Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Memory of Tim

What would Tim want us to be doing to honor his life’s work and mission? He was a graduate of my alma mater law school — Cleveland Marshall College of Law / Cleveland State University — no doubt its most famous alumnus. I think he might be pleased if Americans began to have serious, substantive discussions about the kinds of issues he often covered on his network broadcasts. One topic which I’d like to have readers of this blog / website weigh-in on is a measure that the U.S. could adopt which would instantaneously reduce its dependence on imported oil in a very big way, and which only one of our presidents was brave enough to champion. He’s still the most courageous living former president and I don’t think I have to be more specific than that.

Why not immediately lower speed limits nation wide to 50 miles per hour? The Bush / Fox talking points endlessly harp on the idea that the oil producing companies would realize the U.S. is serious about ending its oil addiction if the Democrats / environmentalists etc. would get behind drilling in ANWAR, etc. I think it would do far more to send such a message if we got serious about speed limits, gas mileage standards, and jump starting an Apollo Program to achieve independence from imported oil. Trucking companies are already imposing lower limits on their drivers, and this is something that is a no-brainer as I see it. Of course it could be political suicide for either McCain or Obama to support it during the campaign, so it won’t be mentioned if our candidates can possibly avoid it. But I think it’s time to begin a conversation that would pave the way for Congress and the next president to push for it in the first 100 days of the new administration. Comments anyone? I think I know how Tim Russert would pursue this if he were still with us.
Aloha O`e, ‘Big Guy’. You are, and will be missed.

And … how about some serious detailed discussion about exactly how Barak Obama should extricate us from the Iraq debacle in a way that will not label the Democratic Party for decades to come as the party that “lost Iraq” (or lost the Middle East?) For starters we could read two book discussed back to back on C-Span today. Check out my blog ( for more details.

The Genius of C-Span

I awoke at 7:30, miraculously, after going to bed a little after 5:00 A.M. I'm determined to stay awake and make it to sing with my friends, the wonderful folks in the choir at Honolulu's (and possibly the world's) most liberal United Church of Christ congregations (U.C.C.) To give others an idea of how "liberal" Church of the Crossooads is I tell people that our church gave sanctuary to AWOL Viet Nam veterans in the 1970s. For an up-to-date example I could relate what happened last Sunday after we had finished a hymn and Pastor McPherson pointed out from the pulpit that its author was a member of Trinity United Chruch in Chicago. Cheers broke out in the choir and applause and calls of "Amen" and even "Praise the Lord" were heard from all sides of the sanctuary.

What kept me awake between 2:00 and 5:00 AM was C-Span, as usual. There's literally nothing else among the countless "premium" cable offerings I recently signed up for that interests me at that time of day. I turned the TV on around midnite because I'd finally screwed up the courage to tackle a smelly kitchen sink full of dishes, and turned on C-Span in the living room to help keep me energized. I had the kitchen nearly cleaned around 4:00, but by that time was enthralled by a British author and journalist who seemed to know everything there is about Iraq. His name is Johnathan Steele and the book is "Why America and Britain Lost Iraq." He's an author and journalist who has spent years in the Middle East and is so erudite he knows that Winston Churchill was probably even more ignorant about Iraq than George W. Bush. The thesis of the book is the absurdity of America's and Britain's leaders actually believing in 2003 that they could successfully remove S.H. from power by invasion, shock, and awe, and proceed to occupy the country imposing their will on the Iraqi people and society, thereby soon converting the polity into a model secular, enlightened, democratic one that would become a loyal and valuable ally of the West.

Johnathan Steele further argues that of course this was never believed to any serious degree by the Neo-Cons, who do not now and never did want a short occupation. He also believes that there is a chance of avoiding an internecine bloodbath or a protracted civil war on the post-Tito post Yogoslavia scale when the U.S. begins to withdraw troops. Apparently he had a post about this on Huff Post at one time. Check C-Span or Google to find him.

As any half-way intelligent and discerning TV viewer knows, C-Span is the only real real source of fair, balanced and completely non-agenda driven information that exists (sorry PBS - it's not your mission.) True to form, C-Span's presentation just prior to its coverage of Steele's talk in a book store was another such talk by a young Marine Captain who has authored what sounds like a fascinating book. It describes the years he served in Iraq supposedly training the Iraqi military, a near hopeless task then and only slightly less so nearly three years later according to the Captain. His talk was frightening and disheartening on several levels, despite the fact that the author is clearly a model soldier and a fine young man. Unfortunately, he's perfectly comfortable with McCain's 50-100 year projection for our Iraq debacle. In any case, it was wonderful hearing the two presentations back to back. They could not have been any different, or more interesting. I must add that I resent having to sign up for Time-Warner's Premium cable TV package to get all 3 of C-Span's offerings, but after a month of having it I don't see how I could live without it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What does Mike want?

Unlike the myriad pundits and armies of cable news and C-Span junkies I'm not asking What the *#$@ does Hillary want? Nor have I ever. I feel the Clinton's pain in my bones, as I felt the exhilaration two years ago when it dawned on me I just might live long enough to see the first woman in the White House. It felt great, but nothing like the tectonic spine tingles I've experienced regularly for the past 36 hours each time that my TV screen is graced by that Tiger Woods smile, stretched between the most awe inspiring ears since Dumbo's lifted him out of the Big Top to soar treetops and commune with those crows that only a child or a Disney could love.

One of my favorite pundits made me chuckle a short while ago when he said “the primaries are over, alas” – I’m sure most would have ended that sentence as I did with “Thank God!”

I think I know what Hillary and Bill want at this point, and possibly always have always counted on in the deepest lock boxes of their aging boomer parents’ hearts – they want the first woman in the White House to be CHELSEY, and I predict she will be, unless Caroline pulls a Dick Cheney and ends up being Vice-President.

At this point I’m going to die happy no matter what, just as long as Camelot is finally restored to Washington by Barak and Michelle, and my son continues to love me as I know in my heart that he does and always has. Anything beyond that will be frosting on each of my swiftly decreasing number of birthday cakes, and that includes the novel I’m going to write, the restaurant I’m going to open on Kaua‘i, and the horse I’m going to buy and ride and love as my Mom and her siblings did all their lives. And grandchildren? Oh yeah. They’re going to love my horse too!