Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So the question now is . . .

Terre Haute Tribune Star, FLASHPOINT: Will Obama, et al., do the right thing? September 25, 2009

TERRE HAUTE Spotted during the recent Tea Party protest held in Washington, D.C., was a sign proclaiming this tasteless solution to America’s health care crisis: “Bury Obamacare With Kennedy!” Those assembled at this anti-health care reform, anti-Obama, anti-the-way-the-world-is-going-for-me gathering were doing what they do best, expressing their fears and frustrations with wildly misguided fierceness.

How different from the hope and good feelings pouring out of our capital city just eight short months ago.

Do you remember the poster signs Americans waved with pride at President Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009? If you were watching, you probably saw signs announcing “This Is Our Moment” and “A Great Beginning.” But “Moments” and “Beginnings,” auspicious as they may be, are just that, b
rief points of birth. No “Moment” guarantees winning the future; no “Beginning” secures expectations.

For the 2 million Americans at the inauguration and the many millions more who watched the proceedings on TV with a lump in the throat, the signs we should remember and act on from that beautiful day are these: “Work for Change!” and “Be the Change!”

And now come, depending on your source, the “thousands” (the New York Times) or “tens of thousands” (Fox News) or “two million” (Rush Limbaugh) who turned out for the Tea Party Express protest in Washington.

The leaders at this event spent a good amount of their time patting their audienc
e on the back for their underdog status (though most probably have jobs and health insurance), misrepresenting themselves as populists (though most have never read the socialist leaning Populist Party platform of 1892) and claiming all involved were in the vanguard of change that will “rein in government” (though most are probably rabid to extend our government’s reach around the world).

This vanguard of the haves was repeatedly assured that they were “patriot revolutionaries.” Fine, the scent of revolution in the air can be healthy for democracy.

But isn’t there a contradiction here? Shouldn’t revolutionaries show at least a modest inclination to accept change in
the world in which they live? And doesn’t everything these antis say, write and do scream out a fear of change? “Change” scares and angers the antis. Omelets and revolutions are not made without breaking eggs. These reactionaries are having their breakfast fare sunny-side up with grits, the official food of South Carolina, on the side.

No one can d
eny a kind of diversity within the ranks of the protesters. There were hard-charging Tea Baggers, “birthers,” “deniers,” Ron Paul acolytes and Ayn Rand enthusiasts. Semi-courageous ultra-conservative pols turned out to fish for votes they had at “Hello.” And the two “Joes” were in attendance. Or at least Addison Graves Wilson Sr., forever to be known as Joe “The Yeller” Wilson, was represented by his hot item “You Lie” T-shirt. Joe No. 1, “Joe the Plumber,” never again to be known as Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, made a speech supporting guns over plungers as the weapon of choice. So it was a brightly mottled crew, all angry, all afraid — of something.

The timid who are fearful of the future and so much else hoisted their sentiments in front of every camera available. From their posters we could learn this: “Obamacare makes me sick,” “Obama — The Greatest Communist President We Ever Had,” “Obama Lies — Grandma Dies,” and “Congress: are you stoned or just stupid? Please wake up and save America.”

The more venom
ous elements among these imitation revolutionaries waved placards making certain all knew that, “The Zoo has an African and the White House a Lyin” and “We came unarmed [this time].” Nice bit of work, no? Colonel Glenn Beck must have been proud of his logic-challenged, status quo-supporting troops.

Right wing zealots, whipped badly in the 2008 election, are whipped up daily by the Becks and the Limbaughs. These ranters pollute public discourse and are responsible to no one or thing other than their ratings and bank accounts. They target Obama, Congress, taxes, Ted Kennedy and whatever suits their fancy. But the simple ideology underlying the views of the celebrities of the lie and the half-lie that gets transposed onto clueless poster comments were spelled ou
t on this sign: “We are under attack by our own government.”

“We are under attack by our own government.” It is this view which justifies dismissing these protesters as hollow radicals and not thoughtful patriots. They lost an election, they are losing every fact-based debate and they just won’t take it anymore. They are saying to themselves and to us, your government isn’t to our liking, That’s it. Government is an assailant and the enemy — “We are under attack . . .”

But say what you will about messengers of fear who fail to supply even a minute nudge in the direction of a solution to any of our nation’s real problems, they are effective in creating targets to dread and detest. And for some people these fabricated targets do create anxiety and anger with no place to go other than into the waters of egotistical hysteria.

So the question now is will Obama, Bayh, Ellsworth and the Democratic Party of Indian
a ignore the manufactured discontent and directionless anger of the far right and work to provide all Americans with health care, sorely needed financial regulation and crucial energy/conservation legislation? If these leaders do not, all of us who voted for and embrace constructive change need to “Work for Change!” “Be the Change!” And when we do, and if necessary, we may need to turn our backs on those who are deserting us less than a year after assuring all that “This Is Our Moment!”
--Gary W. Daily

Monday, September 07, 2009

Manipulative, Mendacious and Misinformed Menagerie

It’s depressingly clear that bleating sheep are listening to chattering parrots which are fed crackers handed out by crafty and self-aggrandizing orangutans. This is unfair to the animals being referenced, but it nails the source, flow and targeted herd of those opposing health care reform.

Perched in skyscraper treetops above the hurly burly of real life, secure in times of hardship as well as prosperity, imperious orangutans ultimately call the shots. The orangutans of Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Profits ask not what they can do for the citizens who create the luxurious penthouse tree tops they permanently inhabit. Their vision for those below begins and ends with the flattening of life into a bottom line. For the orangutans it’s all about business. And the crumbs falling from the cake they enjoy from on high are used to satisfy those who only think crumbs, have only experienced crumbs, only expect crumbs.

Pointing sharp talons at imagined and conveniently created enemies, blathering on and on with crooked tongues, the parrots of paranoia squawk incessantly from the echo chambers of talk radio and the Fix News channel. Chattering their way to the bank, they deposit droppings of exaggeration, bluster, and communal indifference along a twisting, worn path laid down long ago by the orangutans, their cracker dispensing masters. The path they screech and preach is beaten dusty by naive and nervous sheep.

Protesting mindlessly, denouncing everything from imagined “death panels” to a nefarious plan to “take away my medicare” and replace it with a government program (!?!), the uninformed, misinformed and don’t inform me sheep, bleat out their ignorance of the facts. Primed by the parrots, patronized by the orangutans, this much-handled herd turn their backs into ever-stiffening rods, their brains into one-way sponges, and their hearts into stone. They mistrust democracy because they only understand the narrowed, self-interested world molded for them by those who fear democracy.

This is the animal domain of the healthcare opposition in America. You may enter it out of curiosity and frustration, but it deserves nothing but contempt. You cannot reason or compromise with sheep, parrots and orangutans. Health care reform requires that we choose to exist outside of this menagerie’s uncaring indifference.

We must have health care reform that recognizes those in need but who go without; health care which protects those of limited resources who live each day with anxiety and pain; health care reform which serves the community at large because we are a community not an animal reservation.

Orangutans will bellow, while reaching for more, ever more: “Inefficient! Unfair. Dangerous.”

Parrots will bob and sweat, prattling on: “Un American! Socialism. Hitler. Be afraid.”

Sheep will be sheep. But perhaps between bleats they will admit that the luck of a healthy childhood and a crisis free old age is not guaranteed. Adults recognize a family’s medical needs shouldn’t depend on luck. They acknowledge that erratic luck is no substitute for a health care system serving all, available to all, and paid for by all.

When we achieve this as a nation community, we will be expressing to all and to ourselves the power of democracy and the core of our humanity.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rainbows and Dreams Come to Terre Haute

“Follow the fellow who follows a dream.”

The New York TimesBob Herbert did a nice job on the Kennedy brothers in his column last week, using this theme:

“But I always found ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ to be a more appropriate touchstone for the family, especially the song ‘Look to the Rainbow,’ with the moving lyric, ‘Follow the fellow who follows a dream.’”

An added bonus is this Terre Haute sighting in the column:

“The Kennedy message was always to aim higher, and they always — or almost always — appealed to our best instincts. So there was Bobby speaking to a group of women at a breakfast in Terre Haute, Ind., during the 1968 campaign. As David Halberstam recalled, Bobby told the audience: ‘The poor are hidden in our society. No one sees them anymore. They are a small minority in a rich country. Yet I am stunned by a lack of awareness of the rest of us toward them.’”

And who were the women at that breakfast and what are they remembering today? Hopefully, it’s something about rainbows and dreams.

--Terre Haute Tribune Star, September 2, 2009