An Open Letter To My Fellow Progressives

Wake up.

Two words that many of us have failed to grasp the concept of, get behind, and make reality.  The Primaries are over, and Hillary is flying her broomstick doing the world tour on behalf of the President.  The Election is over, and we won.  Go ahead, pinch yourself; have someone slap you in the face, throw some cold water on your head…hell, go out and have one last bender.  All that philosophy and hard work has paid off, and reality began almost two weeks ago.  We’re on the 4 year clock people; and unless you want Governor Moosebrains in charge after 2012, it’s time to stand together and keep the message alive…by being political pragmatists, NOT the back-end agenda loading into a stimulus bill bunch of partisans.

Look, we’ve been in the desert for eight years; some would even say for 28 years (like I do).  Our kind was a dying breed, we nearly vanished off the face of the political map.  The Great Oppressive Party is on the ropes about to become the 21st Century version of the Whig Party (sorry Keith, I used that in a post last week.  Either you’re a reader, or we’re both astute historical observational prognosticators, or both).  They are marching goose step in perfect unison to Uncle Rush’s Oopah Band, and creating more roadblocks than the obstacle courses at Paris Island on this Recovery Plan.  We have the votes, we have the country’s best interest at heart…at least on the surface.  I know we have a lot of things we want to get through Congress now that we have a majority and a lot of catching up to do.

So will someone please tell me what condoms, grants for the arts, STD Education, and some other questionable funding that has managed to attach themselves to the Stimulus Shark like a bunch of remoras is doing in this legislation?  Look, I’m all for those packages and ideas, JUST NOT IN THIS BILL.  This is a Bill designed for economic stimulus…MAKE IT ONE.  As outraged as I was at Wall Street Execs who took their bonuses after crying poor and taking Uncle Sam’s bailout money, I am even more appalled that you had the unmitigated gall to put this type of pork in The President’s FIRST Bill; perhaps his signature piece.  You have given the Republicans ammunition and indignation, and rightfully so, by not sticking to the central issue.  You have not put enough funding toward infrastructure and transportation, plain and simple.  With infrastructure improvements, we have tangible evidence that jobs are being created by watching men and women hard at work building highways or repairing bridges and tunnels.  We invest in our future with infrastructure; while pet projects that may have a noble cause, now is not the time for those battles.  They belong under separate consideration based on priorities and affordability.

The clarion call and tone was struck by our President on Inauguration Day.  The era of past partisanship and politics is over; a new era of cooperation and pragmatism is needed to address 21st Century problems.  While we accuse the GOP of fighting partisan battles, and they do, they have many valid points that need to be addressed.  Hopefully, the Senate will be able to come up with a true bi-partisan Bill that improves infrastructure spending, cuts taxes on the middle class and small business, and truly creates the type of legislation that America needs at this point in time.  We are better than the crap that was put into that Bill . HR 1  We better start thinking like 21st Century Pragmatic Progressives, and that means dealing with the 21st Century Pragmatic Republicans.  You know they are there.  Tell their partisans and our partisans to get real and craft a Bill that does the right thing.

Wake up.

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America. ” – Barack Obama

Raising Capitol

One of the reasons why I usually wait until between 7 and 8 PM Eastern Standard Time to post to the blog, is because by that time I can see pretty much all of the absolute stupidity our so-called leaders in Washington have come up with for the day.  I also try and get it out before I become tainted by any Commentary or Opinion shows on the Cable News Channels that might affect my own viewpoint.  Yesterday, President Obama (God, I love writing that!) visited Capitol Hill to speak directly with House Republican Leaders on their own turf.  He went on to explain why his Recovery Plan is designed as it is, and there was some interesting math he divulged in the meeting.  For every dollar of direct Federal Spending, the result is $1.50 back on that investment for stimulus; for every $1 in tax cuts, there is 75 CENTS of stimulus.  Being the old Finance guy that I am, assuming a weight of 60% Spending and 40% Tax cuts to net result is $1.20 of stimulus to the economy.  Is it enough?  Probably not enough, in my opinion; but the President is also using this as a means of pushing through the Middle Tax Class Cut as he promised; something that will be felt in the PAYCHECKS of Americans, no matter how small it may be on a 52, 26, or 24 pay period pay cycle.  That is REAL money that will be almost certainly pumped back into the economy, as opposed to a one time stimulus tax check that would more than likely be saved or used to pay off debt.

While Republicans appear to be on the verge of blocking the Stimulus Bill in the Senate just because they want to make life difficult of the new President, Congressional Democrats aren’t necessarily governing in a manner that doesn’t give the GOP folks ammo to shoot with.  On Friday, John Boehner made a snide reference to condoms and other Family Planning measures that would be a part of the newly christened “Recovery Act”…I sincerely thought the man had lost it and/or was joking.  He was not.  In their brilliance and wisdom in trying to put all Americans back to work, to help out those desperately in need of Financial Assistance, and against the explicit wishes of a President who promised that there would be no unnecessary spending or pork projects attached to the bill; Congressional Democrats did just that…by putting in a Family Planning measure attached to the Recovery Act.

Are they fucking nuts?  Democrats have the first large governing majority since the Johnson Administration 40 years ago, and they’re going to waste that on a bunch of condoms?  I’ll say one thing about Democrats: their stupidity is as consistent as is the Republicans’ arrogance. “Let’s all form the circular firing squad folks…oh, and pass those rounds of ammo on down to McConnell over there.”  It begs the question as Casey Stengel once famously said about the 1962 Mets, “Doesn’t anybody around here know how to play this game?”

It’s becoming abundantly clear that Nancy Pelosi does not, nor does Harry Reid.  Let’s face it, these guys are charged with setting the legislative agendas in both houses and if this President and HIS agenda is to succeed, they need to stop putting unnecessary spending into a Recovery Act that is already nearing the $1 Trillion mark.  I’m all for spending on public works projects, education, infrastructure and aid to the State so they may maintain necessary services in their own jurisdictions.  The major problem here is that no one is thinking BIG enough with infrastructure projects in order to make a serious dent on this recession.  New roads means new union workers working on them; new steel for bridges which gets more people working; fixing the centuries old pipes under New York or Boston or Chicago gets more people working.  I’m all for tax breaks for the Middle Class, and sure, my wife and I would love that extra $20 take home from her paycheck every two weeks which will eventually get spent on a DVD.  I’m very much in favor of tax breaks for small businesses (the definition of which needs a bit more refining) which are literally the backbone of this economy.  How in God’s name is a fucking condom for someone who may need one in California going to stimulate ANYTHING, especially since we can safely assume something else has already been stimulated?  Why would these two even consider allowing a measure like that to be attached to not only one of the most important pieces of legislation this country has ever needed, but this President’s FIRST piece of legislation?

There is absolutely no leadership on the Democratic side of the aisle in Congress, and quite frankly on the Republican side as well.  These guys are thinking 20th Century Politics for 21st Century problems.  Eight years of ideology got us into this mess, we need intelligent pragmatists to get us out of it.  I don’t care where the ideas come from, just as long as they get generated.  Then those ideas are coalesced into legislation which is put on the docket by the leadership.  CONGRESS HAS NO LEADERS WILLING TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND BE AMERICANS FIRST.  No one is willing to THINK BIG, THINK DIFFERENT, and THINK BOLD in either the House or the Senate.  We have a President with a vision, he should have a Congress to be worthy of that vision.

The President’s agenda is almost certainly doomed to fail if Pelosi and Reid are in charge.  It’s time the Democrats woke up, had a little caucus, and removed these two from their leadership positions before any irreparable damage can be done to this Presidency and by fiat, doom the American public to almost certain 4 years of gridlock.  While Reid is the lesser of two evils, Pelosi does absolutely NOTHING to help the cause.  When she CLEARLY has the votes to pass the House version of the Recovery Bill, she rubs the Republicans faces in it with caustic comments.  I’m sorry, but as liberal as I am most times, that’s just damned wrong.  It makes her appear small and petty, which after her so-called leadership over the past 2 years, I’m beginning to wonder one thing:

Whose side IS she on anyway?

“A Republican stands up in congress and says ‘I GOT A REALLY BAD IDEA!!’ and the Democrat stands up after him and says ‘AND I CAN MAKE IT SHITTIER!!’” – Lewis Black

Watch Out For Shadows, They Move When You’re Not Looking

Looks like Johnny Boy has finished digesting the classy dinner that The President threw for him in the spirit of bi-partisanship, and has launched the McCain Mutiny.  It seems as if Johnny Boy has found religion again as he plans on being a fellow obstructionist along with the rest of the GOP who are suddenly concerned about the Federal Deficit after 8 years of running up the tab…and that doesn’t even include the bar bill.  John Boehner is more concerned with non-existent free condoms that would be included in any Federal spending…and that is NOT a joke by yours truly, either.  These guys are trying to derail the single most important piece of legislation for this country right now, all for the sake of ideology.   According to Newsweek, the Bush holdovers in lifetime positions in The Pentagon are responsible for the flawed numbers that will be released this week as part of a Pentagon Report on former residents of Gitmo; thus creating chaos in trying to close that travesty of so-called Justice.  Rush Limbaugh even came out this week and said he hopes that the Obama Administration FAILS.   It didn’t take long for the non-so loyal and definitely not honorable opposition to strike, did it?

These guys are dangerous.  Not only did they start stripping away freedom under their watch; not only did the Defense Contractors and the Dogs Of War get more of a taste of blood; they want to maintain power no matter what the cost.  The hell with the Economy, the hell with our relations with the world, the hell with doing what is right according to the principles this country was founded on, the hell with the American People.  EVERYONE BE DAMNED UNLESS YOU ARE A REPUBLICAN; OUR WAY OR ELSE.  We had eight years of that crap, and the last time I looked there was this little thing called an “election” that happened last November where the majority of Americans wanted their (mostly) fat, white asses kicked out of power.  Didn’t these guys get the memo?  To paraphrase The President, THEY LOST.  He would much rather have bi-partisan support for the Economic Stimulus plan with as many votes as he can get from that side of the aisle, but it may get to the point where banging a few heads together is what will be appropriate.

There is a huge majority of Democrats in the House who can push legislation through, but the Dems are 2-4 votes shy of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.  In other words, that fine and august body can pretty much hold up anything as long as everyone stays loyal to their Party; which given these Economic times may very well be a bit of a problem.  The American public has LONG memories, and if they see the Senate doing nothing but obstruction of progress while they lose their homes and their jobs, a few of those Republican Senators might very well want to cross Party lines lest they be out of a job.  More than likely, the package can (and WILL) pass as is.  It’s a balanced package of roughly 60% Spending and 40% Tax Cuts…which to me is about 20% more tax cuts and 20% less spending than necessary.  The tax cuts I agree with because they are targeted mostly at the middle class and small businesse both segments of the economy that absolutely need some relief now.  EVERY major Economist says the only way out of this mess created by 8 years of deregulation and re-concentration of wealth into the hands of the rich few is by SPENDING our way out.  Rebuild the infrastructure, invest in our future, and all of this could start putting people back to work or get work TOMORROW, especially considering many States have “shovel ready” projects just waiting for a green light with funding.  Still, the Republican mantra is even more tax cuts…even more to the rich.  (Like THEY’RE having a hard time…well, the guys who invested with Bernie Madoff are anyway.)

What the President has to watch out for is The Shadows that lurk all over Washington; most especially those in the military-industrial complex.  Make no doubt, they are moving to create and foment chaos in order to maintain the status quo.  Bush gave them WAY too much of a taste of blood and money for them to suddenly have their revenue stream cut off by a guy who never served in the military a day in his life; a guy who is not beholden to lobbyists; a guy who is trying to do the right things for this country…the right MORAL things. All it takes is one small breakdown in the military-industrial complex to allow a terrorist plot to become a reality, much like the Bush Administration allowed 9/11 to happen because of its complacency.  Then, these guys are back in business again.  They could give a damn about human life; just take a look at the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq…if the beast is not fed, it will insure its survival no matter the cost.

Everyone is worried about what would happen if we closed Gitmo, most especially if someone that was released from there committed an act of terrorism against the US on US soil.  I agree, but that’s why those 200 and change prisoners need a case by case review to ensure that if they need to remain in jail pending trial…a fair trial…will do so.  The Senators (so far, SOUTHERN Republican Senators) clamoring that they do not want any of these prisoners in their States forget one thing: it’s NOT THEIR CALL; it is the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.  These are also the Shadows that work against the Government; as the spectre of States’ Rights begins to rear it’s head again and the Senators and Congressmen representing that faction attempt to sow division in the Union, just as they have in the past…and their motivation is an African American President.

Joe Biden was absolutely correct in his assessment that Barack Obama will be challenged…but I don’t think he knew that it would be coming from within the walls of Washington, where The Shadows move when you’re not looking.

“What’s all this stuff about motivation? I say, if you need motivation, you probably need more than motivation. You probably need chemical intervention or brain surgery. Actually, if you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me.” – George Carlin

Milepost 100

Believe it or not, this is the 100th post I have done on this blog…100 posts that have covered everything from my kitchen reconstruction to the election; the state of humanity and my beliefs in a sentient universe; my life as a father and how I managed to survive 9/11, depression, alcoholism, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Pretty much everything under the sun.  So, I’m going to pick out a few pieces pieces that I think you should read (or perhaps re-read) since we started this blog back on September 10th 2008.  (Feel free to read each post by clicking on its title and you’ll be directed straight there.  Then hit the back button to return to this post.):

If you want to understand your humble author, the guy who writes the stuff that you keep coming back to for enjoyment or punishment, you need to read a few relevant posts: Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down is what happened to me on September 11, 2001.  Outside of my own birth, marriage, and birth of my children; it is the single most important and life changing even in my life (for better or for worse).  A Silent Awakening, Day 2558, and The Unheralded Paragons, are follow up pieces that highlight where my thinking was headed in the days and years following the attack.  Redemption deals with my battle with alcoholism and my last bender before I got sober; Grace and Redemption relates somewhat to the former post, but it essentially ties up what exactly happened to me this past September that got me to start writing again and the founding this Blog, all within the context of Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency.

I’ve been extremely controversial during this campaign.  I made absolutely no bones about the fact that I was a supporter of Barack Obama, despite the fact that I am an Independent.  I could run off a list of posts that dealt with just about every aspect of the campaign, but I have a few that I am really proud of; not so much because they went out and attacked McCain and/or Palin, but because I thought they pretty much encapsulated what both campaigns were all about.  A Danger To The Republic Part I, Part II and Part III; and Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been A Member Of The Republican Party? all got a lot of hits from all over the web and pretty much summed up my feelings about the McCain campaign, and the fear I was feeling as I watched some of my fellow citizens slowly lose their self-control (as did I in some of the writing contained in the pieces; but that’s how I felt at the time and I offer no apologies).  After President Obama’s Election, two posts (A Moment To Remember and The Closed Circle [Prologue])were forever enshrined here as soon as I knew the results of the election.  Needless to say, I was a happy man.  As for the rest of the election material; there’s a wealth of stuff in the Blog, but you’re just going to have to have a look around.

Not everything was serious, though…I had my moments of humor as well.  Like during the seven weeks it took to reconstruct my kitchen, which provided a plethora of entertaining moments for many of you (and in retrospect, some of it WAS pretty funny, but not quite so at the time).  So with tongue firmly in cheek and rapier wit unsheathed, I unleashed The Kitchen Chronicles, The Never Ending Kitchen Chronicles, The Return Of The Son Of The Kitchen Chronicles, and it’s coda Our Long Domestic Nightmare Is Over (Sort Of) on an unsuspecting world.  Finally, two posts that really got a lot of traffic were I Just Need A Small Bailout: A Letter To My Favorite Uncle and Dumb People.

Those are the “elite eighteen” of the posts I have written since September that pretty much tell you where I’m coming from as far as my personal life, politics, and crazy situations go.  There is one piece that I am probably most proud of, about the closing of the old Yankee Stadium when the last game was played in it.  It was a very tough piece for me to write emotionally, because my dad and I are kind of estranged at the moment, so there were a lot of tears shed when I wrote it, and I still get a lump in my throat when I read it: For Absent Friends, In Memories Burning Brightly. You’ll see why when you read it.

It’s very rare a writer is satisfied with their work, but every once in a while, The Universe gives you a perfect moment of inspiration and you seize it and do something with it; that’s why I think that particular post is one of my all time favorite pieces of writing.  It just captures something in me that is the essence of why I write in the first place.  Why I sit here at ungodly hours typing away when I should be in bed.  It’s also why writing is such a lonely thing as well.  It’s just you and the computer, paper, or Underwood…just your thoughts and a means to somehow get them all together into coherency so that someone will HOPEFULLY read it.  As I mentioned on another post, a fellow blogger once told me that a writer needs an audience to make their art complete unlike a musician or sculptor.  They do not necessarily need that participation of another human being to complete their art…writers do.  It is essential for us; moreover, we just love to hear what you have to say (good or bad) about what we’ve done.

I never thought I’d get to 100 posts…but this time I did (after trying to start blogs over the years, but I was an active alcoholic back then) and I think outside of the election it was encouragement from many of you that kept me going onward, and making me very happy that I was achieving a goal I set out to do when this blog went on line in September 2008: if I can get you to laugh, or cry, or think about something…then I’ve done my job.  That’s what I wanted to do; and what I’ll continue to do.  You see, this is essential to my soul now, more than it ever has been before.  Somewhere along the way, the spark that got this blog started to ignite that which I am inside so that I may be able to become what I know is my calling in life.  I have been many places and done many things; but nothing gives me the joy like this blog and writing my book does; outside of my family of course, for they too are the other part of my soul that is slowly putting itself back together after many years as an uncertain phoenix, arisen from the ashes with no idea where to fly to.

Now I know how to spread my wings and soar upon the currents.  Thank you for providing me with the compass, and let’s continue to journey together.

Peace…Arkangel

Act III

The noted historian Ken Burns was on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” last night, and despite their love of the game, they were most assuredly not talking baseball.  It was after most of the Inauguration Day festivities had wound down and folks were putting on their tuxedos and getting ready for the Inaugural Balls later that evening, when Burns made a profound statement that sent me back in my chair reeling.  That’s what all good historians do, well at least for me having History as a minor at college; I had enough amazing professors that could keep me enraptured for hours with their lectures…but the point Burns made was one that we felt throughout the day yesterday that could not adequately be put into words.  If Jefferson was Act I having to compromise on slavery in order to get the Declaration of Independence ratified; Lincoln was Act II with the Emancipation Proclamation; then President Obama was Act III, the validation and redemption of all that came before.  It was just a brilliant observation, and one that got me thinking more about what happened yesterday.

Around 11:45 am, my Mail Carrier came by bringing the day’s usual supply of bills and junk mail, plus a CD I ordered.  Doug’s been our mail guy for the past four years, and he’s been in the post longer than anyone has for the ten years that we’ve been in the house.  With the amount of CDs and DVDs we order around here, Doug is kept pretty busy and always makes sure we know when we get a package or will keep a look out at the Post Office if I tell him something is running REALLY late (usually something from overseas); he always takes good care of our stuff.  We take care of him nicely at Christmastime, plus he’s an incredibly great guy, who my kids absolutely love.  When he came by yesterday as it was getting close to noon, I asked him if he wanted to watch the swearing in and the speech.  He was grateful for the invite, most especially since he had forgotten the time and said that since he was running ahead of schedule on his route, he’d stop by as soon as finished my block.  Thanks to Dick “I Have No Staffers To Carrry My Boxes” Cheney and his strained back and wheelchair, the ceremony was running late; so it was fortuitous that by the time Doug got back, the President didn’t even take the oath yet.

So we sat there each with a cup of coffee, watching history unfold…just two American men in whose company (to paraphrase the President and steal a line) 60 years ago it would have been thought unacceptable to be in each other’s company.  Doug’s African-American and from the South, and I’m a skinny white Irish Italian Guy from Brooklyn and Staten Island…and we are together watching the first African-American President being sworn in.  We were high-fiving through the speech and welling up at other points.  But there came a moment when I just stole a glance on my right and I saw something in his eyes that could not be described; a pride and an almost disbelief that this was actually happening.  The look that pretty much told me all I had to know, and all I had to see…that this is America.  This is who we are now, at this moment in this time…not one white man or one black man in a room; but two men, two Americans who took pride in what they witnessed yesterday.  That is what America is all about; it’s who we are now as one people, one nation, moving forward together with common purpose toward hopefully a better tomorrow…indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

“The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Closed Circle

I was born in 1961.

That may not seem like such a big deal on the surface, but that was a very important year for this tiny little world we’re on.  It was the very start of my life and many of the events that began or happened in 1961 world forever shaped my outlook on life, what I believe in, and how I conduct myself as a human being till this day.  Being an infant in that year, I could not have possibly known or understood some of the ramifications of what happened throughout that year.

1961- January: US relations cut off between USA and Cuba; Eisenhower warns of the “vast military industrial complex”; John F Kennedy becomes the 35th President of the United States; Bob Dylan arrives in New York City after bumming a ride from Minnesota; NASA sends Ham, a chimpanzee into sub-orbital flight in the first test of a Mercury capsule.  February: The first US Minuteman ICBM is launched; The Beatles have their first gig at The Cavern Club.  March: The Peace Corps is established by JFK; US Polaris submarines arrive at Holy Loch; I am born on March 14 in Brooklyn, NY at 8 pounds, 6 ounces at 6:00 PM; South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations; The 23rd Amendment is ratified giving the residents of Washington DC the right to vote in Presidential Elections.  April: Vostok 1 carrying Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin begins Mankind’s quest for the stars; The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba is launched and fails.  May: Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr becomes the first American in space aboard Freedom 7; The Freedom Riders begin their Interstate bus trip to test the Supreme Court’s decision on integration; The beginning of modern genetics occurs as the first experiments on understanding the human genetic code succeed; Race riots break out in Alabama, and the state’s governor declares martial law; the Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi; JFK launches Apollo program and sets forth the challenge to put a man on the moon and bring them safely to Earth by the end of the decade; Amnesty International is founded.  June: JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev meet in Vienna where they discuss nuclear tests, disarmament, and Germany.  July: Soviet submarine K-19 accident occurs; first Israeli rocket is launched; Gus Grissom becomes America’s second astronaut.  August: Gherman Titov becomes the first human being to stay in space for a full day; Barack Hussein Obama, the first African-American President of the United States is born in Hawaii; the Berlin Wall is built.  September: The first and then current UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld dies in a car crash; The first Grey Alien is reportedly spotted.  October: Roger Maris breaks the single season home run record previously held by Babe Ruth by hitting 61 home runs; Digital Photography is invented; US and Soviet tanks stand off on both sides of the border between East and West Berlin heightening the Cold War tensions to a new high; the Soviets detonate the still largest ever nuclear explosion of 58 megatons via a hydrogen bomb; Stalin’s body is removed from the Lenin mausoleum.  November: Fantastic Four #1 is released starting what will eventually become the Marvel Universe; “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller is published; JFK sends 18,000 Military Advisers to Vietnam, thus beginning America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.  December: Fidel Castro officially declares Cuba a Communist nation; the Marshall Plan expires after sending over $12 billion to rebuild Europe after World War Two.  Another interesting fact: 1961 is the first “upside-down year” since 1881, where the numbers are exactly the same upside down as they are right side up.  The next such year will not happen until 6009.

That’s one HELL of a year.

Time is very much a fluid construct where we are constantly generating the past, present and future simultaneously.  What happens at this moment is the past created in the now, and the events of the current moment also shape the future.  It is very much like casting a stone upon the water, where ripples spread from the impact; throw in another stone close to the first, and ripples will interact and overlap or not depending upon the size of the stone or the impact upon the water.  We as individuals are very much like the stones cast upon the waters of time, and it is not the impact we make upon the water but the ripples that spring forth from us that not only define who we are, but what effect we have on each other.  We each have our own destiny and our own part to play in this life, no matter how small or insignificant you may feel it is, you are important to the overall picture.

Some of us are destined for greatness or infamy or both.  The men who started this Republic two centuries ago were just humble servants of mankind.  They were lawyers, farmers, doctors, clergy, inventors, writers, statesman, and soldiers.  They were just as much the everyman as we are; they had no expectations of greatness, nor did they want it.  They cared for one thing, something that they were more than willing to sacrifice their lives for; something that they wanted for their children and their children’s children.  A bold concept birthed from tyranny and oppression; a commonality of purpose; an understanding that we were very much a different people than our cousins across an ocean were.  A concept that has echoed across the corridors of time, a rallying cry for the oppressed and the wanting.  A place of hope and refuge, the last best hope of Mankind…

THIS Republic, these United States Of America.

Tomorrow, we begin a new journey; a different chapter in our nation’s history, a point at which the circle has closed, and we are returning to the end of the beginning.  The wounds from our Great Civil War will have finally been healed, and the promise in which those men in those halls in Philadelphia will have truly come to fruition.  The promise that was compromised in order to begin The Republic which eventually led to the greatest loss of American life in any war.  The promise that was compromised which led to our division in 1861, and even though that war which cost more lives of Americans than any other war had ended still was being waged.  The promise that no amount of legislation could fulfill…until tomorrow.

I have been witness to many things in history, and have been a part of some.  I remember having to tell my mother that both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot (and if you wonder how a 7 year old boy would know what was going on, it was because these two men were such giants it was impossible NOT to).  I remember growing up with body counts on the news and seeing scenes of war and protests.  I watched my mother weep as she saw the front page of the NY Daily News with a picture of the My Lai Massacre on it.  I have seen a man land on the moon, and cheered and smiled in wonder.  I have seen Challenger and Columbia destroyed, and cried tears of sorrow.  I have seen the Berlin Wall fall, and cried tears of joy.  I have seen my countrymen held hostage for 444 days and then granted freedom; a freedom negotiated by a President who gave us hope and optimism; a President I have never fully understood nor appreciated until I have gotten older, and admire much of his leadership and his life as a result.  I have worked on Presidential campaigns, marched in protests, helped to organize unions, and sold my soul out to Corporate America for a big buck.

I have seen the birth of my two daughters, wonderful moments that I cannot adequately put into words.  I have a bond with three human beings that I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I could have.  I have swam many oceans, traveled across this country by train, and climbed mountains where I felt as though I could touch the sky and looked down in amazement at just how far I had climbed.  I have nearly died several times, only to be spared for some reason:  I have walked out of car wrecks where there was nothing but a tangled mass of metal that used to be a car; missed a collision of several cars on the NJ Turnpike by inches; fallen off a mountain and walked down it; and survived a terrorist attack on September 11th 2001 where I saw 3,000 souls annihilated in front of me and descended into madness and alcoholism as a result.  I was somehow given permission to forgive myself for surviving, and an understanding of the point in my life at which I now reside.  I have suddenly been granted a wonderful and amazing gift that I always took for granted for the past (almost) 48 years: LIFE.  I have come to believe that there is indeed order to the Universe, and there is a reason for all things and all events that have happened and will happen.

Tomorrow is a day which I shall always remember as one which I never thought would occur in my lifetime; a day which gives us all hope for the future no matter our political persuasion.  It is a day where our nation and the world will change forever.  It is a day of new beginnings, of hands grasped and hearts open; a day of freedom and justice for ALL, not just a few.  It is a day that says to all of us that ANYTHING is indeed possible, and NOTHING will ever be the same again.  It is a day of celebration and healing, a day of greatness for this country that I love with all my heart.  A day of promise and hope not only for us, but for all of Mankind.  It is a day of victory for those who have died on the battlefield protecting this wonderful concept, this bastion of Democracy, this paragon of human aspiration.  It is a day of remembrance for those who perished in the attacks of 9/11, because in some way their deaths may have made tomorrow a reality; that their lives were not given in vain; that their families’ suffering and the guilt of those of us who have survived carry with us every single day can finally be released (if we allow it to) at one shining moment.

At 12:01 PM on January 20 2008, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of The United States Of America, the first African-American to hold that august position.  A man who, like me, was born in that pivotal year of 1961; who has seen the world through similar eyes as I have; a man that will need the grace and understanding that no man in his position has ever needed before.  A man who will squarely have the weight of this nation, his beloved America, on his shoulders as well as the weight of the world.  Let us give him our thoughts, well wishes, and prayers, because he certainly will need that in the coming days.  He is now the keeper of the flame of America, the caretaker of that Shining City On The Hill.

He is the closed circle…and the beginning of the next great story that is this country, this Republic, these United States of America.

“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.” – John Adams, reflecting upon language allowing slavery to continue as an institution in The Declaration of Independence

A Parting Shot Across The Bow

The Bush Error is almost over, and it seems that a lot of media outlets are attempting to grade the Administration; hell, the Administration is trying to grade the Administration!  Outside of the attempted re-writes of history by the Bush Team and the spin by either the liberal or conservative media, I’ve decided to give my own assessment of the Bush Presidency.  It will be unique in the fact that I will (for the moment) eliminate the Iraq War and the hundreds of thousands of human beings killed; Hurricane Katrina; the most incredible financial collapse since the Great Depression; the gradual reduction of our Civil Liberties and the trashing of the US Constitution; and a host of other wonderful, shining moments from the equation.  I will very simply ask one question of the departing President, one simple question that I am demanding an answer to:

Where was my Government, and why were we attacked on September 11th, 2001?

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to demand accountability from my Government, you know…the one that theoretically I vote into or out of office every four years as part of a participatory democracy.  I want to know this because I really want to know why, on a day that I was just merely going to work, I witnessed the death of 3,000 people and wound up getting one hell of a debilitating case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I want to understand why my nightmares won’t go away; or why I am sometimes afraid to leave my house; or why my wife wondered if her husband would come home alive every day that he went to work in Manhattan.  I want to understand why every single time I hear or see a low flying plane, I immediately have to turn away; or some unfathomable trigger during my day brings me a flashback.  I want to understand why my Government failed in it’s most basic mission: to protect it’s citizens.  I really want to understand why that day had to happen, because I’ve spent the past seven years and change asking that question every single god damned day…and I keep coming back with the same answer…the same irrefutable conclusion:

Total, complete, and  abject failure on every single level of the Government, from the Chief Executive on down.

THAT is the most complete, succinct, and perfect summation of the Presidency of George W. Bush I know of.  THAT is his legacy.  THAT is what he left this country, my family, and me.

Mr President, I have some parting words of wisdom for you.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”-  Aldous Huxley

All

There is no God.

There I said it.  I’m not an atheist though; actually it is quite the opposite.  I do believe that there is a superior sentience that runs through everything.  A sentience that seeks to understand itself, and chooses to do so through many things. Perhaps it uses human beings, perhaps it looks at a nebula in the farthest reaches of a galaxy and seeks understanding from it…but there is indeed something at work.

It is not a Supreme Being in the way that we as Human Beings conceive He or She or It to be.  It does not require a Church, or a Temple, or a Mosque, or an Ashram.  It does not require us to worship it.  It won’t answer your prayers, because quite frankly, it has better things to do than to worry about your sorry life.  It has one goal, one defining purpose of its existence: understanding.  Understanding of itself so that it may move onward to a better and higher form of being.  It is non-corporeal.  It is not called God, nor Allah or any other name that we choose to give it in order for us to understand that which is (or must?) be greater than ourselves. It is quite simply…The Universe.

The Universe is seeking to understand itself, and make itself whole.  We are part of that Universe and have the same energy and the same power that it does.  In a manner that one man or woman can understand his or herself, it has a question (perhaps) answered.  All of us on this world are parts of the greater whole, and as we seek to understand ourselves, The Universe works through us as agents of understanding and enlightenment in a total and complete symbiotic relationship.

Every one of us has asked the question, “Who am I?” at some point in our lives.  It is impossible NOT to ask that question, for it is in our very nature to seek an understanding of that which we do not understand.  Many times, we are not yet ready for the answer to that question, and many times we do not like the answer we receive.  Some may never get an answer, in any form; others may get an ever changing array of answers throughout their lives.  Fundamentally, and for all practicality, we are the very reason for the existence and the purpose of The Universe.  Without us, there is nothing.  Without us, there is no God…there just IS.

We struggle daily to live, and all of us lead very different lives.  We are as unique as every single star in the heavens, because we ARE The Universe made manifest, trying desperately to understand itself…and we need to allow that to happen.  We need to reach deep within and change the way we think about ourselves and our relationship to each other.  We as Human Beings need to change the way we do business on the planet and WITH the planet.  Our world is ALIVE, for it too is part of The Universe; it too seeks an understanding through the oceans and the air that provide us life.  It asks that we become better stewards of the planet.

The time has come for a Great Awakening…a movement of self, yet collectivity that will allow The Universe to understand itself…and for us to understand ourselves.  The sooner we realize that we can work together, take care of this planet, and take care of ourselves…the better the chance we have for greatness…to achieve what Mankind is destined to achieve: oneness and completeness with The Universe, and the evolution of the species to the next level of being.  In this manner The Universe too will achieve a new level of being…and this is only through the species known as Human Beings.  Fragile creatures that inhabit a small planet orbiting a yellow sun on the edge of a spiral arm of its galaxy.  Fragile and beautiful beings who are but one part of All.

Who knows if there are other species out there.  Our world is literally an accident of creation; a tiny island amidst the chaos and ever growing understanding of The Universe and everything in it.  There runs through all things…on every world…through every single species…a commonality that is a power that I cannot explain.  I just know it’s there, waiting to be tapped…waiting for us to realize that we are NOT alone.

We have each other.

Our time is now.  Our time is finally here.  It is the cosmic brass ring waiting to be taken.  All we have to do is reach out and grab it, and finally come together in peace and understanding.  To unify ourselves as one people with no boundaries drawn on a map nor those drawn metaphysically.  To move toward the next level of being…

In order to do that, we must be able to leave behind the trappings and the restrictions that we have placed upon ourselves.  We must come to terms that being human is more than what we perceive.  Human Beings are a wonderful dichotomy of that which has yet to be achieved and that which has been; an compact version of The Universe in every single one of us.  We must seek knowledge from the ultimate source; understanding from the most unlikely of places; perfection from an imperfect collective…

Ourselves.

A Short Leash For Wild Dogs

Over the weekend, the UN voted in favor (with the US abstaining) of a resolution calling for an immediate cease fire in the ever increasingly bloody Israeli War on Gaza.  Of course, the resolution was brushed off by both the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The Palestinians do not have membership in the United Nations as a sovereign state, but Israel does and has signed the UN Charter that obliges its members to adhere to Security Council resolutions.  What’s interesting is the background behind how the US voted to abstain from the resolution; a resolution that certainly would have carried more weight with both the Israelis and Hamas if we voted in favor of it.  It’s also odd, considering the resolution was in part drafted, crafted, and written by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  Just read this excerpt from a news article on how this all came about:

The United States, Israel’s main ally, had initially been expected to voted in line with the other 14 but Rice later became the sole abstention.  “In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour,” Olmert said.  “I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.  “I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour.”

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

This came straight from Prime Minister Olmert’s mouth.  Who the hell does he think he (and the State of Israel) are, telling the United States how to run its foreign policy?  Moreover, what the hell is President Bush doing genuflecting before this bunch of war mongering, racist, religious zealots masquerading as a democracy?  It makes you wonder if our entire Foreign Policy in the Middle East for the past eight years has been crafted by the Israeli government, doesn’t it?  This begs the question…WHY?  What do the Israelis have on The United States that could be considered blackmail, and why haven’t we called them on it?  All we have to do is completely cut off their aid, and let’s see how fast they come crawling back to mama…that is of course, if they REALLY do need the money in the first place.

This is also interesting in light of a story that the NY Times reported over the weekend concerning Israel’s plans last year concerning an air raid on Iranian nuclear facilities that could not only have started a massive war in the Middle East, but could have exposed millions to radiation poisoning.  The raid would have required the US to provide Israel with not only bunker busting bombs (basically tactical nukes) but permission to fly over Iraqi air space.  From all reports (and they were clearly EXTREMELY on deep background), to his credit President Bush was shocked at the audacity of the plan, and had to assure the Israelis that the US was working on covert means of eliminating the Iranian nuclear “threat”.  If all of what I’m writing about today doesn’t have you changing your underwear by this point, something is wrong with you.

Israel wants nothing but WAR.  It wants nothing but the elimination of every non-Jew from what they consider to be their God-given real estate.  Right now they are working on Muslims, but rest assured, Christians will be next.  You see, they have quite a grudge that has been built up for thousands of years against Christians that needs to be settled; despite what any of these fundamentalist Christian, Israel loving, congregations tell you.  Wouldn’t you?  Spanish Inquisition, anyone…just for starters?  They are mad dogs on a quest, and they will stop at NOTHING until they are secure in what they perceive to be their homeland.  If you are not a Jew, then you are NOTHING to them.

Once again, I need to make this clear: what I am talking about is the Zionist-controlled government of Israel, not all Jews.  There is a VAST difference; Judaism is a religion, Zionism is a political movement.  There are PLENTY of Jews both within and outside of Israel who DO NOT SUPPORT THE ACTIONS that have been taken in recent days, nor in the past.  Their voices have been silenced by their own press, or they have been afraid to speak up.  Our own media has not looked beyond the propaganda that it is being fed from “somewhere” (and I’ll let you fill in your own blanks there).  All I know is that people are dying at the hands of wild dogs that we help birth, and they need to be put on a short leash as soon as possible before they send us all straight to Hell.

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” – David Ben-Gurion

A Chamber Full Of Idiots

The President Elect is calling for drastic amounts of spending in order to get us out of a horrible recession (which could turn into a Depression, if the unemployment trend holds) that could last for years.  Every renowned Economist is calling for the same thing.  Mr. Obama has already signaled his intentions to work with both sides of the aisle, even going so far as to state yesterday that if Republicans come up with a good plan, he will certainly endorse it.  He’s already offered an olive branch in the form of tax cuts in addition to the ones he proposed for the Middle Class in his campaign; only these are targeted at Small Businesses, which are the backbone of our Economy.  All of this makes perfect sense, and if you have a rudimentary knowledge of Economics, it makes perfect sense.

So will someone please tell me why the hard Right Wingers, and the hard Left Wingers  in the Chamber Of Idiots known as our Congress have decided that THEY know what is best for the economy?  That every major Economist doesn’t?  That others in their respective parties are more than willing to put aside political differences, including the incoming President and the rest of his Administration in order to save this country?  Is being hung up on a political ideology so important to them that they are willing to essentially tell the American People to “Fuck off” in no uncertain terms?  More people will become unemployed, lose their homes, and become uninsurable (medically) because of pre-existing conditions or because they cannot afford COBRA from their old jobs or outside private insurance…and this will not deter the ideologues in both parties.

Yesterday, Harry Reid pretty much laid down the gauntlet when he said he would not be afraid to oppose Obama if he disagreed with his policies…a distinct shot across the bow.  He also had the nerve to say that he would certainly be Majority Leader until 2015, when his Senate term expires.  Nancy Pelosi came out today in favor of reversing the Bush Tax Cuts on wealthy Americans as soon as possible (stating that she could “go along” with $250,000 being defined as wealthy), as opposed to letting them expire at the end of 2010 (which Obama favors because of the Economy).  Where were these two when Bush pushed through his Legislative disasters?  Where were these two when rights and freedoms were being snipped away from us and out of The Constitution?  Since when did they finally grow a set of balls?

Well Harry and Nancy…I have news for you.  Should things really screw up on your watch, The Republicans will be in charge of the Congress and you’ll have to worry about maintaining any kind of leadership position in your own Party.  Secondly, whether you know it or not…you serve at the pleasure of The President.  Of course, President Obama will have no say in how the Leadership positions will be decided…but he can certainly signal his displeasure with both of you and cut a few back room deals.  So if you’re smart…you’ll get up off your stupid ideological asses, push your colleagues to do the same, and do the right thing by America and get this Stimulus Package passed.

Or you may experience Washington Politics like you never have before…Chicago Style.

“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago…” – Dan Quayle

Lots Of Planets Have A North

Today, I’m diverting things completely away from politics and such (because there’s way too much to write about and I have about 4 pieces already started)…to television, specifically Doctor Who.

I’m sorry, but I am an unapologetic Doctor Who fan of the first order.  Ever since the announcement this past weekend that Matt Smith, age 26, will be the youngest actor ever to play The Doctor; I have been watching every DVD I own (along with my wife and daughter) because of the excitement and well…we just love the damned program.  This doesn’t mean everybody’s happy.  The Internet is buzzing about with various complaints that the actor is too young and will not be right for the role…and the guy hasn’t even said a line of dialog in front of a camera yet.

I for one am looking forward to seeing his portrayal, and am more than willing to give the guy a chance.  It’s not going to be easy, mind you.  The current actor, David Tennant, is widely regarded as the best actor to play the Time Lord since his 4th incarnation when Tom Baker had the role in the mid-70’s and early 80’s.  In some quarters, he’s even seen as THE best Doctor.  Many people forget that playing a good role takes some time to get into the character, let alone one as iconic as this.  This is most particularly true in the first episode of a new Dctor’s appearance, because after the previous Doctor’s body “dies”, it is “regenerated” into a new form…and sometimes with a whole new personality attached as well.  This leads to a little “instability” in the character for an episode or two.  So, rather than explain how the previous incarnations of The Doctor regenerated (and the circumstances surrounding them), here are four You Tube videos that explain wha has gone on before:

THE SHORT VERSION: (A short explanation of what happened, and the process itself) Doctors 1-10:

THE LONGER VERSIONS: (What happened, along with reactions and dialog from the other characters in the show)

Doctors 1-4:

Doctors 4-6:

Doctors 6-10:

The Parallels Of Madness

For a people that were persecuted for centuries and almost exterminated in the 20th Century, it is clear that the Israelis have learned from their former Fascist Masters.  What is going on right now in Gaza is nothing short of an attempt to extinguish at best the hope of the Palestinian people, or at worst their complete annihilation.  Non-Jews and Non-Zionists are WORTHLESS to these inhuman bastards that are shelling the civilian population of Gaza relentlessly.  It is what their brand of racists preach; their fanatical brand of politics known as Zionism.  Make no mistake about it, Zionism as espoused by the Israeli state attempts to purify and justify the existence of those who live within its borders.  Indeed, they have learned from their Fascist Masters…for what they are doing now, and will continue to do unless the United States stops them, is to create chaos and destruction all across the Middle East.  The true enemy of freedom is Israel.  The true enemy of peace is Israel.  The true enemy of mankind is Israel.

I say this as a disgusted human being, and a man who bears no ill will or feelings toward the Jewish people…ONLY the State of Israel, constituted in the form of its current government and leading coalition in the Knesset.  I also say this as a man whose life was saved by a concentration camp survivor; for how can I possibly bear ill will against any man let alone a man who was tortured?  How can I bear ill will against a people because of the mistakes of a few; a few who consider themselves so chosen as to exclude any other racial or religious group from full citizenship in the Jewish State?  How can I bear ill will against an entire people for those among them who choose to perpetrate the biggest military expansion and systematic extermination of a people since the Nazis?  Indeed, the Zionists have learned all too well from their Masters.  I bear no ill will, feelings, or prejudice against the Jewish people.  I certainly bear ill will against the Zionists within the Jewish State, and their supporters here in the United States.

Can someone please explain to me that as I experienced the worst day of my life on September 11, 2001 why three Israeli members of the Mosaad were celebrating victoriously across the Hudson River in Jersey City?  Will someone please explain the connection between the state of Israel and 9/11, because based on everything I’m reading on the Net they sure as hell had a hand in it?  Will someone please explain to me that the politics of an election taking place in February in Israel, and gaining traction in the polls is more important than people’s lives?  More importantly, why is the Bush Administration allowing this to continue while more innocents are slaughtered by the hour?

Of course, there is blame to be placed squarely on Hamas and some Palestinians.  Of course, they too should be condemned for firing rockets off into civilian areas and inflicting death and destruction as well.  Isn’t the current response by the Israel disproportionate to what Hamas could possibly inflict on them?  Doesn’t anyone see the need for both sides to cease and desist NOW, with the US taking an active role in the process to ensure neither side beaks the peace?  Needless to say, that would make way too much sense for this Administration in its waning days.  They recently blocked a UN Resolution calling for a cease fire.  They have called on Hamas to stop…imagine that, stop lobbing rockets back at someone who is now using tanks to crush your civilians.  While I certainly agree with President Elects Barack Obama’s assertion that if someone were raining rockets down on my two daughters, I would fight back.  This is also to be expected of Hamas’ response, and ever increasing show of force as the Israeli War Machine moves across the Gaza Strip.

While Hamas is certainly not the most preferable partner to negotiate a peace agreement with, they constitute the duly elected government of the people of Gaza.  You know, democracy?  That little concept that the Bush Administration has been trying to force down the throats of people who clearly do not want or understand that concept?  That little concept that governs Israel?  Because the results of the Gaza election were not to the liking of Israel or the United States, are we now to destabilize that region by gradually, over the course of several months as the Israelis have done, built up enough military strength to support an invasion at the slightest provocation?  It certainly appears that way, and if anything, the Israelis have now become the second country after the United States to use The Bush Doctrine’s assertion of preemptive war.  The United States of America, under the Bush Administration has COMPLETELY changed not only the rules of the game, but the game board and the game itself.  We have set this planet potentially down the course of annihilation if we are not careful, and begin to pull back from the positions of this abysmal Administration so that we may regain our credibility and moral standing with the rest of the world.

Our way of dealing with Israel must change.  No more carte blanche approach and kid gloves when it comes to those madmen of the Middle East.  Pull back any or all aid and assistance from Israel until they comply with a policy that brings them to the peace table with the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and the Syrians.  While we’re at it, bring in the sovereign government of Iraq.  The United States must also begin to establish diplomatic ties with Iran.  These are the only ways that peace can be established in the region.  Maintaining the peace, is another thing.  NATO or the United Nations could create a special task force for the Middle East, working with the armed forces of all nations involved.  It is important that the United States be the one major player who pushes for all of this, and if necessary, partner with the Russians to do so.  Yes, the Russians.  It’s time we reestablished our good graces with them as well, and they have a stake in a peaceful Middle East as well; especially since many of their natural gas pipelines or proposed pipelines run through one or more of the nations involved.  Besides, the Russians need a bit of ego stroking these days; they need to be involved in major affairs of this nature.  It’s time we trusted the Russians again; they were formidable allies during World War Two and can be so again.  We will need them as a buffer against the Chinese when the time comes (more on that in another post).

As for now, this madness in Gaza must stop; hopefully the incoming Obama Administration will be able to have a more active and productive role in getting a peace process going than the clowns who have been running the show for the past eight years have been; but we have another 18 days left until they take office.

Let’s just hope the current Administration doesn’t do something incredibly stupid like…oh…blow us all to Kingdom Come in the meantime.

“Ah…arrogance and stupidity, all in one package.  How convenient!” – Ambassador Londo Molari (Babylon 5/jms)

The Most Important Man In The Universe

He is over 900 years old and has two hearts.  He literally has 13 lives or “regenerations”, where not only can his body repair itself when it is near death or because of severe injury, but his appearance also changes.  He can live for thousands of years.  He has had countless companions over the years, as he travels through time and space crusading for justice and the rights of the oppressed in a battered old blue Police Box.  Well, that’s what it looks like from the outside, but upon crossing the threshold of the doorway, it is infinite space inside.  It is called a TARDIS, or Time and Relative Dimensions In Space; it can move through time as well as space, to any place in this Universe or others.  He is the last of a mighty race that once walked among the stars and were revered almost like Gods until they destroyed themselves and many other races in the Last Great Time War.

He is simply known as The Doctor.

Since 1963, the BBC program “Doctor Who” has been the longest running Science Fiction series of all time.  In all, ten actors have played the part since the show began; the most recent actor, the Tenth Doctor being David Tennant.  The show had a continuous run from 1963-1989 when it was put on “hiatus” by the BBC.  It was briefly revived for a telemovie by the BBC and Fox in 1996 in hopes of starting a new series, but the ratings never justified it being made into one.  In 2005, the show was brought back with a bigger budget (a far cry from the early years of cheap chroma-key and models flying on a wire BBC Special Effects) and a new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, in the title role.  The show did so well, it was picked up for a subsequent season, but Eccleston’s contract was only for one year and that not only meant a change of actors but a new regeneration for the Doctor.  David Tennant became the new (and current) Doctor in the last show of 2005 and the Christmas Special that year and will continue in the role until the end of 2009, when a new actor, Matt Smith (age 26, the youngest actor ever to play the Doctor), will assume the mantle of The Last Time Lord from the Planet Gallifrey, The Doctor.

I’ve loved this show from the first time I saw Tom Baker (the longest serving actor in the role- 7 years- who was the Fourth Doctor) when it was first syndicated in the States back in 1977.  The following year, PBS stations across my area (NYC and its environs) picked up the show and even began to run programs from the first Three Doctors.  Although I was in my late teens, I was absolutely hooked and became a HUGE fan of the show (as did my wife via her brother, who was my age and a huge fan as well).  Once I saw my first regeneration scene in the episode “Logopolis” in 1981 (from the Fourth Doctor to the Fifth, played by Peter Davidson, then the youngest to play the role), I was a stark raving fan.  I called my car the TARDIS; I even had a TARDIS key (a prop from the series) hanging on my mirror.  I wore question marks on my lapels.  I would routinely walk around in long frock coats (like the Fourth Doctor) in winter.  Of course, I was in my early twenties and a raving drunk, but boy…was I a fan of the show.  When it left the screens in 1989, I was quite upset; and just as upset when the new series didn’t materialize in 1996.

While we didn’t get that First Series (2005) here in the States on the Science Fiction Channel until 2006, I picked up the complete series on DVD from the UK.  Having a multi-region/format DVD player, I was able to see just what was going on, and how absolutely special the program had remained and had become once again.  When I got those DVDs, I decided I would turn my then 8 year old daughter on to Doctor Who, and she absolutely loved it.    She devoured every DVD or tape we had of every Doctor sitting around the house and is becoming quite well versed in the show’s history and backstory.  When David Tennant decided to leave the role this past October (after filming 4 special BBC Movies in place of a full 2009 Season) in order to do the National Theater in the UK, the hunt was on for a new actor.  Rumors flew around the Internet; the possibility of a Doctor of a different race or a Doctor being a woman were bandied about.  It was the most closely guarded secret (as most changeovers of the Doctor’s actor are) since The Manhattan Project.  There was not one single shred of solid evidence or substantiated rumor until today’s announcement.  My daughter and I have been on pins and needles until today, and it certainly looks as if the show will definitely be going in an interesting direction.

While it is always sad to see an actor leave the role, it is also an exciting time to see just what the new person in the role will do with it.  Each of the ten actors who have played the Ten Doctors have had a different take on the role, but the core values of the Doctor (and core personality) have remained…as well as the ever present jelly babies.  Below is a short 5 minute interview with the new Doctor, Matt Smith.  Here’s much luck to you!

Allons-y!

“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine” – The First Doctor

“I am not a student of human nature. I am a professor of a far wider academy of which human nature is merely a part.” – The Second Doctor

“Courage isn’t just a matter of not being afraid. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The Third Doctor

“There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” – The Fourth Doctor

“I tried keeping a diary once. Not chronological, of course. But the trouble with time travel is, one never seems to find the time.” – The Fifth Doctor

“Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The Sixth Doctor

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, somewhere else the tea’s getting cold.” – The Seventh Doctor

“The world’s about to be destroyed, and I’m stuck in a traffic jam!” – The Eighth Doctor

“I’m a Time Lord. I’m the last of the Time Lords. They’re all gone. I’m the only survivor. I’m left traveling on my own, ’cause there’s no one else.” – The Ninth Doctor

“I don’t age. I regenerate. But humans decay; you wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone that you…you can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can’t spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.” – The Tenth Doctor

THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR, MATT SMITH: