Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 3, 2010

The choreography of each week, from Dancing with the Stars to WikiLeaks, seems to encourage the bizarre and the banal to engage in some kind of weird, eternal tango to which we are daily witnesses:

Inquiring Minds Need To Know

This past week the United States Senate passed an historic piece of legislation that will manage food safety in this country in an unprecedented fashion. The final vote was 73-25.

The results of the vote are welcome. Poisonous vegetables and deathly canned concoctions of one sort or another are not the problems that a parent, or any consumer, could relish. Yet there were 25 United States Senators that thought that this bill was not a good idea.

I wonder where they eat. More to the point I wonder in what pristine, wonderland environment their families eat.

The rightwing of the right wing is already braying about “government control food supply being the first step towards Stalinism. While no one can be deaf to these loony tunes, one would hope that U.S. Senators could discern the difference between sense and nonsense.

Earth Calling…..Please come in…..

President Obama announced a two year pay freeze for all federal workers except those in the military. In this time of global recession and continued dysfunction in the American economy, the cost-saving logic behind the President’s decision seems pretty obvious.

Incredibly, a very vocal group of federal employees immediately went on Catastrophe Alert, condemning President Obama for his cruel and misguided decision. Some federal employees were quoted as saying that they would never vote for President Obama again after this betrayal.

I wonder on what planet these aggrieved federal workers reside. Today it was announced that 15 million Americans are out of work and the unemployment rate for this country is 9.8%. These numbers do not begin to reveal the number of men and women who have simply stopped looking for work because there is no work.

Everyone would like to have regular pay increases. But in these austere and challenging days and times I would think that the assurance of a regular job, with enviable benefits, trumps a regular pay increase…….every day of the week.

Perhaps on some other planet the logic of these aggrieved federal workers makes sense. But it certainly doesn’t make sense on this planet and certainly not now.

Danse Macabre

Several news reports about the upcoming Secession Sesquicentennial have made me wonder if and when the sons and daughters of the Confederacy are ever going to cloak their disturbing beliefs and behavior with at least a fig leaf of decency. Starting in 2011 there will be a series of “celebrations” marking the founding of the Confederate States of America and the beginning of the Civil War.

Given the fact that the Civil War was the bloodiest and most brutal conflict ever fought in the United States, one would think that think that this is not the occasion for “Secession Balls” like the one that will be held in Charleston, South Carolina in April 2011.

Given the fact that the Confederacy was fought to protect the odious, awful and noxious institution of slavery offends not only black Americans, but it should offend all Americans of good will and humanity.

These secession celebrators have glommed onto the Tea Party rhetoric and with an interesting flourish of revisionist history they are claiming that the Civil War was fought to fend off big government and to protect the rights of the individual. If I was a supporter of the Tea Party movement I would be appalled that my movement’s philosophy had been hijacked.

The fact is that if not for the issue of slavery there would have been no Civil War. The Confederate States of America were all slaveholding states. The Confederate Army refused to recognized black Union soldiers as legitimate and executed them or enslaved them when they were captured. There is nothing good or noble or honorable about a regime that fought to enslave men, women and children.

I can only hope that during these sesquicentennial celebrations that we can simply turn our backs on these fact bending hypocrites.

C’mon LeBron….cont’d

Yesterday LeBron James returned to Cleveland as a member of the Miami Heat basketball team. Predictably everyone in the house booed and jeered. Predictably the Miami Heat won.

Interestingly enough, Mr. James tried to replicate his trademark tossing of magic into the air, pouring some talcum powder into his hands and then throwing it in the air.

It must have been an impromptu bit, because he ended up using a small container of baby powder and when he threw it, the mini-handful of powder hardly went anywhere.

It all seemed very small and inconsequential……and that speaks volumes about the entire episode.

Have a great weekend!