Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ilona Carlson And Tom DeLay

Après leur succès du 4 avril, les syndicats se réunissent mercredi 5 avril pour fixer une ligne commune pour les futures négociations sur le CPE. Posted by Picasa

Man is the matter of the cosmos, contemplating itself.

---Carl Sagan

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

---Carl Gustav Jung

I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time---just one, one, one. So you begin. I began---I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand.... The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin---one, one, one.

---Mother Teresa

I feel as if I'm in a unique position this morning. Essentially I'm trying to get all the information I can on 2 stories of concern, strangely related. Of major interest to me is what's going on in France. Our daughter is completing her high school freshman year in Pau, a short distance west of Toulouse. She is a bit young to be doing this, but she is in the care of a family that is there under the auspices of Ohio University. Now in her 3rd week, and 2nd week of classes, she has made adjustments very well and seems (on the telephone) to be having a wonderful time.

I talked with her last evening (her time), and again yesterday she and her friend found most of their classes were not in session, as the teachers were participating in demonstrations downtown. Despite US State Department warnings , which I made sure they knew about, they went to the rallies both this week and last. Ilona says the "parades" have been happy, peaceful and impressive. She told me yesterday's march appeared larger than last Tuesday's, when the unions claimed 40,000 people participated in Pau...which number is half the population.

Here's a little background to this kind of situation that I learned. High school particularly is conducted rather like college here in the States. In fact, that's even the name they use for it there. Students have a schedule of classes and they show up for those...but otherwise they don't have homerooms or study halls and all that. If you don't have a class, you can go home or downtown or to a library or whatever you want. Classes are held most days from 8:30 until almost 5:00, with a lunch break of about an hour and a half. Wednesday is a half day. There are no substitute teachers in France, so if the teacher isn't there you leave.

There is a long and honored history of civic participation of French educators. It is to be expected if there is some kind of question being put to the government in public demonstration, the teachers will be there. Last Monday it even was announced at the school that probably there would be no classes the next day. This time there was no announcement, and it was up to the discretion of the teacher whether any class would occur or not. Ilona went to math and the teacher was there, so they had class.

At the demonstrations themselves, the young people are seeing a range of political expression and a quality of participation they've only heard about. Despite the kind of news coverage some media sources think satisifies the market, the reality Ilona sees is that diversity of opinion is understood and welcome. She remarked yesterday all she has to compare this with is unfavorable, namely the heckling she endured from the sidelines at a John Kerry rally. As far as I'm concerned, as an American social studies teacher for some years, I couldn't ask for a more wonderful education in representative government for this young lady.

Please notice that in these weeks of demonstrations---and the negotiations that follow each one---the government slowly and methodically is accommodating to the will of the people. Yes, a referendum eventually may be held on this issue, and indeed on the continued operation of this government entirely. These political figures are held in account by the outcry of the population. This is understood and accepted as how things are done in France. There are "hooligans" who appear AFTER the rallies and overturn cars and things...just as there are in the States. Over here, this is the kind of thing that grabs headlines...if any.

The other story I'm watching...and indeed it's hard to avoid the cheerful resignation of Tom DeLay. He sees it as an important opportunity for career change. The Hammer will be working in the private sector entirely now for the continued success of the Republican Party. After all, to whom can Jack Abramoff's clients turn these days?

Progressives really are dancing with glee this morning, and some brilliant writing is happening. Most stirring to me was William Rivers Pitt's essay, entitled He's Gone, for TruthOut yesterday afternoon . Teachers should read it aloud to their classes. Neverthless DeLay is leaving on his own, still calling his shots. No one has forced him, not even outraged public opinion, to do anything at all, except sit for his photograph at the indictment. I remember a Bill Moyers' NOW feature on DeLay in June of 2004, which exposed the man's funding chicanery. Moyers showed us Abramoff's casino deals in November of the same year. I saw no news items elsewhere following up these stories.

And my unique position this morning is I'm looking at a republican form of government in operation in 2 different countries. In one, a people rise up to question a bill that calls into question the issue of just cause for dismissal from a job. In the other, my own, the people sit, apparently docile and mute, as issue after critical issue is paraded before them. Are Americans just too stunned or bloated to react to anything...except a sale or a new TV show? Here's a report about the Ohio Secretary of State's investment in Diebold voting machine stock. The man, having shaken off demands for legitimate recount of 2004 Presidential election results, is running for Governor. Here's a report from students who spent Spring Break still trying to clear Katrina debris in New Orleans. Where's the United States I studied about in my social studies classes?


jazzolog said...

He's Gone
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 04 April 2006

Rat in a drain ditch,
Caught on a limb,
You know better
But I know him.
Like I told you,
What I said,
Steal your face
Right off your head.

Now he's gone, gone,
Lord he's gone, he's gone.
Like a steam locomotive,
Rollin' down the track
He's gone, gone,
Nothing's gonna bring him back.
He's gone.

- The Grateful Dead, "He's Gone"
Stone the crows. Tom DeLay is checking out.

"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," said DeLay on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it."

Never thought I'd live to see the day.

In 1988, DeLay gave a press conference in Texas to defend the military record of Dan Quayle, who had been tapped to accompany George H. W. Bush on the Republican presidential ticket. Quayle was under fire for having allegedly used family influence to secure him a safe spot in the Indiana National Guard, thus keeping him out of Vietnam. DeLay argued that Quayle's failure to serve in Vietnam was not his fault; he wanted to go, but minorities had taken all the available slots.

Seriously, he said that.

This is the man who once said, in a debate about the minimum wage, "Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist."

This is the man who once said, in a speech to bankers delivered eight days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes."

This is the man who once said, to a government employee who was trying to stop him from smoking on government property, "I am the federal government."

This man is gone now. After being indicted in Texas for campaign finance violations arising from his redistricting scheme, after surviving a tight primary challenge while staring down the barrel of a well-financed Democratic challenger, after watching his press secretary Michael Scanlon and his deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy cop pleas in the Jack Abramoff scandal investigation, after watching Rudy specifically accuse his chief of staff Ed Buckham of being neck-deep in the scandal in his plea confession, after sitting up nights wondering if the Abramoff scandal was going to land him in prison, DeLay decided enough was enough.

Time Magazine, which carried one of the first reports of his decision to step down, has DeLay adamantly denying any wrongdoing. "Asked if he had done anything illegal or immoral in public office," read the report by Mike Allen, "DeLay replied curtly, 'No.' Asked if he'd done anything immoral, he said with a laugh, 'We're all sinners.'"

It was the Democratic party that did this to him, of course. Wait, sorry. It was the "Democrat" party.

"I guarantee you," continued DeLay in the report, "if other offices were under the scrutiny I've been under in the last 10 years, with the Democrat Party announcing that they're going to destroy me, destroy my reputation, and that's how they're going to get rid of me, I guarantee you you're going to find, out of hundreds of people, somebody that's probably done something wrong."

That's right, Tom. It was the Democrat party, that awesome juggernaut of competence, which has shown time and again lo these past few years its Zeus-like ability to hurl devastating political lightning bolts from its lofty position, that took you down. They can stand up next to a mountain, so I hear, and chop it down with the edge of their hand.

Or maybe, Tom, just maybe, all this happened because you are the living embodiment of absolutely everything wrong in American politics. Forget your ideology, and your hateful divisiveness, and your shameless canoodling with the Taliban wing of fundamentalist Christianity. One cannot swing a cat by the tail in Washington DC these days without smacking someone who thinks the way you do. This doesn't make you unique, sadly.

No, your criminal misuse of the campaign funding laws, your outright disdain for the rules if they keep you from assuming absolute control, your almost Zen-like ability to operate beyond the confines of conscience and dignity, is why your presence has been a cancer on the body politic since the day you put down your bug extermination gear and tried a power tie on for size, and is why you're finished now. How deeply were you in the pocket of your contributors? You took an R.J. Reynolds corporate jet to get to your arraignment. There has to be some kind of award somewhere for behavior so brazenly craven.

It is hard to avoid a sense that something like justice, true justice, real justice, has been well served by the manner in which Tom DeLay has been laid low. Politics is a little cleaner today. Not a lot, maybe not even enough for folks to notice, but it is indeed just a little bit cleaner, now that he's gone.

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