Archive for the September Category

A MATTER OF INTROSPECTION

These lines are being dictated on a Sunday, September 11, 2011.  This of course is the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon.  Further, it also marks the anniversary of American Flight 93 that was downed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania in a heroic action by the passengers.  The tributes to the memory of the 2700 people who were lost that day were both sad and foreboding.  The Pentagon has long since been repaired, and American Airlines is still in business.  But here we are on the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center.  Construction of replacement buildings is far from complete.  The anniversary of events, marked by those of today, leaves me with a sense of introspection.  Inevitably, this sense of introspection takes me back to December 7, 1941.

You will recall that on that day the Japanese fleet sank the bulk of our battleships moored at Pearl Harbor.  The American response was immediate.  President Roosevelt declared war on the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan on the following day.  This country knew that there was a tremendous task in front of it.  And basically we went to work to try to win two wars, in Europe and in the Pacific.  My sense of introspection has to do with whether, in the same circumstances, we would do the same thing today.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on a Sunday.  Little did I know that that Sunday would change my life forever.  It would change the lives of perhaps millions of others who were sympathetic to our cause and those who were opposed.  On that Sunday, I had finished work at around noontime in a filling station in Clayton, Missouri.  It was owned by Harold Bauer.  Because the American system was so rigged in favor of taking draftees as opposed to  enlistments, I set about to try to figure out how I could enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  But that proved to be a formidable process and I waited until the summer of 1942 to enlist in the American Army.  Even at that late date, the American Army still imposed formidable obstacles.  I was required to produce three letters of recommendation and because of my age, I had to take my mother to the county seat where she could sign for my enlistment.

Americans were united in opposing the Axis powers and were willing to pay whatever price it took.  Remember, at this time there was no China or Japan or other power that would provide us with the funds to fight this war.  Clearly it was up to the Americans to carry the cause of democracy.  Europe was in shambles after having lost the continent to the hordes of Adolf Hitler.  In the Far East, the situation was no better in that the Japanese controlled just about everything.

But the American response was resolute.  There was no debate when Franklin Roosevelt said that we were going to war and that the war would be paid for from our own resources.  That is what we intended to do.

So that thought brings to mind my period of introspection.  If we were faced with a war or a cataclysmic event today such as World War II brought about, would the United States be as resolute as it was in 1941?  And if the president stated that the war would be paid for from our own resources, would we continue to be resolute in our determination?  Or would the President contend that the war be fought on credit cards using the Chinese and Japanese to buy our bonds and in effect subsidize the war?

But now my period of introspection takes me to the pledge of Grover Norquist.  Norquist has insisted that virtually every Republican sign a pledge that under no circumstances would he ever vote to raise taxes.  Mind you, there was no caveat in this pledge.  It did not state that wars would be exempt.  It stated flatly and boldly that under no circumstances would any of the Republicans vote to increase taxes to pay for our efforts in such a cataclysmic event.  So I am left with this thought about introspection.  Would the Republicans as well as the Tea Party keep their pledge that they would never vote to sign a tax increase of any kind?  If we were faced with a cataclysmic event such as World War II, would the pledge to Grover Norquist apply?  Would it supplant their oath of allegiance or their oath of office for Republican office holders to continue holding their office while voting for a tax increase?

So you see that my thoughts on this matter of introspection are well founded.  As World War II approached, the Republicans under Senator Bob Taft of Ohio were opposing every measure to increase American security.  They did not like the lend lease program whereby we furnished destroyers to the British Navy.  They were opposed to Franklin Roosevelt, opposed more than anything else because he represented the Democratic Party, and they thought that the engines of power belonged exclusively to the Republicans.

But as I listened to the tributes involving the World Trade Center, I was struck by the thought, “Would we be as resolute as a country as we were in 1941?”  This of course has led to my concern about introspection.  Naturally I hope that the President would be resolute and that he would declare that the war would be paid for from our own resources, and finally that the Republicans and the Tea Party, who are very much the same, would abandon their pledge to Grover Norquist and do what is right by this republic.

My concern about introspection still applies.   Introspection is a sense of foreboding.  In this case the foreboding might well have to do with whether the President would be resolute and whether the Republicans would abandon their pledge to Grover Norquist.  Putting the President and the Republicans on the same page may be a tall order but if we are to solve the problems of these days, there simply is no choice.  The President must be resolute in every case and the Republicans, who have made a virtue of saying no to everything that he proposes, might have to swallow a few of their “no” votes and do what is right by the republic.  And so, until one of these things happens, a sense of foreboding and gloom over this area of concern of introspection continues.  I wish it were not so but these are the cards we have been dealt.

 

E. E. CARR

September 11, 2011

Essay 581

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Kevin’s commentary: Well, I’d like to say that our borrowed money will wind up coming out of our pockets eventually, but this isn’t entirely the case. My international economics teacher left us with a quote at one point, which was simply: “If you owe the bank $10,000, you have a problem. If you owe the bank, $10,000,000, the bank does.” Right now in many ways China is our bank. So that situation is very delicate and is going to be a big function of inflation and trade patterns as China begins to move away from the heavy industrial stuff. Still though, at this point they sorta have to keep giving us money, so I figure that we would probably go to war on a combined Chinese+American dime. Which is basically what we’re doing in the middle east currently anyway.

I also wondered why Pop chose the Air Force over any other branch of the military, and certainly did not know that he tried to join up with Canada. Hopefully he can provide some answers here.

PETERING OUT WITH HURRICANE IRENE

I am dictating these lines in the early afternoon of September 4.  Today is Sunday and so far it seems to be a peaceful day.   I cite the peace and quiet of this Sunday as contrasted with the multitude of problems that existed just one week ago when Hurricane Irene was upon us.

It would beggar the imagination to conclude that any essayist could fail to mention the effects of Hurricane Irene.  I do not wish to toy with beggaring the imagination, so here are my thoughts about Hurricane Irene.  These are basically disconnected thoughts that reflect my view of the hurricane exactly one week after it passed over the great and ghostly state of New Jersey.

There was a television program this morning to which I listened to all of the dialogue.  It was Howard Kurtz with Howard Kurtz’s estimate of how the media treated the hurricane.  If I read him correctly, Kurtz seemed to believe that the media hyped the hurricane and that it was not such a big deal after all.  Howard Kurtz has his viewpoint and, if I may say so, Mr. Kurtz is full of baloney.  If this were not a family publication, my thoughts about Mr. Kurtz would be a bit more pungent.  As far as I am concerned, the media in the United States handled the hurricane superbly.  The media kept us informed as to the progress of the storm as it made its way northward to New York City and Boston and other locations to the north.  The media reports as the storm progressed northward were in my estimation all consuming.  Other programs normally scheduled for last Sunday were cancelled so that the media could report on the progress of the storm.  When the storm approached, it poured great gobs of water in the form of rainfall on our house and on the surrounding properties, and the windfall that accompanied the storm threatened to loosen our roof from the house.  How anyone can say that the media over-hyped the storm is beyond my comprehension.  So, point one is that in all of my 90 years of residence on the planet Earth, Hurricane Irene was an event that warranted the attention that was paid to it by the American media.

Point two, in my humble opinion the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was outstanding.  He told residents in low-lying areas of New York City that it was time to leave.  There was no hysteria in his voice.  Rather it was the voice that was commanding.  It told the residents of New York that the better part of valor was to get the hell out of low-lying areas and he seemed to mean it.  Mr. Bloomberg is not my mayor.  I wish that every mayor could be so thoughtful for his constituents.  Mayor Bloomberg has been a Democrat, then a Republican, and then an Independent.  Regardless of my politics, I believe that if he ran for a fourth term as a resident of New Jersey I would cast an absentee ballot in his favor.

After Mr. Bloomberg had been broadcasting his warnings to the residents of New York, belatedly the governor of New Jersey, a fat clown named Chris Christie thought he ought to get into the act.  So Chris Christie asked for his helicopter pilot to fire up the engines and he made a tour of cities where the forecasters told him there would be problems.  In the end, Chris Christie inspired no one.  On the other hand, Mr. Bloomberg inspired me as well as others with his up-to-date reports on the progress of the storm.

A third line of reasoning, or in fact it is unreasoning, is that of Michele Bachmann.  During the storm, she appeared on television to announce that the recent earthquakes in New Jersey and other locations on the east coast and now the hurricane were a message from God.  I take strong exception to a godly creature who wishes to inflict pain on human beings.  The fact of the matter is that the residents of the east coast of the United States did not flock to prayer meetings in the hope of diverting the storm.  They knew it was coming and they prepared to handle it as best they could.  There was no panic to throw themselves at the foot of the altar in the hope of altering the course of the storm.  I view that as a very positive development which does away with the superstition that celestial creatures control our lives.  Hurricanes happen because the weather conditions are right.  There is no alternative.

Now, speaking of spiritual creatures brings to mind my own reaction.  As most of you know, I am a non-believer in religious affairs.  If I had prayed to alter the course of the storm, it would have fallen on deaf spiritual ears.  My belief is that in the spiritual world there is a compact which guarantees that any messages from me delivered in prayer will be ignored.  I believe that Allah, Jesus, Buddha, and the angel Moroni of the Mormon faith would all act in concert consistent with the memorandum on their calendar pads which tells them that any plea in any prayer coming from Ed Carr is to be ignored because in the eyes of the spiritual world, Ed Carr is a low-life S.O.B.  I accept those judgments and file them under the heading of humorous entreaties.

Now I come to a final point, which is the title to this essay.  In case you have forgotten the title, it is “Petering Out with Hurricane Irene.”   The term of “petering out” has at least two meanings.  It means, for most, the gradual diminishment of any force.  For example, when a tire is inflated and the valve in the stem is removed, the tire gushes air for a while and then settles into silence, thus petering out.  Secondly, for those of you who are interested in such things, the word “peter” has a connection with the male genitalia and because this is a family publication, that will not be dealt with here.

On the other hand, as the storm approached, I followed its progress from North Carolina through Washington and then Philadelphia, and finally New York.  After the storm had passed, my attention came to bear on the water in the rec room and worries about trees.  After a few days, those concerns tended to vanish so I think we see that Hurricane Irene petered out.  I suspect that this is an ancient construction of the English language.  My parents, who were born in the 1880s, remembered “petering out” as a lively term which existed through their lifetimes.  But as time has gone on, “petering out” has lost its currency.  I still think that it is a good term.

So the hurricane is one week behind us; it may be viewed in the rear-view mirror.  On the other hand we have two other concerns having to do with a storm in the Atlantic that may develop into a hurricane and one in the Gulf Coast.  The fact of the matter is that in my long life, I do not wish ever to be bothered again by a hurricane.  I realize praying about moving hurricanes in my case would be pointless, but for all of my friends, may I say that Hurricane Irene is about all of the hurricanes that we can handle for a while.

 

E. E. CARR

September 4, 2011

Essay 579

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Kevin’s commentary: as I publish this, the coast has been once again assaulted by the weather, this time in the form of a rather harsh blizzard.

Christie meanwhile has proven that he’s not a complete horse’s ass, and handled — to the best of my knowledge — hurricane Sandy rather well.  I’m sure Pop will be writing about the current blizzard, perhaps even as I write these words. It is an event that seems to require coverage as much as Irene did.

In any event I think that it is clear that God just like Californians and Texans better because they are afflicted with neither hurricanes nor blizzards and we are all rather happy for it.

IN PRAISE OF THE LOWLY DOOR KNOB

Most of us use the door knob on frequent occasions and think nothing of it.  The purpose of this small essay is to give the proper praise to the door knob for the service that it has provided to humanity over the years.

Simply put, if there were no door knobs, it would be difficult to open doors and get from one room to another.  In and of itself, the fact that the door knob opens doors is worthy of great praise.  Never in the history of home building or in the history of poetry or essays has a tribute been paid solely to the lowly door knob.  This extremely modest essay will attempt to right that wrong.

As we have said, the door knob opens doors between rooms and to the outside world.  Without door knobs we would be confined to a small space without hope of escape.  Door knobs provide this service to mankind and it should be appreciated.  But opening doors is not the only function of door knobs.

There is an expression in some quarters that a person or a thing is as dumb as a bag of door knobs.  It may be that I have used that expression myself.  But from this time on, I will no longer use it.  Aside from the normal function of the door knob, it provides other services as well.

For those of us, sighted and non-sighted, the door knob is a convenient place to lean for support to progress from one room to another.  In my particular case, door knobs are essential if for no other reason than the fact that they can be leaned on.

Door knobs provide another service in that in the case of the non-sighted person, they tell the person how he is making progress.  In my own case, when leaving the room I reach for various door knobs to measure my progress.

But the utility of a door knob does not end there.  It is a convenient hanging device for everything from underwear to neckties. It is perfectly designed to fit a shirt collar.   I am not averse to unmentionable things in the female category but I suspect that bra straps are frequently placed over the door knobs.  I don’t condemn this use of door knobs but rather I sort of applaud it.

Now the utility of door knobs does not end there.  They are a convenient device for hanging “do not disturb” signs in a hotel.  Local advertisers often hire workers to hand their advertising signs on the door knobs such as mine.

I suspect that there are many other cases where the door knob provides essential services to mankind in general.  But once again, I appreciate this opportunity to speak in praise of the lowly door knob.  I might also ask, “Where would we be if there were no such things as door knobs?”  Aside from opening doors they provide a convenient place for looping shirts and bra straps and other unmentionable items as we dress and undress.  And so in the end I feel better because I have paid my long overdue tribute to door knobs.  I hope that they live forever.

 

E. E. CARR

September 13, 2011

Essay 582

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Kevin’s commentary: I have a strange grandparent.

I have no idea how to tag this one.

Happy New Year’s, everybody.

DEFICITS DON’T MATTER – RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

If I were to eat a meal at a local restaurant and leave after the dessert course was served without paying, I am certain that the owners of the restaurant would be all over me before I reached the door.  If I were to say to the owners in that case, “I have been reliably informed that deficits don’t matter,” the owners would still insist on payment for the meal just consumed.  Nonetheless, for eight years this country was governed by a Vice President who insisted that deficits don’t matter.  I am here to remind the former Vice President of this country that deficits do matter.

During the Bush-Cheney era, the United States started two wars, one in Afghanistan and the second one in Iraq.  On top of that, the surplus that had been turned over when Bill Clinton left office was dispersed in a series of tax cuts.  The wars were put on the tab furnished by the Chinese and Japanese.  Now we are finding out from the Tea Party people, for example, that there is a movement towards a balanced budget.  The Tea Party people are aghast at the debt that we have run up.  I am sorry to inform the Tea Party people that the debt was incurred during the Presidency of George Bush and the estimable Richard Cheney, Vice President.

For some time, I have put a note on one of my dictating machines which I use to remind me of future essays.  For two or three years, one of my notes has said, “Deficits Don’t Matter.”  I have resisted writing that essay, waiting for a more appropriate time.  Right now seems to be the appropriate time.

This past summer, Richard Cheney produced a book which he claims to have written.  When a book is being produced, the author goes around the country to drum up sales.  In the interviews that I have heard with Mr. Cheney, I was repulsed as always by his defense of the Iraq war and his support of “enhanced interrogation.”  No matter how you cut it, this so-called “enhanced interrogation” is a form of torture.  Here is Cheney, probably the most reviled Vice President in our history, touting not only the war in Iraq but also the use of torture.  Unfortunately, the book by Cheney is listed as the third best seller at the end of Septmber by The New York Times.  Obviously I do not intend to read the book that Cheney has written.  I would recommend that it not be read by anyone else.

Here we are trying to muster up the finances to pay for our existence and at the same time we are reminded that Cheney used to tell us, “Deficits don’t matter.”  In my humble opinion, deficits do matter.  And if you wonder why we are in these financial straits, you must recall the start of two wars and the concomitant tax cuts.  This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.  But Richard Cheney goes on his merry way, caring not at all for the wars that were conducted by his administration, and still proclaims that the Iraq war was justified and that torture is an appropriate interrogation technique when we have prisoners.  As is well known, Cheney took five deferments; he did not have to serve during the war in Vietnam.  If he had served, he would understand that torture is not a one-sided game.  It can be practiced by both sides.

But in the final analysis, I have been able to remove this from my dictating notepad.  I have managed to dictate this essay without boiling over.  If in this life or in any future life, I could be assured that I would never be troubled by the likes of Richard Cheney, I would accept that guarantee full-heartedly.  But the fact of the matter is that for eight years of the Bush-Cheney administration, we still have to listen to the former Vice President.  I can assure you that when he wants to justify the Iraq war or the Afghanistan war and torture, my blood pressure races toward the boiling point.  But now that the book has been written and the interviews conducted, I look forward to peace untroubled by interruptions from Richard Cheney, the most reviled of American Vice Presidents.

 

E. E. CARR

September 26, 2011

Essay 601

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Kevin’s commentary: Here on the edge of the dreaded Fiscal Cliff, this essay is as topical as ever. And it serves as a wonderful reminder of how positively terrific it feels to not have to deal with Cheney’s crap anymore.

Oh, and for the first time in a while, I’ve added a new category tag — Bush Administration. I suspect it will be getting plenty of mileage in the essays to come, as I work my way back in time.

I didn’t publish any essays over break, so today I’ll be putting up six, then using WordPress to make the site pretend that they were published earlier than they actually were.  It’s a marathon!

GOOD JESUS!!

That miserable bastard Cheney is at it again.

This essay is going to be dictated on the afternoon of August 27th.  We await the arrival of Hurricane Irene.  Awaiting the arrival of the hurricane is a far from happy test.  My mood is not made any more benign as we wait for the first raindrops by the fact that the former Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, a miserable bastard, has written a book.  Yesterday, he was interviewed by an NBC reporter named Jaimie Gangel.  Miss Gangel was solicitous and quite polite.  Cheney, who had sought the interview to promote his book, was impolite to a fault.  His answers were short and conveyed the thought, “You must have known this anyway.”

In the event that you have forgotten, there was a period between the year 2000 and January of 2009 when we were burdened with the presidency of George W. Bush and the vice presidency of Richard Cheney.  During his vice presidency, Richard Cheney exposed a woman named Mrs. Wilson as a secret operative of the CIA.  He made elaborate plans to cover his tracks, but in the investigation by a Republican special counsel, it was discovered that there was a handwritten note in Cheney’s handwriting about the exposure of Mrs. Wilson.  As a matter of fact, there is no doubt but that Cheney led the effort to expose Mrs. Wilson’s undercover activities.  But he let Scooter Libby take the consequences.  The consequences were a conviction, a federal trial of Scooter Libby; he was saved from going to jail for about two years with the intervention of George Bush.  Bush contended that Scooter Libby had been punished enough.  That is a preposterous conclusion.

At any rate, it is quite clear that the Republican special counsel should have indicted Cheney as well as Karl Rove, the executive assistant to the President.  The special counsel interviewed Cheney and interviewed Rove on at least five occasions and it was widely predicted that they would be indicted.  In the end, they were not indicted, largely because of their political connections.

But at any rate, in his interview with Jaimie Gangel, the former vice president contends that he has written a book about his experience in the White House in the vice presidency.  Whether he wrote the book or not is largely beside the point because celebrities of the stature of Dick Cheney are able to hire people to write for them.  But in the interview with Miss Gangel, we are treated to vintage Cheney.  In his book, Cheney defends the invasion of Iraq.  If there is anything in the world that was a bigger mistake than the invasion of Iraq, it would have to come to the attention of the American public.  Down to the bitter end, Cheney defends the invasion of Iraq.  Secondly, Cheney defends the use of torture.  He terms it “enhanced interrogation.”  Every other impartial observer, including myself, calls it torture, not enhanced anything.

Everyone should know that when we engage in torture, it  exposes every American soldier to the same sort of treatment from our enemies.  Clearly we were guilty of the torture of our prisoners in the Iraq war.  There is absolutely no question on that score.  And here we have some years after the war, the former vice president defending the use of torture.  This is a bizarre circumstance for which Cheney must have his intelligence or his sanity questioned.

During the reign of Bush and Cheney, we were frequently treated to the ministrations of his wife and daughter.  Nobody anointed Cheney’s wife or his daughter as experts.  Seriously, his daughter is a lesbian and to his credit, he defends her.  And remember, his defense is confined just to his daughter; he is not inclined to give the lesbians as a class any compassion.  I guess this amounts to “lesbians are no good” except for Cheney’s daughter.

I have no intention whatsoever to read Cheney’s book.  Between Cheney, George W. Bush, Cheney’s wife and daughter, I have had all of the Cheney family that any man can stomach.  As the Iraq war now tends to become a thing of the past, we have Cheney writing a book in which he defends the invasion of Iraq, the torture, and all the rest of the American excesses.

In point of fact, when it was Cheney’s time to serve, he took five exemptions and managed not to serve in the Vietnam War.  The fact of the matter is that when the country calls, the common answer is to go.  And the further fact is that once in the army, one should be protected from torture.  But that is not the case in the Cheney viewpoint.

As you can see, on this gloomy afternoon as we await the Hurricane Irene, my mood has not been improved in any degree by the thought of Dick Cheney’s book.  I am not quite sure what this term means, but I believe that Cheney is what the English would call a “rotter.”  According to the dictionary, the word “rotter,” coming from the originators in the language, is described as follows: “the word is chiefly Brit and means a worthless, unpleasant, or despicable person.”

I believe that the English appropriately named Dick Cheney.  I am sorry that I did not think of that term earlier in the proceedings about his book.  But as I indicated in the title, my reaction is, “Good Jesus! That miserable bastard who is also a rotter is back at it again.”  I believe that this sentiment wraps up my view of the Cheney family and of his vice presidency of the United States.  Perhaps the book could be turned into a movie that would give us some enjoyment as a farce.  But aside from that, I leave my thoughts which are reflected in the title to this essay.

 

E. E. CARR

September 4, 2011

Essay 596

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Kevin’s commentary: hurricanes are still happening up on the East coast, Cheney is still an asshole, and Karl Rove’s defense of it has stuck in my mind for years as being uniquely upsetting. He’s proud of it, and it’s here: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/karl-rove-proud-using-waterboarding-and

But the worst is Sean Hannity: you can watch Olbermann on it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzK5FNjBsrA

 

Extra note: It’s now 2:12am and I’ve been learning everything I can about waterboarding for an hour and change now. It has been an upsetting hour, and I do not recommend that any readers do the same.