Friday, December 25, 2009

A Moment of Contemplation

On this day of awe for kids, soberness and thoughtfulness for adults and inspired belief for the Christian world, I sit and wonder.

Why must we limit this display of joy, love and generosity for our brothers and fellow creatures to one day a year? If it exists within us for one day, then surely we can summon our better selves to serve us throughout the year.

My daughter said it best: "what is there is gratitude. Gratitude for this season when for a few moments a huge population of the planet turns their attention to love, peace, healing and hope. It doesn’t last long, and it doesn’t happen for everyone. But it does happen which means it exists as a way of being for all of us all the time."

Peace to all and to all a good day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Presidential Elections in Bolivia

President Evo Morales is expected to win another five year presidential term in Bolivia today.

Morales has inspired the indigenous people all over the country but especially in the Chappare Region of Eastern Bolivia, where it is said he voted early this morning and where the indigenous "cocaleros" are prevalent. Morales is a former cocalero and the first native Bolivian to be elected president in the country's history; thus, the Aymara and Quechua people feel this is their opportunity to have a voice.

How does one argue with that? Still there are many complaints of a Morales crackdown on the opposition, unjust imprisonment of those who are vocally non-supportive and spending state funds to campaign.

It will be interesting to see how relations with the U. S. proceed after months of strain and Morales' history of anti-American rhetoric. What about the joint eradication program which ended when Morales accused the DEA of spying on him? Will he allow a new U. S. ambassador to be appointed to the Embassy in LaPaz? Will the U. S. at least give Morales credit for the growth of Bolivia's economy?

I've been following the Democracy Center's live blog as well as updates from the Carter Center which is monotoring the elections across the country and I await the results of the vote which should be decisive sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I refuse to worry.

The market lost almost 1.5% on Friday, Dubai is failing and our own economy, though improving, is still struggling mightily. The Secret Service unwittingly allowed an un-authorized couple not only to enter the White House but to mingle with our nation's VIPs and shake the president's hand (this alone sends chills along my spine) yet the administration continues to iterate that it has every confidence in the elite body whose sole purpose is to protect the life of the U. S. President.

Uh, oh yes, there's the Middle East problem and the tiresome game of "chicken" between Israel led by the bellicose Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinians.

We're told to prepare ourselves for a major speech on Tuesday by President Obama regarding our nation's future commitment to what has become known as AF-PAK, the political stew of intransigence involving, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, Al Queida and India, not to mention the poor disenfranchised tribes who know little and care less about the central government in Kabul headed by an increasingly corrupt Karsai government grudgingly supported by the U. S.

Then we have Iran, whose current regime has become so insecure by the continued resistance to the elections in June, they are holding and executing (it is said) some of the detainees who voiced opposition. One recently released Mazia Bahari, a Newsweek journalist, has said in recent interviews that the Revolutionary Guard is becoming more and more powerful. This is bad.

Oh, and one of our most respected and upstanding athletes has just rammed his car into a fire hydrant and went on to claim a neighbor's tree early Friday morning and now rumors of an affair with an Australian madam are beginning to seep out. I just don't know. . .

Still, I refuse to worry.

Jodie Picoult is described as "faulknerian" -- why I don't know, except that she wrote a book about a brother and sister who loved each other. I've done that and nobody called ME "faulknerian."

The reality shows are taking over the air waves and there is nothing worth watching on TV anymore except Charlie Rose. Where is Lawrence O'Donnell when I'm desperate for another "West Wing?" He's become a pundit on the cable talk shows, of course.

Still I don't worry.

This morning I read that the Republican Party could as likely run Dick Cheney as their presidential candidate in 2012 as Sarah Palin. This fills me with such warm and fuzzy confidence that I can cheerfully hug my teddy bear at night and sleep the blissful sleep of a child because compared to this dazzling single piece of information, everything else fades away and becomes part of the bogeyman gumbo of childhood like waiting for the appearance of ogres under the bed.

I don't have to worry about the hidden monsters anymore. I've already met them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Remembering JFK

Each year during the past forty six, there has been less and less said about JFK's assasination. It appalls me, but I understand that most of us living today weren't even born in 1963. I was kind of in love with the Kennedy administration even though I was still too young to have voted for him. His legacy today, however, is laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little.

This is blatently wrong. Kennedy's greatness grows with each year even though the tributes wane. True, he allowed Khruschev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions."

But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.

The thing I remember about the Kennedy administration was the sense of idealism and public service it inspired in our youth, more than I have seen since, even though President Obama came close in 2008. We wanted to serve; patriotism was not just a word being being thrown back in our faces when we disagreed with government's policies, it was a conviction. We believed passionately and reacted fervently.

As for his accomplisments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. His major accomplisment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the successful maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest.

And though there seem to be few tributes today, JFK, this forty-sixth anniversary of your assasination, I remember. And I am grateful to have learned my political abcs under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with calm and grace. How refreshing it would be if our leaders today would learn to do the same.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Biding Biden

Joe Biden has been taking a lot of flack lately. From Arianna Huffington came the amazing and off the wall statement that Biden should resign if President Obama decides to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending in more troops as prescribed by General Stanley McChrystal. Why? Because she feels that no one spoke up during the decision making process to bomb Iraq during the Bush years and that officials filled the "Best Seller" stacks by writing "mea culpa" explanations long after the time they could have made a difference by speaking up.

And I agree that our president can not make intelligent decisions when he is coddled by those who would not rock the boat with an opposing point of view.

That's not Biden however. He IS speaking up and he has the president's ear. Any president needs to surround himself with men like Biden -- men who are not afraid to voice their opinions even though they differ from the president's and many of those top ranking White House aides who support him. Biden is that man and Obama chose him to be that man who perhaps at times, can the be that perfect source of irritation required to produce to right decision.

I like Biden. He should not resign no matter what the decision is, because the president needs and wants him. He is a crucial element to a thoughtful and intelligent decision making process and the President of the United States is too intelligent not to realize it.

FOX Trot

I really have to disagree with the White House on this one. I'm mostly a supporter of the new administration and not generally a fan of FOX News; however, in this instance I think the WH needs to take a more grown up position instead of the "I'm taking my marbles and going home" attitude we've been witnessing by not going on FOX News.


There are clowns on FOX News that we all know are not journalists, but that's true of the other cable stations. I don't approve of any of them, no matter what their views. However, we need a free media including the many over-blown egos at FOX News, to spew their points of view, stir up their listeners and make people get involved. It doesn't mean we have to like what they say, but we can't just ignore them -- we own the air waves, right?

If you don't like it, complain about it. But don't pretend they don't exist and for God's sake, be brave enough to to get up there and have a rough and tumble disagreement -- I'd expect the viewers would welcome it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart

This is the story of a real-life adventure by a young Scotsman who walked through Afghanistan, “…surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers’ floors, shared their meals and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way Stewart met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. . .” (Back cover of Harvest Original Harcourt, Inc. publication.)

This was a fascinating book in every way and gives all of us insight into the tribal mentality of the average Afghan, his loyalties, his rivalries with other tribes, his distrust of his own government and finally, his ancient respect and generosity for the lonely traveler.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Glenn Beck is the product of a fat, lazy, satisfied, citizenry which is used to being fed pap. What I mean is, we are used to swallowing without chewing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What is a Demagogue?

"One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots!" H. L. Mencken

Hitler was a demagogue. Obama is not. Fact is, Obama gives the American people far too much credit for being intelligent, reasonable beings, when in fact there appears to be a large number that are -- in Mencken's words -- IDIOTS!

Let them keep their children home from school on Tuesday. Don't allow them to hear from a man who in spite of all the odds stacked against him, became the most powerful and respected man in the civilized world. Even right wing TV host Bill O'Reilly wrote an article recently about how much Barack Obama can teach our children.

But some parents of young school children are afraid because they have fallen under the influence of "demagogy" just as surely as if they had been standing in a stadium chanting "heil Hitler" seventy years ago. They've been told to fear Obama because he is different, that he is foreign, that he might fill their children with radical ideas, when those ideas are likely to be working hard and setting goals, perseverance, respect for one's parents, supporting the helpless, using reason rather than confrontation to eliminate conflict -- radical ideas indeed for a true demagogue because what he wants is control.

Demagogy has existed for centuries. There will always be those whose need for control outweighs the needs of the people. But the United State of America did not become the most powerful nation in the world because we were controlled; our power comes from our people and our respect for the individual and the rights of the individual. We have always emphasized freedom of the individual, including all the rights we believe in so deeply, but especially the right to think for ourselves. More than that, the individual freedoms that include free speech, freedom to believe in any god or no god and of course, political freedoms. Once we have abrogated those rights, we will begin to decline and it won't be because President Obama speaks to our children on a Tuesday after Labor Day. It will be because too many are allowing themselves to be manipulated by "demogogues" whose only goal is to control the controllable or as H. L. Mencken puts it -- preaching to a bunch of idiots!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Passing the Torch

We all expected Senator Edward M. Kennedy to die because of his virulent cancer. That's not a surprise. What is a surprise is how emotionally some of us reacted. To me, it's the end of an era and the knowledge that I belonged to a generation that truly involved themselves in the running of their country. I'm no longer the idealist I used to be, but I do know that the Kennedys believed in "service" as we did. None of them was perfect, but they believed in service and they served; they lost three brothers at an early age, in service to their country and the fourth who served a lifetime in the Senate with dignity and integrity. That's called "public service."

It is said that "to whom much is given, much is expected" (something like that).

The Kennedys fulfilled that promise and now that the first generation is mostly gone, I will be watching with much interest to see who emerges from the second.

Rest in Peace, Ted. You did your job well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Israel and Iran

In an interview on CNN with Fareed Zakaria, Sunday, 08-16-09, Michael D. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., made a statement that Israel “will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.” Pressed on his use of the word “introduce,” he repeated it numerous times, ending finally with the words “introduce or deploy.”

Really? But isn’t Iran located in the “Middle East?”

Why, then, is Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, going around saying that Israel will strike Iran before the end of the year? He has been trying to drum up support for this position from Europe recently, likely because the Obama Administration has been slightly cool to Netanyahu’s hawkishness towards Iran, since the June 12 elections made it abundantly clear that Iran is not just a group of bearded, theocratic clergy with a frightening figure head, but a nation of young moderates who are not happy with their current regime.

Perhaps I have a fairy tale mind, but I strongly believe we must not interfere with Iran; we must act with reason and restraint and proceed just as Obama is proceeding. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will eventually be overthrown by the people of Iran and the resulting government will not be tainted by U. S. interference. Reigning in the aggressive and militant Israelis will be a far greater challenge.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I am such a fan of the BBC presentation of Merlin, seen on NBC in the U.S on Sundays. It is an offbeat (and upbeat) modernish presentation of the ancient legend of Camelot, of course, with a couple of cute young dudes playing the roles of Merlin and Prince Arthur in their late teens.

King Uther, Arthur's father, does not allow sorcery in the kingdom and consequently, Merlin is obliged to keep his extraordinary gifts a secret at least for the moment, or he will be tried for witchcraft.

In the meantime, he is the prince's servant, but it is a gratifying relationship in which the two young men find themselves, as Merlin has promised to protect Arthur as the heir apparent to Camelot. This, from the mouth of a friendly dragon upon whose advice Merlin relies greatly.

This is a sweet and endearing fairy tale the whole family can watch, so atypical of the normal blood and guts fare our kids are expose to.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lessons from Obama

I am not a FOX fan, but I give credit to Bill O’Reilly for speaking up in last weekend’s Parade Magazine. The article, entitled, “What President Obama Can Teach America’s Kids” was a fair and unbiased commentary on beating the odds.

Obama’s tough childhood, says O’Reilly, can teach all of us, but especially children, that success and stability are not dependent on a fairy tale childhood or the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth rearing. Obama can teach by example how five lessons brought him to where he is: forgiveness (of the father who abandoned him), respect (towards the family that raised him), persistence (no excuses), hard work (not giving up), and faith that in America anything is possible (the greatest lesson of all).

Thanks, Bill. It’s nice to see you off your FOX rant for a change. Try it again sometime

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


With news that the two young American journalists have been "pardoned" by the North Koreans, and are at this moment, by all accounts, traveling home with former President Bill Clinton, I feel only gratitude that we have finally evolved to a level of diplomacy.

Diplomacy does not translate into "weakness." Diplomacy means that humans can communicate by means other than violence and that discussion, and yes, even concession can bring about one's ultimate goal without shooting or bombing or otherwise dismembering your opponent.

My father learned this tool at an early age. He used to say, "talk to the man at the top; he has to put his pants on one leg at a time just like you do." In other words, no matter how powerful the man, the country, the agency, the club, the school, the territory, there is a man or woman, a human being in charge with whom one can speak. This is how big business is conducted: the "good ol' boys" as we used to call them, are men who put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do. Make a deal with the man at the top and you've made a business coup in behalf of your own company.

It is apparent that Al Gore, Bill Clinton and more than likely President Obama, learned this rule, too and it saved the lives of two hard-working young women. For that we are grateful. Diplomacy = talking with other humans. That's all that high-falutin term means. Isn't that disarmingly simple?

Gettysburg Cyclorama

When we were in Gettysburg, we visited the Gettysburg Cyclorama at the Gettysburg War Memorial. This was an incredibly moving experience for both of us and one of the highlights of our trip east.

Briefly, the cyclorama is a series of paintings begun by a French artist named Paul Phillipoteaux back in 1882 or almost 20 years after the actual battle at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) took place. The aggregate works are presented in a 360 degree panorama with lighting, living plants and shrubs and other special effects creating a three-dimensional illusion of immediacy that translates into eerie reality.

One can "feel" the cold and grey dawn after the final battle, followed by a subtle red which imbues the sky and is reminiscent of the blood that has been shed. This is followed by a mist moving swiftly across the sky as the smoke from the now silent cannons rises above the dead and wounded.

The statistics are brutal: over 51,000 combined casualties, 569 tons of ammunition expended, 5,000 horses killed.

The exhibition is so real and so heart-breaking, one is filled both with horror and pride: horror that man can bring such havoc to his brother; pride that courage and sacrifice were just as evident on that long ago battlefield.

This is unequivocably the single most powerful memorial of the Civil War that I've ever witnessed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"IRAN URGENT>CONFIRMED: Mir Hossein Mousavi has announced that he will be joining the masses in attendance at the Friday Prayers this Friday, July 17, 2009, being held at Tehran University in Tehran, Iran." FaceBook 07-15-09

Perhaps Mousavi has gained strength from Grand Ayatollah al Sistani and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, neither of whom support Ahmadinejad according to what I've heard.
This will be an event to watch as it portends more violence in my opinion.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What's going on in Iran?

I realize the international media has been expelled from Tehran, but little has been reported since we heard that the Grand Ayatollah al Sistani, who lives in Iraq, has condemned the election as questionable. Anyone?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New to Blogging

Hello out there. I am finally ready to join the twenty first century with my new blog. I will be writing about the most interesting of subjects of course: my take on politics, current events, literature and movies. And, occasionally a rant about something or other that sticks in my craw.

Be assured that I've never been without an opinion about anything and I will therefore look forward to opposing views of which I expect many. My only requisite is that you be kind?

Thank you dear reader and I plan to meet with you again as soon as I get my photo uploaded and all my personal stuff added to my profile. Until then.