Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday, October 26th

This week was another West Virginia trip week. Drove up on Sunday through grey skies to be greeted by a light dusting of snow at the WV border. Flakes fell throughout Monday and Tuesday but never enough to be a nuisance. Winter is coming, as the maesters of the citadel say. It was peak foliage weekend for the hills, very pretty but without the sunshine that would have made the panoramas spectacular. Not a lot going on up in WV country. The case management nurses continue to do an exemplary job - gave them a presentation on disaster planning, a subject about which I know nothing, but which seems to have gone over quite well all the same.

Tomorrow is Tommy and my fourth anniversary. Where has the time gone. We are fairly settled in our routines but we have enough show biz and other craziness going on to keep things interesting. He seems to be enjoying the BM program at Montevallo very much, although the faculty, many of them his peers, don't seem quite to know what to do with a midlife studtent in music performance and composition.

Due to December conflicts, had to bow out of 'A Christmas Carol' so I am not on stage again until January. 'Fiddler' starts rehearsal mid-December and I am looking forward to it. Between now and then comes the usual question of keeping theater companies with precarious finances afloat - always an interesting exercise.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday, October 19th

Another zinger from Keith Olbermann - the only pundit that seems in the least bit interested in taking on what's happening to this country...


And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived… as people in fear.

And now — our rights and our freedoms in peril — we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before — and we have been here before led here — by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives — only to watch him use those Acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote, about America.

We have been here, when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives — only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as "Hyphenated Americans," most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.

American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said, about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9-0-6-6 was necessary to save American lives — only to watch him use that Order to imprison and pauperize 110-thousand Americans…

While his man-in-charge…

General DeWitt, told Congress: "It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen — he is still a Japanese."

American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did — but for the choices they or their ancestors had made, about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And each, was a betrayal of that for which the President who advocated them, claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.

Many of the very people Wilson silenced, survived him, and…

…one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900-thousand votes… though his Presidential campaign was conducted entirely… from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt's internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States, to the citizens of the United States, whose lives it ruined.

The most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.

In times of fright, we have been, only human.

We have let Roosevelt's "fear of fear itself" overtake us.

We have listened to the little voice inside that has said "the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass."

We have accepted, that the only way to stop the terrorists, is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.

Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets, was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.

Or substitute… the Japanese.

Or the Germans.

Or the Socialists.

Or the Anarchists.

Or the Immigrants.

Or the British.

Or the Aliens.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And, always, always… wrong.

"With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?"

Wise words.

And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.

Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act.

You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.

Sadly — of course — the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously… was you.

We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

But even within this history, we have not before codified, the poisoning of Habeas Corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.

You, sir, have now befouled that spring.

You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.

You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.

For the most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.

And — again, Mr. Bush — all of them, wrong.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done, to anything the terrorists have ever done.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that "the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values" and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens "Unlawful Enemy Combatants" and ship them somewhere — anywhere — but may now, if he so decides, declare you an "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" and ship you somewhere - anywhere.

And if you think this, hyperbole or hysteria… ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was President, or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was President, or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was President.

And if you somehow think Habeas Corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an "unlawful enemy combatant" — exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this Attorney General is going to help you?

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope, he has not lied about how he intends to use it, nor who he intends to use it against?

"These military commissions will provide a fair trial," you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush. "In which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney, and can hear all the evidence against them."

'Presumed innocent,' Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain "serious mental and physical trauma" in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

'Access to an attorney,' Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant, on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

'Hearing all the evidence,' Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir.

They are lies, that imperil us all.

"One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks," …you told us yesterday… "said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America."

That terrorist, sir, could only hope.

Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.

Habeas Corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The Moral Force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush… they would be "the beginning of the end of America."

And did it even occur to you once sir — somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations of the horrors of 9/11 — that with only a little further shift in this world we now know — just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died —

Did it ever occur to you once, that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future President and a "competent tribunal" of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" for… and convene a Military Commission to try… not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And doubtless, sir, all of them — as always — wrong.

Joe Scarborough is next.

Good night, and good luck.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday, October 14th

We've survived another Friday, the 13th. No major disasters but a very strange day for various reasons. Spent a lot of time with some major paperwork backlogs at work and got some invoices out on extra-curricular legal work I've done. Should be enough spare dollars to pay Tommy's tuition this next semester. At lunch, I dressed up as the Cabaret Emcee (complete with make-up) to be part of Birmingham's Random Acts of Art that happens in October in order to bemuse passers by at Five Points South. This was rather amusing. After it was over, I popped into clinic to scare the staff. While I was there, who should come out of a patient room but the president of UAB who was there with family. She won't soon forget me.

Last night was the opening of CenterStage's first production of the season, 'Little Shop of Horrors'. Not bad. Great perfromances from the leads and a killer set/visual look. Brimingham theater is looking better and better with each passing season as we all get better at what we do. I have first read through for 'A Christmas Carol' this weekend which is the next performance (bit part in a cast of thousands) and then, in December, go into rehearsal for 'Fiddler on the Roof'.

My social worker remains seriously ill and is not likely to significantly recover. We all hate that as she's been part of our work family for years and years. I haven't had a chance to see her for a while as she hasn't been up to visitors much. My health is better with the immediate GI issues under better control but I'm still feeling more washed out and fatigued than I usually do. I find myself having to take a couple of evenings a week to veg in order to stay on even keel.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday, October 5th

Another month down and moving closer to the end of another year. Where does the time go and will it ever slow down so I can catch up on all the things I need to get done in life? What can I say about things today? Work is work. One of my long time colleagues is dying of pancreatic cancer and I will miss her very much when she's gone. I have no idea of how I'm going to be able to replace her with our current budgets and things but what she does is vital to our continued success so I will have to try.

The house was invaded by a flying squirrel the last couple of days. Every once in a while, a young one will get on the roof and decided to explore the chimney and fall down into the fireplace. Usually the cats get them, this one was chased by the cats but managed to survive and Tommy and I finally trapped him and hustled him out the door sometime after midnight last night. It was exciting there for a minute with people and cats and furniture all shooting around the living room after a small little furry thing with big eyes and a long leap.

Have to get the last of the props for 'Little Shop of Horrors' done this weekend. They open a week from tomorrow. Should be a fun show. I am then off for a few weeks before we get into rehearsal for 'A Christmas Carol' (the Menken version) which performs the two weeks after Thanksgiving. I have a fairly small part so rehearsal shouldn't be too horrible.

The unfolding Foley scandal continues to be interesting. It's taking all of the focus off the Iraq war and foreign policy (deliberate Rovian strategy?) but also reveals the rot at the core of the current congress. I'm expecting a huge backlash against the gay community and a night of the long knives in DC against gay congress people and staffers. Perhaps it's time to emigrate.