Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anyone who could lick the big C can lick his own hemorrhoids

Bachmann's core constituency. (Wiki Commons)

Try as I might, I cannot find the source of one of my favorite quotes about John Wayne: "Anyone who could lick the big C can lick his own hemorrhoids."

It's a shame, really, because I'm sure Michele Bachmann could use it sometime in her run for the presidency. She's so good at getting stuff wrong, she would be almost bound to use it wildly inappropriately...which is tough to do considering it's inappropriate already. But good for a laugh, anyway.

Which is what, in any reasonable world, Bachmann would cause, riotous laughter. Along with Palin, of course. I admit that I dumped one of my husband's ex-colleagues from FB a couple of weeks ago because the man claimed he liked Sarah Palin. I have no further use for such gullible dummies in my life. Not even for the nanosecond it takes to notice them and dismiss them on my daily FB trolls. When I'm trolling FB, I'm looking to hook up with friends, have a laugh, maybe gain some new information. Neither Palin nor Bachmann fit any of those bills, except when FB friends do something clever in dismissing the Two Whores of the Apocalypse, which fortunately many do with amazing frequency.

Apocalypse. Wait. Did it happen already? Is the United States, especially, living in the aftermath of the destruction of human life as once understood? That would be one answer for the election of Bush/Cheney, one answer for the continuing hollow life of the nation's financial institutions (I think of them as humongous intestines, packed with fecal money, blowing it all out over a group of brain-dead, spiritually rotten husks of men like so much green diarrhea.) It would be one answer for why America's education was permitted by whatever universal forces there are to sink to the level of No Child Left Behind, from which it may well never rise again.

Indeed, considering the apocalypse to already have happened is actually rather cheering. Or perhaps thinking that it is happening now; that's better than thinking that the current state of affairs is reality. The apocalypse is, most simply, the revealing of truths after a period in which they were hidden.

Still, it's hard to credit the idiocy of George Bush being hidden, but it was hidden from millions. And from Diebold computers, since they have no soul in the first place, and the manufacturers/programmers of those computers were not using theirs. (Benefit of the doubt.)

It's hard to believe people didn't understand that every single Republican act, and some by Democrats, since Ronald Reagan was bumbling around the Oval Office, was designed to hide massive enslavement from those being enslaved.

Although Reagan's government made massive strides in the direction of consigning most Americans to serfdom it was not sufficient to enslave the population of the United States financially, by compromising their tiny real estate holdings via home equity loans...

Not sufficient to ensure that future generations would lack the education to recognize disaster as it was visited upon them via No Child Left Behind and the unconscionable gutting of the GI Bill for the Afghan/Iraq soldiers....

Not sufficient to remove even the rudiments of subsistence employment from a great deal of the population, rendering them too demoralized to protest....

No, none of that was enough. It will never be enough for the self-appointed masters of the universe and their stooges (you can plug in the Koch brothers and the Bachmann crowd, but try not to forget the Nazi Bushes, the compromised Kennedy clan, etc. ad infinitum et ad nauseam) until Americans are terrified of speaking out against the evil policies of their own government regarding:
  • Health care
  • Warmongering
  • Human rights abuses by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration)
  • Guantanamo
  • Fiscal policies that inflict suffering on the jobless
  • Educational policies that turn bright children into dumb parrots
  • Equal opportunity for all genders, races, religions, etc.
  • Immigrants seeking a better life and WILLING TO DO THE JOBS HUBRIS-FILLED AMERICANS REFUSE (Just pointing out what morons the anti-immigration cadre is)
I'm sure there's more. But to get back on track, perhaps Michele Bachmann is precisely what's needed. Perhaps her idiotic pronouncements will ring a bell with those who excused the idiotic pronouncements of that other red-white-and-blue Barbie of a female jackass, Palin.  Maybe this version of cornball, knee-jerk, painted-on patriotism will finally wake them up.

My country right or wrong is possibly a more dangerous statement than any other generally spouted by unthinking Americans. It allows pseudo-patriots--armchair chauvinists with the knowledge of history of my kitchen table--to excuse the inexcusable, the wrong.

My country right or wrong totally precludes fixing what's wrong. To fix what's wrong, one must see what's wrong and take action to repair it. But under their cloak of pasted-on patriotism, the John Wayne patriots think it is unpatriotic to say, "Well, my country is wrong about this. I love what the country once stood for; I loathe what it is doing at the moment. Let's fix it."

In the all-or-nothing John Wayne World of Palin, Bachmann, Bush. the teabaggers, Glenn Beck and the other squawking heads of Fox-style TV, you're either with 'em or...you're a traitor.  

That's what it amounts to. We now have a woman standing for the highest office in America, a leading position globally despite Bush's best efforts to trash it, who is so stupid, she can't even get hirelings to put together coherent speeches for her. (See Palin, 2008, etc.) That, I think, is more amazing than the fact that the wench mixed up John Wayne, silver screen idol of the pitiful WWII generation, with John Wayne Gacy, murderer born into and out of America's downward slide to the dark side.

Bachmann. Moron.

But people will vote for her.


Monday, June 27, 2011

When the TSA gets into your (dirty) underpants, the American Gestapo has gone too far

Munich airport "security area." Note the overhead chain-link fencing. Can America be far behind? (Wiki commons)

I do not, I cannot, I will not be party to the excesses perpetrated by the TSA. What does this mean? It means there is not one chance in ten million that I will ever voluntarily subject my person to screening at any America airport. Ever.

Nor will I forget that the acronym stands for Transportation Security Administration, a younger brother of Homeland Security (why didn't Herr Bush just call it Vaterland Security, ja?). There is apparently no pretense at journalism at AOL online (now part and parcel of once marginally acceptable Huffington Post) these days. Throughout, the article refers only to TSA. AOL never identifies the organization as the Transportation Security Administration. Does AOL they expect everyone to know what TSA stands for? Or, more likely, are they in league with the devil, Vaterland Security, to ensure that people forget that TSA is yet another evil stepchild of Bush's Gestapo?

The incident that inspired this post concerns the pat-down of a 95-year-old woman, dying of leukemia and wearing an adult diaper as she attempted to visit her relatives before she died. The TSA agent--look, why not just call him/her by the proper name, Sturmbahnfuhrer--found something "wet and firm and they couldn't check it thoroughly," (AOL) and sent the lady and her daughter to the toilets to remove the diaper so it could be checked. After that, the lady did her traveling sans culottes, a second indignity although far lesser than the first.

There is no excuse in the world for this. Are Americans now so terrified of reprisals from the populations they have historically scorned and lately inflicted harm upon that they will accept the abusive treatment of ill and elderly citizens in a ludicrous show of demoralizing force illicitly characterized as protecting the population? If so, the nation has no future; it's future can only be seen in one of two ways: Either it will implode of an excess of hubris among its supposedly elected officials, or it will tumble down from outside forces, leaving a bewildered population too weak--after the past ten years of insult piled on injury piled on insult ad infinitum since Bush took the reigns (yes, I'm using that word purposefully) of power--with equal emphasis on the word took.

Is there still a chance of saving America? I don't know. I think the population is so drugged--some on thankfulness that they haven't been reduced to begging and others on the stultifying need to get through another day with no job, no health care, no hope--that it seems unlikely.

Is anyone smiling in America these days? Are there any random acts of kindness being offered?Would kindness even be recognized and appreciated, or have the inmates aped the jailers, viewing kindness as weakness to be avoided?

I suspect that there are a few smiles, in fact. Mainly among the Bush family, the teabaggers whose own brand of insanity makes any number of peyote-induced freak dreams seem normal by comparison, and the financial operatives who have gotten away with the riches of Croesus, and sent out their bills for more. Oh, and the sadists employed by that division of Vaterland Security known as TSA. That is, the Transportation Security Administration. 

By security, they mean imprisonment in a barbed tangle of convoluted procedures designed to finally strip every ounce of human dignity and resistance from the American people. Unfortunately, it appears to be working.

Got it? While the United States has not yet slammed the gates, they have made getting through them worthy of classical literature, the Odyssey to be precise. Horrors and monsters arise at every turn upon the journey. Travel if you must, but consider walking. It's cheaper, and so far gets you out of the hands of  the Strurmbahnfuhrer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I wonder what's happening in Cyprus?

A sign at Aphrodite's Birthplace, 2010, that makes reference to the 1974 Turkish invasion's remains. 
(SP Tiley photo)
Just over a year ago, I realized a dream I'd had since my last year of college, to visit Cyprus.

The dream was born when I picked up a copy of Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell at the campus bookstore as summer wound down; I was married, working in the library 30 hours a week, keeping house, and embarking, however haltingly, on what would become my adult life. That is, a life of writing constantly and traveling frequently at times, interspersed with long periods of finding that a trip to the closest beach was as much as I could muster or afford.

The sweet summons of Bitter Lemons
I adored Bitter Lemons. Durrell painted scenes of life in Cyprus in the early 1950s as almost idyllic...except, of course, when he got into the specifics of the tension between the Turks and Greeks that ended up, in 1974, with Turkey invading northern Cyprus, a campaign that ended with the island divided into the Republic of Cyprus in the south, and what the Turks now consider part of Turkey in the north. When one crosses the border--which we did several times to reach Krykkos Monastery, high in the divided mountains--one's cell phone beeps and one gets a message, "Welcome to Turkey." Freaky. Also freaky, of course, are the instructions not to venture down certain roads, and the odd sightings of military watchtowers. Even inside the Republic of Cyprus, for some years now part of the European Union (EU), one finds cogent instructions regarding military ordnance. Even the paths surrounding Aphrodite's Birthplace near Paphos bear warnings that the odd bullet might be found; please leave strictly alone.

I am thinking about Cyprus because we are not going back there, despite several enticements.

The Mediterranean off Polis, where we stayed, was the most incredible water in which I have ever swum.

We met an interesting restaurateur, Andreas, owner of Moustakallis, a very fine taverna, who invited us twice for morning coffee, and regaled us with stories of pre-EU Cyprus, when the meats and sausages could be truly local, not conforming to EU homogenization. I wouldn't have thought a discussion of abattoirs could be interesting...but on Cyprus...well, it is itself, with lemons and tomatoes and halloumi cheese made from milk of goats grazed on thyme, but lamb and poultry are more important, at least to Cypriots. Me?  I loved the lemons, olives and--I admit--the baklava.

We also had an apartment for the week with views of the Mediterranean from our second-floor balcony, where we ate breakfast. There was bougainvillea beside the front door, and bushes of geraniums. Bushes, not spindly little plants.

But we are not going to Cyprus again soon. Not until the Middle East becalms itself a bit once again; the Turkish question is still bothersome, and Cyprus is only a day-trip by ferry from Egypt. It is strange to realize that the island outpost of the EU is really in Asia Minor, and very probably subject to the Byzantine political machinations of the ages.

Bella Italia, I hope
Our next trip will be to Italy; it was booked less than an hour ago. I've never been to Italy, but I was never crazy to go. I grew up on eastern Long Island (less east than the toney Hamptons, more west than Manhattan, and therefore a true nowhere land) surrounded by Sicilians who were noisy and "juicy" unlike my Irish-English family, who were quiet and dessicated by comparison. The Sicilians were less interested in education than we were, and most of my family considered them NOKD--not that we were anything exalted.  But my mother prided herself that we were not a "huggy" family. Sicilians hug a lot. And the Sicilians I knew did eats lots more interesting food, though, than the steaks and chops that are standard fare in middle-class Irish households in New York, at least back then. 

Lake Garda is not Sicily, so there should be no ghosts of the trampy girls who tortured me in high school because I didn't smoke or drink, did do my homework, and utterly refused to get engaged at my senior prom to a local boy, later a local fireman, who wanted me to do just that. No ghosts of the mothers of trampy Sicilian girls who teased me because I was built like Twiggy (not anymore, darn it) and pale. No ghosts of the leather-jacketed Fonzi wannabes who knew they could intimidate me simply by staring at me when I walked past their corner to the store.

But nothing those skanky worst examples of the Sicilian heritage could do has put me off Italy. Italy just hadn't been on my travel A list.

Paris, a dream--once--as cogent as Cyprus, and now tarnished
Paris was, always, on my A list. I was crazy to go to Paris from an early age, although I was over 30 before I got there the first time. For decades after that visit, Paris remained an important destination that I'd jump through any number of hoops to reach. The shine is dulled now, partly by the behavior of Paris itself, and partly by what I might call the "Home Alone" syndrome: too bloody many American tourists, loud and obnoxious parents and too many snotty children clogging everything with their headlong rush to see it all in four days whether the whining kids want to or not and insisting that they pay in "real money" and noisily rejecting food that doesn't bear a striking resemblance to hamburgers and fries.

So, Italy. My husband loved Lake Garda when he was 16, when he went there with his aging parents who turned in early, leaving him to frequent the bars on his own for the first time. He loved the scenery, of course, and that extensive trip included visits to more touristy places, such as Venice. Now, Lake Garda itself is touristy. It now sports a Gardaland. That's frightening. I wonder if my husband will like it as much now as he did then. Perhaps. On his recommendation, his boss took a week there last year and said he liked it. Gardaland must be avoidable.

Two gentle people in Verona
We booked a fly-drive, so we get to fly into Verona, a place that does hold some fascination for me, more so, I think, than Venice. When I think of Venice, I think of sewage. I think of Katharine Hepburn almost losing an eye to infection after she fell into a canal while filming a movie. I think of two friends who went 30 years ago when the spring tides were particularly high; they had to totter across boards spanning the canal water lapping the walls in the lobby of their hotel, holding their noses--they said--against the stench at the same time.

It's odd the way the reactions of others to places we've never seen influence us. That same couple loathed Paris. Had I spoken to them before my first visit, I might have had to change my previous lifetime of hungering for it. But I spoke instead with my first husband's aunt, a brilliant woman who had worked for Time, Inc., in Paris after WWII, and adored it. In the 60s, Time flew croissants into NYC every day, and she was on the recipient list, all of which made staying with her at her Beekman Place apartment even more wondrous than it already was. She was my touchstone for Paris, thank goodness.

I don't believe I will be anyone's touchstone for Cyprus. It seems to me a shadow of its self in antiquity; the Cypriots are not good at preserving their heritage. Aphrodite's Birthplace, a plant-ringed pool, was filthy. The better part of that day was encountering the semi-toothless orange vendor in the car park. We bought some oranges, and they, like the Mediterranean waters, were the very best of their species. But we grew tired of the scant variety in Cypriot cuisine; we were amazed at how little they did with the lemons and tomatoes that were good enough to make foodies cry with joy. Even the halloumi, the thyme-scented halloumi, was enticing, something store-bought halloumi in the States or the UK never is; here, it's more like plastic turning to stone, tasteless and unscented.

The lure of the Med
But I will go back to Cyprus some day. My skin craves the silky Mediterranean water, and my soul still wants another sighting or two of the "wine dark sea." It amazed me that just at the horizon, as described in the Odyssey, the sea is a deep purple-red, at least there in the climes that the Homeric sailors used to roam.

I will probably go to Italy more than once, too, I think. The Sicilian horror show I endured as a timid girl on Long Island is just about faded now, replaced after knowing a generous, kind, and intellectually agile friend, an Italian doctor from Puglia I knew well in Baltimore, dear Enzo. I miss him, and I miss his Italian-American-etc. wife, Judy, an artist who was one of my horse riding/culture vulturing buddies for years. Only with Judy did I drink Pino Grigio; when Enzo was on hand, we all drank the red wine he favored, Ars Poetica, a primitivo from his hometown.

We shall see. The excitement is beginning to build. For future reference....


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Texas executions: A true case of fox guarding hen house

The sovereign state of Texas has killed another human being.

This is not surprising. Their former governor, George W. Bush, killed more prisoners on death row than had any governor before him, at least that we know about.

Nothing about the situation regarding the execution in Texas of a retarded man, Milton Mathis, is surprising. One need read no farther than this paragraph from today's Huffington Post story about the execution:
A spokeswoman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican who is weighing a run for the presidency, said the governor could not offer clemency or a reprieve in the case without a positive recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which voted on Monday to reject a reprieve for Mr. Mathis. Members of the board are appointed by the governor.
Note well: Members of the board are appointed by the governor. If a governor doesn't want a parole board ever to recommend leniency, all he or she has to do is to be sure to appoint people to that board who can be predicted (or otherwise)  never to recommend leniency via life in prison and certainly never clemency, and always to opt for the terminal solution.

This is not a case merely of the fox guarding the hen house. It is a case of the fox getting the contract to design the hen house, then building the hen house, employing the guards for the hen house who are chosen only from fox applicants, and telling the world that the hen house is safe. And it is. For anything except hens.

Milton Mathis, Rest In Peace in a heaven far, far from Texas.