Monthly Archives: May 2016

“There he goes again…”

An “alligator mississippiensis,” prevalent in the Okefenokee Swamp – where I’ll soon be kayaking…

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It’s that time of year.  Time to train for future adventures this summer, and finish some unfinished business from last fall.  The future adventures – this coming August – will include a four-day hike on the Chilkoot Trail.  (“The meanest 33 miles in history.”)  

And once that’s over,  my brother and I plan a 16-day, 500-and-some-mile, primitive-camping canoe trip “down” the Yukon.  (From Whitehorse, up through Lake Laberge – of ‘Sam McGee‘ fame – to Dawson City.  And the Yukon is a rare river that flows north, so technically we’ll be going “up…”)

1445624973384But first things first.  I finally wangled a permit to camp overnight at the Canal Run shelter in the Okefenokee.  Which means I’ll be finishing up something I started last fall.

Back in October 2015, I noted – in “Into the Okefenokee” – that I’d finally fulfilled a life-long dream.  “I took my little 8-foot kayak and paddled deep into the Okefenokee.”

In a few days I’ll be going back.

But last October there was a problem.  The only reservation I could get was for the Cedar Hammock shelter.  Unfortunately, that was a mere three miles from the main (east) entrance.

And that pretty much put the kibosh on my plan to “bisect the swamp.”  (See “Okefenokee” – Part II and Part III, where I noted a plan to come in on a later trip from the Stephen Foster State Park – Fargo – to the west.)  So this then will  be that “later trip,” upcoming…

But this time I have a reservation at the CANAL RUN shelter.  It is some nine miles in from the Foster State Park launch site.  And that means that if I can somehow reach the Coffee Bay day shelter on the first day, I will have indeed “bisected the Okefenokee.”

Of course there were naysayers – recently – when I announced my latest plan.  (With comments like:   Where did I want to be buried, and had I made out my “last will and testament?“)

SwampWaterPoster.jpgYet despite it’s fearsome reputation – as illustrated by the lurid movie poster at right – the Okefenokee itself is quite peaceful. (That is, if you can stick to canoe-only water trails and avoid the noisy and/or obnoxious air-boats that touristy-types love.) 

So I’m looking forward to my adventure, which will be the subject of a future post.  But first a few highlights, from the first trip:

…a word about permits.  Before you camp overnight in the Okefenokee, you need a permit.  (See Overnight Camping Permits – Okefenokee.)  That costs $15 a night.  (Of which $6 is non-refundable.  And none of it is refundable if you cancel less than a week before the reservation date.)   Then I also found out Recreation.gov tacks on a $6 “reservation fee.”  So for a grand total of $21, you may tent-camp in a swamp.

Another note:  When paddling a canoe or kayak In the Okefenokee, it’s a rare place where you can actually stop, get out and stretch your legs.   “(And give other body parts a break as well.)”   The shelters – day shelter or overnight – are few and far between.

1445624973384I.e., any “banks” you see will likely be nothing but mashed down reeds or bulrushes.  Beyond that, many of those banks of bulrushes will be already ocupado, by basking gators like the one at left.  But the good news is that you’ll be following in the footsteps of people like Robert Louis Stevenson.

As noted in Donkey travel – and sluts – in my companion blog – Stevenson was an – if not the – original modern travelogue writer.

For example, he wrote books like Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.  (Which laid the groundwork for John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.)  And a year or so before that, he wrote An Inland Voyage.  (About  a canoe trip through France and Belgium.)

Stevenson said he took pleasure in such arduous trips because he’d “been after an adventure all my life, a pure dispassionate adventure, such as befell early and heroic voyagers.”

And quite often that meant “not knowing north from south, as strange to my surroundings as the first man upon the earth.”  It also meant putting up with the occasional “astonishingly ignorant” fellow traveler.  (Or for that matter the two young country girls he came across, near an isolated French village; “impudent sly sluts, with not a thought but mischief. “)

But in the end, such a hard and difficult journey – or pilgrimage – is usually well worth the effort.  Anyway, that’s what I noted after my first trip into the Okefenokee, last October:

…despite the discomfort that seems to got along with such efforts, it felt good to finally visit the home of Pogo Possum.  To visit – even for such a short while – the “hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods.”

And speaking of Pogo Possum, here’s a bit of homespun wisdom to meditate…

 

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpg

 

The upper image is courtesy of Alligator – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “American alligator (A. mississippiensis).”  The next-down “gator picture” I took myself, in October.

The blog-post title alludes to “There you go again,” a phrase made famous by Ronald Reagan, and later used by politicians as diverse as Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin.  See Wikipedia.

For other past adventures, see 12 miles offshore and/or A late-fall mountain trek…

The lower “enemy is us” cartoon image is courtesy of Pogo (comic strip) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Pogo daily strip from Earth Day, 1971.”  In the alternative:  “A 1971 Earth Day comic strip written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and Porkypine [sic].”  Wikipedia described Porky Pine:

A porcupine, a misanthrope and cynic; prickly on the outside but with a heart of gold.  The deadpan Porky never smiles in the strip (except once, allegedly, when the lights were out).  Pogo’s best friend, equally honest, reflective and introverted, and with a keen eye both for goodness and for human foibles.  

I wondered why I liked him so much…

“Thou shalt not insult FOREIGN leaders?”

One idea of how you might end up, bad-mouthing the ruler of Cameroon

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At lunch the other day I glanced at the “Trending” section, on page 8 of the April 25 issue of Time magazine.  (The first issue – from 1923 – is at right.)  As noted in an earlier post, I get the magazines hand–me–down.

The middle item was about German authorities being pressured to prosecute a comedian, under a law that “forbids insults to foreign leaders.”  For reasons noted below, that piqued my interest.

It seems there’s a comedian in Germany – a “satirist and television presenter” – named Jan Böhmermann.  He’s the host of  a popular German TV show, Neo Magazin Royale.  Last March he aired a poem, Schmähkritik.  (Which translates, “abusive criticism.”)  The poem – “full of profanity and criticism” – was about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After the fact, the comedian himself admitted that his attempt at humor was “unfunny, beyond crude and hardly worthy of the name.”  Among other things, the poem called Erdogan “the man who beats girls,” and also loves to “suppress minorities, kick Kurds, hit Christians, and watch child pornography.”  (Other “accusations” are not fit for mixed company…)

Then – it can be safely said – came the firestorm.  (As in “a firestorm of controversy.”)

The law at issue – which first appeared in the “Prussian legal code of 1794” – was designed to keep German citizens from insulting foreign leaders.  Somewhat ironically:

The United States tried to make a complaint against a shop owner in the city of Marburg in 2003.  The shop owner called then-President George W. Bush, a “state terrorist.”  But the German government decided this did not go against the law.

In turn, Turkish president Erdogan is trying to get Böhmermann prosecuted under the same law.

What piqued my interest was the contrast between the German law and Exodus 22:28.  That Bible passage says – in the English Standard Version – “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”  However, it doesn’t say anything about “bad-mouthing the ruler of another country.”

Apparently, under the law of the Bible you could insult “foreign leaders” all you wanted.

That seems to be par for the course in other countries around the world.  You can insult foreign leaders all you want, but don’t dare “curse the rule of your people.”  See This is how these 12 countries will punish you for insulting their heads of state.  That site noted:

It may be par for the course in the United States, but in dozens of nations around the world, badmouthing your commander-in-chief will earn you fines, imprisonment or even a flogging.

One of those countries is Cameroon.  (And that’s where the top image came from.)  That country is one of several in Africa which “have laws against ‘sedition’ (read: saying stuff your ruler doesn’t like) left over from times colonial, and continue to make enthusiastic use of them.”

But don’t think I’m picking on Cameroon.  Lots of countries have penalties just as bad, if not worse.  But the notes on that country featured the interesting image at the top of the page.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H1216-0500-002, Adolf Hitler.jpgAnd don’t think that Germany is alone in having laws – at least laws on the books – that punish citizens for insulting the leader of another country. See No Insulting Foreign Leaders In Iceland, Either:

Iceland has enforced this article in the past.  On both occasions, it was to prosecute Icelanders who mocked the Third Reich in some capacity.  In 1934, Þórbergur Þórðarson was charged under the law for an article he wrote about Germany at the time, wherein he called Adolf Hitler “the sadist in the German chancellor’s seat.”  Further, Icelandic poet Steinn Steinarr was charged under the same law, when he and a group of others who torn down a Nazi flag flown by the German consulate in Siglufjörður.

So why – you might ask – would one country prosecute its citizens for insulting the leader of a foreign country?  The answer?  International relations.

As noted in The Guardian [on] Böhmermann, the only way to “make sense of this prosecution is to set it in the context that the law’s 19th-century drafters probably envisaged:

In the specific case of Germany’s section 103, about slighting foreign states, the government must expressly approve the prosecution, presumably because the whole original purpose was to deploy the criminal law as an instrument of foreign policy.

And incidentally, this business of punishing your own citizens for insulting a foreign leader is nothing new.  One notable example from history is Sir Walter Raleigh.

“Sir Walter” was a court favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.  (She knighted him in 1585.)  But then came a change of regime, in the form of Elizabeth’s successor, King James I.  (The guy who created the King James Version of the Bible, but was “not favourably disposed” toward Raleigh.)   And Raleigh pushed his luck too far.

Between bouts in prison, Raleigh was famous for establishing colonies in the New World and “also well known for popularising tobacco in England.”  But in doing all that he made the Spanish king very angry.  (Mainly because he stole lots of gold from Spanish ships.)

Things went well as long as his forays produced some income.  But finally, his luck – and King James’ patience – ran out.   In 1618, “to appease the Spanish,”  he was arrested and executed.

The good news from all this is that Jan Böhmermann won’t be hung or beheaded.  (Like Raleigh, above left.)  In fact, the “archaic law” now seems so ridiculous – “in the light of day” – that it’s on the path to extinction.  See Germany to Scrap Law [against] Insulting Foreign Leaders.

But the point I’m trying to make – in case it’s too subtle – is the marked contrast between those laws that punish citizens for insulting foreign leaders, and Exodus 22:28.  Whatever else you can say about the 12 countries [that] punish you for insulting their heads of state, they’re at least “following the Bible.”  I noted another marked contrast – between that Biblical commandment as practiced and as preached” – in On dissin’ the Prez.  (In my other blog.)

Another aside:  The Apostle Paul was reminded of Exodus 22:28 in Acts 23.  He was on trial – for “preaching” – before the Sanhedrin.  (The “Hebrew Supreme Court.”)  High priest Ananais told a guard to “strike him on the mouth,” and Paul responded as shown in the image below:

Those standing nearby said, ‘Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?’   And Paul said, ‘I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.”’

(Which brought up Conservative Christians who say the Bible must be interpreted literally.)

But getting back to the subject at hand:  In Turkey, over “1,800 people – including schoolchildren – have been prosecuted for comments posted on social media that insult Erdogan:”

In Istanbul, opinions are divided on the move against the comedian…  “The president [Erdogan] has his own rights,” said one man.  “When someone insults the German president they put him into the prison, also the American president. (E.A.)

Oh really?  Apparently that guy hasn’t watched Fox News or listened to American talk radio…

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Angelico,_niccolina_02.jpg

“God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!”

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The upper image is courtesy of not bite your tongue about some world leaders – GlobalPost.  (Cited in the text as “This is how these 12 countries will punish you for insulting their heads of state.”)

Sources used in writing this blog-post include: Turkish President Wants German Satirist JailedGerman Comedian May Face PrisonCORRECTION BACKGROUND German law: When does insulting a foreign leader become a crimeCalls grow to scrap law on insulting foreign leaders [Germany]Germany to Scrap Law that Prohibits Insulting Foreign LeadersJan Böhmermann – Wikipedia, and The Guardian view on the Jan Böhmermann affair.

Re: firestorm.  See “F” Metaphors, including Firestorm.

Re: Raleigh and Spanish gold.  One example:  When his fleet captured an incredibly rich prize— a merchant ship (carrack) named Madre de Deus (Mother of God) off Flores.

The lower image is courtesy of wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Angelico,_niccolina_02.jpg.  The caption: ““Fra Angelico, Dispute before the Sanhedrin (1449).”  The painting is based on “Acts 23.”

Is this “deja vu all over again?”

This post tries to answer the musical question  –  “Is there a new Maverick in town?  

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This post follows up the last one, “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”

The inspiration for both these blog-posts came when I found an old – November 1998 – copy of Rolling Stone magazine.  (At the bottom of a dumpster.)  The cover showed Bill Clinton – looking “befuddled” – in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  (She’s at left.)

But inside – starting on page 92 – I found an article “much more relevant to today’s political scene.”  It noted a candidate – 18 years ago – who showed a “malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power:”

He knows that repetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions…

Donald TrumpBut here’s the strange part:  It wasn’t Donald Trump!

So here goes:  Page 92 of the 11/12/98 Rolling Stone featured two headlines.  The larger one read, “The Stink at the Other End of Pennsylvania Avenue.”  (That is, the stink from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.)

Page 97 included this tidbit, about that 1998 presidential candidate:  “The man sounds delusional, and probably he is.  He sounded the same twenty years ago…”  (Which seems to verify that history repeats in cycles.)  Also on page 97:

The demagogic style of politics is still present in the man…  A lot of [his] harsh rhetoric has the quality.  It may sound loopy at first…  But if you assume [his] eye is really on the White House, reckless declarations may make sense for advancing his agenda.

Page 97 also featured a side note about an assistant – on the campaign staff – who quit “as the [candidate] got more and more detached from reality.”

So just who was this guy?  

Who was this arguable precursor to Donald Trump?  (With his take no prisoners style of campaigning?)  You could see the answer in the smaller headline.  (Just above the lead “Stink at the Other End of Pennsylvania Avenue.”)  Just above that lead headline, in slightly smaller type, read these words:  “The Real Scandal in Washington is Newt Gingrich.”

Which brings up the subject of “The Newt’s” powers of prophecy.  In 1998, Gingrich meditated on one thing quite often.  (Aside from his own presidential run.)  That one thing?

How will America look – in 2017 – “after two consecutive two-term Republican presidents (possibly including himself) have transformed America.”

Newt Gingrich by Gage Skidmore 7.jpgAs to how Newt’s powers of prophecy turned out, try an experiment.

Type “newt” into your search engine.  One result that I got quick was: “newt gingrich scandal.”  That “other teaser” led to links like Newt Gingrich Lacks Moral Character.  (According to “second ex-wife Marianne.”)

Another link:  Newt Gingrich’s Congressional Ethics Scandal Explained.  (According to both Mother Jones magazine and – in 2011 – the “pro-[Mitt]-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future,” which said “Newt has a ton of baggage.”)  A third link-title read, Newt Gingrich Affair – Huffington Post.  That third link led to a host of other links on this apparently-robust topic.

Then there’s the fact that we didn’t have “two consecutive two-term Republican presidents.”

But we digress!

Getting back to the Rolling Stone:  Page 124 noted that Newt – in 1998 – “will  become anything and ruin anybody else in order to achieve his goals.”  That page also featured a quote from one victim – a Democrat – who noted ruefully:  “Gingrich developed a vocabulary of poison, which he injected into the political dialogue.”  (All of which sounds eerily familiar…)

Then came page 125, with this note:  “Sure it’s difficult to imagine the nation electing someone disliked by two-thirds of the electorate.  But it’s easy to imagine Gingrich scoring well in Republican primaries, where right-wingers can crowd out moderates.”  And this:

Newt Gingrich poses a greater threat to the Republican Party than to the republic itself.  The GOP will not become the governing party as long as leaders like Gingrich hold the reins.  And more and more reasonable Republicans are beginning to realize this.

One response to that “reasonable Republicans” comment could be:  Apparently not!  All of which arguably leads to this prophetic cartoon, by Charles Schulz back in 1961:

5d5d8f10f87f013014e9001dd8b71c47

One response to that 1961 prophecy could be:  “There seem to be plenty of openings in the lunatic fringe, and more and more of those openings are being filled these days!

But once again we digress.  The topic at hand is whether Donald Trump’s appearance – as the darling of a large segment of the conservative electorate – is something new under the sun?  Or is it instead just a case of deja vu all over again

Interestingly enough, the 1998 article noted – on page 125 – that Newt Gingrich was the “Bill Clinton of the GOP.  He’s a manipulator – flexible and malleable, willing to grab any opening to be a winner.”  (Which also sounds chillingly familiar.)

But on the page before – page 124 – there was some wisdom the “Grand Old Party” may want to pay more attention to.  The page noted that the party’s “intramural crosscurrents are fierce and difficult to manage.”  On the other hand, the Democratic Party’s ability to manage just such fierce crosscurrents did allow them to be the “governing power for decades – a willingness to deal and compromise among its contending blocs and interest groups.”

Sarah Palin says Paul Ryan's failure to endorse Donald Trump is unwiseOn that note see Sarah Palin vows to campaign against Paul Ryan.  As an aside, Ryan is the current Speaker of the House. The article noted Palin’s decision was “sparked by Ryan’s bombshell announcement … that he wasn’t yet ready to support Donald Trump, the Republican presumptive nominee. Palin endorsed Trump back in January.”

On a related note see Devouring Their Own.  But again getting back to the subject at hand:  Is “The Donald” indeed something new under the sun, or just deja vu all over again?

Which leads us to one last quote:

One result of these tactics [by many conservatives, back in 1998] is the brittle, bitter climate of distrust in national politics today:  the loss of civility amid endless personal accusations, the stalemates that develop on issue after issue when both sides are unable to approach the grounds where reasonable compromise can occur.  Possibly this nasty atmosphere would have developed anyway…  But Newt is the guy who poured poison in the stream.

Then of course comes the real kicker.  Donald Trump is considering Gingrich as his vice-presidential candidate.  Or that Gingrich is actively seeking the post.  (Or both.)  See for example:  A Trump-Gingrich Ticket:  So Crazy It Just Might Make Sense?

Failure to Communicate - 'Cool Hand Luke'.jpgSo “what we’ve got here” is either something new under the sun, or deja vu all over again.  Or maybe – instead – it’s just another failure to communicate.

According to Rolling Stone, Newt Gingrich sounded the same in 1998 as he did – politically – in 1978.  And what Newt said – and how he said it – seem eerily similar to Donald Trump’s style of campaigning today.  So whatever “problem” there is with Donald Trump goes back at least 40 years.

It may have been for that very reason that there weren’t “two consecutive two-term Republican presidents,” 16 straight years with a Republican in the White House.

Maybe it was the scandals, or maybe it was the ton of baggage.

Or maybe it’s just easier to win a local Congressional race with a “vocabulary of poison” than it is to win the presidency.  And who knows?  Maybe Donald Trump is the new “Bill Clinton of the GOP,” a master manipulator “flexible and malleable, willing to grab any opening.”

But is Donald Trump willing “to deal and compromise” enough to navigate the “contending blocs and interest groups” within the Republican Party?  (If not the country itself?)

History seems to show that Newt Gingrich was not able to do all that.  Which makes Trump’s flirting with the idea of Newt as his VP candidate all the more intriguing.

And all of which leads to another set musical questions:  Is Donald Trump simply another case of deja vu all over again?  Or is he “crazy?”  Or is he instead crazy like a fox?

 

Charley Chase in Crazy Like a Fox.jpg

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The post-title alludes to the phrase “taken from a famous (attributed) quotation from Yogi Berra:  ‘It’s like déjà vu all over again.'”  See Deja Vu All Over Again – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Déjà vu is the “phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.”  So Yogi Berra’s saying “its like deja vu all over again” would be similar to saying something was “redundant redundant.”

The upper image was borrowed from the last post, “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  In turn the image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia.

As for the phrase “answers the musical question” see e.g. Carol Brady – Quotes – imdb.com:  “Carol Brady:  ‘Yeah, the show that asks the musical question: Can eight average people make it in the big time?'”  See also “Bibliographia” – Verbatim, Vol. 29, Issue 1, Spring 2004 (“A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century”), which included this:

In the postwar years, young people became increasingly anti-authoritarian in their behavior. Blame it on Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones.  One way to keep the old folks at bay was to cut them out of your communications…  “Kids,” a song from the 1960 musical Bye, Bye Birdie, asks the musical question, “Who can understand anything they say?”

You could also Google the term “‘answers the musical question’ phrase.”

The article at issue – starting on page 92 of the November 12, 1998 Rolling Stone – started:

The obsession with Bill Clinton’s scandal covers up a stink at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue – that other Washington scandal known simply as Newt.  If Clinton were forced from office, the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich – a man loathed or distrusted not only by the public but by his own Republican colleagues – would be a heartbeat from the presidency.  

The next sentence:  “‘President Gingrich.’  Not likely to happen, but truly frightening to contemplate.” 

The Donald Trump image was featured in On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”  In turn the image is courtesy of businessinsider.com/donald-trump-has-been-fired.

Re: Mother Jones magazine and the “pro-[Mitt]-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future,” agreeing that Newt Gingrich has baggage.  See also Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Re: Lunatic fringe.  Wikipedia noted that the term was “popularized by Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote in 1913 that, ‘Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.'”  See also Lunatic Fringe, the “song by the Canadian rock band Red Rider from their 1981 album.”

The “lunatic fringe” cartoon is courtesy of Peanuts Comic Strip, April 26, 1961 on GoComics.com.

The Sarah Palin image is courtesy of “aol.com/article/2016/05/08/sarah-palin-says-paul-ryans-failure-to-endorse-donald-trump-is-unwise/21373081.”

Re: “devouring their own.”  The link in the text is to Saturn Devouring His Son – Wikipedia.  That article told of the Greek god who, “fearing that he would be overthrown by one of his children, ate each one upon their birth.”  For other examples see Republicans Begin Devouring Their Own – LA Progressive, and Republicans devouring their own – Democratic Underground.  But see also COMMENTARY: Democrats are devouring their own, a website headquartered at 1400 East Nolana, McAllen, TX.

The “What we’ve got here” image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article noting the phrase “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” featured in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke.

The lower image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article, “Crazy like a Fox (1926 film), a 1926 film starring Charley Chase.”  The caption reads: “Charley Chase as Wilson, the groom:”

Crazy like a Fox is a 1926 American short film starring Charley Chase.  The two-reel silent comedy stars Chase as a young man who feigns insanity in order to get out of an arranged marriage, only to find out that his sweetheart is the girl he has been arranged to marry…  The film features Oliver Hardy in a small role filmed shortly before his teaming with Stan Laurel.

Which may bring up the fact – again – that sometimes history repeats in cycles.