Joe Paddock: “One’s Ship Comes In”

American Life in Poetry: Column 323


Joe Paddock is a Minnesota poet and he and I are, as we say in the Midwest, “of an age.” Here is a fine poem about arriving at a stage when there can be great joy in accepting life as it comes to us.

One’s Ship Comes In

I swear
my way now will be
to continue without
plan or hope, to accept
the drift of things, to shift
from endless effort
to joy in, say,
that robin, plunging
into the mossy shallows
of my bird bath and
splashing madly till
the air shines with spray.
Joy it will be, say,
in Nancy, pretty in pink
and rumpled T-shirt,
rubbing sleep from her eyes, or
joy even in
just this breathing, free
of fright and clutch, knowing
how one’s ship comes in
with each such breath.

Plato’s Parable of the Cat (Not in the Hat)

Assemblyman Dan Logue Mentioned in Newsweek Article

Dan Logue, our local District 3 assemblyman, is mentioned in a current Newsweek article about Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Conservatives nationwide, discouraged by the lackluster stable of Republican presidential hopefuls, are developing a serious mancrush on Perry, whose slash-spending-no-tax-hikes approach to Texas budget woes are causing ideological hearts to flutter.

“The Lone Star State’s economic success over the last decade has been notable. Since 2001 (roughly the tenure of Perry, the longest-serving Texas governor) the state has gained more than 730,000 jobs. In contrast, California, Texas’s antithesis in political culture and a favorite Perry rhetorical foil, has lost more than 600,000 jobs in the same period (and is on course to lose more jobs this year than last).

“That gap is why some of Perry’s most ardent support emanates from California. Dan Logue, a Republican in Sacramento’s state Assembly, says he began worrying when the chief executive officer of Carl’s Jr., an iconic California burger chain, told him that he was opening 300 restaurants in Texas this year, none in California, and was considering moving his headquarters to the Lone Star State. Logue asked him why. “He said, ‘It takes them two years to get permits in California,’?” Logue recalls. “It takes 45 days in the state of Texas.”

“In April Logue led a delegation of California political leaders, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic former mayor of San Francisco, to Texas on a learning tour. They met with Perry and with expat California businessmen, and heard the obvious: Texas is a right-to-work state with no income tax, a light regulatory regime, relatively low corporate tax rates, and a steady supply of cheap labor. Newsom, whose political identity is liberal, was struck by the state’s insistently business-friendly attitude. He says now, “You can’t be for jobs and anti-business”—which happens to be a stock phrase of Rick Perry’s.

“Logue was even more deeply impressed. He came away from his Texas visit convinced that Perry should be the next president. ‘I think that Rick Perry is potentially the next Ronald Reagan for the Republican Party,’ he says. Back in California, Logue launched a draft-Perry drive, with a Web page extolling Perry’s conservative virtues and urging a letter-writing campaign to persuade the Texan to run.”

Read full article: “The Right Aims at Texas

Reinette Senum on Nevada County’s Gorilla Love Project

Editor’s Note: I found out about this from a Ben Emery post on Facebook. Thanks Ben, Reinette and all the other supporters of this very creative effort to help the homeless in our county.

In Praise of Warriors, Not War

By Don Pelton

On this Memorial Day, I’d like to speak a few words in support of warriors, and in opposition to war.

Despite reaching my formative young adulthood during the anti-war 1960s, and despite my minor experience with something remotely similar to combat – in the National Guard at the Watts riots in August of 1965, and at Berkeley’s People’s Park in May of 1969 – it occurred to me sometime in the early 1990s that I knew almost nothing about the “Good War” that our father’s fought, which left us with a world mostly free.

I studied American history in college, and read good histories such as William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but aside from reading Shirer’s reporting from Berlin in the early years of the war, I had never listened to the voices of those who experienced the frontlines of World War II (and Korea soon after) first-hand.

So I began to read many personal accounts of those wars, and the harrowing reports which haunt me still are – particularly – E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, Farley Mowat’s And No Birds Sang, and a report I’ll never forget, by U.S. Army historian S.L.A. Marshall in a collection I can no longer locate, about the hand-to-hand combat of an American squad against some Chinese infantry during the Korean War.

This effort to study war by reading first-hand accounts and by viewing documentaries and films on the subject serves as my poor but only possible substitute for the actual experience of combat. Every citizen who understands that some wars are unavoidable and necessary owes this same effort – to understand what combat really is – to those whom he may ask to risk their lives.

E.B. Sledge described the horror on the island of Peleliu in the Pacific, digging in to fight the Japanese, who were holed-up in caves. By the time he arrived on that island there had already been so much close fighting that he could find no place to sink his spade to dig a foxhole where there weren’t chunks of human flesh mixed up like rotting compost in the loose soil. If that isn’t an image of Hell, I don’t know what is.

Farley Mowat described his upbringing in a patriotic Canadian family, and how the old stories of war filled him with a keen desire to find glory in combat, but not necessarily in the infantry (where he ended up). He finally found combat in the campaign to force the Nazis out of Italy. His vivid description of the savagery of war includes the awful poetic detail of his title, “… and no birds sang.”

S.L.A. Marshall told the story of an American squad that attacked a hill held by the Chinese in Korea, and despite heavy losses – with only three surviving the fight – they prevailed, killing all of the enemy. But the hand-to-hand combat with bayonets had so unleashed the blood-lust of the Americans that – with no more enemies to kill – they went on and slaughtered a small herd of horses that the Chinese had corralled there.

The power of this account – and the sadness of it – is in the awful realization that each of us is capable of such blood lust, given the same circumstance.

I take it as axiomatic that in war, all sides always lose some portion of their humanity in the prosecution of the struggle, at least for a time.

It also seems to be axiomatic that those who are least experienced in war are often the most gung-ho to start it, and those who are most experienced – like Eisenhower and Colin Powell – are most reluctant to undertake it lightly.

Then there’s the lethal shallowness of a man who experienced combat, but whose motives for taking us to war – when he became president – may have included personal insecurity. There have been plausible suggestions that George Herbert Walker Bush undertook the invasion of Panama in part to solve the problem of his “wimp image.”

We honor the sacrifice of our soldiers and remember them on days like this not because war is always glorious and just, but precisely because – whether just or unjust, whether noble or ignoble — it is always Hell, and they have gone into Hell for our sake.

Statue of soldier (at Vietnam Memorial, Capitol Mall, Sacramento)

Naomi Klein: Climate Change “the Biggest Crisis of All”

Editor’s Note: It’s interesting to watch the evolution in the thinking of Naomi Klein, whose book, the “The Shock Doctrine,” described what she called “Disaster Capitalism,” a system in which “no good crisis ever goes to waste.” Now she is focused on what she calls the “biggest crisis of all,” global climate change. She’s afraid that capitalist governments will use this ultimate crisis to impose forms of militarism and repression beyond anything we’ve seen before. Watch this excellent interview with Klein by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now.” (about 10 minutes)

McClintock: “Paul Ryan Would Make an Excellent President”

This should interest all constituents of California’s 4th congressional district representative Tom McClintock:

Our congressman voted to replace Medicare with vouchers, a vote also known as “throwing granny under the bus” (see video below).

The widespread opposition to Ryan’s voucher plan for Medicare has apparently not weakened McClintock’s admiration for him:

“It’s a very good idea,” says Rep. Tom McClintock (R., Calif.). “Paul Ryan would make an excellent candidate and an excellent president.” If Democrats are intent on making the House Republican budget the central issue of the 2012 campaign, who better than that budget’s author — and most capable defender — to be the GOP nominee? Other members certainly feel the same, McClintock said — you won’t find too many Republicans with a negative opinion of Ryan — but he insisted there isn’t a concerted effort among members to urge Ryan to get in the race. “I’ve not heard any rumors that he’s seriously considering it,” he said. “But I still think it’s a pretty good idea.”

The Connection Between Amgen and the Doping Drug EPO

This is definitely old news, but it’s an interesting time — right after the 60 Minutes interview with Tyler Hamilton — to recall that Amgen Corporation, the sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California, which continues to feature many veterans of the Tour de France, is also the manufacturer of erythropoietin (EPO), a drug designed for the treatment of chronic anemia that is also used in cycling for “doping.”

Will the latest incendiary claims by Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong’s old teammate, cause Amgen Corporation to reconsider it’s sponsorship of the California Tour?

Or was its sponsorship a hedge in the first place against the bad press caused by the unfortunate use of its anemia drug for doping?

Or, is this connection just one of life’s strange and ironic coincidences?

Will Lance Armstrong’s Reputation Survive the 60 Minutes Report?

Dave Zirin, sports writer for The Nation magazine, believes that Armstrong — because of his triumph over cancer and his great contribution to the battle against it — is in a class by himself in the sport of cycling, even though the sport itself is “rife” with doping.

“Of the 7 Tour de France titles he won — and the top ten, the 70 cyclists — 41 of them have been found to have been doping (of the 70 members of the top ten of his 7 titles)”

… and I think people are gonna say, “Well, he’s just the biggest of what is a sport that is rife with these drugs.”

Ex-teammate: “I saw Lance Armstrong inject EPO”

From 60 Minutes:

“(CBS News) Lance Armstrong is among the greatest athletes of all time – an American hero who beat cancer to win the Tour de France, the Super Bowl of cycling, seven times. But now Armstrong is the focus of a federal investigation into performance enhancing drugs. A grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing secret testimony from some of Armstrong’s former teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team.

“One of the prime witnesses is Tyler Hamilton. Under oath, behind closed doors, Hamilton has told a story that may change the history of sports. Over the years, some former teammates have accused Armstrong of doping. But, it’s been said in professional cycling that if Hamilton broke his silence, then the full story of the legendary U.S. Postal Service team would be known.

“Hamilton does that now, in public, for the first time.

‘Well, I just told my family for the first time four days ago about all this. It was brutal. Was the first time, really, I confided in them and then told them the whole story, you know, starting from the first time I doped till to up through the end,’ Hamilton told correspondent Scott Pelley.”

See full story here, and videos of parts 1 and 2 of this 60 Minutes story, below:

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