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Words For Our Times

May 5, 2021 at 6:49 pm
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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Violence in Turkey

March 28, 2021 at 3:45 pm
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My dear friend Sibel Kekilli — Shae, for all you fans of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES — emailed me recently to alert me to some distressing news out of Turkey.   (Sibel is German, born and raised in Germany, but of Turkish descent).    Turkey, under the Erdogan regime, has officially withdrawn from the Istanbul convention that combats violence against women.

Here are the details:
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/20/europe/turkey-convention-violence-women-intl/index.html

Sibel herself has first hand knowledge of what it means to experience violence, and she has long been an advocate fighting violence against women all around the world.   She is not only an amazing actress (she gave Shae a depth the character never had in my books), but a very brave woman, and a true hero.   I admire her immensely for all she has done, and continues to do.

And I would like to echo her message to the women and girls of Turkey:   Selam Ve Sevgiler.

Stay strong.

 

 

Current Mood: determined determined

Words for Our Times

January 13, 2021 at 10:02 am
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Current Mood: anxious anxious

The Republic Under Attack

January 6, 2021 at 2:25 pm
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What is happening in Washington right now is shocking and dismaying… but I can’t say I find it entirely unexpected.

There have been all too many days, these past couple of years, when I feared that the United States was going the way of the Weimar Republic.

And now the moment of coup is at hand.   Rioters breaking into the Capitol, even the floor of the House and Senate.   One of them trying to haul down the American flag and replace it with a Trump flag.  Congressmen and senators being forced to recess and seek safety.

Sickening.

This is an attempted coup.  Make no mistake.   I am still hopeful that it will end as a failed coup, a Beer Hall Putsch, but we shall see.   The inaction of law enforcement thusfar has been shocking.

Make no mistake, these are not protestors, these are not patriots, these are rioters attempting to destroy our democracy.

They are traitors.

And the traitor in chief is Donald J. Trump.

He should be arrested, removed from office, tried for treason, convicted, and imprisoned.   And Rudy with him.   This is their work.

Current Mood: angry angry

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For Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2020 at 8:27 am
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Every time Veteran’s Day comes rolling around, it brings to mind one of my favorite poems, the profoundly moving “Last of the Light Brigade,” by Rudyard Kipling.

To really understand this one, it helps if you know Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade.”   I am old enough to be part of a generation that learned that one in grade school.   It was not quite as ubiquitous in New Jersey as in the UK, but it was taught here, at least in the 50s.   In its own way the Tennyson is also a great poem… but the message of the Kipling resonates much more strongly with me.

Every November 11, we honor those who fell in our wars… even as we forget those who fought them, and survived.

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Happy Days

November 7, 2020 at 9:27 pm
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Joe Biden gave a marvelous speech tonight: eloquent, uplifting, stirring, a speech that spoke to all that is best in America, to our hopes and dreams rather than our fears.  Time will tell what kind of president he will be, but everything about the campaign he waged confirms the fact that this is a good, decent, and intelligent man.

It brought to my mind the classic Democratic hymn that was FDR’s campaign song, and later used by JFK, LBJ, and many others.

I fear that the next few months will be very hard, the transition the most brutal of my lifetime… but come January 20, it will be over.

 

Current Mood: happy happy

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A Glimmer of Light

November 6, 2020 at 3:42 pm
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The past few days have been hard ones.   Like millions of others, I finally went to sleep on Tuesday night — very late, I stayed up as long as I could, watching the election returns trickle in — in a state of near despair.   Things did not look good at all.   By the time I woke up Wednesday morning, however, the picture had brightened considerably, and it has continued to brighten ever since.   A Biden victory now appears all but certain.  Arizona and Nevada are trembling on the brink, and Joe has moved ahead in Pennsylvania (which everyone saw coming) and even Georgia (which no one saw coming).   It should not be long now before he hits 270, and I can start to breathe again.

Maybe.  For a little while.

I have read too much history to be entirely sanguine, however.   I get very little reassurance from those who say “it cannot happen here.”   It can happen here.  It can happen anywhere.   Donald Trump has broken all the rules, and plainly he has no regard for democracy, for our traditions, for the rule of law, for anything beyond his own power, his own ego.   He is the worst president this country has ever had, and the first to really represent a threat to the Constitution, to the electoral process itself (no president in the past half century has ever floated the idea of a third term, or expressed admiration for the concept of “president for life,” but Trump has).    This is not the first close election in American history.   It is not even the first “disputed” election — through Trump has absolutely no proof for these absurd claims he is making — but where past candidates like Samuel Tilden, Al Gore, and even Richard Nixon had too much love for their country to risk ripping it apart, Trump loves no one and nothing but himself.   I do not expect a gracious concession speech from him, like the one Al Gore gave in 2000.   I do not even expect a grudging, sour concession.   He may need to be dragged from the White House.

And yet there seem to be millions of Trumpies who will believe any lie he chooses to tell, no matter how outrageous.   I mean, insane as it seems, when the new Congress assembles there will be a Q-Anon believer in the House of Representatives.   That sound you hear is the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.   Regardless of what Trump may say and do, I can only hope that sanity will prevail in the days and months to come.   “Hope,” I said… but I will not pretend to be certain.   Not when armed men are being arrested on the way to the Philadelphia convention center, when militants are trying to kidnap the governor of Michigan.   I can only hope that these are outliers, a few fringe cases, who do not represent most Americans.

These are… interesting times.   And not in a good way.

I do not envy Joe Biden.   By the time he is sworn in, the death count from coronavirus may well have reached half a million.   Biden wants to unite us, not divide us, but that is easier said than done.   Let us hope that he can indeed bind up the nation’s wounds, as Lincoln once urged.  It will not be easy.

But at least there is a glimmer of light ahead.

I will dare to hope.

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Time to Vote

October 21, 2020 at 11:35 am
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I descended from my mountain holdfast for a few days this week, to make sure my vote was counted.

Early voting is open in many states.

If you want to vote by mail or with an absentee ballot, there are ways to do that as well.   But you have to ACT.

Or you can go to the polls on election day.   Masked, I hope.   Keeping correct social distance.

However you do it, please VOTE.  Covid makes it unusually challenging this year, but the future of our country, the future of democracy itself, is on the line this time around.

 

Current Mood: determined determined

Ugly, Ugly, Ugly

September 30, 2020 at 4:36 pm
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I have seen every presidential debate ever held.

I began taking an interest in politics when I was still in grade school.    The first presidential election I followed was the race between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in 1960.   I was twelve years old.   It was an historic occasion.

Most of you are probably way younger than me.   JFK died before you were born.   You may not even remember the day he was shot, let alone the election that won him the presidency, or the debates that played such a big part in that contest.   But fortunately you have YouTube.   Take a look.

 

Millenials, Gen Xers, Gen Zs, play a little of this.   The opening statements, at least.   The issues and controversies of 1960 are part of history now, and may not seem hugely relevant to us today (though some of them still are)… but it is the TONE of the debate that I want to draw your attention to.   This is what a presidential debate is supposed to look and sound like.   Two candidates exchanging views and ideas, debating facts, dealing with the issues of the day, all the while treating each other with respect.   It was a DEBATE.   Lincoln and Douglas would have been proud.   Maybe it was not the most exciting television in the world, but it gave us a good view of both candidates, where they agreed, where they differed.

I have seen every subsequent debate as well.   Nixon and Kennedy had three more of these, and I watched.   I was watching when Ford blew his election against Carter with a gaffe about Eastern Europe.   I was watching when Bill Clinton turned the 1992 race in the three-way debate with Bush the Elder and Ross Perot.   I saw Ronald Reagan debate Jimmy Carter, and John Anderson, and Walter Mondale.   I watched Obama against McCain, and Obama against Romney.   I saw all the good moments, and all the bad ones.

I have never seen anything like what I witnessed last night.

It was appalling.   Offensive.   Disgusting.    Donald Trump was bad four years ago in his debates with Hillary Clinton, but last night he set new records for being offensive, obnoxious, and rude.    He ranted, he raved, he shouted, he interrupted again and again and again and AGAIN, refusing to let Joe Biden finish a sentence without breaking in.   He spoke over Biden, he spoke over the moderator, he ignored the questions, he ignored the rules — rules his own campaign had negotiated and agreed to — he told shocking lies, and doubled down when called on them, he engaged in smears and personal attacks, he tried to discredit the result of the vote before most of America has even voted.

This was not the behavior of a president.   This was not the behavior of a presidential candidate.

This was the behavior of a schoolyard bully, an obnoxious child, the tinpot strongman of some third world dictatorship.

Look at the debate from 1960.   Can you imagine either Kennedy or Nixon engaging in behavior like this?   I am certainly no fan of Nixon, and he did some pretty shady things when he got into the White House (Watergate and all).   He said some pretty obnoxious stuff in his private moments as well.   So did LBJ.   So did other presidents, other candidates.  IN PRIVATE.   None of them would ever have behaved like Trump did in public.

It is not a question of Democrat v Republican, or Liberal v Conservative.   Nixon would not have behaved as Trump did.   Ronald Reagan would not have done so.   Nor Eisenhower, nor John McCain, nor Barry Goldwater.

Donald Trump disgraced the presidency last night.   He took a piss all over democracy.

All other issues aside — and there are hugely important issues being decided this year, from race relations to climate change to the pandemic — last night’s “debate” proved one thing beyond any doubt.   Joe Biden is a decent human being, and Donald Trump is not.

 

Current Mood: angry angry

Words For Our Times

September 21, 2020 at 9:12 am
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Current Mood: determined determined