Saturday, August 30, 2008

Memories of Angie

My Aunt Angie died last evening – as her body couldn’t fight off the pneumonia and related respiratory limitations that ravished her body. Many years of heavy smoking finally took their toll.

Angie’s children – particularly Debbie – her oldest – did their best to make her life comfortable and positive as her life fell apart after a broken hip no longer allowed her to live independently.

Angie grew up in Spanish Harlem with Sicilian immigrant parents whose English never was good. She rebelled against the life there as an intellectual classical dancer. My uncle Josef was “a find” – but she paid a big price in being his “housekeeper”. She helped make the last half of his life be positive and successful, but was often not recognized as the one who raised the children and was the “wonderful hostess” as he lived life much as he wanted it to be.

Angie was widowed in late 1978 – living almost 30 years building a life as an interpreter – taking classes in three languages simultaneously – after City University began its open admissions program – developing a strong life of her own.

She searched for a way to live near the water - leaving Manhattan’s noise – for a part of her life that I never knew much about.

Angie was most welcoming and accepting of me – from my days as a child until the end of her life. Early this year I saw her – in horrible health – knowing that it would be my last time with her. She asked me to come back the next day – which was hard for me –but important. My last visit with her was far more meaningful than I could have hoped for and I really appreciated it at the time.

I am sad at the death of my aunt! I also know that she was not happy living in poor health. She endured some not-good nursing/custodial care as her children struggled to make her life the best that they could. She lived her life and did what was what she could do. My memories are positive and warm and loving. I’m sorry at how hard it’s been on her children – coping with the last period of her life.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Those Hillary Clinton Democrats ......

Listening to "Sasha" - a Democratic Convention delegate on NPR - a Hillary Clinton supporter - say that she doesn't know who she'll vote for in November is bothersome to me. Sasha talked of the flawed selection process and sexism during the primaries, etc.

I didn't hear Sasha, nor do I hear others speaking similarly talking about the election issues which divide Obama and McCain. I don't hear her saying that Obama's position on abortion's contrast with McCain's position is "better" or "worse". I hear nothing of McCain's calls for making the Bush tax cuts permanent vs. Obama's calls for tax cuts targeted at those whose incomes are below $150-200,000 per year. I hear nothing of the differences in the "incentives" that McCain references as critical to health care reform vs. Obama's position.

I hear nothing also of the contrasts in lifestyles and priorities between the two candidates. While one may choose to ignore McCain's gaffe on how many houses his wife and he own, many of his other statements and actions speak of a distinct difference in priorities between the candidates. McCain talks repeatedly of being a POW and patriotism while generally opposing improving benefits for veterans. Obama talks of diversity and change in ways which on the surface seem much more appealing to one who believes in what Hillary Clinton champions.

I would like to think that racism is not the key issue here. I would like to think that supposedly intelligent people recognize that Justice John Paul Stevens, born April 20, 1920 - at age 88, is unlikely to continue on the Supreme Court much longer. The loss of "liberal" Stevens for a "conservative" will tip the Supreme Court - as: Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas + a new "conservative" - will result in five of the nine justices being firmly "conservative", with Kennedy "in the middle" and "liberal minority" justices being left with: Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter.

"Protecting Marriage

As president, John McCain would nominate judges who understand that the role of the Court is not to subvert the rights of the people by legislating from the bench. Critical to Constitutional balance is ensuring that, where state and local governments do act to preserve the traditional family, the Courts must not overstep their authority and thwart the Constitutional right of the people to decide this question.

The family represents the foundation of Western Civilization and civil society and John McCain believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation."

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Overturning Roe v. Wade

John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.


Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007

Sen. Obama received the following scores on NARAL Pro-Choice America's Congressional Record on Choice.
  • 2007: 100 percent
  • 2006: 100 percent
  • 2005: 100 percent
In 2005 in speaking as to why he was voting against the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court Obama stated: "The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts' record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General's Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man."

The differences between Obama and McCain appear to me to be dramatic in areas relating to: "women's issues" and "liberal vs. conservative" positions.

Obviously the Sasha's of this day are swayed by emotion (and hopefully not by racism). I can only hope that most of them will wake up and see how supporting McCain by voting for him or Not voting is asking for four more year of right-wing leadership which will hurt most of us A Lot.

I hope that the media is making much more of such individuals than really is there.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Palestine/Israel - Peace ?

Now that Hamas is "the enemy" in Gaza - for both the U.S. and Israel, one might want to look seriously about what is being done to eliminate the threat that it poses.

Clearly the Israeli Government is trying to isolate Gaza and create economic turmoil with its attempts at blockading and isolating it. Hamas clearly has at least had periods where it has sought an end to the bombing/counter-bombing cycle which polarizes things further. Nothing being done by Israel or the U.S. is encouraging economic growth or prosperity in Gaza.

Israel and the U.S. rushed to the support of Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters supporting their takeover of the government in the West Bank when Hamas took over Gaza, despite the fact that Hamas had won elections with a majority of the representatives elected previously.

Abbas can only succeed as "the leader" if he succeeds in "the cause" of his Palestinian supporters. Such success necessitates a move towards a peace agreement with Israel.

An independent Palestinian State under "moderate leadership" is the most viable goal for all except "radical" leaders (such as those of Hamas). Unfortunately as Abbas tries to negotiate with the Israelis, the only clear steps occurring are continued Israeli expansion of settlements and the expansion of its Wall separating Palestinians both from Israel and from much of the Palestinians' land (as well as using such land for the Wall).

If or when peace efforts fail (again) two possible "solutions" will exist:

1.) Continued - "war" - battles between Israeli and Palestinian forces - as terror rears itself probably in small, but important instances - continuing the stalemate of many years or

2.) Building a "single state" solution - where Palestinians will be a majority in a permanently expanded Israel.

Neither solution seems viable for either side.

One hears repeatedly - "Why don't the Palestinians show good faith so the Israelis can learn to trust them and make peace?". Now the "moderate" forces in The West Bank are not in a "state of war" and are trying to build for a peaceful future.

It is time that Israel and the U.S. tackle the tough issues and make peace finally! It is really possible now that the process could succeed. One must hope that Israeli leadership will change its position and strengthen and that the U.S. will finally be a "leader" in helping broker a real, lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guns - and Survival vs. ?

Listening to our local NPR station's talk show this morning the question asked was: "If you had to leave your residence suddenly due to an emergency what would you take first?" (excluding children and pets).

One seemingly rational man indicated that if it wasn't as a result of fire to his dwelling, he would have his assault rifle and small handgun to defend himself (as well as food and other provisions). He further indicated that he has these things ready already.

I applied for conscientious objector status in 1969 and have worked briefly in the past seeking the banning of private ownership of handguns.

This man's words lead me to return to several "divides" which seem to separate us in the U.S. frequently where emotion and core belief differences are quite important.

This man spoke of Katrina - and the need to defend oneself against potential assaults or holdups. I would think of the need to unite amongst neighbors and to work together.

We have divides amongst those who wish to go to a "better world of the past" - focusing sometimes on - returning to "traditional families" - without divorce, abortion, gay/lesbian visibility or "existence", with Christianity being emphasized, or sometimes opposed to women working vs: a "liberal multi-culturalism" and openness to changes such as Gay/Lesbian Marriages and stay-at-home dads and other permutations of family and family life where religion is seen as a private belief system which we don't impose upon others.

We have divides of what government and related community are including perspectives favoring a "strong military", an assertive pro-active "war on terror" and cutting taxes particularly for higher income people with "limited government" vs. people who favor - "talking with the enemy" and living in a world that might not have (or an emphasis on) "terrorist threats", as well as "fair taxes" which tax the wealthy and corporations based upon their ability to pay.

Being a "child of the '60's" - whose never left his "liberal roots" I obviously strongly favor one side of these divides. Finding ways to seek common ground and work for change that isn't simply a battle between polarized forces is hard, but important.