Obama Receives his Nobel
President Obama accepted his Nobel medal and $1.4 million winnings in Oslo Thursday "with deep gratitude and humility." In his address to the assemblage he added that the "hard truth" is that war can be necessary to achieve peace.
He also acknowledged the controversy surrounding his win, with critics saying a wartime president just months into his administration doesn't deserve the medal, by modestly pointing out that his accomplishments are "slight" compared to other prize recipients.
Obama said that that the most "profound" issue surrounding his win is that he's the head of a country in the midst of two wars, adding that because of this "I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace."
Obama scored big on his acceptance speech, even among his political enemies. It drew praise from conservatives the likes of Pat Buchanan, Sarah Palin, and even that near fossilized Gingrich named Newt. It had a difficulty mark as high as any speech since his presidency, pointing out the irony that he, a war time president presiding over two wars, should be given a “peace” prize in his first year in office. Comment from virtually all sides called it “a very presidential speech.” It made us at the Little Eddy Blog feel proud that our country is being represented by a man who can think, reason, and articulate his position with such clarity and preciseness.§
President #43, George W. Bush, clowns it up while driving the national debt to unfathomable heights. – Photo from 4chan.org
GOP – The Party of No!
Isn’t it interesting how the Republican Party as a unit was unflinching as Bush/Cheney proceeded to outspend every previous administration combined during their 8 year reign, and yet they screech and holler every time President Obama wants to spend a nickel to help right the economy they caused to crash.
Well, maybe more than a few nickels are involved here, but it’s important to listen to the economists, not Republicans. How did the Republicans manage to do it? They did it by spending money outrageously, primarily by fighting two wars without paying for them after giving generous tax cuts to the very wealthy. That is what got us into this mess in the first place.
And the economic collapse came during Bush/Cheney’s last year, not Obama’s first. And by screaming NO! NO! NO! to every measure Obama comes up with in his attempt to right the ship of State, it would seem the GOP’s intention is to keep us mired in a permanent state of chaos. Perhaps in the fond hope that they might profit from it politically in the upcoming elections of 2010 and 2012?
Perhaps if during Bush/Cheney the Democrats had rebelled and acted like the Republicans are acting these days, maybe Bush/Cheney could have been curbed somewhat in its spending binge. But that was not how the game was played in those days. Democrats didn’t act like Republicans are acting these days. They respected the party that was in office and cooperated with them for the good of the country, frequently to the ultimate detriment to the country. “For the good of the country” is a phrase completely lost on today’s Republican.
Obama’s spending unused TART money to help small businesses by giving them tax breaks and access to credit, is a good thing, for it will put people back to work, so that they can begin paying taxes again, and eventually this will begin to pay down our enormous national debt.
Republicans, such as RNC leader Michael Steele, will continue to mindlessly scream “NO!” at every Obama initiative, but don’t listen to them. Their reasoning doesn’t compute. It’s too damn bad they couldn’t have found their voices to scream NO! during those Bush/Cheney years when the GOP was in power and running up those huge deficits.
Obama was elected to get us out of the mess that the Republicans left us in. Let GOP squawk to their heart’s content. T.S. is what we used to say in good ole World War II. And tough shit it is indeed!§
Saturday Night Live (which in these days of streamlining we love to tag with its initials SNL) is having renewed life on the political front in 2008 and 2009. Tina Fey first breathed new life into the series with her dead on impersonation of Sarah Palin. And in the above clip SNL shows the ridiculousness of our infatuation with those two weird party crashers to Obama’s first state dinner.§
I swear, we, the human race, have heads made of Kryptonite. We believe only what we choose to believe. Thus explains the popularity of Fox News with its politically skewered reporting and conservative opinions over CNN which goes out of its way to present news that is fair and balanced. It explains the Flat Earth crowd’s seizing on those leaked emails to charge the scientific community with fraud in the making of global warming a largely human responsibility. All of this flying in the face of overwhelming evidence such as the meltdown of the glaciers and the endangerment of arctic species like the polar bear.§
And can you believe the rapid disillusionment of a star athlete’s public persona as has happened to that of Tiger Woods’ over the course of the past couple of weeks? And Monday night, a few days beyond the week between Tiger’s wrapping his SUV around that Florida tree, again at 2:35 in the a.m. an ambulance was dispatched to the Woods home, this time to transport the ailing mother of Woods’ wife to the same hospital Woods was taken to the day after Thanksgiving.
Rumor has it that the lady supported Mr. Woods until the seventh woman claiming an affair popped up. Some reports have the Woods mistress tally now placed at eleven and rising. Was this what triggered the lady’s stomach pains? And I guess the major thing we’ve learned from this staggering number of admissions of Tiger’s infidelities is why the World’s Greatest (and Richest) Athlete was so desirous of privacy in his personal life. Mr. Woods climaxed the week with an announcement on his website that he is giving up professional golf for the time being to devote himself to his family. To which cynics might add, it's about damned time!
Ashley Dupreé, the Call Girl who was N.Y. ex-governor Elliot Spitzer’s waterloo, is quite critical of the Woods harem who are selling their stories and Tiger’s text messages to the nation’s tabloids. Dupreé who gained fame as the date of Client #9, never used her court gained notoriety to have any comment on her famous client, and is on record as criticizing Grubbs’ and company for selling their stories and voice messages. Dupreé cites it as being the difference between a professional sex worker as opposed to a mistress. And in her book the professional wins the discretionary battle hands down.§
Justice, Italian Style, a Travesty
The biggest story we missed last week was expressing our outrage over the Amanda Knox travesty that masqueraded as justice in Italy. Frankly, it came late in the week, and it was so outrageous that I couldn’t think of any way to treat it that wasn’t a downer. My son Joel, who is in the last year of his residency in Phoenix, AZ, and who plans to go into psychiatry upon finishing his residency, wrote an email concerning the verdict which I publish below.
Amanda Knox found guilty of murder? I love Italian art and food dearly, but the Italian legal system is a joke – trials that take 2 years while the defendant sits in jail, jurors not sequestered, a judge denying testimony from defense DNA experts, corrupt prosecutors with unchecked and almost unlimited power, a system derived from Inquisition justice, people in the streets cheering the verdict like a modern day Colosseum, a system that convicts an innocent young woman apparently because of a pervasive culture of tabloidism and anti-Americanism.
OK, so the British tabloids are just as disgusting. But I've never heard of a case where somebody so obviously innocent in my eyes was convicted, especially when they already had the guy who did it. The prosecution theory was simply preposterous. As far as Italy, I don't plan on ever going back there again. That country now just frightens me – a place where prejudice seems to rule. And I complain about our legal system – it may be bad at times, but never anything like this.
– Joel Badeaux
Words do fail me as I think back on my own reaction to the verdict. Disbelief, outrage, disgust were just a few of the many emotions my nervous system processed as I heard the verdict announced on television. I really feel that America’s best reaction to the verdict would be to avoid traveling to Italy like the plague. I ask you, who the hell in their right mind would want to travel to a country where justice is such a mockery? Perhaps if enough tourists avoid the country, and make clear their reasons for doing so to travel agents, perhaps that might eventually have an effect on the country’s justice system. Probably not, but we can dream, can’t we? At the very least it is something we can do, and we should do something, shouldn’t we?§
Singing in Camps
For the past few weeks I have included some of my reminiscences of my 22 years of working in New England children’s camps in my blog. Below is this week’s contribution.
Camp singing was a regular activity at the University Settlement Camp as surely as campers went to shop or to horseback riding or any other activity. Regular classes was where a time could be found to teach campers the songs we sang, as each night the entire camp came together for a nightly after-dinner sing.
At Killooleet in Hancock, VT, singing was put in a more realistic perspective. A Sing happened every Friday night, where I or one or more of the other counselors would teach and sing songs. However song leading duties were passed around pretty evenly, and even included John and Ellie Seeger, who sang a cappella Broadway show tunes in a most distinctive styling. However, singing wasn’t an activity period there. I spent time during the day giving private lessons on guitar or banjo to any camper who desired them. And in later years I brought my darkroom up to camp, and taught photography, and led a photography club.
By the time I got to Blueberry Cove my interests had definitely widened from song leading to photography, and Sings were limited to evening campfires, and to times of stress. One such time was one day when a child in a baseball game was hit in the head by a soft ball. He was unconscious for a time, and the entire camp experienced an immediate downer. I helped in the re-lifting of spirits by rustling up my 5-string banjo and leading singing with a string of my so-called blockbusting camp “hits.” The boy received medical attention, and later proved to be alright.
On another day at Blueberry Cove a fierce lightning storm came up just as we were finishing the mid-day meal. It was a scary time, you could see the lightning flashes as they hit the tent frames of the two tents which lay on the hill below the Maine, which was the building we ate in. Again I brought out my banjo and started in singing. The Ship Titanic, and Sipping Cider (Through a Straw) and other sure fire camp hits stormed forth and within minutes fear had dissolved into enthusiastic singing, and so that was how we ran out the storm.§
Looking back with the perspective of time, it is interesting to reflect on the unique and complete kinds of experiences offered by each of the three camps I worked for. In the Settlement Camp we tried to cram as many of the experiences offered by a seven week camp into each three-week trip. As a result campers were offered an experience which left little or no time for reflection and contemplation. As a result there was no such thing as homesickness at the camp. There was simply no time for it.
It was in my fourth year of working in children camps that I moved to Camp Killooleet (named by original founder Margaret Bartlett for a bird call) and was confronted with “homesickness.” This was quite a surprise to me, and I really didn’t know how to confront it. My first group was a group of seven year olds, and one of them, Andy G., was terribly down during most of his cabin time. I tried giving him personal attention, including hugs and the like, but that seemed to only make him worse.
Andy had two older sisters at camp, Dee G., 9, and Prue G., 11, neither of which had the slightest touch of homesickness. And it was Prue who noticed that my cuddling Andy seemed to be making him worse, and who snapped him out of it by betting me, in front of him, that if I thought he was sad now, wait until the end of camp, when she bet he would be every bit as homesick for camp as he was crying now for home, if not more so. Andy was mortified, but Prue turned out to be dead on. And Andy cried at the end at least as hard as he had in the beginning, and he returned for at least three more summers.
Killooleet campers were a shade older than those of Blueberry Cove, which if memory serves me went up to age 15. They were a sophisticated bunch, and when I returned for a one day visit during my first year at BBC, I was shocked to discover that Killooleet campers seemed fashionably dressed, looking just like they stepped out of the annual children’s fashion edition of the New York Times Magazine which used to be photographed by the late Diane Arbus on a Caribbean island and published annually by the Times Magazine.
If the campers at Killooleet were style conscious, the opposite could be said about the campers at Blueberry Cove. They were a bit younger, in most cases stopping just short of the age of puberty. And they were completely unselfconscious as to how they were dressed. On hot days little girls were just as likely to go shirtless as little boys. The camp with its Maine environment, was a bit more rugged than Vermont had been, what with its being on the ocean and all, and the children reflected this. There is a certain wildness about the Maine Coast which played out with the children. And for whatever reason, I was not aware of homesickness as a problem at Blueberry Cove.
However, there was one observation I can make about the children in all of the camps. Children from the poverty of the Settlement Neighborhood to the plush Beverly Hill locations of several Killooleet and B.B.C. children, to the Park Ave addresses of several others, the children were basically the same. Settlement neighborhood campers tended to be warmer and more open and outgoing, whereas children from more middle class situations tended to be a bit more subdued and reflective. However, they were all spontaneous and generally outgoing.
As a general rule they were a study to observe as they were just beginning to use the social tools which would see them all the way through to adulthood. They made for an exciting adventure with every summer that came forth, and made for a series of indelible memories, as rich, exciting, and adventuresome as you could ask for. Each camp was different, as were each of the campers, but none towered over the others. All were equally engaging, each in its own unique way.§
John and Yoko Lennon. His last photo, taken by Annie Liebovitz on Dec. 8, 1980, the day he was assassinated.
It Was 29 Years to the Day
It has been twenty nine years since a complete nonentity named Mark David Chapman assassinated John Lennon, as he and Yoko were returning from a recording studio. Chapman had left his job as a night watchman in Hawaii to come to New York City and hang around the Dakota Apartments for several months until he managed to pull off Lennon’s execution.
The word at the time was that Chapman was a crazed ex-fan who was stirred into action as Lennon and Ono released their Double Fantasy album, making Lennon once again a major player in the music industry. But I could never buy that explanation.
For one thing, how much could Chapman have salted away as a night watchman in Hawaii? Enough to fly to New York, and hang around for several months before his big day?
And true to the political assassinations of the ‘60’s after the deed Chapman spouted parts of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, as if that would establish the fact beyond doubt of his derangement.
Finally after several years of incarceration an attempt was made to shift Chapman to a mental institution, where he could have eventually been released if found to be no threat to others. However there was so much outrage at the time that the transfer was withdrawn, and Chapman was returned to the N.Y. criminal system where he belonged, and where he remains to this day.
There was one media hint of this as a political assassination. Ed Asner, the actor who played Lou Grant on the television series of the same name, was raising money for medical supplies for the Sandanista government in Nicaragua, a regime which the Reagan administration was planning a war against. Asner appeared one evening on the Nightly News and read aloud from a letter he had received. The letter warned him to cease his support for the Nicaraguan regime or he would suffer the same fate as John Lennon, who had been assassinated a year or so before.
Upon hearing Asner read the threat, the whole chronology suddenly became clear: Reagan was elected president in November, 1980, and already the secret government which supports America’s clandestine war efforts was planning incursions into both Nicaragua and El Salvador to begin the minute Reagan was inaugurated.
They saw Lennon as a threat that couldn’t be muzzled. During Vietnam the Lennons had bought a sign on Broadway which had read, “War is Over, If You Wish. Signed John and Yoko.” But what really shook them up was how Lennon had managed to free a little known free spirit named John Sinclair who was serving a 99 year sentence in Michigan for possession of marijuana. Merely by writing and singing a song about him, Lennon had caused Sinclair to be freed 3 days after he had sung the song publicly for the first time, thereby exhibiting a power to pervade Michigan’s legal system, a power so pervasive it displayed an influence no performer in history had previously shown.
Now it is true that only a most fanciful imagination can conjure up such a scenario for Lennon’s assassination, but on the other hand, the fact is that such a clandestine operations were demonstrated beyond doubt during the mid-sixties when the country was treated to a slew of assassinations, beginning with that of John F. Kennedy, and including Malcolm X., Martin Luther King, Jr., and finally Bobby Kennedy. My theory of the Lennon assassination fingers that secret part of our American government which had freely exercised its unspoken right of assassination during the mid-60’s.
There follows an account of John’s murder by Mark R. Elsis on the fan website: http://www.john-lennon.com/ In a piece entitled: Who Authorized the Assassination of John Lennon? it seconds our evaluation of the assassination. Mr. Elsis describes the assassination itself in graphic terms (the squeamish might want to skip over the next three paragraphs.)
“Just as John turns, about 15 feet through the large arch with iron gates of the Dakota, the assassin fires two shots into the left side of his back. There's a crash of shattering glass as the bullets that pass through John's body smash into the Dakota's glass frontage. These two shots spin him around. He is now facing his assassin.
“Blood is already pouring out from the first two bullets and the four wounds, as the assassin takes aim at John again. He fires three more shots. Two of the bullets smash into John's left shoulder. The other goes astray. The greatest singer songwriter and the most influential political artist of our time staggers up six steps to the room at the end of the entrance used by the concierge, said, "I'm shot," then fell down.
“I'm shot,” he moans lying on the floor. “John's been shot,” screams Yoko. Jay Hastings the security man reaches under his desk and presses the alarm button, notifying the police from the nearby 20th Precinct. He then rushes to John's side and removes his blood stained glasses. Then he takes off his uniform jacket to cover him. He wants to use his tie as a tourniquet, but can't decide where to apply it.”
To me the widely believed myth, that Lennon was assassinated by a crazed fan who traveled all the way from Hawaii on a night watchman’s wages, then lived in N.Y.C. for some months before he pulled the trigger, never really computed. Not to mention, babbling quotations from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in the tradition of the political assassins of the sixties. It is a sad assumption, but it precisely follows the tradition of our other Banana Republic type assassinations of the sixties. And unfortunately, to me a political assassination is the only theory that makes any sense.§
For the life of me I can’t think of a more down moment than the assassination of John Lennon. It scarred my life, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others. However, as much as I hate a downer, it is important that we remember this deed which was probably an attempt to silence for all time a voice which would have surely railed against the upcoming, planned wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador that the Reagan administration was busily preparing to crank up.
And just as sure as I’m sitting here typing this, next week will bring us other moments to smile, laugh, and/or rage about. Not being clairvoyant we have no idea what the coming week will bring. But discovering and writing about it is what gets us up and going in the mornings. As we are so fond of saying, we write and polish the entire week, and upload to Google on Saturday mornings. And that will stay up until the following Saturday.
We hope you find your way back again any time next week. Meantime, bye, bye. But whatever you do, don’t buy into that Republican nonsense. Life is worth more than a series of negatives.