Friday, November 12, 2010

Edison Pena: A Human, Racing

In a period of rather dreary news, it was good to take note of--and is still good to remember--Edison Pena's successful participation in the 2010 New York City Marathon. While we are at it, the same can be said of his nationally televised debut as a vocalist on--the David Letterman Show, I believe it was. (I only got to see this on You Tube.)
Anyway, on the telly, Pena covered the old Elvis hit "Suspicious Minds", no doubt establishing a fellow feeling in the hearts of Elvis fans across the country. Just as he had impressed the running community earlier--I mean, not everybody who gets into the New York City Marathon is going to make it through. He did. Not in great form, but sometimes good enough is good enough.
You can't say Pena planned well in advance for what could be called a couple of real public relations coups. He got his chance only because of an accident that could have killed him and many of his colleagues and left them entombed forever--for he was one of the 29 Chilean miner trapped within a mountain for 67 days and rescued only by a Herculean effort of experts from several countries. (Note: We humans seem to be almost as good at rescuing each other as at destroying each other. We should try more rescuing.)
Edison Pena seems to be a person you and I would like to have as a friend. At least at present, he is full of the joy of life; and no wonder! Hopefully he and his colleagues will enjoy a happy future, one in which they don't have to go back to mining unless they want to.
One who may want to is the man who returned to the surface to find both his wife and his mistress awaiting for him. Now, THAT plot has all the elements of an interesting opera.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nancy Pelosi And The Journey Back

I was stunned when Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republicans' new leader in the House of Representatives, had the effrontery to attack current--and hopefully future-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wants to continue serving as Democratic leader in that chamber.
And to that idea I say, "Why not?" And even, "Hurrah!"
Rep. Pelosi played a key role in making the Democrats the majority in the House in the first place. It would seem to be the party's natural role, since for all its lapses it is by far more representative of the needs and hopes of America's diverse peoples than Cantor's Republicans. What's more, against almost insuperable odds, she played a vital role in pushing through key items of President Obama's forward-looking agenda, including the much-maligned Health Care Reform Act.
If that is the case--readers may be asking--why is Pelosi the most hated woman in America? Why did the Democrats endure such a thrashing in the recent election? Why does everyone seem to hate Health Care Reform? Why is "Democrat"--the party label of great leaders from Jefferson to Franklin Roosevelt and beyond--now a pejorative term?
Well, I'll tell you. It's because of a propaganda barrage of unbelievable intensity and dishonesty, courtesy of Fox News? Network and the "giants" of conservative talk radio--not to forget their backers, the Kochs (by whatever name) and the corporations and the Chamber of Commerce. The Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United decided that corporations were persons, and could give as much money as they liked for political purposes--with almost no accountability. This led to a flood of tainted money, in which many worthy candidates and aspirants--Senator Russ Feingold, Rep. Alan Grayson, and Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak--were swept away. The propaganda filled people with such rage that few were able to take in what the Health Care Reform Act really said, what candidates really stood for, and--oh, yes, what Nancy Pelosi herself really stands for. (Not to mention President Obama, who right now must be America's hated and willfully misunderstood man.)
In short, large portions of the electorate acted more like a mob than like thoughtful voters on November 2. It was not their fault. The effect of the propaganda tsunami was to take away their capacity for thought. I suspect, once they realize they've been tricked into voting against themselves, they will be eager to change their votes next time. And I believe Congresswoman Pelosi will play a key role in winning back a House majority which was lost through no fault of her own.
As to Cantor, he is entitled to his opinions--as long as he keeps them to himself. He does not vote in the Democratic Caucus--luckily for all of us--and should have no public opinion as to how it votes.
So why does he? Is he, perhaps, afraid of Nancy Pelosi?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election From Hell

From a political point of view, Election Cycle 2010 has been like a year-long Hallowe'en Party in which the monsters are not just in costume. Or maybe they ARE in costume, but the threat they represent to America as we have known it is real and, I fear, growing. The Right Wing in all its manifestations, Religious, Corporate, whatever, seems determined to prove that it is in charge, and will do as it likes with the planet and its people. The Supreme Court is already in the pocket of this group, so it appears, despite a couple of excellent appointments by feckless President Barack Obama. (When we elected this guy some of us voted with crossed fingers, as it were, hoping against hope his talent extended beyond inspirational speeches. It doesn't, it seems; and this year the speeches have not even been all that inspirational. In my opinion his initial mistake, following the exhilaration of his election to the Presidency, was to try to work with the Republican leadership in a bipartisan spirit for the good of the country. This in itself shows his lack of political acumen. It is difficult to work in harmony with people who are trying to kick your head in.)
Initial triumphal pronouncements by Senator Mitch McConnell, now on the verge of being the best-known Republican in the country, sh0w that the Republicans have that ambition still. I'd have thought that the duty of a Senator and his colleagues was to enact legislation to ensure the well-being of the United States, not to bring down a President of the United States. But ole Mitch and his colleagues don't see it that way at all. Not only do they think their duty is to destroy the Obama Administration; on their way they will get rid of colleagues who disagree with them. They will have them voted out.
And who will say this is impossible? By that time, perhaps, the only voters left will be those who agree with them and will do their bidding. We have already seen how a mere two years of lies and half-truths, backed by unbelievably vast sums of corporate money, can twist and confuse the minds of citizens until they vote their anger, not their understanding.
This is what just happened. Despite Obama's seeming lack of political understanding, several things he has done have been good, including Health Reform. It's been demonized as Obamacare, and many principled legislators have given their political lives for it. But why is this? It is BECAUSE THE CITIZENRY HAS NEVER REALLY BEEN ABLE TO LEARN WHAT IS IN THE BILL. Again, part of this is because Obama never saw to it that the legislation was adequately explained to the people; but more is because the enemies of everything he stands for have worked with great energy to MIS-explain it.
So here we are, in perhaps the greatest survival crisis faced by our country in over a century. What can we do about it? Can we do anything? If our only choice is between going down fighting and going down with a whimper, that is very sad. Maybe a choice like this would be the logical outcome of all the years millions of us have been "too busy" to inform ourselves and vote. Maybe in that sense we deserve it.
But this is no time for recriminations among natural allies. We can't turn the clock back, anyway: and our grandchildren do NOT deserve the life they will inherit if the Right finishes off our democracy.
Personally, I am going to find and join with any citizens' groups who plan to fight back. And I think my readers should do that, too.