Okay, we won’t even get into how the "weapons of mass destruction" have yet to be found, and no connections established between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the people who attacked the World Trade Towers. The reality is that Bush has made blunder after blunder, and the reason why has been apparent to anyone paying attention since Day One. This president sees the world in black and white ("You are either with us, or against us"). He has no sense of nuance in world diplomacy, which — to P&J’s way of thinking — means that he has no sense of reality, and no ability to "work well with others" in the real world.
Can anyone be surprised that Bush’s arrogant attitude has trickled down to certain members of our armed forces? The message is clear for our fighting men and women when the US government acts like it doesn’t have to play by the rules of international law and human decency: We’ve got to kick ass. The revelation that we are torturing and humiliating captured enemies shouldn’t be unexpected. It may not be official policy, but with a wink and a nod, the Bushies have let it be known that beating the shit out of prisoners is okay by them. That’s because the president has indicated that everything is black and white. You’re either with us or against us. It’s the good guys versus the bad guys. Anyone with half a conscience or brain, however, knows that the world is not black and white.
Although no one seems exactly thrilled by John Kerry, at least he understands how the world is a bit more complicated. This is where Bush has pointedly staked out his campaign. Because Kerry understands that (to quote the Young Adults) "it’s a complex world," he’s portrayed as a wimp or a waffler. It is a complex world. If the arrogant self-styled conquering heroes now in control of the US government continue to act like (to quote Queen) they "are the champions of the world," and everyone else is an asshole, then our position as "Numero Uno" is doomed.
Yes, there are magnificent things about the USA that we consider examples for the whole wide world to emulate. Unfortunately, Bush and his bullyboys exhibit none of that glory and goodness, merely the arrogance and ignorance. This jerk has got to go, unless, of course, you think that only Bush knows what’s right for the world and everyone else is an idiot. This guy and his simpleton view of the world have got to go. If we don’t wise up and dump this moron, the dangers in the world for everyone will only increase.
BACK TO THE ROOTS
Phillipe and Jorge are tree-huggers from way back, although we wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Birkenstocks or Jesus sandals — far too primitive for the crowd we run with.
But we do encourage you to attend the annual Environmental Council of Rhode Island’s awards dinner this Friday, May 7 at Bob Burke’s wonderful Federal Reserve in downtown La Prov, recently the site of P&J’s historic and hysteric 25th anniversary roast. The event honors recipients of the Senator John H. Chafee Conservation Awards. Our close personal friend and fellow enviro US Senator Lincoln Chafee, wearing not Birkenstocks, but horseshoes, we are told, will make the presentations. The Norman Bird Sanctuary gets this year’s top award for acquiring Third Beach. Other winners are the Southside Community Land Trust for its Urban Edge Farm Program; East Greenwich for its Ultraviolet Wastewater Disinfection System; REC BioDiesel Fueling Station, a subsidiary of White Fuel, for creating the first bio-diesel fueling station in Rhode Island, and the Town of Narragansett, for creating a system to lessen storm water runoff into the Narrow River.
The keynote speaker at the event will be Bob Bendick, who many local nature lovers will remember as a former director of the state Department of Environmental Management (and who took more than his ration of suspended fecal coliform solids while on duty in that role). Bob is now a vice president with The Nature Conservancy, quite a climb from where he began his career, as a city planner in Woonsocket. He will be very pleased to return and see the fruits of the seeds he planted back in the day, beginning the Blackstone River corridor restoration and revitalization. He will speak about three areas where he believes Rhode Island has the potential to excel. These will probably be environmentally oriented pursuits, rather than a riff on Little Rhody’s chances of winning more national awards for corrupt government, although the entertainment factor of the latter far exceeds that of land conservation.
The Environment Council, which P&J hold dear to our hearts, continues to gain membership, wisdom, and political clout every year. The coalition of more than 50 local organizations deals with issues that can no longer be pigeonholed as "environmental." If you are paying attention at all, you know that anything to do with the environment touches on every aspect of life, from the economic and the social to natural resources. As soon as the general public understands this, the sooner we start making even more progress against Neanderthal policies such as those of Dubya the Dumb.
Tickets for the dinner may be purchased for $60 by calling the council office at (401) 621-8048. Choices of entrée are roast swan or broiled winter flounder. (Oh, lighten up. That’s the thing about you greenies — you just can’t take a joke.) Be there or be square.
PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
While your superior correspondents are huge fans of www.moveon.org, we do have a slight issue with some of the thinking as MoveOn leads the charge against President Flight Suit’s reelection. MoveOn’s full-page ad in the New York Times on April 28, accusing Boy George of ignoring the warnings about Osama bin Laden, was terrific, but why waste the money running it in the Times, a bastion of liberalism where 90 percent of the readers are already onboard to dump Dubya? This is reminiscent of a long-ago advertising campaign run by the state, to encourage tourism in Rhode Island. The only problem was, they bought most of the airtime and print space on local TV and news outlets in Rhode Island. It’s hard to make tourists out of people who already live here, no?
So if MoveOn is going to continue to raise bucks for their compelling ads, we suggest they buy space in the New York Post or other conservative papers, rather than preaching to the choir. C’mon, folks, hit ’em where they live.
SMALL WORLD RECORDS
Thursday, May 6 marks the 50th anniversary of Englishman Roger Bannister’s breaking of the four-minute mile on a track at Oxford, one of the legendary sports achievements. The anniversary also allows us to see how much the world of sports — particularly track and other "amateur" athletics — has changed. And it provides one of the great coincidences Phillipe and Jorge can imagine, if it was indeed a coincidence, for the true fatalists among us.
Our Olympic athletes now resemble human guinea pigs because of their pill and training regimens, and they run not just for gold and silver medals, but plain old gold and silver in the form of currency. Bannister turned down a silver trophy he once won because it exceeded the $20 value limit for amateurs in those days. Rather than a current shamateur, who does nothing in life but compete, Bannister was a 25-year-old medical student at the time, and he actually went to his hospital job on the morning of the race to perform his usual duties. Imagine one of our current track and field athletes being educated enough to be a doctor, never mind working on the day of a meet.
Even without going into the details of Bannister’s inspiring and record-breaking performance, another historical footnote always stood out to P&J. After Bannister crossed the finish line — in what all recognized as a special effort to break four minutes — the crowd excitedly waited for the official time to be posted. The voice of the timekeeper, doubling as the track announcer, calmly came over the PA system, saying in beautiful British understated and proper fashion, "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event number nine, the one-mile. First, Number 41, R.G. Bannister of the Amateur Athletic Association, and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which, subject to ratification, will be a new English native, British national, British all-comers, European, British Empire, and world’s record. The time is three . . . " At this point, the crowd went crazy and drowned out the announcer.
The announcer? It was Norris McWhirter, who died on April 20, at age 78. Norris McWhirter, another unassuming amateur runner, subsequently competed for Scotland and Britain. McWhirter went on with his identical twin brother Ross (murdered by the IRA in 1975) to found a little publication, and eventual publications empire, that had quite a bit to do with extraordinary achievements: the Guinness Book of World Records. How strangely paths cross. (And to add a further fillip to this specific story, Phillipe’s sister now works as an editor at Guinness Books.) Selah.
KUDOS AND CONGRATS . . .
. . . to Lieutenant Governor Charlie Fogarty who, as chairman of the state Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC), is sponsoring a daylong forum to highlight the important economic role played by the arts community here in the Biggest Little. It’s slated for Friday, May 21 at Rhode Island College’s Sapinsley Auditorium, and is free and open to the public.
The stated goal of the forum, being put on by the SBAC, in conjunction with the state Council on the Arts and the Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island, is to "provide artists with the tools, resources, and information they need to succeed as small business people. Funding for the project is being provided by BankRI. With a slate of participants that includes Dr. Ann Galligan, director of the Cultural and Arts Policy Research Center at Northeastern University, the mayors of Providence, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket, and Herb Weiss, one of our favorite arts boosters, this should be of great value to the many emerging artists in our state.
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The Phillipe & Jorge archives.
Issue Date: May 7 - 14, 2004
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