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The Scenic Route

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Sanity is where you find it

     Will Rogers said, time and again, "All I know is what I read in the newspapers." He also titled a book “Sanity is Where You Find It.” This, if you ask me, is a dichotomy in philosophy, but maybe Mr. Rogers read small-town newspapers. I am hard-pressed to find much sanity in big-market papers these days.

Item: Washington, DC. - June 21, 2004 - New York Times. "To Bush, Saddam's gun is more than a pistol," an editorial by Elisabeth Bumiller, who points out that other presidents kept souvenirs of victories. Ronald Reagan had a piece of the Berlin Wall, demolished during his watch. One of the keys to the destroyed Bastille, sent in gratitude and admiration in 1790 by the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington, hangs still in the entry hall at Mount Vernon.

The contrast between Saddam's pistol and Washington's key to the Bastille is startling. Comparing Georges is like comparing a well-prepared soufflé with a hard-boiled egg. All you need for the latter is continued emersion in hot water. I'll let you decide which George W. is which.

Item: Washington, DC. - July 6, 2004 - Washington Post. "Was the Post right to spell out obscenity?", a column by Michael Getler, Post ombudsman. Mr. Getler explains the position of the Post in the wake of their printing of Vice President Cheney's actual words to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont on the Senate Floor after Cheney told the Senator to "go (blank) yourself." on June 22.

I admit to using the famous expletive myself from time to time - in direct connection to golf, shuffleboard and recalcitrant computers; but most often in reference to politics and politicians. I think the Vice President was referring to the latter.

Item: Paris, France - June 25, 2004 - AP. "$60 million to say 'I do.' " Indian steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal, one of the richest men in the world, spent $60 million, nearly all of it in France, to celebrate the wedding of his 23-year-old daughter.

Item: Bombay, India - July 1, 2004 - Reuters. "Wild leopards on human killing spree." As the burgeoning homeless population of Bombay encroaches on an adjoining national park for living space and food, hungry leopards are taking their toll on the human invaders of their home. Fourteen people have been killed by leopards this year, 10 last month alone.

Americans are not the only humans on the planet guilty of blind excess. 

Small comfort.

Item: Spokane, Washington - July 7, 2004. "Filmmaker tells complex story of Sudan's pain," a column by Rebecca Napi in the Spokesman Review. Independent film maker Andrea Palpant's documentary, "Sudan: The Path to Peace" isn't going anywhere fast. Shot by Palpant and her brother on home video cameras, edited and produced on Palpant's own time with her own money, (and moral support from her employer, North-by-Northwest Productions), the film concentrates on the stories of individuals in Sudan, Africa's largest country. War has raged for there 21 years, causing the death of 2 million people and displacing 4 million.

The film has found local screenings and interest from charitable agencies, but no national exposure. "In the age of 'reality' TV," Napi quotes Palpant, "true reality TV has become marginalized, because it sears the conscious. We want to be entertained. We don't want to be prompted to engage and act."

One person, at least, has followed her prompting. Bravo, Ms. Palpant.

Item: Fort Carson, Colorado - July 8, 2004 - AP. Four soldiers are charged in the drowning and attempted drowning of two Iraqis. The two men, cousins, had been cleared through a military checkpoint when they were stopped by US troops, forced into a Bradley fighting vehicle, and driven to a dam across the Tigris River that also serves as a bridge. When they refused to jump into the river, they were pushed. One drowned. The survivor tells of hearing the soldiers laugh as his cousin struggled in the water.

This story was on page 7. The soldiers suspected of pushing the drowned man face charges of involuntary manslaughter. If Iraqis had driven captured GIs to the dam and made them jump, drowning one of them, on which page would the story be? And what charges would be made against the Iraqis?

One last item: Heron, Montana - July 14, 2004 - The River Journal. Heron resident Andrew C. Compton, USMC, left July 6 for training in Spokane, Wash., and Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. In mid-August, he will be deployed to Iraq. President Bush's daughters will not be joining Compton in the Middle East.Keep your head down, nephew. I know you won't be pushing any Iraqis off of bridges - your mom and dad raised you better than that.

I also know that, sometimes, insanity is where you find it.

More of The Scenic Route can be read online at www.sandycompton.com. Sandy Compton's book, Jason's Passage, can be purchased online or by sending $10.00 to Jason's Passage, c/o Blue Creek Press, Box 110, Heron, MT 59844. The Scenic Route is © 2004 M. R. Compton, Jr.

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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Politics, Andrew Compton

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