Saturday, October 14, 2006
A Little Reflection
The sculpture, made of lead, is called Book With Wings (1992-1994) by Anselm Kiefer.
Year after year, year after year.
And yet I like to fly above the clouds
I am only skin and bones, like an old crane.
As far as Buddha Nature is concerned, there is no difference between a sinner and a sage....One enlightened thought and one is a Buddha, one foolish thought and one is again an ordinary person.
The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.
I've been relatively quiet everywhere the past few weeks. All my formal education was accomplished in New York and New England prior to the mid-1960s. I believe it was a good time and place to learn. It was quiet and there was peace. We looked at films from Italy, France, Sweden, and were amazed. We read books and tracts from all sorts of writers who found themselves categorized Existentialists---which apparently was some sort of philosophy...but Philosophy Departments refused to acknowledge them. There were demonstrations about Civil Rights and nuclear bomb testing---and sometimes things got very rough, but essentially they were peaceful, singing movements. Indochina, now called Viet Nam, only was beginning, but the Cold War had a showdown about Cuban missiles. Mostly I was comfortable remaining in 1-A draft status the whole time. During the part of my military physical in Maine when I got asked about possible unAmerican activities, I confessed to joining the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The sergeant examined his list of groups (that now would be categorized as "terrorist"), found only Black Shirts, Brown Shirts, Silver Shirts and said he'd never heard of my group. I never was called for Service, so got a job and started a family.
What I learned in school about a government seemed solid and I still believe it today. We were taught a ship of state sails most smoothly if there is a system of checks and balances. We may proceed slowly with all that stuff, but our progress will be sound and sure. Any branch of that government can become corrupt and falter. We can elect some palooka as our Executive. Congress can be infiltrated by robber barons and party bosses. The Supreme Court could bring the whole nation to a skidding stop with an interpretation of some obscure clause. But it would be next to impossible for all 3 branches to fail at the same time, leaving us at the mercy of the desperate mob. If that were to happen, the education I received provides no remedy. These past weeks, anticipating our election here in 3 more weeks, I've been thinking about that.
On Saturday mornings, while the rest of the house sleeps late, I like to catch up on email, articles, and the newspapers I missed during the workweek. This morning there turns out to be enough monumental disturbance to interrupt my reverie, pile all the stuff into a list, and ask if you see what I see.
Let's start with a Frank Rich column from a month ago, just after that 2-night ABC "docu-drama." Mr. Rich, who has a new book out, is an ideal commentator for our political times because essentially he's a theatre critic. This guy knows scripts, play- and screenwriting. One thing all Americans agree on is generally there's a hype (a term Webster says came to prominence in 1955) to everything. When he's really on, Frank Rich untangles it all like nobody's business. But now it's harder to find him---and there may be an intriguing story in just that. Several months ago, the administration of The New York Times, where he works, decided to charge money to read online the columns of Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and various other writers you and I probably have come to depend on. Well, another thing Americans generally agree on is nobody ever is sure just what or who the administration of The New York Times really is up to. Fortunately the Internet Underground and various friends, who are shelling over the money and thereby become the Select, do their best to distribute the best columns to the rest of us. For this piece of Rich brilliance, we can thank TruthOut~~~
Much of my silence was inspired by the legislation passed by Congress just before adjournment. The passage of the Torture Bill created one of the darkest days in the history of the republic. There was an audible moan that came out of the Internet, and my own was among them. My friend, Bryan Zepp, out on the West Coast, wrote one of the best reactions...and I urge it upon you~~~
Zepp begins his essay with mention of William Rivers Pitt, a former teacher who gave up his career a couple years ago, to devote himself fulltime to saving his country from downfall. His essay yesterday considers our history of these past 5 years~~~
Thursday Robert Parry assembled an argument to support a diagnosis of our President as perhaps hopelessly deluded. Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com~~~
OK, what about it? Are these people just paranoid? Do any of us who may have some doubts about "staying the course" really have to be afraid we'll be disappeared? Here's The New York Times yesterday~~~
Documents Reveal Scope of U.S. Database on Antiwar Protests By ERIC LICHTBLAUWASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat.http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/washington/13protest.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1160820313-PQ8MuBiXLAhvwl9oVm2Dlw
And then, also yesterday, we read another report of how far Abramoff was able to burrow his influence into the Capitol~~~
Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to AbramoffBy James V. Grimaldi and Susan SchmidtWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, October 13, 2006; 1:32 AMFive conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.Officers of the groups "were generally available to carry out Mr. Abramoff's requests for help with his clients in exchange for cash payments," said the report, issued by the Senate Finance Committee. The report was written by the Democratic staff after a yearlong investigation and authorized by the Republican chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/12/AR2006101200889.html
And of course you know that our Ohio guy, Bob Ney, pleaded guilty yesterday, after months of denial of any wrongdoing. Tightly organized letterwriting campaigns saturated all the newspapers in the state with what a wonderful representative he is...and ain't it a shame if that bad Abramoff took advantage of his radiant character! Gee, just like "Denny" Hastert---whom Bush hugs in Chicago as another family man.
Then we have this new book coming out Monday by a man Bush hired to keep the Religious Right on the way to Republican Rapture. I guess David Kuo began to lose his faith in Faith-Based Initiatives after he kept hearing Rove refer to Evangelicals as "nuts." The UK Guardian has a good story on it~~~
as does MSNBC, where Keith Olbermann continues to risk his life, breaking such stories~~~
Finally, we have a cheery report in yesterday's Guardian about how much it's going to cost the global economy to repair all the damage the Warming is going to cost.
Well, undoubtedly this is the kind of thing our fearless free enterprisers have been waiting for. A cost to the global economy is retranslated as profits in their pockets. I guess I ought not complain. If Holy Jobs can be created by the environmental movement, maybe the species will start to move in a sane direction. You want to get really optimistic? Take a look at DuPont!
I'm trying to stay hopeful, folks. Let's see how the election goes and whether we've still got a chance. In the meantime, thank God, there are the Major League Playoffs!