Archive for October, 2013

Innocent Blood drones from the Ground

October 31, 2013

About a year ago, October 24, 2012, a 67-year old midwife grandmother was slain when an American drone death machine struck her to the ground. She had been gathering okra to feed her grandchildren.

This happened in Waziristan, Pakistan.

Momina Bibi’s grandchildren were standing nearby: 13-year-old Zubair Rehman, and his 9-year-old sister, Nabila. They saw, heard and felt the whole thing.

Now a year later, on Tuesday of this week, October 29, Congressman Alan Grayson conducted a Congressional hearing to discover more facts about the killing. Five Congressman and a few other people present heard testimony from the children, and their father, Rafiq Rehman, son of the deceased Momina Bibi.

So in Washington, two days ago, in the Sam Rayburn building, Rafiq and his children explained to Alan Grayson,  and to our nation and to the world, what had happened in that okra field back in Pakistan a year ago.  Rafiq testified to us that his mother was dead, but he could not say why.

Neither can I say why. How about you?

When I heard about this, I was reminded of an old scripture:

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

And the Lord said unto Cain, ‘Where is Abel thy brother?’

And he said, ‘I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?’

And the Lord said, ‘What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.’

Now here is the 21st-century version of homo sapiens‘ depravity scenario:

And Uncle Sam watched over a grandmother of Pakistan who was picking okra in the field. And it came to pass that Uncle Sam shot off a drone against the old woman, and slew her.

And a year later, the Congressman raised the question to Uncle Sam, ‘Where is this innocent Pakistani woman?’

And Uncle Sam said: ‘I know not: Am I a Pakistani okra-gathering grandmother’s keeper?’

Now  this American citizen (I), hearing of it, said, ‘What the hell hath our Uncle Sam done over there in Pakistan? The voice of this woman’s blood crieth unto me, and yeah, even unto the Lord, from the ground.’

It was not so much the news report of this killing that caught my ear, but rather:

the cry of Momina’s innocent blood from the ground, half a world away.

Glass half-Full

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The Perfect

October 29, 2013

How difficult it would be for a man

to form, with his hands,

a perfect anything.

And yet, this child

in one moment

with her breath,

suds and wand,

blows a bubble,

perfect

sphere.

Selah

The deja view of Deja Vue

October 15, 2013

Today I had a flashback of when I first heard Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Deja Vu.  This little blast from the past  occurred while I was listening to Terry Gross interview Graham Nash on the radio.

The memory is this: I was in Ironton, Ohio in the summer of 1971. Ironton is a small town on the Ohio River. I had finished freshman year at LSU, and was trying to make some money selling dictionaries door-to-door. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, because this Louisiana boy had ventured, for the first time, away from the flat, hot humid delta where I was raised, to make a few bucks in a hilly, backwoods industrial town where folks said “you-uns” instead of “y’all.”

I was a pretty good salesman I guess but nothin to write home about. And to tell the truth I wasn’t really into selling door to door, so maybe there was a little escapist streak deep inside of me that responded to the deep experience of hearing Deja Vu.

That music became an important part of my life. Now,  fast forward 42 years or so.

Today, I heard Graham Nash telling Terri that Deja Vu was a “dark” album, as compared to the first CSNY that they had done before they recruited Neil Young.

That explains a lot. All four of those guys were having a hard time, dealing with major life-setbacks when they came together to record that music in 1971 after their initial successes.

So that Ohio flashback is the deja view memory that triggered this blog, but Graham’s interview with Terri today was actually much more upbeat than the “dark” Deja Vu record album. For instance, a couple of Terry’s song selections, chosen to prompt their fascinating exchange, were very beautiful love songs that Graham Nash et al  had sung back in the day: Bus Stop, which Graham had recorded early-on with The Hollies, and  the CSN Our House.

Both songs are very precious memories for me. And both songs represent the outcome of my life much better than the angsty existentialism of Deja Vu. Because, you see, in this life I chose love instead of a trippy pursuit of music and free love and all that bohemian blahblah, even though . . . even though I carry with me, as CSNY have, the curse of musicianship.

I’m happy for them that they could do such incredibly creative work in music. But I never would have been able to get through that minefield of distractions and temptations without going crazy, like, as Graham explains, Crosby almost did (go off the deep end.)

So I chose love instead–one woman, for 33 years, and three grown young’uns. I wouldn’t take nothin for my journey now. We actually have a really Our House, which just got paid off last month, and the music schizo stuff–well, it has always been on the back burner.

Graham’s old flame, Joni Mitchell, once sang “something’s lost and something’s gained in living every day.”

So true.

The trade-offs we make as we go along–we don’t know really know what they are until we look back on them. I traded a pursuit of the wild  music scene and hippie love for true love and family life. This probably saved me a lot of pain and trouble.

“The sweetest thing I know of is spending time with you,” is a line in an old John Denver Song. It expresses well how I feel about my wife, Pat, and our long married life together, and watching our kids grow up and go out and do their own thing. And I still feel for her that fresh, newly-hatched love that Graham was describing in Bus Stop.

What it was that kept me on track and faithful all this time was certainly not anything that I could muster. It was only by the grace of God. Thank you, Jesus.

Glass Chimera 

A New Social(ism) Contract?

October 8, 2013

As near as this under-employed citizen can determine, the (over)simplified net effect of the Affordable Care Act will be this:

A big pile of money will be collected from employed people who can afford health insurance, and that money will be used to ensure health care for poor people who would otherwise not be able to afford health care or health insurance.

This will help poor people. Everybody else will, by premiums or by taxes, ante up some money to assure that the po’ folks will be minimally cared for whenever they have health or medical problems.

Okay, this working Republican can live with that, even it will cost me a few bucks, because, you know, I have a heart and I am a Christian and we’re all in this together and I don’t want to see riots in the streets etc etc etc.

My mind wanders every day between the poles and polls of this controversy, as I am under the influence of so many information sources, whether it be sound-bite Congressional rhetoric, or a morning email from Erick Erickson, or listening to a panel discussion on Diane Rehm or hearing Tom Ashbrook orchestrate an exploration of the issues, or reading a UPI report.

Here’s the problem: Our original social contract, which is the Constitution with its tripartite governmental institutions, does not effectively address all the divisions that arise in this post-modern predicament. For some people, such as Tea Party folks, or persons of independent means, that incongruence becomes a big objection to what is happening now. For others, who are poor or who want to, by grand design build a great society, our Constitutional freedoms and rights are not such a big issue.

Since the New Deal, the disparities and eccentricities of capitalism have driven us away from the original social contract enacted in the Constitution by our nation’s founders. We’ve tacked on Medicare and Medicaid. This is not your father’s oldsmobile; nor is it your grandmother’s household with muffin-buns and berries by the steamy kitchen window. We have evolved to a post-democratic, post-republican, post-capitalist, post-expansionist, post-consumer-waste welfare corporate State.

And hey, it is what it is, like it or not. This is 2013. I mean, 1984 was 29 years ago already.

But the libertarian folks who identify with  Constitutionally-protected rugged individualism are still with us. God bless ’em. They figure we didn’t sign up for this redistribution hijinks. I can relate. I live in a mountain town that was named after a musket-totin’ trailblazing pioneer named Daniel Boone. I wish everybody had the initiative and self-respect that the libertarians have. But alas, there are many other folks out there in the great cities and amongst the urbanized conglomerates who  are quite comfortable, even fat n’ happy, depending on the System that we’ve patched together, which is not the same as the visionary government that our Founders had wrought from the virgin soil of a vast contintent back in the day.

Now this whole Affordable Care vs. Obamacare mirage has got us all torn up, living on the edge of fiscal disaster or social dystopia or government shutdown or Default or  some combination thereof.

We need a new social contract. I propose a national referendum on the Affordable Care Act so we can settle this thing once and for all. Instead of depending on the Democrats or Republicans to interpret the polls, let’s take a real vote on the issue so we’ll know where the simple majority of Americans stand on this landmark issue of subsidized health care.

Glass half-Full

The Grand Bargain Inquisitor

October 4, 2013

Let us stop then, you and I,

this great experiment in democra–(sigh!);

let us arrest it and possess it;

let us attest it and caress it,

as if it were a thing for the history books to dwell on

as if it were a commodity for us salesmen to sell on:

you give me this; I’ll grant you that;

she be lean and he be fat.

I shall I will I won’t I shan’t.

I used to could, but now I can’t.

Let us spend it and suspend it, you and me.

“But I have no money,” said the tree.

So let us appropriate it from thin air;

let us print it without care!

 

“For they have cut me, don’t you see?”

said the the money tree to the bee

they have gut me; they have shut me.

they have bled me; now they will shed me

they’ve hacked me up one side, down the other

they’ve raked me o’er the coals, made me smother

they put me up wet and hung me out to dry.

So let us go then, you and I.

 

I am a museum piece now, dontcha know

as the hurlyburly burkas come and go

and twurky bitches put on utube show.

 

“Oh let us not take this to extremes

let us not let the end then justify the means!”

Let us stop then, you and I

this great experiment in democra–(sigh!)

said the grand bargain inquisitor guy

said the squirmy worm to the flitty  fly

“Let us go then, you and I.”

 

Glass Chimera