. Jeez, I find that so freaking hard to understand. Tommy Jefferson thought the role of Commander in Chief trumped the obligation expressed by the Constitution to remove from office a President who commits crimes against humanity? Just too hard to believe.

Funny how fixing an election to become President suddenly elevates George's IQ 30 points and makes him a military expert. I suppose if he wore a gold hat and lived in Rome he could excommunicate sinners and drive out demons, too.

Just a short note today. Talking about memories, good and bad. People remember the same event differently at various points in their life. Sometimes changes occur within minutes of experiencing an event. I think I've written about the time I was hanging out in my apartment on Caroline Street with a friend watching the bar across the street. A fight fell out of the door and landed on the street with one man kicking another in the head as he slumped on the sidewalk. After the guy on the ground recovered enough to stagger off we began to discuss the fight and I discovered that she saw the kicker as one race and I saw the same man as a member of another race. Maybe five minutes had passed since the fight but neither of us saw the same fight. Who was right? Maybe both. Physics says that reality is in the eyes of the beholder. In my universe my father used to beat me for losing fights at school. In my sister's universe Dad never beat me. In my universe I spent a summer shooting a BB gun at frogs, lizards and bottles until I tried sawing the barrel short and ruining it. In my sister's universe I was never allowed to have a BB gun. Who was right? I can even recall the smell of the oil I used on the gun, but she doesn't see it that way. The thing is most of your actions are going to be colored by what you remember about events and if memory is that unreliable then how can your actions be counted upon to be the right ones? It's been proven so many times in so many studies that eyewitnesses are no damn good at recalling anything they just experienced, especially if it was a violent or otherwise exciting event, like a man getting the crap kicked out of him by a booted white guy/black guy. Yet we still rely on eyewitnesses to try a man for attempted murder and sending him to jail.

General Clark told a story about being told at some point that we were going to attack Iraq after 9-11. The Pentagon official that was confiding in him said that we needed to look strong and we needed to attack somebody back but the people who had attacked us were dead (and they were sent by our allies the Saudis) so George decided to attack Iraq, no doubt because Saddam had at one point “tried to kill my Dad”. Yet the people who knew that there was no reason to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people seem to have been led to believe that the Constitution required them to not speak up, to blindly obey the President and so we have become as a democratic nation war criminals. We, through our Generals, Congresspersons and appointees have attacked and murdered close to two thirds of a million admittedly innocent civilians. We broke some eggs to make an omelet. Although in point of fact we broke some eggs to make green beans. In George's universe it made sense at the time.

Oh well. Still haven't heard anything about the doctor talking to Jon's doctors. I suspect nothing has happened. I'm gonna try to get all of Jon's medical records because apparently we have a legal right to them. It certainly makes sense to have his family know his history in case we have to take him somewhere, like a new hospital and they need to know what he's been through. Anybody want to make a bet that they will try to stonewall me and not release copies? My plan, in part, is to explain that I am writing a book and I want to get the sequence of events in the proper order and compare the dates to, for instance, postings to this blog, or posting to the TBI support group. Then I plan to push for the neurologist to go back and explore why Jon stopped responding after those seizures. They told me there was no obvious reason for it, but at the same time they decided to abandon him because he no longer showed much responsiveness. Still, something must have triggered the seizures. What if, like the wounds on his back, the cause of the seizures was because they screwed up? Maybe they did something wrong, wrong meds or something? We'll have to see how they respond to my request. That will tell me something.

Solstice is this Saturday. Night of the Crone, shortest day, longest night. I hope I can find dry wood to burn, otherwise I might axe down a couple trees and burn them. I have a preponderance of spruce trees out back. If I can snowshoe out back far enough I might find a pile or two of pine logs as well. Neighbor Bob has a big pile of construction debris he said I could have but without a sled I have to bring back arm loads and that won't be much. Still, I will likely be the only one out there so it can be a small fire. Yeah, it's not like 20 years ago when everybody in the neighborhood would show up with beer, wine, peanuts and attitude. We'd burn to 2 AM or so and stagger off home. Now I light a small fire, heap up what wood I can pry out of the winter snow and burn through a couple three beers. Then I pack it up and move inside. A couple of times an old buddy would show up as I was breaking up the fire and we'd hang out for another hour or so but not so much lately. Maybe it's my breath or my grumpiness but they don't seem to come around much anymore. More than likely they simply don't know when the seasons change. Most of them are Christians and they don't seem to care about the orbits of the planets around the sun. I'm not entirely sure why I do, but it seems important to me to go out and acknowledge that there are patterns greater than myself and offering some wood, beer and time seems like a reasonable thing to do.

As we roll into a new year I hope everybody is safe, warm and fed. It's basic but upon that basic rock we can build a house to hold us all. So enjoy the snow, the cold and the warmth of your personal fire and maybe think of me out back sipping my drink and tossing sticks into the fire. I'll be thinking of you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Visitors From a Previous Life

I have been informed that there are actually people reading this blog. Yeah, I may have mentioned this before but it sounds serious now. I sort of expected people to stumble upon this place and maybe read a couple of postings and move on but my sister tells me that she's encountered people from my past who have read about Jon and me and our various struggles, and of course my religious and political rants. That seems odd to me that I might not just be burning off rants to the ether, that people who knew me when I was someone else were following this tune. Very odd. See, the thing is I talk to myself a lot. Seriously, since retiring I find that it's just me, the chickens and Mok the cat pretty much all the time. So I talk to myself. I'm not a polite listener, either. I give myself more grief than my old dear daddy did. I get into arguments and then lose those arguments. But sometimes I do get into a interesting conversation and then if it goes on long enough I write it down. Then I try to recall where I put the paper so I can transcribe it into this space. That's the process. It breaks down sometimes but that's how this happens.

One thing I have noted is that no matter when I start typing Mok will appear at the door and ask me what's going on. I turn from the keyboard and ask, "What is it, sweety cat? What's up?" Mok then rubs against the door jamb and smiles up at me. "Daddy?" she says. "Daddy, can you come here a minute?" Well I'm a sucker for a furry face so I get up and follow her down the hallway. "What is it this time, Mok?" and she walks me to the food area and points to a bowl of wet food. "See? It's all yucky and dry." So I bend down and look at it. Yes, it is all dry on the corners and needs to be fixed. "Alright, Mok. Daddy will fix." Then I stir the food and sometimes mix some dry stuff into it. I set it back down and she checks it out. "Okay." she says and then walks to the door. "But I want to go out now." I open the door and she sticks her head out, putting her ears down slightly. "What's that?" she asks in that whining voice of hers. "That's winter, Mok. It happens around here if you recall. White and wet mostly for many weeks." She looks up at me accusingly. "Why?" she asks. She's not asking why it last so long. She's asking me why I did it. I happen to know that this conversation can last almost as long as winter itself so I have to draw the line. "Mok, it happens. I didn't do it and I most certainly did not do it to you. It's happening to me too. You have to deal with it. In or out. That's the choice. In or out." and I stand there with the door open for maybe a couple of minutes until she backs up and wanders off. This is the scenario many times a day. It beats watching the soaps, I think, but it does make it hard to type.

The chickens are easier to deal with. Talking to them is like talking to a group of old women. They murmur and mutter and shift on their feet but all in all just wait for me to get done with whatever I'm doing and go away so they can continue to gossip about what's going on in the yard. There's a skunk, for instance, living under the woodshed. I've seen her a few times, always at night. A couple of times I was confused by her black appearance and thought she was Mok. If the moon is out I can usually see the stripes but my night vision sucks so if it's dark all I see is a cat sized black blob and I think it's a cat. Which it is, in a way. A pole cat. I chat away to the cat, asking about this and that but not really getting an answer. I suspect it's a dialect thing. The embarrassing thing is when I bend down to pet her and she stamps her feet in protest and lifts her tail. Mok never stamps her feet. As I back away gently I quietly declare, "Nothing personal, Miss Kitty. Thought you were somebody else. I'm gone..." and you never run from a skunk, you back away with head down and then you turn and walk away. The chickens tell me there's a woodchuck under the potting shed but it's been years since I saw one and I'm not sure if they are right. The white tailed deer live out back in the blackberry brambles. They don't talk at all, they just either lay still or run. Two modes, like binary code. Off or on, in or out. There's a lot of binary in this complex world of ours.

George sees things in binary, too. Bad guys, good guys. very simple world he lives in with no consequences and no grey areas. He knows what he knows and you could put it all in a teaspoon.

I seem to recall a time in my life when binary worked for me, but that was long, long ago. We used to have a simple formula for when things got slightly more complex, back when I was being a Viking guy in the SCA. House Ramshead was a group of like minded individuals who liked to dress up in 7th century clothes and go to tournies and revels with others like us and pretend we were not who or when we were. Ramshead had this slogan: if you can't drink it, eat it or screw it, hit it with your mace. The mace is a short metal club used for prying armored guys out of their life. I always liked it and have a couple even as we speak. I taught Jess how to throw Lady Janis, the first mace I owned. She's spiked and flanged and weighs about 7 lbs. You throw her like you toss a bowling ball, using hip, shoulders, wrist. Hard to explain in writing but Jess could hit a beer bottle cap from about 15 feet. The chunk of the mace slamming into the tree stump is just a great sound. I like to think it sounds like it would slamming into a man's chest. "WHAT?" you ask. Yes, I like to think about how the mace really would impact a human and why not? We know what they look like down through the ages and we know that maces were the preferred weapon of kings and bishops but we stopped using them pretty much these last few hundred years and rumors have come up which deny the mace's place in history. King Tut used a mace. The real King Arthur likely used a mace. Bishop Odo used a mace. I used a mace to open beer bottles until the spike got short and thick and started breaking the necks off. The academic in me is curious about what would happen if I tossed the mace good and hard at a man wearing Kevlar. It was designed to go through steel chest plates, see and Kevlar is designed to stop little bitty bullets flying at high sped, but I bet they never took a flying mace into account when designing Kevlar. I'd be willing to bet on it. I think it would go through the plastic and pin the vest to the guy's chest with a pleasant and profound THUNK. And then the object of my fear would be far less fearful. Gotta think ahead.

Let me give you an example of the sort of pseudo Viking guy I was. I know this man named Jon, not my son but one of the reasons Jon is named Jon. He was like me, a student of the middle ages and curious about things. He also liked the mace, probably still does. So we went down to his basement one January night, sipping mead and chatting about that THUNK sound. I suggested that a mace thrown into a shield would disable the shield and make the man vulnerable. Jon wasn't quite sure but willing to test the theory. We first held the mace while one of us beat on it. No doubt the vibration was a pain! A man fighting a mace man would be unhappy for sure with his arm feeling tingly and strange, almost numb. But that wasn't good enough, so I strapped on a sword. yes, I own swords and so does Jess. Mine is prettier but she inherits all my gear so she's not jealous. I don the sword and Jon puts the shield against a post in his basement. I pick up Janis and take a stance. Jon says, "Begin!" and I toss Janis and draw the sword in one move. Janis drives into the thick plywood shield with a nice THUNK and I am in a new stance with the sword drawn and ready. Jon goes over to pick up and put on the shield. The idea was that a man would be forced to fight with a shield attached to a 7 lb mace as well as deal with a 24" steel shaft hanging out of the shield. Jon lifted up the shield and said, "Uh, William, we have a problem." I thought I'd broken the shield or something but he turns it around and shows me. Janis's spike is protruding about 2" from the back of the shield, exactly where the man's forearm would be. "My gosh," I say. "It seems," Jon said, "that the fighter would be stapled to his own shield. And probably sporting at least one broken bone." He lifted the shield/mace up and felt the weight and balance. "I think we can safely say that a man facing a mace would be incapable of fighting any further if the mace man can throw the mace like this." Now, the reason we did this experiment was because in the Bayeux Tapestry showing the invasion by William the Conquerer there are battle scenes showing arrows, spears and maces flying through the air. I've had many people tell me they thought that the people tossing their maces were in a panic, throwing away their weapons and running away. Nonsense, I said. No true mace man throws away his mace, clearly they are attacking the shields of the opposing group. Then they draw their swords and attack the man. I think that our experiment in the basement showed that to be a real possibility and that changes the way you view the tapestry story.

History can change the way you view the Now if you try to understand it. Often in history a man leaves his kingdom to a son who is not up to the charge. A war results, many people die and the kingdom goes through some changes. Sometimes the people rise up and do the changing, sometimes it's another army. This has happened so many times you would think that kings and Presidents would see that just because the fruit of your loins is bright eyed and loyal doesn't mean they can do the same kind of work you did in creating this kingdom of yours. In fact you and your son have almost nothing in common but a name. But you fight to make a nation and then you give it to your moronic son who has never fought for anything but another drink or the virginity of an unwilling gal. The your kingdom goes to crap and all because you were unable to see with a clear vision. Now me, I know that Jon could not take over my house and work because the poor kid can't even blink his eyes when you ask him to. In fact, if we lived in the 7th century Jon would be long dead from fevers and infections. Back in the 7th century if you took a mace to the head you would go into a coma, bleed in the brain case and die from the pressure. It would be over in a few hours at best. But now we can fix the infections, mostly, and shunt the blood into the abdomen via a plastic tube in the brain case. We can do everything to make that body live for years. We just can't make the brain heal.

Neanderthal man used clubs, or wooden maces. When a Neanderthal took a mace to the head they would go into a coma. If the pressure in the brain started going up the shaman would take up a flint or alabaster tool and make a hole in the brain case and let the pressure out. Then they'd replace the bit of skull and fold the scalp back over the hole. If things got infected the shaman would apply a paste of comfrey, goldenseal, and other herbs. If a fever broke out the shaman would do some more herbs and maybe go into a trance. Once in the trance they would go to the spirit plane and look for the person's spirit. Chances are they would not be far and they would be confused after that hit to the head. Often the spirit thinks that the spirit plane is the place to be and the shaman may have to wrestle it or argue with it and try to make it go back to the patient. It might require dealing with spirits of infection as well. Those are life forms which live in a wound and try to be the primary life form there, but that will result in the death of the host body so you have to convince them to move on. If everything goes well the shaman comes out of their trance and the person lives many more years. We know this because there have been skulls recovered from Neanderthal caves with healed over bits of skull which seem to have been used in a healing operation and unless we are mistaken, most likely were removed to release pressure in the brain, and it worked because the wound was healed.

Primitive men did not wear three piece suits or hunt for fun, but they were not as primitive as a man who has the choice of killing hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children or ignoring an insult to his father and chooses to kill the women and children. In the course of this killing spree there are about 24,000 men and women who have been slammed about so hard by IEDs or mortar rounds that their brains have been mashed by the brain case. their brains swell up with pressure and if the pressure is not released, they either die or go into a deep coma. Nobody tries to rescue their spirit. Nobody goes into the spirit plane to argue, wrestle or reason with the spirits involved. Nobody even considers the pressure in the brain, the damage in the brain structure and the resulting effects on their ability to reason, to think, to talk or to do anything other than stare at the ceiling counting spots. The reason, you see, is that George has ordered that traumatic brain injuries not be diagnosed as such, because such injuries takes decades to heal. The military considers the actions and behavior of the brain injured vet as signs of depression or personality disorders. If they are diagnosed as personality disorders frequently the vet is discharged as an unworthy killer of women and children and is sent home to bleed internally and die, or to recover some functioning and deal with the various dead parts of the brain by standing at street corners carrying a thermos of coffee and yelling at passing cars.

After the Viet Nam debacle many vets came home addicted to drugs because either the military gave them so many opiates that they needed them every day, or because the problems of undiagnosed brain injuries were so mind altering they needed to get numb. Might also be the scenes of women bleeding on the ground, children screaming with missing arms and men staggering around holding dead babies. That might be upsetting them. They aren't as strong as George who sleeps like a dead baby, no dreams, no regrets, no experience in the real world.

This is the season of Persephone, of Inanna. The Earth Mother descends to Hell and the world gets darker, colder and apparently mostly dead. The parts of the world that burrow down into the Earth are still alive, just comatose. In the spring she will arise and flowers will bloom again. It's a great circle that has been wheeling around the heavens forever and will wheel around hundreds of thousands of years after George, his father and the vets are dust under our feet. She rises in the spring and leaps across the fields, her white tail flashing, her eyes bright and alert. She comes out from under the woodshed, under the kiln shed and digs around the compost for worms and bugs. She rises to the tops of the trees and sings a song of life and love, of eggs in a nest, of children flying away. She stands in the woods watching her children play in the sun. Next year she will go down again, but always she returns to the light. Things die and are reborn. The sands are soaked in blood and then they are covered with flowers. You can't stop her, nor ignore her because you are part of her form, part of her life. When she stops living, everything stops living. This is why taking life is a sacred act because it involves the Mother of us all. You don't do it thoughtlessly or out of ignorance. The good news is that like so many Mothers before, she is forgiving of our childishness. She knows we will grow up or fall down and in the end the wheel rolls again and we are born again to a new form and a new life. This makes each life a gift and we should show gratitude for that life by treating our brothers and sisters as good as we would be treated. When you pass by the vet on the street, mumbling and angry, remember that they were in hell and came back. They have been touched by the divine and are themselves sacred. Their vision is not like yours. Consider this as you walk by thinking your clear thoughts, moving those intact legs. Don't forget to thank Mother for it all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From the Washington Post:

"On Monday, President Bush expressed deep concern about the Russian actions. "I am particularly troubled by the use of force by law enforcement authorities to stop these peaceful activities and to prevent some journalists and human rights activists from covering them," Bush said in a statement.

"The freedoms of expression, assembly and press, as well as due process, are fundamental to any democratic society," he said. "I am hopeful that the government of Russia will honor its international obligations in these areas, investigate allegations of abuses and free those who remain in detention." "

This is an incredible statement from a President who sent the police in Florida to break up peaceful, legal street protests. Speakers and protesters were arrested by the police and confined in cages by the hundreds. Many were reported to have been roughed up by the police for the apparent crime of disagreeing with Bush on fair and free elections. At the command of the Bush family tens of thousands of voters in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states controlled by the Republican Party were denied their right to cast ballots based on fraudulent charges of having felony records, names that resembled names on terrorist lists and other bogus charges. Many of the people denied their right to vote were from districts which tend to vote Democratic and similar voter dumping was conducted in other important states controlled by the Republicans. It is clear that the actions were designed to control the results of the election and give those states to the President. Since the 2000 and 2004 elections it has been established that these actions were in clear violation of election laws and if brought about by the request of the President are clearly impeachable offenses. The officials charged with overseeing and protecting the results of the elections claim confusion and misunderstanding as the root cause of dumping properly registered voters from the rolls, however it should be obvious that Democratic voters were targeted for the express purpose of fixing the results of the election.
The most alarming aspect of these stories is that the Congress, which is charged with impeaching the President for illegal and unconstitutional actions has remained mostly silent and uninterested in fulfilling it's obligations under the Constitution. This implies that both major political parties are involved in the destruction of the electoral process and the creation of a rotating dictatorship with the President being selected by the leadership and given absolute power over the rest of the country, including the unconstitutional suspension of the right of habeas corpus, the gutting of FISA, the establishment of a system of secret prisons controlled by the President, the authorizing of torture of prisoners, and the unconstitutional assertion by the President through signing statements that the laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President nevertheless do not apply to the President, his appointees or anyone else he so chooses to protect from the legal system. This assertion that he is above the law is in itself such an assault on the system of Rule by Law essential to our republic that it effectively creates a dictatorship out of the office of the President and is obviously an impeachable offense.
Apologists claim that in time of war laws must be trampled to "protect" our citizens, but the founders of this Republic expressly limited the power of the President in peace and in war in order to protect the democratic core values of our political system. This is why only Congress may declare war and call up an army. The President is merely expected to direct the operation of the war with the caveat that it be done according to national laws and international treaties. Since WW2 the powers which control the political parties have carved away those restrictions and protections in order to create and control an all-powerful office of the President. Increasingly America has come to resemble those other dictatorships such as Pakistan, Iraq and Russia with the rule of law cast aside to permit rule by dictate based on hunches and dreams and Biblical passages by an alcoholic, drug addled "born-again" sociopath who claims divine guidence in launching wars of aggression and expansion around the world.
The world cannot allow this trend to continue. For their own protection the nations of the world will be forced to confront this aggressive and militaristic America. The one bright side, if there is one, is that the insane fiscal practices by this President of unlimited spending coupled with huge tax cuts for the wealthy have gutted the American treasury, forcing the government to rely increasingly on loans from China, Japan and others. As the power of the dollar plummets and the murderous occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to stack up bodies of innocent women, children and men the world will be forced to cut off our funds to wage war and perhaps even to begin dumping American dollars, causing the complete collapse of the American economy. The argument that the world "needs" America only works if the world is not afraid of America and it's dangerous and destabilizing escapades around the world. When we become too dangerous for the rest of the world to allow they will act to stop the American war machine and it's imperial minded President. The lower classes will suffer greatly from this disaster while the ultra rich will simply move their dollar accounts to Euro based offshore accounts. You should be aware that all of the political leaders of both parties are millionaires and all have international financial dealings. If America collapses our so-called leaders can simply move to Dubai. You and I will be left to repair the damage and bury the dead.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter in the north country: white, grey and tan. Out the window I see the elm trees, still broken from the Valentine's Day ice storm. Old buddy Phil says he'll come over and cut them up for me sometime, maybe when the snow pack is deeper so he can walk on the slope safer. Phil loves to climb trees with a chain saw hanging from his belt. he even went out and bought the gear: boots, harnesses and ropes. I have to say he's good at it. He can drop a tree within a couple feet of where we need it. I do have a slight problem with his enthusiasm, though. Sometimes he gets cutting and he fails to recall which trees I want only slightly chopped up, like say an ash or oak. Most folks want them cut to 18" for stove burning, but I bonfire or I sculpt wood, so I want it left fairly long. Phil worries about my back, I guess, so he cuts them nice and short. I suppose since I don't yet own a re-saw or big band saw it makes sense but since the trees have to age before re-sawing I'd like to have the option of stacking them to dry. He's looking out for me, though and I do appreciate it.

We put out salt for the deer sleeping in the back yard, also some feed. I'm hoping they will continue to hang out in the brambles as they make nice paths and eat some of the brambles back. They're like goats who don't cry all the time for Mama. It is odd, though, later in the year to be picking berries in bushes that smell strongly of musk. There's a red fox family out there too and a skunk lives under the woodshed, so we keep pretty busy. So long as Pepe doesn't feel the need to spray me he/she can live under the woodshed all they want. Somebody seems to be living under the kiln shed, though, and the area around the kiln seems to be settling at one corner and that ain't good. I poked with a metal bar and I think I found the tunnel but it might be one left from the Mother of All Woodchucks. I killed her with chlorine gas. Yeah, pretty nasty stuff but nothing seems to be working and she/he was way too big for the Havaheart trap. So I mixed ammonia and chlorine in a milk jug and turned it upside down in the tunnel mouth. Just like WWI or Saddam in Kurdistan. Bad company.

I'd like to comment a bit on the strange case of the Missing News. I read a great deal online. I read Reuters, BBC, NYTimes, Washington Post, Huffington Post, AP, and any links found that direct me to the original news source. Considering that there are people dying "in my name" out there, I want to know why. It used to be I would turn on the PBS station first thing in the morning. Now instead of BBC I get Barney. So I turn to CNN and I get a ditsy bimbo with possibly a high school education chattering away about Brad and Angelie or a skateboarding dog. So I turn to the other CNN and get a less ditsy bimbo with a college degree chattering about her blog, her emails, her contests and the weather guy. That leaves me with channel 6 with two drunks staring at each other and talking about the last story they read. Channel 10 has decent news coverage and a weather guy who seems rational. Channel 13 is like 6 only without the staring. At this point I know all about the weather. I know the polls on the election. I have seen the sound bite of the day and the secret word for Robins contest of the day. But I have no idea what we are doing to end the war, why we are not impeaching the war criminals in Washington, or what the rest of the planet is doing. So I go online and read and follow the news. Imagine a life before the internet... oh yeah, the networks used to broadcast the news. So let's talk about Walter Cronkite.

Back in the day we could turn on the TV and listen to a man of some considerable veracity tell us what was going on in the world. Walter would tell us about world events with a calm, intelligent manner and we knew that if it was in fact important he would lift an eyebrow or pause at a key point. He did not have a partner to read every other line on the teleprompter. He did not have a newsletter or contests. What he had was our trust. Now, oddly enough he seems to feel that he needs to speak out from time to time even after retiring to the old newscaster's home. The reason is exactly what I described before about my search for the news. Walter seems to feel, also, that the government is working very hard at disinformation, lies and misleading and conflicting public statements by various voices in the administration. In other words he seems to feel that the News should also be the Truth. What a quaint idea. An educated public having the tools to understand the issues that impact on us all could very well be expected to make intelligent choices. We might even understand how badly our system of government has been shredded to the benefit of a handful of wealthy businessmen. That might make the public actually get out and vote and even demand that the votes get counted. Ooooo. That one scares the tiny mind in the White House!

I remember watching Walter remove his glasses and painfully announce the death by assassination of President Kennedy. Dad came home for lunch and I told him and we watched on TV while they searched for the lone gunman. That was the last time our government changed hands by the act of a single lunatic. Now it changes hands with an entire team of psychologically
damaged individuals handling the "news" and determining when to stop the vote counting to ensure their picks make it in. Actually I suppose that since they count some of the votes we still can call it an election, but many of the votes counted were placed there into the machines before the election, so it's a hard call to make. Walter always made me feel like an American and when he and Dad were in the room with me watching the car drive off with a screaming Jackie and Secret Servicemen hanging onto the doors I felt connected and involved. Now, watching Robin babble about her newsletter and her videos while flashing vast amounts of thigh I have to say things have degenerated rather a lot. Maybe Walter had good legs or not, but he never flashed them at me and he never had contests to win posters of him. I like legs, don't get me wrong. I have always liked looking at legs attached to good looking women, but I have found in the last 50+ years that women who show off their legs tend to not have a good opinion of men and by and large have experiences to illustrate how easy it is to distract and confuse them. I was distracted enough to marry two women based on their nice legs. Not at the same time, mind you. I was not that distracted. But legs are bad things to judge by, it seems, when what you are judging is credibility and intelligence. Maybe even sanity. Walter was very sane and seems even more so, but in the last years CNN has shown more legs and skateboarding animals and less news worthy of a Cronkite raised eyebrow. The metaphor might be watching an animal sinking into the LaBrea tarpits. The news goes slowly into the black ooze, bleating out it's cries of terror and passing out posters of long legged bimbettes. Walter takes off his glasses and slowly pinches the bridge of his nose while mumbling under his breath something about "assholes".

The cold war is starting up again with no white hats to be seen. Israel still gets it's billions of military aid from a country sinking deep into the black ooze of fascism. The world continues to seek another way to help the helpless now that America has abandoned the sense of ethics which Walter honed to perfection and which the President and his cabal of war criminals has never understood or valued. The old Soviet Union may be somewhat dismantled but like a company taken over by new management it simply regroups, re-imprisons and rearms, happily secure in the knowledge that they will all make a lot of money while doing absolutely no work whatsoever except for occasionally signing their name. What a great life. They learned Fierce Capitalism very well, but then it's not that different from the way Stalin ruled on the left or Hitler on the right. It's easy to teach cruelty, not so easy to teach ethics. Usually you teach by example, ala Jesus or Ghandi so it should be no great surprise that as we torture, murder and lie the Russians are once again setting up shop and fixing elections, torturing dissidents and murdering ex-spies. So we're all one big happy family, except the Iranians who are building bomb shelters and squirreling away their retirement in Swiss accounts.

Walter takes off his glasses and wipes away a big salty tear. He looks up at the cameras and says in that wonderful voice of his, "The Republic is officially dead. Nobody knows when we shall see the likes of Her again. May the Deity have mercy on our souls."

George spits out a pork rind and calls in Condi. "Condi, get somebody in that station and kill that bastard!"