Saturday, June 28, 2008

You gotta play the hand that's dealt ya.

For the first time, the Supreme Court has ruled on a Second Amendment issue, and it is certainly a victory for gun rights. The District of Columbia’s virtual ban on handgun ownership has been declared unconstitutional. Still, we are not in clear: the fact that the vote was a mere 5-4 signals division among the justices, and looms important with regard to who the next President may be.
Not that long ago we had a comfortable 7-2 slant on the side of conservatives; the close tally indicates the tide may be turning. More than gun rights will soon be at issue if a Barack Obama and a Democratic Senate are able to replace Scalia or Thomas with someone of their selfish constitutional ilk. Further, the opportunity to replace, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone more constitutionally palatable may possibly be at hand if we at least have John McCain in the Oval Office. Sure, a Republican president would be under greater scrutiny on his choices, given, that we don’t see the GOP retaking the Senate in 2008, but wouldn’t that option be preferable to whatever Obama may choose? He would likely get whomever he wants, and who knows what that might mean.
This isn’t to say that we relish the thought of potential McCain nominees, as there is a republican/right wing tendency to play to the crowd on such matters. This is especially true about someone not truly our league. But the point: one of my (thankfully few) disappointments with Ronald Reagan was nominating Sandra Day O’Connor rather that Robert Bork to fill the first Supreme Court opening of his presidency. He could have gotten Bork easily in 1981 with a Senate controlled by the GOP, but opted to show that he was a good guy by nominating a woman first, to fulfill a promise to put a woman on the highest court. The result? One (at best) lukewarm justice while the more preferable constitutional scholar was roundly rejected by Democrats when the controlled the Upper House in 1987. See how much the left cares for inclusiveness and diversity?Anyway, I can more readily see McCain falling into that trap.
Our choice in November is limited, but, somewhat sadly, it is still clear. To have any hope of a Supreme Court steeped in constitutional principles, we have to pull the level for the Arizona senator, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Joe Cosgriff

Funny, isn’t it. how we sometimes identify people with certain times, places, or things.

In the alley behind our old family repair shop there is a row of mulberry bushes which have been there for years. My grandfather would, in the late spring when they were in season, always stop and treat himself to a few of the little fruits as he went to and from work.

Little? Well, mulberries are small compared to most fruits. In context, they’re like raspberries who have spent a lot of time in the gym; a scant few are a handful. They’re juicy and sweet, and Grandpa Joe liked them. I remember vividly his picking and popping them into his mouth as he made his way down the alley, as though he were a kid again.

Time passes, and so, sadly, did Grandpa Joe. Yet the mulberries still grew, and I couldn’t help over the years but develop a liking to them myself. As I hike to and from work nowadays I’ll stop and have a few. As it were, my daughter also came to know and like the mulberries too. Often we’ll take bowls and go fill them with the little purple black fruits, snacking as we pick, and my wife will make pies out of those which make it back home. I like the idea that three generations of a family have been able to enjoy those berries ripening on the same bushes.

Now, I’m not all that naive; I know that Joe Cosgriff was ornery and arbitrary, with a hair trigger temper. I know it from the tales my Dad and his siblings have told, and from the personal experience of having worked with him for a good 15 or 18 years. I know too that there was a part of him which was somehow kind and appreciative, and that there were moments when these came out despite, perhaps, himself. There were good times and trying ones, and lasting impressions. I find as I grow older that, in the end, it is the good times which matter more than the difficult, even if it seems there were more tough days than easy. I believe too that the smallest, almost innocuous, memories can also be the greatest insights into the honest character of someone.

What prompts me to write this? It’s June, and the mulberries are in. And I’m thinking about you, Joe.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Respect Barack Obama

Barack Obama, for the Democrats, is now the man. That’s okay; he is a Democrat and he’s who they want. So let’s keep it that way, and not let anything detract from it. For you see, what we are going to hear a lot about in the coming months will be his pedigree, and how that gives us the chance to make history. But why should that matter? If Dr. King is right, we should be judging him by the content of his character as we decide whether to vote for him or not. Becoming President of the United States is history making enough without sidebars regarding what are supposed to be insignificant matters. You want to respect and vote for Barack Obama? Respect and vote for him as a man, period. You want to not vote for him? Then don’t vote for him because of his stands on the issues and on what he says and does rather than for knee jerk and indefensible reasons. That’s respecting him as a man as well. Don’t vote skin color pro or con: when we can do that, we will have matured that much more as a nation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Free Love and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When my second son was seven (say that three times fast) he happened to notice that, as I was shaving, I kept the hot water running. “Dad,” he told me a little sheepishly, “the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles say you shouldn’t keep water running when you wash.” My response would draw the ire of many: “Son, when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pay my water bill, they can tell me how much water I can use.”

Consider that story in relation to this next one. I watched a news report about a 19 year old mother of two, apparently (though it was not said definitively, to be fair) by two different fathers, lamenting that she could not afford health care for her babies with the fast food job she held, the only job she could get. The point of the story was that this was why we need national health care.

Now, were I to have told her before she chose to have sex that she should not do that as it may lead to pregnancies she would not be economically able to handle, indeed that she ought to wait until at least the time when she was able to care completely for her own children as one of the risks of sex is pregnancy, I am certain I would have been told that her actions were none of my business. Further, I am also quite sure that the general community would support her assertion. Why? Because I have no right to make comment on her morals.

Several things come to mind as I contrast these items. I would like to point out two. First, I am told I cannot tell that young woman how to act. Yet as a direct consequence of her chosen irresponsibility, I am later being told I need to pay for the results of her free will action.

Second, when I am paying out of my own funds for every drop of water I elect to use, I am told I am irresponsible.

Think about that for a moment. Then you tell me the folly of our approach to right and wrong in America today.