The Watering Hole: November 30 — The Little Woman

I’m cleaning house today, and I’ve decided I need to get myself one of these housewives.  Afterall, she goes through her woman’s work chores in a cute dress, perfect hair, and heels.  Such class!  Much cuter than my socks, jammies, and tangled ponytail.

I think the narrator is so clever, pretending he’s in admiration of the strong, competent little ladies, while dribbling his patronizing prattling pablum.

Ahhhh, the “good old days.”

This is our daily open thread — Death to dust bunnies!!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 29th, 2012: By the Numbers

For today’s post, here’s a mix of articles with one very minor common theme: they’re all numbered lists.

First, from Foreign Policy magazine, a list of “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers”, which includes Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (recently visited by President Obama), Bill and Hilary Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, Malala Yousafzai, and (coming in at Number 7) President Barack Obama. As David Rothkopf says in a companion article on FP (titled “The Opposite of Thinking”):

“Once again, Foreign Policy has with characteristic humility compiled its list of leading Global Thinkers. How we could possibly identify the top 100 thinkers on a planet of 7 billion people when we’ve never met a fairly considerable number of those people is not something we dwell on when discussing our methodology. Suffice it to say, the list is impressionistic. (OK, it’s more than a little ridiculous. But this is a tradition, so let’s just keep that between us, shall we?)”

On a more aesthetic theme, from The Weather Channel, here’s “The World’s 20 Most Amazing Bridges”, several of which are located in the United States.

And, just for fun, visit for “14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People.” Try not to get lost at, it’s an addictive site.


This is our Open Thread. What’s up?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 28, 2012: Hump Day!


Only 24 more shopping days until the end of the world!!

There’s a reason why Congress kicked the can down the road until the end of 2012. All the “true belivers” will be raptured on 12/21/12! No “True Christian” will have to suffer the fate the rest of us will suffer when we go over the fiscal cliff.

Yeah, right. This writer seriously doubts Congress will let the country and the world fall into a Great Depression to end all (literally all) Great Depressions. The only question is, how much more wealthy will the wealthy become as a result of a “compromise” that finds Democrats giving in to all of the Republican demands?


Will the Democratic Party find the cajones to stand up to the Republican bullies? In a game of political chicken, the majority has watched Democrats blink time after time.

Enough. We voted for Obama. We voted for Democrats. And Democrats won, save those gerrymandered Republican districts.

If you want to find out what Republicans are up to, just look at what they accuse Democrats are doing.

Meanwhile, a local letter to the Editor blamed Obama for the Twinkie Factory Bankruptcy. There’s no cure for the terminally stupid. Reagan’s “A Nation at Risk” and education reforms over the past 3 decades proved that.


Nature always finds balance.

Because I seek balance, I am rejected by the far right, and the far left.

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 – She Lives Here…

…and so does her sister.  This young doe and her sister are always hanging out on the property.  I haven’t seen the mother around for awhile so mom may be a goner.  My guess is that these two young does were born on the property because they seem right at home here.  I can slam the cars doors, open the windows, shout at them and all I get is big ears pointed in my direction.

This was as close as I could get with my phone camera because I didn’t want to spook her.  I had just gotten out of the car when I saw her standing there.  She didn’t budge and she let me take her picture.

I was able to get this photo of the sisters the next day.

Hurry up and take that picture.

This is our Open Thread.  What’s new with you?  Speak Up!

The Poetry of Earth

In 1817, poet John Keats noted that The poetry of earth is never dead.

In his famous environmental treatise A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold proposed that “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.”  Jack London, in The Call of the Wild referred to that same howl as “A song of the younger world.”   Today, amidst the din and clang of modern life in the modern city, many seem to have lost – or perhaps have never found at all – that sense of melody, that voice which is the song of the untrammeled world.

And, too, how to describe the bugling elk, or the creak of the crow’s wings as they pound through the silent forest air?  And the rustle of the wildflower in a soft breeze — is that in itself the flower’s song, or is there more?  John Muir spoke of the Ponderosa when he wrote, “Of all the pines, this one gives forth the finest music to the winds.”  Few who have listened closely enough to genuinely hear that melody will dare to argue.

William Blake began his Auguries of Innocence with a scant  twenty-nine words which reveal both his vision and insight:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

One might surmise that Blake understood, that he had heard the song even as he watched the orchestra perform.  In that regard he was, indeed, a most uniquely fortunate man.

In his Ode on Intimations of Immortality William Wordsworth noted his abiding concern for the natural world and man’s impact thereupon when he wrote:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Or perhaps, for those who care to look, those things are still there to see?  Emily Dickinson once described death as that moment when “I could not see to see”; perchance this ‘glory’ which has ‘past away’ is not of the earth itself but is, rather, more a failure of the observer ? a manifest of a myopic inability or unwillingness to look, to listen, to See ? Or, as John Ruskin put it, “Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.”

Wordsworth once asked,

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

And almost as if in answer, William Cullen Bryant proclaimed:

To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language …

It was nearly forty years ago when my discovery of that land which defined my surround — the Sonoran Desert — slowly evolved from mere concept to become an enduring and lifelong reality. In the process, I met a poet. He was, in the real world, an accountant, a company Comptroller, but he was also one of those rare birds with the ability to soar far beyond the moment, to See in the genuine Ruskin sense of the word. We both lived in that same huge and ‘modern’ city which sprawled upon — and did everything within its (thankfully LIMITED!) power to ignore — the harsh reality of the Sonoran Desert. But together, we both finally ‘saw’ that which the desert stubbornly reveals to only those who care to wander upon it, to explore, to listen to its voices, to its songs. Following are his words in combo with some old images of my own, photographs of moments in desert’s time, captured courtesy of determination in combination with the utility available via a very primitive digital camera.


A Poem, by T. R. Nissle
circa 1975

The desert is a barren place
For myopic guests,
But for the waiting eye, quietly,
Astonishing much endures to see:
Rooted things rapier barbed; things wingéd,
furry whiskered, fork-tongued, and scaly,
The desert is a many creatured place.The desert is a peopled place,
Outpost isles of life,
Each from solitude its strength must take,
Some with spines themselves a fortress make,
All self-contained and lone, unlike jostling
throngs of human procreation,
The desert’s a selective dwelling place.The desert is an austere place
For its denizens,
Which small things, to live, must frugal be,
And grasp each spartan possibility,
Unbounteous land, unforgiving careless
ecstasy, sanctum-like,
The desert is a mirthless, muffled place.
The desert is a beauteous place
Of resplendencies,
Though drab sun-baked hues voice year-long mood
With rapture from pent-up solitude,
Water hoarding plants, in muted cry of
flower, unfold exquisitries,
The desert is a fragile garden place.The desert is a private place,
Like a human heart,
Unspeaking, it has a subtle beat
In night’s chamber, safe from glare and heat,
Guests, intrusion is no access – enter not
unless you understand,
The desert is a shy, unpublic place.

So there you have it: The Desert — one of those ‘Songs’ of that ‘Younger World’ modestly displayed as renderings in combination with comments upon renderings of captured moments of time,  moments of that eternal passage — a poem of the mind, of the heart.  And while it’s true that nothing we know to do can capture the entire of even the briefest spot of time, perhaps that which we might ‘see’ can offer an encouragement for others to leave behind, for the moment, the commonality of the human foible which pretends to fuel life’s engine and substitute, instead, a reason to look and listen for the Song of that world far younger than ours, to hear those erstwhile Voices in the Wind. They are, after all and to the attentive mind and heart, part and parcel to the Sum of Life.

Listen. Hear. See. Enjoy. And remember, always, the words of John Keats circa 1817:

The Poetry of Earth is ceasing never.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 26th, 2012: Time to Go, Senator McCain

Wave Bye-Bye Now!

As Rachel Maddow so perfectly pointed out recently, John McCain’s regular – some might say ubiquitous – appearances on so many of the Sunday morning political talkfests only serve to show McCain’s desperation to remain relevant at any cost. Unfortunately, that ‘cost’ seems to be the remnants of McCain’s respectability along with the shards of his integrity.

McCain’s latest insanity is shown in his recent calls for a “Watergate-style” investigation of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice regarding the Benghazi, Libya, attack. McCain’s rabid and, IMHO, unfounded attacks on Ms. Rice (including calling her “not very bright”, and his vow to block her possible nomination as future Secretary of State) were supposedly tempered a trifle yesterday, if by ‘tempered’ one means asking for the same information from Ms. Rice, presumably sans the “Watergate-style” investigation. Regardless, McCain still will not say whether, even if he (undeservedly) receives the requested information from Ms. Rice, he would consider NOT blocking her possible future nomination for Secretary of State.

But in McCain’s interview on Fox Sunday, he shows his characteristic bungling of essential facts:

HOST: You say that you will do everything in your power to block Susan Rice’s nomination if the President decides to name her to be secretary of state . . . . Is there anything that Ambassador Rice can do to change your mind?
MCCAIN: Sure, she can give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. And I’ll be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her. Why did she say that al Qaeda has been decimated in her statement here on this program? Al Qaeda hasn’t been decimated. They’re on the rise. They’re all over Iraq.

Yes, John, of course Al Qaeda is “all over” Iraq, sure they are…NOT.

In the same Fox News Sunday interview, on women’s issues, McCain had this to say:

McCAIN:… And as far as young women are concerned, absolutely. I don’t think anybody like me, I can state my position on abortion, but, to — other than that, leave the issue alone. When we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): When you say leave the issue alone, you would allow, you say, freedom of choice?

McCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions and I’m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.

So, that would be a ‘NO’ to ‘freedom of choice”?

Since the 2008 Presidential election, when Senator McCain foisted Sarah Palin on us, it seems that his tenuous ties to reality, and his sense of decency and honor, have rapidly strained to the snapping point. I think that we all agree (and I wouldn’t be surprised if many in the Republican heirarchy agree, too), that it’s way past time for McCain to, shall we say, spend a lot more of his time at one of his seven -or was it eight? – homes.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this topic, or anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday Roast: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

On 20 December 1993 the General Assembly, by resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

In the United States, we had the Violence Against Women Act — also passed in 1993 — written by the current Vice President, Joe Biden.  The Act currently up for re-authorization, which would seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hung up in the Republican controlled House, which favors a reduction of such services to undocumented and LGBT women.

Because undocumented and LGBT women aren’t quite women?  Violence up to a certain level should be acceptable?  Maybe if these women get beaten and raped enough, they’ll mend their evil ways.  That could be it.

This is our daily open thread — posted by the late, late, very late Zooey.  LATE AGAIN.  Sorry!!

Leftover Turkey?

Got some leftover turkey? Wondering what to do with it? We made a soup with ours, and believe me, it’s the best! Give it a try and join your holiday turkey in HEAVEN!

It’s fairly simple, really, and even though it’s the time of year when farmer’s markets are only memories, typical supermarket ‘stuff” works just fine. It’ll take a large pot; I prefer to use my old giant pressure cooker that is a remnant from the days when we ran the restaurant at an AZ mountain lodge, but any large pot will work; it just takes a little longer.

The following makes a lot of soup, but it refrigerates perfectly well and keeps very nicely, even gains a little flavor complexity in the process. It’s good for at least a week (which is about how long it takes two people to eat it all)!

Part A
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup wild rice
5 cups water
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon powder
1 Tbsp onion powder

Part B
3-4 cups leftover turkey (no skin or bone), cut up into bite-sized pieces
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped sweet onion
16 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, white, shiitake, whatever’s available)
1 Tbsp dried/crushed oregano leaves
1 Tbsp dried/crushed marjoram leaves
1 Tbsp dried/crushed thyme leaves
1Tbsp ground Herbs de Provence
1Tbsp ground summer savory
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
6 cups water
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon powder
1 cup plain (no fat) yogurt
3/4 cup salsa verde (Hatch, La Costena, homemade, whatever)

Part C
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 Tbsp white flour
1 cup reserve broth from Part A, above
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh baby dill (or 1 Tbsp dried chopped dill weed)

NOTE: In part B, feel free to substitute de-fatted turkey dripping “broth” or stock (if you didn’t use it for gravy) for water and bouillon powder — 1 cup water plus 1 tsp bouillon powder equals 1 cup turkey stock.

Simplest way is to use a pressure cooker.  A large and deep saucepan will work well, but cooking times will be substantially longer.

Combine Part A ingredients in cooker or pot, cook till barley and wild rice are soft and starting to fluff (about 30 mins in pressure cooker).  Carefully reserve about one cup of the broth and set it aside.  Then add all of Part B ingredients, return to heat, cook (under pressure) for about 15 minutes, or in regular pot until carrots have softened nicely (sample a spoonful of the broth and add a little kosher or sea salt if necessary, to taste).

Meanwhile, make the roux:
Part C ingredients:  Melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan, whisk in the flour till smooth, cook over med heat, stirring, for a minute or two, until the mixture bubbles.  It should be creamy smooth, add a little butter or flour to adjust if necessary.  Remove from heat and stir in the reserved broth, then the yogurt and the dill.  Whisk till smooth.

Finally, add the Part C blend to the pot, stir till smoothly incorporated and blended, return to heat and bring to a soft boil.  Stir until the soup starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for five minutes or so, then serve with favorite croutons.


The Watering Hole – Saturday, November 24, 2012: To Petition the Government

If you asked the average American to name the rights granted by the First Amendment, I’m sure most would easily name Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion first and second (though they are, technically, the second and the first), and they could probably even name Freedom of the Press as one of them. I’m sure some people would think they end there, but I’m sure most people could be coaxed to name one more, that one most likely being Freedom to Peaceably Assemble. But the one I’m sure most people would forget about, entirely if not simply as being part of another amendment, is the right to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances. One could, if one wanted to engage in an argument about semantics, claim that this is not so much a separate right as it is a part of the right to peaceably assemble. Note the exact wording of the amendment, which “textualists” like Justice Antonin Scalia(*) would do:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notice that it begins by stating that “Congress shall make no law…” about religion OR abridging speech OR the press OR peaceably assembling AND petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. So, if you want to be technical, it doesn’t say that you have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances if you are not doing so as part of a peaceable assembly. It says that you have the right to peaceably assemble AND, while you’re gathering with your friends (new and old), to petition the government for that redress of grievances. Does this mean you can stand on a street corner by yourself with a protest sign? I can imagine Justice Scalia saying “No, and only an idiot like you would think so.” What if the assembly is a virtual one, not conducted in any real space, but consisting of several people “assembled” on a website? Would that be supported by the First Amendment? Well, whether or not Justice Scalia thinks it would be (after all, how could the framers have envisioned computers and the internet?), the White House believes so, and they have a website where you can create your own petition. And many people are exercising that right, though it appears that many of them are confused about a number of things.

At present, there are 235 active petitions on the website. There is a time limit to gathering signatures or else the site would never load. “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.” The answers you get may not be entirely satisfying. For example, in response to two petitions (“Save the Postal Service” and “Preserve Six Day Mail Delivery”), the government offered this generic, uninspired response. The USPS is indeed suffering some tough financial times these days, but the primary reason for that is one never mentioned in the government response: The USPS is being forced (by the GOP) to set aside money to pay for retirement packages going 75 years into the future. That means that they must literally fund retirements for people who haven’t even been born yet! I know they think the unborn have rights, but this is ridiculous. In a petition to “Re-establish and maintain the separation between investment banks and commercial banks,” the government gave this response. Many people blame the repeal of Glass-Steagall for the financial meltdown, but it was the other parts of the bill that President Clinton signed into law that did the real damage, and that was the ban on regulating derivatives trading. The White House reply seemed to acknowledge and address this. There are several petitions about Israel, including some saying we should unconditionally support them and some saying we should completely cut off their foreign aid.

But the truly astonishing thing is the number and variety of petitions for states to secede from the union (or for certain parts of states to secede from their states.) I’m not sure if these people understand that the White House does not have the authority to grant these states secession (nor would it, nor did it), nor or they the ones you should be petitioning. These are the kinds of things about which one should be addressing the Congress, as they would have to ultimately approve any state leaving the union. (There’s even a petition to strip the citizenship of all persons who signed petitions to secede.) Some of these petitions are rather light on reasons why secession should be granted. Many of them were, apparently, created on the same day, and probably by the same people. They have the same odd wording in their title (“Peacefully grant the state of ________ to withdraw from the United States and create its own NEW government”) and they start with a quote from the Declaration of Independence.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Hardly any of them go on to declare the causes which compel them to the separation. There’s even a petition from someone in North Carolina declaring that his state will NOT secede from the Union.

Amazingly enough a petition calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama got over 37,000 signatures. Here is the text of that petition:

We request that Obama be impeached for the following reasons.

We request that Barack Obama be impeached for the following reasons.

1. He proclaimed war in libya without getting congress approval first. Article I, Section 8- Only congress can approve to start war.

2. Obamacare is unconstitutional. Forcing US citizens to get health insurance whether they want it or not.

3. Obama disrespects our Constitution calling it flawed and trying to change it even after taking this oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,

and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

4. Appointing agency “czars” without Senate approval.

I think I can answer a few of these charges. First of all, President Obama didn’t declare war in Libya, and not one single American troop was lost in the successful overthrow of that country’s government. In fact, that’s what the right wing was complaining about with Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy. Second, Obamacare is constitutional and had been declared so long before this petition was created on November 11. Third, it is not disrespectful to point out that our Constitution does have flaws, and as long as the President is using the Constitutionally-approved means of changing it, he’s not violating his oath of office. And fourth, he has not appointed anyone without Senate approval to a position that the Congress said requires Senate approval. The Constitution grants the Congress the power to decide which offices require their advice and consent and which don’t. This petition was clearly started by sore losers who failed to understand the lesson of Election Night. I’ll make it simple for them: 332-206 – you lost!

It’s fascinating to go through the petitions and see which ones contradict some other ones and which ones are almost identical to others. It’s also revealing to see how illiterate some of our fellow citizens are. But it’s frightening to see just how ignorant many of them are, too.

[(*)On a funny side note, the spell checker in my Google browser did not recognize the name “Scalia” as a properly-spelled word. I think that’s good, especially considering that he was a Justice before there was an internet. But what’s even funnier is the one suggestion they had for what they thought it should have been: Scaliness.]

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss this subject or any other, including the scaliness of our Supreme Court.

Black Friday

I remember it well. It was one of those perfectly beautiful sunny, cloudless, cool and crisp Friday mornings on the Arizona desert. The clock said it was just a few short minutes past 11:30 AM, MST. We had gotten out of biochemistry class right on time and I’d quickly made my way to my car which was parked in the student lot next to the Physical Sciences complex at Arizona State University in Tempe. I was about to pull out of the lot on my way to Rural Road and my apartment a few blocks away when blam. It happened. The car radio was on and was, as usual, tuned to KUPD, the local station that played a steady stream of music by stalwarts including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Andy Williams, et al., along with some occasional jazzy riffs by talents such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. About two minutes after I pulled out of the parking lot, the music stopped and a voice interrupted: “We have just received an as yet unconfirmed news bulletin from Dallas, Texas: President Kennedy has been shot. There is no information on his condition. We will report back the moment more information becomes available.”

It was Friday, November 22, 1963. By the time I was parked at my apartment a few minutes later, there was another interruption. This one simply said, in extremely somber voice, that  “At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy . . . has been pronounced dead . . .” The voice was shaking and pausing. “Stay tuned for further details.”

Forty-nine years have since passed, and still we await ‘further details’ on the assassination of the 35th President of the United States. Little things, you know, like who really did it . . .  as in who were the trigger-men, who set it up, why, etc. Names and details, please. And stop with this Lee Harvey Oswald nonsense, along with all of the ‘lone assassin’ and ‘single gunman’ baloney. One might dare to think that most any American coup d’ etat would be worthy of genuine investigation, of a genuine search for the truth behind the event; you know, names, associations, all the details that define the genuine trail of blood and tears. But apparently not.

Wonder why that is?

I’ll not spend time here discussing any of the details of what may well have been the most extensive and exhaustive coverup of the facts behind such a major event. I’ll simply add a many-years-later quote by USAF Colonel (retired) L. Fletcher Prouty, himself Chief, Special Operations Division of the Office of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities, Joint Staff, during the Kennedy years. Prouty was, on that day, in New Zealand, returning from a ‘special assignment’ to Antarctica. In his book JFK he wrote:

It seems that those who planned the murder of the President knew the inner workings of the government very well. This fact is made evident not so much by the skill with which the murder of the President was undertaken as by the masterful cover-up program that has continued since November 22, 1963, and that terrible hour in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza when the warfare in Indochina moved from a low-intensity conflict, as seen by President Kennedy, to a major operation–a major war–in the hands of the Johnson administration.

In short, Prouty never gave a moment’s credence to any of the ‘official’ findings and conclusions concerning the murder of John F. Kennedy. He was, however, somewhat amused that while in New Zealand, he first learned of the arrest of and charges against Lee Harvey Oswald some four hours before the event actually occurred, via announcements courtesy of local Christchurch news outlets.

Friday, November 22, 1963 was, indeed, worthy of the moniker Black Friday even though it was the Friday before, rather than the Friday following, Thanksgiving of that year.

As for alleged assassin — the lone gunman who allegedly shot JFK from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository on Dealey Plaza in Dallas Texas, following his arrest and before his murder a couple of days later (in a crowded room at the Dallas Police offices) by Jack Ruby — Lee Harvey Oswald stated publicly that he had had nothing at all to do with the assassination, that he was, in fact, “a patsy.”

Anyone who might still believe today that Oswald was, indeed, guilty as charged, should take a close look at frames 313 and following in the Zapruder film of JFK’s murder. In frame 313, blood sprays out of Kennedy’s head as the bullet which killed him enters. In frames following, his head and body snap backward toward the rear of the car, and Jackie climbs onto the car’s trunk as she scrambles to (as she later revealed) retrieve pieces of JFK’s brain which were splattered on the trunk lid behind the car’s back seat, behind his head. All of that from Oswald’s alleged third shot. Fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building. Approximately a block BEHIND the President’s car. The bullet apparently made a complete U-turn while in flight. A true miracle. On Black Friday. November 22. 1963. In Dallas. Texas.

A day or two later, the following editorial cartoon by Wm. Mauldin made the pages of nearly every newspaper in the country. It’s one I’ll never forget.

Lincoln wept; he knew and realized full well that the America for which he had struggled, fought, and died, was now in her own death throes. I could not find then . . . nor still today . . . any room at all to argue with Mauldin’s premise.

JFK and America:


Thanksgiving, Rockwell Style

When one thinks about Thanksgiving, what image is the first conjured up in one’s mind? Obviously, Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, which we think of nostalgically as a representation of Americana from almost-bygone times. But in an article from this morning’s Berkshire Eagle, writer Chris Newbound says:

“Norman Rockwell characterized his own work as an idealized version of American life. He and others would often say that his images represented the way he wanted life to be, not necessarily the way life was.”

Mr. Newbound goes on to describe the “Thanksgiving” painting:

“The “Freedom of Want” painting was originally part of a quartet of works inspired by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (his State of the Union address) in January 1941. This particular painting is the Paul McCartney of the group: the sunniest, and arguably the most popular of the foursome. The other three works — “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Fear” and “Freedom to Worship” — are decidedly more somber, more Lennon than McCartney.”

With the way that Republicans have talked about “taking our country back” one would think that the “Four Freedoms” as embodied in Rockwell’s paintings would be etched on a plank of the Republican’s platform. But that would require agreeing that every American has a right to “Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear”, which we liberals believe in. In conservative lexicon, “Freedom” simply means “you’re on your own”, leaving those Four Freedoms “Ours To Fight For.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all Critters and Zoosters, great and small.

This is our Open Thread. What’s everyone up to today?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 21, 2012: A Thanksgiving Tale

Once Upon A Time, in a Land Far, Far Away (for that is how all fairy tales are supposed to begin) a King sent out a proclamation declaring that for one day out of three hundred and sixty five, all of his subjects are to stop work and give thanks to God for having blessed them with the abundance that the King has given them.

And so it came to be that throughout the Kingdom, for one day a year, people stopped work and gathered together in their villages to give their thanks to God for everything the King blessed them to have. But time, it seems, changes everything, and so, too, did this sacred day of giving thanks. As villages grew larger, families stopped coming to the communal meal and celebrated on their own, with their own. Soon, it became almost an unwritten contest, to see which families could pile the most food on one table. Even the King was swept up, and always had to provide the greatest banquet of all.

But for the poor, who once dined at the communal meal, the day became a day to remind them even more poignantly of the things they did not enjoy – having enough to eat being chief among them. As the richest fed their table scraps to their dogs, children of the poor still cried themselves to sleep with an empty stomach.

Then, one day, the unthinkable was thought of. The Prince who was not heir to the throne (for he was second born) asked a question at the banquet of Giving Thanks held by the King himself. There, in front of his brothers and sisters and cousins and wives and all the nobles and all their families (for it was a very large banquet indeed) stood up and asked,

“Father, why are we Giving Thanks this day?” The room grew suddenly quiet, for no one ever dared to speak to the King without having first been spoken to.

The King stopped, mouth open, a fork-full of roast goose suspended midway between the plate and his palate. He set the fork down and slowly raised a glass of his finest wine and took a long draught. Setting the goblet down, the King looked up at the ceiling and spoke,

“Why, to give thanks to God for the abundance I have given to each of you.” Everyone applauded and murmured in approval.

“But Father,” and this was unthinkable, for no one ever challenged the King once He made a pronouncement. “But Father,” the Prince continued, “you have given us nothing.”
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Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 – Yes, We Still Can

The big shopping season is upon us.  There are bargains everywhere.  Lots of cheap Chinese stuff that will be even cheaper.  Many chain stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day and they will be offering super special savings right into the next day, “Black Friday”.

We don’t have to buy these foreign goods that are made by under paid factory owned workers.  Believe it or not, there are still union shops making products right here in the USA.

Here’s a link to a website that provides information about what products are still made here in a union shop.  Let’s support the union workers.  When unions win, workers win.

This is our Open Thread.  Where do you like to shop?  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 19th, 2012: Tranquility

Pause, take a deep breath. Relax for just a few moments and forget about politics, forget about the upcoming holiday(s) and the zillion things you need to get done. Enjoy a moment of solitude, at one with the ocean and sky.

Beach in Pine Point, Maine

This is our Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like!