Another guy, another chair, another view

August 31, 2012

Big Oopsdate:  Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub fell victim to a photo hoax.  The image below was modified from the “Simpsons” episode;  see story of hoax here.

Turns out this chair is occupied

August 31, 2012

Turns out this chair is occupied.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Luke Adams and Twitter, and to Clint Eastwood.

Also, I’ll wager that photo should have got a credit line to one of the White House photographers, probably Pete Souza.

Non-virtual world interference in the summer of 2012

August 30, 2012

Posting here takes hits every day from real world interference.  That interference will continue.

And it’s a pretty bad backlog.  I have stuff cued up, but needing editing, from stuff I saw in June.  Since June 1st I traveled by SUV from Texas to Wisconsin, and back, by air to Washington, D.C., and by car from Dallas to Colorado Springs and back.  I have not tallied how many states.

Winston Churchill's "Sinews of Peace"...

Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech was delivered at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. This famous photo of Churchill by Yousuf Karsh, earlier.

We saw and purchased parts of the Berlin Wall, in Appleton, Wisconsin, where a mockup of eight panels of the wall cut into a work of art by Winston Churchill’s granddaughter caught tourists’ eyes at the Trout Museum of Art, along with a display of Winston Churchill’s art — stuff he made, and stuff made about him.  With younger son James I drove to Fulton, Missouri, to see the actual chunks of the Berlin Wall at the Churchill Center in America.  A couple of weeks later I stood stunned by even more parts of the Berlin Wall, and one of the guard towers, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

[Nota bene:  “The Art of Winston Churchill” was extended through Septermber 7 at the Trout Museum of Art; if you’re near Appleton, Wisconsin, go.]

We lucked into a tour of the museum at Fulton, the National Churchill Museum on the Churchill Center, which is housed under the oldest European building standing in America.  That building is a church originally built in about 1100 A.D., rescued by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great London Fire, bombed out with Nazi incendiary devices in the Battle of Britain, and then disassembled in London and reassembled and gloriously restored in Fulton, at the Churchill Center, near the site of Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College, as part of the American tribute to the Great Winston.

Between Appleton and Fulton, we stopped  in Springfield, Illinois, to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  It’s a stop I’ve made several times, including for seminars with the Bill of Rights Institute and Liberty Fund.  This time we drove to Lincoln’s tomb.  I had not realized that one could enter the tomb.  A bronze cast of Borglum’s  Lincoln bust stands in front of the tomb — Abe’s nose rubbed shiny by tens of thousands of touches.  Borglum’s bust remains one of my favorite sculptures.  The version in the U.S. Capitol, I discovered a few days later, has been moved from the grand view in the Rotunda, to the crypt below (replaced by a grinning, glad-handing Ronald Reagan!).  In the Capitol, no one is allowed to touch Abe’s nose.

In Washington I discovered that the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at the FDR Memorial is much less guarded.  People there touch her hands.  FDR sits — in his wheelchair — a few yards away, with a much-larger-than-life statue of his fabled dog Fala.  It’s Fala’s ears that get the touches there.

A half mile away, the Korean War Memorial features nearly a score of bronze soldiers on patrol on a cold Korean morning.   Not in the original design, a small fence surrounds the patrol, enough of a barrier to keep people from walking up to the actual men portrayed and touching them — the Korean War Memorial was not designed for public interaction with statues that way.  Another hundred yards at the Vietnam War Memorial, and it’s difficult to find anyone who visits who does not touch the wall of names, 58,000 dead.

These memorials, if not touching themselves, certainly invite touching, and are touched.

In Colorado we camped with a Boy Scout troop from Aurora , Colorado — our camp included the night of the horrible shootings in Aurora.  That week saw an unusual, three-way swing of good deeds involving Scouts from Aurora, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Hurst, Texas, which I believe has not yet been told.    On the way to Colorado we stopped at the Oklahoma City Memorial to the victims of the bombing there; on the return, we visited Cadillac Ranch with what seemed like a hundred Kiwis and Aussies exploring our grand Route 66 — have you made that drive? — and the Kwahadi Indian Dancers who bravely revived the Ghost Dance, somehow without earning the ire of the 7th Cavalry.

A lot of asphalt under the wheels, a lot of clouds under the wings — but not a job under my belt.  I’ll post what I can, but other issues take time, as you might understand.


Leaking of GOP ignorance threatens to turn into a flood

August 28, 2012

My GOP friends tried to say that Todd Akin’s odd views on  pregnancy and rape are a brand of stupid unique to him.  ‘Don’t think all Republicans are that ignorant,’ they said.

Hey, I worked with Republicans and in the Republican Party for years.  I know a lot of bright, intelligent Republicans.

Most of them couldn’t get through the door of the  party these days, if they didn’t already have elected or appointed posts.  Many Republidans come well-acquainted with libraries, books, critical thinking  and an appreciation of art and literature, and at least a rudimentary understanding of science — but alas, they and their views are being smothered by the chuckleheads in the party.

When the Akin flap broke, we were all saddened to learn that he had carried some of those odd views for several years, and that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and the entire Texas Republican delegation in the House of Representatives joined with Akin last February to try to change the legal definition of rape to match Akin’s views.  How embarrassing, not just to be caught, but to have done that stuff in the first place.

“Aberration,” the Republicans said.

Pennsylvania GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Tom Smith

Pennsylvania GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Tom Smith told reporters pregnancy from rape is about the same as pregnancy from an out-of-wedlock affair. Photo from Tom Smith campaign

Don’t look now, but that trickle from the dam holding back the stupid swelled to a stream, and it’s threatening to erode the dam and unleash all the stupid behind it.

I refer you to the odd and disgusting case of Pennsylvania Republican Tom Smith, the GOP hope to defeat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, reported in the New York Daily News:

Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Tom Smith sparked controversy Monday after he compared a pregnancy resulting from rape to “having a baby out-of-wedlock” – days after Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) shocked many by claiming that “legitimate rape” doesn’t lead to pregnancy.

Smith tried to distance himself from Akin’s comments at the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg, saying that the congressman “should have never said anything like that,” the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.

But when a reporter asked him what he would do if one of his daughters or granddaughters became pregnant as a result of rape, he said that he had “lived something similar to that with [his] own family,” referring to his daughter’s “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy from consensual sex.

“She chose life, and I commend her for that,” Smith said. “She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”

When pressed by another reporter, the 66-year-old reiterated the comparison of his daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy to becoming pregnant from rape.

“Put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, it is similar,” he said.

Smith, who is running against incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in November, later clarified his statements at the same event.

“No … I said I went through a situation [with a daughter]. It’s very, very difficult,” Smith said. “But do I condone rape? Absolutely not. But do I propose life, yes I do. I’m pro-life, period.”

Steve Forbes endorses the odd Tom Smith

Steve Forbes endorses Tom Smith? The scary question is whether Forbes bothered to learn Smith’s views, or did he perhaps endorse Smith knowing about Smith’s odd views, and hoping Smith would push them in Washngton? Smith campaign image.

One might wonder if the real reason the GOP cut their convention short was to prevent more leaks of the truth about their candidates views and odd positions on issues.  Cutbacks in news departments and the shrinking news holes in most newspapers could be partly to blame for these late-breaking stories of stupid.  Generally news stories expose gross ignorance and patent stupidity in primary campaigns, and voters of the parties vote away candidates who hold extreme, bizarre, dangerous or silly views.  News organizations don’t have the staff to expose these things early, and they get exposed late only on a catch-as-catch-can basis.

But there is a very real danger that some people with money are pushing these candidates because of their odd views.  In Texas, Tea Party courtesan Ted Cruz defeated a well-known candidate for the U.S. Senate nomination, and part of his appeal may be his odd views that the United Nations is trying to seize U.S. golf courses.  Democrat Paul Sadler faces an uphill battle even in Texas where Cruz’s friends in oil pipelines are seizing private farm and ranch land.  Cruz claims to fight against an imaginary problem, but he lets the real problems roll right over Texans.

A wise voter without a lot of time to study in depth the views of candidates might be compelled to vote Democratic straight tickets as the safest thing to do, even with a few odd views among Democrats.

How many more?   How many other odd, divorced-from-reality views have residence in the penthouses of the Republican mansion?  Waiting for one more shoe to drop would be bad enough — ignorance in the GOP seems to be a centipede with dozens of shoes.


Myanmar freedom of the press? Progress, but not there yet

August 26, 2012

English: Burma (Myanmar) (dark green) / ASEAN ...

Burma (Myanmar) (dark green) / ASEAN (dark grey) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Economist carries the good news, with the sober warning that press freedom remains beyond the grasp of Myanmar journalists:

But as part of a wider reform programme introduced by President Thein Sein, the old media rules have gradually been relaxed. For several months many editors have no longer been required to submit articles for prepublication censorship on such subjects as the economy. The latest announcement removes the need to submit articles on more sensitive topics, such as politics or Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts.

The country’s journalists welcome the news, but they also give warning that this by no means ends restrictions on press freedom. These remain numerous and burdensome. In particular, two bits of repressive legislation remain: the Printers and Publishers Registration Act, dating from the start of military rule in 1962, and the 2004 Electronic Transactions Law. Under the first, publications can lose their licences if they supposedly harm the reputation of a government department, threaten peace and security, and much else. Under the second, a person can be imprisoned for up to 15 years for distributing via the internet information that the courts deem harmful to the state. Meanwhile, the censor board itself seems likely to remain in business, ready to punish reporters or editors who overstep the mark.

But, good news is good news, yes?  See the entire article at The Economist.

Agenda 21: In graphic novel form, so it must be the truth

August 23, 2012

What is Agenda 21?  It’s a program at the United Nations to work on economic development, sustainable development, environmental protection, resource conservation and economic policies.  As with almost all UN programs, Agenda 21 pronouncements are wholly voluntary.

Several international programs create studies and make recommendations to nations — but unless they come from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund along with loans to help nations develop, such recommendations remain mostly academic:  Nations follow them only to the extent that a nation’s policy-making groups (like Congress in the U.S.) are persuaded that the recommended policies benefit the nation.

For reasons unclear to me the wacky wing of the crazy right seized upon Agenda 21 as the symbol of most things evil in the world, especially since we don’t have the Soviet Union to blame stuff on any more.

Grist featured a graphic-novel-style explanation of Agenda 21, so you can follow the issues as they arise at the 2012 Republican Convention:  Agenda 21: Everything you need to know about the secret U.N. plot, in one comic.  Here is the entire post:

Agenda 21: It’s the biggest threat to your freedom, and unless you regularly attend yahoo-filled local planning and zoning meetings, you’ve probably never even heard of it. Until recently, this vast United Nations conspiracy to force us all to live “sustainably” was known only to stalwart defenders of Liberty and Freedom like the John Birch Society. But the underground resistance is about to go mainstream. GOP intellectual it boy Ted Cruz leads the counterstrike, and the Republican Party is even considering a public flambéing of Agenda 21in its official 2012 platform.

Looking to help break the siege of bike paths and high-quality education on our freedoms? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

First panel, Agenda 21 graphic documentary from Grist

Panel 1

Concocted by the U.N. during the 1992 Earth Summit and signed by the 1st President Bush ... in the dark of the night!

Panel 2

A comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control, Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities!

Panel 3

If implemented, Agenda 21 would wreak unspeakable havoc on the American way of life!

Panel 4

Imagine what our lives would be like under this Reign Of Terror!

Panel 5

Happily, there is a bright spot in this dark cloud! Shortly after the Earth Summit, the United States forgot Agenda 21 even existed!

Panel 6

This paranoid fantasy has been brought to you by: The Republican National Committee, The Water Fluoridators, The Gub'ment Mind Jockeys, and the evil elves that live in your walls!!!

Panel 7

Tip of the old scrub brush to Grist, and Charles Nesci and especially Greg Hanscom, the cartoonist.  Hanscom is a “senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.”

More (not a lot from sane sources on this topic):

More, a sampling from sources without hinges (a small selection):

Already! Season two, “These Guys”

August 22, 2012

Louie Ludwig is a genius.  Does he write speeches for Texas candidates for the U.S. Senate, maybe?  Paul Sadler, are you watching?

These Guys Season 2: The Lieutenant
So the new guy thinks he’s such a tough guy? When he can’t even stand up to these guys?

Louie Ludwig is the creator of this ad and is solely responsible for its content.

Music: “The Man with No Point” from the album “Private Islands”
copyright 2008 Louie Ludwig/zzi music ISRC USWGE1100208

Video/images: Louie Ludwig, Gage Skidmore, AP, Sage Ross, DB King, Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, Voice of America
More music and video at

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