Day: March 18, 2012

C Span Founder Brian Lamb Steps Down As Chief Executive Officer: His Great Accomplishments!

Anyone who is interested in American history, politics, and government cannot imagine living without C Span, the cable company founded in 1978 by Brian Lamb, who was its Chief Executive Officer from its inception, until the end of this month, when he will step down and become executive chairman of an indispensable cable channel.

It is hard to remember what it was like before C Span, which began as a channel to cover the US House of Representatives live, but developed further into a second channel which covered the US Senate live, and then a third channel which covered American History in all its manifestations, live and taped.

All kinds of special programs and events have been covered 24 hours a day on all three C Span channels, and have enriched knowledge of history, politics and government, making those who watch or look at C Span online much more educated and insightful about how our country works, and also examining the outside world of foreign affairs as well.

Brian Lamb has been a giant in cable development, and will be long appreciated as having made a great contribution to improving our understanding of the political world around us.

There is no more important and precious set of channels on cable than the three C Span stations, and it has come about at a very low cost, and in a manner non partisan, and objective and open minded!

All the best to the future of C Span under its new leaders, Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain!

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales: A Tragedy In So Many Ways!

The murder of sixteen Afghan citizens in their homes while they slept, perpetrated by an American soldier, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, is a tragedy in so many ways.

The first reaction is to be horrified at the loss of human life, including nine children, three women, and four men, who were no threat to anyone, and to condemn Bales as a despicable human being who deserves to be punished, and likely to be executed for his crimes.

But upon further reflection, while not dismissing the crimes he committed, it is clear that Robert Bales is also a victim, as well as the people he murdered in cold blood.

This man was under constant stress and pressure, having been deployed previously a total of three times in Iraq, and now on his fourth deployment, this time in Afghanistan.

None of us who have not served in the military can possibly understand what it is like to be in a combat zone, with constant threats to one’s life and safety.

None of us who have not served in the military can imagine the sight of dead bodies, blood all over the place, and the physical destruction brought about by bombings and war action.

None of us who have not served in the military can imagine seeing our buddies slaughtered in front of our eyes, and not be shell shocked by the scene.

None of us who have not served in the military can imagine what it is like for a soldier to be away from his family members–his wife, his children, his parents and his siblings–with the thought of imminent death always on his mind.

None of us who have not served in the military can possibly understand the effects of brain injuries and trauma, and the loss of part of a foot, which Robert Bales suffered and had to cope with.

We who are civilians do not understand the effects of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how it complicates and dominates our lives daily, and makes it hard to adjust to one’s surroundings and every day situations.

The tragedy of Robert Bales is one of the loss of innocent human life in Afghanistan; of the loss of a soldier who now faces life in prison or in a mental hospital, or might face execution; of a family with a wife, two young children, parents and siblings, who will all suffer, much of it in silence, as their family member is vilified as a monster, when all he really was, was a patriotic soldier committing himself to protect his family and nation, and should not have had to face multiple deployments, particularly after suffering two injuries.

The biggest crime of all is the idea that soldiers are not seen as human beings, as not having a right to say NO to another deployment, as someone who no one higher up in the military cares about, except to do the job demanded, and to do so without complaint.

Soldiers seem to be dispensable, and no matter what they are paid, it is inadequate for the sacrifices they make, and the suffering, both physical and psychological, that they endure in order to allow all of us to lead peaceful, content lives in safety.

This is a tragedy of multiple proportions, and while we pray for the victims in Afghanistan, we should also pray for Robert Bales and his family, somehow to find peace, but realizing they never will!

Disturbing Social Trends: Anti Gay, Anti Labor, Anti Women, Anti Immigrant, Anti Black

The news seems to be more disturbing by the day, as social trends are moving more and more in the direction of hate, prejudice, bias, and narrow mindedness.

Witness the following examples:

In New Jersey, an immature college student. Dharun Ravi, is convicted on all charges of a hate crime against a gay roommate who he streamed a liaison with another man on a webcam, causing that young man, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide. What a stupid, and self destructive act by a young man who has now destroyed his life, after having done the same to the unfortunate Clementi, which will lead to Ravi’s prison sentence and likely deportation to India. So we have two promising young men at Rutgers University who have been tragically transformed by the prejudice and discrimination that is too widespread in this country, including by so called “religious good Christians”, which have led not just to this incident, but to the crisis of bullying that has caused many other suicides of gay youth, and this backed by right wing conservatives allied with the religious fanatics who do not promote the love of God, which they claim they believe, while practicing hypocrisy.

Then we have the example of a law firm in Deerfield Beach, Florida, which fired a whole group of workers who dressed in orange shirts for work, planning for “happy hour’ on Friday evening! Just for wearing an orange shirt, these people are summarily dismissed, and Florida state law, being that the Sunshine State is a “right to work” state, the employer can dismiss without any just cause or explanation, an outrage to all working people, who see conservatives and businessmen condemn labor unions which try to make work conditions better for all of us, even those not in labor unions. The average American has benefited from the labor movement over the past century, but yet labor unions are pilloried, and workers are abused, as with this example! And witness the anti labor actions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere that have occurred in the past year!

The fight against women’s right to privacy and their dignity continues with restrictive legislation on contraception being pursued in yet more states, most recently in Arizona and Pennsylvania, on top of the outrageous vaginal probe law in Virginia and similar actions elsewhere.

Immigrants are facing widespread discrimination, whether legal or illegal, in Arizona, Alabama and elsewhere, and now we have the case of a basketball player, who is Puerto Rican and a citizen, facing chants of where his green card is, at a game at the University of Southern Mississippi. Immigrants are being abused, harassed, and victimized daily in the discriminatory, nativist mood that this nation has become obsessed with in recent years.

And African Americans, as always, face greater discrimination, so we have the case of a black teenager in Sanford, Florida, shot to death by a Neighborhood Patrol volunteer, who thought this young man was dangerous and suspicious, even though all he had on him was some Skittles and a soda, but leading to being shot in the chest and killed, and so far, no prosecution of what is obviously an unjustifiable action. It does not add to the image of Florida as to its handling of racial matters, reminding us of the days of segregation and lynching in the state’s past a half century and more ago!

The country is disintegrating from within socially, a very worrisome issue that must be addressed, with the one bright spot being media reporting and exposure, and the reality that liberals and progressives will not stay silent in the midst of these disturbing social trends!