Archive for the ‘The West Wing’ Category

Posse Comitatus

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

In the third season finale of the “West Wing”, President Bartlet makes a life-or-death decision regarding a foreign diplomat who is a known terrorist. He ponders the situation during a charity benefit performance of a Shakespeare play about another conflicted leader, Henry VI. This is very intelligently interspersed with patriotic music “England Arise” from Shakespeare’s War of the Roses play which is on show. Look at the video below.  The Music and lyrics are actually by Stephen Oliver and are from The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby.Amazing Drama and sound effects!By the way, the episode name refers to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. In its most simplistic sense, this law prohibits the US armed (uniformed) forces (the Army, Air Force) from exercising law enforcement powers. Imagine, the conflict - the President here is giving an “illegal” assassination order and again asking for the military to handle it. Watch the full episode for the push and pulls behind this decision. But, the ending is simply marvelous. What do you think?The lyrics of the song below:

England arise! Join in the chorus!It is a new made song you should be singing.See in the skies, flutt’ring before uswhat the bright bird of peace is bringing!See upon our smiling landwhere the wealths of nations standwhere prosperity and industry walkever hand in hand.Where so many blessings crowd,’tis our duty to be proud.Up and answer, English Yeoman,sing it joyfully aloud.Evermore upon our countryGod will pour his rich increase,And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace,And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace.See each one do what he can to further God’s almighty plan.The benificence of heaven help the skilfulness of man.Ev’ry garner fill’d with grain, Ev’ry meadow blest with rain:Rich and fertile is the golden corn that bear and bears again.Where so many blessings crowd,’Tis our duty to be proud.Up and answer, fellow Britons,sing it joyfully aloud.Evermore upon our countryGod will pour his rich increaseAnd victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace,And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace. 

 

Cives Romanus

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Not being versed in Latin, I would scarcely be expected to make meaning of this, but I will give it a try.

“civis” is sometimes defined in cheap Latin dictionaries as “city-dweller”. It means “citizen” So Cives Romanus would loosely translate to “Citizen of Rome”. The reason I find this exciting is that during the heydays of the Roman Empire (2000 years ago) a Roman Citizen could walk across the face of the “known” world without fear. As President Bartlet (the protagonist of the West Wing) puts it - “So great was the fear of sure retribution for harm to a Roman Citizen” that nobody would dare hurt him. Would any citizen of any nation have the same feeling today. One might expect that an American Citizen might think so, but I am convinced that with the scourge of terrorism gripping America today, Cives Americanus would be the most insecure citizen. At what cost ? If only a Roman plutocracy could generate such a level of protection, why nothing can be done today ?

The West Wing - An Introduction

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

“The West Wing” is a TV Series that ran from 1999 to 2006 on NBC. My all time favorite for political satire. This will be the beginning of my episode wise comments.

The West Wing is the series that inspired some of the more popular, intelligent drama’s that are having great success today. You owe it to yourself to check it out on DVD if you missed it when first broadcast. You won’t find a better written drama series - that’s a promise!

The series tells the story of a ‘fictional’ American president, ‘Jed’ Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen and his support staff. It cleverly mixes fact (that can surely only have been provided by a White House insider) and fiction to provide gritty, funny and at times intensely moving drama.

West Wing Cast

My personal interest in this show stems from the fact that I believe a strong leader with a dedicated team of advisors can drive a nation. Being a part of a vibrant multi party democracy in India where calls are often made for a Presidential system, the intricate drama played out every season but makes me wonder how it might never possibly work for us. I understand this show is meant more as a satire but as is promised by the real West Wing staffers - this show is as real as it possibly gets in the White House. I wish I ever get to see the real West Wingers (both the on stage and the off stage heroes)



Aalap