Archive for August, 2009

Memorials

August 29, 2009

As I watch the Ted kennedy funeral & requiem mass on television the pomp and pageantry elicit for one my age so many previous ceremonies and public mournings. Caroline kennedy now conjures recollection of her as a girl watching her father’s procession.
When I was a young adult the rapid fire chaos of John, Martin & Bobby’s murders shook our national psyche. Fords Theater and Sarajevo, anarchists and lone maniacs – history’s violent icons hovered over us.
Perhaps from my mother’s influence I have had an impulse in my modern-media lifetime to be mesmerized by such events. I watch and share the grief and absorb the commentary. Even today as another kennedy is interred I know that around the world in Iraq Abdel Aziz al-Hakim is being mourned & buried,
I recall how amazed I was in 1970 to see the TV tower 360 degree scan of endless humanity at Gamal Abdel Nasser’s funeral. My memories include the smoking bier of Nehru, Winston Churchill’s coffin borne on a barge down the Thames, the eulogies to many U.S. Presidents delivered in the grandeur of the National Cathedral in D.C., the palpable outpouring of affection & pandemic pathos at Princess Diana’s passing, the bagpipes at King Hussein’s funeral……..
Every precious soul deserves a moment of salute, yet many die in obscurity and neglect. Some die at such an old age few friends or kin remain. Some disappear in dark alleys of crime. Tsunamis and earthquakes take but a moment to destroy whole villages and valleys. The mounds of bones in Cambodia, the ovens at Auschwitz, the mass graves of Leningrad, the sad soil of Sand Creek all testify to human frailty and horrendous indifference toward life.
So let us then be thankful for our opportunities to honor our dead, whatever their cause of death, whatever their triumphs or troubles in life. Whether it be at the ghats of Varanasi or the grasses of Arlington, let us pause in reverence to our God and our ancestors, our heroes and our brothers, our sisters and our neighbors.


Myanmar

August 15, 2009

John Yettaw is to be released by the despots in Myanmar and sent home with envoy Senator Jim Webb. I commend Senator Webb for his courageous journey and altruistic efforts. I hope that in meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi the senator has conveyed the admiration and concern of our nation. As President Obama stated repeatedly in his campaign for the Oval Office, dialogue is good. It is inappropriately termed appeasement when outrageous concessions are not part of the situation.

Too bad Tiny Tim; you’re screwed

August 11, 2009

I would agree with anyone saying there must be meticulous study and preparation for a health care reform plan. There should be a fair and practical compromise. Those with adequate care should not lose out as we cover the needs of the neglected. But cover those needs we must !!
Watching the rant and rave of the forums I’m beginning to feel a bit like Emile Henry, ready to put a fire under the smug elite who would ignore the plight of the poor. While Lazarus lies at the rich man’s gate it seems to be the comfortable borgeoisie that objects to progress and change.
Like Scrooge before his night of epiphany the “teabaggers” would leave Tiny Tim to his horrid fate. Too bad that people go bankrupt to have needed surgery. Too bad that care is postponed waiting and waiting for a better financial day. Too bad that elders sacrifice half a dose or a mid day meal because their prescriptions are unaffordable.
I admit to a dearth of knowledge on math & buget issues, but I know the suffering I’ve seen amongst friends and neighbors. I know that in this nation, presumably a great nation based upon humane & scriptural values, we should be able to provide for the health needs of all. We should not look like a Dickensian society with our children pathetically reaching out for “more, please” while CHIPS is debated. With modern medicine a myriad of miracles we should not have the same people who cry “principles” on a pro-Life platform seeking to relegate the needy to suffering and death in the name of “tax burden”.
A program is needed. The selfish shouters are not helping hasten anything except a sad legacy in the archives of history.

conspiracy, collaboration & cover-up

August 8, 2009

I attended the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV recently. Each year director Ed Herendeen and his staff seem to select distinctively relevant & provocative plays such as this year’s FARRAGUT NORTH by Beau Willimon and YANKEE TAVERN by Steven Dietz. The reliability of public processes and officials is up for debate once the stories are told. Past seasons have seen the story of young Rachel Corrie and her death by bulldozer in Gaza plus OCTOPUS a few years back, which explored the investigative reporting of Danny Casolaro and his suspicious suicide. A few weeks later all this swirling in my brain is provoked more by my reading.

In reading Ryan Grim’s This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret
History of Getting High in America
I was hoping to learn more about early American use of laudanum and of natural hallucinogens like mushrooms. Instead I was most intrigued by the stories of counter-productive policy and of government collaboration with the Mob and with narcotics trafficking. Also the stories of the so-called “liberal” mainstream media covering up or nitpicking exposes like that of Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” articles about the CIA agents & crack. As in the Casolaro case, the story ends in suicide and subsequent revelations of government’s shady behavior.

The issue which keeps perplexing me is the reliability of the press in the 21st Century.  We still have reporters risking their lives on warfronts and we have the internet with blogs like this.  But are journalists and maybe more critically editors & publishers willing to stick their necks out with the type of daring investigation that characterized Neil Sheehan, Bob Wooward or Jonathan Kwitney back in the days of yore?


no cred

August 5, 2009

I recently read about an elderly woman in the Southwest complaining that Obama was on TV to the point she was avoiding the Tube. I can identify but in an opposite fashion, for when W came on a couple years back I would hit the OFF button. He had no credibility as far as I was concerned. The only time I can recall having any good vibes from him was when he spoke at the Virginia Tech memorial service for the shooting spree victims.  Obama on the other hand has restored trust in America around the world.

orchestrated politics

August 5, 2009

Rachel Maddow has been exposing the orchestrated disruption of healthcare forums, especially those of Democratic politicians. I applaud her journalism and agree with the information her program provides. When Dick Armey’s lobby agent Bob MacGuffie is writing and dispensing directions on how to disrupt public meetings it is a bit reminiscent of the Brownshirts of Munich. This is not, however new to American politics. The early nineteenth century saw political torch parades with participants’ enthusiasm fueled by the booze provided them by political organizers. The big city Ward bosses were little dictators in many US cities in the early twentieth century.
The key to a good America now is that 2008 demonstrated the majority is disgusted with the visceral issue manipulation of politics/elections/news. By exposing episodes like the Brooks Brothers Riot in Miami in Florida’s 2000 recount as a GOP-Congressional-aides mob flown in to shut down the recount effort and deny the nation a just result, we have made the public aware of the sham.
While I agree that we shouldn’t rush into a foolish plan for medical reform, I see the need for a reasonable compromise to bring proper care to the needy minority who have so many horror stories to tell.
We should not let Big-Pharma and the nations wealthy elite deny a healthy future to the country.
I believe the screaming wingnuts will help insure the plans they oppose come to fruition.