Thursday, August 21

Thought for the Day.

I don't think I would really like to live in Seattle, much...

#WeatherForecastDaysOfWet

Glenn Reynolds Asks...

MAY/DECEMBER? ISN’T THIS MORE LIKE AUGUST/DECEMBER? Richard Gere And Padma Lakshmi’s May-December Romance Still Going Strong! “The 64-year-old Richard and 43-year-old Padma were spotted on a romantical dinner date in New Jersey and according to a source, the pair looked quite cozy.”

Or maybe September/December? I mean if she were 23 it would be a May/December.
--------

Glenn, Glenn, Glenn...
I'm not sure what age you eventually plan to be*, but 64 is NO December!  November, late October, perhaps...
(and given that it's Richard Gere, it's an October, surely.)

They're only two decades apart, and once you've advanced enough in age to be in the upper boughs of the tree of life, 64-43-hike!, I think that would merit only a two-month compressed comparable...

Call it August/October, then.  And wish them well!
(once he's divorced from his wife, I mean!)



*  (Reminds me back in the late 90s, when my folks were starting to snowbird to Florida, my Dad, the eldest of his siblings, so pretty much the oldest in our family, had taken to calling himself a "Geezer" in retirement.  He soon learned, in a land where the elders easily live to their mid-80s and beyond, to recalculate his numbers.  He, and my mom especially, were relative youngsters in the land of the never-ending sunshine.  They're back toughing it out in the winters now though (grandchildren!), but I think that little bit of aging perspective gave him a new appreciation of lifespans.  Myself?  I'll never forget when helping a colleague/friend in Florida move, on a particularly hot and stressful day, she snapped at me:  "Be careful.  That houseplant is older than you!"  OooK, then!  Must be a Florida age thing.  I did try to be more gentle thereafter in the move...)

Just One of Those Days...

Dilbert:





Schlockalicious!

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock submerges himself in a bucket of ice water, all for charity!

He reminds me a bit of a less manic Richard Simmons here. 
(I think it's the tank top!)

Decentralize the Decisionmaking.

"In the American Civil War, it was a matter of principle that a good officer rode his horse as little as possible. There were sound reasons for this. If you are riding and your soldiers are marching, how can you judge how tired they are, how thirsty, how heavy their packs weigh on their shoulders?"

~ Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore

Moore applied this philosophy conscientiously. He flew in to Ia Drang on the first helicopter. He led his men from the front.

When he saw men from another company beginning to haul one of his dead soldiers out of a foxhole with a harness, he snapped, "No you won't do that. He's one of my troopers and you will show some respect. Get two more men and carry him to the landing zone."

When it was over and it was time for Moore to turn over command, he requested a full battalion formation. One soldier recalls, "We stood in formation, with some units hardly having enough men to form up. Colonel Moore spoke to us and he cried. At that moment, he could have led us back into the Ia Drang."

We Were Soldiers Once... and Young.

More war then?

Another and far more transcendent love came to us unbidden on the battlefields as it does on every battlefield in every war man has ever fought. We discovered in that depressing, hellish place where death was our constant companion that we loved each other. We killed for each other, we died for each other and we wept for each other. And in time we came to love each other as brothers. In battle our world shrank to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy all around. We held each other's lives in our hands and we learned to share our fears, our hopes, our dreams as readily as we shared what little else good came our way.

We were the children of the 1950's and John F. Kennedy's young stalwarts of the early 1960's. He told the world that Americans would go anywhere, pay any price, bear any burden in the defense of freedom. We were the down payment on that costly contract, but the man who signed it was not there when we fulfilled his promise. John F. Kennedy waited for us on a hill in Arlington National Cemetery, and in time, by the thousands, we came to fill those slopes with our white marble markers and to ask on the murmur of the wind if that was truly the future he had envisioned for us.
Among us were old veterans, grizzled sergeants who had fought in Europe and the Pacific in World War II and had survived the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, and now were about to add another star to their Combat Infantryman's Badge. There were Regular Army enlistees, young men from America's small towns whose fathers told them they would learn discipline and become real men in the Army. There were other young men who chose the Army over an equal term in prison. Alternative sentencing, the judges call it now. But the majority were draftees, 19- and 20-year-old boys summoned from all across America to do their two years in green by their friendly local Selective Service Boards. The PFC's soldiered for $99.37 a month; the Sergeants First Class for $343.50 a month.

Leading us were the sons of West Point and the young ROTC lieutenants from Rutgers and The Citadel and, yes, even Yale University who had heard Kennedy's call and answered it. There were also the young enlisted men and NCO's who passed through Officer Candidate School and emerged, newly minted, officers and gentlemen. All laughed nervously when confronted with the cold statistics that measured a second lieutenant's combat life expectancy in minutes and seconds, not hours. Our second lieutenants were paid $241.20 per month.

The Class of 1965 came out of the old America, a nation which disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the jungle battlegrounds where we fought and bled. The country which sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed. We answered the call of one President who was now dead; followed the orders of another who would be hounded from office, and haunted, by the war he mismanaged so badly.
...
In time our battles were forgotten, our sacrifices discounted and both our sanity and our suitability for life in polite progressive American society were publicly questioned. Our young-old faces, chiseled and gaunt from the fever and the heat and the sleepless nights, now stare back at us, lost and damned strangers, frozen in yellowing snapshots packed away in cardboard boxes with our medals and ribbons.

We rebuilt our lives, found jobs or professions, married, raised families and waited patiently for America to come to its senses. As the years passed we searched each other out and found that the half-remembered pride of service was shared by those who had shared everything else with us. With them, and only with them, could we talk about what had really happened over there---what we had seen, what we had done, what we had survived.

We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did. Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers.

So once, just this once, this is how it all began, what it was really like, what it meant to us and what we meant to each other. It was no movie. When it was over the dead did not get up and dust themselves off and walk away. The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life unhurt. Those who were, miraculously, unscratched were by no means untouched. Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived.

This story, then, is our testament, and our tribute to 234 young Americans who died beside us during four days in Landing Zone X-Ray and Landing Zone Albany in the Valley of Death, 1965. That is more Americans than were killed in any regiment, north or south, at the Battle of Gettysburg, and far more than were killed in combat in the entire Persian Gulf War. Seventy more of our comrades died in the Ia Drang in desperate skirmishes before and after the big battles at X-Ray and Albany. All the names, 305 of them, are engraved on the third panel to the right of the apex, Panel 3-East, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and on our hearts. This is also the story of the suffering of families whose lives were forever shattered by the death of a father, a son, a husband, a brother in that Valley.

While those who have never known war may fail to see the logic, this story also stands as tribute to the hundreds of young men of the 320th, 33rd and 66th Regiments of the Peoples Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place. They, too, fought and died bravely. They were a worthy enemy. We who killed them pray that their bones were recovered from that wild, desolate place where we left them, and taken home for decent and honorable burial.
Read the whole thing?

Wednesday, August 20


Heading Left.

A Song for Jim.

You shall cross the barren desert
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety
though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands
and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid
I go before you always.
Come follow Me
and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters
n the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amidst the burning flames
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell
and death is at your side
know that I am with you, through it all.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow Me
and I will give you rest.

Blessed are your poor
For the Kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you who weep and mourn
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you
All because of Me
blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow Me
and I will give you rest.
~ Bob Dufford, S.J.

The Power of the Pulpit.

President Obama is back on Martha's Vineyard, but took time out to address the James Foley beheading video "Message to America" made by Islamic State fighters.

Ferguson = President Obama's Katrina...

except his is a man-made disaster that can't be wished away by ignoring, or downplaying, what life is like for the poor black (and some white) people trapped there. Without better leadership, this could drag on for months. The lesser elements are drawn to like, and the pictures in the media are not pretty.

We should be concentrating on what is going on overseas, and quell the storm within already.

Tuesday, August 19

Superman...

where are you?! *

Titled “A Message to America,” the video shows the journalist kneeling in a deserted landscaped, clad in an orange jumpsuit – an apparent reference to the uniforms worn by prisoners at the American military detention camp in Guantánamo, Cuba. Standing to his left is a masked ISIS fighter, who says that Foley’s execution is in retaliation for the American airstrikes ordered by President Obama against the extremist group in Iraq.
...
The video concludes with the fighter threatening to kill Steven Sotloff, another American national who was being held alongside Mr. Foley. The young man is seen kneeling in the same position, in the same landscape and wearing the same, orange-colored jumpsuit. “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” says the fighter.
They don't much bluff either, it seems.

At least -- in expanding the IS war mission definition beyond laying down bombs so humanitarian relief could help save the Yazidis trapped on the mountaintop -- the United States has helped the Kurd fighters retake a major dam in Iraq. That's worth a damn, eh?

Face it: we're back at war in Iraq, even if we pretend we're just helping, that the Kurd fighters could stand independently without America providing major death from above. The Islamic State fighters, in turn, are laying down everything they have. Including kidnapped journalists.

The sad thing is, the Foley family was led by investigators to believe the Syrian government, which American leadership was continually working to overthrow, held their son all these months. Turns out, there was a bigger bad guy and now that we're unofficially at war targeting them, they will work to take some of our lives too.

Maybe might doesn't make right, after all...
-----------------

* Something tells me, this is going to be a looong movie. With many bad sequels.



SOUNDTRACK:
"Land Of Confusion"
~ Genesis.
I must've dreamed a thousand dreams...
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They're moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today?
They say the danger's gone away.
But I can see the fire's still alight.
They're burning into the night...

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see
This is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

Ooh Superman where are you now?
When everything's gone wrong somehow
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour...

This is the time
This is the place
So we look for the future
But there's not much love to go round
Tell me why, this is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

I remember long ago -
Ooh when the sun was shining
Yes and the stars were bright
All through the night
And the sound of your laughter
As I held you tight
So long ago -

I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
That we know, we'll never keep.

Too many men
There's too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see
This is a land of confusion.

Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for.

This is the world we live in
And these are the names we're given
Stand up and let's start showing
Just where our lives are going to.

RIP James Foley.

This description of him brings to mind Willa Cather's fictional Claude Wheeler, from One of Ours. (Pulitzer aside, Hemingway said the book went south once Cather took Claude off the farm, as her war scenes were romantically unrealistic.*)

Foley, who grew up in New Hampshire, came to journalism as a second career. With a bachelor’s degree in history from Marquette University and an MFA in creative writing from UMass, Amherst, Foley instructed inner-city students in Phoenix, AZ with Teach for America and then taught reading and writing to inmates at the Cook County Sheriff’s Boot Camp in Chicago. Then, at age 35, he enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Asked what had drawn her son into reporting, Diane Foley said, “He had started writing fiction when at UMass, but afterward, the more he worked with the disadvantaged in Phoenix and Chicago, which he also was passionate about, he realized that the stories he wanted to tell were real stories—stories about people’s lives—and he saw journalism as a vehicle for talking about what’s really happening in the world.”

Foley participated in Medill’s conflict reporting course in Washington, DC, and after graduation, his first assignment was as an embed with the US Army’s 173rd Brigade and 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan. He loved it, and even after the kidnapping in Libya, remained committed to covering conflicts.

“Before leaving for Syria this last time, Jim said that he finally had found his passion,” said Foley’s father, John, on Friday. “Journalists play a vital role in bringing the light of truth to darkness of war and suffering. We are proud of Jim’s commitment to his work. Jim convinced us that on the ground reporting was one of the best ways to let the world know the truth.”
---------------------
* In a letter to Edmund Wilson, he wrote:
"Wasn't that last scene in the [battle] lines wonderful? Do you know where it came from? The battle scene in Birth of a Nation. I identified episode after episode, Catherized. Poor woman, she had to get her war experience somewhere."

Monday, August 18

National Guard Called In to Restore Order.

With school again cancelled in the Ferguson district, with more people being shot during the protests, with ongoing property damage including the McDonalds that had previously been shut down by police, with death threats against the store clerk who was initially confronted by Big Mike Brown... the National Guard will be on the streets tonight, patrolling and keeping the peace.

The autopsy results show Michael Brown was not shot in the back, fleeing police with his hands upraised as the initial eyewitness reported, sparking the outrage.

Mr. Brown might have been unarmed, but his physical presence as demonstrated in the video with the smaller clerk, and his returning to tower over the smaller man after initially pushing him out of the way, is consistent with what the officer, and other eyewitnesses, report happened just minutes later, leading to his death.

What happened inside the police vehicle, whether or not Mr. Brown's hands show injuries consistent with hitting the officer in the face, whether or not Mr. Brown reached for the gun ... these are all relevant issues that will be determined in a science lab and in a court of law. Not on the streets.

Last night, someone brought an 8-year-old to the protests. The national media was only too happy to report the child was tear-gassed, when police were responding to the reports of more people being shot by guns.

It's time to restore order.
It's time to get the children back to school.
It's time to continue releasing the facts of this case, so that the truth can be better known, and changes can be made.

Remember: Mike Brown was not shot dead for being a black man, and he wasn't shot in the back fleeing for his life. Facts matter.

Sunday, August 17

THE POLICE ARE SHOOTING EARPLUGS?!

1h

I believe these are rubber bullets, can anyone confirm?
 



And the Twitter feed goes wild!
---------------------

ADDED: Reilly is one of the two journalists temporarily arrested at the local McDonalds in Ferguson during Wednesday night's demonstrations, who received a shout-out from President Obama during his comments on Thursday. ("Here in the United States police should not be arresting journalists who are trying to do their jobs.") Much ado over nothing, really...

For a real First Amendment ethical question, try this one:
“It’s surreal to be caught up in a news story instead of writing about one,” said [longtime reporter James Risen], in his soft voice.

He said he was inspired by the Watergate hearings to get into journalism and that he inherited his skepticism about government from his mom, who grew up in Indiana during the Depression, the daughter of an Irish railway machinist* who was often out of work. Every time she saw the pyramids on TV, she would say, “I wonder how many slaves died building that?”

Risen said he’s not afraid that F.B.I. agents will show up one day at the suburban Maryland home he shares with his wife, Penny. (His three sons are grown, and one is a reporter.) But he has exhausted all his legal challenges, including at the Supreme Court, against the Obama administration.

“I was nervous for a long time, but they’ve been after me for six years so now I try to ignore it,” he said, musing that he’s already decided what he’ll take to prison: Civil War books and World War II histories.

The Justice Department is trying to scuttle the reporters’ privilege — ignoring the chilling effect that is having on truth emerging in a jittery post-9/11 world prone to egregious government excesses.

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to force Risen to testify and reveal the identity of his confidential source on a story he had in his 2006 book concerning a bungled C.I.A. operation during the Clinton administration in which agents might have inadvertently helped Iran develop its nuclear weapon program. The tale made the C.I.A. look silly, which may have been more of a sore point than a threat to national security.

But Bush officials, no doubt still smarting from Risen’s revelation of their illegal wiretapping, zeroed in on a disillusioned former C.I.A. agent named Jeffrey Sterling as the source of the Iran story.

The subpoena forcing Risen’s testimony expired in 2009, and to the surprise of just about everybody, the constitutional law professor’s administration renewed it — kicking off its strange and awful aggression against reporters and whistle-blowers.

ADDED: I wonder if he knows this one:
"Paddy on the railway
picking up stones...
Along came an engine
and broke Paddy's bones!
"Aye!" said Paddy,
"That's not fair."
"Poof," said the engine.
"I don't care!"

Saturday, August 16

The release of security camera video footage of the late Michael Brown robbing a Ferguson convenience store and roughing up a clerk who is half his size about 10 minutes before he was killed by a policeman reveals that that Meaning of Ferguson is that the national media have embarrassed themselves yet again by grabbing some local police blotter incident and huffing and puffing it up into another narrative of America’s History of White Violence Against Black Bodies.

Shame No One Saw This Coming...

and provided protection.
Looters storm Ferguson Market and Liquor on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson early Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. The store was a focal point on Friday when it was reported by police that Michael Brown participated in a strong-arm robbery of a box of cigars from the store. /Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com
ADDED:

Just before midnight, some in what had been a large and rowdy but mostly well-behaved crowd broke into that same small store and began looting it, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.

Some in the crowd began throwing rocks and other objects at police, Johnson said. One officer was hurt but details on the injury were not immediately available.

Johnson said police backed off to try and ease the tension. He believes looting may have spread to a couple of nearby stores. No arrests were made.

"We had to evaluate the security of the officers there and also the rioters," Johnson said. "We just felt it was better to move back."

Meanwhile, peaceful protesters yelled at the aggressors to stop what they were doing. About a dozen people eventually blocked off the front of the convenience store to help protect it.

Friday, August 15

Assumption: Word for the Day.

as·sump·tion
əˈsəm(p)SHən
noun: assumption; plural noun: assumptions; noun: Assumption
  1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
    "they made certain assumptions about the market"
  2. the action of taking or beginning to take power or responsibility.
    "the assumption of an active role in regional settlements"
    synonyms:seizure, arrogation, appropriation, expropriation, commandeering, confiscation, hijacking, wresting 

Thursday, August 14

Words of Wisdom.

Booth Tarkington:

At 21 or 22, so many things appear solid and permanent and terrible which forty sees are nothing but disappearing miasma. Forty can’t tell twenty about this; that’s the pity of it! Twenty can find out only by getting to be forty.

Be Careful What You Wish For...

by Jason Howerton

Protesters and members of the New Black Panther Party took over what was supposed to be Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson’s press conference Thursday regarding the ongoing unrest in the St. Louis suburb.
A crowd gathered inside the Ferguson fire department as New Black Panther Party leader Hashim Nzinga addressed the crowd, mostly focusing his anger on President Barack Obama.
KTVI
“This is a shame that as we speak the president of United States is talking to Russia, he’s talking to China, he’s talking to North Korea, he’s talking to Iraq and the Middle East about treating their people better,” he said. “But as he look out the window at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he’s watching the black man, who built the White House, shot down like dogs.”
Nzinga also claimed Obama is from Kenya, calling him a “Mau Mau.”
“He need to go back to his roots and stop people from killing Africans in the streets,” he added.
KTVI reports that Chief Jackson left the area when the protesters invaded the news conference.
Nzinga was arrested on weapons charges in 2012 shortly after offering a “dead or alive” bounty on George Zimmerman’s head.

#Hands to Work. Hearts to God.

Sure beats an easy surrender any day...

#JustSayNo to #HandsUpHeadsDownDon'tShoot!

BREAKING: Iraqi state TV: Nouri al-Maliki has given up the post of prime minister to Haider al-Abadi.

Free the Yazidis. ~Take 2~

The campaigning continues...

ISTANBUL — Yazidi leaders and emergency relief officials on Thursday strongly disputed American claims that the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq had been broken and that the crisis was effectively over, saying that tens of thousands of Yazidis remained on the mountain in desperate conditions.

On Wednesday, the United States military said that a small team of 18 Marines and Special Operations soldiers had completed an assessment of conditions on Mount Sinjar and found that most of the Yazidis, a small Iraqi religious minority, had succeeded in escaping, and the numbers remaining were in the low thousands.

American officials said that the assessment meant American airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops, along with efforts by Kurdish pesh merga militiamen, were working and “an evacuation mission is far less likely,” in the words of Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Wednesday.

Speaking from her hospital bed here, Vian Dakhil, an Iraqi member of Parliament and a Yazidi leader who was injured in the crash of a helicopter delivering aid to the mountain on Tuesday ... estimated the number of Yazidis trapped on the southern flanks of Mount Sinjar at 70,000 to 80,000.

Ms. Dakhil’s assessment of the seriousness of the Yazidis’ plight was supported by United Nations humanitarian officials, who on Thursday were unequivocal that there remained a major crisis among the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.
 Curiouser and curiouser.

War Is Over.

... (if you want it.)

The announcement that the Iraqi Yazidis have been freed from their mountaintop refuge -- the most recent war skirmish concluded one day after landing boots on the ground adorning the feet of U.S. military advisers and special op Marines up there -- came as a nice surprise to the dwindling numbers of American people paying attention as summer wraps and new years of schooling begin.

The speed with which the Obama administration announced that the siege had been broken may cause some consternation overseas, given the increasingly dire descriptions from aid agencies about the crisis on Mount Sinjar. The United Nations on Wednesday announced its highest level of emergency for the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
It's good that the president has worked with his people to effectively free the Iraqi religious minority, and provide protection.  It will also free him up to lead here at home, where an inner-city issue in inner America promises to re-ignite.

There's a safety dance at play in so many school districts:  if you want education, you sometimes must vote with your feet to get it.  Public education funded from the surrounding tax base where the contributions are healthy can provide so many opportunities that even private schools cannot afford in terms of science labs, libraries, the latest written materials delivered via the newest technologies, tools for vocational and driver's education, athletic, music, art programs and so on.

In stable communities, strong public education is opportunity unlimited, the best remedy to provide reparation for past injustices.  If the country can lead people to become critical thinkers, they'll be less bound to fighting the wars of the past.
------------

ADDED:  Here's some critical thinking about the Yazidis recent rescue in the comments:

Peter wrote,  The White House hadn't even heard the word "Yazidi" until a few weeks ago. Of all the genocides in all the countries to choose to save, it just so happened to be the ones getting killed right by the oil fields that US corporations had evacuated.

Sunday, August 10

Q: "Daddy, Are We At War Again?"

A:  "Depends on how you define the meaning of what IS is..."


Q:  Don't we need Congressional authorization to go to war?
A:  "Depends on how long the military campaign lasts..."

Q:  How long is the military campaign expected to last?
A:  "A few months... through the midterms..."


Q:  The midterms?
A:  "Midterm elections.  Stop thinking all schoolboy and get with the game played in this townLook around you:  Ain't no college town here..."

Q:  Strategic question?
A:  Shoot.


Q:  If we've got people abandoned on a mountaintop, surrounded by advancing fighters, and the "war" plan is only to hold them, not to defeat or drive them back... and we're really not sure how well that will work, as we're crippled by our mighty powerful, but often inefficient air power -- bombing from above only gets you so far...
A:  Is there a question in there, somewhere?  *checking watch*  Those tee times wait for no man...


Q:  Just thinking out loud here, but... if there's no plan to bring them down, or relocate them, and as you indicated, this current air assault has a limited time frame.... is is a good idea to be dropping tarps and tents and encouraging them to set up camp?  Shouldn't they... shouldn't the people be thinking about their long-term survival?
A:  Huh?


Q:  Aren't you just bedding them in for a slaughter?
A:  Wait a minute... we're helpingFood, shelter, water... they came running to us for relief.


Q:  But are you then encouraging them to be dependent on our help, when -- if we're not committing to anything, any protection long term -- they might be better off formulating their own plans for survival...  Thinking about a way to get off the mountain, to split up if needed, to think about their own fates, once the bombing campaign is no longer called for?
A:  You always think so negative?

Q:  I think realistic.  I think no country is too big to fail, no little ragtag band of fighters (and the IS fighters rolling on, are most definitely not) is necessarily so small they lose.  They can, and have, inflicted an awful lot of damage... and they're well armed.

Some say we're dropping bombs now on American-supplied weaponry... any chance they could shoot down a relief helicopter?  Then what?  War-war, the real thing?
A:  Listen -- I'm not going to sit here and listen to this naysaying.  We're number one.  We fight harder...  (or is that number two?)


Q:  Don't you think you'd be fighting on firmer grounds if you "sold" this bombing campaign better?  Took a few days off vacation, and came out and better explained why -- and especially how --  we're going to save the Yazi's?  Some of us think "Yaz"?  Oh, the wonderful Upstairs at Eric's !  Now, digging a little deeper, it appears what we're really working to do here is to at least try and protect part of partitioned Iraq -- Kurdistan.

Is the plan to get the Yazi people to Kurdistan, and then to undertake an timetable-less committment to defending the religious minority from her neighbors in the region?  Are we now committing to protecting the Kurdish state as well?  Will you be able to sell the American people on this new regional committment, do you think?
A.  No comment.


Q:  Ok, finally then:  has the recent non-success of the Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza -- you can only inflict so much damage from above, and the overkill! -- given you any second thoughts about how effective this latest warmaking will actually prove to be?  That is, are we becoming over-reliant on our military might, at the expense of reasoned solutions?
A:  Oh please, how do you reason killersDon't talk to me about being practical anymore.  I give up on that "justice" talk long ago.  So much for speaking loudly, and promising a new schtickNope, we're playing it safe through the midterms;  giving the people what they want...


Q:  The Yazi people?  Giving them food, water and supplies... up through the midterms?
A:  The American people.  The elderly patriots and airchair "fighters".  They don't want weak, I'll show 'em America's power... the power, to protect.


Q:  Yeah, but what happens... if you don't.  If we fail, again, to protect the people in the region, and actually make their lives -- on the ground -- demonstrably worse.  That they would have fared better if we indeed had left them to their own devices, not promised paternal protections that weren't properly delivered, and never dumped our armaments into the region.  Left them to kill and maim and slaughter and rampage ... with only whatever weapons they had at hand...
A:  You do realize other players, other "bad guys" to simplify here, are stocking the fighters and have reason to interfere in the outcomes as well?


Q:  Were they there, fomenting these wars, before we went in?
A:  Done.  Once an interview becomes a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg...


Q:  Thank you for your time.  We'll see you again in the coming weeks.  And btw good luck, Mr. President.  We really are pulling for you, even if you're not pulling too hard yourself.  There's a lot riding on your game, you know.  A people, a party, a presidency...  "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? ... What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives?  ~ Matthew, Mark, Luke.


Saturday, August 9

A Wedding in the Family.

I didn't mention...
My younger sister is getting married next month.  I'm hitting the road now for a bridal shower.  Glad they didn't assign me to bring the puppies to distribute...  (I kid, just saw that movie last week!)

The wonderful thing is, God willing, my parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary together in October.

It is good to have family back together again, if only for a time.  Our lives have taken us far and wide, and my parents always stressed education, education, education, which opens even more doors.

So happy for my sis, a curly headed kid who turned into an amazing professional woman: an engineer, an aunt, and now, a wife!  Keep on spinnin', circle of life...

Doubling Down on Dumb Decisions.

Get this.  President Obama still would have supported NATO bombs overthrowing the established Qaddafi regime in Libya, even with the benefit of hindsight!

Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
He wasn't enough like GWB, he realizes.  We're going the wrong way...
Had we not intervened, it’s likely that Libya would be Syria. ... And so there would be more death, more disruption, more destruction. But what is also true is that I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this.
Then it’s the day after Qaddafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everybody is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America.’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions. ...
So that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, ‘Should we intervene, militarily? Do we have an answer [for] the day after?’ ”
Easy, Barry:  No and No.
(I saw it then, you still can't see it now? Even with basic reports now coming out of the region?)

It was not in America's national security interest; we were coming out of another war that failed to deliver as promised; there was no internal support of the people to remake Libya.

George W. Bush tried that in Iraq.  Didn't work so well in practice.
Without the internal action driven in the sovereign country (Libya or Iraq), the strong-arming outside country (America or NATO) has to take over the internal leadership and politicking.  At what cost?

President Obama got himself elected by pretending to understand this.  Now, he tells us he would repeat the wartime mistakes of George W. Bush.  Who advises this man?

The answer, Mr. President -- Mr. Cheney, Mr. Bush and Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama -- is -- nevermind the popularity polls -- don't start a "war" that you know you cannot quickly win, and replace your destruction with plans the next day to build something bigger and better.   If you don't know how you are going to replace hospital and schools and government buildings and marketplaces and all the things we rely on for people to function day to day in society, hold your fire.

 The majority of the people are better off under a functioning stable society than in an unpredictable reckless chaos.

Can we bookmark that as a 21st century pragmatic American foreign policy?  For all the missionary zeal to help, and to wreck and rebuild, and train and grow and invest, too often America and her allies leave destruction and death in her wake, deliberately, without delivering the promised payoff.

Why?  Politics.
Asked whether he should be more vigorous in pressing Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, to reach a land-for-peace deal, the president said, it has to start with them.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “poll numbers are a lot higher than mine” and “were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza,” Obama said. “And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement. That’s a tough thing to do.
And more:
“We cannot do for them what they are unwilling to do for themselves.  Our military is so capable, that if we put everything we have into it, we can keep a lid on a problem for a time. But for a society to function long term, the people themselves have to make decisions about how they are going to live together, how they are going to accommodate each other’s interests, how they are going to compromise. When it comes to things like corruption, the people and their leaders have to hold themselves accountable for changing those cultures.... ... We can help them and partner with them every step of the way. But we can’t do it for them.”
“Our politics are dysfunctional,” said the president, and we should heed the terrible divisions in the Middle East as a “warning to us: societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. 
...
Obama also acknowledged that gerrymandering, the Balkanization of the news media and uncontrolled money in politics — the guts of our political system today — are sapping our ability to face big challenges together, more than any foreign enemy. 

“Increasingly politicians are rewarded for taking the most extreme maximalist positions,” he said, “and sooner or later, that catches up with you.”
Tom Friedman forgot to ask the number one question of the president that the American people care about:  California, New York, Chicago or Hawaii? Where are you headed after retirement?  (It's not nosy, it's the American people living vicariously through the Obama family's success.  That too is politics, and his greatest contribution surely will be his representation, with his family, of the strides the country has made, even if we're lousing up all these other moments in history as we follow along now in the footsteps of international decisionmakers like Putin, Netanyahu, and sadly yes, Bush/Cheney.   Being a decisionmaker is tough too, you know.  Tough times call for tough people, and too often, the smart ones play it safe and follow the more macho, but ultimately dumber types.  Smart and strong.  Nevermind what the polls tell you, that's the ticket.)

Friday, August 8

Halloween is Coming!

Get busy, slackers!
(Especially the tall slender ones, who could really work this costume...)

Thursday, August 7

There Will Be An Answer...

Let It Be.

“After all, even Satan has not yet devised the proper vengeance for the death of a child,” Netanyahu wrote, paraphrasing the Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik.

“I have been surprised by the magnitude of the indifference in the Jewish world to the human costs of Israel’s defense against the missiles and the tunnels,” Mr. Wieseltier wrote.

“Some of the emails I have received have been lunatic in their lack of compassion. According to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 95 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the war in Gaza is just. It is easy to see why: Self-defense is also a moral duty. But only 4 percent believe that the Israeli military has used excessive force. This makes me queasy.”

Asked to explain how an offensive that has claimed so many lives is nonetheless supported in Israel, Eva Illouz, a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told the German magazine Der Spiegel: “Israelis have a strong sense of their own moral superiority. ‘We ask people to get out of their houses; we call them on the phone to make sure civilians are evacuated. We behave humanly,’ the Israeli thinks. An army with good manners.”

Most of her fellow citizens, Ms. Illouz added, “judge by the intention, whereas the world judges by the consequences.”

Wednesday, August 6

Work Respite ... 'Til It Shines!

Bob Seger – Till It Shines Lyrics

Take away my inhibitions
Take away my solitude
Fire me up with your resistance
Put me in the mood
Storm the walls around this prison
Leave the inmates
Free the guards
Deal me up another future
From some brand new deck of cards
Take the chip off of my shoulder
Smooth out all the lines
Take me out among the rustling pines
Till it shines

Like an echo down a canyon
Never coming back as clear
Lately I just judge the distance
Not the words I hear
I've been too long on these islands
I've been far too long alone
I've been too long without summer
In this winter home
Still if we can make the effort
If we take the time
Maybe we can leave this much behind
Till it shines

See the rich man lost and lonely
Watch him as he dines
Sitting there just testing all the wines
Till it shines...