Einmal ist keinmal

The Dow hit five-year lows, The ATF claims to have foiled a Neo-Nazi plan to assassinate Obama, operatives with the America hunt-kill Task Force 88 hit Syria, killing twenty people and a CIA drone aircraft hit a compound in South Waziristan, killing two local Taliban commanders. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the impact of plummeting stocks and its global ramifications. If Neo-Nazi conspiracies are not disquieting enough, add to it that the ATF agent in charge is named Jim Cavanaugh. If that is the Jim Cavanaugh who was the negotiator during the Waco, Texas massacre of the Branch Davidians, the truth of the matter will be as easy to find as a Cindy McCain’s personal shopper at Wal Mart. As for Syria and Pakistan, it seems that we are expanding our wars even as our economy implodes and we need every resource to fix the disaster Bush and Company bequeathed us. Is it surprising, then, that I find it easier to think about Republicans wear?
When life gives you anxiety attacks, thinking of $520 Ferrragamo shoes such as those John McCain wore during a meeting with the Dalai Lama can inject a certain levity in the current state of affairs. Imagine Joe the Plumber in Ferragamos, and you are bound to experience an unbearable lightness of being. Light as a meringue, melba toast thin Cindy McCain seems to meditate often on Milan Kundera’s take on the human condition. Einmal is keinmal, once is nonce, we have but one life, therefore our decisions are insignificant, our existence, unbearably light. What better than baubles way to anchor one in the moment? On enight, during the Republican National Convention, this is what kept the Anheiser-Bush heiress from floating up to nothingness,
Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000
Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500
Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000
Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000
Shoes, designer unknown: $600
Total: Between $299,100 and $313,100
Should my inner Jane Six-Pack dream of much less? Ah, well, I would nix the ceramic watch and the Chiquita Banana dress.


Yard sales are on the rise, according to the media. If that is not a reliable indicator of our current economic woes, writers for the ultra hip web-based Huffpo’s reprint of Marx Berlinger’s account of his cheap cashmere safari certainly is. Mind you, Berlinger’s idea of a great buy is a $98 cardigan. How amusing. That happens to be almost a fourth of family’s food budget for the month. To me, a bargain is the $20 cardigan pullovers I bought last year at the men’s department of Hell Mart. They probably were made with South American yarnwool, which does not seem to have the same cachet as wool from more upscale sources. That makes me no never mind since I am way past any concern with upscale clothing, except when I get this strange compulsion to ship Sarah Palin to Darfur for four years or for as long as her 150K wardrobe lasts. Perhaps after seeing how Darfurians live might get her to see the absurdity of spending in one month the same amount of money that would keep the average American in adequate duds doe 80 years. Imagine how far that would go in Darfur.

I was poor once. It was, if you will have it, elective poverty, a rite of passage fortunate Americans undergo when they or their spouse choose to pursue a graduate degree. I remember eating a lot of a casseroles and some dreadful hamburger concotions, the worst of which went by the politically incorrect name of Buddha burgers. I got that recipe from the back of a beans sprout tin and reader, I liked it not. At the time, I was young and hopeful and that made the lack of cashmere in my life easier to endure. Prada had yet to be heard of in the frozen waste of the Midwest and Valentino was yet to be born. American obsession with brand names had yet to become viral an din any case, the Norwegian bachelor farmers, furnished its own Carmem Miranda style uniform.
I was still new to America when we moved to a small town that had one clothing store where middle and upper middle class women shopped for Jones of New York and Vera dresses. I was no longer truly poor. I shopped at the Goodwill, trundled my laundry to the laundromat in a homemade backpack and baked my own bread. Most of my friends had a similar lifestyle and everything was almost hunky dory in spite of the Vietnam war, the occasionally violent struggle for equal rights and civil rights. In my native country a team of CIA supported generals held sway. In Chile, Allende met his doom. Iran-contra and Watergate came and went as I lived in relative properity. I never became a Prada or Valentino supporter, but I did a bit of traveling, tasted caviar, learned the difference between jug wine and a fine grand cru, for season tickets for the opera, acquired a small collection of antique Navaho and Mexican Renaissance jewelry, indulged my somewhat expensive passion for silversmithing. A few years ago my life changed for the better in many ways, but my disposal income shrank dramatically. As my family and I slipped from the middle class to land on the tenuous perch of the lower middle class, I began to learn what is really important. I learned that a healthy sense of self, love, friendship, and simple pleasures beat caviar and grand cru wine any day. As for Prada and Valentino, they will continue to be less important to me the the label on a pund of hamburger.

Matchstick mum

Autumn woods

This is what a cord of wood looks like.

Sometimes this endlessly toxic campaign is too much with us. Every day, as we turn on the television or open the paper, a flood of scurrilous rumours and tendentious stories wash over us, threatening to drown us. At this point, there is some consolation in knowing that of the candidates remains unsullied by the opposition’s relentless attacks on his honor, his patriotism, his religion, his national origin, his skin color. We want more than consolation, Perhaps foolishly, we want all presidential candidates to be people of honor. We want them to inspire us and to appeal to the best in us. This is too big a job for one person. The ugliness of the fabrications, the brutal attacks on the body politic brings us close to despair. At such times, it helps to put the whole hideous mess out of mind and turn to the kind of October surprise that reassures us that there is more to life than politics.
This afternoon, we took a break to stack a cord of wood or wood guy, one of the few local people who have to keep the Mountaineer accent and courtly manner of rural West Virginians alive amid the urban hordes. He drives a battered truck that has Bluetooth, he accepts three kinds of credit cards, and he is voting for Obama–so much for the myth of barefoot, moonshine slurping, racist mountain folk. He gives us great service. The wood he brings us is mostly reclaimed fence posts. Some of the trees he cuts are so damaged by insects they cannot be used for much else besides than firewood. He cuts them precisely so that the logs will fit into our Norwegian wood stove and he takes pride in telling us which kind of trees they came from. This time around, he brought us mostly oak logs, which we stacked as neatly as we know how, being urban folks ourselves. It was hard work, make bearable by the buttery autumn light that bounced off wild cherry and sugar maple trees. We piled the logs on a space where bergamot grows. Crushed bergamot leaves have a heavenly citrusy smell and this is what we will remember from this afternoon, as we will remember the last roses blooming in the garden and the unsurpassed beauty of chrysanthemus glowing in the light of setting sun. Not bad for an October surprise.


23 October 2008
Twenty year-old Texan Ashley Todd, a National College Republican employee working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, claims that she was assaulted by a 200 lbs., dark skinned robber armed with a knife. Todd alleges that her assailant held the knife to her neck as she withdrew money from a Bank of America ATM machine. She said that she gave him sixty dollars and that he seemed to be about to leave when he noticed a MCain sign on her car. At that point, she claims, he became so enraged he hit her on the back of her head, threw her to the ground, punched, kicked her and carved the letter B on her face.
Initial reports from AP and other mainstream news outlets left out any mention of political motivation for the assault. Since then, both indie and mainstream media wonks have been working overtime to register public outrage on the Republican side. Both McCain and Palin phoned Todd to offer moral support and the Obama-Biden campaign issued a statement expressing sympathy for Todd.
For some skeptics, Todd’s story does not add up.
They want to know why a robber would take sixty dollars and leave her far more valuable Blackberry behind. They ask why she declined to seek medical help following the alleged assault. They wonder why in the photo taken she supposedly was punched and kicked, her are neither swollen nor bloodshot. They demand to know the nature of other injuries she must have suffered if the attack took place as described. They wonder whether this is a hoax engineered by Todd’s employers who are said to be the fake plumbers unmasked at a McCain rally. They point out that the NCR is under investigation for coercing elderly people to make donations.
Pittsburgh police is planning to re interview Todd, who is, at present, incommunicado.

Whether Todd is legit or whether her attack is a rerun of the Towana Brawley case,
it is no news that Republicans gave ratcheted up the level of ugliness in this campaign. Unlike wealth, incitement to violence inevitably perks down and neither MCain nor Palin have made an honest effort to rein supporters who spew racist rhetoric at their rallies, who question the patriotism of their opponents and who rely on dirty tricks and nasty robocalls meant to besmirch Obama’s reputation .
Things have gotten so dreadful I predict that if this is a hoax the McCain-Palin campaign will disavow Todd and claim that she is an Obama plant. If this is not a hoax, they will blame Obama and Bill Ayers for the alleged attack.
Stay tuned for late breaking “revelations” about the Domestic Socialist Terrorist , the love child of Obama and Mrs. Bin Laden’s–or is it Mrs. Hitler? Never mind that when you do the math you will realise that at the time of little Soci’s birth could not have been more than a glimmer in his parents’ eyes.
It is going to be a hell of a week and a half.

It is getting too predictable, but remember, you read it here first.

It is getting too predictable, but remember, you read it here first.
From a Michelle Malkin reader ,

On October 23rd, 2008 at 8:34 pm, meangreenfan said:
I don’t know if it’s a hoax or not—I’ll wait until more details come out. Has it been confirmed by the Republicans, that in fact….this woman is a volunteer?That would tell us a lot.Because since Obama and troops make up crap about things being shouted at McCain rallies (”Kill him!”, etc)…..would it surprise you to find out that this gal is an Obama supporter….trying to generate bad pub for McCain?I’m just sayin’……

HuffPo post

It has always been easier to write superficial stories than to produce a well researched piece. It is easier for a reporter from the city to flit through a rural community, talk to half a dozen people and file a story in which these six people are shown as representative of that community. That is why it does not surprise that the media has yet to adjust the image of West Virginians from the barefoot, incestuous, toothless, pre-verbal racist to the far more realistic portrait of educated, progressive, forward and outward looking Mountaineer.
Having chosen to settle in West Virginia some thirty five years ago, I feel that I am in a better position to discuss West Virginians than someone who spent only a few hours asking local people old tired questions about race and the economy. As a Brazilian Jew who speaks English with a Portuguese accent, I can attest to the inclusive spirit of my West Virginian neighbors with a certain degree of authority. As someone who has been volunteering at the Democratic Headquarters of a small town in West Virginia, I think I am justified in thinking those who claim that it is the failing economy that motivates West Virginians to support of Senator Barack Obama, are helping to perpetuate an ugly stereotype. Certainly the failing economy is a factor in this election. Certainly as residents of a state that the current federal government has relegated to the status of a hostile Third World nation, West Virginians must look for someone who better understands their ability to contribute to the intellectual and material wealth of the United States. But to imply that West Virginians are incapable of caring for more than their pocketbooks is fallacious and demeaning.
At the Democratic Headquarters I have helped register WASPS, Hispanics and African Americans. I have made a point of talking to the young executives–yes, we do have those in West Virginia and they do wear shoes–farmers, waitresses, former Marines, soldiers, Nationals Guard veterans, restaurant owners, retirees and shop clerks. I have talked with Jews, Catholics, Protestants and agnostics. If these voters have one reason in common to vote for Senator Obama is his honesty. They have done their homework and they have concluded that he is the best choice to unite the country, to inspire Americans to do their best–and this is a biggie, his ability to bring out what is best in most people–to fight corruption, to improve our educational system, to care for the environment–we do love our mountains and we are tired of seeing them vanish in the dreaded mountain topping some coal companies advocate.
Is race a factor in this election? Surely there are many places in the United States where the sad legacy of slavery has endured. However, in the West Virginia I know and love, racism is fading faster than our image as moonshine guzzling, gun and Bible inbreds has faded from national media.
Do us favor, Huffpo, Politico, NYT, Washpo, talk to those who know West Virginia before you write you stories. True, some of us speak English with a Brazilian Portuguese accent, but we can tell you the facts nevertheless.


He crashed three American Air force planes. He chose to go to Brazil because there he would have “better chances of getting laid” and never mind his wife and their kiddies. That was then. He talks of “nuclear power pants.” He calls hair implants transplants. He confuses Downs syndrome with autism. He says that women’s health is extreme. He wants to “bomb, bomb bomb, bomb Iran.” He “categorically” proud of those who attend his rallies though some of them falsely accuse his opponent of being a terrorist, a foreigner, a traitor. They also call for his opponent’s death. He despises Bill Ayers, a former terrorist who became a teacher, but loves G. Gordon Liddy, an ex-con who gas yet to repent from his crimes. This is now.

During tonight’ s debate, Senator Dementor outdid himself. He trashed Roe v. Wade, tried and failed to get Obama to loose his classically elegant cool, and amid smirks and snorts, about education, dropped this tiny bombshell,
“MCCAIN: We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which — or have the certification that some are required in some states.
Look, we must improve education in this country.”

Methinks that those are contradictory statements. Although McCain must have had

teachers who had to meet certain requirements, he confuses good education with elitism and he scorns Obama’s honestly earned eloquence. To hear hm clench his teeth around that word, he equates fluency the art of lying, which he practices regularly. If I had any doubt about which candidate deserves to win this election, the statement above would have convinced me to vote for Obama. No child deserves to have Sarah Palin’s soldier son as a teacher. She herself thinks that New Hampshire is in the Pacific Northwest. Soldier son probably thinks West Virginia is past of Asia Minor.
I am doing my bit at the HQ to make sure McCain goes back to the cave from which he crawled. I hope you are doing the same. VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

I have news for the Republicans–this election is not about gender or race. This election is about serious issues that affect the average American, such as the Petco clerk with whom I talked in Charles Town, WV. She will vote for the person who will seen to it that her mother, who has cancer, will have adequate health insurance coverage. It is that simple. I asked her if she had watched the debates and added that Obama’s own mother had died of cancer and that he recalls that she spent the last month of her life struggling with insurance problems.
Republicans are desperate to change the focus of the election. The drag in myths about Obama’s supposed association with terrorists, they make up stories and distort the truth, claiming that Obama is a Muslim, a traitor, a drug user, and what happens? Obama is up wight points in the state of West Virginia. Republicans should take a lesson from that. We are a proud people. We dislike being condescended and lied to. We know Obama is not a Muslim, not a terrorist, not a druggie. We resent it that Republicans are trying to use the race card instead of zeroing in the real problems we are face, such as the failing economy. We hate the divisiveness Republicans such as Sarah Palin are trying to bring about with their incendiary remarks and their barely covert racism. We are not idiots. We can read the subtext of the hateful messages Mcain, Palin and his followers wish to cram down our throats. We reject that hatred, we reject divisiveness. We shall not be moved by hate mongering and lies. Mountaineer are always free.