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Archive for July, 2011

Photo credit: Wiki imagesA long-tailed tropic bird lifts and turns and swoops over my valley, sculpting shapes from the morning breeze while brandishing a glint of the rising sun on white wings.

It’s going to be a hot one today; clear, yet steamy with the infusion of last night’s rain upping the humidity ante considerably — not a bad thing, being good for the skin and all.

And so begins the last day of my decade that starts with a five.

In reading over words others have written on approaching senectitude I find myself nodding in agreement with some, railing against others, and taking some comfort in the idea I’m far from alone in my ponderings and in interesting company.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. ~Oscar Wilde

I’m sixty tomorrow (Did I just write that?), still too young to use the word “spry” when self-identifying, so figure Judith Regan’s line can be useful: The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.

I can do that. Most of the time.

Anniversaries of my birth, however, have long been cause for itchy, scratchy contemplation, and the round numbers ever more so.

There is still no cure for the common birthday.
~John Glenn

As I write, the kids are off with Gay plotting something for the occasion, their enthusiasm bubbling over, excitement erupting in giggles from Cj and admonishments from Sam to keep the bubbles as thoughts so as not to spoil surprises.

Cute and wonderful as it is, the numbers stick in my throat as Cj’s six years get multiplied by ten in my mirror and I check out my reflection for its giggle factor. Single-parenting at 60 was not in the draft of any plan I recall making, but for the life of me I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I didn’t have these two marvels keeping my giggle factory up and running.

It’s funny how life loops around, where a wonky trajectory leads, and how stacking decades fashions unexpected architecture that manages to weather storms, deflect shit asteroids and remain standing even with foundations set in jello.

When I indulge myself and send up birthday wish-shaped smoke signals they look like more conventional structures with security struts, corridors that lead somewhere predictable, doors that open and stay that way, closed doors with working locks, storerooms stocked with other than anxiety. But after 59 years of sending such into the cosmos I’m not expecting much more than an ash blowback.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
~H.L. Mencken

Have I lived 59 years and 364 days unwisely? I can hear the “You betcha! You’ve done some really stupid shit!” from here, yet regrets, I have a few, but, then again, too few to mention. Rather a waste of time and energy at this point in the journey.

When looking at it all backwards it’s hard to feel remorse when what could be considered mistakes in judgement manifested in some wonderful ways. None of my children are acts of contrition and some of the dumbest things I’ve done have wrangled themselves into experiences it would not have been good to miss.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.
~Arthur Schopenhauer

Seems turning toward 60 I’m still gathering material … commentary to follow if there’s ever the time … and although it’s with neither enthusiasm nor delight I hit this wall — more trepidation and its accompanying angst — I have always been a fan of irony.

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Having mentioned in a recent post that I have friends in Norway so therefore could personalize the horror there should the news of mass murder not ring familiar enough, it’s fitting I follow thoughts prompted by one of those friends as my mind wanders plains dotted with roving herds of psychonutjobs.

It was a line in Bobby’s answer to my question, “How’s Norway?” that sent me in the direction today’s blog should take:

I am happy for the way Norway pulled together and is moving on, as Obama put it that Norway has shown the true way to overcome terror by uniting and not hating, though I contemplate on the fact if we would have the same peace, unity and love had the bomber been anything BUT white….

Hm.

Bobby is Norwegian, but not white. Born In Norway to parents of Indian and Pakistani origins, he has spent his life in a perfect environment in which to develop a perspective that takes in the wider picture.

I am ok, too, less surprised then many others or to be honest not surprised at all at the event. this is and has been a peaceful country for many many years but I have never been under the false pretense that we are “always safe in Norway” …

No illusions of guaranteed safety may sound merely sensible to many living in the world today, but it is understandable that many Norwegians could have been lulled into buying those. For long a racially homogeneous society of well-educated, industrious folks tempered by cold rather than heat with a small population (4.9 million, the second least populated country in Europe) and Christian since shortly before the year 1000, the country is known for keeping its head down having declared itself neutral in both world wars and opting out of the EU.

(And, yes, I do know about the Sami people, the occupation of Norway and the Free Norwegian Force, but don’t feel an entire history lesson appropriate right now.)

As the Wiki indicates, Norway is a very white place, and we’re not talking snow, although there is a lot of that, as Magnar has mentioned. There are immigrants, of course, but of the 12.2% of incoming residents less than half (5.8%) come from places where people tend to brown eyes over blue, dark hair over blond and complexions more colorful than alabaster, and one might assume that those folks have been paying attention to any Nazi-like grumbling.

While 4,081,698 Norwegians self-identify as some flavor of Christian, 98,953 say Islam is their persuasion of preference, a ratio some find intolerable in the usual intolerant ways.

Given the numbers, it would seem odd that hot on the heels of the bombing and massacre an easy assumption implied a Muslim have been on the business end of the weapons.

When the attack began last Friday afternoon with a huge car-bomb detonated outside the main government buildings, Norway’s Muslim community braced itself for the worst, assuming that what had happened was the work of Islamist militants.

It was an assumption made by many around the world.

There’s a knee jerk for you, and one obviously not just a white response. (And that is not an “off the hook” for Fox, by the way.) It’s no wonder Muslims react with dread and non-Muslims jump from headline to jihad … just one reason those who aspire to journalism (or pretend to) should keep their fucking mouths shut until there is is actually something to talk about.

Mehtab Afsar, secretary-general of the Islamic Council of Norway, was leading a delegation abroad when he started receiving phone calls from Oslo from frightened members of the Muslim community.

“We heard some Muslims had already been beaten up in Oslo,” he said, “and women who were scared phoned me asking for help.”

“I was just hoping it was not true.”

Egomaniacal ass hats do come in all colors, shapes and sizes (although the overwhelming majority dangle dicks), a lesson that should have been learned sixteen years ago in Oklahoma City.

Don’t know about you, but it’s very hard for me to imagine a non-blond, ethnic-looking dude strolling into a camp on a Nordic island and getting everyone to gather round, cop uniform or not. The fact that the fuck wad was the picture of Hitler’s dream boy made it easier in a world where the darker the worser.

But, to Bobby’s thought provoking comment …

Norway’s got the warm fuzzies going now, all solidarity and support, with the mayor of Oslo telling CNN when relating the eventual fate of the mass murderer: “We’re going to punish him with democracy and love.”

My not-so-white friend wondering over how this would be playing out had the monster not looked so much like everyone else, practiced a different religion and been an immigrant instead of a “thoroughbred Norwegian” deserves more than a little thought.

Would the following still be the prime minister’s claim?

Norway’s prime minister pledged that his country would remain “an open society” in the wake of Friday’s massacre in Oslo and a nearby youth camp but said the bloodshed has changed the nation.

Does the fact that the monster grew from within, not without, make it easier to close ranks and pull together? Is it harder to point fingers when no matter how many do it comes back inside the circle?

For that matter, does a relatively conservative Christian country have any impetus to crack down on conservative Christians? Is the world ready to deal with the reality of Christian terrorists?

Many Christians cringe when Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik is described as a “Christian terrorist.” But that is what he is.

Breivik, in his manifesto, writes of al Qaeda with admiration, as if he would love to create a Christian version of their religious cadre. Though he only occasionally quotes scripture, and admires the church in Norway largely as a cultural center for Christendom, he is captivated by Christian history. Breivik is fascinated with the Crusades and imagines himself to be a member of the Knights Templar, the crusader army of a thousand years ago. He would like to have a Christian army comparable to al Qaeda’s Muslim militia.

So if bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist, Breivik is a Christian terrorist.

And if Anders had been an Abdullah … even an acting-alone-singular-insane-egomaniacal-fanatic … would Norway look like it does today?

In addition to reading Bobby here, you can check out his blog where he talks about his varied interests … body building, fashion guru-ness and other interests, which occasionally include arguing with me. His last post addresses the issues we’re talking about here … )

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demon (ˈdēmən)
noun

1) an evil spirit or devil, a cruel, evil, or destructive person or thing

2) (in ancient Greek belief) a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans.

ORIGIN Middle English : from medieval Latin, from Latin daemon, from Greek daimōn ‘deity, genius’ ; in sense 1 also from Latin daemonic ‘lesser or evil spirit,’ from Greek daemonic, diminutive of daimōn.

It’s been a weekend of the demonic in far too many senses of the word — diabolical, hellish, infernal — from the foulest fiends to pesky poltergeists, from public exhibitions of evil to lost battles with the personal genius loci. Death, destruction and crying over spillage are just some of the immediate results as ripples rise and begin to move beyond the scope of a Sunday in July.

I can personalize the situation in Norway by connecting with my friends there, but it’s more the familiarity with mass murders that hits upside the head like a sack full of shell casings.

Yes, another fucking armed-to-the-teeth whack job goes out of his way to make a point and a whole bunch of people are dead in dramatic fashion, the world is stunned as a poster boy for Nazis-R-Us chalks up views of his rants on YouTube and spews an oxymoron. (Conservative martyrs?)

Coming out of nowhere it may seem, but this fuckwad didn’t just materialize like a Pop-Tart … he’s been warming up a long time to pull off this obscenity and I’m guessing he has been surrounded by the like-minded. After all, gangs of folks who hate everyone are not uncommon, even in Scandinavia.

Though members of the Norwegian far-right movement have carried out attacks in the past, it has historically been a small community, according to neo-Nazi watchers.

The late Stieg Larsson, the Swedish crime writer famous for his Millennium trilogy, was one such expert.

In the mid-1990s, he founded the anti-racist, anti-extremist publication Expo following a sharp rise in violence carried out by neo-Nazis.

In an interview in connection with a documentary I was making at the time, he told me that Sweden was the world’s largest producer of so-called White Power Music and other racist propaganda, with an active, fast-growing and violent neo-Nazi movement.

Of course, it doesn’t take a movement to create mayhem. It can be just one guy with an ego attached to his weaponry, as proven by the poster boy for evil nutjobs:

“From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment.”
~ Charles Manson

It’s all so common now that another messy wipeout will hardly be noticed:

At least five people have been killed and three injured in a shooting at a roller-skating rink birthday party in Texas, police say.

As a small favor to the rest of us, at least that guy offed himself in the process therefore doing away with at least one demon.

Although it’s certainly not pretty and can be agonizing, ending the reign of an internal Lucifer in a way that doesn’t reduce the surrounding population by more than one may seem an appropriate, if not creative, coping style.

The one … or dozens … that apparently inhabited Amy Winehouse must not have responded to anything less than exorcism by booze and drugs, a process that so often includes killing the host.

Ringside seats to a brawl between demons for possession of a trophy may convey the right to encourage (one side or the other, depending) and chart a score based on effective tags, but no one can judge the pain and call the fight but the contender.

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
~ Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

And there’s an example of why Buddhism is not a cakewalk … a thousand battles fought and won may never be enough for victory over oneself.

Some malicious mischief on the part of some abstemious Mephistophelian type determined to separate those of us fond of the grape pulled … or pushed … off a cruel coup in Australia that rounds out the diabolical for the weekend, and hopefully puts paid to the shit that’s flowed like a global infestation of Vibrio cholera:

More than A$1m ($1.07m; £664,000) of wine has been destroyed in a forklift accident in Australia.

The 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove shiraz sells for A$185 a bottle ($199; £122), the AFP news agency said.

Winemaker Sparky Marquis told reporters he was “gut-wrenched” that 462 cases of wine had been smashed while being loaded for export to the United States.

“When they opened up the container they said it was like a murder scene,” he said. “But it smelled phenomenal.”

Fucking demons!

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Nope. Not Kansas …

I’ve been trying to post this for almost 3 weeks … sigh …

Joan of Arc and John the Baptist stopped by today. They were on their way to visit Elvis over by the Bay of Blue Chickens, so were in the neighborhood. Instead of pulling up in their old Sunny, they’d rented a saloon from Arctic Car Hire, filled the boot with Seybrews, a couple of PETs of windowlene, a bottle of Beach House for me and a bourgeois for the grill.

On the way down, they’d stopped by the “Special Fresh Frozen Ice” place, hoping to load the eski, but all they had today was delo so, so the drinks weren’t chilled. No matter. They were wet.

The gang had been hoping to include Tony and David, but not knowing their real names (Paul and Larry, respectively), they got only puzzled looks when asking directions to the right lakaz.

Joan of Arc, the sweet ball of my friend Helmut, is married to an Angus and for short goes by Joan of Arc. John the Baptist is her half-brother, married to her half-sister on the other side, Mary Snow, which does not make her Mary Snow the Baptist because that’s his first name.

Elvis works for an Internet company named after nuts and lives with a twin called Silvie whose sister’s name is Silvia. They have a son dubbed Rolly, which is pronounce “Wally” and a daughter they called Paloma … emphasis on the ‘Pal’.

It was a lovely day, most enjoyable … lots of talk about fish, the weather, sex and the doings of everyone we know … right up to the time they started discussing politics. That stuff’s just confusing no matter where you are, but trying to explain Michele Bachmann took the conversation to a totally different level!

Ah … island life …

None of this story is true. All of it could be.

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I have had more on my mind lately than emoticows and would be posting many a blog on each of the various thoughts that catch my attention like jingling keys and the bits of shiny stuff I’d normally follow, BUT the bloody Internet connection here sucks balls this week so I’m stuck struggling even to send emails.

While I have a slight and fleeting chance of getting something up … in the blog sense, of course … I’m going to smoosh a bunch of stuff into one post with the hope it doesn’t end up like a peanut butter, pork chop and prune sandwich and is somewhat digestible.

Ah, yes! The joys of island life …

Aside from the distance, shit Internet, the difficulty of finding a ______(fill in the blank: plumber, electrician, gardener, carpenter, mason … whatever) who will know what they’re doing AND show up, water issues, bad parking, a propensity to blast crap music from fridge-sized speakers and the lack of Mexican restaurants, life here is pretty good.

We have the most beautiful beaches in the world, lovely mountains and forests, tropical weather, a relatively low crime rate, a postal service that works, clean streets, free education and health care, freedom of religion (and freedom not to have one), and some bloody well interesting people.

Almost no one comes to Seychelles casually. It’s too far from anywhere just to drop by and getting here takes no little effort. There were no people living here at all only about 300 years ago, so even the ancestors of early inhabitants would be considered newbies is most places.

Sure, we now get our share of the rich and famous … and royal … popping in for a week or two for holidays in paradise, but it takes an effort and a special sort of person to call Seychelles home for any length of time.

That being the case, I have had the great good fortune of meeting some very special people.

One comes to mind very much now with this week marking the death of Ernest Hemingway, the author of my favorite literary quote, “The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs” … and a lot of other great stuff … and the man I immediately think of whenever I hear crowds shouting for “Papa”. (How disappointed I’ve been to find it’s the pope they’re yearning for!)

I was a kid when he took his life, an action that put paid to the wonderfully succinct combos of words that grabbed and held and took me to bars I’d end up drinking in in later years, although not to the extent he took the pastime.

So, I never met the man, which is probably an okay thing since he wasn’t known for having a way with children:

… [he] once told his puking ten-year-old son, “I’ll fix you a Bloody Mary — you’ve just got a hangover.”

I have, however, met and count amongst my friends, Hemingway’s pilot. Okay, one of Hemingway’s bush pilots in Africa, but the only one to join Papa in two … count ’em TWO! … crashes, and both within 2 days.

On January 21, 1954, Ernest and Mary took off from Nairobi, with veteran pilot Roy Marsh at the controls. Taking off from Costermansville – today’s Bukavu – the tour was to continue to Entebbe via Murchison Falls.

“But then it happened,” recalls Emmanuel Eyenga, who has brought some guests in his boat to a point near the waterfall. A post with a sign on top it is jutting out of the water. Written on it is “P.B.M. 9026”.

“That was the registration number of the Cessna. It came down right here,” Eyenga says.

While approaching the falls, Marsh had overlooked a telegraph line at the lodge. The pilot managed to make an emergency landing, but the civilised world was far away.

Headlines like “Ernest Hemingway lost in deepest Africa” were splashed across newspapers and obituaries on Hemingway were already appearing in the US even as the search for him continued.

Then, as a passenger plane on a flight from Entebbe to Sudan changed course, the pilot looked down and saw the Cessna.

The trio were picked up by the SS Murchison which took them to Butiaba on Lake Albert. There, they ran into a pilot named Reginald Cartwright, who convinced Ernest, Mary and Roy to fly with him to Entebbe where the world’s press were waiting.

But Cartwright crashed the plane while taking off. Hemingway managed to escape the wreckage only by smashing a door open – with his skull.

Roy Marsh lives here in Seychelles. Now in his 90s, he’s still dashing, charming, witty and wonderful … and smells like the most delicious combination of beer and cookies, for some reason. (Well, the reason for the beer aura is pretty obvious.)

When I first met Roy some years ago he was still playing a few sets of squash every week and could be found in town most any day he was in the country, speeding around and socializing.

Slight and quiet, the man has stories that continue to amaze even on the third or fourth telling and writing about him has been a goal for me for a long time … any excuse to spend hours in the company of such a perfect manifestation of a sort of man that just doesn’t exist in today’s world in any number that can’t be counted on one hand.

It’s Roy who makes me wish the work talked about in this article had come along sooner, although I doubt he’d be lining up for it:

If Aubrey de Grey’s predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.

For sure, Hemingway wouldn’t have been interested, an idea made clear by the fact that he took himself out of the game.

There are many theories put forward on why it was Papa topped himself 50 years ago … including injuries resulting from the second of those plane crashes he shared with my friend Roy … and a new one makes sense.

One old friend of his puts no little blame on the FBI and J Edgar Hoover’s propensity for making life a misery when he could.

Some have blamed growing depression over the realisation that the best days of his writing career had come to an end. Others said he was suffering from a personality disorder.

Now, however, Hemingway’s friend and collaborator over the last 13 years of his life has suggested another contributing factor, previously dismissed as a paranoid delusion of the Nobel prize-winning writer. It is that Hemingway was aware of his long surveillance by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, who were suspicious of his links with Cuba, and that this may have helped push him to the brink.

Writing in the New York Times on the 50th anniversary of Hemingway’s death, AE Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World, said he believed that the FBI’s surveillance “substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide”, adding that he had “regretfully misjudged” his friend’s fear of the organization.

That Papa had a good imagination is not a question, and what that can do when mixed with fear based on fact is not easy to live with.

No doubt Hemingway suffered from depression. Many writers do. This article in the Times explores the links tying depression, writers and suicide, including Papa, of course.

It is not surprising that these mood disorders seem most at home in the artistic mind. “The cognitive style of manic-depression overlaps with the creative temperament,” Ms. Jamison said. Researchers have found that in a mildly manic state, subjects think more quickly, fluidly and originally. In a depressed state, subjects are self-critical and obsessive, an ideal frame of mind for revision and editing. “When we think of creative writers,” Ms. Jamison said, “we think of boldness, sensitivity, restlessness, discontent; this is the manic-depressive temperament.”

William Styron, author of that cheerful little ditty,”Sophie’s Choice”, wrote about his battle with depression … a fight he never won, but that did not kill him … in Darkness Visible, one of the most helpful bits of writing I have ever been commanded to read.

This is not to say that one must be depressed to write, nor that all depressives can. Sunny dispositions can lead down primrose paths to libraries, but life’s hard edges and awareness of them … even hyper-awareness … does add grist to the mill and grit to the pulp.

Some might say the days of living large are over. My friend Roy might agree. Marty Beckerman seems to:

But we’ve become so afraid of death that we refuse to actually live. We’re scared of the sun because it might give us cancer; we’re scared of a well-marbled steak because it might raise our cholesterol; we’re scared of bullfighting—the only real sport—so we demean ourselves with yoga and Pilates and other such unholy abominations. The closest we come to genuine thrills, genuine danger, is watching IMAX 3-D superhero movies.

Hemingway, however, knew that death isn’t the worst thing in the world. “[C]owardice is worse, treachery is worse, and simple selfishness is worse,” he said. (Also: staying married to the same woman for more than five minutes.)

Perhaps our safety-padded commercial existence is why young people are increasingly drawn to his life and works. Our entire lives are planned out for us before infancy; deviating from the standard path—SAT > college > 24/7 job—is nearly impossible. (Hemingway didn’t bother with college, instead going straight into the trenches of WWI as a medic, proof that an English degree is truly worthless.)

Independence used to mean defining your own existence; now it means paying your own credit-card bill. Freedom used to mean an open road and uncharted waters; now it means choosing between BlackBerry or Droid data plans. Living on our own terms is a foreign concept, but Hemingway bent the world to his liking through sheer gusto, which is very different than the illusion of choice on sale at the Apple Store. Why speak the truth, consequences be damned, when a single impulsive tweet can cost you a career?

Would love to carry on with this for a while, but my Internet connection just might … right now … allow me to post, and I have to go out and unclog a pipe full of shit since the plumber didn’t show up.

Depressing? Well … not exactly a party, but it does give me something to write about.

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According to T.L. Squeeze, there’s a ranch for sale near ’bouts Red Bluff, California, and I’m thinkin’ I want it.

No, I have no real wish to move back to the stifling little cow town I escaped from ASAP so many years ago, although it would be nice to have more time with my mother and she still lives there. I don’t miss those 115 degree summer days that left so much of my flesh stuck to steering wheels or the sight of tobacco juice dribbling from the lips of good ole boys; most of my memories of the place are prosaic and fraught.

There are good people there and may still be the possibility of getting a decent margarita at the Iron Horse or the Palomino Room, hopefully without the strains of “Gloria” blaring, and as pleasant as those peeps and drinks and atmosphere might be I have no interest in living their again.

It’s the ranch idea that has me going this morning, but maybe not for reasons others would understand.

I could just as easily … read: it’s impossible anyway, so why the hell not dwell on the images for a while … do some ranching in Africa, although it would be called a “farm”. (As in, “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills … “)

I’d like that, actually, being steeped for so many years in the lives of women who carved places on the continent for themselves in the early days of the last century and wrote eloquently about how bloody hard that was.

I could maybe even call this one-acre-plus bit of African island I already have a ranch if pressed, but there’s not enough room for more than maybe one cow, and it’s cows I need, you see.

Cows, and that whole “ranch” thing because it’s a brand I’d be going for, and I’m not after leather on the hoof stamped “Prada”, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Nope.

I want to drive on to my place under a sign that reads: But Bar None Ranch.

Why?

Because I want to drive by cattle branded thusly:

:-0

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Happy 4th of July!

Nowhere near as eloquent as my ancestor Mr. Lincoln, I spent the 4th of July on a few occasions while living in England in the mid-1990s hosting a celebration of the event passing around finger foods with the reminder to my guests … all Brits, of course … “We kicked your butts!”

Politics is apparently not my forte, no matter how good a slap-up of barbecued Americana might have tasted, since I can rarely manage even the vaguest vestige of political correctness. I’d say my English guests employed a well-honed sense of humor on those occasions, but that would be stretching it; there’s still nothing funny about a vanished empire to many and the audacity of America to go all independent on them continues to grate.

History being history and all, there’s no turning back either Big Ben or the clock on the Old North Church, and with another 4th of July about to pop it seems a good enough time to give some thought to my old stomping grounds.

It has been nice the past couple of years to once again feel free to proclaim my roots. For the eight years of G.W. I would often pass myself off as Canadian when strangers would hear my accent and approach. I simply had no answer to the deluge of questions that would invariably start off with something like: What the hell is going on over there?

What did I know? I left the US pre-OJ … a dividing line between the reasonable and the totally unexplainable … and had nothing in my repertoire to trot out when asked to give reasons for stolen presidential elections, coordinated lies, embarrassing gaffs and backward stumbling toward the bad old days.

Don’t misunderstand. I have always been proud to be an American, but the longer I’ve lived outside the borders … and the range of Fox News … the more trouble I’ve had figuring out just what that means.

As this 4th rolls around my confusion is compounded, as it is beyond my scope to calculate just how people in the US have grown so stupid. I mean REALLY, folks! Michele Bachmann? Talk about giving the Brits an opening for get-backs!

As this article in The Independent indicates, America is now in the position of having England “get it” when an apparently large portions of those in the US are missing so much.

… three questions pose themselves. Could she seize the White House? Can she even win the GOP nomination? And just how thick or crazy, or both, is Michele Bachmann? In tribute to the late Eric Morley, we will take them in reverse order. While accurately gauging her idiocy-derangement ratio is hard in the absence of a psychiatric report, Bachmann’s mouth is a reliable launch pad for astounding foolishness. To cheer us all up – if you can’t have a giggle at the thought of the codes falling into such hands, when can you? – here are some highlights.

Wittily replicating the Vidalian impertinence that reshaped her political allegiance, she mocked the Founding Fathers in January by lauding them for “working tirelessly until slavery was no more in the US”. Those would be the FFs who in 1776, a mere 89 years before abolition, agreed that an African-American legally constituted three fifths of a human being, and enshrined slavery in the Constitution?

According to Bachmann, meanwhile, the greatest threat the US faces is nothing so footling as the deficit or long-term mass unemployment (let alone the global warming she inevitably regards as “a hoax”), but gay marriage.

Passing over her defence of carbon dioxide, which she says cannot harm humans because it (like arsenic and uranium) occurs naturally, let’s end the resumé with this peach. “It was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another Democratic president,” she said in reference to her erstwhile idol Mr Carter. “I’m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

In the above lies her appeal to the frothing far right … bewildering lack of knowledge; blind terror of otherness; and – the latter’s kissing cousin – paranoid hatred of Barack Obama. Add to that her Palinic gift for viscerally resonating with her base and its prejudices, the facility to raise fortunes, undeniable can-do charm and good humour, and a talent for spouting drivel with sublime confidence then blaming the lamestream media for accurately reporting it … and this is one formidable candidate.

No, I don’t live in England anymore, but I am surrounded by Brits here and like many American expats the world over I find myself progressively more and more stumped by what truly are well-thought, and concerned, questions.

I can harken back to the words of Founding Fathers, pointing out that they were actually a pretty bright bunch with little in common with the present field of GOP hopefuls:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

~ Thomas Paine

A far cry from:

”There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

“I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I’m not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

~ Michele Bachmann

So although peeps are mostly okay with swallowing the formation of our great nation, much of what’s on offer now makes an unpleasant chewing experience and creates some fear of regurgitation.

Frankly, I don’t much like the taste of it myself, nor do I have any answers for those struggling to comprehend how an idiot like this Bachmann woman … or that fuckwad from Texas, whatever his name is … hasn’t been laughed off every platform she makes a dive for … from … whatever …

The Brits seem to be enjoying the show, though:

All we know for sure is that her name’s Michele Bachmann, that she’s running for president, and that watching her do so will be as much fun as anyone has a right to expect within the law.

No matter … we did kick their butts …

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. ~William Faulkner

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