Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mid-March Odds and Ends...

While our thoughts and hopes continue to be with the Japanese people, it is time to deal with some odds and ends that have been piling up.  However, before we move away, the NYTimes has published a very moving Op-Ed piece on Tuesday by Marie Mutsuki Mockett, titled “Memories, Washed Away.”  [Here]  It begins with a statement about her great-uncle who was out fishing on August 9, 1945 when our country dropped a second atomic bomb.  This time the target was Nagasaki, Japan.  Her great-uncle had previously sent most of his family away because he had feared this attack.  As a child, she thought of him as clever, but later she realized that he was also very lucky.  We hope that this luck now extends to her present family.
Mockett takes us on a lovely, remembered route from Tokyo to her family’s Buddhist temple in Iwaki City, near the center of the quake.  I urge you to take this lovely journey with her...
I’d also like to report that the Boston Globe has responded to Michelle Bachmann’s giving New Hampshire credit for the “shot heard round the world.”  (Remember that goof, whcn Bachman, twice in one week-end, claimed that Lexington and Concord, Mass. were, in fact, in New Hampshire?)  In an editorial, titled “Bachmann: Two if by land, one if by sea” the Globe answers her.  [Here]
It’s less than a year until the New Hampshire primary, and many GOP hopefuls are testing the waters, including Michele Bachmann of the great state of Minnesota, proud home of Mount Rushmore . 1 Bachmann, of course, is one of the leading voices of the Tea Party movement, which scored a landmark victory in last year’s Senate race in Kentucky, the country music capital of the world, 2 and came very close in the Grand Canyon state of Nevada.3 As a result, the congressional Tea Party caucus is gaining clout in Washington, D.C., where Starbucks and Microsoft usually hold sway.4
The Tea Party asks that the US government return to its revolutionary roots, back when George Washington crossed the Connecticut River 5 and wintered his troops at snowy Saratoga,6 setting the stage for victory. Bachmann contends that President Obama’s expansion of the federal government is a form of tyranny similar to that which the colonies experienced under Louis XIV. 7 No analogy is perfect, however, and the past isn’t always prologue, as Shakespeare opined in “Romeo and Juliet.’’8 Bachmann’s critics decry her looseness with the facts, while her supporters believe her values are solid, even when she errs. Nothing she said on Saturday in Manchester is likely to change that dynamic.
  1. South Dakota; 2. Tennessee; 3.Arizona; 4. Washington State; 5. Delaware River; 6. Valley Forge; 7. George III; 8. “The Tempest.’‘  
(Don’t you love the little bit about Shakespeare that the Globe threw in?)
We must tear ourselves away from Congresswoman Bachmann, but we can keep the smile on our faces.  The news about Gabrielle Giffords is splendid.  David Dayen (dday) reported that she is making such stupendous strides in her rehabilitation from the gunshot wound through her head that she might be able to attend her husband’s shuttle launch that is scheduled for April 19th.   
Dayen wrote that her doctors have said that she can walk with assistence and can talk in complete sentences.  They call her progress “remarkable.”  Fellow Democrats are holding a fundraiser for her in D.C. next month.  Whether she will be able to resume her Congressional duties is too early to say.  Before the assassination attempt, she had indicated in private that she might be interested in running for Senator Kyle’s seat.  What the future holds for Gabrielle Giffords no one knows, but what wonderful news that she has made such progress. 
Unfortunately, I cannot report any change in the prison conditions of Pfc. Bradley Manning, but I can report that his outrageous prison conditions have finally been described and decried in a New York Times editorial. [Here
Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been imprisoned for nine months on charges of handing government files to WikiLeaks, has not even been tried let alone convicted. Yet the military has been treating him abusively, in a way that conjures creepy memories of how the Bush administration used to treat terror suspects. Inexplicably, it appears to have President Obama’s support to do so.
Inexplicable is right.  What can Obama be thinking these days?  While he hops from school to school, his base in midwestern states are battling union-busting state legislatures.  Obama appears to be leaving any leadership role on these issues to others.  More on this tomorrow.  
In the meantime, let us hope and pray that the Japanese will be able to bring the nuclear reactors under control...

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