Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blog # 116: A.W.O.L. Icon, Republican hot air, dirty tricks

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We had originally planned to open this week’s blog with SNL’s incisive parody of both the movie 2012 and the forthcoming election. In the video a news announcer announces that Sarah Palin has won the election, after which Palin is shown accepting the election juxtapositioned with the destruction of the earth as depicted in the film 2012. As a kind of final outrage the video reveals that Glen Beck was elected vice-president.

Unfortunately three hours after I embedded it and tested that it worked, it’s icon went black and a note appeared that the video was no longer available. No reason given, but I guess no reason was needed. If it is ever made available again we certainly will bring it to you. R.L.E.

Two of My Desktop Icons. The lower one went A.W.O.L.

Little Eddy’s Pre-Thanksgiving Near Disaster

Thanksgiving Morning: Lordy, lord. I have a 500 gigabyte Iomega Hard Drive on which all of my goodies sit, my movies and tv shows, my erotic writing collection, in short, all of my collected goodies except music. To make a long story almost unbearable, on the eve of the day I am expected by tradition to give thanks, my Iomega’s icon disappeared from my desktop. I did everything I could think of, which included plugging and unplugging its connections various times, and turning the device on and off repeatedly. The on light was shining brightly, but above it the activity l.e.d. was dead to the world. Turning it on and off seemed to have the effect of turning the activity l.e.d. on once, but that didn’t seem to be enough to effect a connection. Needless to say sleep was hard to come by on my Thanksgiving eve.

This morning the Iomega was still not showing up on my hard drive, and the activity light was still not blinking. After eating and reading the morning newspapers, I turned my attention back to it to see if the digital fairies had managed to make a connection while I was eating, but it was still dead to the world. I opened up the iMac’s preferences and checked the start-up icon, but only the iMac showed us as an available drive. I was in deep doo doo, still. Would Thanksgiving Day be a day of thanks, or a day wrapped in digital hell?

Well, persistence finally paid off. I kept plugging and unplugging both connections, the one on the iMac and on the Iomega. And clicking it on and off and on again. And suddenly, the little blue activity l.e.d. flickered a couple of times, and Viola!, the Iomega icon popped into its proper place below the iMac’s icon. I opened the preferences and clicked on start-up volumes, but drat, only the iMac was showing.

Then I ran the iMac’s utility programs, Disc Utility which comes from Apple and Alsoft’s miracle worker, Disk Warrior. I used the two programs on the iMac to work on the Iomega. Disc Utility fixed a whale of a lot of disk permissions, but the repair utility didn’t seem to have much effect. But as usual, Disk Warrior came to the rescue, and after it finished rebuilding the directory, I quit it. And this time when I opened preferences, the Iomega was showing up along with the iMac. So I chose the Iomega, restarted, and held my breath that it was start up, but luckily it did, and I ran the same two programs from the Iomega directed to the iMac’s drive. Success. Now the nightmare is over, and I know enough now to run those two programs on the Iomega, perhaps not as often as I run the for the iMac, but maybe every other time. And so I have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving after all.

Actually I had a blessed Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to my late sister Mary’s daughter, Susannah Nix, and her husband Dave, and their daughter Emma, who unfortunately woke up sick Thanksgiving morning. I used to do that. I swear I spent every growing up Thanksgiving sick with the flu. What is it about Thanksgiving which makes kids ill? Anyway, as for the meal, Susannah’s cooking just seems to be getting better and better each year. It’s a delightful kind of scary, but it makes you want to hang in there for another year, so you see what she is going to come up with next year.§

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Giving Barney Thanks

2009’s 500lb Turkey:

The Republican Spin on Health Care!

Well, the Republican spinning bottle stopped, and when it did it was pointing at dear Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The other 38 GOPers were laying low letting McConnell get the benefit of any possible backlash resulting from his bizarre reasoning. His technique, hammer away endlessly on his position that the American People wildly oppose this hunk of a ruthless Democratic takeover of the one fifth of America’s economy which is health care.

He kept calling it something the country cannot afford, as if the country could afford not doing something substantial about the spiraling cost of health care. He went on, smile plastered on face all the while, talking as though he was reading from Moses’ Tablets of God’s Truths, about how Republicans were out to protect the American taxpayer from these Democratic big spending dolts, all the while overlooking all of the Republican government big spending that went on under his and Bush/Cheney’s leadership. He kept insisting that it is the Republicans who are representing the overwhelming majority of Americans who are counting on the Republican leadership to lead the charge against the Democrats.

That his words seem to fly in the face of virtually all of the polls is beside the Republican’s Talking Point, for the polls indicate that a majority of Americans favor not only the Democrats bill, but even favors the so-called Public Option, which several prominent Democrats conservative Democrats, including Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas decry.

If Molly Ivins was still with us she would undoubtedly have commented something to the effect that their feelings for solving the nation’s health care problems is “weaker than bus station chili.” (In truth she used that phrase to describe Bill Clinton, who she went on to defend primarily because of the Republican abuse he was receiving. Would that she were here to take care of Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson, triumvirate, it would be our pleasure to see how her wit would label the three. Perhaps “weaker than Bill Clinton chili?”)

The Best of Times . . . the Worst of Times

These days represent both extremes. We have tea party types exhibiting caricatures of our President as an African witch doctor mingling with signs questioning the legitimacy of his U.S. birth, which if true would disqualify him from the office to which he was elected by one of the larger majorities of recent elections. (George W. Bush was actually the loser in the popular vote in the Presidential election where he ran against Al Gore. He attained the presidency thanks to a Supreme Court fiat, during which on his behalf, the Court stopped the Florida recount which had Bush majority at 360 and falling.

In 2004 Bush won reelection with a bare majority after John Kerry was Swift-Boated with lies questioning the authenticity of his Vietnam service. (This was highly ironic because George W. Bush had sat out the Vietnam War serving with the Texas Air National Guard, a service from which he was allegedly AWOL from for an extended period. The other so-called hawks in his administration, v.p Cheney, Defense secretary Rumsfeld, and authors of the Iraq invasion including Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, all had also managed to avoid military service during Vietnam. And therefore none had a clear idea of what it was like to serve in a war, which was verified by their testimony as to how our troops would be received in Iraq.)

That Republicans have been getting themselves elected time and time again through lies and fear is nothing new. In fact it began with the 1950 congressional race which pitted Richard Nixon against Helen Gahagan Douglas. According to Sally Denton writing in the Daily Beast “that race was one of the nastiest in history, and a prototype for today's GOP smear tactics.”

Sixty years before Hillary Clinton ran for president, and Sarah Palin for Vice President, Helen Gahagan Douglas was the first woman in America who had the capacity, the credentials, the ambition, and the political gravity to realistically aspire to the highest office in the land. During her rise as an American female politician she struggled to define herself in the highly charged climate of Red Scare America. Her trajectory from Broadway star, to California congresswoman, to vice-presidential contender, to senatorial candidate seemed unstoppable—until her 1950 Senate race against Richard Nixon.

In a carefully orchestrated whispering campaign of smear, fear, and innuendo that would go down in American history as the dirtiest ever — while also becoming the model for the next half-century and beyond — Nixon exploited America’s xenophobic suspicions and reflexive chauvinism with devastating consequences. Nixon’s henchman, Murray Chotiner, introduced his own brand of dirty tricks to the political campaign.

Five years after the historic 1950 California match, Chotiner spoke to a Republican National Committee school for campaign workers about the Douglas-Nixon race and political strategy for the future. It would be one of many secret lectures Chotiner would give to “GOP schools” and where he would meet the protégés who would succeed him: Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. His 14,000-word syllabus, which became a legendary GOP dirty tricks manifesto, laid out a simple formula: “Discredit your opponent before your own candidate gets started … associate your opponent with an unpopular idea or organization, with just a suggestion of treason … above all, attack, attack, attack, never defend.”

And there you have the Republican sure fire formula for success. They didn’t exactly originate it, it is straight out of Machiavelli, but they sure as hell fine tuned it over these many years. And year after year it has worked successfully for them. And even in their out of power years during the Clinton administration, they attempted to keep the buzz going with lies and repeated investigations, until they finally scored with Monica Lewinsky. And you can see it beginning to work again these days as people get impatient with Obama, and Republicans press their outrageous claims and charges. For Sally Denton’s complete account point your cursor and click here!

Will the American voter fall for it once again in 2010 and especially 2012? Or have the Bush/Cheney years finally taught us our lesson. Stay tuned. We at the Little Eddy Blog prefer CNN for news and msnbc for doctrine, but some people like to tune in to follow the opposition, which would be Fox News. And why not? Just know they aren’t advocating lowering taxes and diminishing the federal government so that you and I can get richer. They are doing it to make the very wealthy richer, the poor poorer, and the rest of us clawing to avoid joining the poor at the bottom of the heap.§

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From Our “It’s About Damned Time” Department

In a copyrighted story Associated Press Writer William McCall reports a new phenomenon taking place in Portland, Oregon.

At the newly opened Cannabis Cafe, people sit around taking tokes from a "vaporizer" — a contraption with a big plastic bag that captures the potent vapors of heated marijuana. Glass jars hold donations of dried, milky-green weed, and the cafe serves up meals and snacks for the hungry.

It's all perfectly legal and, for cancer patient Albert Santistevan, it's about time. "It's a very positive atmosphere. We could use more places like that," the 56-year-old former jewelry shop owner said.

And from Washington Post writer Karl Vick, we learn: “The same day they rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, residents of Maine voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana over the counter at state-licensed dispensaries. Later in the month, the American Medical Association reversed a longtime position and urged the federal government to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, which equates it with heroin.

"This issue is breaking out in a remarkably rapid way now," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Public opinion is changing very, very rapidly." The shift is widely described as generational. A Gallup poll in October found 44 percent of Americans favor full legalization of marijuana -- a rise of 13 points since 2000. Gallup said that if public support continues growing at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year, "the majority of Americans could favor legalization of the drug in as little as four years."

And virtually anyone who has used pot would agree, making it a schedule one controlled substance which equates it with heroin, is absurd. It’s about damn time. Full stories here! and here

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Dipping into More Children’s Camp Memories

Lately I’ve been dipping into my memories of working in New England children’s camp. It was certainly one of the most positive activities I’ve been associated with, and I feel there’s a lot to be learned from counseling children, about children, and about yourself.

As I’ve said many times, trips were my favorite part of working at camps. I loved the mini adventures which these two and three day excursions with small groups of campers gave me. I learned to really enjoy climbing the mountains we climbed, Ragged Mountain, Tumbledown, and finally Mt. Katahdin, all in Maine. I loved cooking out in the open on campfires, and washing up my cooking gear afterwards. And I even learned to love sleeping out in the outdoors, although that took some time.

That took some time because for one thing, for most of my life I have been skinny. I went into the Army Air Force at age 18 weighing 118 pounds, and left the USAAF one year, ten months and 21 days later weighing 128 lbs. And standing 5’10.5” in stockinged feet, skin and bones would be an appropriate description of me. And sleeping on terra firma with only a sleeping bag between you and an unfeeling earth, shows very little mercy to those of us who have not been endowed by a proper amount of fat. Plus, I seem to only be able to sleep on my side, which is far bonier than sleeping on one’s stomach or back.

And so my early experiences in outdoor sleeping consisted of a lot of mostly awake nights, dreading the whine of the occasional roving mosquito. After a time however I discovered the wonders of an air mattress, which made up for that natural layer of fat that I was missing, and suddenly I was sleeping with much the same degree of comfort as that more normally fleshed counselor.

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Adventures with Animals

I was always a bit naive when it came to the animals you meet in the Maine woods. One day while I was camping by myself in the field near Tumbledown I returned to my backpack which I had left under my tarp, only to find a black bear bent over it busily trying to open it. When the bear saw me he/she left my pack and began moving away. Stupidly I followed the bear for a hundred or so yards, until the bear stopped, and turned to look at me, as if to say, “what the hell do you think you’re doing? stupid!” I stopped in my tracks, and asked myself what in hell I thought I was doing, following that bear? Like what was I going to do when the bear got to his/her destination? What if she had two or three cubs that would certainly need protecting. I shrugged and turned and left. I couldn’t resist peeking over my shoulder to see if the bear had turned and was following me. Luckily it hadn’t, and when it saw I was actually leaving it went on its way back to where we presume from whence it had come.

Returning briskly to my pack I found that the backpack was still intact, fortunately the bear had not had time to rip it open, though it probably had been minutes away from its doing so, after which my stuff would have been scattered far and wide. And so, except for several minutes of aimless pursuit of the beast, I finally came to my senses and left well enough alone. And so that’s how my one close encounter with a bear turned out.

Occasionally we would see a wild animal while hiking. Bears were rare, there’s nothing like the sound of a group of kids moving through the woods to remind them they have business elsewhere. A doe, perhaps with fawn, was a more common sight. In the Maine woods they seem smart enough to know there is only a short hunting season in the fall during which they are fair game, and the rest of the time they are home free. And whereas they are shy, they don’t seem particularly frightened. The most impressive animal we came across one day on a trip whose trail ran parallel with a brook, was a male moose. He was knee deep in a pond, drinking water and munching on some leaves which were growing alongside the water.

On seeing the moose our group grew instantly quiet and stopped to study the creature. He looked us over, but with curiosity, not in fear or anger. Fortunately the rutting season during which moose can be irritable and aggressive, comes in late autumn, well after our camp season. Otherwise I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have been so curious and so brave. A moose is a very impressive sight, particularly a male which sports those huge, top heavy antlers. We stood quietly and watched for probably ten minutes before the moose looked up at us, seemed to bob his head, then lumbered off into the woods, disappearing away from us.

Trips Taught Responsibility

From my point of view one of the best thing about trips is that it taught the camper to take care of him or herself. For instance, we used to let the campers choose the menu on a trip, and usually they chose typical outdoor fare. Hamburgers and frankfurters were popular, of course, being easy to cook on an open fire. As were ears of corn, baked potatoes and the like. More involved dishes like stews were also popular, as the preparation is relatively simple, and cooking time is not too long. And as we have mentioned before, food tastes unbelievably good in the outdoors, well worth waiting for.

On one of our canoe trips to the Moose River in Maine, one of the campers selecting the menu chose crêpes for a breakfast. It seemed that we had a proper crêpe pan we had bought for pennies at a local garage sale. It also turned out that she was a specialist with this dish back home, and so the rest of the kids on the trip approved only if she would be the cook on that meal. She agreed and assembled the necessary ingredients for one of the breakfasts.

Imagine for a moment the problem of making authentic tasting crêpes in a proper crêpe pan deep in the woods on an open campfire. Crêpes demand an even heat, which is the devil to maintain on any kind of open campfire. I for one was anxious to see how she was going to solve this problem. Well, damned if she didn’t use a frying pan under the crepe pan, which successfully evened the heat situation.

The campers who weren’t cooking were picking blueberries which were growing wild around our campsite, and we had the crêpes smothered in blueberries with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top. It took half the morning, the pan made four crêpes at one time, we were each served two, and since these were hungry teenagers on the third morning of a trip deep in the woods and crêpes are light and fluffy, well you can imagine there was a gnawing hunger lingering after the meal. But out there in that woods those crêpes tasted simply superb. They were a real culinary masterpiece served out in the open air on the third morning of a canoe trip. And not surprisingly, it turned out to be the most memorable trip breakfast I can ever remember.§

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With the thought of those drool worthy crêpes smothered in fresh blueberries being served deep in the woods on the third day of a canoe trip, we wind down this Thanksgiving edition of the Little Eddy Blog still salivating at the memory. If you’re still with us at this point in our dissertation, we thank you very much for coming and invite you back for more next week. We fuss and polish our Blog during the week, and upload a new edition each Saturday morning between 7 and 8 a.m. CST.

Meantime, hang in there, have a good week, and thanks again for stopping by. See ya.

The Real Little Eddy §

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