Tuesday, November 22, 2005

QUESTIONS AT THE THANKSGIVING DINNER: WHEN WAR COMES HOME TO THE TABLE

In Honor of President John F.Kennedy:
"A Revolution is coming- A Revolution will be peaceful if we are wise enough;
Compassionate if we care enough; Successful if we are fortunate enough,
But a Revolution is coming, whether we will it or not. We can affect it's character,
we cannot alter it's inevitability." JFK 1963

May we remember the troops eating MRE"s in the Sand this Thanksgiving.
And other families going to lay flowers at the Cemetaries.

PART I: THE PASS THE GRAVY THANKSGIVING QUESTIONS

So we are approaching the Thanksgiving Dinner festivities. Many will travel to gather and feast, or lounge on the sofa and watch too much football. Families and friends will gather around the table and the stringbeans will be ignored and the gravy will be passed and questions will be asked. And I think we all know that the Focus will not be on the White House Spnining Point. In many ways I am certain that the White House would be more comfortable if we all focused on the Bird Flu, as they have been pimping it hourly now for days. And we all know it is to keep us from focusing on the Bigger Messes: Criminal Investigations and the Iraq Mess.

I watched an FDA hearing on C-Span last week and was stunned when a weasely looking man in a aged suit was explaining at a hearing that the Poultry population here in the US is not at risk of Bird Flu because the birds in this country are not ALLOWED to roam free under Bioterrorism Laws. It brought many interesting pictures to my mind. Do the birds have to carry little passports, do they have curfews and travel restrictions? So I stopped cleaning the Kitty pan and sat down to listen to this Animal Husbandry Expert. ( Which by the way I think Scooter should have consulted him for his book- this Expert knew all about Caged animals, and besides his title alone would turn Scoot on). Anyways he was explaining that the birds are NOT allowed out to be Exposed to Flying Immigrant populations. All I could picture was the farms being "protected" by Red-Neck-Gun-Toting-Minute-Men on walkie talkies patroling the perimeters and scoping"We got us some Aliens, look like some Canadian Geese, got some funny sqawking, and don't look like they are from around here...better shoot'em".

You have to wonder how much this Expert gets paid ,and how much was spent on the Bioterrorism Poultry Plan. And Doesn't anyone think that there is alot of money being tanked on Paranoia plans at this point. I mean how much is spent making sure that the white mice are traveling comfortabley as they go on the Dear Leader's Road Trips to test his food. ( They are probally really sick of Arbys and Outback).

Back to the point , there will be uncomfortable questions and silences and some heated exchanges This Holiday. And maybe even some healthy dialogue and some healthy dissent. And hell maybe even some Critical Thinking. Maybe even some verbal battles down in Uncle Dick's Cave and Down at the Crawford Ranch. ( Between the shots of Prozac and Wild Turkey).

Part II: The History of the Hearty Thanksgiving Dialogue

So Thanksgiving for me is full of memories. ( If I ramble like an old woman forgive me- I do have a point, it just takes awhile for me to get there sometime. And I was raised by Southern Women- they are not known for telling any stories with great speed. Now telling a Red Neck where to go- that can be done faster than a blink of an eye). I mentioned earlier the Thanksgiving that I was 8 and half and calling Nixon a Dickhead at Thanksgiving Dinner, with a table full fairly sober of Republicans ( my relatives). The Dickhead comment meant I was sent to the powder room to have my mouth cleansed with Palmolive. I personally to this day - thought the punsishment far outweighed the crime. I should have called him a Fuckhead- that would have earned the Soap. But Ce la vie.

So the following year rolls around, and my mother does the Domestic Goddess Routine, says she will bring baked goods for the Dinner. ( Which means she went to the Bakery and bought lovely breads, and rolls, and re-boxed them). And then she made Home Made Pies- Rhubarb- from our garden. And she dressed us up and piled my twin sister and I into the back of the old Blue Dodge Station wagon with the pies and the rolls. And halfway to my grandparents she pulls off the road to have a talk with us. It is always a bad sign to be reprimanded before you have done anything wrong.

" Now I have worked really hard to make this a nice Thanksgiving and I will NOT have anyone Embarrass me Again this year is that clear ? And that means that we will NOT be discussing the President this year - is that Crystal clear ?"
The two carsick children in the back seat nodded dutifully. After all there was suposed to be Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream there, not just the hideous Sugarless Rhubarb pie. ( And I can tell you Palmolive does taste wretched).

So we all sit down to eat. My Grandfather, Grinstead, Ted for short is at the head and he is serving and slicing. And the Aunties are chatting and laughing. And already one Social Fux Puax has happened as Granny Ethel was complimented too loudly on her New Teeth and now she is so embarrassed that she won't open her mouth. ( My Aunt Julia didn't mean to say it so loudly, but Granny couldn't hear her). My Aunt Julia has arrived from Kentucky and she is heavenly to sit by, she knows how to play the spoons, and tell 100's of Knock -Knock jokes. She also has stories from her childhood about her pet albino crocodile. And she likes kids, because she is a 40 year kindegarden teacher. She was like a pale version of Katherine Hepburn with twinkling green eyes and an easy laugh.

So I sit next to her. And she makes me laugh. I am actually pretty shy, don't like the huge adult dinners and fancy china and dinnerware. I am the one with bandaid knees, thick glasses, and anemic coloring that makes me people inquire of my mom if I am getting over the flu.

So the Glassware is tapped to start the dinner with some semblemce of civility. My Grandfather asks my sister to say the blessing. She does it pretty close to perfect, and my mom is beaming with pride.

And then the food is passed,and the Turkey is carved. And soon after all the food is distributed comes the time for polite conversation.

" Well, dearie, How do you like school this year? And what is your favorite subject? And what do you like best about it?
( I don't know why- but Southern Women always ask questions in threes.) Aunt Julia smiled warmly at me as she asked these, she was not trying to embarrass me, she really cared.

" She loves school this year and is doing really well" My Mom answered a bit too quickly to ease her own nerves.
" Oh, My, I would much rather hear from her, do you mind?" Aunt Julia was used to dealing with shy children and overbearing adults.

" Well, I really like school. I like Current Events, I have to watch the News every night and I get to buy a newspaper when I walk Home from school." ( I felt very grownup to give this answer and it was the truth)

" What Interests you the Most?"
Off to the side I could hear air seep out of my mom like a tired balloon, an exasperated sigh. The moment had arrived where she was convinced I would embarrass her. A Curious nervous Silence had settled over the table and it was obvious Everyone remembered the Dickhead Moment and perhaps the captive audience was hopeful for an encore preformance.

" Well the thing I watch the most and I don't understand is the Vietnam War, I mean it doesn't make any sense, I don't understand WHY our soldiers who look like kinda young are over there getting hurt and killed in these gross swamps and in the jungle, and I am not sure who they are fighting or protecting ? And if it is like baseball, I don't think anyone is really winning, I mean how can anyone win if they are showing the dying on the news every night ?"

BAM..There is was the Big Fuck Up Moment of the night, the moment my poor mother had been dreading, and knew was coming. The palpable Silence hung in the air like fresh Skunk spray on a humid summer night. I looked over at my grandfather and his eyes were bulging and the vein was pulsing in his forehead. Hmmm, and I realized too late that the Pumpkin Pie was hanging in the Balance- Again.

Suddenly , the silence was broken by Aunt Julia, " I think it is fine that you are paying Attention and asking Such Good Questions that is what Americans need to do to help protect those fine young soldiers over in Viet Nam. Ted, Dear could you pass me the gravy...... It is a good thing that a nine year old is paying such attention ? We can only hope that our President and Elected folks are being so thoughtful. ...Don't you agree Ted Dear ?"

She smiled at him, but her eyes were hard and determined, she was not to be trifled with.

He swallowed hard, and nodded in amazement and quietly handed her the gravy.

And just like that my Palmolive Dickhead Moment was Vindicated, atleast at the house where my Dad grew up.

[[[ And now for the Ironic Epilogue to this tale. In the next couple of years Everything would rattle and change the Republican Framework of my childhood. The following Thanksgiving my Uncle Stu would not be attending because he was driving my Cousin Stu- the compassionate cousin with the really low lottery number, up to Canada so that he could go to Medical School for the next number of years. And My Aunt Julia was arrested at a Anti War rally in DC. And we were again in the back of the faded Blue Dodge Station Wagon , except this time we were going to Arlington to attend the funeral of my mom's nephew. The Thanksgiving Dinner at her sister's house had been interrupted by the KNOCK at the Door of two Uniformed
Officers. The War had come home. The Thanksgivings were to change forever.]]]

PART III : QUESTIONS FOR THIS 2005 THANKSGIVING:
( Feel Free to pass the gravy and fire away.... feel free to add your own to the Comment section)
[1] If the US susposedly went to Iraq to stop Sadam from using his Chemical Weapons on us or his own neighbors or civilians, why are we using Chemical Weapons on poor innocent civilians in Fallujah?

[2] If the US suposedly was SO concerned about Saddam's Torture Chambers, why does the Cheney Cabal have Secret Torture Chambers set up in Secret locations in Secret Countries ?

[3] The US susposedly came into Iraq to end the Horrors of Abu Gahrab, why is it still being used ? And why isn't it closed? And if the WMDs is not a problem, because they do not exist why were all these people being interrogated ?

[4] If The President is pardoning Turkeys can we expect certain people to be lined up outside the WH door to be pardoned ?

[5] What does Stay the Course Mean ? Stay on the Golf Course ? What course ?

[6] What is wrong with bringing the Troops out of Iraq if the Iraqis want the Occupying the troops out ?

[7] Aren't Evil Doers people who use Illegal Weapons- ie Chemcial weapons and drills, and imprison and torture people illegally ? So WHO is the Enemy Uncle Dick ?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

All very good questions, I admit. But I think, if you don't mind, that I may wait on these till after the Thanksgiving binge. I'll be with my middle-American in-laws, Swedes all, and they don't think much of too much conversation at the dinner table. :-)

jrjUnitedStates said...

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for its simplicity. Eat, drink and be merry,as they say. Been a child of the 60's "Dirty Dick" was on our minds when I came of age for the draft. But at our table everyone was afraid to bring it up. The long haired hippy with gravy dripping from his chin (me) might stop stuffing his face long enough to thurst his fist in the air. "My friends are coming home in boxes." They still are 30 some years later. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

As someone more clever than I pointed out, he can only pardon one turkey on thanksgiving.

Unknown said...

I liked your rambling story and could just see your Mom on the "don't talk about the President this year" diatribe.

My question would be thus:"I thought victory in Iraq would leave no American's in the big kitty litter box. If so, why is unpatriotic to suggest we bring home the troops home?"

jurassicpork said...

I'm glad that someone mentioned President Kennedy yesterday on the anniversay of his assassination. This is the first liberal blog that I've seen that did this (I know, I know, I'm just as guilt but does it still count if you think about him and his legacy?).

meldonna said...

I love stories of embarrassing the folks at the big dinner! You must be a kindred spirit; I disrupted many a weeknight dinner disagreeing with Daddy. I finally gave it up when I was about 22 (my mother's advice on not throwing pearls in front of swine sank in). Oddly enough, my 17 year old sister, like a Confederate soldier straight out of Gone With The Wind, caught the liberal banner and marched on. Irony continues; these days Dad is struggling with many problems, not the least of which is Altzhiemer's, and I find myself now gently trying to poke him with a liberal stick. If I can get him back on his soapbox for a little while, it does seem to clear the cobwebs for a bit. And hopefully at least gives Mama a break for a little while...

You know what they say: You can pick your friends. Family you're stuck with. Gotta love 'em, warts and all.

Must go make another turkey sam'ich. Warm wishes...

enigma4ever said...

Thank you to my loyal little band of readers..you made me laugh and cry as I mashed my sweet potatoes...I hope all of you had good Thanksgivings with too much food, football and maybe a little time off from this crazy world...

Gothamimage said...

Happy Thanksgiving, belatedly.

"Stay the course" is one of the funniest cliches - it's totally meaningless, but politicians have used it to great effect at least since Orwell wrote "Politics of the English language."

It must have some deep seated psychological power that no one understands, but everyone accepts.

No Blood for Hubris said...

"Stay the course" equals "keep them lemmings headed for that there cliff."

Frederick said...

Bring the troops home!

NEWSGUY said...

For a nurse you are a teriffic writer; you are a better writer than lots of people I have worked with as a reporter -- print and TV. Your question to me was: "what are we the viewers/readers/watchers susposed to do about our own media blackout? any ideas..." Answer: Not sure. TV has changed enormously since I began as a reporter at the CBS affilaite in Cincinatti. Back then, the TV newsroom was not supposed to be a profit center. Then the bean counters decided they had to make money off news, instead of spending money because it was a source of pride and community service. Not long after that, Reagan started deregulation and dumped the Fairness Doctrine, and TV, radio and newspapers have all fallen into fewer and fewer hands I think the current state of media is actually dangerous to American democracy, maybe even more dangerous than Al Qaeda, but the current leadership thinks it is just dandy, because all the top media companies are making tons of money. Time-Warner owns an enormous chunk of media in America. Same goes for a handful of other companies, including Westinghouse and GE, which are also defense contractors. There are some good sources for more info out there: Robert McChesney, FAIR, Media Matters. Problem is, there's really no national debate going on it. Reason? the debate happens on national media. And the national media don't want a debate.

Justin said...

I, for one, never ignor the stringbeans.

Justin said...

I am also just as bad a speller as anyone else.