Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saving the Supreme Court

“Just because a bunch of people on the Supreme Court say it’s constitutional doesn’t make it so.”  Rep. D. Issa, CA, on Chris Matthews show, June 28, 2012

Good lord.  I was shocked. I was appalled.  An elected official dissing the Supreme Court like that!  It’s one of the most disrespectful comments, one of the most unpatriotic and undemocratic, that I’ve heard.  We might not agree with the decision, but we live with it. The disrespect turned my stomach.  

When I was in Ukraine I gave talks about Rule of Law, the three branches of government and the concept of the common good essential to our democratic republic.  Since 1787 when America adopted the US Constitution, Rule of Law and separation of powers, timelessly explained in The Federalist Papers, have been held sacrosanct. They are the very foundation of our society.  America hasn’t always lived up to its ideals, but all Americans believe in them, cherish them.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, essential to the separation of powers.   To say, as Rep. Issa, did, that its rulings are “unconstitutional” is not only wrong, it’s heresy. It's the voice of ideologues and fundamentalists who really do not care about the preservation of democratic institutions.     

The Supreme Court’s august position in our society has diminished some over the years, at least since the Court’s hotly partisan ruling put George W. Bush in the White House and Al Gore out in left field.  But we accepted it.  Americans held to their belief in the three branches of government, held on to the dream and the promise of equality and justice under law.  There's is a process for making change in America, and we eventually moved on and respected the process. 

This is why I think Chief Justice John Roberts, in his decision on President Obama’s health care plan, did more than save a piece of  legislation; he saved the Court.

It put the likes of John Scalia, so blatantly an ideologue, so blatantly partisan, in his place.  No matter what we believe, no matter our party or our politics, all Americans can agree to disagree, and all Americans are invested in preserving our democratic institutions.  It's not "my way or the highway."  It's what's in the best interest of the "common good" and the preservation of our heritage.

Chief Justice Roberts reminded us of what it means to live in a democracy.  Rule of Law.  Separation of powers.  Tolerance for differences of opinions and beliefs. Simple justice.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Creative Dragonfly

CREATIVE DRAGONFLY                      by fran curro cary 28 June 2012
Another Wednesday evening of poetry and music at Dragonfly Tea Room united about a dozen souls seeking solace and food for thought in sharing.  I took a few photos, drank green tea, shared and listened.  It's the spirit of the place that unites.
I love the aesthetics of the tea room, too, lovingly decorated by creator, chef, and free spirit Jennifer Blakeman.  The art on the walls, the stained glass and crystals sparkling in the windows, the architecture of the old house, the garlands of ivy and flowers around door and window frames, the light streaming in the room at sunset:  they create a lovely mosaic, a still life like a Van Gogh painting.

This night Arnold read a poem for July 4th, "God Bless America," dreaming of the  promise of our country beyond its wars, poverty,  hypocrisies. Cherish, whose husband Noah teaches English at Lourdes, read  "For My Father," and a short story, humorous and insightful, about her mom.  Craig Combs read old and new poems: "At Peace, like Fire and Ice," "Once Upon a Time," poems about love, uncertainty, betrayal, illusion.  "I find solace in the unknown," he read, a thought that resonated with my wandering mind and my Peace Corps experience.  Jackie read a "flarf" poem, which I can't quite explain, and found the courage to sing in public. Sweet. I liked the line "Looking for something that I can believe in...."  Jessica, whose own poetry I like, read from "The Barbie Poems" by Lyn Lifshin,  clever messages about what's real, what's not.  George played guitar to accompany the lovely voice of  Rachel Warns, who sang a lilting  celtic love song.

I'm not a poet, but I dare to read some of my writing and talk about Peace Corps. Last night I read my blog about Euro 2012, showing the world the beauty of  Ukraine, and a piece on the death of Fareinheit 451 author Ray Bradbury: will books become obsolete in the digital age? The small group responded with interest and was kind to an un-poet in their midst.
The spirit of Dragonfly encourages creativity and community.  Peace dwells in the thoughtful heart, and the music and poetry at Dragonfly bring it home.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ukraine Shines for Euro 2012

The European football (soccer) championships, Euro 2012, are going on now in Poland and Ukraine.  The games started on 8 June and go to 1 July.  Euro 2012 games are co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine (wikiphotos above) . In Ukraine the games are being held in the great cities of Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk, going from west to east.

I wrote about the planning for Euro 2012 when I lived in Staroblesk, Ukraine, 2009-2011, expressing some worry about whether or not the new stadiums and roads would be finished, and voicing the hope that the games would shed a good light on the country I came to love, its people, culture, built and natural environment, and traditions.

Photos by Vasyl Stefurak, Kyiv day and night (stadium & moon),
and at the games.
I'm not watching all the games, but from what I have seen, Ukraine looks beautiful.  I've followed the news, and was especially happy to get on-the-ground Kyiv photos from my Peace Corps regional manager Vasyl Stefurak.  Vasyl is from western Ukraine, studied English in the US, and is a scholar and wonderful photographer with a great perspective and good sense of humor.  He loves his country, and his photos show it; his patriotism is contagious.

Ukraine did not win its game, and there remains some controversy about a goal that was not counted, but I think the country is earning some accolades.  A soccer-loving friend here in my hometown, who is watching every game, said the stadiums, the cities and the Ukrainian people look beautiful, the women with garlands of flowers in their hair, the men painted, all enthusiastic fans.  Those of us who love Ukraine want it to grow and shine.  So far, the games are helping build a sense of pride, unity, and hope for the future.  ура украина!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Heat vs. Thunder

The Heat and the Thunder.  Forces of nature?  Kind of.
They are the NBA final championship basketball teams, ready to rock and roll, starting tonight

The  eastern conference series between the historic Boston Celtics and the young Miami Heat erupted like a volcano, rocked the heavens and earth. Fantastic basketball. LeBron James was hot, hot, hot. The western series between the San Antonio Spurs and the new Oklahoma City Thunder whipped up the clouds, like a rolling storm that lit up the night sky. Loren was lovin' it!  He probably saw all of the games, while I went in and out.

I don’t think there’s ever been this kind of nature symbolism associated with an NBA final World Championship game.  Weather extremes.  Game extremes. Location extremes. Miami and Oklahoma City.  One in a hurricane path, the other in Tornado alley.  Swealtering heat waves.  Global warming.  Rolling thunder that could carry you to the land of Oz.  

Which is more powerful?  Who will win this battle?  Will it be Heat, or will it be Thunder?

(yahoo images above)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More losses: Bradbury and Books

My daughter Elissa and I were talking about things becoming obsolete, like newspapers and books and things we read on paper.  We were thinking about her grandson Philip, my great grandson, just turned five years old, who often prefers computer games and ipods and ipads to books.  Same with my other grandkids.  Elissa and I thought that by the time Philip grew up and went to college, he’d be 100%  tech and online.  It’s not that he doesn’t like books. He does.  And he has an amazing imagination and storytelling ability.

So how will it all pan out, we wondered.  By the time Philip’s in high school, will all teaching be online--his books, assignments, study halls, even most of his classes? Is it possible he will never have to buy a book or hold a book in his hands, never have to go to a bookstore or a library? 

This led me to  wonder if more bookstores would be going the way of Border's, if Andrew Carnegie could have foreseen the demise of libraries, palaces of learning. This led Elissa to conclude that “bookbags will become obsolete, too!”  

Against this backdrop, I learned that  Ray Bradbury, the prolific science fiction and fantasy writer, had died at age 91 at his California home.  My first reaction was that he had  led a good long life, and made lasting contributions to our culture, "and to space exploration," Loren just whispered in my ear. Then I thought Bradbury's death might signal, symbolically and literally, the end of the book-reading era.    

One of the reasons I liked Ray Bradbury was because he loved books.and libraries, from a very young age until his death.  This love inspired one of my favorite dystopian novels, Fahreheit 451 (1953), which imagined a future America where books were outlawed and burned.   Some of his other books and short stories expand on the same theme.  He wrote  27 novels and 600 short stories, many adapted to TV, movies and comis books.  Edgar Allan Poe, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, telepathic Martians, and book-burning firefighters all rolled into one.

Will Philip ever read Ray Bradbury? Maybe online or on a kindle or nook.  Are the chances greater that he’ll see an adaptation on his ipad?  Does it matter?  For those of us who love books, who grew up reading, still read, and prefer the printed word to digital replicas, it remains a big question.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Imagination Celebration

Some scenes from Main Street Art Fair.
We had a lively art fair on Main Street.  I walked around from booth to booth, then met up with grandson Kyle and we did the same.  Later my daughter Elissa and granddaughter Julia and Philip joined us.  It was an imagination celebration that lasted all day long. 

Kyle (age 9) had $5.00 to spend and wanted to buy something special for his mom, my daughter Michelle.  So we viewed paintings, photography, jewelry, collage, ceramics, and garden art with that in mind. He liked the art made by students at the two Sylvania high schools, Northview and Southview. He liked the variety. We talked about the art, the widely different mediums and styles, the use of color, design, shapes, and perspective, about imagination.  Kyle instinctively understands.  "You can imagine anything and make art," he said. "This one has lots of paint, and this one is pencil and crayon," he would point out, as we looked carefully at each piece.  He liked the photography too, which made me think I will buy him a camera for his upcoming 10th birthday. Do we have a budding artist in the family?  

Kyle decided he wanted to buy some garden art, accessible and lovely wrought iron symbols and animals welded in different shapes and sizes, some made of forks and spoons, which he loved. Imagination! The artist showed him a nice dragonfly on a post for $5, and also a turtle made of spoons.  Kyle liked them both.  He couldn't make up his mind. "Hmm," the artist said.  "Hard decision." He  was kind, understanding, and finally said Kyle could have them both...for $5.  What a deal! Kyle felt like a king.  I followed his lead and added a lovely hummingbird with a dangling green stone.  Michelle loved them, and we promptly placed them in her emerging garden, Kyle choosing the spots. They look lovely.  Simple pleasures.  
Kyle and Philip carrying a blow-up bed from
GranE's to my place, up the street.

After the art show, Kyle and Philip came to my place and we had a fantastic overnight together.  We ended the day with an imaginative story that began with having different kinds of birds, all colors, and making a huge cage to take care of them. Could they fly in and out? Yes, because they like to be free. Somehow we added other animals, dogs and cats, a zebra, a cow, a horse and a pony, and so we needed a big barn, and we built a special barn.  Oh, and ducks, too, Philip said. Ducks? Then we'll need a pond, Kyle said brightly.  So we built a pond, pure blue water surrounded by green trees and shrubs and wild flowers, down a path from the barn and bird cage, and added fish, a whale, and a shark.  It was a Noah's ark story. The boys riffed on every idea, seamlessly, joyfully, without screening, without restraint.  They nodded off with smiles on their faces, dreaming of kind animals and their lovely surroundings, made special by people who care for them.  Imagination. Simple pleasures. 


Glaring Contrasts: Trump Rebuked in George H.W. Bush's Eulogies

photo Huff post. The state funeral of president George H.W. Bush, for a brief moment in time, was orchestrated to restore a sense of...