Of course, it’s a given that the cries for tighter gun control would become ever louder and more intense after the Mandalay Bay massacre of attendees at an outdoor country music festival. It happens after every such event … although I’m under the impression that such cries were fairly muted after the attempted assassination of Republican baseball team members two months ago by a disaffected Bernie Bro named … what was his name, anyway? Oh, yeah – James Hodgkinson. I had to look it up. Funny way that he went down the memory hole, wasn’t it? It was almost as if it never happened, and James Hodgkinson became an un-person in the eyes of the Establishment News Media. There are just some crises that just aren’t worth wheeling out the big anti-guns for, it would appear.

But I don’t have any problem bringing to mind Jared Lee Loughner. After he shot Representative Gabby Giffords, killed six people and wounded a dozen others, the great storm of protest about gun control arose, coeval with a twin great storm accusing eeeevil and irresponsible partisan rhetoric on the part of conservatives generally and Sarah Palin in particular of having inspired him. Well, it eventually developed that J.L. Loughner was inspired by nothing more than the voices in his head, being diagnosed by mental health professionals as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Us non-professionals just call it “bug-nutz crazy” and move on. Frankly, I’d rather have the discussion be about crazy control rather than gun control, but that is a much more difficult, complicated, and nuanced situation – the control of the bug-nutz crazy among us. Easier just to hyperventilate about gun control, and how gun owners are compensating for having small pee-pees or some such pseudo-scientific twaddle. It’s nothing more than a means of easy virtue-signaling for the ostentatiously virtuous members of the Bi-Coastal Ruling Class and their coterie of sycophants.
Returning to my original thought; the newly-energized voices of celebrities, celebrated anti-gunners, publicity-whoring politicians and freelance media likely will have no better luck this time around in demanding tighter and more controls, or even outright confiscation of privately-owned firearms. Riding rough-shod over the Second Amendment would take more juice than they have at present, or are likely to get.
Because … the example that springs to mind, out of one of many is the reaction of a now-ex top employee of the CBS legal department, one Hayley Geftman-Gold, who posted in a Facebook discussion thread that she was “not even sympathetic.’”

“If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing, “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

Hayley Geftman-Gold, who is of such a nose-bleedingly privileged strata of the Bi-Coastal Ruling Elite that her wedding was noted in the social pages of the NY Times (the supreme chronicler of the doings of the Bi-Coastal Ruling Elite) basically felt OK with registering her dislike of a whole class of people and her indifference to their mass murder; a people of whom she ostentatiously knows nothing, and cares even less. The only surprise in this otherwise tawdry and routine spectacle is that she was fired by CBS before the end of the day. Well, obviously CBS had realized (belatedly) that writing off a good portion of the country as irredeemable deplorables, or bigoted, racist untermenschen is perhaps a bad business plan. After all, they want our money/viewership.
Alas, MS Geftman-Gold is not singular in her dismissive bigotry. She is only a minor voice in a mighty chorus, pouring disdain, contempt, and outright hatred on the working class of flyover country in general, and those who had the temerity to vote for Trump in particular and other conservatives in general. Which is a pity, since I would think that one whose nuptials were celebrated by a rabbi would be a leeeetle more aware of what results when a group of people are systematically “othered” by the ruling classes. We know now that we are hated, despised, marked out for … whatever fate dictated by the Ruling Class. And that is why the gun control that they urge will likely not go anywhere. Because we know that they hate us.
Discuss, if you can bear it.

26. June 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: European Disunion, Politics, World

If ever there was a nation-sized demonstration of the Pauline Kael intellectual bubble on the part of a national elite being caught with their metaphorical trousers down and their pale pasty behinds glowing radioactively for all to see … then the vote this last week for Britain to depart the EU at speed would be it. Here all the movers and shakers, the intellectual, social and political set were so certain in their own rectitude – and equally convinced of the stupidity, backwardness and flat-out racism of their fellow citizens … well, of course, I can almost hear the wailing from the Remainders all the way in Texas. Because – all the right-thinking people agreed with them; membership in the EU was a Positive Good, and the Way Forward, and the Wave of the Future, and such membership showered nothing but good things upon them ….

Well, it showered good things on the right-thinking people, but everyone else living outside the privilege bubble saw disadvantages up the whazoo, including the fact that basically, there was no appeal. Everything from the sugar content in jam to the proper curvature of bananas – and that was just the petty, annoying stuff – was all in rules written by some faraway bureaucrat who could never be sacked for cause, or voted out of office.

It was a transnational government without the consent of the governed. That absolutely has to get up peoples’ noses, having become accustomed for the last two hundred years or so of having some degree of input with regard to those in government, either through voting for them, or at the very least, being able to appeal effectively through protest and lobbying.

And of course, the absolutely crowning insult – after enduring the downside of EU membership, and being vocal about said downside – is a toxic combination of having your valid concerns not addressed in any meaningful fashion, but being disparaged as a racist, a nationalist, practically a Nazi, and a stupid old bitter clinger. Slapping down the race and xenophobia card is the last resort of those who actually have no concrete, defensible rationale for their actions, or are disinclined to defend them in a logical and rational manner: Shut up you stupid peasant, and let your betters make the meaningful decisions.

So in that sense, voting for Brexit was for ordinary Brits as much of an “up yours” to their establishment as backing Donald Trump is for ordinary, flyover country, working class Americans. (More along these lines from City Journal, here.)
Discuss.

My daughter was nearly ten years old, in that Christmastime of 1990. I was stationed at Zaragoza AB, in the Ebro River Valley of Spain, which was serving as one of the staging bases in Europe for the build-up to the First Gulf War … the effort to liberate Kuwait, which Saddam Hussein seemed to believe that he had a perfect right to occupy, loot and exterminate those opposing him in that small matter. But this is not about that war, particularly – only as it affected those of us located far along the haft of the military spear towards the sharp and pointy end.

Zaragoza was a long-established US base in Spain by then – sufficiently long enough to have grown up a second generation of children born to American servicemen and their Spanish wives. It was sufficiently well-established to have a fairly modern on-base school, which housed the elementary classes in one wing, and the high school in the other. My daughter started there in kindergarten, the very week that we arrived, in 1985, to the day that we departed, six years later, when she started the sixth grade. It was a safe posting, especially considered after my previous assignment to Athens, Greece, where terrorism aimed at American personnel and at the base generally was accepted grimly as an ongoing part of life, like hurricanes along the southern coasts. One took every careful precaution and internalized certain practices against an irregular and specifically unpredictably-occurring threat. One of my daughter’s earliest memories is of watching me from the front step of the suburban Athens apartment where we lived then … kneeling down to look underneath my car, parked out in the street. I was, of course, looking for something explody-ish with trailing wires, where such a device ought to not be attached to the underside of the bright orange Volvo sedan that I had purchased from a fellow NCO upon arrival in Athens. (The Volvo had the temporary USG or US Forces Greece license plates on it, which branded the vehicle as being owned/driven by a member of the American military, and thus a likely target for anything from crude vandalism to a bomb.  Just one of those things; it was a relief to get to Spain, where the practice was for regular Spanish license plates to be placed on automobiles owned by American service personnel.)

Late in autumn of that year the build-up began. Zaragoza AB went on a war footing, which meant that duties and hours devoted to those duties doubled, or in some cases, tripled for all personnel. Bright new concertina wire went up, all along the base perimeter; one of my memories of that period was how weirdly beautiful it looked under a layer of winter frost  in the early morning – like sunshine brilliantly glittering on matte-finished silver.

Christmas was coming.  After that, New Year’s Day, and then the deadline for Saddam Hussein to give up Kuwait. We knew that, barring a miracle, he wouldn’t. And then War, sometime in those days of the first week. Inevitable. The dark grey storm cloud on the horizon, flickering with flashes of interior lightning, blotting out the horizon and moving inexorably closer. One was made aware of it in dozens of ways, as the minutes, hours, days ticked by – even as the prosaic routines went on. My daughter had school every day, I cooked a family supper every evening, read to her at bed-time, shopped for groceries at the commissary, pressed a fresh blue uniform shirt every morning, mailed out Christmas cards, bought and wrapped presents. Because Christmas. One holds on to as many shreds and shards of normality as one can, when it comes to children.

These last few weeks, I have been feeling the same foreboding that I did, that holiday season more than twenty years ago. My daughter and I have a full schedule of weekend holiday markets and events. When we were setting up for the first of them, on a Friday afternoon, we came home to the news about the Islamic massacre in Paris. This week, as we were getting ready for another, it was the Islamic massacre of local government employees in San Bernardino. Next week … who knows? I am fairly certain that there will be another atrocity perpetrated by Daesh fanatics over the coming holiday season. It will occur in a place and at a time where it will all come as a horrifying surprise to the victims of it, to our national leadership cadre and to our major news outlets. The latter two will, of course, be horribly inconvenienced by having to throw some thin shreds of career-saving rationale or justification excusing such an unexpected event. This I know, as surely as I saw the deadline for military action in the Gulf inch closer and closer.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

 

Well, I see by the headlines that the Lucy and Ethel of Foggy Bottom have covered themselves with infamy in recent days. Marie Harf and Jen Psaki have outdone themselves as improv comedians – the dim blond in outsized glasses, and her even dimmer sort-of-brunette and horse-faced sidekick. I can only hope that the few remaining State Department professionals are cringing and pounding down another stiff drink every time one of them opens their mouth on national news. God save us – the psychotics of ISIS/ISIL are only being driven to char-roast and behead prisoners – because they are poor and don’t have jobs. Jen and Marie, sweetie, I will say this only once, so I hope you can put down the latest hashtag campaign and pay attention – the ISISlings have jobs, and ones which they appear to enjoy very much, have volunteered enthusiastically for and which enjoy the approval and support – monetary and otherwise – of a fair portion of Muslims.

It’s tragic to think that this hapless pair of ditzes are the best and brightest that the Obama administration State Department can field. I can only hope that they were hired to make John “I served in Vietnam, you know” Kerry look like a towering intellect. And that he’s not all that bright himself, so I suppose this was the best they could do without raiding the ranks of Special Education classes.

26. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, World

I was going to write about another mildly notorious woman – an imperishably ladylike and competent professional gambler who was a figure of note in her day on the Texas frontier – for today, but I noted the departure of Deborah, known to her family as Debo, the last of the notorious Mitfords, from this mortal plane. Yeah, it was in the Daily Mail website, but they had a number of lovely archive pictures of her, taken throughout her life – which through no particular fault of her own – was spiced with notoriety. Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire – which sounds like a made-up title for one of those horrible regency romances – was privileged and burdened, I think – in about the same degree.

That she bore that burden with a fair degree of graceful competence – and added to that – wit, insouciance, and that indefinable quality called ‘class’ and remained stalwart under it for all of her life – is something that bears contemplation. She was home-schooled, as it seems, eccentrically under the rule of a very eccentric father. She and her sisters were only expected to marry well, into the peerage if it all possible, and be ornaments to their husbands various careers, much as Englishwomen of their class had been schooled to do since time immemorial. But unexpectedly, she and her sisters – all attractive, intelligent and charming – also turned out to be fairly strong-willed and wildly independent in thought. In the hothouse of the 1930s, that meant political thought. This led three of her older sisters down some very strange political and social paths; two into notoriously enthusiastic sympathy verging on the treasonous with the Nazis in the lead-up to and during WWII and one – a dedicated Communist – into eloping with her second-cousin and going with him to report on the Spanish Civil War. One older sister became a writer of considerable note, penning historical biographies and several popular novels based on Mitford family life, the dedicated Communist sister ventured into journalism and civil rights, while another married into relatively respectable obscurity … just as Deborah herself did in 1941, to Andrew Cavendish, the younger son of a duke. Likely they had also expected lives of relatively respectable obscurity, although that could not entirely be depended upon, due to their bonds of kin- and friendship with any number of newsworthy people on either side of the Atlantic.

Such expectations were shattered by the wartime death of Andrew Cavendish’s older brother, the expected heir to the honors and property, along with the responsibility and the crippling tax burden. Within another handful of years, they took it on; the huge, crumbling stately manor of Chatsworth, which had been neglected for many years. Together they worked to open it to the public, to restore and revive an architectural and cultural treasure. It took, according to the linked account, nearly a quarter of a century to pay off the death duties on the Devonshire estates. She and her husband were also keen gardeners, and the grounds of Chatsworth are at least a much of a work of living art as the house itself. Always a prolific letter-writer, and with the example of two of her sisters to inspire her, she also turned to writing books – chiefly to do with Chatsworth, but also a memoir of her husband, her own memoir of growing up Mitford, and a collection of letters between herself and Patrick Leigh-Fermor. Many of the comments attached to the linked story mentioned encounters with her in person; a gracious, charismatic and quietly formidable woman, and one of a sort that we will likely not see again.

Between my English and Scots-Irish-English grandparents, a deep and abiding love of English literature and history, a fair number of English friends, and two long-ago summers sojourns in Britain doing the youth hostel and Brit-Rail Pass, I’ve always looked on the place as my metaphorical second country. I know it about as well as any American could and not actually be in residence there, and I’ve always kept in touch – through English magazines, newspapers and yes, in recent years through websites. Yes, and I score sufficiently high on any number of those quizzes testing American knowledge of British slang to say, with perfect truth, that I speak fluent Brit. (Although I can’t place British regional accents … something to do with acquiring most of this knowledge from the printed page rather than the spoken word.)

So, ever since I happily discovered The Internet, and began following more news than was available in the local newspaper and mainstream print publications, I’d been reading English news sites – starting with, I think, The Times of London and The Spectator – before they put the good stuff behind a pay-wall, and moving on to the Telegraph. I had a print subscription to the Guardian Weekly, for years – and occasionally checked out their website before the burden of wading through waist to neck-deep oceans of political-correctitude got to be too much of a chore. Now my guilty tabloid pleasure is to scan the Daily Mail; I know, in the eyes of the grand and the good, this is about one step above the Star or the National Enquirer. But the Mail and the Enquirer have of late begun to commit regular acts of non-partisan journalism – especially when it comes to the American political scene, in contract to the supposedly more respectable publications.

So, I was already aware of the horrific and ongoing scandal of native English girls – many barely into their teens – being groomed, raped, gang-raped and sex-trafficked by British-born Pakistani men, in Rotherham and elsewhere. The release of an especially damning report on a formal inquiry into the matter has even rattled the cages of bloggers like Wretchard at Belmont Club – and no wonder. The most horrifying aspect isn’t just that girls were routinely raped on a wholesale basis, or that many were blackmailed by threats to their family into cooperating in their own exploitation. Even worse is that the police forces, social workers, and local politicians also knew – but refrained from doing anything about it because they did not want to be accused of racism. It seems that the national media outlets also looked away, for as long as they could. As commenter Andrew X, at this discussion thread explained: The media lying is due to a combination of fears – fear of being called racist, fear of Muslim fanatics, and above all a fear of the public. The establishment sees the working class as ignorant racist morons so they’re afraid to say anything that might give the mob an excuse to go on the rampage. It’s not just the rape gangs that see British people as “white trash”.

Wrap your mind around that, if you please – that those bureaucrats, politicians and investigators whose profession and mission is to protect and defend their fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them – hesitated to act because they were afraid of being called racists, which would be a career-limiter, in these present days. They might get a letter of reprimand, or a tough question or two from local media and a certain degree of heat from the diversity-loving intellectual set. That many of the girls victimized were from working-class families or the English equivalent of trailer-trash, or from troubled backgrounds anyway just adds a dimension of particularly ugly snobbery. In order to maintain the benign mask of multicultural toleration and diversity in place, the ruling managerial and political class essentially sacrificed the children of the ruled class to a sexual Moloch … and kept quiet about it for years. How badly the ordinary British citizens are being served by their ruling class, these days! (Nearly as bad as as Americans are being served when it comes to black on white crime, but that’s a rant for another occasion.) My grandparents would be appalled, and horrified at what has become of the country that they immigrated from 100 years ago, but still held in affection.
Discuss.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

Forty years after the fact is a fine time to wonder if maybe that murderous freak Charles Manson had a point, after all. This is a savage disappointment to me, having been carefully schooled in racial tolerance since about the time that my mother nearly kicked off an epic family fracture when she requested that my paternal grandfather please tone down his expressions of racial denigration in front of us kiddies. She might also have asked the same of Dad, back in the day – he was, after all, raised by Grandpa Al, who – by his talk – couldn’t abide Negro-Black-African-Americans, or whatever the current socially correct term is – and Grandma Dodie, who couldn’t stand Jews. That their favorite entertainer of all time was Sammy Davis, Jr., was just one of those amusing ironies – that and the fact that they were always perfectly cordial to those of my parent’s friends and mine who were Jewish, and/or not by any stretch of imagination white Anglo-Saxon protestants was another one.

I optimistically assumed that more than half a century of civil rights being the law of the land had put an end to Charlie Manson’s sweaty fantasies of racial war. I honestly did … in spite of knowing that there were neighborhoods in most large American cities where a person of Anglo pallor like myself did not want to be caught, alive or dead, in broad daylight or the dark of night. I also knew at a remove of the existence of a university sub-culture of grievance studies and residual pools of racial resentment lovingly maintained like rare orchids by professional race-mongers (yes, I am looking at YOU, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson). My generally optimistic assumptions regarding race relations were based on personal experience and first-hand observation in academia and the armed forces, despite the occasional lapse – say, after the OJ verdict and the riots after the Rodney King beating. I served with commanders and first sergeants who were black – and finer, more decent and patriotic people could hardly be found. I served alongside others, some who were close enough and good enough friends that we could speak honestly about black/white relations and the general history of race relations in America. I also had friends who were partners in interracial couples – in all possible combinations and variants. Indeed, some of my own daughter’s regular dates would have had Grandpa Al revolving in his grave like a Black and Decker drill. This is supposed to be the ne plus ultra when it comes to judging racial tolerance – in that “Would you want your daughter to marry one?” Content of character came way ahead of race for me, every time.

And then there came election of The First Black President Evah! Such was my happy state of innocence in 2008 that I assumed that a page had been turned; the one positive development leading from the election of a completely inexperienced local community organizer was that we might confidently expect to have heard the very last of the USA being the most raaaaacist nation ever! Alas, even that small hope has been cruelly squashed over the six years since – chiefly because this administration’s public affairs branch, or the traditional print and broadcast news outlets as we used to call them – mostly insist on attributing any objection or doubt regarding Obama’s legislative or administrative goals as being motivated by racism. This is as tiresome as it is untrue, but the absolute and unvarying insistence has taken a toll. What is even more dispiriting is the knowledge that black racism is more overt, more in-your-face and more threatening – witness the ongoing riots in St. Louis; it’s as if the election of Obama unleashed something malign, rather than putting it away like an outworn security object. Discuss.

(Cross-posted at chicagoboyz.net)

12. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fun With Islam, GWOT, Rant, World · Tags: ,

I always thought that overthrowing Saddam Hussein and assisting the Iraqis in setting up something that kinda-sorta-resembled a western-style democracy was a gamble, but one worth taking. Taking out the Saddam trash – especially a gangster régime which had gleefully made regional and international trouble for decades – and replacing it with a strategically-located sort-of-ally … better than allowing him to remain in place, anyway. His sons were even viler; if possible, than he was, and after ten years of air patrols in the no-fly zones, protecting the Kurds in the north … we were very close to being worn thin. The situation couldn’t last much longer … anyway; I thought Iraq had a good chance of eventually turning out like a kind of Middle East South Korea. After a few decades, they’d be able to handle themselves. We’d keep the odd base or two, lurk meaningfully in the vicinity.

Only, our Fearless Leader, the Golfer in Chief, decided to bag any kind of SOFA (status of forces agreement) declared that Afghanistan was more important, and then that Gitmo should be closed and that everybody would like us then.

So, it is most depressing to look at the headlines this week – especially the decapitated motorists, the lines of refugees streaming south out of Mosul and Tikrit. Thanks, Obama – thanks for throwing it all away.

It actually hasn’t been exactly half a year since I bought out the founder of the company, contract signed and witnessed and the major down-payment made, but it has been about six months since she – her favorite niece and executor rather forcefully backing her up – suggested that the time had definitely arrived for me to step up and formally and officially buy her out, website, client files, and all. Alice had always intended that I would take over, eventually. We were both cranky and independent spirits, and tired of working for other people or enterprises. Since I had been carrying just about everything to do with the firm for more than a year at that point, I didn’t have any argument. A nice chunk of the savings that I had from sale of the California property went to buy the Bidness – which we are pretty certain will be earned back – I have three projects working at present, two of them with repeat projects … plus a number of other repeat clients who may come up with re-orders at random intervals. The Bidness is a going concern, with nice local word-of-mouth among authors who would prefer to go independent, and a some profitable repeat clients.

Alice, who founded the company some three decades since, had spent some weeks in the hospital last year, eventually being diagnosed with cancer in the upper lobe of one lung, and being successfully operated on for it … but alas, it seemed that it had begun to spread, insidiously. She tried out chemo, lasted two rounds and then essentially said, “Sc**w that and the horse it rode in on.” They had given her six months with chemo, which made her miserable and even sicker… but even with giving up chemo and feeling temporarily much better, she was not up to much. Her insurance plan paid for home hospice care (not for nothing had she worked in the days when she worked for other people, at an insurance company!) and the regular nurses came every couple of days since she bagged chemo. We accepted this – so did her family. Blondie went to her house two and three days a week, to keep house, run errands and drive Alice to required appointments. Alice herself plodded on, much as she had always done, plagued by fits of exhaustion, forgetfulness, and inability to navigate anywhere without a walker. She told Blondie several times that she wouldn’t in the least mind if Blondie appeared one mid-day, walked into the house and found her dead in her chair with a book in her lap. What better way to go? She hated hospitals – another thing we had in common.

Any kind of work at editing gradually became hopeless, and what was the worst part – she knew and was exasperated at how her steel-trap mind was painfully rusting shut. She was, in her seventies, an early adopter of computers and the internet, but that went by the wayside. Over the years when we were in partnership, I would get up in the morning and find a half a dozen emails or forwarded, from her in my yahoo.com account – but not in the last few months, when she spent most of her waking hours in an easy chair in the living room, reading. She was one of the very few people I know in real life who possessed more books than I do – with the added fillip of having edited and published a good few of them, or at least had been acquaintances of the author. In mid-May she urged me to take any of the reference books that I wanted and would need – I came away with two bags full of books. I think that was the last time that I saw her, still fairly fit and able to go into her home office.

The final spiral came two weeks ago, and in one terrible rush. I went to see her again, when she was not able to get out of the hospital bed they had brought in; her one old-friend client, whom she had held back upon sale of the company, had a book that she was working on, in fits and starts. She handed the project on to me, I searched out the files and went home with a couple of letters from her friend. I’ve basically had to start the project paperwork all over, Excel worksheet, contract and all. A week ago, Memorial Day weekend, her sister called to say – not going well. We hurried over, dodging rain all the way, which only seemed suitable. She was not conscious – I don’t think ever became really conscious again. She passed away about mid-day last Saturday.

So, that’s what I have been up to, for the last couple of weeks. Real life, and all that.

20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, Rant, sarcasm, World

Oh, not to worry – I had my privilege topped up last week. Full of privilege I am, and ready to go … I assume that this is the ephemeral white privilege that these undergraduates-of-excruciatingly-top-drawer-non-state-uni muppets are referring to? Is this the female privilege, the veteran privilege, or the mainstream religious privilege, or even the privilege of having been brought up by a relatively well-adjusted heterosexual married couple in those benighted times when it was possible and even laudable for a male to go out and earn a living, while the spouse (usually referred to as a help-mate) stayed at home, raised the children, organized the housekeeping and the meals, the education, clothing and schooling of those children, the social sphere in which she and the pay-check winning spouse moved, and volunteered in the community where they lived … that must be it. (Hey, I’ll swipe my privilege card through the dispenser, just in case I have burned through some of my previously-deposited privilege.)

Here’s the thing, though. It’s been at least fifty years since in-your-face racism was socially acceptable and possibly even longer in some places and spheres … at least, open and totally unvarnished, un-self-censored racism displayed by people of non-color towards everyone else. The matter of open, totally unvarnished and un-self-censored racism displayed by certain ethnic groups of color towards practically everyone else is another matter entirely. The guardians of privilege seem to have no problem with that stripe of racism. See: We’ve had affirmative action, we’ve had ‘insert your ethnicity here’ history month, week or day, and we’ve had endless consciousness-raising and social actions-mandated training of one sort or another for at least that long. The unlooked for and annoying result of all – as I see it – is that those who have ground out a living or a career from raising everyone’s level of consciousness now have to work harder, and harder, and look for the tiniest of tiny incidents which might be construed as racially-based aggression on the part of those of no particular color towards those of color.

This is reaching the point of ridiculousness, considering the various affirmative action programs in effect when it comes to institutions of higher learning, doing business or being hired by federal, state and local government agencies, getting hired by MSNBC, in spite of being barely literate and incoherent in public speaking, at least as it is judged by those of us who are really literate and accustomed to speaking publically and being understood by the greater majority. (Yes, looking at you, Al Sharpton, although this could extend to other notably dim-witted media affirmative action clones, such as Melissa Harris-Perry.) To recapitulate – irredeemable white racism exists, but it lives in a trailer park in a low-rent district in the hinterlands somewhere. On the other hand, black racism has a nice media gig, a mega-church pulpit, academic tenure, or is – ironically – a media star with a house the value of which computed by a single square foot equals the value of my entire house with contents and both cars, White House residency or an enduring gig as political representative of a majority-minority Gerrymandered safe district. (OK, missed any particular sub-set of the grievously and professionally racially-annoyed? BTW, hearing that fabulously wealthy celebrities of color – who have gotten to be fabulously wealthy by appealing to largely audiences of non-color – are bitching and moaning about racism and prejudice is getting … well, pretty tiresome at this stage of the racial game as it is played in this century in America.. Word to the wise; n’est-ce pas? )

So, what really-o-truly-o emerges from this whole ‘check your privilege’ thing is a two-fold message. The first and almost inadvertent is that home schooling is a good thing, as it spares your children from being mind-f**ked by a bunch of trendoid quasi-Marxist educators leaping on the latest intellectual fad.

Second and most important; this has and will continue to do a number on the minds and barely-formed intellects of the impressionable school-age youth of all colors. For the so-called advantaged and privileged class (that is, those of non-color, or pallor) it will destroy any rightful confidence and pride in their ethnic heritage – because it’s all reduced to ‘white’. Never mind about any deeds of valor, intellect, or simply decent striving to better ones’ self. Nope- sorry, you are automatically privileged and henceforth morally damned … even if a quick look around to the real life around you gives you plenty of personal observations countering that supposition of superiority. For those children of other-than-pallor, the implicit message is every bit as malign, as damaging to the self-image – which is ‘there is nothing you can do, can strive for – because white privilege trumps all! Yer a looser before you ever start, kid! Because of that nasty privilege thing! And your darker epidermis! You poor dear child of color – you are doomed, I say–doomed to un-success and oh, yeah-BTW-blame it all on those evil-nasty-people-of-non-color!’

Essentially, that’s what the message is, when parsed down to the lowest level. Look; when there are abusive pervs willfully and energetically destroying the self-image and confidence of a single child-that’s a reason to call CPS and press charges. What therefore, is our response, when it is a whole generation of kids, systematically abused by the establishment? What then, oh wolves?

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

27. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: European Disunion, Good God, History, Military, World · Tags:

Found through a comment at Neo-Neocon.
A reminder of what Britain used to be.

I speak, of course, of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boing 777, which took off last week from Kuala Lumpur and came to earth … or sea – we know not where. The whole saga just gets weirder and weirder as reported. Possible terrorists? Piracy and ransom? Complicity of the flight crew? Transponders turned off, and flying in a zig-zaggy pattern, and then vanishing entirely? There’s a new angle almost every day or so. Increasingly those who wonder about such things are wondering if those who do know or suspect with good reason what really happened to Flight MH370 are keeping their mouths shut as well. Yes – the oceans are wide and deep, and an airplane – even a Boeing 777 – is large and full of stuff, and people.

Wherever it came down, on land or on sea and if catastrophically … well, searchers usually have found something by now, especially by following along the original flight path. But MH370 went rogue, although why, how, where and at the hands of whom is a puzzle most extraordinary – in the words of Hercule Poirot. I’ll make no pretense of being an expert in investigating missing aircraft, but I only remember one other such case of a large aircraft vanishing so thoroughly and completely in the last decade or so. (It was in Africa, under weird circumstances, flight crew of three and … no one knows what happened to it after it took off.)

Usually, three days max, and somewhere along the expected flight path – the searchers find what’s left of the aircraft, and begin to make an educated guess at what happened, even if all there is to go on at first are some floating seat cushions and a fuel slick. But this, as I say, is just weird. Everything that is reported – and what is reported is sketchy, contradictory and filtered through the news media of several different countries – only adds to the weirdness. Speculation runs all the way through the possible, the probable to the ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and into the frankly extraordinary. But the thing is that once you have seen a plot to hijack four passenger airliners and crash them into tall buildings get carried out, one knows that what was once ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and conspiracy website fodder may very well turn up among tomorrows’ headlines.

Well, it’s a darned good thing this woman is a well-paid CEO, because she sure doesn’t have any skills for living in poverty, no good recipes for tasty, nourishing food, and seems to be innocent of any knowledge of coupon clipping, shopping the ‘reduced for quick sale’ case or the fact that dried beans and rice in bulk are always cheaper than the canned version. And blowing a good sixth of the weekly budget on prepared gourmet pasta sauce … spare me the tales of woe concerning your one week on a tight budget – I can tell you how I lived for a year in the early 1980s on a budget of 25$ every two weeks, plus another 10$ for sundries like detergent and diapers for my toddler daughter. (Advantage being that on weekdays, she had breakfast and lunch at the child care center.) Eggs, cheese, dried pastas, home-made sauces and casseroles, home-made applesauce from a box of apples from the farmer’s market, yoghurt brewed up in the yoghurt maker, and no meat protein that cost more than a dollar a pound. Yes, I shopped with a calculator in my hand, every payday, and usually finished out the day or so before payday with small change in my purse and a dollar or so in the bank account. Other enlisted military members at the time did pretty much the same and likely still do.

How on earth Ms. Moulton even got the notion that a single person or a family on food stamps must get along on that amount is a bit of a puzzle, for it seems that it is merely the amount which has been subtracted per month for a family of four. If the well-off want to see how the other half eats and budgets I would suggest an amount more in line with what a person on food stamps actually will be receiving … and then perhaps a quick consult with those of us who have actually had to pinch our food pennies for realsies until a booger came out of Lincoln’s nose.

36$ a week amounts to $144 monthly for a single person, $288 for a couple – and a whole $576 for the much-vaunted family of four. I could make that budget easily (and have), providing three good meals a day, and no one feeling hungry or tired of lentil stew. Yes, it means no prepared foods, lots of home baking, and getting certain items in case lots or in bulk – and giving a miss to places like Whole Foods. Looking at the comments attached to the linked article, I would guess that Ms Moulton is getting well-schooled along those lines.
Any tales of heroic food budgeting are welcome to be shared in comments

I guess that it must be proof of sorts that we live in a pretty OK residential area … and also that Blondie and I are snoopy and stand on our rights and obligations as citizens, in that we have had cause to call the San Antonio Police Department twice in three days, and both times officers of the gendarmerie appeared within about twenty minutes or half an hour of the time we called. Yes, we are those neighbors … well, not the kind of ‘those neighbors’ who unite the other neighbors in disbelieving horror, but the other kind of ‘those neighbors’ – the ones who know other neighbors casually to speak to, who note and recognize things which are curious and out of normal order, and are not afraid to speak up and tell someone in ostensible authority. Like whoever is on the other end of the non-urgent telephone number.

This is what good neighborhoods are made of – not gates, security fences with combinations, private patrols, and not middle-class values and paychecks. It is also a relatively fragile construct, because once the forces of darkness and unrestrained disruption/criminality take over, it is damn hard to get control back. The people who live in a place must have an element of effective control over it through the soft power of social control – backed up by civil law, otherwise it’s a straight shot to gangbangers shooting up at random, kids sleeping in bathtubs or on the floor, and 24-hour mercantile establishments with their cashiers behind bullet-proof glass bastions and metal shutters over the windows.

I don’t want to live in a neighborhood like that – probably neither did George Zimmerman – and so this why Blondie and I take our phones with us when we run in the wee hours of the morning, and walk the doggies in the slightly-less-wee-hours. Mess with our neighborhood – we will dial 311 and explain the mess to the obliging dispatcher. Maybe this explains the difference between red and blue states at the working-class level. Here in the last redoubt of red-land, we still believe that we can hold fast; we can keep our neighborhood a place where you can walk the dog, let the kiddies play in the front yard, put garden ornaments of nominal value in the front yard and have faith they will remain there – and go running and dog-walking at all hours with a feeling of relative security. It’s just how we roll.
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You know, it’s sad and depressing, going and looking at the pictures of wrecked Detroit; seeing all the rows of once-tidy houses along straight-ruled streets, and most of them are burned-out, boarded up, and covered in graffiti, while grass and small trees come up through the pavement, and the open prairie and woodland slowly creeps back to reclaim it all. These were the homes of the working and middle class, in which they took pride. They raised their children, sent them to the local schools, went to church on Sunday … and now those homes, and churches and schools are crumbling. So are the factories which powered the working class and the small independent businesses that powered the striving and entrepreneurial middle class. Looking at the Detroit Ruin Porn is like looking at stills from some kind of post-apocalyptic movie. Here was the pride of industrial America, who put America on wheels, and Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan on their knees … and within five decades, the cities’ political elite have managed to destroy it all. For short-term and immediate gain, of course; making the city difficult for small businesses and hostile to whites – especially the middle-class, entrepreneurial sorts – came at a cost that is only coming due now. Hell, even the enterprising working-class-to-poor have decamped from Detroit, appearing to leave it all to the low-life segment of the population and the life-time bureaucrats. Welcome to the hell you made, folks. Nearly half the adult population are functional illiterates, which is a whole ‘nother category of special all on it’s own.

Look, as a person of pallor, an entrepreneur and a tax-payer – I don’t really mind paying taxes. Well, not very much, as long as I am getting some value from that portion of my income which I must turn over to the municipality, the state and the federal government. I’d like to know – and know first-hand, and without a doubt that the streets are being paved and maintained, and patrolled by law-enforcement. I’d like to be assured that the courts administer justice fairly and impartially, that the municipal authorities refrain from being anal-retentive and over-controlling morons, enchanted with the power of their own authority, and that I could walk three or four blocks through my own neighborhood on a regular basis in perfect safety and security. I’d like also to be assured that my property and others in the vicinity would be free from the threat of vandalism and arson. I’d like to be assured that the high school up the street is graduating eighteen-year-olds with a firm grasp on literacy, numeracy, and the obligations of being a responsible citizen, although I accept that I probably may not be able to count on that last with a hundred-per-cent assurance. The presence of art galleries, convention centers, parks and museums are all a negotiable benefit – nice to have in addition to the above. Doubly nice – in addition to all of the above – is not to be screamed at by the city administration and called a racist every day and twice on Sunday. It would also be nice also to not be called a racist for moving the hell out of the municipality which had become hostile to those small listed ambitions of mine.

In all of these modest ambitions, the city of Detroit has failed, utterly, repeatedly and over decades. So, let them reap the whirlwind. Don’t even think you can appeal to me with pleas of ‘think of the children!’ or any other media-ready cliché. Don’t care. Can’t be made to care. You broke, you own – my city and state has problems of it’s own (although since I live in Texas, those challenges are relatively minor in comparison), and my tax dollars are already dedicated. Although I hate to seem so callous, because I used to be a nice and rather liberal, charitable and tolerant person – in this current economy, I got over it.

Goodbye, Detroit. Nice to have had you with us – sad to see ya go. Revert to prairie and farmland, that’s my most helpful suggestion. Forget that you were ever the glory of the industrial upper mid-west.

Enjoy. It’s controversial, apparently, that Sting took to singing 400+ year old pop music … but to each their own.

So another week in Chez Hayes, sportsfans; Blondie and I are both creeping back to something resembling health after a bout with the current crud, which may or may not be this years’ flu. Whether or not – it’s a hum-dinger. The comprehensive exhaustion, lack of appetite and the racking cough are something special, and in my case, it is added to the mysterious chronic cough that has had me sounding at intervals as if I were hacking up a lung, ever since the end of November. This is especially mysterious, as I have never smoked. A chronic cough lasting for three months has challenged my medical provider at the BAMC family clinic. Tuesday afternoon I returned from another appointment bearing some serious prescriptions; including for a cough syrup containing codeine, another round of antibiotics and two sorts of inhalers, which I may yet figure out how to use effectively. I know, I am supposed to breathe in two puffs of the ‘emergency’ inhaler … the first attempt made me cough, yet again …

So, it appears that Oooogo Chavez has finally shuffled off this mortal – not unexpectedly, as the folks at Rantburg have been putting up the pic of him with hovering buzzards for about a week or so. I know, speak no ill of the dead … but I’ll bet you anything that Sean Penn is curled up in the fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. And Venezuela is now blaming the US for Oooogo’s demise, which I would find as amusing as hell since the current administration now must come up with some kind of response, or not… depending. Ah, well – comes on the same day of a couple of other foreign relations crises come to a full boil and likely claiming President Kardashian’s butterfly attention; Iran and North Korea both may have nukes. What fun.

Sigh – yet another black celebrity makes my personal ban-list. Now it’s Bill Cosby, apparently mouthing the canard that the GOP wants to bring back slavery … I had thought better of old Coz, but now alas, he seems to have drunk the racial solidarity Kool-aide. Bye, Coz – it was nice to have been a fan.

And that’s been my week so far – yours?

When I was a kid, and hearing this on the classical station which was all my mother allowed on the house radio, I thought this was the most beautiful and lyrical thing I had ever heard. Presented for your edification with subtitles.

Yeah, so I’m a middlebrow with conventional tastes. Deal.

I have noted recent news reports decrying incidents of Sandy Hook trutherism with a certain degree of cynical un-surprise. This then, is the fruit of modern journalism; now we have news consumers who are absolutely convinced that the mass murders either didn’t happen, didn’t happen as most reports have it, or believe that it was a put-up job entirely. Of course there have been conspiracy buffs since human history began; wherever there was a tragic or shocking event there have always been unexplained details, dangling loose ends and things which just seemed to convenient, too coincidental. Supposing a conspiracy existed explains shattering and usually random events all very well, which is why people are attracted to conspiracy theories in the first place. Since I was in grade school, I’ve been hearing about the plot, or plots which supposedly took down JFK. It’s to the point where I can paint myself as a a radical just by insisting that Oswald was a lone radical nut-case and no, it wasn’t that hard a shot. And sometimes suspicion of a conspiracy has been very well based; look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

So, nothing new here, that there should be whispers of conspiracies with regard to the Sandy Hook murders, and nothing new that with the rise of the internet, conspiracy-minded people have no problem finding a wider audience for their particular obsessions than they would have, back in the day when getting the word out as a single activist or group meant a mimeograph machine, a mailing list and sufficient postage. The element that I suspect is new would be the widening lack of trust in the establishment media; broadcast and print alike. I’ve often lamented the manner in which formerly respected news outlets perceived by the public as being generally trustworthy have been pissing away that trust for the last two decades. Of course, up until about fifteen years ago, the internet wasn’t developed to the point where it was relatively easy to fact-check the establishment media; they may have have been just as craven, partisan or incompetent back then, (Hello, Mr. Duranty, your table is waiting!) and there would have been no way for any but a tiny number of people to know for sure.

But now we do know … and one of the things we also know is that just about everything first reported about the Sandy Hook murders, or the Zimmerman-Martin shooting, or the shooting of Gabby Giffords and a hundred other more news stories-du-jour turned out to be wrong. Just about everything said about the Tea Party by the major media turned out to be wrong – and this I know form personal experience as a local Tea Party activist. On the other hand, we know practically nothing about the takeover of the American consulate office in Benghazi late last year and the death of four Americans there. As a candidate for the highest office in the land in 2008, Barack Obama was treated as a precious and lustrous pearl by the national media, given only the lightest buffing and polishing, while his experience, qualifications and past associates went carefully and (to all appearances, deliberately) unexamined.

Reasonable, un-paranoid and non-tinfoil-hat-wearing Americans these days have every reason in the world to distrust what has been printed or broadcast. Rich soil in which to plant the seeds of paranoid conspiracy theories – and the funniest and most ironical part, is that the professional mainstream news media have laid down the deepest layer of that soil themselves, in seeming to trim the sails of coverage to suit the favored political and politically correct winds of the moment. As ye sow, ladies and gentlemen of the establishment press – so shall ye reap, a full crop of suspicion and paranoia.

It’s been most unsettling, over the last month or so, watching as the ship of state powers straight towards the reefs of financial meltdown, while the Dems and Pubs – establishment ruling class, with just about every one of them grubbing snout deep in the trough – do nothing much but squabble over the arrangement of the deck chairs, and figure out how to be the first one into the purser’s office to loot the safe. And if that wasn’t bad enough to put a dent in my enjoyment of the season: the Newton massacre of school children, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the murders in my own neighborhood, the fact that a basically decent and widely experienced candidate could be defeated in a national election by a legislatively untalented and inexperienced machine hack … all of this was depressing in itself. And don’t get me started on the State Department and the Mysteries of Benghazi. But when a credentialed spawn of academia is given op-ed space in the so-called paper of record to call for deep-sixing the Constitution as an outdated and discredited piece of paper, network television personalities can hector and abuse interviewees with regard to the Second Amendment of same, and an editorialist in a mid-western newspaper (who may be exaggerating for humorous effect, not that he would have a micro-speck slack cut for him if he were a conservative ripping on progressives by name) can call for the torture and execution of those not in agreement on a particular matter, and some fairly senior military commanders can be abruptly side-lined and discredited for playing hide-the-salami (or being assumed to have been playing hide the salami) with a woman not their spouse … well, really, one has to wonder what has been happening here. The ‘othering’ proceeds at a perfectly dismaying rate of speed, with mainstream media and assorted celebs cheerleading from front and center.
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I don’t think I ever actually watched Red Dawn, the move – not the original, and probably not the remake, either. I haven’t been in the mood much for movie going lately, and I view remakes of successful old movies to be proof absolute that the creativity of mainstream Hollywood is a well pretty much run dry.

And the whole notion of Russia, China or North Korea having enough transport capability to bring over sufficient troops to overrun and overwhelm the continental United States is one which boggles my mind over into disbelief. Sure, Germany and Russia both did a fair amount of that military overrunning of adjacent nation in WWII, and Japan certainly managed to do all that and solve the transport issue well enough to do the same in Asia … but schlep a huge number of soldiers and necessary support the whole width of an ocean away, and then completely subdue a large portion of a continent? Nope, not with a block and tackle could I suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the popcorn.

And besides … as it turns out, maybe the dedicated socialists didn’t have to militarily invade at all. They’re already here, and plenty of them, ready to set aside the Constitution, to govern by decree and by thousands and thousands of dictates and rules touching upon everything from what kind of light bulbs we may buy, to what kind of healthcare we might have, what we pack in the kid’s school lunch and a thousand other matters large and small. And all of it decreed by the best and brightest for the very, very best of reasons and our own good, of course. Just call them the new Ruling Class. Some are political, some are academics or in business, or even entertainment – but all wish to cement their place at the apex of authority as quasi-aristocrats.

So what is a dedicated, small-government Constitutionalist to do but go Wolverine … but not by moving into the country and living out fantasies of the WWII-era resistance. No, the new Wolverinity is to stay in place and doggedly, sullenly resist. Resist by supporting small local businesses, independent authors, artists and fellow resistants. Use the power of the pocketbook as much as you can to starve the Ruling Class and it’s supporters. Ridicule and mock them, demonstrate your contempt – and never let a chance pass to remind certain of your fellow citizens (the ones who put Obama/Biden signs on their lawns) that the current administration is one that they voted for – especially when those unintended consequences begin turning up. Gas at $6 a gallon? You voted for that. Rolling brownouts in cities? Voted for that. Now you’re working part-time, or as an independent contractor because your employer can’t afford to implement Obamacare and remain solvent? Hey, you voted for that. As an old and wise NCO who was my mentor once observed, “Hey, sometimes you just got to let them fall on their sword.”

Go, Wolverines.

All the other authors and publishers whom I talked to over the three days of the Christmas Market agreed – as an author, and none of us being of the NY Times best-seller class – it is profitable and much less dispiriting to do an event like a Christmas craft fair in company with a bunch of other authors. Much less foully dispiriting than doing a single-author event at a book-store, which is usually total ego-death-onna-stick. First and most importantly of all – customers with money and the intention of spending it are plentiful at a craft fair or a similar community market event, especially in the holiday gift-giving season. Trust me; many of them can see books as the perfect gift, and they are inclined to buy. Secondly – it’s a venue where one is in completion with vendors of a wide variety of consumer items – not every other published author on the shelves. And thirdly – in the slack times, there are other authors to talk to.

Seriously, nothing quite beats the tedium of sitting alone at the Dreaded Author Table in a not-very-well-frequented bookstore, and watching the occasional customer slink into the store trying to avoid your eye. Or worse still, at a large and popular chain bookstore, observing them heading into the computer games or DVD movie section. Which is the trouble with the Hastings chain, as I experienced and other authors concur; the staff are wonderfully helpful, great about ordering and stocking the books, but alas, the client base usually is there for the games, the music and the movies, eschewing the printed word generally. Not even libraries are proof against this; another author told me of participating at a local author event staged at a big public library. He and the other hopeful authors watched as a large crowd assembled out side the library, every one of them anticipating that they would have a wonderful and author-life-affirming event … only to see that every one of those in line headed straight for the library computers.

Yes, the Author’s Life (especially as a not-very-well-known indy author) is full of little kicks to the ego as this – but an event that sells out half the stock of books that one arrived with, is indoors, well-publicized in advance, and mostly-well-attended (although Sunday afternoon slacked off considerably) and having the organizers being quite generous and helpful – this is one well worth recollecting with fondness and returning to again. The good volunteers for the Weihnachtsmarkt even had a vendor’s lounge, stocked with coffee and ice water and all sorts of home-made pastries and baked delights. New Braunfels is Little Germany – they DO that kind of thing here! The whole event is to benefit the local historical museum, the Sophienburg – and it did draw a good crowd. My daughter was afraid that I had pretty well tapped out the market for the Trilogy in New Braunfels; not so, as there were a fair number of fans who came and bought the follow-up books (Daughter of Texas and Deep in the Heart), or asked impatiently about the next book, and even two who bought the German translation as a gift for friends and family who would appreciate a German translation of the first of the Trilogy. In between all these high points though – I spent time studying the interior architecture of the New Braunfels Civic Center, briefly wandering down the hallway to other author tables and the occasional quick foray into the main sales floors. The shops set up in the main ballroom and the annex all featured a great many lovely things that I just cannot quite yet afford.

Ah, well – someday.

It looks really weird to me, this last Veteran’s Day weekend … not even a week after the election results came in. A couple of days after General Petreus put in his resignation as head of the CIA – conveniently for the American news cycle – on a Friday before a three-day weekend. So, kind of astonished over that – a mere several days before he was to testify about whatever was going on with regard to our quasi-official establishment in Benghazi on the 11th of September last. Of course, the second most astonishing aspect to me is that the head of the CIA can’t keep an affair secret, and the third most astonishing is that someone so politically wily as to be able to pin on four stars would still be stupidly reckless enough to engage on such a very public affair. What, were they doing the horizontal mambo in the middle of the parade ground at reveille at whatever base they were at in Afghanistan? Ok, never undervalue the comfort of situational friendships between persons of the opposite sex in a far country, double if in a war zone. Been there and … err, backed off from doing that, in the physical sense. But the friendship was enormously satisfactory; a way of getting through a hard tour in a distant and unforgivingly difficult place, and a lot of people there with us and who noted that we were a quasi-official couple also probably assumed that our relationship included an ongoing sexual aspect. Which it did not; part of the friendship involved an understanding between us that carrying it that far would inflict unacceptable damage on each other, emotionally and professionally. I thought the world of him, and he loved his family, back in the World; that’s the way that responsible and caring adults manage that kind of situation. It’s in the field, and it ends in the field.

But the way that the Petreus mess is expanding is enough to cause me to raise an eyebrow – and now it turns out that the second woman involved – is she the South Beach Mata Hari or what? – also had a good friend of the multi-star adorned command-rank level, as well as the somewhat dogged interest of the investigating FBI agent, who sent her a pic of him shirtless… dear god, people – this is not high school. Or at least, I assumed it was not. As it is, I could swear I watched a story line like this on General Hospital in the late 1970s, only with doctors, nurses and consultants, instead of commanders, reporters and socialites.

It is curious though – the sudden retirements, resignations, and reassignments of high-ranking and notable officers lately. It’s almost like there is something going on: earlier there was that kerfuffle about General Carter Ham being relieved of duty, with dark hints that it was because of events in Benghazi. On the bright side, though – since General Petreus was deeply involved in the events of 9/11/2012 in Benghazi, it just might be that there might be a little more interest in what happened there than has been displayed so far by our mighty mainstream press.
Or not.

Blondie and I went to bed Tuesday night around 9:30, already fearing that things were not going well as regards Mitt Romney’s chances of taking up residence in that big official governmental residence on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington … so it was not a totally incapacitating shock to the system on Wednesday morning to wake up (to the tune of our next door neighbor’s Basset hound incessantly barking –G*d, are we beginning to hate that dog!) in the wee hours, turn on the computer and discover that Michelle will have another four years of lavish vacations on the government dime.

Ah well – as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, there is a lot of ruin in a nation, and perhaps this turn of events might turn out to be a blessing in very thick disguise. Obama will be in office when all the various incontinent chickens – which he or his party launched in the first place – come home to roost. Fast and Furious, the overrunning of the Benghazi consulate and his administration’s inaction with regard to, the insupportable burden that Obamacare will place upon small businesses, the expected hyper-inflation Weimar Germany Style, Iran taking aim at Israel in a non-friendly and nuclear way, the Chinese edging into a tangle with Japan, domestic AND international threats to our First and Second Amendments, the fact that the nomination of at least one justice to the Supreme Court will be in his purview, the fact that his administration generally seems to be a rancid commingling of Chicago gangster politics, 1930’s style with the worst of the 1960’s academic Marxism … With the best intentions in the world, I fear that Romney would not have been able to clean out the Augean stables in any meaningful way.
So, let it happen and let it all be done. That percentage of the voters who wanted Obama most have now got him. Over the next four years they will continue to get him – good, hard and unlubricated, starting with the prices of gas and heating oil skyrocketing, the money being devalued, our industrial base being even more gutted than it has been already, and rolling brownouts becoming a regular occurrence, and the economy basically going over a cliff. Sometimes there is no way of learning other than to completely and utterly screw up.

What to do, personally? Well, life will go on, much as it has from age to age. Fortunate I am to be living in Texas – who might have thought that it would be our last best hope? Molly Ivins is probably revolving in her grave like a Black and Decker drill. Otherwise – consider the means of going mini-Galt, and ratchet up what we have been already been doing over the last couple of years. Buying second-hand as much as possible. Stockpiling food and other essential supplies. Starving the Beast by minimizing the taxes that I do pay, bartering as much as possible for goods and services. In the next year, we’re probably going to give up cable television – although we’ll keep the internet. Redouble the efforts to keep a viable garden. I gave up just about all of my print subscriptions to magazines and the local newspaper. Our list of entertainment personalities who will not be getting anything from us in the way of patronage of their music, movie and television show patronage is now several pages long. (Goodbye, Cher, so long Ken Burns; in my eyes you have joined the ranks of Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen. Bow down and lick the hands of the new autocrats – enjoy the taste and forget that you ever thought of yourselves as free citizens.) I’ll continue supporting the Tea Party, and carry on with building a support network of like-minded cranky independents who voted with our brains rather than our lady-parts. Get more involved in local and State politics, and utterly reject any attempts by anyone who diminish any part of the Bill of Rights. OK then – it’s not the beginning of the end; it’s the end of the beginning.

I wouldn’t have remembered that this week marks another WWII battle anniversary – that of El Alamein which ran for nearly two weeks in October and November 1942 – but for seeing a story or two in the Daily Mail about it. (A reflection upon the death spiral of the mainstream news is that I have a relatively low-brow popular British newspaper among my internet tool-bar favorites, rather than my own local metropolitan publication … alas, that is how low those local newspapers have fallen. Seriously, stuff shows up on the Daily Mail page days before it does in strictly American-oriented media. Sorry about that, San Antonio Express News.)
That second battle at El Alamein which broke the back of the Axis, revived Allied morale, and saw the beginning of the end of any attempt by the Germans to get control of the Suez Canal was a significant turn in that campaign in the deserts of North Africa. The fighting mostly involved British and Commonwealth and a scattering of Free Polish troops against the Germans and Italians; back and forth in Egypt and Libya almost as if it were a sea battle – fought not in water, but in sand. It’s a matter almost out of historical memory, especially for Americans who really only got involved at the tail end. Our memories of the desert war are mostly retained in movies like Casablanca, or a television series like The Rat Patrol.
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I own to being vaguely disappointed with our man Mittens’ performance in last night’s debate, as I had cherished fond hopes that Mitt Romney would mop the floor with the Obamster, and then clean up those little spills and smudges remaining with the hapless moderator, but then I am a writer and frustrated dramatist. I want the spectacular scene, dammit … but perhaps as other commenters have pointed out, Mittens was playing the long, cool game, and just letting the Obamster have enough rope to hang himself with. Lord knows, his crack about bayonets and horses, and about ships that have aircraft land on them and other ships that go below the surface of the ocean may have just finally and ultimately annoyed veterans and service members. As has been commented in other place, submarines are called boats … ships that go below the surface of the ocean are called ‘sunk’… anyway, my daughter very well recalls being issued a bayonet as a member of the Marine Corps. And milblogger Donald Sensing ran the historical numbers, comparing the present military and that of 1916 vis a vis bayonet possession. Oopsy – the US military does in fact have more bayonets now, than in 1916. As for horses … well, we probably do have fewer horses in inventory now than in 1916. Two out of three ain’t bad.

It’s a moot point as far as Blondie and I are concerned, as we went to vote at the early-voting polling place around midday on Monday, which was the first day of early voting in Texas. Any sort of malevolent October Surprise intended to depress voter turnout and Republican Party spirits on November 6th had better be uncorked real soon if it is to have any effect. The parking lot of the library was jammed, and the line to get into the room set up as the polling place wound halfway through the main library. It moved fast, though. The volunteers were on-point and very, very busy. It had been so, all morning long. Blondie said, “If it’s this way now, how bad is it going to be on Election Day?”

Two weeks today … fourteen more days. I would hate to be proved embarrassingly wrong about all this, especially if I were being paid big bucks to be a mainstream media prognosticator – but I am not. I will go far enough to venture that I do sense a turning of the tide, in favor of Romney/Ryan, and the Tea Party Libertarian/Conservatives generally. I don’t think I am being deluded by wishful thinking, or through being generally in a libertarian/conservative information bubble … or in Texas, which constitutes pretty much the same thing. In the whole of my neighborhood, there are only five or six Obama-Biden yard signs, another seven or eight signs for a Lloyd Doggett, a long-time Democrat Party senatorial candidate who apparently had to go district-shopping after being re-districted. Against that – twenty or more Romney-Ryan signs, and one or two more spotted every day. My gut-feeling is that Obama now has the stink of fear and desperation on him, now that he has a real-life record, rather than just soaring oratory and the slavish devotion of the mainstream media and the Hollywood establishment. There’s only so much that can be covered up, plastered over and excused when voters have their own experience to consult.

Really – who are you going to believe; Chris Matthews, and Eva Longoria, or the evidence of your lying eyes?

My family was, for various reasons, devoted to the first Upstairs, Downstairs series, back in the day. Mom loved the whole dichotomy of the ‘family’ upstairs, and the servants, working away behind the scenes and below stairs – very likely because her father, my Grandpa Jim was engaged in practically life-long service to a wealthy family living in a magnificent mansion. Dad had a mild guy-crush on Rachael Gurney, who played Lady Marjory Bellamy – she was what Dad apparently considered the perfect upper-class Englishwoman. And I loved it all because it was … England, that very place that three of our four grandparents had come from, and during the two decades that were pictured in the show. The outer world of Upstairs Downstairs was what they would have remembered; the music, the manners, the fashions, habits and social customs, the scandals and events.

So we followed it devotedly, even as we admitted to each other that it was really a high-toned soap opera in period costume. I think primarily the reason that it succeeded on those terms was that it was entirely character-driven. That is, the characters drove the plots, and they were pretty consistent over the arc of the show; there was a womanizing rake – actually two of them, one upstairs and one down – the imperious lady and her devoted sour-tempered maid, the upright lord of the house, several charming ingénues – and their affairs of state and otherwise, personal crises large and small, courtship, marriages, birth, death … the whole enchilada, as it were. And always in the background there was history going on, but it usually took a back seat to personal lives and concerns. Which is how it is for most of us; what we do, the decisions that we take are driven by our characters and our needs. So, dialed up for dramatic purposes, the Bellamy saga managed a high degree of consistency that way.

And now we come to the new Upstairs, Downstairs iteration … and a couple of episodes into the second season, it is not going well, character and plot-wise. It was a good idea, to update Eaton Place to the 1930s, and bring in a whole new upstairs and downstairs family, with the character of Rose Buck to tie them together, but it’s already gone south, between season one and two … which we have easily deduced from the rushed manner in which the transition between the two was made. You mean – now they have two children? And the mother-in-law died? (And they killed the monkey… not a good start, FYI, and it matters little that it was a well-meant accident.) And Sir Hallam will be boinking his sister-in-law, who doubles as a Nazi spy? Hooo-kay, then. There could have been a whole season of character-developing high-toned soap opera worked in, between the end of one and the start of the second, but apparently everyone wanted to rush on to the drama of historical events. Pity, that – what they finished up with was plot-driven characters; where the needs of plot drove the characters to do things that radically changed what they had first appeared to be ... which is very likely why one of the key originators of the original and the follow-on series departed at speed, while the other had serious health problems.

No, it’s not a bad thing do do plot-driven characters, especially in the confines of a historical narrative, but abruptly contradicting the established character, and rushing over certain developments? Sigh. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the next season of Downton Abbey. At least, they are not doing things in a mad rush ... although they did rather hurry through WWI, and muddled the sequence of the end of the war and the great influenza epidemic.

(Cross-posted at my book-blog website)