Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Decision Time in America

I voted

Donna and I voted on Saturday, October 27 here in Baltimore, on a warm fall day before Superstorm Sandy hit. We waited for three hours in a long line. Ironically, we voted at the League for People With Disabilities at 1111 East Cold Spring Lane, where my father had worked as head physical therapist for 16 years, so it was an emotional return for me to that building where I had spent some time either waiting for my father to drive my Mom and I home to Owings Mills -- I was attending nearby Loyola College and my Mom was receptionist at Glens Falls Insurance on York Road -- or the summer of 1969 when had a job stuffing there envelopes with Baltimore Colts tickets for season ticket holders! Not that I really recognized the League -- the outside was pretty much the same, the original building, with its datestone "1963" when they moved there from their former headquarters on Greenmount Avenue but the inside evidently vastly remodeled as far as I could tell, though the building was mostly off limits for the voters, the area where the PT department had been seemingly quite changed.

League for the Handicapped Baltimore

It was a good natured line of mostly African American voters. There were a lot of campaigners out in force for question 6 on the ballot -- for same sex marriage, and a young black guy in front of us requested for a lawn sign from one of the campaigners. I voted for question 6 and made sure first and foremost that I voted for Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President. The country does not want to go backwards, and Obama and Biden are the progressives in this election. It's hard to know what Romney stands for. He has been on all sides of so many issues. His Vice Presidential pick, Paul Ryan, is easier to categorize: a right to lifer and a Tea Party budget guy. Romney chose him to please the Right Wing and the pick might have backfired. We will soon know in a few short hours. I just hope that the election does not go once again to the Supreme Court as it did in 2000 when the Court threw the election to George W. Bush with all that entailed -- an unwanted war in Iraq and the economy in the tank. Obama and Biden are correct in warning that those sort of policies, including the idea once again of "trickle down economics" would be a serious mistake for the nation. The United States deserves better and will get better if Obama gets the four more years he has earned! On MSNBC last night I watched Obama's last campaign speech, broadcast from Des Moines, Iowa -- it came on around 11:00 p.m. Baltimore time. Barack Obama was introduced by his wife Michelle who spoke well and movingly. Barack gave a rousing speech with a tear in his left eye. I have to admit I had tears in my eyes as well!

Fabulous Decision

Police frisk us
in Democracy Plaza.
We've nothing to declare.
Just our vote.

Christopher T. George
Election Day, November 6, 2012

In the higher echelons, the decision will echo and re-echo, for better or worse. Americans, make your choice well!!!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bain of America: Capitalism and the 2012 Election

Mitt Romney Logo
Obama round logo
President Barack Obama has been taking some grief from his own supporters for criticizing likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for killing jobs and making money while Romney was head of the "Venture Capital" firm Bain Capital. This is something though that Romney has partly brought on himself by emphasizing his experience with Bain and for hardly ever mentioning his time as the moderate governor of Massachusetts, where he was behind a state-wide health insurance law that later became the blueprint for Obama's nationwide health care law, the Affordable Health Care Act, better known by the pejorative term Republicans love to use, "Obamacare", and that each would-be Republican presidential candidate in the GOP primaries vowed to kill if they'd become president.

Romney himself has crowed that he actually created jobs rather than killed them while was at Bain so perhaps the criticism is fair. But Obama supporters such as Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. have all expressed misgivings about the approach since it leaves the President open to the charge that he is against Capitalism. That is a very fair point.

Romney does not like to talk about him being governor of Massachusetts but that should not stop Obama and the Democrats from talking about it. In fact, the whole of Romney's working life and character should be fair game, just as the whole of Obama's career and time as President should be fair for the Republicans to talk about. Let's talk about Romney's time as a businessman, his time as governor, and as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Salt Lake City in Utah. Talk about the issues and who is best to lead the United States from 2012 to 2016. Mitt Romney is not Darth Vader but neither is Barack Obama. They both seem to be decent family men who happen to think they each would make the better leader for the next four years. The election promises to be a tight one. Let's make it a fairly fought one!

I have nothing against Mitt Romney. I just don't think he would be very good for the country. I don't think his business experience necessarily qualifies him to run the country. More trickle-down economics? Wasn't that tried under Reagan and found that it didn't work? Austerity? Nobody wants it. I just think that Mitt Romney is a somewhat boring stuffed-shirt kind of guy, not particularly interesting, and wrong for America at this time.

Sorry, Mitt. And while I have you on the line, Mitt, a crazy thought: your logo, my friend, keeps reminding me of Alfred Hitchcock's logo from his 1960's television show, "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour"!

Alfred Hitchcock logo

Clerihew on the 2012 Election So Far

Barack thinks his rival's time at Bain presents a fair target,
making money at others' expense, the way of the market.
Others say it gets to the root of what is the US of A
-- in the Fall election, who will get the final say?

Christopher T. George

American Battlefield

Military Cemetery

Rows and rows of stone markers,
rows and rows of the same flag:
so many stars, so many stripes.
Only the names and dates differ.

Christopher T. George

Photograph from Americans for Battlefield Protection. Find them on Facebook.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama's Wily Maneuver on Same-Sex Marriage


Motor scooter Obama
I sense that President Barack Obama made a very wily move in the effort to get himself re-elected by coming out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts. I don't think it's any coincidence that the announcement came almost exactly six months before the November Presidential election. Nor any coincidence that his statement came just before he was to attend a lucrative fundraiser with Hollywood stars hosted by actor George Clooney. Nor that the statement precedes a commencement address that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is scheduled to deliver on May 12 at Liberty University, a bastion of higher learning for evangelical Christians in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell. Will Romney take the bait and make some remarks about marriage being only between a man and a woman? It is also pertinent to note that recent polls show that 50% of Americans support marriages of gays and lesbians.

Hooray! Obama has reinvigorated his base with this declaration of support for the rights of gays and lesbians as also, at long last, he is talking tougher on foreign policy and about the intransigent Republican-dominated Congress, particularly the Republican majority House of Representatives. Although there was some suspicion that Obama's hand was forced by remarks in support of same-sex marriage by Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday's "Meet the Press." But Biden's remarks were pre-recorded on the Friday before the airing of "Meet the Press" and not an ad-lib. It seems likely therefore that this was not another case of "Loose-Lips Biden" but rather that the two statements were calculated to be made at this very strategic moment.

In contrast, Romney has had a hard time courting the Republican base. Evangelical conservatives are lukewarm on him, partly because of his Mormonism, and they probably would have preferred Rick Santorum or some other rightie with better religious and conservative credentials. In fact, due to his discomfort with those right wing social issues, Romney would rather be talking about the economy and not social issues at all, because he knows he has an advantage in economic areas... or at least his advisers seem to think that's where he is strongest, emphasizing his business and management experience at the expense of putting a spotlight on his background as the moderate governor of Massachusetts where he passed into law a health care system that critics label "Romneycare" and that served as the model for Obama's health care mandate excoriated as "Obamacare" by conservative critics.

At last, Obama is standing for something. A very wise move because I do not believe the "Hope and Change" battle cry of 2008 will work this time. He has not exactly delivered on that pledge of bringing "Hope and Change" to Washington and the nation.

It's also good because it's not clear what Romney stands for other than he wants to replace Obama and can sing "America the Beautiful" badly. He seems to be an awkward cipher of a businessman. The same man who flunked the chance to stand up to right-wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh over the broadcaster's disgraceful remarks about Georgetown Law Center student Sandra Fluke after her testimony to Congress when he called her a prostitute, and who condoned the hushing up by his campaign of Richard Grenell, an openly gay spokesman on foreign policy, leading to that aide's resignation less than two weeks after he had been hired by the Romney campaign. (A source told CNN that "Grenell was told on several occasions not to speak on the campaign’s conference calls with reporters. . .") Similarly, Romney did not correct a member of public who recently asked him a question and remarked that President Obama should be tried for treason -- his whiff on that being in stark contrast to John McCain's reprimand to a woman during the 2008 campaign who impugned Obama as a terrorist. It's not certain what Mitt Romney stands for. He has demonstrated time and time again that he has no backbone. Arguably he does not deserve the chance to be President of the United States. Is the cover of the latest cover of the New Yorker a portrait of Romney?

New Yorker Cover

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Joseph Kony

Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has been in the news recently because of the video gone viral, “Joseph Kony 2012.” This terrorist leader has been on the run for years, one of the worst and bloodiest men in Africa, known for atrocities throughout Uganda, Ruanda, and the eastern Congo, yet he seems to lead a charmed existence that has kept him out of the grasp of justice.

The following poem of mine placed third in the October 2006 Interboard Poetry Competition (IBPC) representing Writer's Block--

Joseph Kony

The Lord told me, "Raise a children's army."
So I formed the Lord's Resistance to fight
the oppressors in Kampala. My boys burned
village huts, killed, cut off people's ears and lips,
-- now their mouths stay open, the better to pray
and their ears strain to hear the Lord's words.
Some ask why we did all these things. Why does
a leaf fall? Is it not because God wills it?
When my children pounded babies in wooden mortars,
dare you question it was the Lord's request to me?
Now some name Joseph Kony a war criminal. Yet,
the way of my people, the Acholi, is to forgive, to invite
all to the mataput, to share a roasted
sheep. I will quit the jungle with my sixty wives
for nothing less than full amnesty, the shared meal.
I will emerge from the jungle shadows,
an old lion bringing the wisdom of my Lord God
to the young lions to tell them to let the holy oils anoint them,
a stone sewn into their garments
so a mountain projects to shield
them and all bullets bounce off.
And I will sing in praise
of the Lord of the limping and the lost,
Lord of the empty basket,
of the water turned to blood,
of the severed lips and ears -
the butchered lamb at the feast.

Christopher T. George

Judge’s Comments:

Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning couldn't have foreseen that the dramatic monologue would be put to such use, but that's what the tradition is all about; you take the best from the past and you ring changes on it. Here, a blood-drenched man speaks his mind, and we despise him, yet we understand him. A poem is not going to work unless the reader can say, "Well, yes, I guess I've felt that way myself." We say that after reading this one and then we flinch, not at the subject but at ourselves, at these beasts and angels we call humanity. --David Kirby

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thoughts on the Oscars 2012

The Oscar crowd were obviously glad to see Billy Crystal back as M/C, warm smiles all round. Back in the comfort zone after Ricky Gervais's stunts at the Globes. Something tells me that Ricky won't get an Oscar nod any time soon unless he cleans up his act. Billy's opening segment was well done but similar to what he has done at previous Oscar ceremonies, skits inserting the comic into the various leading nominated movies. Amusing and went down like ice cream. Acceptable. Just what the Academy ordered.


The stunt pulled by Sacha Baron Cohen appearing on the Red Carpet in his role of the bemedalled, long-bearded Gadaffi-like dictator in shades to promote his upcoming movie was edgier, particularly as the comic contrived to spill the ashes from a golden urn allegedly containing late North Korean Kim Jong-il's ashes on Ryan Seacrest's tuxedo. That will provoke protests from the North Koreans I should think. Ugly. The Oscar organizers were probably wise to have first said no to Cohen's proposal to appear in costume and should not have caved. They only left themselves open to such an incident.

Sacha Baron Cohen Sacha Baron Cohen, promoting his upcoming film, "The Dictator," attended the Academy Awards carrying an urn of what he claimed to be "Kim Jong-il’s ashes."

As expected, "The Artist" and "Hugo" swept many of the awards and Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") edged out Viola Davis ("The Help") for Best Actress in something of a shock. It was nice to see Octavia Spencer from "The Help" for Best Supporting Actress, about which she was entirely overcome. A bit of real emotion among the artificial. Jean Dujardin, whom some are calling the French George Clooney, won for Best Actor for "The Artist."

Meryl Streep, with her win as leading actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," has become the third actor to win three Oscars. The others are Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, and Walter Brennan, who each won three. Katharine Hepburn won four. The win by "The Artist" as best film is the first win by a silent picture since "Wings" in 1929.

It will be interesting to see if Dujardin can go on to have success in English language "talkies." I bet with that million dollar smile, he can do it.

I thought the decision to have chamber musicians in the balcony to add spice to introduce the segments was interesting and different.

I have some more thoughts about the movies in general and this year's crop on my blog over at Eratosphere at "My Left Foot . . . . and Smelly Dog." Check it out.