Thursday, July 24, 2014


I’m reading with wonder and amazement the various articles and, even more, so the commentary on those articles, about the Israeli actions in Gaza.  It appears that the Israelis have managed to piss off many folks around the globe. The disproportionate Palestinian death rate is of course to be expected since Hamas fighters don’t really fight. When approached by troops with guns, they fade into the shadows and push unarmed civilians out into the open. No, Hamas is at its best when firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel. 

Or, perhaps when they convince some young thing to don a dynamite vest, walk into a crowded marketplace and detonate the vest.  Makes me wonder what the relative death toll is—Israelis killing Muslims, or Muslims killing Muslims?

I have always been struck by the strategic calculus in play. At the beginning, in 1947-48 when the world agreed to establish a Jewish state after the Holocaust, the formal armies of the opposing Middle Eastern states—Jordan, Egypt, Syria, et al began attacking with regular army troops, tanks, planes, etc. That went on for about 20 years—say 1967 and the six-day war. It seems that those nation-states finally awoke to the cold reality that, each time they attacked Israel, they got quite bloody and generally lost some of their territory.  At some point, they must have decided collectively that attacking Israel frontally and with formal armies was a losing proposition. So, they withdrew their pseudo-armies from the field and elected a different strategy—throw civilians into the fray. Give civilians some arms and, especially, some rockets and let them harass Israel by firing indiscriminately so as to kill Jews wherever they could.  That game continues. 

And of course, throughout the Middle East, the anarchy continues with “civilians” using dynamite vested individuals, and now real arms, planes, tanks, missiles, to destabilize not only Israel, but all of the other states.  As a result, the entire region could best be described as anarchic. Adults no longer seem to be in charge anywhere, including Israel.

I wonder, how many people have to die before we conclude that too many people have died??

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

on 59 Years

July 2nd, 1955
Other planets, other times . . .
Every time that I glance at a picture of some friends, in faraway places and times, I am drawn into the world of science fiction—those folks exist somewhere still and if I could only cross the barriers of time and space, I could find them and query them on how life is in their land.  So it is when I view pictures of myself and my lovely bride at the inception of our life together. It is now 59 years and counting since we joined forces and became a tribe of two . . . to be more a bit later.  I had little idea what life would deliver to me and to my bride after we joined forces. And being a kid from Brooklyn, with little travel and even less adventure in my then 20 years, I could not have foreseen the glorious days ahead.
We have moved through exciting and troubled times in our lifetimes—the first and grandest Republican depression, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War,  the Civil Rights Freedom Movement, the election of John F. Kennedy, arguably the most exciting election in my lifetime, then his tragic ending, perhaps inevitable in this bizarre land we call America.  Yet, with all the hate this land of ours continues to generate, much goodness also continues to flow through the land and our life together has managed to capture much of the goodness.  I would say we have been blessed, but that implies an outside hand and no such hand exists. Instead, we have been fortunate, lucky perhaps to have lived the life together that we have.
Every morning now, my bride and I share a little cappuccino and head out to our little pond, where we feed our koi’s and observe our nature preserve. We are surrounded by beauty and by little beautiful critters. Before we drink our cappuccinos, we clink our cups and say, “To us,” a small ritual, but an important one. Then we sit, smile and commune with each other and with our little friends.
In the evening, we complete a similar ritual, although this time with a glass of wine. We observe, we talk to our koi’s, expecting no response, but instead giving them our smiles. They are lovely critters, and because they exist, they give us pleasure, the gentle kind.
So, for brief moments, we relax and forget about our planet and its many, many terminally stupid inhabitants. We are in our little world, and ours is a gentle world. In our world, we are very happy. And we are surrounded by love even outside our little world of two, because we have a large and loving family. The family gives us much love and kindness and we return it in kind. Whether people are blowing themselves up in far away places fails to puncture that love.
And so we celebrate 59 years together and hope for many, many more years. I love my bride now even more than at the beginning of our lifetime together. Our love is now complex and rich.

And so, my love, here’s to us . . .  somewhere, my love those folks pictured below continue to exist . . . we hope they are happy as are we. 

us at 17ish

Rev. Z . . . he who joined us together


Married . . . finally

The cake

Our home . . . Sunnyvale, the 1950s, before it became Silicon Valley

Who knows . . . the 60's

Dressed for dinner
The return from India

The 70s . . . DC life

Bethesda, a bit later

The Millenium turns

Turning 65

Celebrating 49 years with a 9,000 mile road trip
Our glorious little pond


Monday, June 16, 2014

Iraqi Tribalism

Iraqi Tribalism
I have already written about my notions of tribes and tribalism:
See-- What is happening now in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, is tribalism writ large. The groups armed and dangerous, pretend to represent a religious viewpoint, but mostly, they represent a manic desire for power of one tribe over another (see the 12th century). Within these regions, and in places such as northern Mexico, Columbia and a few other South American regions, there is a related phenomenon that most closely resembles organized crime. In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban are, for all practical purposes an organized crime ring, masquerading as a religious tribe. They make their money through the sale of illegal drugs, much as the Mexican drug lords, and they kill anyone who gets in their way.  Similarly, the Iraqi Sunni (ISIS) have been busy looting banks, stealing equipment and killing folks who get in the way. They impose “Sharia law” but mainly that is their way of imposing their own power over the populace.  Mainly, they are thugs.
Here, we have an activist GOP who seek to undermine our President. In the current context of American tribal warfare, they wish him to insert our military, so long, of course, as their own sons do not have to be inserted. Of course, had Obama decided to send in troops, or to bomb the ISIS thugs (assuming he could identify them) the GOP would have objected and threatened impeachment.

Mainly, though, I wonder how we can act rationally to prevent the thugs from killing innocents beyond those already dead. It is not at all clear. When tribalism raises its ugly head, especially when laced with generous heapings of religious fervor, indiscriminate killing is sure to follow. Short of invading Iraq (see George W. Bush) I cannot imagine what we might do to calm things down. I assume that John McCain wants us to send in troops, but John always wants us to send in troops. John is still trying to win the war in Vietnam. Perhaps it would be useful were NATO, Russia, Iran and China to meet and decide to impose international order on the Middle East regions currently in disarray (say, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan). But, after everyone finishes laughing at the absurdity of that idea, try thinking of an alternative (stopping short of turning the region into a nuclear wasteland, of course). All ideas should be submitted to Sarah Palin for vetting, before being submitted to Eric Cantor, before being submitted to John Boehner . . .

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Would Obama Do?

What Would Obama Do?

Thinking About that old saw, “what would Jesus do?” Then it struck me; it guides life without actually thinking. So, I finally figured out how republicans decide what to support and what to oppose. They just ask, “what would Obama do?” Then they do the opposite.  It provides them with definitive guidance that will always please their constituency.

Had Obama decided to leave that soldier behind in Afghanistan, they would surely have been attacking him for leaving one of our guys behind. Having decided to trade our guy for five of their guys, they attack him for negotiating with terrorists (unlike their sainted Ronald Reagan who traded arms with terrorists in exchange for hostages and then used the money to buy arms for right wing terrorists in Nicaragua).

So, Obama is in favor of providing health care to folks currently without health care—they are of course opposed.
Obama favors public education; republicans want to kill public education;
Obama favors Social Security; republicans want to kill it by transferring it to the care of the hedge fund traders.
Obama favors using science to combat climate change; republicans favor continuation of polluting industries.
See, it’s not complicated.

Soooooo . . . maybe Obama needs a new strategy.  How about reversing course and announcing that:
  • Pollution is in
  • Education is bad for Americans
  • Old folks don’t need help, let’m live with their kids
  • People without health care? Too bad.
  • And guns? Force every kindergarten kid to come to school armed with RPGs.
  • Oh, and the LGBT community? Move to France.

And then relax in front of a fire, with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and watch the GOP sputter and fume and then, change their position. Hahahahahahaha . . . wouldn’t that be fun?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day

Thinking about Memorial Day.

What is it? Well:
·         It’s the day we run the big NASCAR race at the Charlotte/Concord Motor Speedway, where hundreds of thousands of folks get all boozed up and sit watching breathlessly to see if a car going 200 mph will crash and burn into the turn;
·         It’s a really big shopping day, when we can get dazzling sales discounts at stores all over the region;
·         It’s a day for grilling burgers, brats and sucking up beer, as we sit outside enjoying our day off;
·         It’s the final day of our beach weekend before heading home through masses of cars and trucks all trying to also get home;
·         Oh yeah, it’s also a day to think about our troops presently in harm’s way and our veterans sitting somewhere trying to get some medical care.

How did we allow this to happen?  What’s “this” you ask?  Well, “this” is the corruption of a day we should be honoring our soldiers, to yet another day in which we honor money, and drinking, and generally trying to forget everything. I know that various folks tried to do the same thing to Veteran’s Day, aka Armistice Day. At the least we avoided turning that day into yet another three-day weekend. The Armistice occurred at 11:00 AM, on the 11th day of the 11th month in the year of 1918 so it seems entirely appropriate that we honor those soldiers of a far away and mostly forgotten war on the 11th day of the 11th month.. We did convert that day into a broader celebration, honoring our soldiers and veterans.

I realize that our Republican friends have been trying to pin the debacle of veterans’ health care on our current President. Happily, however much they have tried, it is abundantly clear to all those who still think, that, however well or badly President Obama has handled the VA health care mess, he did not invent it. We have been scandalously ignoring our veterans since we began having veterans. Mainly, our various Congresses have never been able to generate enough money to build and operate a system of health care that is capable of handling all of our veterans. It may well be the case that veterans should be able to obtain their health care at any health care facility, paid for in advance by the American people. One way or another, that would require tax dollars. The current republican bunch, however much they love to send our troops to war, cannot bring themselves to employ tax dollars to pay for the full consequences of our wars.

Maybe it is true. If you can’t actually care for your troops and your veterans in a fully honorable way, don’t keep sending your troops to war. It’s really that simple. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Benghazi Lite

OK, so how many of you love watching reruns of Seinfeld, or Sex and the City, when you become bored with the infantile humor and commercials on The Big Bang Theory? At least with reruns, you can fast forward the commercials.  So that’s how I understand the recent Benghazigate hearings, or is it Benghazilla?  Reruns are in, mainly because the writers seem to have run out of ideas, and because TV has been taken over by endless, mindless commercials.  So it is with the House Teabaggers.  If they aren’t dallying with some idea that was popular in 1830, they’re trying to recreate the excitement of a distant past when hearings were in and the public was glued to their TV sets, awaiting the next installment.
But, I submit that Benghazi-II is really more like a rerun of the GOP presidential primary debates than Seinfeld—amusing, but you can only watch it so often before it becomes painfully and terminally stupid.  No, Benghazi just doesn’t make it to the top tier for rerun material.  I submit, that other national geopolitical issues would fit the bill better as national attention-getters.  How about one or more of the following:
Iraq WMD-gate: yeah, we could invite all those old favorites—Donny Rumsfeld—he’s so much fun. And old Dickiebird Cheney. Nobody harumphs better than old Dickie. And, of course that old standby, Mushroom-cloud Condi. Yeah, maybe she could sail in on one of her oil tankers and declare victory in Vietnam. That would make Johnnie McCain so happy. Think of the drama, the sturm und drang, as Old Donnie tells the committee why he decided to invade Iraq anyway . . . just cuz he could, don’t you know.  Invasions are just so much fun, especially when you’re sending someone else’s kid into battle.  Yeah, a rerun of Iraq-gate would be great, even better than Seinfeld.
Or, how about Iran-Contra??? We could get old Ollie North to come in and tell us all about the deal whereby, under St. Ronald’s direction, he arranged to sell arms to a terrorist regime, so he could get the money to arm the right wing Contras in Latin America. Yeah, Ollie. He was great. So righteous, especially as prodded by St. Ronald. And, although we can’t get St. Ronald any longer, maybe we could still get Nancy to tell us what Ronnie would have told us (something on the order of “go f#*k yourselves Congress”.
And if you really, really want to dig up some serious shit, why not revisit the history and origins of the Vietnam War. You could begin with Eisenhower and his decision to support the French and then go on to Kennedy, Johnson, and, who could forget Trickie Dick’s plan to end the war . . . by invading Cambodia.  Think of it. We could bring back all those great songsters during the 1960’s and use them as background to your questions. Wow. What fun.
So, let’s get started guys, with a little more imagination. Benghazi. Good grief. Next you’ll be asking me to watch reruns of the Clarence Thomas hearings . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's 1183 Again

Yay . . . it’s 1183 again. Well, I know, technically it isn’t but, what the hell. It’s where we seem headed. We just watched a wonderful old film in our collection, The Lion in Winter, with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. It’s about an aging King Henry and his quarrelsome and underhanded kids, all of whom wish to be king or at the least Lord of their own realm.  Their realms are, of course, fairly scruffy since it was 1183.
And I thought, as I watched, “why this is what our republican brethren wish to recreate.”  Not sure who is aiming to play the various parts—Rand, of course, wishes to be Richard, the ablest of the nasty clan, trying very hard to position himself as the heir apparent.  And the King . . . hmmm. Perhaps Rupert himself, since he seems to want so badly to crown one of the little republican hopefuls. And I thought, maybe Michelle, or Sarah for the queen. They’re both every bit as devious as Queen Eleanor, but neither seems much smarter than my pet rock, so they wouldn’t really serve the part well. But then most republican hopefuls seem a couple of beers short of a six pack, so perhaps the girls are “normal” in republican world.
And as Henry goes about kicking his royal loyal armsmen in the ass to get them moving whenever he wants to go somewhere, or do something nasty, I thought, why yeah, that’s their exact model. And, of course, there’s no safe drinking water since safe water hadn’t yet been invented. In our case, the republican heavy hitters are all about polluting our air and waterways (see the Kochs)..

Yeah, so it’ll be fun seeing 1183 come back. We serfs will have to make do with the leftovers from the repub banquets and I suppose we will learn how to sleep in the corners of the realm. It may even be fun watching the republican idiot-savants fight one another for their piece of the pie, while Rupert, Rove, and the Koch’s sit by and watch the mayhem they invented.. Yeah, good times are just ahead.