October 02, 2008

Man's best friend and an important action alert on the bailout

Note: The Goat Rope is nearing the end of a series of posts about the Odyssey of Homer, although you'll also find links and comments about current events. If you like this kind of thing, please click on earlier posts.

What person born with a living soul isn't a sucker for a dog story? There's a great little dog nugget towards the end of the Odyssey. Odysseus, after 10 years of war and 10 more years of wandering, has finally made it home to Ithaca. He is disguised as a beggar as he approaches his home, where over 100 insolent suitors are devouring the resources of his family.

Odysseus is generally pretty good at self-control in a dangerous situation and at hiding his emotions, but he wasn't prepared for this:

Now, as they talked on, a dog that lay there
lifted up his muzzle, pricked his ears...
It was Argos, long-enduring Odysseus' dog
he trained as a puppy once, but little joy he got
since all too soon he shipped to sacred Troy.
In the old days young hunters loved to set him
coursing after the wild goats and deer and hares.
But now with his master gone he lay there, castaway,
on piles of dung from mules and cattle, heaps collecting
out before the gates till Odysseus' self-serving men
could cart it off to manure the king's estates.
Infested with ticks, half-dead from neglect,
here lay the hound, old Argos.

Out of everyone Odysseus meets during his homecoming, the only critter who recognizes and greets him right away is the dog:

But the moment he sensed Odysseus standing by
he thumped his tail, nuzzling low, and his ears dropped,
though he had no strength to drag himself an inch
toward his master.

Odysseus can't run up to greet the dog, because this would reveal his identity to the murderous suitors. So he turns his head, sheds a tear, and asks the swineherd Eumaeus about him. He replies

"Here--it's all too true--here's the dog of a man
who died in foreign parts. But if he had now
the form and flair he had in his glory days--
as Odysseus left him, sailing off to Troy--
you'd be amazed to see such speed, such strength.
No quarry he chased in the deepest, darkest woods
could ever slip this hound. A champion tracker too!
Ah, but he's run out of luck now, poor fellow...
his master's dead and gone, so far from home,
and the heartless women tend him not at all....."

Odysseus never got the chance to try to make up for lost time:

...the dark shadow of death closed down on Argos' eyes
the instant he saw Odysseus, twenty years away.

A little dog-reality note: the point of this story is about the loyalty and love of the dog and about his neglect. However, El Cabrero can vouch for the fact that lying on a manure pile is not a sign of neglect. The dogs of my acquaintance love to lay in, roll around upon, and sometimes eat all kinds of stinky stuff, manure and dead things included. And any dog--then or now--that lived 20 years couldn't have had it all that bad. But I still fell for it.

SPEAKING OF DOGS, the Senate's bailout bill may have passed, but it don't hunt. The House may vote on it by Friday at latest word. Here's the full text of an action alert urging people to contact their representatives and ask them to fill in the blanks in the legislation:

Take Action: Let Congress Know the Bailout Solution Should not be Driven by Fear

The financial crisis in the United States today is not in the Dow Jones but in our communities, where millions of people are threatened by home foreclosures and a sluggish economy. This is a deep and wide crisis that should receive thoughtful attention, not a panicked response driven by fear.

Today the Senate will vote on a revised version of the Emergency Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which the House of Representatives rejected on Sept. 29 by a 228-205 margin. Although it is likely to pass in the Senate, this bill still fails to address the causes of the crisis or its impact on most people. The House is likely to take up the issue again on Friday.

Congress should develop and pass stronger legislation that meets the following principles:

Bankruptcy Protection - This bill must grant authority for bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages and allow government to work with loan servicers on new mortgage terms, thereby providing stability and security for local communities and the economy as a whole.

A Strong Economic Recovery Package - Congress must adopt measures that will create jobs for workers who have lost their employment and invest in the needs of local communities.

Taxpayer Protection - The public’s massive investment in our financial institutions must be vigorously protected. Tough independent oversight, transparency, and an assurance of repayment from the financial service companies must be mandatory. The public must receive significant return for the assets we acquire.

Regulatory Framework – To address the causes of recent financial failures, the financial system should be regulated in ways that support sound lending and investment, and that also protect taxpayers and consumers. The regulatory framework should be revisited to restore good governance in our financial institutions.

Limitations on Executive Compensation - Strict limits on compensation and severance packages for senior executives must be enacted on any institution receiving taxpayer-funded assistance.

Your Voice is Needed! Call your House Representative Today.

The Congressional switchboard, fax and email systems are crashing do to volume, so the only way to reach your Representative is to call their DC office directly. Click here to enter your address and find your Representative and their direct phone number.

Ask your Representative not to act out of fear and take the time to do this right for the long-term well-being of your community.

The American Friends Service Committee is providing a toll-free number to the congressional switchboard: 1-800-473-6711.

ONE MORE THING ON THAT: Here's an opinion piece from AFSC General Secretary Mary Ellen McNish about the values that should guide a response to the crisis.


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