Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
Language barriers and reaching out... I drop my shirts off at a cleaners' where the guy behind the counter speaks very limited English. But he's always handled the language of his job well enough, and we've done well enough conversing about simple things, and I've joked with him about his NY Giants shirt. Also, it's not unusual for me to walk in while language tapes (or maybe a radio program, I can't tell) is playing loudly. It couldn't be clearer but that a lot of immigrants here in NYC want to do better and assimilate. This is one of the reasons why the Queens County library has been successful: it's recognized a community need and has reached out to the immigrant communities and made sure that a strong proportion of its books are about assimilation. But I digress...
This morning, however, was very different: he was overcome in tears, and while it didn't stop him from doing his job, he was unable to tell me his story. I didn't mind for the least his reaching out to me, but he was in an anguish I couldn't fully hear because of the language barrier as much as I wanted to hear everything and share and understand. As much as I could tell, his son had been mugged: four others wanted his money and iPod (? Not sure, really, he pointed to the wires of my headphones), and after his son surrendered them, he was still beaten. One of the foursome took a baseball bat (as best I could determine from his sign language - - rearing back and swinging like a batter would) and smashed the kid across the face. I couldn't tell everything that happened, but I gathered there was a lot of blood: I took a red sheet of paper and ran it down my face to try to understand.
I couldn't figure out if the son was in the hospital, seen by a doctor, or anything. But I knew that whatever the reality was, it was a horrible thing for a parent to go through. And on top of that, there was his frustration over trying to share the event with me: he seemed to know I would relate (he'd met my wife and daughter) but the language barrier was too great for him to really get it all out.
As for me, really nothing more than a footnote here, I really
wanted to hear him and share his pain. But he wasn't there yet...
I'm not going to call for more night school or more adult
education, not knowing a thing about what's out there, or his
efforts to engage. But as a dad, I felt his pain, and perhaps the
more so knowing that he couldn't share it with all he wanted to.
Water on a Saturn moon? The ability to support life in new places? Please, nobody
tell the President. It might give him a new idea about what to do
about Gitmo: imagine the possibilities, completely out of reach
of the rest of the government, the ACLU, the Red Cross...
It's because Hank Aaron is a white man. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey sees hints of racism in the close scrutiny which Barry Bonds is getting over possible steroid use. McCovey may have a point, but let's be honest, it's not as if Mark McGwire is getting a free pass: he's merely out of the game and not threatening career home run records. But baseball fans love comparability, the ability to weigh players against each other through careful statistical analysis. Remember all those Bill James books? Remember those efforts to standardize pitchers' ERAs by comparing their performance to the current average, so you could conclude that Dwight Gooden's 1984 season was one of the best since Grover Cleveland Alexander played?
Barry Bonds threatens the career record of Hammerin' Hank.
People want to be confident that each homer is legit, is all.
Sure, when Aaron was chasing Ruth, I don't doubt that Aaron's
death threats were racially motivated. But this? I have troubles.
Not again. Bush wants a line item veto, something which goes directly against the
separation of powers. How consistent with the way he views
Congress: not as an equal, but an obstacle to be walked on.
Actually, when you think about, Bush clearly hates the
Constitution of the United States: and for many of us, the
Constitution is America.
The Arts. A little distracted here tonight — made my first gravy tonight, way too late for the resume, but we have the CIA to thank for this — and the Academy Awards are on tonight. So I probably won't tarry, lots to do. So let's do a bit of a quick rundown.
Now, as for the CIA (we were talking about the CIA, remember? look above the bullets, gravy...) Yesterday I bought a free range pork loin in Union Square, and wanted to really treat it right today, so after much consultation of the many cook books, I settled on a recipe in the a professional cooking book by the Culinary Institute of America. Did I really need to make a gravy for the first time in my life, age, what, oh, 49 now... No. Absolutely not. But when you're trying to justify the price you paid for a piece of meat, you have to use lots of pans. Otherwise you're up for spousal review: if they're not distracted by the 78 pans and accessories, they might ask what you paid for the meat. So that's my advice for you all. Use pans as a diversionary tactic.
Under the guise of better oversight. It seems as if Senate Majority Leader Bull Frist objects to having the Senate Intelligence Committee being forced to really do its job in a nonpartisan fashion, and in order to make sure it isn't forced into that, has sent Minority Leader Harry Reid a warning: cut it out, or I'll reshape the committee so it's just as partisan as all the others, and run by Republicans.
Now, THAT's great news: take an arena like intelligence, and make sure it doesn't become an election issue; and if it means retaining the kind of poor intelligence which led us into Iraq, so much the better. Frist wants another war, I guess: another occasion where everyone can be threatened with charges of treason if they don't rally 'round the President.
Words we long to hear. We haven't heard them yet, to be clear. But yesterday, the U.S. commander of forces in Iraq, General George Casey, said that the sectarian crisis in Iraq has passed — yet acknowledged that it could rear its head again.
How I long to hear someone say, you know, they've really all agreed to aim for stability, and have enlisted their individual followers to pursue the same; that everyone is now going to presume positive intent; and that the administration has a tit-for-tat plan in place, that funding won't continue unless you all behave, that our troops are not going to protect you from yourselves.
You just have to be amazed at the complete, utter arrogance of the WH when it opened this pandora's box. Was this kind of result completely off the radar screen of the Project For A New American Century? Did they know nothing about the history of the country and the internal animosities which were sure to erupt? Had they never heard of what rose to the front after the Brits were kicked out in Ireland? (To be clear, I'm not suggesting Great Britain should have stayed in Ireland, but that the lessons of sectarian strife should have been better understood.)
Remember how Bush lost his Senate majority? A Republican Senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, wasn't sufficiently toeing the line for the likes of the Bushies, and got cold shouldered; Jeffords changed his affiliation from Republican to Independent, and the majority position went away.
Retribution is something the White House is certainly capable of, although sometimes you have to wonder if they haven't adopted the "keep your enemies closer" strategery too here and there. I bring this up because a Republican member of the House who came out against the ports deal (the one allowing a UAE-controlled company to operate a bunch of our ports) suddenly has had the rug pulled under from him regarding a trip to Iraq. A few days after announcing his opposition, the Pentagon says it can't fly him there. The trip had been in planning for months, so you have to wonder if this is coincidence, and if not, what could possibly have precipitated it?
And by the way, this Representative is not just "any" member
of the House, he chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, so
this is not just an effort to get photos for re-election.
34 is way too high. Much was made earlier in the week of the results of the most recent CBS/New York Times poll which gave Bush a mere 34% approval rating. The numbers are of course awful: any politician striving to maintain momentum and leverage political capital in order to get programs and initiatives going would feel as if they're seeing their entire life pass before their eyes. What to do? Why, leave the country, of course... (Anyone know if Bush has actually been dining on Indian food, or has he brought along a supply of beef jerky to tide him over?) Still, 34% may be way too high, now that the AP released government video showing that Bush et al were warned that Katrina might breech the levies in New Orleans. It puts everything in a different context: not just the line "I don't think anyone anticipated...," not just the presentation of the birthday cake to McCain nor the strumming of the guitar, but even that picture of him observing New Orleans from high, on Air Force Once.
The Air Force One shot now seems a much more disturbing parallel to that shot of him on Air Force One on September 11: on September 12 we didn't know it, but now we all know fully well that Bush had been warned about an Al Qaeda strike in that August 6 Presidential Daily Brief, we know that Cheney's terrorism group never met, we know that the warnings of Hart and Rudman weren't heeded, we know that there were warnings that airplanes would be used as weapons in Italy. In short, we know that the White House willfully turned a blind eye, that thousands perished, and that they continue to turn a blind eye.
There is something seriously horrid about this President: it
is as if he is some kind of young king who thinks himself
entitled to play in our country, with our wealth, with our lives,
while he refuses to govern and accept the responsibilities of his
office. It is truly horrid, and I hate to imagine it, but what