Posts Tagged ‘obama’

The Road Not Taken

November 15, 2016

Because of the recent national election disaster, I’m tacking my boat to port.   I’d spent way too much time on Facebook, and not enough time reflecting, pondering, thinking and then writing.   In a follow-up post to my sister Meg, on that other forum, I left a thought I’ve been simmering these past seven days:  I’ll be restricting my posts there to the family stuff, like our children, and theirs, our six grandchildren.   Recently their gift of Blue Apron to grandma and grandpa, for example, can make it’s way to Facebook.

Otherwise, my only self-restrictions on Facebook will be political comment and cat videos.    Political comment will be here, with references on Twitter, and in our closed family mailing list.

So, looking down the road not taken, we see the poem allows us to ponder that path for the remainder of our lives.   And in the case of this election, we’re allowed to consider the person of Uncle Sam as the one who trod the path.

President Obama, in recent days, advises us to “give the man time to make his choices” before getting rankled on first appearances.   I believe Obama has learned greatly in his time in office.   An early judgement of mine was his apparent political naiveté on the possibility of political comity from the other side.  And, I’ve not said it here, but I “blame” VP Joe Biden, while as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in his last blanket-trust act in behalf of the Republicans, gave Clarence Thomas a free pass to the Supreme Court.   He had the power to block him, and didn’t.   Obama came to office not having learned the lesson, and thought he could lead by example.   I daren’t count the number of times he was rebuffed.  He must have been listening to his mother’s advice, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again”.  So, in the present instance, I’ll be taking the President’s advice, and giving the president-elect some room to make his own naive mistakes.  But not for long.

In an exercise of self-correction, and hence withdrawing from the sand-trap that is Facebook,  I’ll take more time — days and weeks — rather than minutes, to render an opinion on the scandal of political news.

For my father and his, recorded in  The Cub’s Corner and Martinis, respectively, the publishing cycle allowed them a week to fill their column. They occasionally felt the pressure of the deadline.  This suggests one of the great things about the past: as we chose to filter our memories, the past was “slower”; we felt less pressure to be in the moment.  Martin’s Sr and Jr chose their own way to observe their present.  Sr gave us classics such as “The Family Dog”, “The Plumber”, “Our Congressman”, “My National Readership”,  while Jr was about the cup of coffee on Main Street, the troubles of the local merchants, introducing HHH around town, his own growing brood, and awe of his own father. These were more imminent than Sr’s and reflected the quickening post-war prosperity.

We have some sense of their “roads not taken”.   In the case of Sr, it would be the early death of his first bride, and loss of a daughter, but his later re-marriage brought us yet another lovely family.   And my father, Jr, had imagined a career in the big-city news. But the WW II that required my grandfather to operate the family newspaper also brought my father home.    How do we relate those to the present need?    Those men, in their own times, and possibly halting efforts,  were effective models in extending the promise of the American dream to those around them.   They lived and flourished in  the 30’s and 60’s respectively, where social progress was taken for granted as the essence of that dream.   The brief resurgence offered by the ’90s has been trimmed by the general hostility of the 80’s and the current 10’s.   So, my hope is the present moment is but a brief interlude, and the generation before us returns America to a sense of shared, rather than exclusive progress.

I will not join those who predict or hope for failures from  the incoming administration.   Rather expect a growing political awareness to distinguish between our leaders directing shared spirit and purpose, rather than exclusive gains.   Those are at the fork in this road.  Which will be the road not taken?

 

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Fidel’s and my birthday

December 17, 2014

is  August 13th, along with Alfred Hitchcock, Tony Cloninger, and Ben Hogan.   Having tried baseball and golf, because my birthday was covered in those endeavors, I also decided to forgo careers as movie producer or communist dictator.

In full disclosure, I was a high school junior when Fidel came to power in Cuba.  I may outlive him yet.   But that’s not today’s story.  Here’s one from those years.

It’s a little know fact, but Cuba did not just fall, nor was seduced into the russian/communist orb.   It spent a few seasons testing the then non-aligned nation role.   Fidel traveled to Indonesia and more notoriously India.   Here’s what happened there:

Fidel was scheduled to meet Jarawhala Nehru, India’s Prime minister.  He was expected in Delhi, but went to Bombay instead.  Making no move towards Nehru, he traveled elsewhere.   I don’t know if they ever had an amicable meeting.  The moral of the story:

While Fidel roamed, Nehru burned.

Which brings us to this day:  Dec 17, 2014.   On which the US took the first step — thanks, President Obama — to normalize relations with Cuba.  Add my voice to those who say:  “Our policy of the last 50+ years hasn’t worked.  Anything different has to be better”.   And to those who say we’re giving the Castro brothers a free pass, I’d ask, “what do they have tomorrow that they don’t already have”?   Other than citizens who can call their family in the US, or vice versa?   Duh?

And, while I’m thinking of it, those who oppose this openness belong to a certain segment of American political thought which believes opportunity is dispensed by the powerful, it is never won by the majority, the people, the “man” in the street.   Today’s US Republican can’t bear the test of the idea that freedom arises from the people.   No, our freedoms are dispensed by the Walton’s, the Koch’s and god-willing, if we grant them the lever’s of government, the Bushes.  Heaven forfend that the citizenry would ever establish its right to determine its course.   That’s what rankles the Marco Rubio’s, the Jeb Bushes, etc…

God willing, Fidel and I will celebrate another birthday together.  He’ll be no less free then, but the people of Cuba will be more free.

A or B vs/or Yes or No

September 21, 2014

I’m tired of the opinion questions of the sort: “Do you prefer A or B?”    Today’s NYTimes offers a good example:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling: His job as President?

The strong implication is you have to choose.   Today, it’s difficult for the informed person to be short of opinion on matters of national opinion, but maybe not always.  For each of us there are varying degrees of how strong an opinion we can muster.

Years ago (’02 – ’06 ) while i was at Benedictine Academy, I thought I was having a joke with the sophomore geometry students when we examined boolean expressions such as:  A is True or B is True.   I’d answer “Yes”, if it was apparent they were mutually exclusive.   e.g. when straight ahead is not an option, the question “do we turn left or right?” i now answer “Yes”.   You might spend a little time thinking about how to rephrase the question to elucidate either “left” or “right” as an answer.

So, back to the pressing question, and my opinion:  “Do you approve or disapprove …?”    For most of the questions under the above link, my answer would be “No”.   The truest statement I could make, on Obama’s handling of foreign policy, “that i certainly don’t approve is not a statement that i therefore disapprove”.    I take the wishy-washy position since (I believe) in today’s hostile political climate,  disapproval implies from the right.   My unverifiable assertion is about one-third of Obama’s disapproval comes from the left.

So, for this class of opinion question, my answer is a resounding “NO”.