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Sunday, January 25, 2004

From his brimstone bed at break of day
A'walking the Devil is gone,
To look at his little snug farm of the World,
And see how his stock went on.

His coat was red and his breeches were blue
And there was a hole where his tail came through.


It's another day for flotsam and jetsam.

Too much watching of the State of the Union speech, the primaries, the debates, the night shows and their trite little jokes, the damage control attempts, the whole farcical, tactical brainwashing of the masses.

People praising Bush: "He's gonna take care of health care, he's gonna take care of the economy, he's taking care of jobs, immigration, security, he's fighting turr..." Huh? Is anybody awake in there, is anyone actually ALIVE in there? Do any of you have a contingency plan, what to do, where to go, if something dreadful happens again? Where will you meet your children? What will you do with your cat or your dog?

So much brouhaha about Howard Dean's RahaRahRah after Iowa, to encourage his very young staffers. For heavens' sakes, can't anybody see it in context? Is everyone so blind and incapable of gauging body language to be able to differentiate between anger and enthusiasm? Did the sound bite happen when you had your back towards the screen, reaching into the icebox for another cola? Or while you popped the wrapping on the family-size pretzel bag?

Did you really miss the extraordinary smile on Clark's face, as he waited quietly, patiently, for that nasty, cheeky little punchline: "When did you notice for the first time you were a Democrat?" Wasn't it clear to you, as it was to me, in that flash of his smile, that he could see what was coming, he was smart enough to see it coming, and he stood his ground: he actually burst out laughing! Who would be dumb enough to suppose there is any merit in never changing your mind about a wrong, entrenched opinion? Value in saying: "Yes, I was wrong, I now understand, I have changed my mind, I have learned my lesson."

"They" said afterwards Clark had been the loser in that debate. I may be wrong, but I disagree. He behaved like a winner to me.

The clear loser was Lieberman: "I'm gonna give every American free health coverage." Oh, yeah? Pray tell how. You should have read enough science fiction by now to know the old saying by heart: TINSTAAFL. There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Unfortunately, Kusinich isn't far behind. To visualize him as an "American President" is about the same as to see a Fujimori as a natural president of Peru, plain incongruous. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and K would pull out of Iraq snap, snap! Never mind the civil war that would ensue. Civil war, of course, if par for the course, where his roots come from. He needs to focus more on reality, the reality of cause and effect, that is.

Another small thought about Dean. When he was with Diane Sawyer and asked about the differences between what he would do and what Bush is doing, he did not mention gay marriages, despite his record as being "pro" and the fact Bush had made reference to the subject in the most recent past of his State of the Union speech. Lapsus? Freudian slip? I dunno: I thought this was a subject that many people are totally exercised about, both for and against. Certainly, Dean did finally mention it in the debate which came later.

Basically, watching the Democrats I could wholeheartedly admit I am a Democrat at heart. With the clear exception of Lieberman, whom I would not trust any further than I could throw a grand piano lefthanded, I think they are all decent men, with hearts in the right place, men of compassion and courage. I am not sure whether any one of them has sufficient experience to unravel the evil coalitions, double dealings, hubs of deception and obfuscation, axes of greed and graft, etc., set in place by the Republicans, but I do believe if they could come together as a group and somehow pool their human resources, they could revitalize America. And save America.

America needs a real vision at this time. Too much SUVs altogether. Our grandchildren will have burnt up all the world's oil resources before they reach the age of retirement. They will also have inherited this toxic loads of: pollution, nuclear waste, deplenished natural resources, lack of drinking water, deforestation, rampant ecological disasters, cross-species mutations of new viruses and other avoidable health hazards; a widening gap between the haves and have-nots, entire countries made unsafe for agriculture and everyday living by the legacies of miscellaneous wars (depleted uranium, land mines, unexploded ordnance), etc.

There needs to be a real vision and determination to develop sustainable life: water purification, alternative sources of energy, such as solar, wind, hydro. Hydro should stop damming up rivers and look out to sea more.

There needs to be a vision to help everyone understand our interconnectedness, not one which exacerbates our points of dissent.

There needs to be a vision where we all "get it" that it is not normal that those people who happen to live where the mineral wealth lies under the earth are disposable, because we want access. I may be wrong, you tell me of one single place on earth where an oil-rich country has achieved a prosperous nation--as opposed to an oligarchy lording it over a dirt-poor, oppressed, ill-educated, so-called "Third World", people? Don't give me that pablum about their being "developing" nations. Nothing is being done to help them develop.

Is that all you can talk about, Nobbog? Oil? Well, no. What about, for a small instance, mango juice?

Haiti is one of the great producers of mangoes and mango juice and concentrate, which is used, for instance, in those delicious Tropicana blends that cost $1.50 or more for a small container.

Well, did you know that those Haitians who work the mango groves of Haiti make just enough pennies a day to subsist on sugar water?

Not as a cola drink, like our own children do, or some other soda, just plain sugared water, because those pennies are not sufficient to buy meat and potatoes, even in homeopathic portions.

It's obviously futile to wonder what kind of education or health care those sugar-water children have access to.

A few years ago, I had a urinary tract operation here in New York city, and my assigned nurse was a Haitian woman called Micheline. She was able to recite Boileau by the yard, and she and I got on so well and laughed so hard everyone in all the rooms around wanted to know what the hell was so funny. My roommate, Margaret, was enchanted by the sound. "Doesn't that French sound wonderful?" she asked her visiting Urologist. He pulled a face and said: "It's just another language." He snarled, "What's beautiful about it?"

"Well," I said, "I didn't like his choice of tie".

Margaret laughed, "His suit, too, brown, terrible choice, dreadful cut, bad fit."

"He also needs a haircut," I giggled, "Let's make him over."

Would it have cost him so very much to agree with her, to be happy for her that she was getting some sort of solace after what had just happened to her? Would it have been too much simply to ask her whether she understood French at all, or whether she just enjoyed the sound of it?

We need a vision where our joy might well up because we have helped someone else achieve what we take for granted. There is plenty for all. We should not live in a world where the only perspective is that one day, all too soon, our only option will be to sit on top of a slag heap, waving our one remaining flag in the hazy sunshine, looking out at a world of devastation, picked over by beggars and wild dogs.

Well, after this little rant, I must needs go back to the ironing board. Nice work for a cold day.
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