Monday, November 28, 2011

Time to Say Goodbye?

Dying from cancer gives you time to say goodbye.

I've heard this said, and it's true that my Dad's death from cancer was no surprise. Like a well=predicted hurricane we knew it was coming and knew it would sweep him away.

But during my Dad's illness we weren't saying goodbye. We were too busy fighting.

I don't know what it is like for other cancer patients. For us, there was always hope that each day might be a good one, that there might be some sign that Dad would get a little longer, that he might make it to his 50th wedding anniversary with Mom. When it became clear that wouldn't happen, each day we hoped for a sign he would make it to the family vacation we moved up to make sure he would be able to go. And then it became clear he would be too sick to travel. But with each setback and dashed hope came another one, another milestone we hoped to reach. Perhaps we were foolish but I think hope is the last thing to go.

And so each day became a battle, against the pain, against the despair, against the gathering weakness. It became harder and harder for him to eat and so we fought for every calorie. When pain and fatigue seemed to be all that was left we fought for even fleeting moments of connection, conversation, closeness.

Even the last time I saw him conscious and I knew it was probably the final goodbye, I couldn't see it that way -- I still thought there was more time, however little time that might be. I was wrong. Dad's last words to me in the kitchen that morning I left three weeks before he died were the last words he would say to me in person.

But even then I refused to see it that way. As much time -- two years -- as we had to "get ready," death was still a shock, a crushing finality that can't be understood in the abstract. It's the actual absence that makes "goodbye" a reality.

No matter how one loses a loved one, whether from sudden death or lingering illness, it's the time we have together and hat we do with life that matters. No one is ready for that final "goodbye."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Need a Good Sammaritan? Only the Non-Accented Need Apply

A pilot gets himself stuck in the lavatory midflight and a passenger "with a thick foreign accent" comes to his aid by (at the stuck Captain's request) alerting the rest of the cockpit crew.

Hilarity -- and F-16 Fighter Jets -- ensue as the crew suspects a terror plot.

Enjoy the Friendly Skies this upcoming Thanksgiving Season.

Gay Republican Official Comes Out in Texas

And apparently he's lost the support of at least one endorser who's worried about gay cooties.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

More Cain

Several commentators and bloggers, notably this one, are making the argument that the women accusing Cain should be allowed to speak so we will know if Cain is guilty.

Really, even if the women come forward how will we know? Ultimately isn't it Cain's word against one other persons? While mounting reports certainly make Cain look like he's less than innocent, unless there are pictures or videos or incontrovertible eyewitnesses who saw more than Cain and a female employee leaving an event together, what are we left with except two people with two differing accounts of events 15 years old? Accounts that are being told in the glare and circus of presidential campaign?

Look -- I'm not trying to defend Cain here. Sexual harassment is serious stuff. I just doubt the public's ability to make a factually grounded determination of guilt or innocence based on what we know and what we might know if the NRA lifts the so-called gag order. Determining what really happened will certainly be much harder than those who so breezily assume that all we have to do is lift the gag order and then we will instantly know exactly what happened between Cain and his accusers. Maybe we will. More likely we won't.

Besides, we don't need to know if Cain is guilty to determine whether or not he is fit to be President. We already know that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Politico Should Report the Facts on Cain but isn't Able

I often get the impression the political media is mostly an echo chamber that reports on what it tells itself. It will break a story and then create a narrative for the story to maximize conflict and drama independent of what's really happening.

A story in Politico on the Herman Cain scandal is a case-in-point.

Let's take a look at some of the statements in today's story, "Herman Cain's Sexual Misconduct Allegations: Damage Control Marked By Inconsistencies."

From the lede:

"Herman Cain's presidential campaign enters Tuesday facing a full-blown political crisis."

Full blown? How? He's pulling out of primaries? Donors are jumping ship? Staff are quitting in droves and issuing news releases? Mark Block announces it's a bad week for him to quit sniffing glue? Are we reporting here or editorializing? Politico may think it's a "full-blown" political crisis -- but are any outside the media saying this? If so, report that. But don't make it up.

"Cain and his spokesperson have offered a shifting and inconclusive series of responses."

Note the plural. Later, the article says "But by the end of the day, Cain reversed himself on many of the essential facts of the case."

It's true, Cain did initially say he wasn't aware of a settlement and then later reversed himself. While this is not a minor flip-flop, it is one. Not "many." If there's more than that, the Politico story didn't report it. It just stated it without evidence.

I'm not saying Cain has done a great job managing this media crisis (and that's where the crisis seems to be isolated now, in the media). But this Politico story does a lousy job reporting it, by not citing facts or third-party sources to back up its hyperbole.

It also would have been helpful had Politico bothered to report what HR experts and employment attorneys have to say about how business handles allegations of sexual harassment, where "settlements" don't automatically mean a determination of guilt. But I don't think comprehensive coverage was Politico's goal here.

And finally my favorite part of the story:

"Republican super strategist Karl Rove..."

Super Strategist? What? Faster than a speeding pundit? More powerful than a local elected official? Able to leap tall bromides in a single soundbite?

Just another day of creative writing at Politico.

Why are they Burning the Gays?

First Scotland, now Texas.

We like Michelle Better than Barack. Why is This News?

So, Michelle Obama is more popular than the president. And her favorables are higher among Democrats than Republicans. This is news, Politico?

Why wouldn't she be more popular? She doesn't make controversial decisions, she doesn't have campaign promises to break of fulfill and she can play the role of loving mother and spouse in the public eye as much as she wants to.

Seriously, all the First Ladies in recent times (with the possible exception of Nancy Reagan) have at one time or another been more popular than their husbands. It would be news if they weren't.

Of course Michelle Obama is more popular than her husband -- we'd expect that unless she were caught slipping arsenic into the chocolate bars she handed out to the kids at Halloween at the White House.

If only the media would stop treating fake news as the real thing. Then, for the first time in my adult lifetime, would I be proud of my newspaper.