Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday


Pioneer Cemetery, tucked into a corner of our property,
is one of my favorite places. It's peaceful and restful up
there and one can give thought to powerful, amazing ideas
in such a place.

My regular readers will know that Sundays are special days for me. I like the quiet, lazy ways they begin and the freedom they seem to give me to meditate and relax. I especially like Easter Sunday for reasons I don’t totally understand.
by Charlie Leck

The resurrection story is a powerful, powerful account that Christians hold at the very center of their hope and faith. I personally believe that it is even more powerful when it is not held to as a literal account. Like all great mythology, the story points to powerful truths – more true, even, than the story would be if it were seen as a factual account.

The Easter story, for me, has always been a message that death has no power over me (or thee, for that matter). If death has no power – if we are free from fearing it – it also loses its control over the lives we live. Therefore, I may move on, free and joyous, in living whatever days life gives me; and at the end of this journey I shall still be free and at rest in eternal peacefulness – in the embrace of love.

Deeply convicted Christians, for hundreds and hundreds of years, have traditionally encountered each other on Easter Sunday morning with the powerful pronouncement: “The Lord is risen!”

And the traditional response to the comment is: “He has risen indeed!”

I stand before the tomb in which they had laid his body. I stare in wonder at the huge stone they had rolled before the tomb’s opening and have no doubt about the manner in which the stone was rolled away. This is the work of the most powerful force in the universe. For, you see, one can kill and conquer the mortal body; but love is never defeated and never contained.

“How was the stone rolled away, Grandpa?” My grandchildren listen in rapt awe – awe that only a child can feel. “Who rolled it away?”

“The man they killed and laid to rest there,” I try to explain, “came to show us how to love everyone and how to show compassion to all people of every kind and type. I don’t know why that is such a frightening message, but it was and always has been. They thought he was odd and they lynched him. Those who loved him and believed in him laid him reverently in that tomb and sealed it with a huge stone that only many men could move.”

“Such love,” my wee ones, “can never been contained or imprisoned. Love is more powerful than armies of hatred. Love flung the stone aside and took him from his resting place that day, to hold him forever in its embrace. We, too, shall be gathered to that loving bosom one day and we shall also rest in it throughout eternity.”

Ah, Sunday morning. It’s so peaceful and lovely here. Easter! I sit, imagining my grandchildren encircle me. We're listening to Chris Cunningham. His mellow voice sings out: “The morning comes when it’s ready; just brace yourself for a tidal wave!... The same message! ...The same words on a different shore! ...New music!  The same news in a different song!”


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Standing by “Bitter Pill”


My old man, Henry W. Leck, shown here in a 1926
photograph, never had health insurance in his entire
life. In the 50s, when my mother encountered a terrible
health problem, my old man was broken like a dry
stick and left basically destitute for the rest of his life.
Thank goodness he had sons and a daughter who
could help out.

A reader, Neil, recently commented on my blog of 11 March 2013
by Charlie Leck

“I take extreme umbrage with that statement. America is without a doubt the leader in specialized medicine. That is why executives and government officials in other countries (Britain and Canada specifically) will fly across oceans and over borders to have their surgery done here. Look at the flawed studies which rank the US far below our socialist brothers in Europe, they include all types of death including homicides and car accidents in calculating the "health care rankings.

I would like to point Neil to an editorial comment column in this morning’s StarTribune (our local newspaper) written by John Reynolds: “Fixing the Dated U.S. Health Care System.” The article’s working premise is stated in the sub-title: “There’s a truth we’ve yet to accept – no matter what system we devise, it will be unfair.”

The Time Magazine article (nearly 50 pages long) that I referred to in that earlier blog is one of the most important statements about America’s health care system that has ever been popularly published. I continue to agree with that article’s statement about our broken system, with which Neil so strongly disagrees.

In this morning’s piece in our local paper, Reynold’s says…

The United States is arguably the wealthiest country in the industrialized world. We spend more on health care than any other country. How can our infant mortality rates be increasing? How can our life expectancy not be as good as other countries?
“The relevant statistics do not paint an optimistic story. We spend more than anyone else and our outcomes are not keeping pace; in fact, they are getting worse. The following helps to illustrate some of the areas of deep concern….
“…On average, the United States spends twice as much on health care per capita, and 50 percent more as a share of GDP, as other industrialized nations do. And yet we fail to reap the benefits of longer lives, lower infant mortality, universal access and quality of care realized by many other high-income countries.
“There is broad evidence, as well, that much of that excess spending is wasteful. Stabilizing health spending and targeting it in ways that ensure access to care and improve health outcomes would free up billions of dollars annually for critically needed economic and social investments — both public and private — as well as higher wages for workers.”

No, I think it is safe to stand with the accuracy of Steven Brill’s statements in my earlier blog. Neil, the commenter, should take a look at the facts once again.

And, the thesis expressed in today’s column in our local paper is absolutely right-on: “In order to fix a broken health care system — or devise one in the first place — the policymaking conversation must start with consensus among the parties as to the basic assumptions and parameters that will apply equally to everyone and form the basis of a system that is as fair and equitable as humanly possible.
 As much as we don’t like to admit it in this country, we must look to some of the other progressive nations in the world to see how we might fix our own health care system – Canada, England, Germany, France, Sweden, and a number of other very efficient and productive systems.”



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Friday, March 29, 2013

DOMA



The Defense of Marriage Act is at the heart of the arguments before the Supreme Court on one of the two suits having to do with who may be married to whom.
by Charlie Leck

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by the Congress in September of 1996. It was signed by President William Jefferson Clinton on September 21 of that same year. Section 3 of the law deals with the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all the purposes of the federal government (including things like the filing of joint federal tax returns, the benefits of government employees, Social Security survivor benefits, and immigration status. Former President Clinton has changed his views on these matters and has urged the repeal of DOMA.

President Obama announced in 2011 that he felt section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional. A number of federal courts have agreed with him. As President, however, he is still bound to uphold that law but wanted the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to look at its constitutionality. The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives instructed its House General Counsel to defend the law before SCOTUS.

The federal courts that determined Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional did so on the basis of issues like bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes and immigration in matters of same-sex marriages that we legally recognized by a number of states.

SCOTUS heard arguments about this matter on Wednesday of this week. The justices will now hold conferences and conversations about the matter and will announce a decision about the constitutionality of Section 3 sometime in the late summer or early autumn. If they feel this is a critical and vital matter, they could rule earlier.

DOMA essentially established a definition for marriage (as far as the federal government is concerned) as a union between a man and a woman.

Nine (9) states in America recognize same-sex marriages.

From this you can see that the decision by SCOTUS on this matter is extremely important to many people – especially to those same-sex couples that are legally married according to the laws of the state in which they were married.

The four liberal justices on the Supreme Court (Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Breyer) will likely vote to declare Section 3 unconstitutional. The four conservative justices (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito) will likely uphold its constitutionality. That puts the matter in the hands and mind of 78 year old Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy was nominated to serve on SCOTUS by President Ronald Reagan. He was approved by Congress and took his seat in February of 1988.

At one point on Wednesday in response to the conservative justices who seemed to be building an argument that no injury by the law had been proven and therefore it would be difficult to call in unconstitutional, Justice Kennedy was blunt in his disagreement.

“It seems to me,” he said, “there’s injury here.”

A bit later, Kennedy turned to the question of Section 3’s interference with states’ rights: “You are at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody.”

Kennedy also described what he referred to as a “DOMA problem” when he said: “The question is whether or not the federal government, under our federalism scheme, has the authority to regulate marriage.”

Now, all of this makes me hopeful that the majority of SCOTUS will vote against section 3 and, essentially, nullify it as law; however, I have had my hopes thus raised a number of times in the past, only to be disappointed. So, that just means we will have to wait and see. I do believe, however, that Las Vegas is give strong odds that favor saying goodbye to DOMA.



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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Life’s Other Half



In a 1923 letter to the Countess Margot-Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, Rainer Maria Rilke, the famous German poet, wrote about the naturalness of death. He called death just a part of life. However, e.e. cummings thinks somewhat differently!
by Charlie Leck

“I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love. This is what actually happens in the great expansiveness of love, which cannot be stopped or constricted. It is only because we exclude it that death becomes more and more foreign to us and, ultimately, our enemy.
“It is conceivable that death is infinitely closer to us than life itself… What do we know of it?”
                                                                                           [Rainer Maria Rilke, 1923]

It is quite different than the take of e.e. cummings, the American poet, on death…

“dying is fine)but Death ?o baby I wouldn’t like Death if Death were good:for when (instead of stopping to think)you begin to feel of it, dying’s miraculous why?be cause dying is perfectly natural;perfectly puttingit mildly lively(but Death is strictly scientific & artificial & evil & legal) we thank thee god almighty for dying (forgive us, o life!the sin of Death”
                                                                                           [ee cummings]*


*I don’t think there is any book that I have taken down from the shelves of my library more than Poems (1923-1954) by e. e. cummings [Harcourt Brace, NY, 1968]


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Don’t Whisper Sweet Little Nothings in My Ear



Weather experts are something else, indeed! You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Here in Minnesota these weather experts have a somewhat princely ranking!
by Charlie Leck

Here’s the kind of crap Paul Douglas was dishing out on Wednesday morning as he tried to explain the cold, winter grip that the weather still has on us here in Minnesota.

“Yes, the groundhog lied. But how was he to know the polar vortex would break down? High-level winds at northern latitudes have weakened dramatically, pumping warm air into eastern Canada and Greenland. Meanwhile, a persistent dome of numbing air centered over the Hudson Bay continues to fling chilly fronts south of the border.” [StarTribune, 27 March 2013]

Douglas is one of our super-star weather forecasters. He worth plenty of ching and lives comfortably. He's extremely recognizable. He's loved or hated by all, depending on the kind of weather chatter he's giving us at a particular time. Minnesotans are fascinated with weather projections and weather prognosticators. They get as much time on the local TV news shows as the sports broadcasters. We actually bet on how accurate the forecasters are or are not going to be.

“Five will get you ten that he’s not within 5 degrees of tomorrow’s high!”

Don’t take that bet if you’re talking about Minnesota weather. You can just never be sure.

The Major League Baseball season is supposed to open here in Minnesota next week. It hasn’t touched 50 degrees here this year. It’s not going to get to 50 degrees for the next week. There’s a chance of some snow mixed with rain on Saturday night.

The Twins will play Detroit, here, on Monday – outside – at Target Field. The superstar weatherman in the Twin Cities is saying it won’t reach 50 degrees. There are, if you can believe it, tickets available.

Hey! How about some global-warming, anyhow – or so – don’t you know?



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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nate Silver and Opinions on Same-Sex Marriage



As the Supreme Court continues to hear arguments about it today, what are the polls saying about same-sex marriage? America’s mightiest poll-reader gives us his views.
by Charlie Leck

Nate Silver established himself as the best reader of election and political polls in America. Silver, amazingly, called each and every state correctly in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. He now works at the New York Times and gets involved in reading all kinds of tea leaves (including the March Madness known as the NCAA Championship Basketball Tournament).

Now, Silver gives us his reading on the polls about same-sex marriage. Frankly, when Silver speaks, I perk up my ears and give him a listen.

You can see how Silver reads America’s stand on this currently hot topic if you go here!



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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Naughty Michele Bachmann!



The Congresswoman is under investigation!
by Charlie Leck

As you might imagine, I will keep a close eye on the news that congressional ethics investigators are looking into allegations against Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. (You can find stories about this investigation on news sources all across the Internet. Just google search it and your there.)

Oh, my!

What can I say? None of us wishes the congresswoman any ill; however, let the truth be known. Did the congresswoman fib a little here or there? Oh, no! That would be impossible!

Naturally, Ms. Bachmann is saying that the investigation originates and is motivated by her political adversaries – mainly the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Congresswoman’s staffers spoke out and said: “They are willing to do or say anything in an attempt to defeat her in 2014.”

I need to tell myself not to get too excited. Congressional members rarely do anything to stain the reputations of their members – whichever party they might belong to. It’s part of the collegiality of the organization – better known as “protect your ass.”

I’m sure this investigation will go nowhere. Bachmann will remain alive and well and screaming out against the liberal attack on the Constitution of the United State of America.

At worst, she’ll have her fingers slapped. Nothing serious will come from any of this; however, it is another sign of the character of the woman – a congressional representative who is remindful of the fellows that Louisiana or Mississippi used to send to Washington.

The woman from the 6th district is not really representative of Minnesota and, therefore, we ought to throw her out and suggest that she and her husband go to more friendly territory (perhaps, in Jackson, Mississippi) where her shoot-from-the-hip style and her bombastic language is more acceptable.

Our local newspaper, the StarTribune, carried a front page story about the investigation this morning. It was written by Kevin Diaz.

The investigation is being conducted on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The office is made up of equal numbers of Republican and Democrats. A former and highly regarded Minnesota Congressman, Bill Frenzel, is on the panel. Frenzel is a Republican. Investigation proceed only if two members of the panel request it and they must be from different parties.

There is definitely some smoke here. We’ll have to wait and see if there is really any fire.



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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ski-U-Mah! Ski-U-Mah!



NO TV EYES ON GOPHER WOMEN
It is quite amazing – what the Gophers women’s hockey team will try to do today; and it is shameful that we will not be able to watch it on television.
by Charlie Leck

An undefeated season is one of the goals the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team will pursue today. Amanda Kessel, who yesterday received the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the best women’s hockey player of the season, and all her teammates will take to the ice today in an attempt to finish an entire season undefeated and win the NCAA college championship.

It could turn out to be one of the most outstanding and outlandish accomplishments in the history of college sports. The Gophers are 40-0 this season and 48-0 going back into last season. They won the national championship last year.

They will begin play today at 3 PM at Ridder Arena against Boston University. The beautiful, but small, ice arena will be jammed packed with enthusiastic followers who want to view a bit of sports history. BU is a fine team that will give the Gophers a complete and exacting test. That is at is should be. Such an achievement should not come easily. If they do it, they should be made to accomplish it against a worthy opponent.

One would think that some one of the dozens and dozens of TV channels would be there today to provide national coverage of every single second of this remarkable attempt – instead of, let’s say, another round of the weekly National Poker Championships.

My hat’s tipped gratefully to these young women in recognition of their incredible accomplishment and I’ll be listening to live coverage of the game on NCAA.com in order to get in on the excitement. In the meantime, my heart screams out: “Go Gophers!” Or as we say here, more locally, Ski-U-Mah (pronounced sky-you-ma)!

Oh, my! I hope they pull it off!


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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Michele Bachmann and our Minnesota Spring



This lovely farm, just up the road from our home,
is only a few hundred yards from the 6th Congressional
District where the embarrassing Michele Bachmann
serves as a Congresswoman.

Even though spring is officially here, it’s colder than a witch’s chest in Minnesota. (I don’t know if I’ll get away with that or not!)
by Charlie Leck

Let’s put it this way. The witch is Michele Bachmann, sixth district congresswoman from Minnesota, and she is one cold bitch… er, witch! I’ve never met a chillier dame in my life. Whenever she opens her mouth, the winds come blowing down from the great northwest and the entire state is blanketed in ice. I can’t explain the science behind this, but if we ever want to join the warming trend that the rest of the nation is talking about, we’ve got to get rid of the icy congresswoman.

Here it is, the third day of spring and it is barely going to get above freezing in Minnesota. The cold must have addled Mrs. Bachmann’s brain because it is on the loose again and the rattling sound it is making is overwhelming.

The congresswoman turned on President Obama again last week. I don’t quite get it. There’s all kinds of work to do in congress and the lady (if you dare call her that) from Minnesota wants to attack the president as if the campaign has started up again. Mrs. Bachmann is on some kind of rant about the dangers of Obama Care – that it is going to kill untold numbers of woman, children and seniors. No one can get a handle on what she’s trying to say because it’s all so irrational. There ought to be some kind of law protecting us from the woman’s explosive mouth.

People all around the state are wondering.

“Uh, what? Would you repeat that part about the movie projectionists in the White House who are forced to spend the nights there in case one of the first daughters wakes up and wants to watch a movie a 3 o’clock in the morning.”

“Umm! And then, repeat that part about the part about the dog walkers who you say the White House hires to take the presidential dog out for midnight strolls. And also that stuff about the five chefs on Air Force One.”

How do you make this stuff up, congresswoman? You are a fantasy machine! You ought to leave Congress and go on out there to California where I think you can buy that rope legally.

Charles Blow, writing in the NY Times this week, said of Bachmann: “She burst back on the scene with a string of lies and half-truths that could have drawn a tsk tsk from Tom Sawyer.”

Blow goes on to say that “people like Bachmann represent everything that is wrong with the Republican Party. She and her colleagues are hyperbolic, reactionary, ill-informed and ill-intentioned…”

The goofy congresswoman from Minnesota has spent the last week making a huge fool out of herself again. In doing it, she also deeply stains the good name and reputation of the Grand Old Party.

Listen, she’s just got to be beaten in 2014. Even Republicans are coming around to realize this. Mercifully, we can not let her go back to Washington. It’s doing some serious damage to her brain. We’ve got to get her into some kind of institution for treatments. She’s got to be kept away from sharp objects and self-published books by fools.

Oh, my! I hope you haven’t spent time following the Michele Bachmann saga of the last week. Of course, I have! I’m hooked on the drama. I find it more intriguing than even Downton Abbey. Insane woman destroys her reputation while her family, including the Lady Dowager, stands helplessly by with no way to stop her.

The woman has utterly destroyed herself and no one – no one, mind you – not even the Koch brothers – take her seriously anymore. She’s nothing but a silly comic book character whose antics go far beyond the realm of the believable. And, her stuff is not selling anymore! No one is buying it. No one really gives a damn about the stuff that spews from her lips (as ugly as it is).

Ms. Bachmann is like the little boy who cried wolf just too many times. Now folks just turn and laugh at her. The rage in her eyes concerned us once. It doesn’t anymore because we’ve all become aware that is just an inner imbalance in her that can’t be controlled.

She doesn’t draw crowds any longer. News people of all stripes refuse to take her seriously. If they need something comical for one of their broadcasts they might run a piece about her utter stupidity, but she doesn’t get serious time anymore. Her stuff has grown stale and no one cares. How sad!

The Washington Post gave Ms. Bachmann four Pinocchios again last week for some of her ranting against the President. Again, I say: "Who cares?" We’re so used to it now; though it remains pretty embarrassing for those other members of the House of Representatives.

A little piece of her congressional district is just a mile or so up the road from our place. I plan to get involved over there in a campaign to end her tragic tenure in the U.S. Congress. Enough, already! Really!

“Ding-dong! The wicked witch is dead!”


      Ding-Dong!




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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shock and Awe was Wrong!



Ten years ago I was dragged into some kind of reluctant support for the war in Iraq by a pack of lies foisted on us by the George W. Bush administration.
by Charlie Leck

Ten years ago, on the night that the terrible war in Iraq began, I was in a very nice hotel room in Manhattan. It was a marvelous night. I could look out over Central Park and take in the wonder of life in America. I was struggling to get myself into white-tail for an evening dinner and meeting at the Knickerbocker Club, just up the road on Fifth Avenue. The television was on and I watched the CNN live coverage of the beginning of the frightening American attack on Bagdad. It is a horrible memory that will not go away. I supported our invasion that evening because of what Secretary of State Colin Powell had said a few days prior at the United Nations. He convinced me, as President Bush could not, that Iraq really did have a significant number of dangerous “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD).

It turned out to be a lie. Not a mistake, mind you, but an out-and-out lie. The lie made that evening’s attack one of the most disastrous events in the history of the United States. It ended up costing us trillions of dollars and thousands of human lives.

And, it was a lesson for me. I would not be led easily into such things again. I would be a doubter forever when it came to things the government told me. I would forever demand significant evidence and irrefutable proof.

The War in Iraq was a mistake and it was wrong. It was a huge blemish on the reputation and character of our nation. It was as wrong as that war in Vietnam, from which I thought we had learned a significant lesson about believing the government. Iraq was clear testimony that we had not.

As the awful war in Iraq dragged on and the truth began to seep out, there was no way for the administration to explain or defend its actions there. Support melted away quickly

George Bush was never able to make a convincing argument that satisfied the American public. After we realized that WMD was a myth, the President and his administration lacked motive and reason. It became an empty war without goals and purpose. America was thrashing around and could not find direction.

At our gathering that evening, I sat at the dinner table very near John Seabrook, one of the wisest and most successful men I’ve ever known. We were all somber, chatting about what we had seen on television as the war began.

“I’m very afraid,” Mr. Seabrook said, “that we have started something we may not be able to finish. I think this will all work out to be something like a Greek tragedy.”
The moment I got back to the hotel, I wrote those words down in a journal that traveled with me. Only quite by accident, I came upon the journal a couple of days ago when I was searching my file draws for something totally unrelated to the historic event whose 10th anniversary we observe this week.

Year after year, mistake piled on top of mistake in Vietnam. We had gotten involved in an unnecessary war and it cost us terrible losses of lives and fortunes. So many of us thought that we had, at the very least, certainly learned a valuable lesson from that debacle. Now we realize that we had not.

Someone, perhaps the Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, said: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Indeed!

It is, I am certain, why President Obama refused to take the lead and put “boots of the ground” in Libya and why he is so reluctant to get involved in the current problems in Syria. Who can blame him?



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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hugo Considered



I saw the magnificent movie, Les Misérables, early this year; and I just loved everything about it –even the voice of Russell Crowe.
by Charlie Leck

I wrote in an earlier blog about seeing this fine movie (Les Misérables). It was a remarkable and enjoyable evening. The movie caused me to pull the big novel by Victor Hugo off one of the shelves in my library and I began to skim through it. I made some notes about the notations that I made in the book back whenever it was that I first read it.

The following remarkable quotations are worth printing here for your entertainment…

“To love another person is to see the face of God!”

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”


“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.”

Victor Hugo spent 15 years in exile on the island of Guernsey, living in Hauteville House (1855 to 1870). Though Guernsey lies closer to France, in the Gulf of Saint Malo, 30 miles off the French coast, it is a part of the United Kingdom. It’s a pleasant place to visit. I was there for only a day in the early spring of 1978 and the Atlantic Ocean winds of early April were strong and chilly. The highlight of my visit was my walk through the house in which the great author lived and wrote. Hugo did a significant amount of writing there.

Les Misérables was published in 1862 after many years of work (while Hugo lived at Hauteville House). It was popular among the masses, but not in academic or high social circles.

I do think that is quite enough to think about for one day, is it not?



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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Desiderata



Eternal peace and love between all mankind would seem to be the desiderata of the idealists among us. For me it is, more specifically, quality education for all children, medical security and health insurance for everyone, better roads and bridges, high speed city-to-city rail transportation, equal justice for all people, more generosity and love from the wealthy and, most desperately, kinder relations between people of differing faiths and religions.
by Charlie Leck

I am constantly amazed at how willing the conservative political movement is to give up on the creation of a much better America – to scoff at the dream! Their answer, of course, is that we cannot afford it. In fact, we can.

We are closer now than ever in history to the point where we can create the nearly perfect society for all in our nation. (Can’t you already hear the cries of commie?) Nonsense! I am talking about the pure capitalistic engine! The genius of modern man could, if it willed, build the nearly perfect society – and still make money at it.

Why, in a civilized society is adequate health care denied to some? Why isn’t a high quality education available to everyone? Why can’t one board a sleek and comfortable high-speed train in St. Paul (similar to those in Europe and Japan) and take it to Chicago – or St. Louis – or Dallas – or San Francisco? Why isn’t there equal justice for all people in all of America? Why, in such a wealthy nation, are our bridges and roadways in such horrid condition? Why, in America, are our prisons so grotesquely over-crowded?

For God’s sake (I mean it!), why are there so many people who cannot afford routine and ordinary health care?

Why do people, pretending to be servants of God, promote such hatred among the various peoples of the earth?

These are the nagging questions with which my mind wrestles in the twilight of my life? For, I am a dreamer!

“What is it you want, Leck?” The voice has such meanness in its tone! It is stamped with threat! Are dreamers no longer welcomed in America?

Here is my message to my grandchildren: Hold to the dream! As the famous Elliot Rosewater said: “For god’s sake, you’ve got to be kind!”

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Mississippi: The Society Still Closed
Last evening I was watching the news on CNN? (My wife always asks me why? She slid out of the room, declaring she could not bear to watch!)

Several years ago, a young, black man was walking along a country road in Panola County, Mississippi. He was a man of innocence, with no animosity in his soul, and no evil motives in his life. He was run down by a passing vehicle for no particular reason other than, likely, that he was black. The man’s family was told that justice would be pursued rapidly and efficiently. Ruby Burdette, the man’s mother, says she’d heard nothing from authorities in Mississippi for three years. CNN heard about the case and opened its own investigation. They placed some calls to various Mississippi law enforcement agencies. Just hours after those calls, a sheriff’s investigator drove to Ms. Burdette’s home.

"He came in and said he was the investigator," Ms. Burdette said. "He told me he apologized for no one coming out before now. And he told me that the first investigators they had didn't do anything." [Read the CNN Story here!]

I have a dream!



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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Standing with those who Stand Up for Marriage Rights for All



The Washington Post, this morning (16 March 2013), published a list of prominent political figures who support marriage rights for gays and lesbians. I was pleased to go through the list and I felt compelled to add a few more political figures from Minnesota to that list.
by Charlie Leck

You can see the Washington Post list, if you’d like, by going here. Without the paper’s comments about each of these figures, I reproduce the list for you below…

President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, D
Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, D
Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, D
Former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, R
Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden, D
Former Vice President of the United States, Dick Chaney, R
U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio
U.S. Representative from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R
Governor of the State of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, D
Mayor of the City of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, D
Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, D
Mayor of the City of New York, Michael Bloomberg, I
Mayor of the City of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, D
Governor of the State of Washington, Chris Gregoire, D
Governor of the State of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, D
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, D
Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, R
Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D
Daughter of a former President of the United States, Caroline Kennedy, D

There are many prominent American politicians not included on the Washington Post list, including these Minnesotans who should be mentioned,…

Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, D
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota, D
U.S. Senator Al Franken, Minnesota, D
Mayor of the City of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybek, D

Some members of the Minnesota State Legislature are trying to work a bill through the House and Senate that will allow marriage rights for gays and lesbians. If they do, the Governor will certainly. You can support this effort by contributing to Minnesotans United for All Families. It’s an organization I’m proud to support.

The Washington Post story this morning also pointed out that same-sex marriage is currently legal in the following nations:

Argentina
Belgium
Canada
Iceland
The Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
South Africa
Spain
Sweden



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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ryan Proposes Same-Old Same-Old



There is still no softening in Washington. The Republicans and the Democrats still can’t move toward a compromise. The Republican Party is in a deep rut from which it can not extricate itself. Republicans refuse to recognize that the Democrats are bound by a nearly sacred promise to protect the middle class and those without voice.
by Charlie Leck

Read, if you will, the editorial in yesterday’s (13 May 2013) NY Times, called The Worst of the Ryan Budgets. It’s quite important and it is very helpful in understanding what poor, worn-out and tired ideas the Republican Party is try to foist upon the nation in order to protect its very wealthy constituency

Really, it’s just more of the same-old-same-old and it will hurt the poor, the elderly and the general middle class.

If you want to understand what a group of stubborn old conservatives are trying to sell us, read this extremely well-written editorial.

The stock market’s Dow Jones rose to 14,450 yesterday. This is a nation ready to go – an economy fine-tuned and prepared to create huge numbers of new jobs. The Republicans are diddling and daddling, determined to buck a President they don’t want to get credit for anything. Why? That’s a dangerous question! A lot of people don’t want to suggest the possible answer! The Republicans are still determined to have President Obama seen as a failure! They are willing to hurt the nation and its people in order to achieve this goal.

It’s one of the saddest things I’ve seen in politics in all my days!


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[UPDATE: 15 March 2013] In an interview with Mr. George Stephanopoulis, the President said: “You know — I think whatever I’m for, it’s very hard for a Republican to also be for. I think they always have to be a little bit — you know, maintain some distance.”

The operative portion of the President’s comment lies in the two simple words “you know.” For, in truth, we do not know. We can only guess and surmise. There is some extraordinary reason why the Republic movement is continually a movement “against Obama.” And we ask ourselves again and again: “Why do Republicans so thoroughly want the President to fail?” Why?

“Why?”

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