Friday, May 16, 2008

The Iraq War Budget-Parliamentary Cretinism, Part 37


Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq and Afghanistan!

Okay, let us go by the numbers on the Iraq War budget question again for about the 37th time. On Thursday May 15, 2008, once again the Democratically led (that is with a capital D) House of Representatives put on its periodic display of what has become an embarrassingly familiar scenario. With a little twist this time though to provide gist for the political humorists. The bulk of Democrats, looking to the fall elections, wanted to be put on record as opposing the current Iraq war appropriations. Fair enough. The Republicans, in a fit of pique, decided that they did not like the set-up for various reasons and many of them abstained on the vote. The long and short of the maneuver is that the bill was defeated. Hooray, right? No, no no.

This is just grandstanding for the folks at home. The bill goes to the much more serious Senate next week where the appropriations will pass. Moreover, hovering over all of this, at least until January 20, 2009, and believe me beyond, well beyond that as well, is the presidential veto for any action that limits in any way the executive branch’s authority to wage war anyway it wants to. Thus, we are back to that proverbial square one from five years ago- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal of all American and Allied Troops and Mercenaries. But, I will be damned if these cretins get it yet.

A Legal Victory for Same Sex Marriage in California


Sometimes democratic rights victories come from the streets. Sometimes they come from the picket line. And sometimes, although rarely, they come from .... the courts. Well, these days we cannot be choosy, as we will take our victories, large and small, any way we can get them. That is the import of the 4-3 decision by the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008 that declares discrimination against same-sex marriage as unconstitutional as a matter of state law. We should cheer, at least for the moment, as an important state court (one that others look to) joins Massachusetts on the East Coast in affirming this elementary democratic right. Of course the blow back has already started, as it appears that an anti-same sex constitutional amendment will be on the state ballot in November trying to deny that right. That is where those above-mentioned streets come into play again. More later.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Side of An Old Militant


Readers of this space over the past year or so have come to know that part of my task at this site is to not only to try to draw the lessons of the history of our struggles for a better world but also to add some personal reflections that highlight these lessons. Without going into detail here (check the archives for the series History and Class Consciousness and Tales From the ‘Hood for those details) that perspective got its start as a result of my returning to the old working class neighborhood where I attended high school.

As part of that trip down memory lane I have been drawn into, by one of my Class of 1964 class officers, what seems to be an endless series of commentaries. I have also run into a few friends from that period, especially my old track mate Bill C. As we have become reacquainted one of the things that we have discussed is why Bill had not been inducted into the school Sports Hall of Fame. Naturally, being an old politico I brought up the idea of starting a campaign around that issue. In order to show that this old militant is not just made up of historical facts and figures and the occasional witty political remark I post some remarks about Bill’s fight here. I also have a little commentary about the some of the responses so far. These commentaries are slightly edited to omit local references.

In the Matter of Bill C. - Runner
Today's Question: Why is the great Class of 1964 cross-country runner and trackman Bill C. not in the school Sports Hall of Fame?

Okay, Okay I am a 'homer' (or to be more contemporary, a 'homeboy') on this question. In the interest of full disclosure the fleet-footed Mr. C. and I have known each other since the mist of time. We go all the way back to being schoolmates at S.H. Elementary School in the old G. housing project. (As did fellow classmate, the lanky linkster, Tom McPartlin. Are there others?). We survived that experience and lived to tell the tale. But enough of that. What I want to discuss today is the fact that this tenuous road warrior's accomplishments, as a cross-country runner and trackman (both indoors and out), have never been truly recognized by the school sports community. (For those who still have their Manet, see page 63 for a youthful photograph of the 'splendid speedster' in full racing regalia.).

And what were those accomplishments? Starting as a wiry, but determined, sophomore Bill began to make his mark as a harrier. Junior year he began to stakeout his claim on the path to Olympus by winning road races on a regular basis. In his senior year Bill broke many cross-country course records, including a very fast time on the storied school course. Moreover, in winter track that senior year Bill was the State Class B 1000-yard champion, pulling out a heart-stopping victory. His anchor of the decisive relay in a duel meet against Somerville's highly touted state sprint champion is the stuff of legends.

Bill also qualified to run with the 'big boys' at the fabled schoolboy National Indoor Championships in Madison Square Garden in New York City. His outdoor track seasons speak for themselves. I will not detain you here with the grandeur of his efforts, for I would be merely repetitive. Needless to say, he was captain of all three teams in his senior year. No one questioned the aptness of those decisions.

Bill and I have just recently gotten reconnected after some thirty years. After finding him, one of the first things that I commented on during one of our 'bull sessions' was that he was really about ten years before his time. In the 1960's runners were 'geeks'. You know -the guys (and then it was mainly guys) who ran in shorts on the roads and mainly got honked at, yelled at and threatened with mayhem by irate motorists. Admit it. That is what you thought then too.

In the 1970's and 1980's runners (of both sexes) became living gods and goddesses to a significant segment of the population. Money, school scholarships, endorsements, you name it. Then you were more than willing to share the road with a runner. Admit that too. You even got out on the road yourselves with your spiffy designer jogging attire and high-tech footwear. You ran the beach, Castle Island, the Charles River, Falmouth, LaJolla, and Golden Gate Park. Wherever. Until the old knees gave out. But that is a story for another day. By then though, Bill had missed his time.

Now there is no question that a legendary football player like Bill Cu. from our Class of 1964 should be, and I assume is, in the Sports Hall of Fame. On many a granite gray autumn afternoon old "Bullwinkle" thrilled us with his gridiron prowess. But on other days, as the sun went down highlighting the brightly-colored falling leaves, did you see that skinny kid running down East Street toward the beach for another five mile jaunt? No, I did not think so. I have now, frankly, run out of my store of sport's spiel in making my case. Know this though; friendship aside, Bill belongs in the Hall. That said, what about making a place in the Hall for the kid with the silky stride who worked his heart out, rain or shine, not only for his own glory but the glory of the school. Add your name to mine. Classmates, let us 'storm heaven' on this one.

Of course we are dealing with an aging population here that, apparently, has plenty of time on its hands and is on the brink of going over the edge so some elements have taken the opportunity to reach out and ‘touch’ someone. Hence the next commentary.

Once again, on Bill C.

What kind of madness have I unleashed? What kinds of monsters have I let loose? Recently, as a simple act of friendship, I wrote a commentary in this space arguing that my old friend and our classmate Bill C. from 1964 should be inducted into the school Sports Hall of Fame (See In the Matter Of Bill C.-Runner). Now my e-mail message center is clogged with requests from every dingbat with some kind of special pleading on his or her mind. A few examples should suffice, although as a matter of conscience (mine) they shall remain nameless.

One request argued for recognition based on finishing 23rd in the Senior Division of the Squantum Fourth of July Fun Run. Well, what of it? Another, arguing for inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, touted her near perfect imitation of Mick Jagger on Gimme Shelter. Please!! A third sought a testimonial from me for an employment opportunity, including a resume that made me truly wonder where she had been all these years. Here is my favorite. A fellow classmate wants me to get in on the ground floor, as a financial backer of course, for his idea of putting the ubiquitous teenage cell phone use and the Internet together. Hello! Jack (oops, I forgot, no names) I believe they call that Sidekick, or some such thing. As so it goes.

Listen up- I hear MySpace and YouTube calling all and sundry such untapped talents. Please leave the Class of 1964 site for serious business. You know, this writer’s musings on the meaning of existence, the lessons of history and the fight against mortality. That said, at the moment that serious business entails getting the gracefully gaited Mr. C. his shot at immortality by induction into the Sports Hall of Fame. Let us keep our eyes on the prize here. Join me in that effort. Enough said.