Dowd: At 79, Bernie Sanders is a man on a mission, laser-focused on a list that represents trillions of dollars in government spending that he deems essential. When I stray into other subjects, the senator jabs his finger at his piece of paper or waves it in my face, like Van Helsing warding off Dracula with a cross.
When I ask Sanders if he thinks A.O.C. could be president someday, out comes the list.
“That’s not what I want to get into,” he barks. “I want to get into what this legislation is about.”
“You don’t want to discuss ‘Free Britney’?” I ask.
— NYTimes, July 11, 2021
After all, for this chance Bernie put up with 30 years of ridicule & condescension from the likes of HRC.
Now he has the opportunity to get more done than she did.
It likely won’t come again, and he will not be distracted by media malarkey, liberal sectarianism, or even his own ego.
As I begin this post, Portland and Seattle are roasting, a Florida beachfront condo has collapsed, the lake keeping Las Vegas afloat is disappearing, and many more out West are dreading the start of fire season. Here in the East we’re keeping a wary eye on Xs and Os on the Atlantic hurricane map; and everybody should be concerned about those virulent variants.
Amid all these budding disasters, pieces of a paragraph from the early 1990s keep popping into my head:
I have a confession to make. I want my grandchildren to learn how to goatwalk . . . . I’m a survivalist where they’re concerned. Industrial civilization has destabilized the earth’s climate beyond the point of no-return. The fair-weather agriculture on which our civilization depends is doomed. In the course of the next century, much of North America will probably become desert. Even if it doesn’t, annual rainfalls and temperatures will fluctuate too wildly to sustain the agricultural systems on which we now depend. If humankind doesn’t self-destruct, my grandchildren will have to get along without industrial agriculture as it now exists. Maybe a more sustainable industrial adaptation will emerge, but I want them to know enough to survive the old-fashioned, nomad way, in case that’s a viable choice.
Learn how to Goatwalk? I have great grandchildren now, and why should they be learning to walk with goats?
To explain why, let me say something first about a Bucket. Or more precisely, a Bucket List. We can start with mine.
George Moses Horton: A Biographical Sketch & several poems; from local sources
George Moses Horton
George Moses Horton (1797-1893) could rightly be called North Carolina’s first professional poet.
Born enslaved by Chatham County yeoman farmer William Horton, young George Moses Horton loved the rhyming sounds of hymns, and yearned to be able to read. As teaching slaves to read was illegal, Horton secretly taught himself, hiding in fields on Sundays. He used an old speller, a copy of the Methodist hymnal, and stray pages from the Bible, although he was grown before he learned to write. Especially fascinated with poetry, he was soon composing psalm-meter verses in his head and committing them to memory.
Young Horton was often sent to Chapel Hill by his then-master, James Horton, to sell produce at the farmer’s market. There his unusually sophisticated vocabulary soon caught the attention of the university students, who encouraged his orations, and ultimately, the recitation of his own verse.
Besides his work and example, Friend David Zarembka also left a valuable and underestimated resource of writings for Friends and others. We’ll sample that legacy here, and point to where more can be found.
Also religious. The Quaker Meeting I attend is in the country between Burlington & Pittsboro NC. Those cities and my home town, Durham, is served by the contaminated Haw river. And I lived/worked in Fayetteville (near Fort Bragg) for more than a decade, where the Haw (called there the Cape Fear River) flows through the city, and water safety issues were continuous.
The Quaker Meeting is called Spring. That’s because a small spring runs across part of its property.
A running spring is rich with quiet and reassuring spiritual symbolism (“living water”). But we don’t drink from it. The spring may be picturesque —and there’s a good chance it’s not safe.
Water issues are not daily headlines here, but water anxiety is widespread. Every time I’m at the big box market, I see folks pushing carts loaded with the smaller plastic water bottles that the cognoscenti so despise. I don’t judge them.
Drinking water for my house comes from the reverse osmosis purifier at our nearby co-op market, in recycled gallon jugs
If there’s ever a historic marker put up in Burr’s memory, the curious will have to search for it, and it will have plentiful blank space.
But despite all my “elite” blogger’s disdain, I have now been shown up as having grossly underestimated Burr’s legislative work ethic and its impact. The crushing exposé came in a report in the New York Times on March 22, 2021.
It turns out that Burr is quite capable of working like a dog, by golly a determined attack dog at that. The Times even has the paperwork covered with bite marks to prove it.
I apologize for the error.
Of course, it had to be just the right burning, moral, lives-are-at-stake issue to get Burr to jump the leash and put down the stock market reports.
“May I be boiled in oil, And fried in Crisco, If I ever call San Francisco, Frisco.”
All right, let’s stipulate that some of those San Francisco schools SHOULD be renamed. But some other cases are, well, complicated.
I mean, if living in an independent country has any value for us, the bad news that George Washington was a slaveowner can’t be the end of discussion about him; dammit, he and his ragtag army did win the revolution.
Then he declined to celebrate by taking on the crown his victory had displaced.
That’s a gesture which some of us have just re-learned is definitely not chopped liver. (Tho some of us evidently just haven’t.)
Ditto for the fact that Lincoln was a stone segregationist who hoped slaves would be freed so they could all be shipped to Central America.
Terrible “optics, in politico-speak. And a completely cockamamie idea; but then Abe still got woke enough to end legal slavery. And he gave some boffo speeches, huuugely better than, say, “The carnage stops here.” There’s a whole lot of reckoning yet to be done there.
Instead, tho, according to numerous press reports, the SF renaming process turned into a contender for the worst imitation of a bad SNL cold open that ever made comedy writers spew their coffee.
The renamers even voted to toss Roosevelt Middle School, tho they couldn’t seem to be bothered to figure out which Roosevelt it was, FDR or Teddy, to whom they were giving the boot. (But who cares? They were both dead white males.)
Well, anyway. Looks like becoming a laughingstock finally got under somebody’s skin there, and the renaming is now toast.
But it really ought not to be. Some of the names probably should go. Plus there are definitely new names that need recognition. (Looking at you, Harriet Tubman. And my sentimental Sixties favorite, Wavy Gravy.)
Besides, the reexamination of all 44 could be a Golden Gate into substantive educational experiences involving the students too. (Students? What a concept.)
Well, Frisco school folks, you gave yourselves a big load of lemons.
So now get busy, catch up on that history homework you skipped, and make your city some serious educational lemonade, meringue pies and (gluten free) pound cake already.
‘Mistakes were made’ BY DON SWEENEY — FEBRUARY 22, 2021 Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco will be among 44 schools which was to have their names changed following a 6-1 vote by the school board. Those plans are now on hold, school officials say.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s disappearance has also been stayed.
Gabriela Lopez, newly elected as president of the school board, said in a statement Sunday that school officials must focus on reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in school,” Lopez wrote. She canceled further hearings by a renaming committee.
Lopez called the school renaming issue “one of many distracting debates,” noting the process began before anyone anticipated a pandemic shutting down in-person schooling.
“I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process,” Lopez wrote.
When the renaming project reopens, district leaders will seek a “more deliberative” process involving historians along with parents and educators, Lopez wrote.
The school board voted 6-1 Jan. 26 to strip the names, now considered offensive, from 44 San Francisco schools, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” said trustee Mark Sanchez at the time, according to the publication. “It’s not just symbolic. It’s a moral message.”
Parents and teachers at each school would have had until April to propose new names to be approved by the board, Courthouse News reported. The renaming project was expected to cost $440,000.
School names honoring Paul Revere, Francis Scott Key, Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, Father Junipero Serra and Robert Louis Stevenson were also among those scheduled to be changed, according to a district list.
The renaming committee faulted Washington for owning slaves, Lincoln for the hangings of Native Americans and Feinstein for reports she once ordered the replacement of a Confederate flag torn down by protesters.
Other names to be changed include those of conquistadors who explored California and notable San Francisco residents, including a former superintendent, who held racist views.
The board also voted to rename Roosevelt Middle School despite confusion over whether it was originally named for Theodore or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Fox News reported.
A committee studied the proposed name changes for two years before the decision was made, according to a presentation from the San Francisco Unified School District.
The presentation says involvement in colonization, slavery, genocide, exploitation of workers, oppression, racism and other human rights abuses are reasons to remove someone’s name from a school.
Some of the criteria for possible replacement names included a grounding in social or economic justice, local rather than national figures and those who bring “joy and healing to the world.”
The proposed name changes generated national commentary, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed criticized the proposals in October, KGO reported.
“The fact that our kids aren’t in school is what’s driving inequity in our city, not the name of a school,” Breed said, according to the station.
Former President Donald Trump posted to Twitter about the proposal in December, calling it “so ridiculous and unfair,” The Hill reported.
Critics of the name changes argued that historical figures should be judged in historical context of all their efforts, not dismissed for individual questionable actions, Courthouse News reported.
Just about every day, Facebook pops up on my personal page a post & photo from this date some year in the past, as a memory.
The other day, a photo came up on FB of me, taking nap recliner, while mischievous granddaughter, seven, piling stuffed animals and stuff on my torso to see how much she could stack up on me before the weight woke me up.
This happened one year ago during a family reunion over an extended weekend in Las Vegas, where my daughter works as a nurse. It was silly scene, but showed we were having a fine time, so it was worth a passing remembrance.
Then I realized something else about it. That trip and gathering marked the end of the world.
Well, not the end of THE world, but surely the end of A world: the pre-pandemic world, the demise of what can be called the Good Old Days. And so that silly photo of me asleep with odds and ends piled on my belly in late February 2020, also marked the anniversary – better say the first anniversary — of the era of Covid.
After that family weekend, within just a few weeks, schools were closed, unemployment swept through us like a tornado, markets crashed, toilet paper disappeared and lockdowns were coming, and the last time I was able to worship in person at our meetinghouse until – when?
And on this unwelcome anniversary, I realized a couple other things: one is that it’s not over; far from it. The other is a strong suspicion, that even when it’s declared to be over, it may be impossible to go “back to normal.” At least not entirely.