“Abigail And John, Portrait Of A Marriage” Love Story Of Hearts And Country

FIVE STARS!

I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in history, or love.

I had not intended to read “Abigail And John, Portrait Of A Marriage” by Edith Gelles.  I have a long list of books on my ‘to read pile’, and this was not one of them.   But I am so pleased that I stumbled onto this book, because once I started turning the pages I became immersed in the lives of Abigail and John in a way that no other book has allowed me before.

The book uses the personal letters between these two lovers, best friends, and critical players of the creation of America in such a way that the reader feels as if they sit in the Braintree home as Abigail pens a letter.  The reader feels the stings and blows that John encounters when he is in Philadelphia as he writes to his wife back in Massachusetts.  There is no way not to feel the loss when Abigail sits at their home knowing John is nearby in Boston about to board a ship to take him away to France for a very long time. 

As the story of these two develop one is allowed into the hopes and dreams they have for the future.  The unstated truth all through the book is of course they have no way of knowing how it all will play out.  Ships sink in storms, women die in childbirth, revolutionaries can be hung.  We have the ability of history to sit back and enjoy the journey.  In this grand read Abigail and John are central characters to series of events that very well could have had a dreadful ending.

The intimacy and poignancy of the letters are still breathtaking after these couple of centuries since they were written.  The skill of the pen and fluid nature of their conversations makes the reader aware of the powerful minds and intellects that allowed this nation to be created.   There is no doubt that without a willful woman named Abigail there could not have been the self-assured and forward thinking John.  The two were a team.  As the book proceeds it is amazing to see the maturity of Abigail take hold.  Her views on women’s rights, slavery, and her own sense of self is shaped by the lonely times while John is away.  She is even able to convey her displeasure at the loss of his tender words to her while he is stretched to the limits in the Continental Congress.  The ability to hone thoughts on paper to her beloved are a result of the solitude she feels without him at her side.  She comes across in this book as one we would all love to have over for a long dinner, and spirited conversation.

I stumbled upon the book at the library, and after looking at it for a few minutes became intrigued with its premise.  The entire scope of their lives set against the tumultuous tide of events that helped create a nation are made more personal by the many wonderful letters that they wrote to each other.  The words that are penned allowed for them to take account of each other during their long and difficult periods away from each other.  While I have read other books about John Adams, and long sections of their letters, no book has matched this one for a soulful look at the content of these writings.  This is a story about two people in love with each other, and a new country where freedom might take root.

I must say that every now and then while reading this book I thought of my sister, Ginger.  Had my sister been a child of Abigail and John the famed letters would never have surfaced.   Our sense of history would be greatly diminished without these personal letters.  While Abigail and John allow for a window of understanding through these letters my sister would surely see within this wonderful book only a fearful lack of privacy.   How sad and limiting to have her perspective.

I am grateful that Abigail and John left us these letters.  I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in history, or love.

Swindler Conrad Black Out On Bail

Bites.

Just for those who may not know who Conrad Black is…..

Black controlled Hollinger International, Inc. Through affiliates, the company published major newspapers including The Daily Telegraph (UK), Chicago Sun Times (USA), Jerusalem Post (Israel), National Post (Canada), and hundreds of community newspapers in North America.

A federal appeals court has granted bail to jailed former media mogul Conrad Black pending an appeal of his fraud conviction.

Black’s lawyers were granted the motion for bail Monday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

The British baron and three other former executives from the Hollinger International media empire were convicted in July 2007 of swindling the company’s shareholders out of $6.1 million.

But last month, the Supreme Court weakened the “honest services” law that was central to Black’s fraud conviction. The justices left it up to a lower court to decide whether the conviction should be overturned.

Black has served more than two years of a 6 1/2-year sentence. A call to his attorney was not immediately returned Monday.

Bristol Palin And Levi Johnston To Star In Reality TV Show?

The Wasilla  Hillbillies!

Last week in a snarky post I mused on the wedding plans of  Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston.  “I think someone, somewhere must be thinking….this would be a great reality TV show.”

Would you believe the news here…..

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are hoping to launch a reality show about their upcoming wedding and life as newlyweds with son, Tripp, 2. But network honchos aren’t enthusiastic. “Don’t think we should do it. Neither of them have personalities,” said one cable honcho.

But Levi will bring in his sister and other relatives to make it work. One online commenter said of their reunion, “When you have no way to come up with $1,700 a month in child support . . . and there aren’t any other jobs out there . . . options are limited.”

What If The Tea Party Were Black?

Perfect question. 

This blog has presented many examples of racism from teabaggers over the past year.   Calling hate and racism out, and alerting all to what is taking place in America might unsettle some who only see the Tea Party as a group of concerned citizens.  So be it.    There needs to be a total awakening to what is happening from this group of angry white men who are working to sow hate and divide our country.  Make no mistake about it.  The movers and shakers of the teabagging movement are angry white men.  In this economic mess they feel powerless.  They see America drifting away as a black man sits in the Oval Office, a woman is Speaker of the House, and the color scheme of their community turns brown.  Instead of seeing the wonder of diversity and how that impacts us in positive ways these men have worked to unleash racism.  They have used others in this nation who lack understanding and social standing to yell and rant and make noise.  They have blustered at town hall meetings, and even spat upon elected members of Congress.  They have carried weapons to rallies, even those where the President of United States was to appear.  Make no mistake about it.   At the heart of the discontent is the ugly truth. 

Racism.

Cold-Hearted Republicans Stall On UC Benefits

I can imagine the cast of the famed NBC series “The West Wing” facing the callous Republican opposition over the extension of unemployment benefits.  Had there been an episode with such a story line I can almost hear the pithy comments and humorous broadsides over the mean-spirited nature of those in Congress who wished to deny folks already down on their luck an extension of their UC benefits.   I can see all that in my mind because it was a fictional White House and Congress, and when one uses fiction almost anything can happen.

But there is no way that a real Republican coalition would work to stop UC from real Americans in the greatest economic upheaval since the depression. Right?

Wrong.

It is amazing to me that we have not already used some tactics to cut these GOP heartless ones off at the knees.  Turn the heat up in the states they come from, get some newspaper editorials flowing, use local news to spread the word about the misery that the Republicans are selling.  Today President Obama took to the Rose Garden for some comments on this whole sad story from the conservatives.

After introducing three Americans whose benefits are expiring, the president complained that “after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit,” Republicans “who didn’t have any problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle-class Americans like Jim or Leslie or Denise who really need help.” 

Mr. Obama complained that “a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers” to block a vote on benefits three times, “denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief.”

Republican Senate leaders, he said, “are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks.” 

“That attitude, I think, reflects a lack of faith in the American people,” said Mr. Obama. “Because the Americans I hear from, in letters and town hall meetings, Americans like Leslie and Jim and Denise — they’re not looking for a handout. They desperately want to work. It’s just, right now, they can’t find a job.” 

Mr. Obama said there had long been a “tradition” under presidents from both parties to pass similar extensions, noting that under President George W. Bush “Republican senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits.”

English Only Town Of Homer, Illinois Has Little Knowledge Of English

To gain fame and showcase the disdain that some in Homer, Illinois have for Hispanics and Latinos, an English only resolution was created by the town board.  The problem is that those who wish English to be used at the exclusion of all other languages have some serious problems with writing and grammar of their native language.  Before I go further let me say that one of the brainchildren of this idea is a teabagger.  So right off the bat we know racism and bad grammar are involved.  

The Economist has printed out the resolution and are asking readers to find all the mistakes.  So far thirteen have been located in the text. 

Homer Township Resolution #HT071210
State of Illinois
County of Will

Preface:
Homer Township Board recognizes that there most likely no serious problem with illegal immigration, in the Township, but wants to make it policy to enforce the Rule of law in Homer Township. We support the right to make this statement and encourage other Townships, Cities, and the State to follow suit. We are asking for nothing to be added or taken away from the existing law. We recognize Native Americans had the first language in our Country, followed by Western European dialects, with English eventually becoming dominant. Traditionally becoming a citizen required speaking English, accepting the United States as their Country, and assimilating into the population.
The Homer Township Board, supports actions to enforce existing immigration law, enforce residency requirements in our school districts, and acknowledge that English the dominant language of Homer Township.

Whereas, the Homer Township Board understands the Tax burden imposed by illegal immigrants, the Homer Township Board supports actions to enforce existing immigration law.

Whereas, children who are not residents in our school districts and attending our schools, contribute to overcrowding, and increase our Tax burden. The Homer Township Board supports efforts on the part of the school districts to enforce, and verify residency, as prescribed by law.

Where as, there is a cost for government in having multiple languages, the Homer Township Board adopts English as the official language of Homer Township, in accordance with all Federal and State Laws.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Homer Township
supports actions to enforce existing immigration law; as well as the school districts verifying residency for each student; as well as making English the official language of Homer Township, in accordance/ compliance with existing Federal and State Laws.

Adopted this 12th day of July 2010 by the Homer Township Board of Trustees:

Newsweek And The Word ‘Frickin’

Right off the top let me say this post is not designed to compete with the news from the Gulf of Mexico, or the economic plight of Americans.  Instead the issue here probably ranks somewhere between the morning’s burnt toast and the search for the other sock in the dryer.  Still, the heart of this post needs airing.   

In the July 19th edition of Newsweek the Conventional Wisdom listings on page 12 had a snippet on veterans concerning PTSD benefits.  The line read, “With all the suffering, it’s about frickin’ time.”

As I read this late on Sunday while eating a snack at the kitchen table I had to stop and look up.  I read newspapers and news magazines all the time.  But never have I come across that word used in the mainstream press.  Never have I seen that word used by a credible news operation, of which I very much know Newsweek to be a part of in this nation.

The reason I post about the use of this word is not that I was offended to see it in print,  but rather that a journalistic magazine would stoop to that level of ‘writing’ in order to be what……..hip?  What was I supposed to gain by reading that word?  To be fair to Newsweek I looked up ‘frickin’ in the New York Times “Manual Of Style And Usage” that is here on my reference shelves.  The entries go from ‘freshman’ to ‘friend of the court’, which makes me think that perhaps the Old Gray Lady would never allow that word to go to print!

In today’s society everything can be said, no matter the time or place.  But when it comes to serious journalism some boundaries need to be observed.  There is nothing wrong with sensible good taste.   When I thought about the use of the word ‘frickin’ it made me think of some comedy club acts I have seen where the most base jokes were used because the comic was not smart enough to create truly funny material.  So it was with the creators of Conventional Wisdom.  Someone was looking for a quick punchy line and instead of soaring high, fell flat to the floor.

To be fair and objective there is no doubt that I like my news to be delivered in a formal way.   I can be old-fashioned on this topic.  (I think my many posts on journalism and the media make that clear.)  I still like my news anchors to wear a tie and jacket, my newspapers to have serious news on page one, the writing to be crisp, and radio news announcers to have authoritative voices.   I come from a time when I still can see older people’s faces when they heard radio news use the word “hell” or “damn”  and thought it unneeded.  I must say at age 48 I agree with them. 

The rock solid news operations in this nation should never fall to the lowest common denominator when using langauge or grammar.  Always, the educated reporters and journalists should gather the facts and report them with the intent to inform and enlighten.  I know that when newspapers use words that are not normally found in their pages, or are new words for my vocabulary, I am mighty pleased.  I make note of them as I did on June 8, 2009.  When other reporters and news operations make glaring gaffes such as what Newsweek did they also are noted. 

While none of this rises to the level of the big news stories today, it still matters.  Drip by drip, or in this case word by word, the wrong combination of events can over time alter our society.

I can only imagine what William Safire would say!