Wednesday, September 20, 2006

“The Silence of Politics, Under a State of Persecution”

“I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me…”—Robert Emmet’s Speech from the Dock.

On this, the 203rd year of his death and martyrdom, we honor Robert Emmet.

Robert Emmet was a freedom fighter, just as those who formed what we know as the United States of America had done less than a quarter of a century before Emmet's involvement in Ireland's quest for freedom from Britain.

His famous Speech from the Dock continues to evoke similarities in his struggle and current situations around the world, including the United States:

“I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High-which displays its power over man as over the beasts of the forest-which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand in the name of God against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard--a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which it has made.”

Towards the end of his statement to the courts, Emmet continues his reasoning: “My lords, you are impatient for the sacrifice-the blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it circulates warmly and unruffled, through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry to heaven.”

Is there an echo here?

In a declaration for Ireland, it is written: "And we call first on that part of Ireland which was once paralysed by the want of intelligence, to shew that to that cause only was its inaction to be attributed; on that part of Ireland which was once foremost, by its fortitude in suffering; on that part of Ireland which once offered to take the salvation of the country on itself; on that part of Ireland where the flame of liberty first glowed; we call upon the NORTH to stand up and shake off their Slumber and their oppression."

"...Once paralysed by the want of intelligence..."--doesn't that seem familiar?!

As Emmet and his freedom fighters called upon their countrymen (and women) to rise up, shake off their slumber and their oppression, so we too need to awaken and stand for our freedoms.

I offer Robert Emmet the distinguished Golden Ruler, in hopes that his legend will encourage us all to stand up for what is truly right and defend democratic freedom.

“I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world--it is the charity of its silence! Let no man write my epitaph: for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them. Let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times, and other men, can do justice to my character; when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”

Friday, September 08, 2006

Women's Last Obstacle--Or, Is the Writing on the Ladies Room Stall?

Women today have conquered many obstacles in the working world. However, one major obstacle literally stands in the way of women becoming equal with men in the workforce and at home. That critical obstacle: Peeing while standing.

As a mom to two toddler boys, it has been difficult to teach them to go potty like daddy does. I've gone to numerous websites touting various ways to train your child to go potty. Then, upon accident, really, I found a website that announce a challenge to all women who have seemingly conquered all other male induced obstacles.

Women no more have to be subjected to setting their delicate and precious nether-regions to filthy, bacteria-infested public toilets. In my bar-hoppin' days, I recall many a-time squatting over overty disgusting things that had little resemblance to toilets in a ladies restroom stall, and on more than one occasion needing to use one of those undermaintained dark and stinky port-o-lets at the light rail stop because I just couldn't hold it any longer. It's difficult to keep your balance squatting in one of those plastic poop coccoons, especially after an evening of one too many martinis.

So, it was out of truly great relief, literally, when I read that women can learn to pee standing up, too! Woohoo! Rack one more up for women's lib!!

In this society today, there are no more glass ceilings, and now--look out boys--it's a free for all at the urinal!

More Lies?

Don't you think we've heard enough lies and half-truths, if you will, about any and all links to 9/11?? Now, the ABC mini-series docu-drama "Path to 9/11" that will air this Sunday and Monday is reported to stray from 9/11 commission report and fictionalizes key scenes.

Sounds a lot to me like what the DaVinci Code did to Christianity...

Oh, and it gets deeper... Apparently, there's a darker mission in ABC's "Path to 9/11": Pinning the blame on former President Bill Clinton. The documentary's creators are aledging that the Clinton administration let Osama bin Laden get away in the 90s, as they think that at that time the CIA had several chances to nab him. Osama bin Laden? Wasn't he the CIA's best friend in Afganistan? Oh, right. That was the 80s. I just keep getting stuck in the 80s! Love that music.

Whoa... Letting Osama bin Laden get away? I thought I heard some strange report that in the height of the war on terror in Afganistan, George W. Bush let Osama bin Laden get away? Maybe the creators of "Path to 9/11" are getting their wires crossed and are confused about the timeline of events?

At the time of the Clinton presidency, bin Laden had been a minor terrorist to American interests. There were few that got super-enraged about the strikes bin Laden's posse made on Americans in foreign lands. Few media sources really trumped what bin Laden was doing in 90s as a major evil terroristic force. Remember, we were still reeling from Khaddafi.

Even before the 9/11 attacks, the Bush Administration on September 10th put together a strategy to deal with the Taliban. If the bin Laden and al-Qaeda were such a "menace", if you will, to the US, then both the Clinton and Bush Administrations both really dropped the ball on this one.

Oh, wait. Osama bin Laden is wanted by the FBI for..."murder of U.S. Nationals outside the United States; Conspiracy to murder U.S. Nationals outside the United States; Attack on a federal facility resulting in death." It mentions the August 7, 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, but no mention of September 11, 2001. What?

So, Osama is still free out there to plot and reign as terror king. Why?

Ok, if there are no other truths out there lurking, let's just say that the ball was dropped by both administrations on this whole Osama (Usama) bin Laden thing. I'm sure there are reasons behind it.

It's not just the Clinton Administration's fault, especially when the Republican Party was in process to impeach Clinton for enjoying some hanky-panky in the White House.

And when the filmmakers sent copies to important people, including Republican pundit Rush Limbaugh, but sent no copies to Democratic interests and especially not to the Clinton Administration depicted in the film...I'm sure there are reasons behind it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ah... Gravitas!

Seriously... We need to get serious. And finally Keith Olbermann is giving true gravitas to the grave concerns of the state of the union.

As I read about the references to the traditions of network television news after Katie Couric's premiere performance, the accomplishments of those early pioneers in television news are indeed amazing. They were cowboys of their era, riding into a new frontier of journalism, with the ability to truly make a genuine difference to better this world because of their honest reporting.

Where have all the cowboys gone? Up until now, I thought they had gone to Comedy Central, because it seems in our culture today, the only way to say there's a major SNAFU here, is to pepper it with laughter. It takes balls to call out someone's bluff, or to point at authority and say they've done wrong, or to do some serious investigative reporting and publicize the real truth behind the smoke screens.

It was such reporting by CBS News that changed the tide for Nixon and quite possibly ended the Vietnam War. We, as the collective people, do not fully understand the impact television news has when they offer us their reporting perspectives on today's stories. And we should be concerned when the rhetoric of governmental offices are echoed in the evening news without the least bit of questioning, probing, or indepth independent investigation. We do not understand the full impact of the reprimand CBS News received after the whole investigation into the president's alleged time in the national guard. This was grave.

Maybe that is why people are turning to the lighter side for their news. We all need a laugh ever so often, and sometimes we like to know what's going on around us, too. Thank goodness for Comedy Central's Daily Show and Colbert Report, where gravitas is spoken with a sprinkling of jest.

A new cowboy is riding on the horizon. Keith Olbermann. I've watched his show a couple of times, as I get a chance, since he is one of a few television newsmen that tries to tell it like it is, beyond the propaganda from biased agencies. Thanks to another cowboy, I've been able to see the continued rise of prominent people to speak up about the concerning state of our country. A couple of days ago Olbermann spoke up about his concerns on the direction of our country, lead by President G.W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

At the end of Olbermann's perspective look, he quoted Edward Murrow: "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Olbermann continues with a strikingly mellow and sobering countenance, in the fashion of those old cowboys, like Cronkite and Murrow: "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

If you look up Murrow's quote, some sources take that first sentence and end it with, "When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it." Murrow is not talking about terrorist opposition, but loyal opposition--a big difference. Loyal opposition, in my humble view, are among "we the people" who honestly question, research, and investigate actions and intentions that stray from our Constitutional foundations. Loyal opposition defends our Constitution.

Keith Olbermann is bringing television news back to the journalistic integrity of days gone by. (And for those naysayers who think the past is irrelevant to day, just look to our Constitution if you want relevence to your own freedoms.)

Keith Olbermann delivers gravitas! (And he does carry out, too! Check out his blog!)

Greatness in Television News?

“This is 'The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.'” It was Cronkite himself, her most distinguished predecessor.

I really didn't get a chance to watch the evening news much, and I sadly missed this debut to the evening news, just as I missed Brian Williams' debut. From the many reviews, it seems I didn't miss much. Thank goodness.

Wow. Walter Cronkite voices the intro for Ms. Katie Couric. A legend in his own right. Cronkite. The same man, who showed the world that anchors have heart-felt emotions, when he dramatically and professionally took off his glasses to relay to the television world that President Kennedy had died. Walter Cronkite, what true gravitas.

Gravitas. Katie Couric. I am not sure if I can put those two words together in one sentence. Call me a bit old fashioned, or maybe this is how her other network portrayed her, but she seems to be better suited to hosting a cooking show over an evening news program. Weren't there other female candidates that would have echoed the same traditional journalistic gravitas as Walter Cronkite?

Unless Katie can shed that old gal next door persona, that's what she'll continue to deliver. No gravitas there.

Be Not Afraid!

Over this past Labor Day weekend, our church celebrated 150 years of Catholic faith in our community. They spoke of brave and courageous pioneers that came to America for a brighter future.

These ancestors endured many hardships that today we can hardly imagine. They traveled with their few belongings, with horse and oxen on roadless paths to get to this point they called "home." As settlers in this foreign place, they battled the harshness of the northern plains, the bitterly cold winters and the sporatically hot summers. They helped each other to build their communities to what they are today out of their own sweat and toil. And they built their communities here, in America, for the promise of freedom and prosperity that they did not find in their homeland. They truly lived by the phrase "be not afraid."

In reflection of our ancestors' brave conquest of a new world, my own courage drastically pales in such comparison. I look at our country, and even our world today, and it seems we have lost that brave courage that spurred our forefathers to sacrifice all to live in this great country.

It is those who devalue our courage and our bravery, who say you are less of a person for standing up for what is truly right, that strike such fear against our courage. It is those who subvert the American way by demoting the values of the Constitution that create our "fear factor" today.

The "fear factor" is what brought our ancestors here many, many years ago. The fear of economic disaster. The fear of living in a corrupt country. The fear of tyranny. Our ancestors came here, to the United States, because of a document that held more power than any person could ever legally obtain in this country. It is this document that safeguards our freedom. The United States is the envy of the world, not due to our previous industrial economic success, but because of this document, the Constitution.

I am sure many of you have amazing stories of your own ancestry coming to the United States seeking the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Such an elegant statement could ever be made was written in another document that started our country on the path to democracy. Those words "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happinesss"--unalienable rights to the people, as the Declaration of Independence most eloquently declared. That is why people sacrificed all, for the promise of a better tomorrow.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The preamble of the Constitution succinctly echoes those words from the Declaration of Independence, and places the undeniable importance of the people in this new country at the very beginning with "We the people..."

Be not afraid... Yes, be not afraid... As long as the Constitution of the United States continues to be defended and stands as a living document for we, the people... Be not afraid.