Benny's World

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mother's Day Thoughts

I am in Branson, MO, and taking a break from a family visit. So far, it's a been a good visit, albeit I have some pain in my abomen. It will subside.

Twice I have been a grocery store to purchase some items. And after the clerks have handed me my bag and my change, I'm thanked with "Thank you, and Happy Mother's Day."

I know I look the age of a mother, and maybe a young grandmother. I'm nearly 50, so that's understandable. Still, I can't help but feel a little sad each time I hear the words, "Happy Mother's Day."

This year, I am motherless. I have been motherless before, but generally it was temporarily. My mother was sometimes gone to a mental health facility on Mother's Day, but often, she was allowed for a 2 hour pass to come with us and have lunch. Sometimes she didn't understand what was going on, and I recall one time when she had just had EST, and she hardly recognized me. It took her nearly 2 hours to get dressed because she was so confused by the treatment. This is why today I am not an advocate of EST. I think other medications can work, they just take longer.

Nonetheless, I always hoped I would get her back, and I did. But on March 29th this year, she left, and she never came back. I know she is at peace, and no way will she ever experience the pain or hell she had to go through the last 2 weeks in her life, or the grief she had when she lost loved ones or friends.

As my spouse and I are with my brother-in-law, his wife, their son, his wife, and their daughter, I decided on one of those visits to the grocery store to pick up a small vase with a simple flower arrangement and give it to them. My spouse and I are motherless, but my nephew and his stepdaughter (his wife's by a previous marriage) aren't. To me, this is a first step in honoring mothers in our family. The ladies haven't seen them yet.

Grocery clerks do not mean to be insensitive to me by wishing me "Happy Mother's Day." But as it is my first one without my mother, and I do not have children, and I am away from my beloved pets, Benson, Elmora, and Sydney, I can only feel a tug at my heart when I heard those words. And I get teary-eyed.

Elizabeth Edwards, if you see this message, I wish you and yours happy mother's day. I hope that Cate, Emma Claire, Jack, and yes, John bestow on you more gifts of peace and love. I know from reading Resilience that your mother resides in an assisted living place, and at times, it is difficult for the two of you to communicate, but understand that she too will be in a place when you won't see her for quite awhile.

Happy Mother's Day to BW Readers.

My mother, Nell, RIP

Meadows of Heaven by Eveflower, courtesy of Flickr

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards Claims Her Spotlight

As most anyone knows, the interview on Oprah's show of EE and JRE was aired this afternoon.

Having seen the interview this evening, I was able to step back a bit, and at the same time, feel some affection for the couple. The story about Emma Claire pointing out from a book that romaine lettuce was good for those who had cancer tugged at my heart strings.

However, I want to point out with some problems in the edits. The timeline of the affair is not linear. There are two instances of when the "grocery store papers" (EE's words for tabloids) found out, October 2007, and then again in July 2008. Winfrey mentions both, but in the first instance, she uses footage of Edwards' denial from July 2008 in response to the October 2007 stories. The main discussion of the affair is placed on when Edwards was forced to admit his mistake publicly. That was July 2008, 7 months after he had dropped out of the race. That was omitted in the segment. Constantly, Elizabeth is having to explain what she understood and when, and I think the lack of a structured timeframe by Winfrey and her producers is what is causing the confusion for both Elizabeth and for the viewer.

Here is the timeline as I know it:

The affair happened sometime in 2006. My guess is not too far from summer as a contract was signed for videography of John's travels for antipoverty causes and for international travel.

John ends the affair sometime in December, with the videographer's last day being December 30th. John did not wish the videographer to accompany him on the campaign tour, but a friend still saw to it that she was with them and did not want to let go ( p 177 from Resilience). ---Point though, he still was very friendly with her for someone who didn't want her around--

John tells Elizabeth what happened on the 30th. She agrees the campaign has to continue despite her fears, and the rally took place in North Carolina, as planned.

Elizabeth's cancer returns in late March 2007. Although the Edwardses could have stopped the campaign, Elizabeth wants to press on, thinking this is one fling. (my own edit, perhaps she thought many politicians are accused of flings and often dismiss them)

National Enquirer and other gossip tabloids pick up the story in late summer, early fall. Denials are issued, including that of the videographer, who is pregnant.

January 2008, Edwards campaign comes in second in Iowa, third in NH, third in NV, and third in SC. With almost no money left, he has little choice but to suspend the campaign on January 30th.

Late February 2008, the videographer's baby is born.

March 2008, John is on the Jay Leno show, but is spotted staying at the Beverly Hilton. Is it coincidental it was the videographer's birthday?

July 2008, John gets caught by photographers, who were obviously tipped that Edwards was to be visiting the hotel. First, there are denials.

Elizabeth learns more of the truth that John has been more involved than he first let on.

Early August 2008, John admits the affair on ABC's Nightline.

Elizabeth's speaking engagement at the DNC Convention is cancelled.

Elizabeth opens a furniture store in Chapel Hill during the fall.

April 2009, John is contacted by the feds about possible misuse of funds from his PAC and his campaign.

And the rest is drama.

Now, here's what I think about it, fresh impressions.

Unlike Taylor Marsh, I don’t believe it’s not a sordid mess though. The other woman will have to do a paternity test if she indeed insists her daughter is John’s. As Henry Bloget at HuffPo pointed out, she risks her reputation and lots of money if the DNA isn’t John Reid Edwards’ child.

Regarding the allegation of misappropriated funds, the payment money is a result of late filings for the PAC, and one issue that can be resolved, just as the $400 consultant’s style was an error in filing. If it isn’t, then he pays a fine. So what, he has money in the bank.

And the last sentence is probably more important.

The other woman isn't anywhere in their league, and Elizabeth made that clear, but politely, saying that none of her friends "were like her." She is totally different in how she behaves and not of the same kind of family life as they know and built it.

It’s my gut that Elizabeth isn’t interested in John’s political career or desire for any kind of appointed public service at all anymore. She’s already sacrificed enough. She's got her own business, and John helps her with it, along with other projects.

It will be up to John as to whether or not he wishes to apologize to staffers and supporters for these kinds of risks, especially as one presumes that more went on in the affair beyond 2006. Moi, I don’t need an apology because his message, more than him or Elizabeth as people, struck a deep chord with me. I think he did believe that it was more important to honor work over wealth. It was populist theme, and I think in their hearts politically, it was sincere. John certainly remembered what it was like to be from humble means.

Since it’s over (his campaigning for anything), they can retreat, and they aren’t like me or my late momma. It’s a different level that I understand. Sort of I wish many of us had that kind of extancy because they can financially; however, that’s why Oprah gets the interview as she is in their same boat. And that’s OK.

To me, there isn’t much of story now, despite what many hope for in smelling blood in the political waters. It is now a story that women (especially someone like Mrs. Spitzer or Hollywood types) of Elizabeth Edwards’ stature can learn from when this happens to them. Maybe women who are middle class can learn to not to let infidelity redefine them except in a positive way. I'm hoping Elizabeth will address that in her book readings and articles to come.

And I hope Elizabeth will push as part of the health reform agenda the need for family counseling services.

Elizabeth is very much like Eleanor Roosevelt. She has found her own spotlight.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Goposaur Survival

Jed Lewison (former JRE supporter), probably one of the most brilliant technical persons who can whip up a video clip in a flash, also happens to be a snark champ. He came up with a remix of a DNC ad:

It is priceless.


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Emma Claire and Oprah

Great pic...I got this from Access Hollywood. Emma Claire represents the best of the couple (along with Cate and Jack) and the resilience Elizabeth gets in being her momma.

Excerpt of Resilience is here.

Timeline is pretty much what I thought.

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Wanker of the Day

Borrowing in the tradition of Atrios and a few's my idea of "the wanker of the day."

It's by Joe the Plummer, who was interviewed by Christianity Today.

Q: In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?

A: At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary—it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children.

(h/t Josh Marshall at TPM)

The hits of the GOP just keep on coming.

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UK's Unwelcome Mat

I'm certain most countries have rules or bans on who is allowed to enter their borders. Today, one of my fellow Idea Consultants' bloggers Mr. Wondrous found out a few names on the the UK's banned list at the Huffington Post.

The list includes popular American talk-radio host Michael Savage, who has called the Muslim holy book, the Quran, a "book of hate." Savage also has enraged parents of children with autism by saying in most cases it's "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."

The list Tuesday also includes Americans Stephen Donald Black, a white supremacist, and anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps.

I'm certain the wingnuts will have something to say about this.

Maybe UK's unwelcome mat is sign of justice.

For a change.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

John Edwards and the Harper Valley PTA

On Facebook, the Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, the AP, and yes, Oliver Willis "Krytonite to stupid"' blogs, I have never seen so many people who have decided to join the gang of John Edwards bashers because of his egregious error in having an affair with another woman.

The graphic I borrowed from that trashy blog post at Kos is precisely my disposition.

The situation feels as though a whale injured himself and the sharks are around to shred him.

Most of those sharks believe they are on the moral high ground. I tend to think about Tom T. Hall's Harper Valley PTA, sung beautifully by Jeannie C. Riley in the late 60's:

Lyrics applicable here:

The note said, "Mrs. Johnson, you're wearing your dresses way too high
It's reported you've been drinking and a-runnin' 'round with men and going wild
And we don't believe you ought to be bringing up your little girl this way"
It was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley P.T.A.

Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet that very afternoon
They were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room
And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say
She said, "I'd like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley P.T.A."

Well, there's Bobby Taylor sittin' there and seven times he's asked me for a date
Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lot of ice whenever he's away
And Mr. Baker, can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?
And shouldn't widow Jones be told to keep her window shades all pulled completely down?

Well, Mr. Harper couldn't be here 'cause he stayed too long at Kelly's Bar again
And if you smell Shirley Thompson's breath, you'll find she's had a little nip of gin
Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I'm not fit
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites.

Now, I am not excusing John for his behavior. I would agree he shouldn't have risked his marriage, his family, and aspirations to be the greatest president of this decade over a gold digger who apparently refuses to get a job, and as Elizabeth is describing "a parasite" whose "life is pathetic". I tend to agree. I'm sorry Elizabeth felt the need to express her anger in her book (for her, it probably is therapeutic for an infidelity victim), but I won't join in with the other sharks in saying she was wrong or complicit with her husband in joining him on the campaign trail to help fulfill his political ambitions.

John and Elizabeth's causes were still mine: to lift up the poor, to strengthen the middle class, to obtain universal health care so that businesses wouldn't have to choose providing health care only for themselves, but be a part of a pool with options for cheaper gov't plans as competition.

John also pushed Obama and Hilary to the point where they had to start stating their positions instead of relying on personalities.

I look forward to the National Health and Palliative Care Organization's Person of the Year, Elizabeth Edwards, on TV this Thursday on Oprah.

To the sharks on these places, don't be caught doing anything wrong. Otherwise, you will be the next wounded victim.

Update on May 5th: Elizabeth speaks out.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pete Seeger Turns 90 Years Younger

Note: This diary is dedicated to one of my fav Kossacks, OPOL

Today, one of America's Folk Music GRan-Uncles (along with Woody Guthrie) turned 90 years young today.

That man is Pete Seeger, someone who has had his back against the wall during the McCarthy Era for defending his right of the First Amendment: Free Speech.

In the spirit of celebrating someone who has been created progressive themes via his music (and others) time and time again, and who could care less about recent or past fornication amongst politicians...he is a true American Patriot and a grandfather steward of the earth. I wish Al Gore were with Pete Seeger today.

I heard Pete Seeger's music a lot as a child, somewhat from music classes in elementary school, some on the radio, and perhaps I may have watched him perform on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour too.

He sung a tune that became a cover for other artists that I remember, Guantanamera:

And this is a guy who like Bill Gates (in a different sense) who was at Harvard, but his vision for America via music couldn't wait. He dropped out and went out on the road. After meeting folk musician Woody Guthrie in 1940, they formed the Almanac Singers, who became known for their pro-union protest songs.

Around 1948, Seeger formed his own group, the Weavers, which had several hits. More information from the Net:

During the 1950s, Seeger was blacklisted for his former membership with the Communist Party. In 1955, he fought with the House Un-American Activities Committee, which had been on a witch-hunt for Communists.

Seeger was indicted for contempt of Congress two years after appearing before the committee.

After some legal wrangling, he was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison.

His lawyer managed to get him off the charge on appeal that year. But Seeger's blacklisting already had a desired result — he wasn't shown on television between 1950 and 1967.

His work with the civil rights movement bears great mention:

A particular hero to the civil rights movement on whose behalf he's worked so tirelessly, Seeger made his first trip south at the invitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956, and returned in '65, again at King's personal invitation, to join the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Amid the tension and heat, Seeger went from campfire to campfire when the marchers stopped for the night, raising morale with rollicking sing-alongs of new freedom songs.

Seeger also vigorously joined protests against the Vietnam war, playing countless benefits and protests and recording "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," the lyrics of which have renewed relevance today: "But every time I read the papers/That old feeling comes on/We're waist deep in the Big Muddy/And the big fool says push on."

Here's the tune:

And of course, he railed against the needless involvement in the Vietnam War, with "Where Have All of the Flowers Gone?"


Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Seeger began to focus his energies locally on the notoriously polluted Hudson River. (I know this from watching a PBS special last year, but borrowing liberally here from the Net).

Gathering together friends and colleagues, he picked up a literal hammer, this time to build the sort of sailing ship that hadn't been seen on the river in decades to raise consciousness of environmental issues. They named it the Clearwater. Seeger also established Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a group which sponsors annual eco-festivals and acts as a bulwark against polluters in the area. And here's Pete (with friends) from last year's fest, singing "Of Time and Rivers Flowing"...inviting the usual "let's sing together", so familiar with his view of sharing beauty and goodness amongst the masses:

Well, I must say I was so impressed that Bruce Springsteen got Pete back on the stage in January to give tribute to our incoming POTUS by appropriately performing ALL of the verses to one of the most patriotic songs I learned as a child, Woodie Guthrie's " This Land is Your Land". A beautiful tribute to Obama, his family, but mainly for all of us who live here:

And here are the words Pete helped us sing, with joyful tears and pride again for our country:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

This man is being honored with a concert tonight in NYC by Bruce, Arlo, etc. Let's sing with them and give deserved accolades for a great progressive.

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