Every year Dispatches From The edge gives awards to news stories and newsmakers that fall under the category of “Are you serious?” Here are the awards for 2012. -more-
As Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner is second in line to be President. And since the defeat of Mitt Romney, the Speaker has been the titular head of the Republican Party. While Boehner has political status and power, his inept handling of the fiscal cliff negotiation shows he’s not a leader. He’s a failure. -more-
In his article, "America as a Gun Culture," historian Richard Hofstadter popularized the phrase "gun culture" to describe America's long-held affection for firearms, with many citizens embracing and celebrating the association of guns and America's heritage. According to Hofstadter, the right to own a gun and defend oneself is considered by some, especially those in the South and the Southwest, as a central tenet of the American identity. -more-
In March 1990, Time Magazine titled an article “Ripples in The American Lake.” It was not about small waves in that body of water just north of Fort Lewis, Washington. It was talking about the Pacific Ocean, the largest on the planet, embracing over half of humanity and the three largest economies in the world. Time did not invent the term—it is generally attributed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Pacific commander during WW II—but its casual use by the publication was a reflection of more than 100 years of American policy in this immense area.
The Asia-Pacific region has hosted four American conflicts—the Spanish American War, the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War—and is today the focus of a “strategic pivot,” although that is a bit of a misnomer, by the Obama administration. The Pacific basin has long been the U.S.’s number one trade partner, and Washington deploys more than 320,000 military personnel in the region, including 60 percent of its navy. The American flag flies over bases in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Marshall Islands, Guam and Wake.
It is one of the most perilous regions on earth right now, and, for the first since the collapse of the old Soviet Union, two major nuclear powers are bumping up against one another. As volatile as the Middle East is, one of the most dangerous pieces of real estate on the planet are a scatter of tiny islands in the East China Sea, where China, Japan and the U.S. find themselves in the kind of standoff that feels distressingly like the Cold War. -more-
While Americans were horrified by the murders of 26 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many believe we lack the will to curb gun violence. Two years ago a crazed gunman severely wounded Representative Gabrielle Gifford and killed six others; we grieved for a few days and then returned to business as usual. Most Americans hope President Obama’s speech at the Vigil for Sandy Hook Shooting Victims portends real change. -more-
Think back to 1971 and Klute. It succeeded because of Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels, a gritty needy call girl who, through psychoanalysis and a relationship with a detective, develops strength to begin a different life. Fonda was thirty-two years old. Nine years later, in Nine to Five, she snapped out of sweet Judy Bernley’s diffidence with the memorable “You’re a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot!” Try saying it fast. There were other brilliant performances – Julia, Coming Home, and The Dollmaker readily come to my mind. But recently, Jane Fonda has sold her name to things not worthy of her talent, for example, Georgia Rule (2007) and Monster-in-Law (2005).
Now Jane Fonda is seventy-five years old.
And if we all lived together? (Et si on vivait tous ensemble?) is a 2011 French-German comedy film. It asks the usually-unspoken, senior citizens’ what if question. Instead of risking nursing homes, or housing projects, or so called assisted living, or being alone, or other ghastly unknowns, what if we all lived together, instead? Of course there’s an assumption or two or three in there. Number one is that one of us will always be willing and able to care and cope. -more-
The ban on women in combat in ground combat units is one of the last vestiges of sexism. Under the guise of protecting the "weaker" or "fairer" sex, the armed forces discriminate against women by deniying them the perks of serving in combat positions. -more-