Posts Tagged ‘politics’

It’s Nixon time again

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

OK, fellow boomers,

It is time – unfortunately – to confront yet again that spectre of our youth, Richard Milhous Nixon. It seems that more of his papers and of course those infamous tapes have been released recently and some luckless soul tasked himself with updating our image of the man, documenting his endless tricks and missteps.

And endless they are, from sabotaging a Vietnam peace deal in ’68 – before he was elected! – so he could beat Humphrey, to spending weeks drunk in ’73 during the Yom Kippur war, leaving decisions to Kissinger and Haig and almost triggering a nuclear war.

Terry Gross interviews Tim Weiner, the guy who documents all this, on a recent Fresh Air episode titled “The Tragedy of Richard Nixon”. You can find it here on the web or search for that title on your phone’s podcast app.

Why should you listen? I suppose one reason is for “closure” though I hate that word and the idea behind it. A better reason is to remind yourself that things were every bit as fucked up in our younger years as it seemed at the time. Or, if you don’t want to go home again, listen to better understand why we are in the mess we are today.

But don’t eat right before you click “play”: once again, Richard Nixon will make you wretch.

A scathing exit

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I heard an interview on Fresh Air with Tony Judt, a British and American historian, or, as he preferred to call himself, a teacher of history. Judt’s interview with Terry Gross starts with his battle with ALS, which consumed the last two years of his life. As compelling as that story is, it was his description of his last book, dictated during his medical travails, that riveted me.

Ill Fares the Land is a summing up of the lessons Judt learned from his lifetime of studying and analyzing the 20th century.

Short and to the point, the book is a brutally honest description of our world today: what we’ve we’ve surrendered as a society and who we’ve surrendered to.

Given the hellacious election season now underway in sad and mad America, what Judt says about politics and politicians pierced like a honed dagger.

Below is an excerpt describing our current crop of “leaders” that really caught me.

Ill Fares The Land

By Tony Judt
pg 133-135

The men and women who dominate western politics today are overwhelmingly products or, in the case of Nicolas Sarkozy, byproducts of the ’60s. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are all ‘baby boomers’. So are Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the ‘liberal’ prime minister of Denmark; Segolene Royal and Martine Aubry, the bickering challengers for leadership of France’s anemic Socialist Party and Herman Van Rompuy, the worthy but underwhelming new President of the European Union.

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Why nothing works.
Part 1: Let’s save the park!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

An outbreak of community activism has turned into a crash seminar in why absolutely nothing gets done in America any more.

I’ve become involved with a group trying to keep a large, “unactivated” chunk of San Francisco’s McLaren Park from being strip-mined into a disc golf course. I have doubts as to how successful the group will be – read on to see why – but the cause is just and true: McLaren Park is an oasis of wildness in a densely urban environment, the last bit of city land untouched by developers, planners, and others who consider unbulldozed real estate “wasted”.

Disc golf, for those not in the know (and I sure wasn’t),  is one of those fake sports made up by bored post-pubescent males. Expensive frisbees, edges honed and hardened like an axehead, are thrown from coffin-sized chunks of concrete called “tees” at chain-link baskets on five foot poles called “holes”. Put 18 tees and holes together and you have a “course” consuming dozens of acres. Add beer and bongs to the discs whizzing by at 50 mph and you can clear a park of trees, picnickers, birds, meadows, hikers and dogs in no time. The city allowed a course in Golden Gate Park a few years ago. Today the area looks like an active Marine Corps training ground.

Park aficionados are very upset with this plan and not just for the obvious reasons. The decision to install the course was taken by the Grand Poo-Bahs of S.F.’s Recreation and Parks Department (affectionately known as “Wreck-Park”) without notifying anybody who actually uses the park – a big no-no here on the Left Coast, especially in this city.

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A letter to God

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

I know, I know… Post anything about religion or politics and I’m likely to lose half of my 50 or so readers. Oh, well. Life’s tough, it’s getting tougher for everybody, and I’m heading into surgery again (more tomorrow), so what the hell? I need a diversion. Read or not, your choice. There’ll likely be something political here sooner or later, then I’ll lose the other half of you. Que sera sera, as Doris used to sing.

Dear God, Can We Talk?

Actually, can I talk and you just listen? I know it’s not your usual M.O. – truth is, that’s what I want to chat about, all this talking you’re doing – so maybe you could just channel your Good-Cop side and grant an indulgence?

… … ??? …

I’ll take that as a yes. Thanks, God. I’ll be quick. (more…)