The Publick Scolde

Pointing out what on the political and personal scene needs changing, rearranging and raging about with humor and passion!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Memory of Journalist Jack Newfield

The day Jack Newfield and I passed ourselves off as rock and roll loving, freeway cruising Los Angelenos was one of those historical days that started at the pitch of happiness and anticipation and ended in a pit. June 4, 1968 was bright and clear. The kind of day New Yorkers cherish, but Los Angelenos take for granted because they have so many just like that. The brilliant weather reflected our mood. Bobby Kennedy was going to win the California primary that Tuesday and go on to win the Democratic nomination. Just a week before we’d suffered the first-ever Kennedy election loss in the Oregon Democratic primary.

That Tuesday was a happy, free day. I’d joined the campaign entourage after my marriage to a staffer a few weeks before, between the Indiana and Nebraska primaries, but didn’t have any assigned duties for the day of the California primary. My new husband had some time between speechwriting tasks and Jack’s column about Bobby’s victory was for later. It was down time. Play time. So my husband and I made sure our party clothes were laid out for after the victory speech and dancing at a hot club called The Factory. Mine was a short one shouldered bright yellow dress in some petroleum product fabric and my husband’s a moss green Nehru suit with some interesting rick-racky-trim on the collar and down the front.

I doubt Jack gave a thought to what he was going to dance in, but he was thinking about celebrating. We three New Yorkers decided to start the fun early by taking on the coloration of the indigenous peoples and spend the day driving around Los Angeles to visit the sights there’d been no time to see while the campaign was in high dudgeon. You can’t see the stars on the Walk of Stars outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, if your eyes are on your candidate and enthusiastic supporters are in the way! And you can’t tool around L.A. in a convertible with your hair streaming in the breeze without some help, if you are a man who grew up in Bed-Sty and said he was like the Number 4 Train, not a sports car, because he never drove a car in his 66 years. My Upper Westside Manhattan bred then-husband was a driver newly licensed by the State of New York, but inexperienced. As a suburban to urban transplant, I was the designated driver happy to help those two play for a day.

We got in my rental car outside the Ambassador Hotel and cranked up the radio. “Angel of the Morning” by Dusty Springfield and some bubble-gum rock song with lyrics of “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I’ve Got Love In My Tummy’ blared. We sang along. We oohed at the Pacific Ocean. Stopped for some food and fuel and between verses and mouthfuls of food hashed over the primaries past, the possible strategies of the other Democratic candidates Senator Eugene McCarthy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. We seriously considered who our New York Senator would pick for his cabinet officers when he moved into the White House come January 1969. With a mandate from American voters we trusted that Bobby’s first item on his agenda would be making the Vietnam War history and bringing our boys come from Southeast Asia. After all, Bobby had driven Lyndon Johnson from the Presidency. Was getting out of Vietnam quickly unthinkable? No. The Robert Francis Kennedy Presidential train was in the station and it was unstoppable!

Except, of course, by Sirhan Sirhan’s bullet. In too few hours after the sun set over the Pacific that night, my husband and I were back in that rental car. The writer of speeches - and eulogies – Ted Sorenson joined our shellshocked vehicle. We’d thrown trench coats over our garish party clothes and stopped and started our way to the hospital where they’d taken the dying senator.

We all have the images of those next few days in our heads. The coffin. The funeral. The grieving. And the train from Pennsylvania Station in New York to Washington, DC. Over the years as the news footage of that week plays, I always remember that just a few days before with Jack Newfield in the sunshine of California and a political season we’d made detailed plans to be part of a metaphoric train, not the funeral kind. Jack wrote elegantly over the decades in his biography of Robert F. Kennedy and other political work what our country and the world missed.

Now with Jack’s death we are keenly aware of another voice of ferocity and justice gone.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Who Would Jesus Vote For?

How do Christian Americans answer “Who would Jesus vote for?”

Evangelicals may be told to vote for George Bush because he is a born-again Christian and he is against a woman’s right to choose and same-sex marriage. Jesus never took those positions.

Christian voters should consider what Jesus did say publically and consider how George W. Bush measures up to his directions. “Do unto others as you would have others do untoyou” and “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors” are two major tenets.

George Bush lied about the reasons he took our country to war in Iraq. He lied about relentlessly pursuing Osama Bin Laden after nearly 3,0000 Americans were murdered by his orders. Undeniably, President Bush bore false witness, disobeying the teaching of the man he honors as the son of God.

Does President Bush do unto others as he would have others do unto him? Yes, if the “others” are his friends in the energy industry and at the very top of the income scale. He has does very well unto them, tax cut-wise. But he has not done so well unto the Iraqi people. All the while President proclaimed he wanted to free the Iraqi people - and he did - from the terror of Saadam Hussein, President Bush protected the Iraqi oil to be protected, but allowed the intellectual and artistic treasures of the Iraqi culture/history to be looted and destroyed. Imagine how Americans would feel toward liberating occupiers (an oxymoron, no?) if they looted and trashed the Library of Congress. Since George Bush is not much of a book reader he might not be nearly as upset as his librarian-teacher wife and the rest of us.

What are George Bush’s grades for the lessons Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mount? How has President Bush and his power treated the poor, the meek, those weak of spirit and those in need of mercy? Not well at all. He publically ridiculed instead of showing mercy to Tanya Faye Tucker, executed while he was governor of Texas. While George Bush has been Presidnet and been sermonizing about his God-directed mission, the poor and the unemplyed and the uninsured have multiplied! George Bush has increased suffering among his countrymen and women. In contrast, Jesus nourished, miraculously extending loaves and fishes to feed his listeners.

Unlike George Bush and his handlers, Jesus loved his enemies, urged others to do likewise and even allowed them to listen to what he had to say. The disciples didn’t screen the crowd and eject everyone with a Jesus-doubting message on their robes. Not only did Jesus suffer the little children come unto him, he welcomed an audience of the opposition. Not our President.

Neither has this President followed the example of the young Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple because he wanted to clean up the corruption. Instead he welcomed the twenty-first century money changers in the temple of national service where so many of our young have been sacrificed. Jesus would have rejected Halliburtonand no-bid contracts. He would have raged against war profiteering.
To protect and cleanse the temple that is our country, Jesus would never have appointed industry officials to “police” and “regulate” their own companies and degrade our air, water and natural resources.

Much is made of Bush’s conversion to sobriety and born-again Christianity at the age of forty. We’ve been instructed to ignore everything he did before 1986. So if the George W. Bush we have as President was only born in 1986, he’s just 18 and should be treated like the rebellious, stubborn, quasi-schizophrenic teenager he’s shown himself to be, rousted from office and told not to even think about running again for 17 years when he’d be the post-born-again legally eligible age of 35.


The bumper stickers that proclaim the car owner’s Christianity with “My boss is a Jewish carpenter“ make me hope that every American who considers her or himself in the employ of Jesus will realize that after his review of George W. Bush’s job performance, the boss is printing his pink slip and giving him two and a half months to pack his belongings. Jesus would never vote for George W. Bush.




copyright 2004 by Carrie Carmichael

Friday, October 22, 2004

LEASE NATIONAL NAMING RIGHTS, REDUCE THE DEFICIT

By Carrie Carmichael

Corporate sponsorship of public spaces and landmarks would shave the national deficit! Since New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering the sale of naming rights to the subway stations, bus lines, bridges and tunnels a federal copy cat act can’t be far behind. The benefit to the public trough is certainly large in the five boroughs of New York, but just think of what the fabulous fifty states have to offer in selling the right to alter the name of places, people and things for periods of time.

Sports figures make fortunes from the endorsements that coat their entire bodies and stadiums in corporate logos. Similarly politicians should think about putting their major donors’ names on their clothes, tattooing their bodies or adding to their names. Some cash would go directly to the US Treasury. Legal name changes to Richard Halliburton Cheney, George Walker Enron Bush and John Heinz Kerry are logical now. Years ago it would have been Lyndon Baines DuPont Brown & Root Johnson and Ronald Wilson Lockheed Reagan.

A new sponsorship policy would bring corporate underwriting of all sorts out in the open. For a long time private money from people and organizations currying favor with an incoming administration have paid for inaugural expenses of balls and banquets behind the scenes, but a new sponsorship policy could put that buying access and special treatment out front for all to see, with a percentage to pay down the deficit. Truth in Inaugurating in 2001 would have redrawn George W. Bush Presidential Seal’s bald eagle to hold/grasp an Enron “E” in its talons.

With the no-bid contracts in the Iraq operation and the Vice Presidentially-enabled inside track, Halliburton already pretty much owns the Pentagon even if the company name isn’t on the building. Halliburton is not paying the country for the privilege, though. We’re paying them. Tell Halliburton that for some millions of dollars their company name will go on the building. That would turn things around and start money flowing the other way.

A change in policy would be refreshing for lobbyists and legislators, too. Make the pharmaceutical company pay top dollar directly to the US Treasury to call it the Pfizer Medicare Prescription Drug Card bill. Or have the technology company pay the Treasury top stock options for calling it the XXXXtech Company Outsourcing bill. That would be more efficient than using industry resources to pay for dinners and fact-finding trips for members of Congress.

After legislators retire they could be pitchpeople for whatever company offers the most upfront money and residuals. That revolving door exists now! That clever Bob Dole’s marrying Elizabeth Dole, made him even more attractive to Pfizer. He could claim, irrefutably, as a spokesman for the erectile dysfunction treating drug Viagra that his problem is ED. That was good business planning.

The federal government has terrific revenue potential in selling naming rights to all the national monuments, landmarks and national parks.
Why not the White Castle House or Hartz Mountain Rushmore? Sell the renaming of that national treasure in Manhattan to the highest bidder. The Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield State Building or the Empire Kosher Chicken State Building & Deli. In for a penny, in for a pound!

The heck with drilling Alaska. There’s a pack of money to be made selling sponsorship for each and every National Park alone. Sell that hole in Arizona to a food chain and rename it the Grand Union Canyon. Arches National Park is a natural for reassignment to MacDonald’s Golden Arches. Florida’s park would bring on a bidding war between the battery company and the erectile dysfunction industry to rename it Ever Ready Glades National Park with an alligator that keeps on going and going and going.

One of Utah’s parks would be attractive to pro-Israelis and renamed Zion-ist National Park. The same group might want Yosemite morphed into the greeting of Yo, Semite, National Park. Al Sharpton might want to morph Yosemite into Yo, Mama, National Park. The Ku Klux Klan, on the other hand, would probably want to rename it No Semite.

Princess Grace of Monaco’s widower would see the obvious tourist revenue investment of renaming the far western park Mount Prince Ranier National. Wouldn’t African Americans jump at a chance to control the signage at Black Canyon National Park? Channel Island National Park could be the expensive prize of a bidding war between the networks and the cable businesses.

The Neocons would pay oodles to rename Badlands National Park the Axises of Evil Countries National Park. Those same neocons, many chickenhawks, who avoided military service and smoked a little dope during the Vietnam War may want to label the home of Old Faithful to Yellowstoner National Park. And President Bill Clinton may want to recycle some of his autobiography money back to the Treasury by recasting the geyser as Clinton’s Old Faithful.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks George Bush told Americans to go shopping because if we didn’t the terrorists would win. The Treasury’s sale of naming rights for periods of time would be the height of patriotism. Each naming term’s renewal would reduce the record national debt. Could this possibly replace the revenue lost when so many manufacturing jobs went overseas and fight terrorism at the same time?

The people who stand to make out the best if and when a federal sale of naming rights begins will be sign makers and painters. They’ll make out like bandits when each endorsement term runs out, contract is renegotiated and each National Park and landmark is relabeled, road sign repainted and neon tube re-bent.

We should pass a law or amend the constitution so that Halliburton’s painting subsidiary does not get the exclusive contract to redo all those signs!


The Word War on "TERROR" ?

The Word War on "Terror" ?


By Carrie Carmichael

The War on Terror! At first it sounded like the Bush administration declared a war on everything that scares us. Suicide attackers. Death. Illness. Threats to our children. After September 11th, the Bush Administration’s label was a manipulative psychological suggestion. "Keep us in office. We’ll protect you.“

The campaign's name was born of necessity. The linguistically challenged Commander in Chief cannot be trusted to consistently pronounce the word “terrorism”. Bush handlers didn’t want the President going down that road where "Nuclear“ has been tortured into "nuke-you-ler“ and "Abu Gareib“ tortured into………. Well… we know that horrible story!

The Bush spin machine jumped on the simple-speak bandwagon. Even if they could say, "terrorism“, they wouldn’t leave their leader out on a noun…alone. Butuse the wrong word long enough and people will think it’s right.

The Bush people say War on Terror. They stay on message…no matter what. Appallingly everyone else - from the press to Democratic members of Congress and Governors – rolled over.

The word "Terror,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary is “Intense, overpowering fear. Something, as a terrifying object or occurrence, that instills intense fear. The ability to instill intense fear.“

It’s not until the fourth definition that "terror“ is defined as "Violence promoted by a group to achieve or maintain supremacy.“

In contrast, "Terrorism“ is clearly defined as "the systematic use of terror, violence, and intimidation to achieve an end." Now….isn’t THAT what we are at war against? Or should be!

We hear the same word-weaseling in the administration's reaction to the 9/ll Commission’s conclusion that there was no working relationship between AlQueda and Sadaam Hussein. "Was too,“ say Bush and Cheney claiming they know something they’re not telling. "Was not,“ says the commission. "Was too. Was too. Was too,“ insists the administration.

Examine administration statements and you’ll find that they hide the truth in plain sight. The spirit of the President and his spokespeople was "those devils are in league against us.“ The letter of the statements left weasel room and skirted facts.

This so-labelled War on Terror is more than a simple name tailored for a man who trips over his tongue when confronted with polysyllabic words. Call them on their intent, or their specifics, and Bush and Company may well tell us to go "expletive-deleted ourselves.“ And they’ll attack if accused of failing in the campaign against terrorism. "We never said we were waging a War on Terrorism. We said we were fighting a War on Terror. And a poll of the top one percent of tax-relieved multi-millionaires are less terrified…… of the IRS than they were four years ago!“

However, the majority of Americans are more frightened. Many Americans are scared because Osama Bin Laden was given time to escape from Afgahninstan while Bush was cranking up his war on Iraq. Many are terrified the Iraq war has allowed terrorism to mushroom. Many are frightened of the deficit, horrified by the mounting casualties, afraid of the tax cuts, appalled by the increasing class warfare and on and on.

Perhaps Americans will succeed in the War on the Terror of Bush and vote him out of office by a larger margin than his father.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

BABY SHOWER OF INTERVENTION

Let’s throw a intervention baby shower for Private First Class Lynndie England! Until her current Army hearing on charges that could send her to prison for 38 years, we had not seen her since those coed shots at the Abu Gareib prison. She’s due to give birth this month. There’s not much time left to intervene. And that is definitely what that baby needs. Now.

What kind of parents England and Specialist Charles A. Graner, Jr. are going to be? Especially when their cranky baby won’t shut up.

We haven’t seen pictures of Lynndie screaming, hitting, throwing or shaking anyone by the shoulders. We have observed her smoking (I wonder if she was pregnant at the time?!), grinning and pointing at a hooded, naked prisoner’s genitals. We’ve also witnessed her dragging a collared and leashed nude prisoner across a concrete floor.

We do tend to judge people by the company they keep and the baby’s father not only was part of the Abu Gareib torture battalion, but also had an order of protection taken out by his first wife to keep him from beating her and repeatedly bashing her head against the floor. Lynndie and Chuck must know that babies are easier to bash into the floor than grown women. And babies can’t file for orders of protection.

Because this is a special needs couple, I want the England baby shower invitees to shop outside the box as well as in. Lynndie and Chuck will need the standard baby gear such as a supply of disposable diapers. With adhesive tapes to secure the disposables there won’t be diaper pins handy for use as instruments of tor…………..er……persuasion or ……… fun if the baby won’t hold still on the changing table.

They probably also need a new camera. Their old ones must have been confiscated by agents of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and are somewhere in federal custody. Even though the pastel, cooing variety of picture doesn’t jump to mind when I think of Ma Lynndie and Papa Chuck, a camera should be in that nursery to make a record of whatever….…..pink and blue or black and blue.

The very best present for Lynndie and Chuck’s baby is an account at a local branch of the National Institutes of Mental Health and some carrot-and-stick conditions to make them go to parenting and therapy sessions. After she gives birth and all that mood elevating progesterone is out of Lynndie’s system, watch out, colicky baby! If you believe, as Lynndie asserts, that she was only following orders in that Baghdad prison, give her healthy orders to follow. For example, if the baby nips your nipple as it nurses, Lynndie, don’t slap it upside the head! Instead take the baby off the breast and take a deep breath.

These two expectant parents need lessons in the care of their baby and backup, reserves, as it were, a mental and physical health support team to call on in times of stress. There should be a crisis drop-off place where Lynndie can take her baby for a few hours or over night when she’s at the end of her rope. A social worker should drop in frequently, unannounced. Or maybe a NIMH social worker should live in the England-Graner home. That would be very expensive. I’ll invite George Soros to the shower!

England and Graner are not a poster-couple for potential parenthood, but we can prevent them from showing up on a different kind of poster at the post office. So either we find a way to prepare Lynndie and Chuck and mandate parent oversight or declare the baby a domestic-violence-combatant-potential-victim and put that baby in protective custody directly from the delivery room.

Amend the national Leave No Child Behind Act to get in front of this one. Create a rider for prophylactic child protection. Then the England-Graner kid’ll have a better chance of making it to school age unscarred. The child will have a better chance of making it to school age. Period.

When P.F.C. Lynndie England isn't in court, she spends her time on a US Army base stateside, pretty much isolated from other soldiers. Chuck Graner is still in Iraq. They are unwed and haven’t made any matrimonial plans known. Marriage doesn’t protect children from abuse anyway and this is not a couple to push into a shotgun wedding.


Copyright 2004 - Carrie Carmichael

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