Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let's get down to work

I'm tired of the campaign for president.

I'm tired of listening to conservative Republicans whine about John McCain. I'm tired of Mike Huckabee's last name being turned into a verb, as in He's been huckabeed.

I'm tired of the Clinton campaign making snide comments about Barck Obama and then withdrawing them and firing the person who made them, all the while repeating them in the statement of apology, as in, "We're so sorry we pointed out that Barack Obama's name got changed from Hitler when his father emigrated to the United States. It was unprofessional of us to point out that Barack Obama's surname was orignially Hitler, and we won't mention that his name was Hitler again. It makes me puke.

I'm tired of Barack Obama revealing personal details that are totally immaterial to his -- or anyone's -- qualifications to be president.

I'm tired of the media sensationalizing every time Barack Obama burps (he obviously dare not fart), scratches his nose (again, not his ass), spends more than a half hour working out in a day, chewing nicotine gum because he's trying to quit smoking. And I'm tired of the media taking every word any candidate (or spouse) says out of context and blowing it into treason.

The three main contenders at this point to be president are Senator John McCain (R., Arizona), Senator Hillary Clinton (D., New York), and Senator Barack Obama (D., Illinois). It's time these people step off the campaign trail for a while and rejoin their colleagues in the Senate.

Maybe between now and the election in November, they can start doing things for the good of the country instead of the good of their parties: stop the hemorrhage of dollars to Iraq, start us toward affordable universal health care, provide finances for soldiers who suffer mental problems after returning from Iraq (I think I heard that it's 25 per cent of them), do something to make sure the housing collapse doesn't happen again and that we don't fall into another Great Depression. In short there's plenty for them to do besides campaign.

Working at their jobs could earn them votes, respect, and would give one of them the Presidency.

That wouldn't be all bad.

As always, please post your comment below.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Village

It takes a village to raise a child, according to an old African proverb, and Hillary Clinton capitalized on it with her book of the same name. I haven’t read the book, but I certainly subscribe to the theory.

When my son was alive, a lot of people helped him: volunteer soccer and wrestling coaches, Sunday School teachers, godparents, teachers, neighbors who had very little stake in his behavior as long as he didn’t bother them, and a host of others. It turned out that in addition to us, his parents, an entire metaphoric village raised him. These people did things we were not available to do or didn't have the expertise to accomplish.

There is no way we can pay back all the people who helped him – and us. What we can do, however, is to be kind to others and to help out those we can. All of us need “safety nets” of all kinds: emotional, financial, and even physical. We all need someone to catch us when we fall. I wouldn’t have broken my ankle on the ice a month ago if someone had. But since breaking it, the number of people who call, who volunteer to bring in food, to come and chat, who bring and send funny get well cards, who walk dogs, who drive me around. That number of people in my village is amazing. And humbling.

At a recent family gathering – and we are involved with chosen family because our blood families live so far away – I found a lot of people willing to be part of my village. One piloted my wheel chair up a ramp and to a table, many made a deliberate effort to stop by the table where I was sitting and give me and my wife hugs and chat at length, and a few stopped by to tease me good naturedly about being klutzy (I slipped, in truth, and in a fluid graceful arc landed flat on my back looking at the sky. Nothing klutzy there, thank you very much!). I enjoyed seeing and talking to all of them. I am at least twice as old as most of them, but I feel as if I am their contemporary. I have to step back and realize I am their parents' (or grandparents') age.

And so it distresses me when people reject the village. At the family gathering, some extended members of our chosen family made it a point to avoid me and my wife. This is the second event that these people have made a point to snub us. I suspect they think we are trying to “alienate the affections” of the ones who chose us. In their narrow view, it seems, there is only a certain quantity of love that exists, and if we get some of it, they get less. This is an attitude I don’t understand. The more I love, the more capable I am of loving and receiving love.

On the other hand, their cliquish attitude kept these family members in a tight little circle and few of the people who greeted us also greeted them. Maybe they are afraid, maybe they are jealous. Maybe they are angry because I am a loud person, too frequently profane, too outspoken. For whatever reason, they got less of the available affection that infused the room because they couldn’t accept it.

At first I was angry and felt rejected. But I realized I had a much better time (despite or perhaps because of being stuck in the wheel chair), I connected with more people, and I can merely feel sorry for people who are not open to love. I cannot survive without others, and I don’t feel joy just by being alone although I need time by myself.

My village is large. Their village is very small. What a pity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Public Integrity

I have to admit first that I currently vote Democratic although I consider myself an Eisenhower Republican. The party has made an about face since his time, however. I didn’t vote for George W. Bush either time he ran, and I have a bias that Florida and the Supreme Court gave him the election in 2000, and that election fraud, particularly in Ohio, gave him the election in 2004.

My reasons for not voting for W the first time are probably silly. I couldn’t vote for a man who couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t vote for a man who had no lips. As I say, pretty silly. And I knew voting against him was a lost cause in 2004 because we just don’t switch presidents in the middle of a way, all things being equal. And somehow things were more than equal.

When terrorists demolished the World Trade Center, I felt violated, horrified, and strangely disconnected because little really seemed to change in my life except that flying was more arduous than it had been previously. My blood pressure went up, I’m sure, because my son Derek (you can read about that in early blog entries) was in the Navy as Communications Officer at NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain, since closed. He talked to all the bigwigs, Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, that day and on the orders of his supervisor grounded the commercial airlines for the following few days while we regrouped. I was terrified we would lose Derek too.

In the weeks and months following September 11, 2001, the propaganda machine shifted into overdrive. When I was in college, propaganda was a way of putting the best face on facts. Since then, however, it has become outright lies.

That is why I am not surprised at the following report issued jointly by the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, both of which I checked out. They are independent think tanks without any bias except independence and integrity. That is to say, they are funded by neither liberals nor conservatives. They merely seek the truth.

Because of copyright laws, I am unable to replicate the report here. The highlights, however, are that Bush and seven of his top advisors conspired to lie (over 700 times) about Iraq’s involvement in the destruction so of the Twin Towers so we could invade Iraq. The media, sadly, didn’t investigate the lies and thereby became implicit in the current quicksand we call the War in Iraq.

I have a masters degree in journalism. I am an American. But I feel ashamed that we allowed our “leaders” to fool us with their emotional blackmail and outright lack of integrity. They pushed us into a totally unnecessary war. They pushed us into quicksand and we are slowly drowning.

Read the entire report at Center for Public Integrity site.

As always I am interested in your comments. And since I am housebound after breaking my ankle, I especially need a little intellectual stimulation.