Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Poetry Thursday -- a day early

September Breaks

The day opens with summer:
the sun teases morning mist out of the grass,
the sky hues to a darker blue as it warms towards mid-day.
But the seasons are fleeting
and they tread on each other’s feet;
dark clouds rumble in
and bring the colors of fall.
Some of us look up and sigh,
resigned to the downslide of cold skies and snow
Others will ride the exploding colors
that brighten the crisper northeastern days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Better words than mine

Eight men hijack airplanes and turn them into weapons. They kill themselves and a few thousand Americans.

We invade a country and topple their government, because the perpetrators of the airplane attack were financed, protected, and sent from that country. Then we invade a neighboring country under the same war flag, labeled ‘war on terror.’

Others have written much better than I on this subject, and with much more information and background. I do not need to elaborate on the strength of these arguments from "Foreign Affairs".

Or this from columnist John Tierney in today’s New York Times:

….Instead of declaring victory against terrorists after routing the Taliban and sending bin Laden into hiding, [America] invaded Iraq, reinvigorating Al Qaeda with a new tool for recruiting. Instead of putting the terrorist risk in perspective, Bush (with the full cooperation of Democrats and the press) set an impossible standard for making America safe.
“We’re on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront,” Bush said last week, “and we’ll accept nothing less than complete victory.”
When you define victory that way, when you treat one attack from a disorganized band of fanatics as a menace to civilization, you’ve doomed yourself to defeat and caused more damage than they could. You can’t completely stop terrorism, but you can scare people into giving up liberties, wasting huge sums of money and sacrificing more lives than would be lost in a terrorist attack.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Blue?

30 Years On

A man opens his trunk,

takes tentative backward steps as the lid slides open,

careful of the wheelchair slightly opened at his side.

He moves slowly,

lifts the metal chair awkwardly

over the lip of the trunk.

It is probably not his;

he brings a companion to today’s appointment,

a trip that will fill most of the day

until they return home

to the silent soundtrack of slow waiting.

I am just a passing driver on the road,

pulling out of the store with fresh coffee

and a donut, happening upon this scene as

I rush out into the sunshine and pleasant summer day,

having already slammed the lid on my trunk

after tossing in the golf clubs and shoes.

I have a different appointment on my calendar,

oblivious to the pace of this man

who lives a different day.

I hope he was me at one time,

and I know my future contains his day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Katie Couric

How relevant is Katie Couric’s presence on CBS News? About as relevant as CBS News itself. In other words, not very.

In 1965, we all got our news in the early evening. First the local station for 30 minutes. Then the three networks brought national and international news. Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley, and…and…who was on ABC back then?…fought it out for viewer eyeballs. These men were icons of the news, and they claimed a certain level of credibility by the sheer weight of their ratings.

That monopoly – and fight for advertising dollars – no longer exists. We now have a much broader choice of alphabet soup from CNN, Fox, MSNBC, PBS and their various segmentations. The major networks no longer have the volume of viewers, nor do their news operations have the same cachet they did forty years ago.

Katie may sit in Walter’s chair, but she doesn’t sit on the same pedestal.

And it has nothing to do with gender. The cable stations have had numerous female anchors, even going solo in front of the teleprompter. As one columnist noted today, when Katie Couric signed a $15million-a-year contract, she was the first female anchor to get a major promotion. But she was no Jackie Robinson:

Actually, the minute Katie Couric was given a $15 million paycheck to read from a teleprompter for 15 or 20 minutes a night, women won. Women have been doing that at the BBC and on American cable stations for years, and for a lot less dough. Jackie Robinson represented a revolution; Katie Couric represented a promotion.

The sad truth is, women only get to the top of places like the network evening news and Hollywood after those places are devalued. (Maureen Dowd, New York Times, 9-6-2006)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This is not War

We do not understand this conflict. A group of men lived in our midst for months and then, acting upon orders from a religious leader the other side of the world, flew four airplanes on destructive missions. Another group of people, again dressed as our neighbors, strapped explosives to their bodies and set them off in the London subways. A Spanish train is blown up, supposedly by more compatriots of the same Islamic group.

None of these people wore military uniforms. They are not part of an organized national army. They claim no allegiance to a nation-state. We cannot see them through our night goggles, call in the coordinates, and destroy their army.

But our own leadership invokes World War II, Nazi Germany, and the cold war politics of the Soviet Union and communist China. They have no understanding of our attackers. Yes, they are evil and dangerous. But our response has been all wrong.

This is not war. This is a cultural and ethnic conflict, fought with any available improvised explosive device.

We have the wrong people in charge, and they will continue to make matters worse until we nullify them with a more powerful opposition in Congress, or vote them out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Long live summer

Summer is over. Long live summer.

The steady summer warmth fades away by late August in upstate New York. Swimming pools are no longer useful because the evenings reduce the water temperature, and the sun cannot bring it back. Our tans begin to fade by Labor Day. We still wear shorts and shortsleeve shirts, but sweatshirts and fleece get pulled out of the closet after dinner. We will swap wardrobes within a week, and darker heavier clothes will fill our dresser drawers.

There will be brief reprieves in September. The temperature will break 75 for a short stretch of days, and we will stare wistfully at the blue skies and wish the sun would peak longer.

Then the colors will change. The green peels away and is overwhelmed by reds, golds, and brown. The sky takes on a paler blue for a canopy. We use the lawn mower less, until it sits idle in the garage with rakes leaning against it.

This is an annual transition, and we selfishly think it only happens to us. Only we New Englanders get to watch nature explode into colors as the sun wanes and the days grow shorter. Only we get to turn in circles and see the full canvas of fall painted on the hills that surround our lives. Only we can hop in our cars and drive two-lane back roads through the woods, stopping at farm stands that sell squash, gourds and pumpkins. Not true, of course – but all those Norman Rockwell paintings have created a certain level of ownership here in New England.

Count me as one who enjoys nature’s colorful show as it unfolds.

But I resent fall’s incursion into August every year. I will still wish for summer.