Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

JFK Remembered November 22, 1963

Here is my assessment of John F. Kennedy -- today on the fifty-second anniversary of his assassination.

Each year during the past fifty two, there has been less and less said about JFK's assassination (until 2013 or the fiftieth anniversary of his death). 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 Kennedy back then and was an ardent follower of him and his brother Bobby.  We believed in them, pure and simple, and the fire they provoked in my generation. 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 blatantly wrong.

Kennedy's legacy grows with each passing year even though the tributes wane, (Chris Matthews’ new book, “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” notwithstanding which documents true heroism during WWII in the Pacific Theatre). True, he allowed Khrushchev 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 us, more than I have seen since, even though President Obama came close in 2008. We wanted to serve back then; patriotism was not just a word being thrown back in our faces when we disagreed with government policies, it was a conviction. We believed passionately and reacted fervently.

As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. His major accomplishment, 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 fifty second anniversary of your assassination, I remember. And I am grateful to have learned my political abc's 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. You spoke decisively, with care for the feelings of your listeners, with admiration for those who covered you, with respect for those who opposed you and with dignity that matched the office you once held.

Today we see a travesty of those qualities we once held sacred -- integrity, decorum and grace.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Complexities of the English Language- a reprise.

With the undaunted and continuous reporting on every aspect of our world – both political and personal – as a result of the “twenty-four-hour-news cycle,” certain phrases appear again and again in our Media ad nauseum.   It isn’t just the “talking heads” who commit the sin of “pundit drivel.” It’s the supposed “experts” of all fields whom the pundits interview.  

We are being proselytized on a daily basis to thinking in terms of the clichéd cliché.
Here are few that have come to make me cringe:  

“. . .having said that...”

“. . .that being said. . .”

“. . .at the end of the day. . .”

“. . .we’ll get to that on the other side. . .” (of the commercial break).

“. . .he allegedly. . .” (did something like cross the street).  

". . .whatever. . ."

". . . it is what it is . . ."  

“. . .what were (are) your feelings. . .?” (asked of someone who can hardly speak because of being choked up with tears after a tragedy in their lives).

". . .sorry for your loss  . . ."

". . .what was going through your mind . . .? (when the gunman shoved the gun in your face). 

“. . . let’s DO this. . .”

“. . . be that as it may. . .”

“. . . so . . . “  (a word currently used to preface the answer to a question – Mike Morell should know better!)

“. . . like . . . “  (Oh, please, let’s get rid of this word used to begin a sentence or to fill a pause.  Like, I'd be over-joyed!)  

“. . . I know what the optics are. . .” The White House Staff uses “optics” a lot.  How about something like, “. . . I know how this appears. . .”

Appearances do matter and so do words.

My latest peeve, however, is the use of “complex” when the speaker means “complicated.”  Yes, the dictionary makes it sound like they are interchangeable.  However, there is a subtle difference in the connotation of the words.  In the case of the word “complex” the connotation is and has always been one of the following: containing multiple interconnected parts; a composite; multi-faceted; a complex system of something.  

"Complicated," on the other hand, is not that complicated -- it connotes difficult to understand, analyze, explain or follow.

Am I the only one who gets rankled with the sloppy use of "I" and "me," "he" and "him" as well as "she" and "her?"  One should give it to "me;" therefore, one should also give it to "him and me" or "her and me."  Please don't let one give it to "her and I," since one would never give it to "I," would they?   I guess it's just me!  

Next up:  my rant on Pharmaceutical commercials.  I’ll bet you can’t wait! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nineteen Eighty Four Revisited

I am writing my memoirs and by doing so, I discovered that I am a rebel.  It's not that I never knew I was a rebel, but because of the process of writing, I've decided to own up to it. 
Being rebellious is not a negative thing though it does sometimes mean going in the opposite directions of the general drift of society or established opinion.    

I never saw myself as a political rebel, though I must say that today I feel that the more corporate America takes over almost every facet of our lives, including buying our “elected” officials, the more we are thrust into having to submit to regulatory restrictions, and the more “big brother” interferes with the truly personal choices of our lives, the more I think we should rebel.

I am not suggesting we take up arms and start an insurrection but I do recommend thinking about some of the propaganda we’re exposed to on a daily basis simply by watching television.  We're being brainwashed either by the commercials or the lies our politicians toss out there, freely and without remorse or regret. It is immoral and degrading.  But, it’s just politics, right?  And, I don’t need to remind you that there are at least 10 minutes of commercials in every half hour of content. Think about it!  We, the public, are supposed to own the air waves. 

Included are the news media. All of our broadcast networks as well as CNN have basically the same news content which they regurgitate over and over ad nauseum especially if it is salacious or has a racial component; to wit, Ferguson and Baltimore.  There are real journalists out there, but I rarely see them on our news channels. Anything that is the least bit sensational will take precedence over "hard" news.  

As a rebel, I have stopped watching the standard networks. I watch the BBC, The DW from Berlin or Al Jazeera America.  At least I can find out what is going on in the rest of the world.

I have to admire the so-called “free range” parents who had the audacity to allow their children to walk home alone and were turned in by (no doubt) well meaning neighbors. Of course there are sick people out there and we should protect our kids, but we cannot hover over them for the rest of their lives keeping them safe from every event that might occur in the future. These parents are considered deviant.  Or are they just rebels?     

It takes courage to be a rebel because as a rebel, you are taking a risk, putting yourself out there, opening yourself up to criticism, or even derision. If we err against the current mantra of "political correctness" we are in danger of becoming a victim of the "thought police."  

Have we indeed become the fictional society imagined by George Orwell, controlled by newspeak and afraid to utter a thoughtcrime? 

Read. Think. Write letters. Boycott.  Speak out against the pap shoved down our throats by media, politicians and their corporate bosses.  Speak out against the utter lack of accountability, against sameness and conformity.  

Be a rebel.  


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Open Letter to Israel


I am an American woman and U.S. citizen – a staunch supporter of Israel. 
I’ve admired the Israeli people for years -- long after I got over my teenage infatuation with Ari ben Canaan (Exodus, 1958).  For years, I fervently believed in the courage and fearlessness of the early underground, Haganah (IDF), the inherent romantic ideal of the Sabra and the immensely sensible structure of the Kibbutzim.  
Your people brought forth a veritable garden from the dry and rocky Negev Desert.  You elected the miraculously astute Golda Meir as your Prime Minister long before most countries would take their women seriously as political leaders.  And, you allowed your women to fight.  This is a country to be proud of, I remember thinking – you were resourceful, brainy and courageous.

But then, you elected Benjamin Netanyahu as your Prime Minister and I began to doubt.  Netanyahu appears to have no desire for the peace process.  I believe that he hates the Arabs and thinks the only thing they understand is force; to wit, the long-standing wars and the continued illegal settlements. He is pompous, he is arrogant; he is a destroyer, not a builder.  

I have come to despise his muscle-flexing and his interminable fear-mongering over Iran.

And now, after his duplicitous behavior in concert with our Speaker of the House of Representatives, I believe he is not only careless, by his reckless interference in our political system, but is a danger to our country as well as yours.

Bradley Burston in a recent piece in Ha’aretz, says of your prime minister  “. . . he has poisoned his country. Israel is broken and battered and weak with fear... His legacy is decay."

If you re-elect Benjamin Netanyahu, he and his bellicose defense minister, Avignor Lieberman could take us ALL to war with Iran, as we Americans will never be far from our greatest ally -- you. However, I do not want more war and I do not believe that the majority of your people want war. 

And that is why I feel I must speak to you.  I do not wish to interfere in the internal politics of Israel – I speak only because your decision has a direct bearing on my life and the lives of my children.

Please do not allow Benjamin Netanyahu and his war-mongering party this opportunity. Please remind me and the rest of the world that Israel is made of sterner stuff.  Show us the gutsy, courageous and dynamic people you have always been.    

Make the change!      

Friday, February 20, 2015

Netanyahu's Arrogance Embarasses Rabbi

Thanks to Rabbi David Teutsch -- finally, a voice of reason!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Legacy of Thomas Merton

I did not know the man; I wish I had.  Still his impact on my young life was powerful.

I was seventeen when I first read The Seven Storey Mountain and I identified with the story of his conversion – indeed, his life. I wanted to emulate him, I even briefly considered becoming a nun, and lived my life as a staunch Catholic until 9 years of a disastrous marriage cured me of religion and the Catholic Church to which I never returned. 

Little did I know that Merton was undergoing an enlightenment of his own; he was beginning to study the ancient Eastern religions and meet with masters of wisdom in Zen, Buddhism --  the Dalai Lama.  Thomas Merton was “catholic” in the truest sense of the word. Perhaps this new and liberal Pope will follow  his path of inclusiveness.  

Happy 100th birthday, Thomas Merton.      

Friday, January 30, 2015

". . . a cynical political move . . ."

You may have thought at first that these words were uttered by someone on the White House staff in response to Netanyahu’s rude (to be kind), and irresponsible (to be accurate) acceptance of an invitation to speak to our U.S. Congress on March 3. 

You would be wrong.  This excerpt came from Netanyahu’s former hand-picked ambassador to the US, Michael Oren as reported on the Israel website YNET.  Here is the full statement:  

“The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran. It’s advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House.”

Granted, Mr. Oren recently announced he is running for the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament,  as part of the Kulanu Party led by Moshe Kahlon,  a centrist in Israeli politics; however, he is not alone in his criticism of Netanyahu’s brash and braggadocio behavior on the world stage:

There are many prominent Israeli journalists and politicians who abhor the brazenness of his  move, along with Israeli supporters here in the U.S., who were “sick to their stomachs. . .” when they heard the news – a sentiment shared with Israeli columnist, Chemi Shalev. One of those staunch supporters here in the U. S. was FOX News’ Chris Wallace:

“I’m shocked,” he said.  “For Netanyahu to do something that is going to be seen as a deliberate and really pretty egregious snub of Obama when Obama is going to be in power for the next year and three quarters would seem to be a very risky political strategy.”

There are others too numerous to quote here.  Suffice it to say that Netanyahu is a sly and successful politician, with a history of blatant publicity ploys used to his advantage; in this instance, however, he may have gone too far, considering the backlash over the last week. 

Of course, complicit in this entire fiasco is our own John Boehner.

Speaker John Boehner should, without further ado, withdraw his invitation to Netanyahu until after the Israeli election and the new Prime Minister, whoever she/he is, has a legitimate mandate from the Israeli people -- untainted by the shameful ploys of unworthy politicians. There are many in the race who qualify.   

As to our own illustrious Speaker of the House -- you embarrass me, John Boehner.