April 11, 2005

Is the Pope Catholic?

I have been awestruck by the millions of people who honored the Pope as he lay dying and at his funeral. The litany of works he did for peace and justice, from his early priesthood days through his papacy, does not have to be repeated here. In my mind, here was a holy man, viewed by Catholics as the representative of Jesus on earth. He was called "Holy Father" for good reason.

At the same time, I have been puzzled by the outpouring of criticism of this man. Many believe he should have "relaxed" Church laws concerning divorce, birth control and homosexual marriage (as a lapsed Catholic heterosexual divorced former user of birth control of various sorts, I also believe gays could be married).

Some have said that if the Pope wants to see the Church thrive in the United States, then he would have to allow these things. How so? It isn't like changing the laws of fasting, or not eating meat on Friday. Some of these things are articles of faith. The Church holds life dear, and marriage is a sacrament.

There are many problems in today's Church, as well as all faiths. But to change the tenets of the faith, "bringing it into the 21st century," would the Pope then be Catholic?

Posted by Gadflygirl at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Roll Call Vote on Terry

It goes without saying the parents of Terry Shiavo must be beyond grief. To learn that your daughter's feeding tube will be pulled and that she will die anytime within two weeks after its removal (which day will it be?) must be tougher than tough.

It is possible that Terry did not want extraordinary measures taken to save her life. Even if she didn't verbally express this desire, it would seem that she (or anyone) wouldn't want her family keeping her body alive artificially for years on end. But we will never know. It has been procedure, however, for the longest time, that the family member closest to the person who is brain-dead, makes the determination when to "pull the plug." Not the doctors, not friends or other relatives, but the closest family member … in this case, Terry's husband.

In the meantime, it is all politics all of the time. Florida courts have ruled on a couple of occasions to remove the tube and allow Terrie's death, only to have their rulings overturned and the tube re-inserted. Jeb Bush was responsible for overturning one such ruling and it was later decided he overstepped his authority.

After last Friday's ruling to remove the tube, Congress met all weekend to decide the case, led by Rep. Tom Delay (this I find "fantastic" in the sarcastic sense … that Delay would lead this charge). They met all day Sunday, and President Bush is prepared to leave his vacation in Crawford to come back to sign a ill "defending" Terry as soon as it is ready.

The Republicans are determined; and Democrats, having lost the last election on "values," are entering the fray … they will agree that the tube be reinserted while the Federal courts decide the case (so what were the other court cases all about?). On Friday, Terry's husband was offered one million dollars to keep the tube in and walk away. He refused. On Saturday, someone wanted to subpoena Terry herself. Senator Frist, after watching Terry on videotape provided by her parents, thinks Terry's doctors are wrong. Anyone who cites more important things to worry about could be accused of being heartless. Likewise, those Democrats who see congressional legislation as "trampling on a family matter," will be seen by others as holding no value on life, as usual.

This case came at just the right time: good for Delay, who is charged with ethics violations (and who blames Congressional Democrats for the charges), good for all Republicans whose values we all know are above all others, good for Democrats anxious to show they have some values in case you thought they didn't, good for mid-term elections in 2006, and good for President Bush's approval ratings.

Not good for Terry, who is only being used.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2005

The VP Has No (Proper) Clothes

Really, what was he thinking? The Washington Post Style Editor reported that on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, our VP appeared in the front row of the ceremony in a Nordic ski parka, with fur-lined hood, lace-up hiking boots, and a ski cap embroidered "Staff 2001." All that was missing was a can of Bud Lite and his "sled." There is something stapled to the string of his hood ... a ski pass? or a hunting pass from his trip with Justice Scalia? Honestly. Other foreign leaders and dignitaries were properly attired in dress black coats, dress black gloves and shoes, to mark the somber occasion of the liberation of the Jews from this death camp, victims of the worst atrocity in the history of the world.

Where were his "handlers?" Where were the administrators of protocol? What an embarrassment. He can dress up for appearances in debates, inaugurals, and Meet the Press. But representing the United States on this occasion? I guess not.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2005

Fur Bow Ties, Armadilloes, and Texas Long-Horned Steer

All represents to me a nation of meanness.

On Inauguration Day, my sister and a couple of our friends, had a discussion about meanness. I thought I saw tears well up in my sister's eyes, evidently the victim of it herself, on a local level. Haven't we all been.

I brought up the subject because I had gone to The Detroit Free Press, as I do daily, and thought about how much I missed my hometown (although I haven't lived there since 1987). I saw a photo of a man in downtown Detroit, doing something good for his city. I remembered how, when I lived in Detroit for most of my life, goodness and niceness permeated everything one did. Despite the bad rap Detroit has for crime, the normal populace has a good word for one another, a good deed to perform for one another, a smile, a respect for one another's point of view. There was no power grabbing, and credit was given one's due.

People in Traverse City, on the other hand, have no respect for any other viewpoint, power is the order of the day, and there are no pleases, thank-yous, nor appreciation (other than that given for toeing the line).

I wondered aloud if it was because of tv. Is it because of the Jerry Springer show, or the Bachelor, Bachelorette, or the Apprentice? Or Survivor? Where everyone who isn't "fighting naked" is back-biting their own team members? Or, is it, as my sister suggests, a result of day-care, where manners are not taught?

Or is it, as my husband maintains, trickle-down meanness? A president and an administration who has set the tone. Everyone for themselves. Our way or the highway. You're either with us or against us.

And so we as a nation go after anyone who doesn't think like we do, city officials find it necessary to go after the very people who voted for them. Co-workers are belligerent toward one another. Road-rage, shoving, pushing, and in-fighting.

How mean is it to import a Texas long-horned steer and a couple of armadillos for a pre-inaugural ball? Pretty mean.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

A Reason ... Make that an Explanation ... for Staying in Bed

I read an ABC/Washington Post Poll this morning (not that I give much credence to polls, especially after the 2004 election, and certainly well before). But this one had to do with optimism in the new year. Personal optimism is down 19 points from the same time last year; world optimism is down 15 points. Personal fear is up 18 points, while world fear is up 16 points. Democratic women (of which I am one) are "most glum. Fewer than half are hopeful about their own prospects and more than 6 in 10 are fearful about the world in the coming year." And 51% of men and women are more pessimistic about the war in Iraq (this, to me, isn't necessarily bad news).

My good friend calls her upcoming trip to Tanzania "getting out of Dodge." She and her husband are looking forward to this new adventure, seeing Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, and teaching children and adults for the next three months, trying to accomplish some good in the world. "Getting out of Dodge," however, sums up their disappointment of last November's election and their feelings about the war. In my view, a lot better idea than moving to Canada.

Tsunami … the feeling of futility knows no bounds. Donating to relief efforts doesn't even come near to overcoming the devastating emotion of this tremendous devastation of lives. In the meantime, I am still personally troubled that I have not seen images of Americans holding candlelight vigils, or attending church services, or laying flowers at an embassy somewhere. We saw this kind of mournful symbolism throughout Asia and Europe after 9/11.

As my husband often says, "attitude is established from the top down." Bush didn't come out of his vacation ranch for several days after the Tsunami disaster and only when prodded by someone who called us "stingy." I swore I heard on NPR the day of the Tsunami disaster that Colin Powell promised $100,000 in relief funds … no one believed me. Only today did Colin Powell explain what my husband called the "petty cash" disbursement process on Meet the Press, and I did hear correctly. It makes me think that our Secretary of State announced the hundred grand on purpose, to get someone to call us "stingy." Only today did Bush announce flags should be at half-mast for all of next week (what about last week?).

So, only two days into the new year, and I spent about 18 hours of it in bed. Wecome 2005.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

Veterans Day: Violence and Profanity

Today is Veterans Day. My dad was a Captain in the Army in WWII, and his brother also served, both stationed in England. My dad saw Saving Private Ryan when it came out in 1998, and urged his children to see it. We did.

On Veterans Day 2004, ABC and its affiliates have withdrawn its showing of this important movie about the landing at Normandy 60 years ago. The reason: Saving Private Ryan has profanity and violence ... apparently not suitable for viewing ... on Veterans Day ... while we are losing lives in Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah.

A showing of this movie would have to reasonably begin at 9 PM and "violence and profanity" can only be shown after 10 PM. Ask the Fox Network, the bastion of morality. Its Jerry Springer Show, where unspeakable acts are discussed to the taunts of "fight naked," and Fear Factor, where people apparently eat live snails, are shown after 10 PM.

My dad and uncle were very proud of their service to this country, and although probably shy about the title, both were born of the "greatest generation." They would be the first to tell you war is violent and it is profane.

ABC has placed this important movie on the same plane as Janet Jackson's exposure during the Super Bowl. If ABC were fined by the FCC $550,000 for showing Saving Private Ryan, it should be proud to pay the price.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2004

Involuntary drafts

I could relate to Maureen Dowd's Sunday, November 7th, NYT column about looking forward to the "New Frontier" when JFK was elected. On election day, I was as excited as she must have been back then, so sure was I that Kerry would be elected. I wore my dad's raincoat to the polls (it was the third anniversary of my dad's death), and whenever someone appeared nervous about the outcome of the election, I said, "I've got a good feeling!" Around 5 PM, I sat alone in my yard, grinning from ear to ear, feeling silly about the expression on my face since no one else was a witness, and remembered too when JFK was elected. My parents went out on the front porch in the early morning hours, while it was still dark, and banged pots and pans with wooden spoons!

Maureen Dowd says what we are now offered is the "New Backtier."

I talked to a friend of mine today, from a blue state, who asked me what I thought of the reservist who had served in the Gulf War and then served six more years, honorably discharged from his term of duty, who has now been called to active duty in Iraq. He is suing the Federal government. My friend labeled his callback the "new draft." What else could it be? Last year, the Army decided to involuntarily call back 5,600 troops from those discharged from the Army, the Reserves, and the National Guard ... to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I can only think of Bush on one of his campaign stops emphatically assuring his audience there would be no draft ... we would only have an "involuntary army." His audience had to correct him after several unsettling seconds.

My friend and I also recalled how the Viet Nam War was a nightly news story. Where is the news on Iraq really? Our media is "embedded," and we never know how many have been injured and only know how many have died from maybe one or two sources (The PBS News Hour and This Week with George Stephanopolis are the only two I am aware of which have a roll call of our dead soldiers). A photographer has been in trouble for taking photos of the flag-draped caskets as they are returned to this country. And as far as Iraqi civilians killed, the number exceeds 14,000 according to Iraq Body Count. Maybe when there is nightly reporting on lives lost, and by this I mean our soldiers and civilians ...

Posted by Gadflygirl at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2004

It's been a tough day

Okay, I cried during Kerry's "concession" speech, and now it is time for me to spew.

To all of those who believe that the war in Iraq is justified, I can only recommend you get a copy of the McNamara documentary called "The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons Learned." Substitute Iraq for Viet Nam and become afraid, very afraid.

Tell me McNamara isn't a tortured soul today.

To all those in Ohio who have lost their jobs and are about to lose their jobs to India and elsewhere, you reap what you sow.

To all those young people in the 18-28 age bracket who didn't vote this year, anxious as you were to get to the bar to shoot some pool, drink some beer and smoke some cigarettes, maybe when you don't get the job you are looking for, when you don't get health coverage, when you can't afford to buy a house, or car, don't ever tell me how tough it is out there.

To those of you who are struggling with two jobs, some kids, and no health insurance, who voted for Bush nonetheless because you were either swayed by the number of yard signs you saw, or because you think you will be saved from a terrorist attack, I hope you remember that you have helped no one but the wealthy. You certainly haven't helped yourselves.

To those of you who are struggling with two jobs, some kids, and do have health insurance ...if it is paid by your employer, get ready for a cut-back, and if you must pay for it yourself, brace yourself for a big increase in your premium come January.

To those of you who don't have prescription coverage, and I'm one of them, and the elderly who are cutting your pills in half and taking them every other day because of the cost of your medication, if you voted for Bush, keep slicing those pills.

To the Catholic Church, my church, it just seems reprehensible that while you were engaging in your own massive cover-up of your own insidious sex scandal, you had the audacity to enter into the political fray over a woman's right to choose. Does it not occur to you that in the meantime, thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, and yes, babies, have been killed? Where is your outrage over this?

And yes, to the young women out there who didn't vote or who voted for Bush, the hard work (and it was hard work, and the work was hard) done by women over a generation to put women on an equal playing field and to have control over their own bodies, I feel sorry for you.

To those of you who care about the environment and what will be left for your children and grandchildren, who voted for Bush ... never mind, I forgot that if you voted for Bush, you don't care about the environment.

To the media, and never would I have thought this twenty years ago, try becoming what you were meant to be ... a watchdog, an investigative body, a truth teller, a totem of a free society and free speech. Instead, you have become parrots of your corporate owners, and are a joke.

To the dirty tricksters, and by this I mean Karl Rove, Swift Boat Veterans, and others, who lied over and over again about Kerry, his record, and his patriotism, do you not feel the least bit of chagrin that you had to stoop so low in order to get your man re-elected?

Locally, to the people who voted to amend the state constitution to specify that a union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or any similar union for any purpose ... remember, Lynn and Dick Cheney's daughter is gay and has a partner. And many in traditional marriages, who voted to amend the constitution, have cheated on their spouses. I know so many of you myself.

That's it. It's been a tough day.

Posted by Gadflygirl at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)