Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Every Man of Tom Joad

In an article reprinted in the Sunday edition of the Courier-Journal in Louisville Kentucky, Rich Wartzman’s Los Angeles Times’ article of the 17th “The enduring power of Steinbeck’s classic” was astute in drawing parallels between our country today and the United States during the Depression of the 1930’s.

To quote a couple of points: “For many, polls show it’s becoming increasingly clear that the public sector has a role – and a responsibility – to help lift up those who are being left behind, as well as to more tightly regulate the corporations that, if left unchecked, can inflict so much damage throughout the economy. Even the Bush administration has warmed up to the notion of more vigorous oversight of business.

It has been said that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt finished reading “The Grapes of Wrath” he said, “there are 500,000 Americans that live in the covers of that book.” Then he went on to work for Social Security and other programs to help these people. If you have not read the book, do so now. Today there are at least 100 times those numbers. The families may own another name but the working poor continually increase and are this week being told it is their responsibility to bail out the rich.

The Great Depression was caused by an unfettered free market and greed.

What we are experiencing now had the same cause. Whatever happens, we must demand with our vote that this does not happen again.

Summer is Leaving

Summer is leaving.

It is September and the air is cooling
But my mind does not grasp that we
Are running downhill now towards a
Cold hard winter while wooly worms
Are taking on that second coat of fur.

I hate winter.

Especially I hate the winter that is
After Christmas and before me now
I see a long flat stretch of snow covered
Lots and fields where even the brown
Grass is covered by wind driven drifts.

My morning started as it usually does
With a cup of coffee in my hand and
The newspaper tucked under my arm,
As I walked out over the asphalt lot
To the bench under the still leaved trees.

The sun was up and if I had not known
It was September 20th, with fall two days
Distant, I would have seen a summer day
Through the glass door as I left the house.
The air was filled with the sound of geese.

Leaving this place for another warmer one.
They flew in a familiar wing, wings outstretched
And flapping together as friends and family
Often move toward the same place in time.
Yes, summer is leaving with the geese.

September 23, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Patriotism and America

When I consider the kind of citizen I have been in my life, I’d say I was the usual. I closed my eyes and ears to political parties. I chose one but I never worked for that party or even debated the pros and cons of a certain candidate. I knew in the Indiana County where I grew up there were mostly Democrats. My family had always registered Democratic. When I married my husband was a Democrat, though I am certain his party affiliation was not a factor in loving him.

For most of my working life I was too busy to really consider the ramifications of voting for this person or that one. I had no knowledge of or curiosity about how the parties mounted and ran elections. I thought my decisions were mine alone. This lazy way or being a citizen has changed.

During the 1970’s I worked for a man who supported Richard Nixon for President. He told me I was going to donate to the man’s campaign and I did. I mean this man could make my working life difficult. I got reimbursed through the company’s petty cash. I find out now that Richard Nixon with the help of Patrick Buchanan, a 27 year old erstwhile editorial writer for a St. Louis newspaper, designed what was the Southern Strategy. Their method was to delve deeply into the inherent bigotry and xenophobia in the South thereby disenfranchising Democrats. This was not an accident. This was a calculated act.

Once conservatives were Republicans, but the Republican Party became something other than conservative.

We have endured eight years in this last reincarnation of the Republican lead country. The national debt is near $10 trillion, over three times what it was in 2000. We are in the midst of a war started under the Bush Doctrine, which says in part that we have the right to invade a country that has not in any way invaded us. Iraq did not send terrorists seven years ago. In fact, no sovereign country did. The 9/11 men were Saudi’s. The leader of this band of killers fled to Afghanistan to hide. We attack Iraq, which puts us in the middle of a civil war that seven years later costs our country $10 billion a month and the lives of thousands of our children, husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.

In the next six weeks we will be harangued by special interest groups who are pushing a man and woman to lead the country from the same party that played fast and loose in the past two elections. These groups will not be working to inform us of the positive attributes of these candidates. They will spread rumors, point out foibles of the opposition and outright lie pushing us to think negatively and buy into our fears.

This is the party that used to be for a small government and conservative ideals about money and its use in the private sector. Conservatives want small government and everyone to stand on their own two feet. I don’t know what you would call the people who pushed deregulation of our financial institutions and railed against universal health care for all citizens and then gave almost a trillion dollars to corporations who played fast and loose with their depositors money.

If I am going to own a bank, mortgage company and Insurance Company, I expect some shares of stock in the mail. No. I won’t be waiting with baited breath for that to happen. What I will do is go to work, take care of my responsibilities and pay my taxes. And another thing, I will work to make certain me and mine focus on the reality of things and vote for what is good for the country not the special interests.


When the Presidential election year comes around we’ve already endured at least two years of announcements for candidates to run and then the primaries. In England an election is a choice for the party. The party then chooses the Prime Minister. This is accomplished in a fortnight or two weeks.

I’m weary of the election. I was weary of it in 2000 and also in 2004. At first I was hopeful we would choose a President who would consider his task to be accomplishing a well run country and working for the betterment of the citizens. Both times I was disappointed. Both times hate and innuendo and outright lies were told which distracted the voters and the majority voted from a position of fear.

This same kind of campaign is almost always run on the local and state level too. The national Congressional Offices are filled based more on blood in the water than fact. Voting becomes a reactionary exercise instead of a well reasoned choice based on what you learn about the candidates.

I have always voted. I started as soon as I was old enough and the activity of voting has always been very rewarding for me. I had relatives and friends who died in the nation’s wars. If I didn’t feel I could be bothered to vote as a patriotic citizen, I would vote to acknowledge their sacrifice.

The last few years I’ve worked at the polls and one year I worked driving people without transportation to vote. It’s a tiring day but I feel I am doing something to support the country. I’m not sure why more people don’t work at the polls and volunteer to help others vote, but if asked most would say they’re too busy or don’t think it has an effect on things. They would be wrong.

Encourage everyone to be certain they are registered to vote. Know where your polling place is and how to get there. You can verify you are properly registered through your board of elections or your local clerk’s office. In most cases these agencies have forms to register, available for download. Another way is this link: . Print off a few copies and put them in your purse or car to give to people you meet.

Every single vote is important. If you consider yourself a patriot, the way to prove it is to have a voice in your government by voting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

GO Lance GO

A remarkable image appeared on a story about Lance Armstrong deciding to work toward competing in the 2009 Tour de France. So another world class athlete is deciding to return to competition after retiring. And of all those lately in the news for doing this, Lance is probably the most deserving to rest on his laurels. After all he’s a twelve year cancer survivor. He won seven Tours since then. He’s raised almost $300 million for cancer research through his foundation.

A great article in this month’s Vanity Fair recounts a dinner at Lance’s home with Vanity Fair’s contributing editor Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. ""

Mr. Brinkley happens to live literally in Lance’s neighborhood and finagled a dinner. Lance speaks of many issues from Texas politics to what his local paper had to say about his water consumption. But through what seems to have been a relaxed evening of conversation he makes it plain he has not forgotten the accusations of doping that surrounded his titles. He doesn’t like that taint. He doesn’t want to leave things as they are. He wants to win again and do so under the highest scrutiny.

I wish the man well. I don’t believe he was doping when he won his titles and I don't think we will start now. My last words are about the picture that initially caught my eye on the evening news.

Go Lance go!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Back of the House

Sitting on my bench I see the back of the house. I like the back more than the front. The front is what those living there imagine all seeing. The front is formal and neat. The toys are put up in the front yard and no one would think to leave out the garden hose there. All window curtains and shades are directed to the eye of the invited guest and uninvited sales representative. Only those intimate with the people are allowed through the side or the back.

The back of the house has the laundry line and there hang the red shirt and pants and underwear. There hang the bedspread that is fraying around the edges and only used for picnics and that one time we spent a Sunday afternoon in the shade of a maple tree on the berm of the lake, talking and dozing and making love.

The back of the house shows me the reality of the people living there. I enjoy sitting at the back and recalling all memory revealed there.