Saturday, March 12, 2011

Can You See The Real Me?

It is easy enough to get not just pessimistic, but downright cynical about what passes for American popular culture at our present moment. With the rise of the "reality TV" show in an ever-contracting circle - much like what happens when one flushes a toilet, I suppose - to the many, more thoughtful ruminations on the potential dangers of an unhealthy and unrealistic understanding of friendship brought about by the new social media, one could, I suppose, surrender to the potential destruction of any sense of human connection, of any clear-cut line between our public and our private selves, between how we live our lives and how others perceive who we are, seeking to align them in some perverse, and finally psychotic, attempt at balance.

I have been feeling that way. The sheer ubiquity of non-entities crowding public spaces for our attention, the absurdity of fake celebrities cashing in on name recognition for a last chance at the spotlight with fading businessman Donald Trump, or the contrivances of "reality TV" that offer up edited lives, creating the possibility that even those who would, under the usual run of the Universe, not even achieve mediocrity with effort, suddenly have their faces splashed across magazines, their words repeated endlessly, their hairdos and musculature the subject of so much public debate. Combined with the political farce of a fetus "testifying" before a Congressional committee, and Peter King's Islamophobia circus, far too much of our public sphere has been deserted by anything resembling intelligence, thoughtfulness, any sense whatsoever that we are just not meeting the challenges of our time, abdicating any responsibility for our own future as a society.

In the midst, perhaps not of despair but certainly grumpiness, it was my great good fortune to read two essays in the latest New York Review of Books that each in its own way, deal with questions regarding the difference between our public and private selves, the contradictions of our lives, the hypocricies we all face, and the reality that we are worse than we hope, but usually better than we fear, at least most of the time.

The first, a review of an introduction to the Essays of Michel de Montaigne, makes the not unimportant point, wholly relevant in an age of Facebook, Twitter, and the on-going blogs that purport to open our lives to the rest of the world, that there is always a dialectic at work in self-revelation. Even the most mundane reflection on one's life, say a journal entry, precisely because it is a writing about an act, discards what may seem at the time extraneous detail, to focus attention on the act itself. We are hardly being revelatory of ourselves when we sit down on Facebook and give a sentence or two about our kids, or our job, what we're having for lunch, or even providing a link to a song or new article that may have our attention. Even as we try to understand ourselves, there are other parts that we hide, deliberately or otherwise, making even the most naked statement of belief about ourselves simultaneously a hiding of so much else.

Most of the time, I have admitted this to myself and others. Those who worry that even mediocrity can be dramatic (or melodramatic) thanks to "reality" television forget that it is no more real than anything else. Edited, very often in a disingenuous (to be generous) manner to create either drama or tension where none may exist, or to create personas rather than persons, it has no more bearing on human life than an old episode of The Twilight Zone. That some of those who participate in it may begin to believe in the lie there is anything real going on testifies less to the medium or its message, and more to the lack of self-reflection on the part of the individuals involved.

The other essay is a review of the latest Gunter Grass work, where the lines between fiction and memoir, novel and carefully crafted reminiscence become blurred. Designed by the author, it purports to be excerpts from several get-togethers the author had on or near his 80th birthday with his children. He offered to cook for them if he could record their reflections on growing up with Grass as their father. What emerges from the essay, and perhaps from the work as well, is a portrait of Grass as one of the most masterful story-weavers imaginable. Memory and history, fact and fantasy, obfuscation and revelation have always been a part of Grass' work; in this work no less than either his recently published memoirs or his other works it all blends together in the service, it seems, of telling a tale. Sometimes a horrible tale, sometimes a sad tale, sometimes a funny tale, but it is the story that is important.

This blurring of the distinction between reality and fantasy, between perception and reality, between what we wish the world to believe and what really is, as well as allowing the narrative to dictate what is and is not fact, what is and is not relevant, is as old as literature in the west. The master of this, of course, was St. Augustine in his Confessions (about which I had a discussion with someone on my friends list who is a theology Ph. D.; he also figures prominently in the essay on the book on Montaigne). In the long course of his life, that Augustine stole some fruit from an orchard as a boy seems unimportant to we who read it today. We wouldn't otherwise know about it, except of course Augustine tells his readers about it. An important question to ask, I think, regards we contemporary readers of Augustine who are far too quick to dismiss this incident as irrelevant to his life. Clearly, he understood its importance, not just as a symbol, but as an act in and for itself; who are we to say that Augustine doesn't know what he's talking about?

Too many commentators have misunderstood certain events and social and cultural phenomena. For example, the erasure of the distinction between public and private behavior we saw on too-long display during the two years of the Clinton impeachment saga was little more than politics. The ubiquity of the kind of behavior Clinton displayed - taking advantage of a starry-eyed young woman eager enough to throw herself at the President of the United States - should caution us against making ringing judgments about the blurring of that distinction. The ubiquity of "reality TV" is as much as sign of laziness on the part of television producers as it is of moral laxity of Americans. That some folks parrot the trends and personalities on display is not a mark against the genre; rather, it is testimony to the reality that some people quite simply crave attention, and are willing to act as if their lives were on public display. It is more about personality quirks than the destruction of American culture.

My guess is most folks who use Facebook understand the difference between the people on their friends' list and those whom they consider real friends. The latter can usually be counted on no more than the fingers of a couple hands. Those who know us best may number no more than one or two. At its worst, Facebook is a time-wasting device. At its best, it allows people to keep up with a multiplicity of people whose paths have diverged from ours, but who still haunt our thoughts. A century ago, those with a large Facebook friends' list would have a large correspondence. Instead of writing letters, we "like" a status update. It's really no more than that.

I was getting disappointed in the latest NYRB until I read those two pieces. They reminded me that, by and large, we are smarter, and wiser, than we give ourselves credit for. I have yet to meet anyone who believes either that Jersey Shore represents commendable human action, or that Facebook is any substitute for real human interaction, despite all the commentators (myself included on occasion) who might claim otherwise. It is always nice to have a bit of one's faith in reality and all its messiness restored.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Going Back To New Orleans

Even though it's over now, Mardi Gras season in New Orleans is a reminder of what a lively, unselfconsciously multicultural celebration of life can be like. Rooted in Catholicism as well as southern Louisiana hoodoo and other variants of that branch of Christianity, it is one way people prepare themselves for a season of sacrifice, a season of disciplined reflection on life, a season in which we prepare for the coming of Easter. That this party happens in the cradle of American music, our most famously non-Anglo city (we have plenty of others, to be sure), a city that gave birth to jazz, provided a place for the Delta blues players to congregate and exchange ideas, that celebrates its heritage as the stew pot of French and African and Creole and American and Caribbean people and cultures and languages and folk arts. America without New Orleans wouldn't be America; indeed, the world would be a far poorer place without New Orleans.

It is fitting that one of the great interpreters of that city, Mack Rebbenack, also known as Dr. John, is being inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A sessions musician and song-writer and performer and friend to so many great musicians and mentor to so many more, at the end of the day, he is saturated in the flavors and spices, the steam and the sultriness, of that unique musical city New Orleans. While I'm not impressed with the whole "Hall of Fame" thing, it is nice to know that a hard-working musician's musician is finally getting the kind of recognition he deserves.

Oh, wait. That's that other New Orleans treasure, The Neville Brothers. I'd be sorry, but they are so truly awesome I'm really not.

Let's see what Random has in store for us today, shall we?

Brandenburg Concerto #1 in F, First Movement - Phillip Picket: New London Consort
Isis and Osiris - Ayreon
Out on a Limb - Lunatic Soul
Forever My Friend - Ray LaMontagne
He Got Better Things For You - Memphis Sanctified Singers (Anthology of American Folk Music, Harry Smith, compiler)
Run Through The Light - Yes
B'BOOM (live in Mexico City) - King Crimson
Trampled Rose - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
The Way To Gone (Bonus Track Version) - Black Mountain
Chickenman (Live) - The Indigo Girls

And . . . so close but not quite making the cut . . .

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sympathy & Compassion Aren't Good Policy (UPDATE)

I'm not surprised John McCain was all in favor of the US military intervening in Libya's civil war on the Sunday gabfasts. Now, private citizen Newt Gingrich thinks we should be lobbing bombs and cruise missiles in to that poor north African country. In some ways, I'm sympathetic. The folks struggling for freedom from 42 years - 42 years! - of Gaddafi's rule, after some stunning initial successes, are facing stiffening opposition from military forces loyal to Gaddafi. The former Colonel has not shown much restraint, shelling and bombing his own population in an effort to cow it in to submission. While the 300-odd deaths in Egypt were regrettable and tragic, one must admit, after the reports from Libya over the past couple weeks that former Pres. Hosni Mubarak should be lauded for showing restraint. After all, Egypt could very well have descended to this level of violence. That it did not says much about its military and their sense of both duty and honor, and they should be praised for their restraint, and perhaps even refusal to follow a path that would have led to what we are seeing in the country to their immediate west.

The President has said that there are military options "on the table" (God, yet another phrase I am tired of hearing), the most popular being a "no-fly zone" over Libya. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated that implementing a no-fly zone presents certain difficulties, not the least of them being that it would be a de facto declaration of war, because Libyan anti-aircraft batteries would need to be taken out. My guess is they are located not in isolated areas - after all, why would warplanes attack isolated areas? - but places where people actually live. Thus, the possibility looms in such a scenario not only for waging aggressive war against a country with whom we have no particular beef, but of causing possibly significant civilian casualties. Remember, our record on precision air strikes is, well . . . OK, it's bad.

I sympathize with the Libyan rebels, as I do for those in Yemen and Bahrain and Oman and Iran. I grieve the deaths caused by Gaddafi's murderous desire to stay in power. All the same, sympathy and compassion are really not good guides to sound policy, particularly in a case as fraught with hazard as this is. First of all, the rebels in Libya have not requested international assistance in any formal way. In fact, if one follows the rebels, as I do, on Twitter, there is a certain reticence about the entire subject of foreign intervention. While some of the rebels certainly see the attacks on civilians by military aircraft and artillery as necessitating some kind of sustained intervention, others continue to wish nothing more than to defeat Gaddafi on their own terms. This is a not unimportant point. Even if I did support intervention, doing so without popular support from the rebels would not be advised. It would only cause trouble down the road.

As a practical matter, our military is stretched incredibly thin. Currently engaged in two military actions in two Muslim countries, intervention in a third, regardless of the possible merits of such intervention, could very well lead to a third occupation, and all the bureaucratic inertia we see in Iraq and Afghanistan toward remaining for the very long term. Congress seems reluctant, to say the least, to pony up the funds to support much of anything these days; preparing a major military campaign even as the folks who hold the purse strings to the entire United States government are wary of opening them would not exactly boost a morale already sapped by thinning supply lines, dwindling civilian support, and complicated logistical tables, not to mention the actual loss of personnel as domestic stinginess requires further reduction of actual forces in a time of war.

There is, of course, our history of attacking Libya, including the ill-regarded and ultimately tragic 1986 bombing by US F-111 fighter bombers. Denied access to French airspace, the planes had to fly all the way around the Iberian peninsula on their way to and from the bombing run (the planes were based in England). Retaliation for a bombing in a German discotheque that took the lives of several American military personnel, it was that bombing, that included an attack on Gaddafi's residence and killed one of his young daughters, that led, in the course of time, to the bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. So, there is a history of bombings and retaliations and much blood that needs to be accounted here.

In regards Gingrich's ill-advised comments, his casual dismissal of the UN is not nearly as surprising as his equally casual dismissal of NATO. While technically true that we do not "need" to wait for authorization from any international body for military action, the record of doing so isn't that awesome. In fact, when we have so acted with UN authorization, it hasn't gone too well, either. I have to wonder if the simple reality that Gingrich and McCain are so enthusiastic for military action against loyalist forces in Libya isn't the single biggest piece of evidence that doing so is a horrible idea.

As events unfold in Libya, we should do all we can to assist the rebels that is within our current expressed limited means. There are so many reasons why direct military action is a bad idea that we should draw a line there. I recognize that people of goodwill from a variety of ideological positions will disagree, and that's OK. The fact that there is not anything like unanimous support for some kind of military action in Libya should give anyone pause before demanding we start sending our pilots in to harm's way.

UPDATE: It seems liberals dislike military intervention . . . except when we like it. Out of a very real, and understandable, desire to end the suffering of the Libyan people, there seems to be this belief that the US military, which the left normally wishes to dismantle, has endless sources and resources. Thus, commenters at an Yglesias post. For example:
Nial Ferguson sucks balls. He's horrible. So is Charles Krauthammer who Applebam links to.

"This is the “ethic of responsibility” approach. What’s wanted on Libya aren’t bold ideas to fix things that are as likely as not to end up creating some new horrible problems, "

In other words, "Not. Our. Problem."

Here's pseudo in nc's favorite writer Hitchens

"And yet there is a palpable reluctance, especially on the part of the Obama administration, to look these things in the face. Even after decades of enmity with this evil creep, our military and intelligence services turn out not even to have had a contingency plan. So it seems we must improvise. But does one have to go over all the arguments again, as if Rwanda and Bosnia and Kurdistan had never happened?"

Clinton said Rwanda was the biggest mistake of his 8 years in office. What was the "ethics of responsibilty" about sitting by and doing nothing while hundreds of thousands of fellow human beings were slaughtered?
OK, let's explore Rwanda for just a moment. Was it a horrible mistake for the US not to intervene? Far more horrible, really, was the concerted effort Clinton's then UN Representative Madeleine Albright waged to ensure that body did quite literally nothing, including give ROE to the UN peace-keeping forces already in that country that might have allowed them to intervene. The moral approbation Clinton should receive extends beyond merely "doing nothing" to actively ensuring that no one did anything.

That's first and foremost.

Second, however, is a question in re possibly intervening in 1994 in Rwanda that is wholly relevant. Rwanda is a landlocked nation, small, with limited physical infrastructure. Even the UN forces then on the ground had logistical issues that seemed insurmountable. Had Clinton suddenly decided to intervene, how might US troops have entered? Perhaps through Kenya and/or Tanzania, two large, neighboring countries with whom the US enjoys good relations. US officials contact the Kenyans/Tanzanians and informs them we need to use their territory to stage a humanitarian military intervention in Rwanda. Haggling ensues even as more Rwandans die. The logistical tables are drawn up, forward staging - in the Middle East perhaps - begins. All that is awaited is a signal. Once we arrive in Kenya and Tanzania, there is the not inconsiderable task of getting all these troops and vehicles and supplies from the forward bases to Rwanda itself. Meanwhile, the Rwandan military has been instructed to resist. Now, this may be thought a minor matter, but invading Rwanda even in a case like this would be an act of war. So, we have the prospect of American troops, seeking only to stop mass killing, suddenly embroiled in combat, their supply lines already thin, with minimal air support. The entire prospect, while certainly laudable, becomes a logistical and political and diplomatic nightmare.

OK? Got that? So, some lefties want to feel good about "doing something". Fine. Give me, in detail, how you would go about "doing something" in regards to Libya, that minimizes civilian casualties, respects the wishes of both the Libyan rebels as well as international law, gives our troops maximum flexibility to do the mission and succeed, and always make sure there's an exit strategy from the get-go so we don't wind up with another open-ended occupation in the Muslim world.

It's easy to talk about doing stuff. Pony up.

Then, there's this comment:
What was the "ethics of responsibility" about giving political cover while hundreds of thousands of fellow human beings were maimed or killed and millions were displaced?

Wait, wait, that's right, at least we were doing something...even if it was wrong.
Again, it is so easy to take the high moral ground in a situation like this. In particular when one has zero responsibility for addressing the messy details of what an alternative policy might be. Which is yet another example of why I truly, truly dislike such earnest breast-beating. Again, put up or shut up.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Holding A Mirror To A Life

In his weekly column at Inside Higher, Scott McLemee last week reviewed National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist Terry Castle's The Professor and Other Writings. I was fascinated by the description of a series of review articles that also served as a way of writing a memoir; after all, what else is a memoir but a review of sorts? What intrigues me most about the work, as McLemee describes it, is the possibility of honesty without either heroics or ego. Far too often we are subjected to the tired tropes of overcoming addiction, abuse, or some other relatively mundane problem as a source of strength, the prism through which one sees the rest of one's life emerge. Castle's book, on the other hand, offers up nothing either so dramatic or played out. Instead, it seems, what we have on offer are a series of reflections that are unapologetic in their revelatory power precisely because they are rooted in something quite literally everyone is at some point or another - whether insecure, or emotionally stunted, or what have you, all of us have lived moments in our lives that, were we more self-aware at the time, would have caused us horrid embarrassment at the very least. Looking back, through the veil of years, it is easy enough to cringe at ourselves, to wonder what, exactly, was wrong with us. To be able to sit and look at such moments, without apologizing, making excuses, with an honesty the author probably wishes were more evident at the time, and perhaps - I haven't read the work, but Scott seems to hint at this in the review - to do all this without seeking a "lesson" or "meaning" beyond, "Man, how could I not realize how I looked to others?". I find this more than attractive. It is, in a word, compelling.

I don't know if it's included in the volume Scott McLemee reviewed, but The New Inquiry included a link to Castle's reminiscence of the late Susan Sontag in The London Review of Books. Written as a memorial shortly after Sontag died, the piece is unsparing in its depiction of Sontag's personality, with all its quirks and foibles. It is also unsparing in its honest reflection on Castle herself. Without either apology after the fact or explanation as to its source, Castle reveals herself as helpless, even long after it became clear their relationship had deteriorated, in attempting to draw Sontag in to her life. In the midst of one of those dreary Manhattan dinner parties peopled by the obscurely famous and self-important, Castle shines a bare bulb upon the affectations of the self-declared culturally superior that is simultaneously funny and sad, not least because of how she depicts her place in such rarefied company.*

While certainly not as interesting or as intelligent as Castle, the possibility of doing something similar has been in the back of my mind, on and off, for years. I have no desire to be prurient. Nor do I wish to make others sorry they have known me by writing about times in my life that might include them in it. Further, I don't believe I am seeking meaning or life-lessons in doing this. If someone could, perhaps, see in my mistakes - to be polite - the possibility of escaping such a fate, that might be the best I could hope for.

All this is by way of introducing the possibility that, perhaps by way of Confessions-style writing, attempting to eschew too much explanation or a search for deeper causes, I may attempt such a venture.

*I should note that I have had exactly one such moment, being included in the rarefied company of a group both vastly more intelligent, and including some well-known, people. My experience was far less interesting than Castle's because I had the pleasure of the company of historian Rick Perlstein, a most gracious and open host. Around a restaurant table near Lincoln Park in Chicago, I had the opportunity to chat with and get to know a bit Chicago Reporter journalist Jeff Kelly Lowenstein and his lovely, charming wife Dunreith. Our guest of honor, George Scialabba, I sat catty-corner to, but he was engaged in conversation with others, and passed a pleasant evening in good company.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Struggling Against The Unreality Of Our Politics

Even as Libya descends to civil war and other Muslim countries demand greater democratic accountability for their leaders; even as the governor of Wisconsin continues his Sisyphustic struggle against the public employees of his state; even as members of the House Republican majority and the Obama Administration meet to hammer out a budget agreement for the rest of the fiscal year; in the midst of all this, a word needs to be said that so much that has captured our imagination and stoked the fires of our public discourse is done without a single glance at some fundamental realities that, were they taken in to account, would challenge every one of our cherished assumptions. What follows is not a partisan attack. Our so-called leaders, Democratic and Republican, Congressional and Executive, have failed to do so on a matter of such national moral import that even drawing attention to it seems a monumental struggle against the inertia of a kind of national dream state. We have, for too long, been lulled to sleep in our public life by fairy tales and polite fictions that ignore some basic realities that, were our elected officials adults, treating the voters like adults, would completely alter the way we are talking about our current state of national affairs.

This particular problem has been made more clear to me in recent weeks as my wife and I struggle with teaching our older daughter that "growing up" means more than being granted privileges. It also means acting out of a fundamental respect and concern for the feelings and integrity of others. It means acknowledging that the world does not revolve around one's own needs, but rather one must place one's own life in service of others. Being a mature adult means accepting certain responsibilities that are uncomfortable, compromise our own desires, but serve our longer term interests.

As the political clock ticks away in Washington, and more and more folks in Congress whisper and grumble about our fiscal state of affairs, about the need to cut here and slash there, to eliminate this program or that whole department, including cutting $100 billion from the Department of Defense, no one that I recall has mentioned a fundamental reality.

Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not; regardless of the questionable legality regarding the way we arrived here; whether we did or did not support it, we cannot, must not, forget that we are a nation at war. Despite the declaration that our combat troops have left Iraq, we currently, and for the foreseeable future will continue to have around 50,000 American service personnel in Iraq. As of May last year, we had nearly 100,000 American military personnel in Afghanistan. With all the talk of fiscal austerity, of what we need to surrender for the sake of posterity, of not abandoning our most vulnerable to the whims of the market, of ensuring that we continue to fund law enforcement agencies like the EPA and OSHA, we have not, as much as I look, ever noticed that those Americans most at risk, those fellow citizens who have voluntarily sacrificed their personal comfort and even identity to serve this great land are those most vulnerable to violent death; as we talk about cutting the budget, including the budget of the Department of Defense, we are not talking about how fewer military personnel, fewer supplies, more vulnerable logistical lines, imperil our troops in places far away.

So much of our politics for a decade now has been conducted with our eyes closed to some fundamental realities. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, several decisions of national import faced us, including dedicating our military to attacking those who had attacked us. The struggle, we were told over and over again, was the equivalent of the Second World War, a fight for national survival. Dedication and sacrifice were demanded. Except, of course, not really. In the midst of deciding to fight a war on two fronts far from our homeland, we simultaneously decided that we could forgo the most fundamental national sacrifice - we wouldn't pay for it. Indeed, not only would we not gather together and sacrifice more of our income and other resources in the form of higher taxes, the very notion of higher taxes was somehow anathema.

For the next ten years, there was a fundamental disconnect between that which was declared our most important, most vital foreign policy - fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - and our most vital domestic policy, economic growth, Instead of deciding that, if we were to carry out the former, we would need to sacrifice much of the latter to it, we figured, as our parents did a generation ago during Vietnam, that we could do both. Now that the inevitable crash has occurred, we have yet to face how distorted our politics and policy has become. To speak of cutting spending on defense even as our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters face the danger and death on our behalf is not only madness; it is a fundamental betrayal of the moral obligation we owe our troops, to remember their sacrifices for us.

Rather than even mentioning "government shutdown", we need to talk about our strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of insisting that any tax increase is off the table, we need to ask those who were most vocal in support of these wars if they are willing to pay for it. Instead of demeaning government service and public employment, we need to remember that some government employees live their lives in threat of death, largely forgotten not only by a political class that continues to believe that wars can be waged, by and large, out of the public eye, but by the public as well. Those taxes that so many complain about not only pay the salary of the guy sitting pushing paper at OSHA that piss off industrialists. Those taxes also make sure our troops have proper supplies, steady and secure supply lines, enough food and fuel and body armor not to have to worry about them. While a government shutdown may not effect our troops in the field, at least immediately, it halts any and all progress toward figuring out how civilian contractors, a vital part of the military supply chain, are going to integrate in to the overall logistical picture. Indeed, were I in charge of a company that might be able to serve the military logistical table in some manner, right now, I'd be backing away from even thinking about submitting a bid for any contracts that might be up. Of course, none of this includes the cuts that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is already implementing, cuts that reduce our service personnel at precisely the time we need more, not fewer, people in uniform.

This is the starting point for any realistic discussion of anything from budgets to our economic and fiscal situation to whether or not to fund the EPA. This is the starting point for talking about jobs. Until and unless we are willing to admit that we have rewarded our military for all the sacrifices of the past ten years by forgetting them, by reducing their ability to do their jobs, by reducing the effectiveness of their tasks, then the blood of those lost in on all our hands. This is about much more, and much less, than the moral and legal questions regarding how our troops got be in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is, instead, about accepting the responsibilities before us, as adults, as moral agents, as mature human beings who understand that our military has been asked to sacrifice so much over the past ten years; now, they are sacrificing their safety and the efficiency of their missions on the altar of fiscal responsibility even as far more vital and basic questions remain not only unaddressed, but even unasked.

We owe it to ourselves, and even more to those who have volunteered to serve the United States and have been rewarded with years-long, multiple tours in far-away countries, strategic and even tactical questions remaining unaddressed, to face squarely and forthrightly the demands their care places upon us. To do anything less would be far more than a failure of historic proportions. To do so would be to show those most vulnerable precisely because their lives are dedicated to our safety and security, that we do not honor that sacrifice.

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