Mario Cuomo: His death reminds us of what we have lost…

Mario Cuomo died on 1.1.2015.  Upon hearing this, I posted to FB:

First sad news of 2015-Mario Cuomo has passed. Eloquent, passionate, yet never quite ready to take the leap and run for President. A man of substance, expression, and passion. He was perhaps the only person in the 1980’s political arena who could hold his own against Ronald Reagan at the lectern. As a young man he had enough baseball skills to get signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and smart enough to know he did not have what it took to make The Show and used his signing bonus to buy an engagement ring for his fiancé. Requiscat in Pacem, Mario. May Angels Wings lift you to your reward.

And…I thought that was that.

It seems I missed the mark.  Since then the running commentary on so many blogs has been what a “liberal” he was, and how his son (current NY Governor Andrew Cuomo) is just as bad, etc.

These responses to Cuomo’s passing are mostly disrespectful of a man who spent years in politics, was never tarred by scandal, and was consistent in his viewpoint from Day one.  You might not agree with the man, but you always knew exactly where he stood and why.

Sadly these comments point out two things that have been lost in the political arena since my youth.

The first is comity.  It seems no longer possible to be friendly or even polite to people on the other side of the aisle.  It is a world where words like “conservative” and “liberal” are delivered with the same intent to hurt and demean that words like “selfish”, “venal”, and “evil” were once used. It is another example of how the farther we get from the political leadership of the Greatest Generation the more nasty and uncollegial politics has become.

At the same time as we have diminished comity, we have also lost-and in some ways willingly jettisoned-any idea that our political leaders should be able to give us a complete view of governance.  You may not like Mario Cuomo, but Cuomo could tell you not only what he believed in but offer an intellectual and moral justification for it.  Too often candidates for office not only speak only in glittering generalities of what they are going to do if elected, but are completely unable to offer a comprehensive view of why they are going to do it.

Thirty years ago there were articulate spokesmen for both parties who could bring a house down arguing and promoting not just policies but also principle.  They could argue forcefully and eloquently, and not suggest that those in opposition to their points of view were evil.

We don’t really have that today.  If we did the GOP and the Democratic Party would bring more to the political discussion than “It’s the Right Thing to Do”.

That’s why Mario Cuomo’s death is more than a moment of sadness for a public servant.  It’s a moment to reflect on what we have lost, and how much we need to get it back.

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Kid Rock-Genius; Skynyrd-Unforgetable; Zevon-Otherwordly

Is the above a provocative statement?  Perhaps.

But first, check out his latest effort:

And tell me the artist who could seemlessly sample and insert the primary riff from both “Werewolves of London” and “Sweet Home Alabama” into a single song.

Go on…I’ll wait.

Yep, not a lot.

Why does this song get my attention?

These songs it samples bookended my high school years.  I can remember riding my bike to football practice listening to Sweet Home Alabama in the fall of 1974,  and catching “Werewolves of London” in 1978 as I headed off to college.

Of course, they were both taken from us too soon.  Skynyrd went down in a plane crash, but not before they gave us the classic Street Survivors

We lost Warren to cancer in the fall of 2003, but not before he saw the birth of his grandchild and giving us this last performance on Letterman on October 30, 2002.

God bless them all…and thank you Kid!

OH, and as Warren said to Letterman, “Enjoy every sandwich”!

Martin Luther King-Forty years ago Today…

Forty years ago today Martin Luther King was shot down outside his Memphis motel room.  He knew he lived in a society that was far from perfect, but was driven to make that society not only free for his people but free for all people.

As we remember his life, let us also remember his final public speech, one that for me speaks more to hope and drive than even the “I Have a Dream Speech”:

It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

…and so shall we all, some day.  May we all have the faith that moves mountains, and a willingness to work to reach our own Mountain Tops

Dem Central offers this account of the event.

Martin Luther King, January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968

Sean Taylor, RIP…and Respect

Sean Taylor, age 24, starting Free Safety for the Washington Redskins football team, died this AM from complications from a gunshot wound suffered during a break-in at his home.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Taylor family.  I cannot pretend to know what you are feeling, and only hope the peace that knows no understanding or limits will come to you in time.  The loss of a young one, and in such a senseless manner, saddens me. 

But as I flitted about the internet and read comment posted on blogs and news stories, I was stunned by how many felt the need to post comments that were suspicious of the circumstances, or urging others not to idolize the dead player, or asked why this case of a violent death deserved such special attention. Not an iota of sympathy for grieving parents and an orphaned child.

Then there were those who offered up some variation on “tragic, but not surprising.”  Leonard Shapiro’s poison pen letter offered up his words and the self righteous omniscience of Michael Wilbon with the title “Taylor’s Death Is Tragic but Not Surprising“.

I think there is time enough to hash over Sean Taylor’s life and what he did wrong and what he did right. There is enough time investigate the crime and its repercussions later. And all those who have anything to offer but sympathy…that is their right. But are we so lacking in decency that we have to begin to pile on immediately and share our schadenfreude and suspicions with the world in general and the Taylor family in particular?

I urge everyone who has the urge to post with poison pen or self-righteous tone to step back and listen to the better angels of your nature. There is a time to every purpose under heaven, and now is the time for respect. Respect for the family, respect for those who are hurting, and respect for the memory of Sean Taylor.

And, perhaps, consider that we will always remember Brother Taylor as being agile, strong, and brave. He will never wither, never grow old nor grey. But above all, this is a time for respect…and the words of A.E. Houseman

To An Athlete Dying Young

THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.