Friday, June 29, 2007

America's symbol is safe, at least

It's been a tough week, so let's leave it on some high notes.

We need to rejoice that the bald eagle, the symbol of America on everything from government bonds to the Muppets, has come back from the brink of extinction.

For those on the rising side of 40, there was a problem with insect pests on farms and backyards close to 50 years ago. Fruit was spotty and apples had worms a lot of the time. People couldn't sit in their backyards for the swarms of mosquitos that infested them.

So, the folks who thought that chemistry could solve all our problems came up with DDT, a spray that killed a lot of the pests that were bugging us.

The problem that while killing insect pests, DDT also killed a lot of things and had a lot of bad side effects. One of them was causing the shells of eagle's eggs to be so thin that most eggs didn't hatch. The nation's bird symbol was on its way to join the dodo and the passenger pigeon in the history books.

Along came the first group of environmentalists who somehow got the nation to think that a few wormy apples was not too high a price to pay for keeping the bald eagle and a lot of other animals.

DDT was banned. One of the reasons that the ban was passed was that there were other chemicals formulated that did the same job without killing anything, or at least without harming the bald eagle.

A couple of days ago, just in time for July 4, the government announced that the bald eagle, which at one time had less than 200 nesting pairs, now has close to 10,000.

Now this doesn't mean that the bird now has a target painted on it. Nobody needs to shoot bald eagles, maybe except for a few American Indians who use the feathers for their religious or cultural ceremonies.

So, let's end the week on a good note. The eagle is back.

There are other good notes. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a leading Republican, told our president that his plan for Iraq was crap. A lot of people in high places, except for the White House and the asylum in which they keep Dick Chaney, listen to Lugar.

I ran into Lugar more than 30 years ago, when he was mayor of Indianapolis and was touring the country trying to sell his vision of a metropolitan city where the action doesn't necessarily take place in the center. It seems to have worked.

Dick Lugar was a gusty guy back then, and apparently still is, standing up to a guy who doesn't like to be told he's wrong.

Well, you go Lugar and you go eagle. Long may you both fly.

At the top of this piece, I said it was a tough week. Please read down a little farther on the list to my piece A Good Man Leaves the World. You may want to read it, not because I wrote it but because it tells about a really good man. We need to know that there are really good people in the world.

Thanks to Paul Bass for putting a key to that piece on his New Haven Independent main page.

So, have a great weekend and for those in the tribe, A Good Shabbos.

Until next time....

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