Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Sunday Paper

A sleepy, lazy Sunday. A day of rest, at least this week, and the Sunday New York Times. Perfect. No interruptions as I read the main section of the paper front to back. First, a story about soldiers returning home after a year at war. Their ability, or lack thereof, to adjust to normal life. Clearly not a soldier, I am left to imagine how difficult this might be, but the reporting and the pictures make it possible to an extent.

Then I read about G.O.P. legislators moving to tighten rules/laws on voting. Basically, in about 13 to 15 states there are movements under way to make it necessary for voters to present a valid driver’s license, passport, or other state issued ID when they go to vote. Considering you have to have one of those in order to register to vote, I don’t think you should be required to show up with one in order to vote. Voting, at least to me, seems like one of the last great bastions of democracy, unfettered by bureaucracy and legislation. Great, you are registered to vote. All you have to do is show up to the right polling place, give your name, the volunteer or paid election worker checks it off a list, and you go make your vote. And then, of course, you get a sticker. Everything else related to electing our public officials is so damn complicated. Making the process of voting more complicated will truly discourage some from voting.

Next, a story on the F.B.I. and how vigilant they have been since 2001 in wasting their time and money by monitoring domestic terrorists who don’t have a crime more serious than trespassing on their record. I understand some of these people aren’t outstanding members of society, but 24-hour surveillance, really?

Not surprisingly, there were articles on suicide bombings in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The bombers targeted fellow Muslims. And as I read these articles, an overwhelming, and now familiar feeling of hopelessness about our wars in the Middle East swept over me. When the terrorists are so willing and committed to kill their own brothers and sisters then it seems clear that no extended American occupation of a country over there is ever going to end this violence. I just feel it is their problem to address. Ten years in Afghanistan, progress here and there, ups and downs, and still rumors of corruption swirl around President Hamid Karzai’s government. When does it end?

There is one Arab country where Americans are wildly popular right now. Libya. Wildly popular should be put in context though. This means the American flag and effigies of our leaders aren’t regularly burned and stomped on. An American or Westerner out for a jog in eastern Libya might even get an enthusiastic yell or honk. NATO rules the skies between Gaddafi loyalists in the west and the rebels in the east. And this, “Many Libyan parents with newborn girls are reportedly naming them Susan, in honor of Susan E. Rice, the Obama administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, for her vote in the Security Council in favor of establishing the no-fly zone.”

And the French legal system would likely approach the Strauss-Kahn case with timidity. It seems it is common practice that high-ranking officials or celebrities get preferential treatment upon being accused of a crime. Or, their case is hidden from the public eye and no one really finds out about their crime or punishment.

This past week, when President Obama attempted to toast the Queen of England, the band playing “God Save the Queen” cut him off. The Queen, refusing to acknowledge the President during the song, eventually turned to him once the song was over to end the toast. I love England and British culture, but some of the etiquette world leaders and the public are expected to adhere to when they are around royals is so ridiculous. I just have a hard time taking all that pomp and circumstance seriously.

Lastly, amid all the articles I read, was an account of the devastation in Joplin, MO. Here is a passage from that article:

Here, one day, is a distraught man who describes how, while helping to dig in search of the living, he heard the distant cry of a little girl. “Don’t worry, honey, I’m getting there!” he called out, again and again, digging so frantically that his hands began to bleed. Then, suddenly, he was there. He uncovered a talking doll, and he wept.

Then he dug elsewhere, he says. This time he uncovered a dead girl, and he wept.

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