A blue-headed mallard told to shove off

Three's a crowd. Green head and blue head drakes seek attention of a hen (middle).

I like my mallard drakes to have green heads.  It makes my world simpler.  But yesterday at Town & Country mall, I for the first time saw a blue head.  It was competing with a green head for the affections of what looked to be a befuddled hen.

The green head, I think, had been the original beau.  I saw a green-head drake and hen anyway a few weeks ago paddling about one of the fountains.  I assumed they were the same ones.  Only the blue head was new.

The green head waddled about trying to block the blue head in its path to the hen.  The scene drew the attention of a handful of chuckling human observors, knowing full well I suppose that this trait is quite common in their own species.

Later, after dining, I ventured back to the same area.  I found the two drakes, possibly exhausted, laying in the sun side by side.  Buddies now perhaps until they regained energy.  The hen lay behind them about six feet trying to relax before the next round.


An ear to a sorry future

I am happy to report that I am immune to at least one spreading and dangerous disease.  That is cellphone abuse.  My DNA won’t allow it.

By cellphone abuse, I don’t mean a heavy-breather calling you up.  I speak of of the drugged user, the one who is addicted to keeping in almost constant contact with a certain network of friends, the one who is changing America for the worse much more than Big Government.

I was reminded of this sorry state of affairs this morning at the corner coffee shop.

As I waited in a long line in front of the pastry shelves, I turned to the person in back of me, a young black woman of maybe 20, and I asked her, trying to make pleasant an otherwise boring moment, “It all looks good, huh?”  Meaning the pastry of course.  She looked up at me briefly, and that was it, the sum of our interaction.

It was then I gathered she was afflicted.  She had the disease.  A cellphone was stuck in her ear, listening to a friend.   I knew it was a friend because of the easy chat and occassional laughter.

Lost of course was a fleeting opportunity of a not-so-young white man and a very young black woman to communicate.  But instead it was muffed.  Who knows, she might have learned something.  She might have left a good impression instead of a bad one, even with a little smile.

She and zillions of other Americans have been sucked in and are victims of Big Business.  Advertising works.  Everytime there is a new upgrade, no matter how small, Americans have to have it.  We are the eternal sucker consumers.

We are headed toward a time when we will become even more isolated, afraid and suspicious of those who aren’t on our phone lists.  Nothing good can happen from that.

McLuhan was right.  The medium is the message.  By using the cellphone abusively, we change the way we are, we change the way America was in a better time.  We become even less human.

Where are the Tea Partiers when we really need them?  I want My Country Back, I want to live again in a land with open lines to all my neighbors, not just the ones who don’t have cellphones stuck in their ears.

Tea Partiers awakened — too late

There is too a real Rip Van Winkle.  In fact there are many of them.  You see them everywhere in the sleepy hollows of America.  They are the Tea Partiers and other born-again conservatives.  Asleep for decades, now suddenly awake and full of fight and hate and all-knowing. 

You know who you are, you latter-day Rips.  You are the ones who say you want your country back.  You want an America as it used to be.  Whatever that was.

But I ask, where were you 30 years ago when “your country” began to unravel with the false-god of the right, Ronald Reagan?  Reaganomics and its corporate afterbirth have killed the soul of America.  We are little more now than a nation of sheep, following the bidding of giant corporations and try to amass personal wealth by slitting the throats of our neighbors. 

While you slept, Your Country grew a heart of ice, a mind more than ever filled with meaness and hatred and irrationality, its eye focused on material gain.  Your Country has become the epitomy of the  corporate world.  Dog eat dog.  It is all coming to fruitition now.  None of you knows about teamwork.

And where were you after 9/11 that you turned listless and scared, and sang “God Bless America” and did not ask for a full accounting of how a few fanatics with box cutters could commandeer airplanes and easily strike at the heart of Your Country, the so-called greatest country in the world?

Where were you when Your Country promised to bring down the perpetrators of 9/11 in Afghanistan, then suddenly veered to a needless and tragic war in Iraq, killing our children and grandchildren for no other reason than oil and political gain?  Iraq offered better targets, we were told.  Yes, while Bin Laden dwelled unpunished in Tora Bora.   

Where was your outrage when conservatives on the Supreme Court decided the presidential election in 2000? 

Where too was your outrage when Your Country used their corporate friends, the telecoms, to spy on you in the name of fighting terrorism?  Where was the outrage at torturing prisoners, at allowing one of the footstones of democracy, habeas corpus, to be swallowed up again in the name of terrorism?  If you were not asleep then you had pulled the pillow over your head.

Where was your outrage when in 2008 the Bush administration began doling out vast amounts of taxpayer money to save the big banks, the very institutions conservatives had allowed to go unchecked and were “too big to fail?”

Where were you all these years when Your Country’s addiction to drugs got so out of control that the cartels in Mexico threaten now to take over the U.S. border?

Where were you when the lawn needed mowing and you decided to hire it done, turning a blind-eye to the possibility the workers may be illegal immigrants?  Where were you when your neighbors, the small business owners, hired illegals to make their Reagan dreams come true?

Sean Hannity, the patronizing ultra-right wing propagandist and radio talk-show host, recently played a tape in which an 35-year-old woman in Pennsylvannia confronted her seantor, Arlen Specter, at what I believe was a townhall meeting.  She was new to politics, she said, and railed at Specter.  Liberals, she said, had raped the Constitution.

“You’ve awakened a sleeping giant. We want our country back.”

The gall of this woman, I thought, to think she had suddenly arisen from her deep sleep as a full-blown constitutional scholar. 

Where are you now as Hannity and the right-wing propagandists suck up to  you, eager to bring you into the fold, into the party of the few, the party of the big corporations, the GOP?  Where are you now that you don’t see whose policies really brought on the economic crisis, the huge deficits?   

It seems so very strange that the sleepers among you have developed into political activists only after Your Country elected a black president.  I understand  your fears, the panic of facing the fact that America is not as white as it used to be, that you may soon lose the superiority you once took comfort in, that you may have to blend in and someday, oh my god, racially inter-marry on a grand scale. 

I’m sorry.  You slept too long, you latter-day Rips.  You awoke naive and now, unable to think clearly, you do more damage to Your Country than you can imagine.  It is too late.  Even if your silliness and naivete win in the  short-term, you will never be able to take back Your Country.  It will never be the same.

`Pudd’nhead’ Obama?

Color me confused. 

I was listening last night on the car radio to one of those ultra-right wing propaganda radio shows, Savage Nation.  The host, Michael Savage, was ranting as usual about our “radical” president, Barrack Obama.  In so doing, he brought up a short novel of Mark Twain’s called “Pudd’nhead Wilson.”  That’s when I lost the thread.

Savage began describing, even reading from, one of the scenes in the book’s first chapter.  It was the part about “half”  the dog. 

David Wilson, a young lawyer from New York, had just arrived in the small Mississippi River town of Dawson’s Landing, “a slaveholding town” somewhere south of  St. Louis, Twain wrote.

In a joke to locals about the howling, unseen animal, Wilson said he wished he owned half of that dog.  In that case, he would kill his half.  That threw the locals for a loop.  How could you kill half a dog without killing all of it?  After long debate, they decided Wilson was a fool and began to call him Pudd’nhead. Savage’s take was that Obama was like Wilson.  “Pudd’nhead Obama,” Savage said.  Or a fool.

But why would Savage say that?  By the end of the book, Wilson is vindicated and it was proven the locals were the pudd’nheads, not he.  Why then would Savage in essence compliment Obama as being a purveyor of anything good? 

It is possible Savage and his staff had never read the book and did not know how it ended.  But it is also possible, maybe even probable, that they had and lifted only part of the story to fit what Savage wanted to say.   Why?  Perhaps to say, see, even a famous author like Twain thinks as we do, that “outsiders” like Obama are bad for America.  Confusing, I admit.

And to pick a book like `Pudd’nhead Wilson’ that is clearly an indictment of slavery and the harm it did to all, whites and blacks alike?  It goes against my understanding of what the loony right wing is all about.  It goes against what I think they want.  An all-white society.  Revolution.  Secession from the union.  Another Civil War.

What Savage does, what Limbaugh and Hannity do too, is called propaganda.  They do it like Pravda and TASS did it.  Smoke and mirrors.  A little fact here, a little fact there.  But in toto, a huge lie.

Anyway, what I’m wondering is this.  Could it be, if we’re extrapolating modern characters from Twain’s fictitious ones, could the invisible dog that, as Twain put it, “began to yelp and snarl and howl and make himself very comprehensively disagreeable,”  could that dog be seen as Michael Savage?

Voter `amnesia,’ voter stupidity

J. D. Hayworth’s jabbing remark that his GOP Senate opponent, John McCain, is trying to induce “amnesia” into the Arizona electorate, is right.  What Hayworth does not tell you is this.  It often works.

Hayworth was right to poke fun at McCain’s assertion to Newsweek, “I never considered myself a maverick” when it came to serving his Arizona constituents.  After all McCain branded himself “the “maverick” of the U.S. Senate so many times you felt embarrassed for him.

His presidential campaign plane was called Maverick One and his 2002 memoirs, “Worth the Fighting For” carried this subtitle, “The Education of an American Maverick and the Heroes Who Inspired Him.”  

Now, in light of strong competition from Hayworth and the far right, McCain seems confused.  Like the time during the presidential campaign that he rushed back to Washington to give advice re the economic crisis, then sat mutely by.   He often gives off the impression he is in panic mode.

But the truth is that if McCain keeps saying he’s not a maverick ad nauseum, many voters who are biased in his favor will come to believe it.  McCain knows it and Hayworth knows it.

Hayworth has his own “amnesia machine” at work.  He will deny over and over any close ties to the imprisoned lobbyist, Jack Abramhoff.   Those suspected ties, many thought, cost Hayworth his re-election bid in 2006 to the U.S. House.

Political amnesia of this kind  settled in a long time ago.  I suspect its origination had to do with the old male saying:  “If your wife finds you in bed with another woman, keep denying it and before long she will doubt her own eyes.”

This is how it is in America.  A vast majority of voters pay so little attention to politics and trying to find truth from all the bloviating, that they allow a rewrite of history right under their noses.   

The “amnesia” is not so much a political problem.  It is a voter problem.  We voters are so dumbed-down, so preoccupied with our toys, celebrities and other unimportant things, that we don’t get it, we don’t understand the difference between stuff that matters and trivia.

The Tea Partiers who cry, “We want our country back” can only blame themselves.  Where were they these last three decades as the policies of Ronald Reagan divided this country more than ever?  Where were they seven years ago when radical neo-cons shoved us into the Iraq war?  They were asleep.  That’s where they were.  Amnesia-induced sleep.

No liberal media in `Green Zone’


Amy Ryan's portrayl of Lawrie Dayne was right-on, almost.

Lawrie Dayne, the Wall Street Journal reporter in the film “Green Zone,” is the worst kind of journalist.  She’s an insider.  She gets most of her information about the war in Iraq from one “trusted” and highly-placed source in the government.  A source, as it turns out,  with a hidden agenda, a source that uses her to further his aims.  Or in reality, the aims of the Bush administration.  Worse, she never questions the information given her.

Two forces drive Dayne, played admirably by Amy Ryan.  One is to get an interview with “Magellan,” the fictitious Iraqi source who knows where to locate the elusive and equally-fictitious weapons of mass destruction.   The other is to feed her ego.  She is overly ambitious.  She wants to be a star at all costs.  She no doubt wants to win a Pulitzer for her reporting.

 This is a film a day late and a dollar short.  Most knowledgeable readers long ago concluded  the war was concocted by Bush and his cronies for political reasons.  The war’s “shock and awe” was as much a high-dollar pyrotechnic display  for the gullible American public as it was to scare the Iraqis.  It was like the Fourth of July.  “America, the Beautiful.”   Wow, look at those bombs, baby.   

Still the movie was right-on with the war and right-on with the media’s role in abetting Bush as he led us down that primrose lane from 9/11, all fueled by Big Oil, big corporations, and profiteering.

Dayne symbolized the media’s own gullibility and the sense of superiority and arrogance that their stars exude.  Think of TV’s talking-heads.   Dayne has every resemblance, by actions and looks, to the discredited New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who had a pipeline to the White House and used it not only for “news” about Iraq’s WMD but the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson as well.  It does not seem strange then that the real truth-seeker and Dayne’s polar opposite in “Green Zone,” is also named Miller.  The Matt Damon character, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller.  He is what she as a reporter should be.

I have only one objection to Ryan’s Dayne.  No star reporter would risk career suicide by confessing her reporting sins to the likes of Chief Miller.  Never.  She would do as Judith Miller did in real life.  String it out, never fully admit to wrong-doing.  Save some measure of the career at all costs.  The flaw is not Ryan’s.  The confession served director Paul Greengrass’s script.

Those bombastic conservative propagandists (Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage et al)  have only to take a hard look at Dayne, and ultimately Judith Miller, to see there is no “liberal media” to chastise.  If anything, reporters play along with those in power and their bosses, those powerful right-wing CEOs that run a great majority of America’s news outlets.   It’s called career preservation. 

And, in the case of the war in Iraq, the media swallowed the swill of the most dangerous president of our lifetime.  Most dangerous so far.

Jim died: Probable cause

I last wrote about Jim Bosold a month ago.  He was an acquaintance, someone I saw the few times a week we ate at the same buffet.  We’d say hello.  That was about the sum of it.  Then he died.  He fell from a fourth-floor balcony in the apartment complex where he lived in the heart of Phoenix.  His friends, the married couple Lee and Louis, did not know for sure what caused the fall.

“Murdered, we suspect,” Lee had said.  I wondered, not knowing him well, if he’d taken his life. 

I ran into Louis and Lee yesterday at the buffet.  The cause of death apparently was something in between murder and suicide.  It was an accident, they said.  I assume they had seen the autopsy or knew what was in it.  

Lee said Jim’s death had to do with his medication.  He probably became dizzy, she said, and ended up falling over the railing.  This is how such important information reaches us, his friends and well wishers.  It dribbles out.  Fact or not, it’s usually all we’re left with.

In any case, Jim’s death took a double toll on his friends.  His woman friend, Dorothy, was said to be “devastated” by the accident.  She has gone to New Mexico to live with or near kin, Lee said.  Now instead of the four of them lunching together on Tuesdays at the buffet, it is suddenly only two. 

“I still can’t believe it,” said Louis, who was a close friend of Jim’s.

Louis told me Jim was cremated and his remains placed in a cemetery for military veterans at Cave Creek, north of Phoenix. 

I also learned Jim has a brother.  I would like to talk with the brother and write a fitting obituary.  Every person, no matter how insignificant they may seem, deserves recognition for having lived on this heart-breaking planet.