Sunday, July 18, 2004

Bill Moyers and Obi-wan Kenobi

It could just be because I spent half the night chasing a determined raccoon from my backyard pond - over and over. It might be because today is another work day for me, at a job I like where the wage stinks. Maybe it's because I spent the early evening with 20 & 30-somethings at my son's birthday party, and they are role-playing, Final Fantasy-playing, Star Wars babies ... but this morning when I read the following from Bill Moyers, I thought of old Ben Kenobi, and his sensing the "great disruption in the Force" when Darth Vader destroyed Alderran. The mythopoetic is upon me. I'm not sure if it's contagious, or if there's a cure. Be sure to wash your hands and eyes after reading.

This is the Fight of Our Lives

"It is important from time to time to remember that some things are worth getting mad about.

Here's one: On March 10 of this year, on page B8, with a headline that stretched across all six columns, The New York Times reported that tuition in the city's elite private schools would hit $26,000 for the coming school year -- for kindergarten as well as high school. On the same page, under a two-column headline, Michael Wineraub wrote about a school in nearby Mount Vernon, the first stop out of the Bronx, with a student body that is 97 percent black. It is the poorest school in the town: nine out of ten children qualify for free lunches; one out of 10 lives in a homeless shelter. During black history month this past February, a sixth grader wanted to write a report on Langston Hughes. There were no books on Langston Hughes in the library -- no books about the great poet, nor any of his poems. There is only one book in the library on Frederick Douglass. None on Rosa Parks, Josephine Baker, Leontyne Price, or other giants like them in the modern era. In fact, except for a few Newberry Award books the librarian bought with her own money, the library is mostly old books -- largely from the 1950s and 60s when the school was all white. A 1960 child's primer on work begins with a youngster learning how to be a telegraph delivery boy. All the workers in the book -- the dry cleaner, the deliveryman, the cleaning lady -- are white. There's a 1967 book about telephones which says: "when you phone you usually dial the number. But on some new phones you can push buttons." The newest encyclopedia dates from l991, with two volumes -- "b" and "r" -- missing. There is no card catalog in the library -- no index cards or computer."
Read on. Moyers corrects the mistaken idea about when the waylaying of the US government began. Not four years ago, not ten. He says:

"We could have seen this coming if we had followed the money. The veteran Washington reporter, Elizabeth Drew, says "the greatest change in Washington over the past 25 years -- in its culture, in the way it does business and the ever-burgeoning amount of business transactions that go on here -- has been in the preoccupation with money." Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covered Washington for nearly twenty years for the Wall Street Journal, put it more strongly: "[campaign cash] has flooded over the gunwales of the ship of state and threatens to sink the entire vessel. Political donations determine the course and speed of many government actions that deeply affect our daily lives." Politics is suffocating from the stranglehold of money. During his brief campaign in 2000, before he was ambushed by the dirty tricks of the religious right in South Carolina and big money from George W. Bush's wealthy elites, John McCain said elections today are nothing less than an "influence peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.""
Bill ought to know, since beyond his hefty dues paid in intelligent journalism, he spent some time among the political movers and shakers in the last 40 years. (a small bio on Moyers) Read on. He says (and I thought this the weakest part of his point) that class warfare is not necessarily called for, yet he hammers home the necessity for the "fight of our lives". I'm not sure all-out class warfare can be avoided, and I'm not hoping for it. But my eyes and ears have been taking in the landscape of the last 25 years, a bit less than half my life. I also frequently joke with my tongue loosely planted in my cheek that I have my torch, pitchfork and pike at the ready.

Anyway, see what you think about what Bill Moyers has to say. I'm headed out to the backyard to reset two pumps, and skim off the broken plants and muck from the pond water, and check for any remaining goldfish. I built the pond with my own two hands in 1995. I wish the raccoon would find another deli. If I can find a place to store some pics of some of the "other fish" assorted raccoon and heron have feasted upon in the last nine years, I'll post them later (that would be pictures pre-buffet).