Senator Cruz’s move is a good rebuttal on why a US-Mexico Wall won’t stop those really determined to travel over a thousand miles looking for a better life: he and his family used an airline to jump The Wall from the U.S. into Mexico. They left behind the family dog, Snowflake, in their 30 degree house, to be (hopefully) fed by a security guy guarding the house from the outside. I trust he has skills feeding those under his care by sliding a tin plate thru the door. Apparently the Cruz tribe have no friends who might care for Snowflake.
Cruz, of course, being the wussy he is, blamed his actions on his daughters, in a move obviously taken from the playbook of his mentor, the most recent past president. And, like that same ousted president, he clearly did not trust his wife to get the Mexican Job done, despite the fact she must be somewhat competent as she works for Goldman Sachs where you are, indeed, sacked if you don’t perform.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening the 17th, Beto O’Rourke tweeted:
“We made over 151,000 calls to senior citizens in Texas tonight. One of our vols talked to a man stranded at home w/out power in Killeen, hadn’t eaten in 2 days, got him a ride to a warming center and a hot meal. Help us reach more people, join us tomorrow…”
And in another meanwhile, the TheHill.com reported this morning (Lexi Lonas – 02/19/21 09:54 AM EST) that:
“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) late Thursday raised $1 million for Texas relief organizations that are working to help the people suffering from the record-setting winter storm, and said she will make a trip to Houston this weekend.”
None of this should come as a surprise from our Republicans, a 19th century political party in a privatizing frenzy, beholden only to the wealthy. Their reasoning was put so clearly on February 16th by (now former) Colorado City, Texas Mayor, Tim Boyd. Responding to his constituency pleading for heat, water and power, he tweeted, “only the strong will survive and the weak will parish.” (clearly a well-schooled intellectual, Boyd must bereferring to the church parishes stepping in to care for those in his town he wished to abandon). In the same tweet he wrote,
“No one owes you [or] your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this!” he said. “Sink or swim it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout.”
If providing assistance to the community during a crisis is not the job of the peoples’ government we might well do without 75% of those tax-sucking bureaucrats whose salaries we pay!
Many thousands of protestors turned out yesterday in the largest protests in Myanmar since 2007, flaunting the military-imposed state of emergency, brandishing pots, pans and balloons. They were, of course, protesting last week’s arrest and toppling of Aung San Suu Kyi, newly elected State Counsellor (equivalent to a Prime Minister/Head of State), 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and daughter of General Aung San, ‘Father’ of both the modern Burmese army and the country of Myanmar, itself. The charges filed for her arrest: illegally importing walkie-talkies (that were used by her security detail.) The charge carries a maximum 3-year prison sentence upon conviction.
(Side Note: Conventions for personal names vary around the world and it can be difficult to know which are the ‘personal’ names and which the surnames. The Burmese have no official surnames: ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ comes from her father’s name, ‘Suu’ from her paternal grandmother, and ‘Kyi’ from her mother Khin Kyi. And, writing of names, I challenge my friends to name the country’s capital city! …It is ‘Nay Pyi Taw’ (‘royal capital’ from ‘abode of the king’), not a re-naming of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) but a whole new city planned from scratch, like Brasilia. It was completed in 2012 and sits in what was formerly called Pyinmana District; coincidentally, the World War II headquarters of General Aung San.)
The military coup in Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma) ought to be greeted with condemnation by all supporters of democracy. Equally, it should give us pause to think upon the fact that when people support ‘power’ instead of ‘principals’, authoritarianism and autocracy instead of a representative government of egalitarian freedoms and justice, they run grave risks. It easily leads to the sort of treasonable behavior we saw in the United States on January 6th.
Vice President Mike Pence, a darling of the Right, became the target of treasonous individuals, gathering in massed-crowd proportions, calling out for his death as a traitor to their glorious leader. I cannot immediately think of another example of a person going from fawning, ass-kissing sycophant of the supreme leader to being targeted for death – overnight! (oh, wait… yes I can: Kim Jung-un’s uncle-by-marriage, Jang Song-thaek, who went from being North Korea’s #2 in power to being be-headed (according to what President Trump was told by Jong-un). When a democracy is based upon the valorization of personality instead of engraved-in-stone principals, trouble can be as close as a change in personality, particularly if that figurehead was seriously misread by pretty much everyone.
Our former governor and U.N. Ambassador (and member of my cigar club), Bill Richardson published a great Commentary yesterday in the Santa Fe New Mexican (oldest continuously publishing newspaper west of the Mississippi and still operated under family ownership). The article titled, “My Time with Aung San Suu Kyi”, details Richardson’s significant work in Myanmar with her.
“I felt immense disappointment in the woman who was my friend for over two decades, who championed democracy as a citizen but then failed as a leader to protect democratic ideals and basic human rights… During my [1994, first] encounter with her, she was already quite regal. Always very serious, she rarely laughed or joked. She spoke brilliantly about democracy, human rights, the Burmese people and her family… [she was] one of the few causes on which Sen. Mitch McConnell and President Barack Obama could agree. She was freed in 2010 and I met with her again in 2012, this time to offer assistance before the 2015 elections. At her request, in a very short time, my foundation trained more than 3,500 young political activists, political candidates and members of Parliament… Just two years later, her moral leadership was put to the test [the Rohingya genocide], and she failed miserably…
“My last encounter with Suu Kyi was a painful one. I was invited to Myanmar in early 2018 as part of an international panel set up by Myanmar allegedly to advise them on the Rohingya crisis. At one of the meetings with Suu Kyi, I brought up my concerns about the case of two Reuters reporters who had been jailed after reporting on evidence of alleged mass graves. I told her what I’d hoped she’d be brave enough to say. Democracies do not jail members of the press. She became furious with me, insisting the trial of the journalists was not within the scope of the advisory board. Her spokesperson issued a statement scolding me for deviating from the meeting’s agenda.
Soon after, I quit the panel and left the country. I simply could not participate in whitewashing genocide, and I was not going to be a cheerleader for Suu Kyi or for her government. During my visit, I witnessed Suu Kyi and her team attack with vigor the media, the United Nations and human rights groups that had championed her for years. I faced the sad reality that she was more focused on protecting her own power than the rights of her citizens.”
Governor Richardson’s article does not mention that Aung San Suu Kyi even went to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to defend the Burmese military against allegations of genocide against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Some 750,00 Rohingya fled Myanmar into refugee camps in Bangladesh where, last I checked, most still live in deplorable conditions. Bangladesh is to be lauded for taking in these desperate people when the country itself is one of the poorest on the planet (49th from the bottom of the world’s countries by GDP based on purchasing-power-parity per capita.)
Those old sayings of our grandparents endure because there is often an element of truth in them: “lie down with (street) dogs and you will get (bitten by) fleas.”
If you wish to know more about Aung San Suu Kyi there was an excellent profile in The New Yorker magazine some years ago.
Photo: Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011 from Wikimedia Commons
(Cleveland, Ohio, 17 February 1925 – 23 January 2021, Beverly Hills, CA.)
“the man who has done more to keep Mark Twain on people’s minds than anyone else.” – HuffPost
I wondered how I had missed Mr. Holbrook’s death a week ago
but it was not announced until today.
I remember we had to pay office rent as the student union was going thru financial turmoil but the building was still a haven from academics on the campus. It had even stayed open when the whole university closed due to riots over the Kent State killings in 1970.
As an undergraduate I had the use of a state car to drive
back and forth to the capital, Columbus, Ohio for meetings. It was a big white
Chevrolet that looked exactly like a state highway patrol car so I zoomed along
Interstate-70 with other autos usually making way for me. If I stayed overnight
in Columbus I would always go to my favorite restaurant, SeVa Longevity Cookery
(Indian vegetarian on the northwest corner of N. High Street & W. Northwood
Avenue) and then to a concert or other event; there was always something going
on at The Ohio State University with its 45,000 students.
One evening I saw that Hal Holbrook was performing his ‘Mark
Twain Tonight!’ next to the Union so I bought a ticket. It was riveting! As
well it should: Harold Rowe Holbrook Jr. had started this role in 1954 while a
student at not-too-far-away Denison University. And, he had won a Tony for Best
Actor in a Play in 1966 for the role. He did the solo performances for about 60
years. In 2007, at the age of 82, Holbrook became the oldest nominee for Best
Supporting Actor for his work in the movie ‘Into the Wild’.
As with so many buildings at OSU, there is a now a new Ohio Union and the auditorium I saw Holbrook perform in is no more. The space is now the Wexner Center for the Arts. And, yes, that is the same Wexner (Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, Pink, and Bath & Body Works) whose millions Jeffrey E. Epstein supposedly siphoned, when he was Wexner’s only client, in order to finance a lifestyle that included a New York mansion, a private plane, a luxury estate in Ohio and a large ranch here in New Mexico.
John Joyce Gilligan’s (March 22, 1921 –
August 26, 2013) was a liberal Democrat. I had never before – and have never
since, met a man who had such a completely unreadable demeanor as Gov.
Gilligan. It was all the more remarkable because he was also the palest human I
had ever met. He must have been a great lawyer – and poker player.
Gilligan’s claim to fame as an Ohio
governor was the institution of Ohio’s first corporate and personal income tax.
He said it was necessary to cover the state’s inadequate methods to fund public
schools. That move came back to haunt him when he lost against James ‘Big Jim’
Allen Rhodes (13 September
1909 – 4 March 2001) who twice before had been governor and
had to sit out in 1970 because of term limits. Rhodes, of course, was governor
during the 1907 Kent State University shootings by the Ohio National Guard.
Gilligan’s other claim to fame is being one-half of the first
father/daughter U.S. governor duo. His daughter, Kathleen Sebelius, was Governor
of Kansas (2003-2009) and Secretary of Health and Human Services (2009-2014)
under President Barack Obama.
While we can argue about the truth of this statement in an age when anyone can create videos, there is no denying the power of the still image.
The most shocking photo – and about the most shocking thing I had ever seen as a teenager, happened on this day, February 1, 1968. It was Adams’ photograph of the killing of Nguyễn Văn Lém (code name: Bảy Lốp) on a street in Saigon. Lém, a Viet Cong captain suspected of murdering South Vietnamese Lt. Col. Nguyen Tuan and his family, was made to stand before brigadier general Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, chief of the national police, who summarily executed him with a swift shot to the the head using his personal Smith & Wesson .38 Special. (Gen. Loan later said, “If you hesitate, if you didn’t do your duty, the men won’t follow you.”)
In 2019 I was fortunate to meet and talk to Adams’ widow, Alyssa Adkins, Deputy Editor of TV Guide, and buy the great photo book she had helped put together with a large number of Adams’ images.
Edward Thomas Adams (12 June 1933 – 19 September 2004) was a combat photographer in the Korean War while serving in the United States Marine Corps. From 1962 to 1980 he worked two stints for AP (Associated Press). His photographs made more than 350 covers for TIME and Parade magazines.
On that fated day in February 1968, just a couple days after the beginning of the Tet Offensive, he and NBC News television cameraman Võ Sửu were walking the streets of Saigon and saw what they thought might be a street interrogation as a prisoner was pulled out of a building. Both raised their cameras and began to photograph and film. As they did, Gen. Loan walked up, raised his pistol and summarily fired a bullet into Lem’s head.
Both the resulting photograph and Võ Sửu’s film coverage became indelibly linked to the brutal truth of a war that had become staple evening fare on television sets throughout the United States: our South Vietnamese ally engaged in the same terrible behaviors as the North Vietnamese they fought. It was something I thought of often as I approached my 18th birthday with an impending, subsequent draft lottery. The stills photo went on to win the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and the pronouncement from TIME magazine declaring it, “one of history’s 100 most influential photos.”
Was this the photograph of which Adams’ was most proud? No. That honor goes to his photograph “Boat of No Smiles” (1979) showing a 30-foot fishing boat loaded with Vietnamese fleeing their homeland. Like the photo subject of this post, it was influential: it eventually led Congress and President Jimmy Carter to open immigration to more than 200,000 Vietnamese refugees.
Over time Adams became sorry the Saigon shot came to be known as his most famous image:
“Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. … What the photograph didn’t say was, “What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?”…. This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have, but I’ve felt bad for him and his family for a long time. … I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, “I’m sorry. There are tears in my eyes.”
– Eddie Adams. “Eulogy: General Nguyen Ngoc Loan”. Time Magazine; July 27, 1998.
There are so many interesting side notes to this story.
Similar to the idea in science that the very act of an individual viewing an event affects the event itself, Susan Sontag wrote about Gen. Loan, “he would not have carried out the summary execution there had they [journalists] not been available to witness it.” In 1978 there was an attempt to revoke Loan’s permanent residence ‘green card’ and Adams’ spoke in his defense with President Jimmy Carter halting the deportation, writing, “such historical revisionism was folly”.
Proving that no matter where you live it’s who you know that can shape your life, Loan studied pharmacy at university before entering the army where he was a classmate of Nguyễn Cao Kỳ. Kỳ became head of the air force (where Loan flew as his wing-man) and then, after a coup, the Prime Minister. Loan opened a pizzeria in Burke, Virginia outside Washington, DC. from the late 1970s until 1991.
Elements of connection in this story keep coming right up to the present. South Vietnamese Lt. Col. Nguyen Tuan who, along with his family, had been killed by Nguyễn Văn Lém, had a 10-year old son, Huan Nguyen. Huan did not die in that 1968 attack despite being shot three times and laying for hours next to his dying mother. Huan came to the United States and in 2019 became the first Vietnamese American to reach the rank of U.S Navy Rear Admiral.
I have tried to track down the NBC cameraman Võ Sửu without success. I will update this post if I ever find out more about him (tho the NBC site on the footage does not add more information.)