Category Archives: Politics

Reading With Fakename: Remembering Che

Subtitled:  My Life With Che Guevara, by his second wife Aleida March.  I picked up this short book in the library because I realized that I knew almost nothing about Che Guevara.  Or the Cuban Revolution, for that matter.  In fact the only thing I could remember was this poster of Che that seemed to be on everybody’s wall when I was in college in the ’70’s:

Even then, it seemed to me to be a symbol of young adult rebellion and angst.  Not that I was immune to that.

Back to Che Guevara.  Che was an Argentinian doctor who joined up with Castro when he was in exile in Mexico, to be the “team” doctor so to speak.  But Che was a strange combination of conflicting qualities.  He was a philospher, a dreamer, and an idealist, who was also a crack military strategist and fierce warrior.

Once the Revolution was successful, Che remained in Cuba for some years helping to stabilize the government–not a traditional role for a fighter–but he was a revolutionary at heart.  More or less a professional one.  He began to feel he was not doing enough, and that he could spark a Cuban-style revolution in all of South America.  For his starting point, he chose Bolivia.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Bolivian army executed him, and after a period of public display, he was buried in a secret location.  They only revealed the location 30 years later, and his remains were uncovered and shipped to Cuba.

So now to bring it to the personal.  I live in Florida.  One of my employees is Cuban.  He came over in a boat with his mother in 1967, when by my calculation, he was 5 years old. His father followed a year later by floating over on an inner tube.  According to the employee, Ruben, that was before the “wet foot/dry foot” policy.

Any discussion of Cuba or Cuba policy is a very touchy subject in Florida.  Other than very superficial discussions, I’ve stayed well clear of it with Ruben.  But he fairly recently mentioned that he’s thinking of becoming a citizen.  He never wanted to before, because he always hoped he would be able to go back to Cuba as a citizen.  (Why?)  All he knows of Cuba is what his parents have told him. As far as I can tell, it was the land of milk and honey before Castro.

Well, not really.  So I told him about reading the book and he was very interested.  It has many photographs and he was very anxious to see them.  I ventured the opinion that Batista was not a good guy either.  And he said that once as a child, he ventured the same opinion (from that evil propaganda machine–education).  He said to his mother, You know, Batista was every bit as bad as Castro.  He said she slapped him so hard he almost landed in the next room.  But she too was a product of her environment.  Most of her brothers were in the Batista regime, and the entire family would have been killed had they not been able to escape.

So here’s my take on it:  it hasn’t worked out too well for Castro.  Mistakes on his part and mistakes on ours as well.  Pre-revolution, the U.S. (along with Batista) basically owned Cuba.  What U.S. companies didn’t flee, Castro nationalized, leading to a domino effect.  Then came the U.S. embargo, so that no one could even go back.  He isolated himself, and we helped.

My second thought:  Batista’s Cuba reminds me of Syria.  When you push people to the point whether they don’t care if they live or die, Cuba and Syria are what you get.

So if you don’t like my interpretation, JFK agreed with me.


To Hell in a Handbasket

Judging from the hysteria of my conservative friends, we are already there.  Only they noticed the gradual drop of the handbasket.  The rest of us were blissfully ignorant.

I am of course referring to the confirmation by the Supreme Court of the Allordable Health Care Act.  Of course, what is lost in the hysteria is what the Supreme Court actually ruled.  They didn’t say it was a good idea (although I think it is, in a flawed sort of way).  They said Congress had the power to pass the law under their powers of taxation.

Which is very, very interesting.  I always understood it to be a tax.  But I was surprised to learn that Congress went out of its way to avoid the word “tax”.  The Supreme Court said the govenment’s argument that Congress had the power to enact the law under the Commerce Act did not hold water.  I completely understand that.  The Commerce Act enables the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, not to force people to buy a product.

In what seems like a hair-splitting move, the Supreme Court said Congress can’t force you to buy a product, but they can tax you if you don’t.  What’s the difference?  Congress called this tax a penalty–but it’s paid to the IRS and is based on income.  Chief Justice John Roberts said, if it walks like a tax and quacks like a tax, it’s a tax.

What stuns me is the lack of understanding about what the law is supposed to do.  Perhaps particularly that those who need it and could benefit from it the most are the people who hate it most.  Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, one of my Facebook friends posted “Bend over America.”  One of my employees said, “They will just have to take me to jail, because I can’t afford insurance”.  You have to hand it to the Republicans.  They’ve done an excellent job of mixing up the ideas of personal freedom and patriotism with the idea of personal benefit.

Remember when it used to be a “government takeover of healthcare”? Last week on TV, John Boehner said it’s a “government takeover of the insurance industry”. (Like that would be a bad thing?)  Of course, he’s still wrong.  It’s regulation of the insurance industry.  It amazes me that Republicans have been able to convince people with no insurance to rally around the insurance industry, in the name of personal freedom and patriotism.  Neat trick.  Government and regulation are four-letter words.  First they will go after the insurance companies.  Next step:  they will be at your door trying to take away your guns.  Please.

It’s hard to even have a semi-logical conversation about this.  I didn’t even try until yesterday, and it fairly quickly devolved into “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (From him to me.)

To some extent, both sides start with a philosophy.  His is: whatever you get takes away from what I get.  I talked myself blue in the face about how he is already paying for other people’s health care, and this is at least an attempt to even it out.

Back to the employee who said they would have to take her to jail. So, my take on that is that as far as she’s concerned, things are just fine the way they are.  She does get health care.  It’s just that I’m paying for it.

I’m not entirely a bleeding heart liberal on this.  Because it slays me that rather than pay a miniscule amount to contribute to her own health care, she is willing for me to keep paying for it.  How fair is that?

And I am rapidly approaching the inability to pay for both of us.

I don’t know if the AHCA is the answer.  But something has to change.

Politically Incorrect: Dog Tethering

I mentioned in a comment on another post that I am on an ad hoc committee to examine our County’s animal control ordinance where it concerns the tethering of dogs.  Six years ago I was involved in a similar discussion, but it was more of a guerilla action.  It was me and one other person (with the encouragement of a couple of County Commission aides who shepherded us through the process), appearing at  County Commission meetings.  Wow, were we ignorant.

But amazingly enough, it resulted in changes to the existing ordinance which were very good.  Apparently we tweaked the consciences of the then existing Commissioners just enough.  Okay, not really.  That would be the Disney version.  What really happened is, they said, can we just get beyond this and get these people out of the room?  Let’s move on to the important issues, like approving a certain development project where I happen to own real estate.

But today, I have become assimilated.  (I am Borg.)  So I’m on this official committee.  Where all four of my fellow committee members think I am the enemy.  (Apparently, I am insufficiently assimilated.)  The issue is that they want a total ban on tethering dogs.  When I say, that won’t work, they say I’m not aiming high enough.  They decided to compromise to the extent that tethering would be allowed only if the owner was present.  I said, that won’t work either.  Many people tether their dogs only when they are NOT present.  Every example I give of why it won’t work is met with…dismay, to be nice.

One of the members constantly asks to have “experts” speak, which makes my eyes roll up in my head.  We are the committee. Shouldn’t we be able to do this on our own?  Haven’t we already read enough and experienced enough to form an opinion?  If not, why are we here?  We are just making a recommendation, for God’s sake.  But the Chairman (the Director of Animal Control) complied, so we did.  And I’m wondering if she now regrets her request, because all the experts agreed with me.  The Regional Director of the HSUS was the most diplomatic.  She said, there are many reasons why people tether dogs and other animals, so you want to be very careful about this…not to punish everyone.  Most compelling was the Animal Control supervisor who represented the” boots on the ground” view.  He was more blunt.  Please don’t do this, he said.  You will just drive it underground where we can’t see it.  People will still do it, they will just chain them up deep in the woods, or confine them to garages where we can’t see whether they have food and water, or are injured.  In other words, this won’t work.

So in the face of apparently lukewarm response to the ban idea, the ringleader of our group (whom I hasten to add is a very neat and compassionate person) created a Facebook page called Tether-Free Tallahassee. The latest post is an article about a woman from the Tampa area who traveled to Jacksonville to lend support to their consideration of a tethering ban.

The reason is that her 17-month old son was mauled to death by the next-door neighbor’s tethered Rottweiler.   The woman was unloading groceries from the car when the son wandered over to pet the doggie.

It’s a known and well-researched fact that tethered dogs are more dangerous.  If you know anything at all about animals, you completely understand this.  You have removed one of their two options: flight.  The only option left is fight.  And they have to be ready at any second.  They get anxious and paranoid.  Every approach is a threat.

So my reaction was this:  how about the concept of keeping a very close eye on your 17-month old son while you are unloading the groceries?  Especially if you have a tethered Rottweiler next door, without a fence?

But if I had expressed this, which I didn’t, I feel sure I would have been even further ostracized, if that’s possible.   It’s hard being the Enemy.

What I wanted to do was tweak the ordinance to make it safer and more comfortable for the dogs.  I personally think that dogs should live in the house, and be let out into a fenced yard or walked on a leash when the owner is home.  But not everyone is like me.  Imagine that.

Environmental and Political Activism…and Bullshit

I apologize for the crude reference there.  But I couldn’t think of a better word.

I consider myself to be an environmentalist, and I am mildly politically active.  I’m much more moderate than most people think I am; I get labeled leftist or “progressive” much more often than I think is warranted.  But I consider that a kind of GWB attitude, “If you aren’t with us, you’re against us”.  In the political climate of today, everyone gets lumped into one category or the other.  There no longer is a “middle”.  One of my friends once paid me the ultimate compliment.  He said, I know you aren’t really a liberal.  Ha!  Yes, I am, which I don’t find to be equivalent to “spawn of Satan”.

So, I’m a member of a listserv (wow…ancient) and there is a guy on there who is what I consider to be a professional activist.  Nice work if you can get it.  I’d admire him if it weren’t for this fact: he has begun to harangue people for not doing enough.  If he hadn’t started down that path, I never would have said anything, especially since we are all unfailingly polite to each other there.

I absolutely hate professional activists who are ready to hop on any issue that bears any resemblance to something they care about, or think they should.  I’m not even sure “Bob” actually cares about anything.  He just glories in being a contrarian.

Here’s an example for you.  My neighborhood and others fought Walmart for two years.  Lots of meetings.  Lots of dissension.  It was exhausting.  We had to appear several times before official bodies, chiefly the Board of Adjustment and Appeals, which was the precursor to the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners where the approval would ultimately be approved or disapproved.

At what I think was the final meeting of the BOAA, “Bob” shows up.  He didn’t say anything, but I think he thought he was lending his star power to our side.  Really, Bob, we could have done without you–but now he gets to say he opposed Walmart?  I don’t think so.

At that final meeting of the BOAA, I spoke, even though I could barely speak.  I was undergoing radiation therapy at the time.  I had laryngitis which would just not go away.  My theory was that my body was so busy trying to counteract the effects of radiation that it didn’t have time to pay attention to my laryngitis.  The radiation oncologist said I was probably right.

The point here being that you can’t out-activist me. I have so far resisted mentioning that on the listserv.  I don’t want to get into any kind of battle over who is more dedicated.  But egotists make me crazy.

So today, “Bob” posted that Face the Nation and the Washington Post were very inspiring today.  The listserv owner/moderator replied, You need to be a little more specific about what you consider inspiring.  What exactly was it?  Commodity prices drop?  Nixon was worse than we thought?

Perhaps I managed to chip a little crack in the dam of “Unfailingly polite”.

Gay Marriage…or Not

Last week was a milestone (or not) in the issue. For the umpty-gajillionth time, a judge–or in this case, a panel of three judges of the 9th District Court of Appeals–has said that banning gay marriage is discriminatory, at least in California, thus killing the passage of Proposition 8.  Prop 8, aka the “Protection of Marriage Act” defines marriage as existing only between a man and a woman.  And that always works out so well.

Prop 8 passed by 52% to 48%, which is in itself confusing.  It’s like a double negative.  In other words, 52% of voters were for the ban.

But what was interesting to me was that I saw a story about it on CBS News this week.  They interviewed one of the supporters of the ban (See?  There we go again.)  He said, “We aren’t trying to deny gay people any rights.  We just don’t want them to call it marriage”.  Or something to that effect.  And I just wanted to scream, like I have for years, What do you care?  Do you hear yourself?  You are drawing a line in the sand over a WORD.  ONE word.

Ah, but hold on there for a minute.  Then they interviewed an opponent (you know, someone who was against the For people.)  She’s a gay woman who got married during the short window of time when it was legal.  She said, in essence, that marriage is important because it has such emotional significance.  And I wanted to say, Do you hear yourself?  You are…well, never mind.  Re-read the end of the previous paragraph.

But that, of course, is the answer:  it has emotional significance on both sides.

I don’t know enough about the provisions in states where “civil unions” but not “marriage” is permitted to know whether or not you really do have all the same rights as if you’re married.  Somehow I doubt it, but if it’s really true, we are back to that ONE WORD.

In the end, marriage is really a legal contract, which if you boil it down to its essence is about property and inheritance.  It’s also good for (theoretically) determining which offspring are yours, if you’re a man, and for breeding a) farm workers and b) soldiers who have to be on your side.  We imbue it with emotional significance, particularly in the West.

Here are two examples:  a history of the British monarchy.  Osama bin Laden.  None of them got married for “love”.  That’s a new thing, relatively speaking.

The origins of marriage are a hot topic in anthropology.  But humans and societies have changed.  I’d say the majority of people today who marry do so for “love”, even if they are driven in some cases by motivations they don’t fully understand, and which may be biological in nature.

Today, the next step in California’s legal battle is an appeal to the Supreme Court.  Which both sides were itching for anyway, no matter who won or lost.  And it’s about time.  It’s time for the Supreme Court to step up to the plate…although they may not.  They’ve refused to hear similar cases in the past.

I hope they do, so we can start on the beginning of the end of arguing over one word.

Republican Follies

I haven’t really ramped up my political brain yet, but meanwhile, it’s fun watching the Republicans dance.  Today, Herman Cain dropped out of the race, and my question is, What took him so long?  A friend of mine on Facebook said, what is it?  Do they think we won’t find out?  Or that we won’t think it’s important?  Or that we’re just too dumb to understand it?  I vote for a combination of Option A and Option C.

I don’t have a high opinion of the voting public.  So Option A comes first.  They won’t even know.  Because they don’t read newspapers, or listen to NPR, or watch debates.  It’s a complete bother.  And anyway, football might be on.  Then Option C sets in.  Even if they know, they won’t understand it. 

I present to you as my Exhibit A, an email I recently received from a friend in Canada.  It was about bar codes.  It said that if you want to buy only products made in Canada or the U.S., and avoid products from China, you should pay attention to the first three numbers of the bar code, which tell the country of origin.  Well, sort of.  So I went to and checked it out.  Then I replied to my friend with a link to snopes and said, you should check this out.  It’s only partly true.  And she said, no, I’m pretty lame about checking things.  I doubt I will ever go there.  What?  But this is how people in the U.S. choose to vote.  They saw the truth in an email…no need to look further. 

So there are probably plenty of Cainiatics (I just made that up) who will think Cain was driven from the race by the ruthless MainstreamMedia–all one word now–or by his ruthless opponents with more money who were scared of him. 

So let’s look at the remaining field.  Bachmann?  Okay, moving right along.  Perry?  Ditto.  That leaves Romney and Gingrich.  Romney is a total has-been who has been running for office his entire life, but never won anything.  It so amuses me when he calls someone a career politician.  We can’t say you qualify, Mitt, because you’re just a wannabe.  And Gingrich.  I could talk about him all day.  I do have two words for the family values people:  Newt Gingrich.  I think the Republicans are in a bad spot.  They have bad choices. 

I have some early predictions.  First, I think Romney will in fact be the nominee.  Second, I think Republicans will be about as excited about voting for him as they were about John McCain.  Third, I hesitantly think Obama is going to win. 

But in the broader picture, I get the feeling that conservatives are increasingly drawing away from the Republican Party.  It’s happened before.  Political parties have spawned and then died.  (Can you say, Whigs?)  But regardless, the Republican Party has become the Party most likely to shoot itself in the foot.  It’s almost (almost) painful to watch them carefully parse their language. 

But I really think we are witnessing a movement here.  Time will tell.

Happy Thanksgiving…Unless You’re A Turkey

This year, while seeing pictures of President Obama and his daughters pardoning a turkey (and an alternate turkey, whatever that signifies), I learned something new–the pardoned turkeys live out their lives peacefully on George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon.  Who knew it was a turkey sanctuary?

But this year, just like every other year since 2008 and every future year until the end of my life , I will  never think of Thanksgiving in the same way again.  That’s because 2008 was the year then-Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey at a turkey farm in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. 

You just wanted to say to her, See, Sarah…this is why you need handlers when you’re in politics.  Anyone who cared about your future would never have let this happen.

Sarah first reads a proclamation pardoning the turkeys from inside the coop, with a lot of bustling turkeys milling around, then takes questions outside from the media.  While expressing gratitude and praise for this great country and its people, there is a guy standing behind her feeding turkeys head first into a machine that reminds me of the wood chipper in the movie Fargo.  However, I suspect it was less like a wood chipper and more like a guillotine; in any case, its purpose is to cut the heads off the turkeys.  And I suspect that the red things all over the table under the machines were turkey heads. 

Anyway, it being Sarah Palin, the irony was just too rich.  The term “fox in the henhouse” comes to mind. 

Some Thoughts on Veteran’s Day, A Day Later

Much was made of the fact that Veteran’s Day this year fell on 11-11-11.  It used to be called Remembrance Day, and even before that, Armistice Day, and still is in many countries other than the U.S.   It’s intended to remember the dead at the end of WWI (you know, The War To End All Wars), when the Armistice  ending the war was signed by Germany at 11:00 A.M on November 11th (November being the 11th month).  The hype about it being 11-11-11 made me crazy.  It’s like numerology. 


It seemed to me there was a lot more fervor this year.  In Tallahassee, there was a very large parade this year, which occurred in part because last year’s parade was an embarassment.  A new group took over, determined to make it front and center.  They got the prime parade route, down a few blocks of Monroe Street, which is Tallahassee’s “Main Street”.  Which is also U.S.Highway 27.  It’s a huge deal to close that, even for a short period of time.  To do it, you have to get permission from the U.S. Department of
Transportation.  In other words, from the very start, it was not an easy task,  I admired them for doing this.  They also had a “festival” of sorts, with food vendors stretched out in the “Chain of Parks”.  These parks are essentially mini-parks in the median of a divided street (Park Avenue) which go for maybe six blocks.  And I don’t mean to minimize them.  They are beautiful, with huge old live oaks, benches, and seasonally changing landscaping, all cared for by the City of Tallahassee.  How many cities can boast of such beauty in the middle of downtown? 

But the “festival”/food vendor thing, made me vaguely uncomfortable.  Yes it drew more people, probably, but what?  Have a funnel cake in honor of a dead soldier? 


I do it every year onVeteran’s Day.  I think of my father who was a Gunner’s Mate on some sort of warship during WWII (I’m not up on WWII warship categories).  According to my cousin Jerry (Captain,USN, Ret.)  he went up and down in rank depending on what shenanigans and violations he committed that week.  My father was an avid, obsessive, fanatic bookreader.  Hmmm.  Who else do we know who is like that? 

When my father died, thanks to my cousin Jerry he was buried at sea in an official naval ceremony.  He had asked cousin Jerry to scatter his ashes in the ocean, but Jerry went him one better. 


I can remember one day several years ago when I was in the grocery store, suddenly thinking, sheesh.  We are not suffering at all for GWB’s war in Iraq.  We are not suffering for anything.  There is no rationing.  I can buy chocolate and gasoline, all I want.  Meanwhile, there are members of the armed forces who this very night will be sleeping with a pile of sand as a pillow.  My opinion:  the Bush administration did not want it to hurt at home.  They were on a mission, and did not want any interference by a skeptical public.  They knew better than we did what was best for us.


The final thing that makes me uncomfortable is all the hype this week about heroic service people, chiefly, the Marines.  To make a long story short, these people are being blown up in record numbers.  It has overwhelmed the VA.  And the stories have been mostly about the courageous guys with amputated limbs who have triumphed.  The VA and Walter Reed in particular (which is another story) have created multiple prosthetic limbs which allow the person to continue doing what they were doing before they got blown up.  They make prosthetic legs with a foot on the bottom, or a ski, or an ice skate.  How wonderful and amazing is that? 

But what I thought was, what about the other people?  What about the people who weren’t runners, or skiers, or hockey players before?  What if they were librarians?  Or doctors?  Or (more likely) just ordinary kids who never even had a chance to figure out what they wanted to be or do?

I can almost guarantee you that for every phenomenal amputee, there are 10 other people who aren’t doing very well.  So FINALLY, NPR did a story: 


So, it kills me when people say “Happy Veteran’s Day”.  There is nothing happy about it.

Fatal Attraction: Zanesville, Ohio

I’ve spoken before about the Animal Planet TV Show Fatal Attractions.  This past Thursday, they showed two episodes in which people were keeping tigers, perhaps in “honor” of this week’s events in Zanesville.  In one case, the owner was killed by one of his cats; in the other, it was a couple, and only the husband was killed.  I’d say that was inevitable. 

But back to Zanesville.  The information about the events has been jumbled, but here is what happened from the best information I could put together.  A 62 year-old man named Terry Thompson kept 56 exotic animals on his farm near Zanesville.  These included lions, tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys, and wolves. and On Tuesday, he let 50 of them go, opening up the cage doors and cutting the wires on the sides of the cages, making it virtually impossible to capture and re-cage them.  Then he shot himself to death.  Then the Sheriff’s Department shot and killed 49 of the 50 animals.  The missing animal, a monkey, was thought to have been killed and eaten by a lion. 

I was angry at everyone concerned in this incident:  the man, his wife, the State of Ohio for allowing him to keep these animals, and the Sheriff’s Department for killing them all with no apparent attempt to save them.  This is the photo that just inflamed me: 

But then I got real.  Starting with the Sheriff’s Department.  What choice did they have?  Zanesville is a small town of about 20,000.  The nearest zoo is an hour away, in Columbus.  It was getting dark.  They managed to locate one person from a sanctuary or something who unsuccessfully tried to tranquilize one of the tigers, so a Deputy then killed it.  The Sheriff is a guy named Matt Lutz, who in his many news conferences looks pitifully young and out of his league.  But the more times I saw him, the more I developed respect for him.  First, he took full responsibility for the killings.  “I gave the order.”  And the order was to shoot to kill any animal that appeared to be trying to get outside the farm fence.  And again, I ask, what choice did they (did he) have?  (Which brings me to the fact that the above photo is misleading–thank you, Internet.  It appears the poor animals were all massed at the same point of the fence, and were slaughtered like ducks at a shooting gallery.  In fact they were towed there in some fashion in order to be buried.)  Were they supposed to let them out, then hunt them down one by one through miles of open territory, in the dark?  Or wait until morning when they could get a team out from the Columbus zoo?  Meanwhile losing livestock, pets, and maybe people?  As Sheriff Lutz said, My job is to protect the public. 

As for Thompson himself, I ask…Why?  Did he think the animals would somehow make it on their own?  Like people think when they let cats or dogs go in the woods, thinking that at least they’re giving them a fighting chance?  Did he not realize they would all be killed?  Maybe he did, but couldn’t bring himself to kill them himself.  Sort of a Death By Cop By Proxy.  And as I suspected, the animals were starving.  They would have killed and eaten anything they could have gotten their paws on.  The six surviving animals (3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and a baby Grizzly) are now in the Columbus Zoo.  They were emaciated too.  And I ask, Why them?  Why were they the only animals he didn’t release?  Then I realized it’s pointless to try to get inside the mind of a person in that state.  He didn’t leave a suicide note, so we don’t even have clues from that.  But he had recently been released from prison on a gun charge (why am I not surprised?), his wife had left him, he was broke, and there was clearly no way he could take care of these animals.  And who took care of the animals while he was in prison?  His wife. 

And his wife now owns the surviving six animals in the zoo, and she wants them back.  I can’t really say I blame her that much any more.  At least she left her husband, which seems like the only thing she could have done to try to change his behavior since nobody else could do anything. 

That brings me to the State of Ohio.  And I’m not over being angry with them in the least.  Apparently there was a temporary law restricting the ownership of exotic animals which the Governor allowed to expire last year.  (He has now signed an emergency measure putting the law back in force).  And this is the stuff that makes me crazy.  God forbid we should infringe on anyone’s “freedom” to do as they please.  At least until it becomes politically unpopular.  Or there is a disaster. 

Last weekend I did a (prophetic) post saying I’d like to regulate the hell out of how people are allowed to treat their animals.  I’m focused on one small area, which is the law concerning tethering.  We’ve all seen the pictures of dogs chained to trees or poles who have starved, strangled themselves to death, or frozen to death.  All you have to do is look at the literature from the Humane Society of the U.S. (I won’t even open their mail any more).  But when one of those dogs manages to escape, they are hungry, desperate, and aggressive.  If their treatment as dogs (or lions, or tigers) doesn’t move you enough–if it takes danger to people to get you excited, then there it is. 

When something like the Zanesville incident occurs, everybody cries and says “Someone should have done something”.  Well, that Someone is you.


Today, I’ve deliberately stayed away from the televising of the memorial service, but in the last two weeks, I’ve watched three programs about the event. 

One was actually a series of several episodes on the Discovery Channel called “Rising”, about the building of the 9/11 Memorial.  It’s an unbelievable feat of construction, architecture, design, art, human imagination and the human indomitable spirit.  It focuses primarily on the construction challenges, and I found these fascinating.  Plus focusing on the mechanical aspects allows you to temporarily put aside the emotional aspects of 9/11–but not entirely. 

In one episode, one of the construction supervisors is permitted to visit the plant where the names of the victims are being engraved on bronze plates.  These plates are on the edges of the two reflecting pools.  These two pools are squares which sit on the footprints of each tower, and waterfalls cascade down each side of the cube.  This supervisor was playing a critical role in getting the pools completed in time for today’s memorial service–and they were successful.  He is allowed to start the engraving machine, then watch while it engraves the name of…his little brother, who died on 9/11 and whose remains have never been found.  When the engraving is done, they wash the metal with water to cool it down.  He touches his brother’s name through the water and says, “This is my brother now”.

The second program I watched was on The Learning Channel, and was called “Heroes of the 88th Floor”.  It focuses primarily on the survivors, who are somewhat of a forgotten group.  The trauma they experienced was extreme.  In one scene, they interview a subway train driver (who to my surprise, are still called “motormen”).  His train was under the South Tower at the moment the plane hit, which he could feel–it shook the train.  At the next possible moment, he stopped the train and ordered everyone off.  Then he left himself, abandoning his train.  This is probably unprecedented.  He had no idea what was happening, but somehow he had a sense of doom.  Since that day, he has been unable to work, due to PTSD.  There are many varied stories on this note.    Firefighters who were blinded and insisted on returning to work as soon as they were medically cleared, and many others like the motorman.  I think it’s wrong to judge who is “braver”.

Finally I watched an overview special on NBC News Friday night, narrated by Tom Brokaw. 

One of the things these programs have in common is the inescapable video of the plane hitting the South Tower.  (To my knowledge, there is no video of the plane hitting the North Tower.  So at first, they didn’t even know what happened.  It may have been an internal explosion.)  Fortunately, although it was mentioned, there was no footage shown of people jumping from the towers.  Those photos, more than those of the planes hitting the South Tower, are etched in my memory as the the real horror of 9/11.  I can’t bear them. 

I asked my good friend who is a doctor whether he would have stayed or jumped.  He said he would have jumped.  I would have stayed.  That’s a very bizarre conversation to be having. 

That day, they shut down and evacuated the two tallest buildings in Tallahassee–the Capital and the Education building.  I thought, how silly.  What terrorist would want to target Tallahassee?  Then it dawned on me:  The governor (Jeb Bush at the time) is the President’s brother.  At the time, who knew what the motivation was, or who might be targeted?  You didn’t have to be in New York or Washington D.C. to be plunged into fear. 

All that said, the main reason I’ve avoided it today is that the emotional impact is high, but that isn’t the main reason.  It’s that the constant repetition tends to dull that impact.  You start to get numb.  It’s inevitable.  It’s like hearing that another suicide bomber or IED killed X number of people in…fill in the country.  And I don’t want to become numb.