Friday, November 23, 2018

House Cleaning


Interesting to watch as the House Majority, still attempting to flex their muscles, try yet again to thwart the lawful purpose of oversight by selectively leaking and distorting information resulting from secret testimony. 

They have now subpoenaed James Comey and Loretta Lynch for closed door hearings regarding events during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Comey’s attorney, David Kelley has replied, saying Mr. Comey will be happy to testify but not behind a “closed door” session. 

How refreshing it will be in January to have new occupants of this House, sweeping away the dirt, the secrets and the lies, scrubbing out the stains of hypocrisy, opening up the windows and allowing the sun to shine through.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

JFK. I Remember . . .

It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  

In other years, November 22 was not a day to celebrate but to remember.  

I was very young and very idealistic in the early sixties.  But I have never been more in tune with or involved in our government and what it was doing than those days of the Kennedy administration.  My generation believed that government could work; we believed in the wisdom of the Constitution, in equal rights, in the freedom of the press.  

We were involved; we became warriors; we were activists, we lived fervently, rebelled ostentatiously and loved freely; we fought back; we became consequential.  We did not "go along."   

We had a leader who inspired.

Kennedy's legacy through the years has been laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little. This was blatantly wrong.

And, now, gradually, appreciation of Kennedy's accomplishments grows with each passing year. And it should.  

True, he allowed Khrushchev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions." But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.
  
As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. 

His major accomplishment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the successful maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest.  

Mr. President, I remember and I am grateful to have learned my political abc's under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with a calm appreciation of history. You spoke decisively but with care for the feelings of your listeners, with admiration and humor for those in the Press who covered you, with respect for those who opposed you and with dignity that matched the office you held. Intellect, Decency and Grace defined you. 

We have lost something precious. The ability to dream and not dread.  You made us dream.   

I miss you, JFK.    


Friday, October 5, 2018

Our Democracy


Brett Kavanaugh is probably well qualified, academically, for the Supreme Court. 

I don't know this, but I grant him this. 

But that is not my problem with him. I did not like what I saw as he testified during the spectacle we witnessed last week.  I am a citizen of this country and I feel that I’ve been railroaded today. None of my concerns have been validated by those who represent me.  And neither have theirs.  That’s because one political party holds power in all three branches of government.

The Republicans who control our Senate, have virtually ignored every dissenting opinion in Congress in order to get this guy into a life-long post as Justice. The FBI “investigation” begun on Friday last, turned into a sham and produced no new information. This is because the White House orchestrated the parameters around which the FBI was allowed to work.

Today the Senate votes on cloture, a preliminary vote that does not mean much as far as I can tell. It is said to move the vote forward, however; in other words, the Senators will vote again tomorrow.  According to this vote today, Kavanaugh has won cloture 51 to 49 and Senators like Susan Collins of Maine, having falsely agonized over their decision now show their true stripes.  Party over conscience.  She turns out to be like all the rest and her declaration of why she will vote yes tomorrow makes it obvious.  

Kavanaugh does not appear to be a nice person, at least as he has represented himself on TV. His demeanor as many have stated after viewing him last week, is not what one would call judicial. He has an ugly temper and went on a rant about the Democrats’ revenge for his role assisting Ken Starr in the Clinton hearings. I don’t remember this, but it was this unnecessarily snarly defense that so outraged many of us who watched. 

The allegations of early drinking and sexually abusive behavior are one thing, but as bad as they sound, we cannot hold a seventeen year old accountable for bad behavior 36 years after those incidents. I believe it is, however, an indication of character, displayed with a vituperative and arrogant surliness not becoming anyone seeking public office. He is not seventeen today and he must own this.    

It is his record (and writings) on the power of the presidency that worries me most:  as I understand it, Kavanaugh believes the presidency is inviolate; ie, the person holding that office can get by with almost anything, including acts against the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, Fraud, Tax Evasion, and can, if it behooves him, even pardon himself.

Our system of “checks and balances” so lovingly set up by our patriotic forefathers, those who believed that the people we sent to Congress to represent us, would be non-partisan and work together for the good of the country, has not been working. There are no "checks" on a runaway Senate controlled by the partisan Mitch McConnell.  

The people we have in Congress, by and large, have little sense of patriotism – love and pride in our system of government.  They are there to enrich themselves and their friends and families.  They are there in order to acquire power and hold on to it – they vote in order to keep themselves in office. (Term limits, anyone?)  What happened to Conscience, Country and lastly Party?   Eh, Lindsey Graham?  

Kavanaugh is one of their kind. 

This man is not fit to sit on the Court.

And they who put him there are not fit to hold a seat in Congress. 

This president will never be impeached. Indeed, he will be pardoned. 

He will pardon himself.         



Thursday, September 6, 2018

Things Need to Change



Does anyone think that the Anonymous Op-Ed coming from the WhiteHouse is anything other than a pathetic attempt to soothe someone’s conscience?
How can I express the disgust I have for those surrounding the President, who despise what he’s doing but don’t have the spine to do anything about it? 
And then there’s our flaccid Congress, (a critical check on the presidency provided for in our Constitution) which should have stepped in months ago to begin Impeachment Proceedings within the House.  But of course the one to begin such proceedings would be the Speaker who somewhere along the way (along with McConnell and Graham and numerous others) has dumped his patriotism into the trash bin and covered it up with a sycophantic eagerness to allow this president to get away with anything.  
Why? 
It doesn’t make sense to me.  They know Trump cannot continue in office and will eventually resign or be removed. Where does that leave them in the annals of history once he’s gone?
And then there’s Kavanaugh. Do they think that confirming him for the Courts will not only save Trump but them too?
Let’s talk about Kavanaugh: on the second day of confirmation hearings, he refused to answer the question that we are all concerned about:  should the president be allowed to self-pardon?  It was a hypothetical question, he said, that he was not prepared to answer.  
Hello? Hypothetical today, perhaps, but reality likely tomorrow.
Where are our Nathan Hales?  Where are our Thomas Paines? Our JFKs:  “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
These men and women in Congress are supposed to represent us. We are supposed to be their constituents.  But no, it doesn’t work that way anymore.  They do not represent us.  They do not work for us.  They work for themselves and that is their main purpose for running for office – to enrich themselves and their families and to stay in power. 
Some things need to be changed, like term limits. One term only extended, perhaps, for House and Senate.  Come in, do your job and go back home. It is an honor to serve one’s country. Perhaps, this would remind them that it is a privilege not a payoff.
Things need to change.
And soon. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

America's Denouement

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy observed among many other truths that we, as citizens, must be vigilant:  

“Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”  

Are we still committed to those rights 57 years after those words were spoken?

With the advent of Trumpism, we are losing our Democracy, slowly but surely.

Under the title, Kennedy was Right:  we are Heirs of the First Revolution, John W. Whitehead wrote a piece in the Huffington Post back in 2013.  He seemed to see it coming even then, back before Donald Trump was elected president. This is what he says:

The freedoms we often take for granted did not come about through
happenstance. They were hard-won through the sheer determination,
suffering and sacrifice of thousands of patriotic Americans who not only
believed in the cause of liberty but also acted on that belief. The success of
the American Revolution owes much to these men and women. In standing
up to the British Empire and speaking out against an oppressive regime,
they exemplified courage in the face of what must have seemed like an
overwhelming foe.
Those revolutionaries were average citizens, not agitators or hotheads. They were not looking for trouble or trying to start a fight. Like many today, they were simply trying to make it from one day to another. But they finally had enough and decided to stand and fight for the one thing that makes an American an American:  freedom.
It wasn’t easy. Many lost their livelihoods and homes. Many lost their lives.
But, like Tom Paine, they would not be sunshine patriots. They would not shrink from service to their country.
If we are to survive as a nation, we must regain the spirit of the American revolutionaries. It’s time to turn off the television set, put down the cell phone and, if need be, take to the streets and make sure our voices are heard. Some of our fellow citizens are already on the front lines of freedom. Let’s join them. In the words of Patrick Henry:”
Why stay we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me: give me liberty, or give me death!

From The Blog @ The Huffington Post 

11/22/2013 10:52 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014
Kennedy Was Right:  We are the Heirs of the First Revolution, by John W. Whitehead






Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain

Hearing today of Bourdain's suicide in France was a terrible shock.  I've watched his show and admired his style and now, he's gone from all of us.

I'm sad.  But I understand. He has no obligation to continue living if he feels he's had all he can take.  I do not believe in Heaven or Hell and I don't believe it's a sin to take one's own life.  It is, after all, one's own life.

God bless you Anthony.  But I wish you hadn't hanged yourself -- ugh:  painful and ugly.

As for me, I want to maintain awareness through that whole transition.  So, perhaps a couple of scotches, a hot bath, a pill or two and a quick slit to the wrist as one watches the warm blood flow?

I'm not trying to be morbid, though I do sound that way.

Sic transit Antonio.     


    

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Elements of Story

Years ago, in my English classes, we learned that Story = Protagonist + Antagonist resulting in Conflict.

Conflict creates rising Tension ultimately resulting in Climax and (hopefully) Resolution. With resolution comes Denouement or gradual reduction in tension.

These are all arbitrary guidelines for the beginning writer at best and in my writing, they’ve been thrown out the door a number of times.

But the antagonist can be the beginning and end of story -- one of the most important elements.  To ensure this, some writers work very hard to "plot" his or her story in order to create and maintain the kind of rising tension, initiated by a powerful antagonist and required for a really good story.

That writer would spend plenty of time in her initial structuring of the book on that particular element of story with a definitive profile and the full development of the character.

But what happens when your novel takes a side trip from your planned itinerary and you have to go back, pick up and try again?  I was not able to control that.

In my novel, “When the Eagle Flies with the Condor,” the antagonist is not a person, but a situation arising out of emotions such as feelings of abandonment, estrangement and perhaps even jealousy. 

It is unrequited love. Sound corny? Not when the love is between brother and sister. Their love is more representative of “agape” (from the Greek) than romantic, but the point is, it wasn’t planned that way. It happened and I wanted to be as honest as I knew how to be, thus allowing the antagonist to become whatever it needed to become.

I do believe that having a good idea of what your story is going to say and knowing how it will end is one way to write a novel. But I also agree with some who say that allowing the mind to soar uncontrolled into unexpected regions can be very satisfying and productive and end up perhaps being more. . . well. . . or maybe. . . less -- formulaic?  It's my understanding this is called the "panser" method rather than the "plotter" method.

I rather like the term. Perhaps I've been a panser rather than a plotter all along.  Or maybe a "plodder."   You get the idea.