Posted by James McPherson on November 27, 2008
One of the many hopes of those who voted for Barack Obama is that the embarrassment of Guantanamo might be closed. One of the very few benefits of Guantanamo, and of prisons in general, is the occasional glimpses of light cast on the humanity and hope of even the most destitute.
“Cup poems,” words scratched with pebbles into Styrofoam, offer one example. Perhaps none of the writings offered in one collection are great poetry, and one Amazon reviewer writes about the book of collected poems: “This is not poetry. It’s a political agenda chopped up into lines.” But for me, that raises the eternal question of what makes poetry great.
I would put such things as timeless truths and important questions high on the list. Great poems also must include beautiful, or at least creative, use of language, and that may be where the collection falls short. Still, there are lines worth considering as we reflect today on what we are most thankful for, including these words from the “world’s most famous journalist,: Sami al-Hajj:
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them
That architecture is not justice.
Speaking of architecture, in January I will visit Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I’ve been thankful since the presidential election that the loss of the World Trade Center hasn’t quite managed to make Lady Liberty irrelevant.
Yet I also realize that despite the warnings of folks such as Deepak Chopra, yesterday’s unfortunate attacks and ongoing hostage situation in India (for which, despite hundreds of casualties, CNN felt obligated to provide a story headlined “Terrified Westerners describe Mumbai chaos” and a link to a separate story titled “Nashville woman hurt in Mumbai attacks”) make it likely that some will want to renew the same kind of policies that led to Guantanamo.
As we prepare to raise our own cups, let us be thankful on this day–but let us also pray for wisdom.
Next day update: While American media, including CNN, Fox News and The New York Times, bring the issue home by focusing stores on the Americans killed or injured in Mumbai–and Fox “terror expert” Walid Phares asks, “Are we at war, or not?” and argues that “the Jihadists are winning,” while Fox columnist John Avlon argues, “The war that was indelibly declared on September 11, 2001 continues unabated , not just against the U.S. but worldwide … ultimately a war between civilization and the terrorists”–Al-Jazeera again is left to remind us of the broader perspective, that the attacks are raising indigation around the world.
Posted in History, Journalism, Poetry, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: 2008 election, al-Jazeera, Barack Obama, CNN, cup poems, Deepak Chopra, Fox News, Ground Zero, Guantanamo, Mumbai, Mumbai attacks, Nashville woman, New York Times, Poetry, pray for thanks, pray for wisdom, presidential election, Sami al-Hajj, Statue of Liberty, terrorism, Thanksgiving, Walid Phares, war on terror, war on terrorism, world's most famous journalist | 2 Comments »
Posted by James McPherson on September 11, 2008
It sounds like a show that might be titled “Girls Gone Wild: Oil, Drugs and Money.” Playboy is undoubtedly already trying to contact women involved for one of its “theme issues,” such as its earlier renditions of “Women of Wal-Mart” and “Women of Enron.”
And now that the title, the first line, and some of the tags below will undoubtedly draw more visitors to this site than anything else I’ve written (after all, by far the biggest draw up until now has been the tag “Sarah Palin bikini,” while tags associated with the world’s most famous journalist attract almost no one), let me ask this: After revelations of the past couple of days, does anyone still believe that the Bush administration–or the McCain/Palin ticket that wants to repeat or continue most of its policies–is remotely capable of handling U.S. energy policy or tax policy?
For those who missed it because they were caught up in stories about pigs with lipstick or Sarah Palin’s repeated lies about the “bridge to nowhere” and an Alaska oil pipeline, the story is that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service has been caught up in an ethics scandal that includes “allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct. ” (New York Times) Agency employees, some of whom apparently were referred to as “MMS chicks,” are accused of accepting bribes from and having sex with oil company executives.
For the record, the MMS collects about $10 billion annually–“one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes,” but has been “riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch,” notes the New York Times. The agency apparently has been mismanaging the collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for YEARS . Those “mistakes” have cost U.S. taxpayers (and awarded the companies) billions of dollars. The MMS defense apparently will be that they got stoned and missed it.
The only good news from the mess is that it may prompt Congress to hold off on what seemed to be an inevitable rush toward increased offshore drilling.
Posted in History, Politics, Women, Written elsewhere | Tagged: Alaska pipeline, Bush administration, Congress, crude oil, Department of the Interior, drilling, drugs, energy policy, energy regulation, ethics scandal, Girls Gone Wild, Interior Department, John McCain, lipstick on a pig, Minerals Management Service, MMS chicks, New York Times, offshore drilling, oil companies, oil pipeline, oil scandal, Playboy, Playboy magazine, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin bikini, Sarah Palin lies, scandal, sex, tax policy, U.S. energy policy, Women of Enron, Women of Wal-Mart, world's most famous journalist | 8 Comments »