Saturday, August 23, 2014

US Champs

Congratulations to Chicago's Jackie Robinson West, the Illinois/Great Lakes Region team, now the US Little League World Series champs.  They play South Korea for the world title.

It's been fun and inspiring to watch some of this year's Little League WS.  This all-black team of inner city Chicago kids that has their city rooting them on in watch parties across Chicago, as well as the Girl of Summer, Mo'ne Davis, are the prominent stories.  But for all the attention (and the incredible mental and well as physical baseball skills of Davis, for instance) this is still Little League.  Kids get scared and upset when they screw up, they cry when they lose.  Their emotions are part of the game.  But it does seem that coaches and officials take a lot of care to recognize they are kids and respond to their needs.

All Over the World Tonight

This 1998 film about a 70s glam rock band getting back together somehow passed me by at the time, but better late than never.  In the story, this is the song that shows the band has turned around and is ready.  I found the movie because of Bill Nighy, and his performance as the lead singer on this song (and that's him singing) is wonderful in itself.  The picture is pretty good--not as good full screen as the film--but the sound is excellent.  Turn it up! It's one of the two great songs in the movie, and it's perfect for Dreaming Up Daily, and to kick off the weekend.

P.S. I've also added a "music video" label.  Click on that to access some tunes of yesteryear, including all those Obama campaign songs of 2008.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

portrait of Churchill Dec. 1941 by Yousuf Karsh
"You do your worst and we will do our best.”

Winston Churchill in December 1941, speaking of the Axis powers soon after Pearl Harbor, to the U.S. Congress.


President Obama's statement yesterday on the murder of American journalist James Foley rightly characterized the ISIL terrorists as extremist murderers and torturers with no legitimate place in civilized society.  President Obama is able to make this charge credibly precisely because he has been so nuanced in his statements and policies, especially regarding Islamic peoples.

Not everybody is so precise or accurate.  The haters who aim the energy of their racial and religious prejudices are all too ready to make blanket accusations.  Some of this is the worst kind of politics, reviving the racial ignorance that goes immediately to a non-white against white scenario (which is also at work in reactions to events in Missouri.)  Neil Steinberg's column is a must-read on this topic (including his brilliantly selected and appropriate Winston Churchill quotes.)  

This murder has focused attention on ISIS/ISIL.  It's identity is emerging as a kind of terrorist cult-- a lot like the Kymer Rouge in Cambodia--but not limited to people from one country or of one race.  Learning about this entity will help to formulate responses.

But in the aftermath of this horrific murder, this is a dangerous time.  Already extreme voices and political opportunists are whipping up war fever and xenophobic hysteria.

We don't need bluster, and we can all be grateful that Cheney and Co. are not in the White House at this moment.  We don't need Hillary Clinton's bluster either, of the kind she expressed in her Atlantic interview.  We need accuracy and strategy, and a renewed commitment to the best aspects of our civilization.

Update: More on strategy--and the fever--in this Guardian report.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

America 2014

What's going on?  In America 2014.  Violent responses may be the work of a few outsiders, and the precipitating act--a police shooting and killing of an unarmed young black man in broad daylight--is still the focal point, but more is happening and more is being exposed in Ferguson, Missouri. Race is central to what is happening. While many whites presumed the higher visibility of blacks in the media, in the professions and the workplace meant that racism was over, its effects have continued.  Racial injustice and the need for justice on many fronts, and the politics of race (and the racism of politics) are all coming to the fore.

The militarization of police is not just about hardware.  The scene above--heavily armed men in combat gear pointing deadly firearms that appear to be military (perhaps semi-automatics or automatics)-- at unarmed civilians on a public street in an American town was seldom if ever seen during the Civil Rights movement or huge anti-war demonstrations.  It's something that US soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq seldom if ever did.  It tells a story about the shocking place we are in 2014.  Wherever that place is, it's not America, not for long.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Girl of Summer

Mo'ne Davis, who Friday became the first female pitcher to win a Little League World Series game with a complete game 2-hit gem, helped Philadelphia' Mid-Atlantic Region champs win over Texas on Sunday with an RBI single in a come from behind thriller.  She'll pitch again Wednesday against Las Vegas.