January 15, 2018

The Trump crisis on TV

In the latest Madam Secretary, President Conrad Dalton goes a bit nutty and plans to start a war with Russia.  His cabinet stands up to him and invokes Article 25 of the Constitution, replacing him with the vice president. Turns out he does have a mental problem and goes to Walter Red and gets it fixed.
It's a bit uncomfortably topical, but given what we're going through in real life, worth watching if you can find that episode.

Just wondering

Sam Smith - If Catholic and evangelical hospitals can refuse to give abortions and if bakers can refuse to make cakes for gay couples, can Quakers decline to pay that portion of their taxes that goes to the military?

Word: Why Norwegians don't immigrate to America

America didn't have illegal immigration for its first century

LA Times -For those clamoring for a wall against immigrants, it may come as a surprise to learn that there were no federal laws concerning immigration until well into the history of the United States. When people say “my ancestors came here legally,” they’re probably right. For the first century of the country’s existence, anyone could land here and walk right off the boat with no papers of any kind,. Coming here “illegally” did not even exist as a concept.

The first federal general immigration law was enacted in 1882. It prohibited from entering the U.S. “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” In other words, unless you were physically or mentally incapable of taking care of yourself, you were in — unless you were Chinese.

That’s because the first sweeping federal restriction on immigration also came in 1882, in the form of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Troubled by the influx of Chinese workers — who helped build the transcontinental railroads, among other things — Congress enacted a wholesale ban on their further immigration that year. To enforce the ban, a bureaucracy had to be created, leading in 1891 to the establishment of the federal Bureau of Immigration, the first body charged with enforcing federal immigration law.

Turning from civil rights to Vietnam and poverty cost ML King support

Intercept -In 1999, the polling agency Gallup set out to determine the individuals Americans most admired in the 20th century.

Mother Teresa came in first, with 49 percent of Americans putting her at the top; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ranked second, with 34 percent placing him on the same list. But, the polling agency would later write, “King was far from universally revered during his lifetime.” They noted that in 1966, 63 percent of Americans held a negative view of the civil rights leader, while just 32 percent held a positive one. This was a marked reversal from five years earlier, when 41 percent of Americans gave King a positive rating and 37 percent a negative one.

King’s slide in popularity coincided with his activism taking a turn from what Americans largely know him for — his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.

Saving net neutrality with local internet

Alternet -Fort Collins, Colorado, joins a growing list of cities opting in to their own internet, and opting out of big telecom, much to the disdain of giants like Comcast. All told, big telecom and anti-net neutrality agencies spent nearly a million dollars trying to defeat the Fort Collins move.

In contrast, according to Christopher Mitchell, director of Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, concerned citizens of Fort Collins organized on social media and coordinated “broadband and brews” events at local beer hot spots, spending a total of about $15,000.

Word

I must be getting absent minded. Whenever I complain that things aren't what they used to be, I always forget to include myself - George Burns

January 14, 2018

Americans support DACA

CBS News poll  shows 70 percent of Americans favor allowing those who benefit from the program, often known as “Dreamers,” to stay in the country.

Flotsam & Jetsam: Your editor's dubious poetic past

Sam Smith - One of the things that my lovely, talented, first and only wife discouraged me from when we married some 51 years ago was sending out Christmas cards that included questionable poems I had written. The other day a long time friend found some in her files and sent them to me. Since Christmas is safely over, it may be safe to publish one of them from1961:

UNTIL MEGADEATH DO WE PART 
Down the little snowflakes fall
Bringing hazards to us all.
Spreading for the years to come 
Particles of strontium
Gently landing helter skelter 
On each house and fallout shelter
Permeating milk and beans
And eventually genes. 
I really wouldn't give a hoot
But three eyed kids just don't look cute
So let' go celebrate Noel
In someone's safe subsurface cell
With our geiger counters handy
Christmas should be fine and dandy.


I got started writing  poems while working for Roll Call newspaper, the most striking of which was a full page verse that included the names of all 435 members of the House of Representatives. I sort of cheated near the end because I was getting tired, so used lines that ran something like:

You might write a line that ran
[then I listed 20 some remaining representatives]
You see it would rhyme
But would it scan? 

A couple of my favorites included Waiter, I Think There’s a Subversive in My Soup:
Little men of little faith,
Claim they’ve seen the nation’s wraith
Fearing not atomic war,
But a coup by those next door
Everywhere lies hidden danger
Doubt the friend, doubt the stranger’
One fine day their cause they’ll smother
When they start to doubt each other.
And this:
I like to go down to the zoo
And there I sit and watch the gnu.
I’ve also noticed recently
The gnu has started watching me.
For hours we just share a stare
A happy unproductive pair
Economists we might impress
With our total uselessness.
Still it’s the G-N-U for me.
Let others boost the GNP.

Remembering remarkable activist Josephone Butler

 



And here's my take on Jo from my book "Why Bother?"

Sam Smith - One black woman with whom I worked closely, Josephine Butler, first went on a picket line in the 1930s. Only multiple heart attacks in the mid-1990s stopped her from doing so again. The last time I saw Jo Butler in the intensive care unit we discussed books. Though burdened with the cold, involuntary appendages of medical technology, Jo spoke with the same enthusiasm she applied to the latest political developments.

In fact, there was little -- from earthworms to earth-shaking -- that did not stir Jo's curiosity and, when required, her compassionate and effective concern. Though her heart might be filled with the overwhelming political and social problems of our time, her eye was always on the sparrow and she seldom wasted much time on sorrow.

I loved to run into Jo on the street -- her bag overflowing with yet to be distributed documents of truth and her hat bedizened with buttons -- campaign ribbons from the endless battlefields where she had stood on the side of the fair, the decent, and the just. She carried the spirit of the city and the spirit of hope not as a possession or a totem, but as seeds to share with anyone who would stop and talk for a moment or two.

She had worked longer for, and lost more battles on behalf of, justice than anyone I ever met, yet I never saw her fearful, impatient or exhausted. She would, from time to time, show up on my block of Connecticut Avenue like some angel on a temporal inspection tour. We would talk, and laugh, and worry together and when we parted I would always feel more directed, more responsible for what was going on around me, but happier and braver as well and willing to try the difficult one more time. She lived that life so well described by the poet Samuel Hazo, filled with "hard questions and the nights to answer them, and grace of disappointment, and the right to seem the fool for justice."
One black woman with whom I worked closely, Josephine Butler, first went on a picket line in the 1930s. Only multiple heart attacks in the mid-1990s stopped her from doing so again. The last time I saw Jo Butler in the intensive care unit we discussed books. Though burdened with the cold, involuntary appendages of medical technology, Jo spoke with the same enthusiasm she applied to the latest political developments.

In fact, there was little -- from earthworms to earth-shaking -- that did not stir Jo's curiosity and, when required, her compassionate and effective concern. Though her heart might be filled with the overwhelming political and social problems of our time, her eye was always on the sparrow and she seldom wasted much time on sorrow.

I loved to run into Jo on the street -- her bag overflowing with yet to be distributed documents of truth and her hat bedizened with buttons -- campaign ribbons from the endless battlefields where she had stood on the side of the fair, the decent, and the just. She carried the spirit of the city and the spirit of hope not as a possession or a totem, but as seeds to share with anyone who would stop and talk for a moment or two.

She had worked longer for, and lost more battles on behalf of, justice than anyone I ever met, yet I never saw her fearful, impatient or exhausted. She would, from time to time, show up on my block of Connecticut Avenue like some angel on a temporal inspection tour. We would talk, and laugh, and worry together and when we parted I would always feel more directed, more responsible for what was going on around me, but happier and braver as well and willing to try the difficult one more time. She lived that life so well described by the poet Samuel Hazo, filled with "hard questions and the nights to answer them, and grace of disappointment, and the right to seem the fool for justice."