In madcapschemes.com first political contest for 2024, you need to name the Republican and Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
So that you get no help from the American voters (ha!), your entries are due before January 15, 2024, when the Iowa caucuses take place.
The winner(s) will be picked after the GOP and the Democratic Conventions happen and the candidates are selected. The madcapscheme winners will be announced on August 22, after the Democratic Convention ends. The candidates picked then will win the contest here. Even if more tapes like the Hollywood Access one or if repaired but neglected Mac laptops are found at computer shops that should have dumped previous candidates before Election Day (but did not), our winner will be those candidates selected, not the ones on the ballot Nov. 5, 2024. No matter what happens.
Fill out your ballots and send them in a comment as a list (1. Alfred E. Neuman 2. Elmer Fudd. 3. Elmer Gantry. 4. Ramasses II). I will post mine as well. Anyone who beats my selections can name a charity that I will donate to. The donation amount will depend on corn and soybean prices, but don’t imagine anything past low three digits (maybe two if enough people beat me). If we tie — all end up with the same selections – there will be a general call to donate to the charity you would have chosen. Amount up to you.
Every article or book I have read about Egypt includes this quote from Herodotus (circa 490 — 425 BC): “Egypt is a gift of the Nile.”
So there. I have included it, too.
But I wonder if the Nile River might some day take back that gift or stop giving. Especially as Egypt and the 10 other countries that the Nile runs through “mistreat” the river.
Earliest traces of humans in Egypt go back 250,000 years, but the Nile’s gift started long after that when the climate changed and most of Egypt became a desert. Only place left to live was along the Nile. Today, 99 percent of 109 million Egyptians live on five percent of the land — along the Nile, according to a talk given to our tour group by Hany Hamroush. He has a doctorate in geochemistry from the University of Virginia, and returned to Egypt to teach at Cairo University and the American University in Cairo (AUC). His main research is on the impacts of the Nile River and the environmental changes in Egypt now and in the past.
The Nile gave Egypt river currents that flow south to north to float ships down the river and predominant winds that blow north to south to sail up the river. Trade, communications and finally a nation, a civilization. The Nile in Egypt comes from the White Nile, which starts in Lake Victoria in Uganda, and the Blue Nile, beginning in Ethiopia. Eighty-five percent of the runoff in Egypt comes from the Blue Nile, which brings with it lots of mud. Every year around June, the Nile floods in Egypt, bringing rich soil to plant crops in, water to irrigate them.
The dam rises 366 feet above the river, is two and a quarter miles long, a half mile wide at its base with a road on top. No more silt from the Blue Nile, but many more megawatts of hydro power. As Toby Wilkinson puts it in his book “The Nile: A Journey Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present”:
“The High Dam has regulated the flow of the Nile, consigning the annual inundation — the natural phenomenon that built Egypt — to the history books.”
I could find no one who thought the High Dam was all good or all bad — and I admit I did very few man-on-the-street interviews while in Arabic-speaking Egypt. But in the reading I have done and the few people I talked to in Egypt, the consensus was “some good and some bad.”
Good because the dam brought about “medium floods,” as Hamroush put it. No more famines with low inundations. No more catastrophic floods like the one in 1927. The flood in 2021 was worse than the one in 1927 but not felt in Egypt because of the High Dam, said Hamroush. The dam produces about half of the electricity used in Egypt. Lake Nasser, the 300-mile-long waterway behind the High Dam, now has a productive fishery. The High Dam opened more land with year-round irrigation for agriculture.
Bad because the rich silt stops behind the High Dam. So chemical fertilizers must be used so that the country’s agriculture can feed the nation.
With the higher dam, more land cultivated, chemical fertilizers and more irrigation (think of the Nile as the only water source in Egypt — no rain, no snow pack inside the country), it sounds like agribusiness in the making. However, I looked for but only saw two tractors while in Egypt. Lots of donkeys, horses and manual labor. If Egypt can grow enough food by hand, more power to them.
More bad: Hamroush also pointed out that while silt is stuck behind the High Dam, there is less flow in the Nile so that any silt that reaches the Nile Delta doesn’t completely wash into the Mediterranean Sea. So the delta is sinking, and because of climate change, the sea is rising. The natural geological subsidence of the delta is 6.6 millimeters per year; the global sea rise is 3.3 millimeters per year. Doesn’t sound like much, but in 50 years it could affect four to eight million people, says Hamroush.
With more constant irrigation (mostly for sugar cane) there is more water damage to the foundations of ancient structures. Archeologist Kent Weeks discusses that in this video.
As Wilkerson puts it in his book: “The confident assertions of the High Dam’s cheerleaders, back in the late 1950s, now have a hollow ring. As one son of Aswan laconically put it, the High Dam ‘is slowly killing Egypt.’ “
And that’s not all. The Egyptians may now be paying more attention to how the Nile is treated, especially since someone else is doing the treating. Ethiopia has built and has filled the lake behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile. The concrete dam rises 475 feet above the river. The lake behind it covers 724 square miles (about the size of Houston, Texas). It will double Ethiopia’s output of electricity. Sounds good for Ethiopia, bad for Egypt.
For Egyptians, this could lead to ontological security—or the preservation of state identity. As this Carnegie article says:
“Ontological insecurity may arise when internal and external developments disrupt the continuity of established identities and worldviews. It could be argued, then, that the GERD project threatens the continuity of Egypt’s enacted world that sees the Nile as a living being inseparable from Egypt’s history, culture, and civilizational identity. Thus, developments related to the project could force Egypt to redefine its national identity that is centered on the Nile River.”
So the Nile could be caught between two huge dams, the High Dam in Egypt and the GERD in Ethiopia, sort of like the Colorado River in the United States, caught between Hoover and Glen Canyon Dams among others. Recently, the U.S. federal government came out with three options for how to use the water from the dwindling Colorado River, which could mean cutting off water to 10 million Americans or plugging the irrigation canals that support a “$4 billion industry that employs tens of thousands of people and puts vegetables in supermarkets across the country during the winter.”
Maybe the question more germane to the United States should be: What if the Colorado River stopped giving?
Given all that newspapers are cutting these days – reporters, editions, delivery routes and even themselves – paring away on comics might seem like something no one would miss. And then along came Dilbert, the strip’s offensive creator and the hullabaloo leading to first newspapers and then the distributing syndicate dropping Dilbert into the office trashcan.
I visited the museum during a weekend reunion of former editors of The Lantern, the Ohio State student newspaper. Brian Basset, a former colleague at The Seattle Times and an OSU alum, was there signing books as was Derf Backderf, another OSU alum. As much as I love Red and Rover, I ended up buying a book from Backderf, mostly because I have a good friend who calls himself Derf – Fred spelled backwards. Backderf added a special signing of the book for my Derf:
Backderf has been called an illustrator who creates “cartoons with footnotes,” and his book “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio” is very much in that vein. In fact, it is the best illustration (no pun intended) of what happened that day, the days leading up to it and what followed after the shootings.
Let’s start with the STILL exhibit, which ended in October 2022. The name comes from calling the civil-rights movement “accomplished” with Congress passing of the civil-rights legislation in 1964. But now “with the aid of today’s technology, the truth can finally be witnessed on television screens around the world.” We could start with Rodney King, then George Floyd, Tyre Nichols and on and on. And STILL the fight continues for social justice in America. We could add a cartoonist identifying a whole segment of society as a hate group and telling other parts of society to stay away from them. STILL the fight goes on.
The exhibit featured the work of Brumsic Brandon, Jr., who created the comic strip “Luther.” Brandon called his motivation to “draw cartoons with social commentary came from his experiences of being Black in white racist society.” His daughter, Barbara Brandon-Croft, also took up cartooning, drawing “Where I’m Coming From” from 1989 until 2005.
While at the museum, I was allowed a short, escorted tour of the stacks, where they have stored all of their materials. Cartoons, comics, newspapers, etc. are being converted to digital, and the paper copies are kept in a climate-controlled environment. Here’s a video that tours the “behind the scenes:”
I was never a big fan of “Peanuts.” I was more into comics that told a continuing story, such as Steve Canyon, Steve Roper, Dondi, the Phantom and Dick Tracy. And there in the Billy Ireland Museum was Chester Gould‘s drawing desk, complete with the dark spots where the creator of Dick Tracy struck matches to help dry the ink he drew with.
It turns out that Schulz wasn’t all that fond of Peanuts either. Under the display of the first three days of Peanuts, October 2 through 4, 1950, the plaque tells us that Schulz sold his comic to United Features Syndicate, which changed “virtually everything about the strip.” Single-panel-cartoons market was glutted, the executives decided, and they wanted a four-panel strip. Schulz’ name, “Li’l Folks” was too close to another competing strip called “Little Folks.” So they changed the name of the strip to “Peanuts” — a name Schulz always disliked.
I’m hoping that newspapers, other publications and comic book stores will keep comic strips and cartoons on their pages and on their shelves. It would be a shame if future generations had to go to a museum to see them.
I returned to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today to pick up where I left off, which was at the start of the main exhibit concerning the Nuremberg Trials.
I had covered the anti-semitism and how it had been around way before it became a mainstay of the Nazi party in Germany, the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, World War II and the Allied discovery of the concentration camp. That took five hours in the museum before I had to run to catch a plane back to Seattle. That was about 20 years ago when I was in Washington, D.C., for a conference. My apologies to The Seattle Times, who sent me there, that I can remember almost nothing about the conference besides visiting with others there who had previously worked at The Times and where I left off at the Holocaust museum.
So Kathy, who had not been at the museum before, started at the beginning of the main exhibit while I headed straight for the Nuremberg Trials. But I did stop and view the videos on America and the Holocaust, which I don’t remember being there in my previous visit. The videos looked back on what Americans knew about the persecution of Jews by Germans in Europe and what the United States did about it – not much.
There was another exhibit downstairs in the museum covering the same topic in greater detail, which I returned to after viewing the Nuremberg videos and displays and lunch at the museum café. The lunch was prompted by Kathy, who texted me, “I could use a break. Woof. This is tough stuff.”
It was. Tough stuff to ignore, which is what Americans did leading into World War II. Take more refugees? No way in a country suffering the Great Depression with 25 percent of the population unemployed. If we took more refugees would Germany respond by even tougher laws against the Jews? In a country where isolationism was the current policy, who cared what they were doing in Germany and the rest of Europe?
Refugees. Immigrants. Illegal migrants. Asylum seekers. No matter what you call them, it has been a sore subject for those of us safely within the borders of the United States. Go back to the 1920s when immigration was restricted and I think you will find that there has never been a policy that suits anyone or everyone. And there is no outlook for a future policy that will solve the immigration question.
Should Venezuelans have the same leniency shown to Cuban refugees/immigrants? They are both fleeing a communist regime.
Who could deny a Ukrainian family from coming to the U.S. now? They may be the latest victims of an aggressor trying to expand its territory, just like those who tried to flee Poland, Austria and other European states as Germany took them over and tried to rid them of Jews.
We don’t have 25 percent unemployment. In fact, we only have between three and four percent unemployment, which is considered by economists as full employment. Would more immigrants open up restaurants that can’t find workers?
The action of some governors to send migrants to other places seems cruel to those put on buses and hardly helpful to those reaching out to aid them in cities far from the southern border. Maybe a way of bringing attention to the problem, but still cruel and unhelpful.
No answers here, but some familiar tones in the awful history on display at the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum.
I could not escape the museum without buying two books in the gift shop: “Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial” by Joseph E. Persico, and “In Pursuit of Justice: Examining the Evidence of the Holocaust”, a project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
And I found a movie I have to see. Who can resist Edward G. Robinson?
“Fellow citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to me? . . .
“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.
“Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival . . .”
— Frederick Douglass, on July Fourth 1852, quoted in “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.
“. . . the marshaling of little guys to protect the big guys ‘happens all the time.’ Small business owners protest estate taxes they will never pay. Community banks protest regulations aimed at the large banks that are their biggest competitors. Minimum-wage workers are somehow framed as the targets for IRS enforcement proposals aimed at the ultra-rich.
‘Not only does it distort discussion of incredibly important policy, it ends up advancing the interest of this very small number of people and industries that have a chokehold on public policy in Washington.’”Quote by Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets included in a New York Times story by Jonathan Weisman printed in The Seattle Times, Dec. 11, 2021, under the headline “Family rift reflects challenge of taxing rich.”
“When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support.”
“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn
“. . . colored people, having received next to nothing in material assets from their slave foreparents, had to labor with the knowledge that they were now being underpaid by more than half, that they were so behind it would be all but impossible to accumulate the assets their white counterparts could, and that they would, by definition, have less to leave succeeding generations than similar white families. Multiplied over the generations, it would mean a wealth deficit between the races that would require a miracle windfall or near asceticism on the part of colored families if they were to have any chance of catching up or amassing anything of value. Otherwise, the chasm would continue, as it did for blacks as a group even into the succeeding century. The layers of accumulated assets built up by the better-paid dominant caste, generation after generation, would factor into a wealth disparity of white Americans having an average net worth ten times that of black Americans by the turn of the twenty-first century, dampening the economic prospects of the children and grandchildren of both Jim Crow and the Great Migration before they were even born.”
— “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson
“They did what humans have done for centuries when life became unbearable — what the pilgrims did under the tyranny of British rule, what the Scots-Irish did in Oklahoma when the land turned to dust, what the Irish did when there was nothing to eat, what the European Jews did during the spread of Nazism, what the landless in Russia, Italy, China, and elsewhere did when something better across the ocean called to them. What binds these stories together was the back-against-the-wall, reluctant yet hopeful search for something better, any place but where they were. They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done.
— “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson