GOVERNANCE BY REVENGE

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on July 4th, 2014 @ 09:42:00 am , using 244 words
Category: Commentary

In his op-ed for the 4July issue of WaPo, Eugene Robinson calls attention to a Republican Party that governs by revenge. He points out that the Dems, even when they opposed the Iraq War, still appropriated sufficient funds to keep the fiasco going. With Obama, no such luck. The Repubs oppose his every move, and will not collaborate on anything that might be considered bipartisanship. A truly sad state of affairs, one which the founding group of Americans would have been repelled by.

Today’s Republican Party opposes the Affordable Care Act, so it refuses to work with the Obama administration in legislating technical fixes that would make the law work more smoothly. Is this in any sense patriotic? Having lost battles over the law in Congress and the Supreme Court, don’t Republicans have an obligation to make it serve their constituents as well as possible?

Both parties used to understand the need to invest in infrastructure for reasons of competitiveness and safety. Both parties used to understand that there could be no serious threat to send the Treasury into default. Both parties used to cheer the kind of good economic news we heard Thursday — 288,000 new jobs in June, unemployment down to 6.1 percent.

But now, one party — the GOP — cares more about ideology, reelection and opposing Obama’s every initiative than about the well-being of the nation. It is scant comfort, on Independence Day, to remember that the republic has survived worse.

Eugene Robinson
WaPo 4July2014

GUNS and MENTAL ILLNESS

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on June 3rd, 2014 @ 08:22:00 am , using 744 words
Category: Commentary, Repetitions

Piece from Joe Nocera in today's NY Times is quickly to the point, and deserves reading.

Guns and Mental Illness
JUNE 2, 2014

Joe Nocera

It is difficult to read stories about Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old man who went on a murderous spree in Isla Vista, Calif., last month, without feeling some empathy for his parents.

We know that his mother, alarmed by some of his misogynistic YouTube videos, made a call that resulted in the police visiting Rodger. The headline from that meeting was that Rodger, seemingly calm and collected, easily deflected the police’s attention. But there was surely a subtext: How worried — how desperate, really — must a mother be to believe the police should be called on her own son?

We also learned that on the day of his murderous rampage, his mother, having read the first few lines of his “manifesto,” had phoned his father, from whom she was divorced. In separate cars, they raced from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara hoping to stop what they feared was about to happen.

And then, on Monday, in a remarkably detailed article in The New York Times, we learned the rest of it. How Rodger was clearly a troubled soul before he even turned 8 years old. How his parents’ concern about his mental health was like a “shadow that hung over this Los Angeles family nearly every day of Elliot’s life.”

Constantly bullied and unable to fit in, he went through three high schools. In college, he tried to throw a girl off a ledge at a party — and was beaten up. (“I’m going to kill them,” he said to a neighbor afterward.) He finally retreated to some Internet sites that “drew sexually frustrated young men,” according to The Times.

Throughout, said one person who knew Rodger, “his mom did everything she could to help Elliot.” But what his parents never did was the one thing that might have prevented him from buying a gun: have him committed to a psychiatric facility. California’s tough gun laws notwithstanding, a background check would have caught him only if he had had in-patient mental health treatment, made a serious threat to an identifiable victim in the presence of a therapist, or had a criminal record. He had none of the above.

Should his parents have taken more steps to have him treated? Could they have? It is awfully hard to say, even in retrospect. On the one hand, there were plainly people who knew him who feared that he might someday harm others. On the other hand, those people weren’t psychiatrists. He was a loner, a misfit, whose parents were more fearful of how the world would treat their son than how their son would treat the world. And his mother, after all, did reach out for help, and the police responded and decided they had no cause to arrest him or even search his room, where his guns were hidden.

Once again, a mass killing has triggered calls for doing something to keep guns away from the mentally ill. And, once again, the realities of the situation convey how difficult a task that is. There are, after all, plenty of young, male, alienated loners — the now-standard description of mass shooters — but very few of them become killers.


Torrey believes that the country should involuntarily commit more mentally ill people, not only because they can sometimes commit acts of violence but because there are far more people who can’t function in the world than the mental health community likes to acknowledge.

In this, however, he is an outlier. The mainstream sentiment among mental health professionals is that there is no going back to the bad-old days when people who were capable of living on their own were locked up for years in mental hospitals. The truth is, the kind of symptoms Elliot Rodger showed were unlikely to get him confined in any case. And without a history of confinement, he had every legal right to buy a gun.

You read the stories about Elliot Rodger and it is easy to think: If this guy, with all his obvious problems, can slip through the cracks, then what hope is there of ever stopping mass shootings?

But, of course, there is another way of thinking about this. Instead of focusing on making it harder for the mentally ill to get guns, maybe we should be making it harder to get guns, period. Something to consider before the next mass shooting.

FIELDWORK

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on May 14th, 2014 @ 04:05:00 pm , using 250 words
Category: Poetry

FIELDWORK

The field always opening
the multiplicities because no vision
occluded, but continues forward
against the odds. Mind
mattering excessively as ever
coming up short.
Old friend with dementia
can’t recall his stomach illness,
has lost its content. Better?
Yet we prize memory,
what you said that mattered.

But time for loss,
upending desire, deleterious
the gamble of soul at odds
with time & decay

Live with it, confused
but synched with change
the engine returned to idle

2.

But how else make sense
when all’s moving so much
when all this here & now becomes
the insufferably vanishing
so quickly
and we are left unrepaired—

Something must arise in us,
spending these instances of energy
in the waking dream of continuum

mindless at times, running
like a swirling clock hand
across aeons, beings striving
to know more, feel the news
of our ongoing interests, the world
just enough with us,
catching our fleeting joys
and the passings, the sorrows,
the conquests, the births
the inner expanses of living
just as they’re given

3.

But memory, what of it?
The silent and potent movement
immediately there in time
sitting across from a warrior-poet
whose work is juxtaposition
or angling to receive
a sign of significant form

requisite diligence that matters
making a crossed referential
or mild shaping of figure
making sense, rising
to the occasion—
And comic or tragic, getting down
the truthful components, the drive
to form the intense cohesion
elemental, embodied & right
on the particulars

--Bill Pearlman
May 2014
SMA

A SUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on April 27th, 2014 @ 11:28:00 am , using 286 words
Category: Commentary

So the culture keeps churning out more depression, more Alzheimers and the 1% owns most of the wealth. So, we keep at it, trying to turn the situation into our zone of contentment, or is it containment? A show on how the drug companies pay doctors to sell their meds was enlightening. It is supposed to be educational but in fact the conferences these drug vendors set up is entirely promotional. You prescribe my drug and your bank account will increase. And the numbers of campaigns on TV for new products for asthma, depression, arthritis keeps increasing every year. The erectile dysfunction ads are really stupidly fatuous, with a sexy actress smiling at her erection-challenged partner, and then the selling begins. What we most crave becomes an excessive demonstration of outrageous publicity in the public arena, and then the side-effects return with something that ends with 'if you have an erection lasting more than four hours, see your doctor.' Stuff it up his ass. Ridiculous creative teams all gathering for the shoot, look at that dossier on that script girl, what a marvelous set of chimes that whirlwind muse is carrying. My god, why not do simple porn and have done with all--the antic dispositions to sell. Just put some goddess on there saying that a product puts her in a mood for erotic awesomeness and close the party. The crass commerce and consumerism of the bargain hunter's shopping world is enormously troubling, and profitable. Why not get into the mix, and try to sell something only you know how to manufacture. Erectile headache arthritis wonder drugs that in the wee hours of the pitiful darkness will put you over the top, and you'll be breathing eternity!

Obamacare After All the Slander

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on April 3rd, 2014 @ 11:11:00 am , using 184 words
Category: Commentary

From a piece by EJ Dionne in Wapo. It seems clear that with 7 million now signed up, the program is on its way to fulfilling some of its potential. The idea that denouncing it is the way for the Republicans to win the political day may be on the wane. It is time for some serious maneuvering by Dems who need to fight back and let it be known the numbers of people benefiting from the ACA. Dionne:

...Given how many times the law’s enemies have said the sky was falling when it wasn’t, will there be tougher interrogation of their next round of apocalyptic predictions? Will their so-called alternatives be analyzed closely to see how many now-insured people would actually lose coverage under the “replacement” plans?

Perhaps more importantly, will we finally be honest about the real argument here: Do we or do we not want to put in the effort and money it takes to guarantee all Americans health insurance? If we do — and we should — let’s get on with doing it the best way we can...

EJ Dionne
Washington Post
3Apr14

AFTER RILKE

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on March 26th, 2014 @ 09:07:00 am , using 126 words
Category: Poetry

AFTER RILKE

No more than once,
just once
more than my blood can endure
more than ever

what you meant to me
what was in your heart
meanwhile
the beach recalls beauty
beauty of liquid,
of bathing in cool water,

of watching the give & take,
the bodies extra wholesome
as was the case in childhood
toe-heads playing mischievously
on edge, mirroring
what we dreamed longingly
all those feeds we came to love,
we came & went

And what of you,
purposeful messenger of always
prescribed & antidoted
presupposed & hurrying
to get just one more fury
into the sexual lunge,
fresh from auxiliary wars,
succumbing to the inherent
mildness of demeanor
every inch wondrous & wired
steadying all our brave days

(Puerto Vallarta, March 2014)

--BP

Thoughts on Alzheimers

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on February 23rd, 2014 @ 10:17:00 am , using 368 words
Category: Commentary

I have two friends struggling with Alzheimers or dementia or whatever we can call it. It is a debilitating illness and it makes the caregivers try whatever they can to better the situation. But what is hardest is the loss of the full person one once loved. Both friends Keith and Dick were always alert, intellectually and artistically aware persons who could talk about a whole range of subjects. Keith Keller was a fine painter and teacher of art. One of his paintings is on my wall: 'Storm' which depicts a beautiful but perhaps a bit troubled woman with a storm brewing behind her. It is an image that has meant a lot to me when it hung in Keith's gallery and I asked him if I could have it when he moved to an assisted living facility. My friend Dick Hopkins has been a friend since 1984 when we worked with director Paul Baker on a Preston Jones play, 'The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia' in Santa Fe. Dick and I started a theater company in Albuquerque, The Coyote Players, and we spent a lot of time together, often over dinner with his great wife and my dear friend, Lucy Noyes. Now Lucy is his primary caregiver and she has to deal with the loss of the man who was so alive intellectually. Dick has trouble remembering anything of recent years or weeks, and though he comes back to life occasionally, he seems confused and a bit lost most of the time.

Just how this kind of senility has become such a common ailment in our times is somewhat beyond my understanding. I do know there seem to be few solutions from medicine, though no doubt one day there will be therapies that will help. For now, there are assisted-living facilities and the incessant care giving that seems to require so much of both family members and paid helpers. One thinks oftimes that these end-of-life ailments are overwhelming, sad, and then inevitable. But accepting the absence of the person's presence of mind is also disheartening. But we all go on, trying to be of help, trying to stay alert and sane ourselves.

--Bill Pearlman

PETE SEEGER

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on February 1st, 2014 @ 12:04:00 pm , using 144 words
Category: Commentary

Lots of feeling and print about Pete Seeger's passing. He really was a noble soul and kept hope alive for several generations. His work with The Weavers was the start, but seeing him perform was always a joy. He had a marvelous capacity for interweaving song and protest, meaning and a profusion of good feeling. He was a troubadour and a singer/songwriter who captured a whole world of fans. And he took a stand as a lefty who stood up to McCarthyism, and stood for the common man and the struggling peoples of the earth. I remember Bob Creeley talking about meeting him; Pete was a creative giant on the American landscape and a true treasure. That kind of celebrant voice whose presence on the earth rallied so many of us deserves our deepest praise. Salud! Mr. Seeger, and thanks for all the songs.

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