Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day?

An admired acquaintance, Cindy Uken, produces an eponymous website dedicated, primarily, to local politics.

Today Uken uses the space for a poem by CDR Kelly Strong, USCG (Ret), which is a nice use of her space on this special day.

I am struck, though, by Uken's use of the generic "Happy Memorial Day!"

Happy? Somehow that seems counterintuitive to the underlying somberness of the day. What, though, would be more appropriate? Certainly Sad wouldn't work. Sober? Is there a single word which encompasses the costs of Patriotism--as well as our acceptance of those costs?

The word-problem is certainly larger than the generic "Happy," which we use for virtually all holidays. It extends to such facile phrases as "War on Terror." One cannot, logically, war against terror. Terror is a tactic. One cannot bomb a tactic--an idea.

We need to practice more accuracy in our diction. Where, though, to start?

"It's Memorial Day."

"Ah. Memorial Day."

"Reflective Memorial Day."


Thank you for the poem, Cindy. Have an Appropriate Memorial Day!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Et tu, Brute?

Mr. Bush used Gen. Petraeus' name so often during this morning's press conference that it might do the general some good to watch his back.

Come September, given the President's penchant for not accepting responsibility for the wrongness of this battlefront in the "ideological struggle," if the "surge" isn't dramatically successful, somehow the responsibility for the failure will come to roost upon the general's shoulder boards..."It was his idea; he made me do it. I just listened to the general."

God bless the troops.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fulness of Oneself

Words and memories and metaphors, Dear Reader, make up the universe of pleasure.

Not quite a week after the death of Jerry Falwell we have another interesting bit of a rememberance. Check out Larry Flynt's piece in the Los Angeles Times today.

My favorite quote, "He was definitely selling brimstone religion and would do anything to add another member to his mailing list. But in the end, I knew what he was selling, and he knew what I was selling..."

"Selling" is the operative word in Mr. Falwell's life. He was very good at it. What he sold most was himself. He was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Look at pictures of his early days in broadcasting. Look at pictures of his final days in life. He became a corporate fat cat--the "Rev. Ike" of the white Baptist-types.

Rev. Ike and Pastor Jer. Two American success stories.

What pleasure to be reminded of Rev. Ike at this moment in history.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Civilization? Well, I guess.

Here in central Palm Springs, we have reminders of the wonderful range of nature.

Yesterday I watched a mockingbird chase a crow across the sky. The mockingbird dive bombed the crow; the crow was reduced to looking over its shoulder (do crows have shoulders?), trying to get a bead on the location of the angry attacker in order to avoid a sharp peck.

We have hummingbirds and blackbirds in the condo area. A pair of mockingbirds have taken up residence in a bougainvilla 10 feet from my kitchen door. Ground squirrels bounce in an open space across the street. Rabbits hide out in a brushy area about a half block from here. Ducks have been chased out of the pool behind my apartment; geese regularly visit a water hazard in the golf course which abuts the association's property.

And 5 minutes ago, a relatively healthy looking coyote ambled past my office window.

How nice of all these animals to let us live in peace.

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She Didn't Say That...Did She?

Over at the local newspaper, The Desert Sun, a new editorial page "Community Conversation Editor," Angela Cortez, is learning the ropes.

An editorial page commentary on Jerry Falwell today, Falwell's views opened door for many, has an interesting clue as to the direction Ms Cortez is likely to take.

After a rather benign recitation of objective facts, the editorial writer concludes with this: For better or for worse, Falwell was a religious and political force in this country, and his views - while at times despicable and inexcusable - opened the door for a lot of like-minded people to have their voice heard.

Read into that whatever you like. I, for one, like to read that those "like-minded people" are "despicable and inexcusable."

I repeat my contention: Falwell died too soon; he didn't have a "deathbed" conversion/apology as was granted to Lee Atwater, another political operative whose main function in life was to "spin" the truth to achieve questionable ends.

I wonder what Ms Cortez, and/or the editorial writer, meant.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Over at Ol' Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish, a mini-insurrection is brewing.

It has to do with Andrew's penchant for loquacity, and then some.

In an effort to cut down on the verbosity in some of his postings, Andy (I don't know him well enough to call him that, but he'll never read this, so...WTF) has decided to post a couple of paragraphs, then send his readers on to the complete posting through 'a "Continue reading ..." link to the full version.'

The response has been less than overwhelmingly positive. It seems as though most of us are too lazy to "hit the link(s)!" The complaints resulted in this from Andrew, "Screw you, guys. Seriously, I'm going to keep it but use it sparingly - when a post is more than two paragraphs long." (No doubt in my mind, the screwing is meant as a jocular metaphor.)

I sent TDD the following email under the subject of "...continue reading..." : Maybe you could be less verbose.
(screw you back)
To which I appended a cutesy smiley face.

Imagine my surprise when I received this from "Andrew": "lol"

The question, dear virtually non-existant reader, is What does lol mean? Lots of luck? Lots of laughs? Look out, Loser?

And surely Andrew is too busy (at least I hope so) writing to respond to all the cutesies he receives during the day. So, did a factotum respond? Is it really Lots of luck, meaning, "Andrew, shorten? Edit? Cull? lol!"

Or not?

Keep writing, Andrew. You're a credit to us all.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Madding Mantra...(almost)

Mantra is probably too strong. The repetition of something like "how we got here is not important anymore" by the supporters of Mr. Bush's initial invasion of Iraq and the subsequent questionable management of the occupation is certainly approaching the repetitive, soporific qualities of a mantra; but it might not yet have arrived.

A question arises, though. Why not?

Why isn't it important to keep near in our consciousness the questionable rhetoric used by the administration to lead the American public first to accept the invasion, and then to put up with the questionable policies developed to police occupied Iraq?

Trust in the administration's capabilities led us to where we are. Doesn't the administration have the responsibility to defend, aloud and publicly, its strategies at this point? Does "give it a chance" suffice?

The Islamist fundamentalists are a real threat. What, exactly, is the administration's strategy in this "ideological struggle?"

Republican defense of this president's war policies needs more than "forget" about how we got here.

We would be foolish to forget. We must remember who. We must remember why.

Fool me once...

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sufficient Troops and Politicians

Waaay back, in 2002, the Chief of Staff for the Pentagon recommended 400,000 to 500,000 thousand U.S. troops be utilized to defeat Hussein and to sustain peace and order in an occupied Iraq.

That recommendation was shot down by a politician, the Secretary of Defense, and that negative was sustained by another politician, the Commander in Chief.

During the early occupation months, calls went out for more troops, but the Commander in Chief constantly told the American people that the generals on the ground did not ask for more troops, so none would be provided--politicians would not second guess the generals on the ground.

After the elections of 2006, after an electoral repudiation of the Commander in Chief's handling of the Iraqi occupation.

When politicians, responding to the electoral desires of the American public began to demand a re-deployment, a lessening of American troop levels in Iraq, all of a sudden the Commander in Chief, responding to a sudden "need" for more troops from the generals, discovered the solution to the problems in Iraqi occupation would be solved, in part, by more troops. This in the face of "politicians" trying to "micromanage" the occupation effort.

So, as long as the Commander in Chief had a compliant Congress, no increase in troops was needed; after a repudiation of the CiC's policies at the polls, there is a desperate need for troops.


America weeps.

All for a tax cut in 2000.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

You're Entitled? Really? Says Who? And to What?

What with all the fiscal brouhaha surrounding the various "entitlements" today, I'm often struck by my own lack of a sense of entitlement, or at least lowered expectations of entitlement. My mother and a now unnamed Catholic priest disabused me of "entitlement" some sixty years ago.

Mother first: I desperately wanted a toy of some sort, and I carefully planned my statement of need to my mother. I can't remember the specifics of the actual approach, but I've never forgotten the immediate result, "No. I need new shoes, and I can't afford a toy right now."


There was no appeal.

Around that time, a couple of seconds, perhaps, in terms of the longevity of the earth, I was sitting in church with my Mother (Where was my father during all of this?), listening to a sermon about family. I remember being very pleased with myself--this was a sermon about me, since I was part of a family. All of a sudden, the priest said something to the effect of (I'll use quotes, but, really, who can remember the exact quote of a sermon decades past?), "Remember, the relationship between the husband and wife is the most important part of a family. Not the children."


No. No. No. I am the most important part of this family!

I remember looking at my mother, shocked, and she looked back at me with the (memory may fail the exactitude, but not the message) equivalent shrug of, "What? You're surprised? Get real."

Eventually, I did.

All of this is remembered today because of the lead opinion column in today's Los Angeles Times. Dan Neil, a writer for the Times has penned a personal essay about abortion. It is engrossing.*

The Neils, for medical reasons, and, after much consultation and deliberation, underwent a medical procedure which ended the pregnancies of two male fetuses, leaving two female fetuses intact.

The reason Neil gives for the decision was simple; without the abortion, "[Her] health would have been in jeopardy, according to her doctor. The fact is, multiple pregnancies are high risk, and they can go bad very suddenly. I wasn't going to allow that, though the fires of hell might beckon."

The Neils wanted children very badly; they had been in consultation with fertility specialists. The pregnancy, however, had not been easy. He was, rightly, concerned most about the health of his wife. The fetuses were secondary.

Neil goes on to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision to allow the federal statute banning certain late term abortions to stand. He particularly mentions the comments of Justice Kennedy which, patronizingly, states this law is good for women because it protects them from "the mental and moral trauma of the procedure."

We should thank the Neils for their courage. Making their story public can't have been an easy decision. Surely it wasn't as difficult, though, as the decision to undergo the procedure.

Neil also raises other issues, such as time limitations and the macabre law in South Carolina where a woman must look at a sonogram of her fetus.

There are alarm bells ringing out there. Is anyone listening? This is an "entitlement" women really don't want to lose.

No one is pro-abortion; everyone should be pro-choice.

*The print copy is titled "And then there were two," while the on-line copy if called "The abortion debate brought home." Why does the Times do that?

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Just because the phone rings...(a modern dilemma)

A neighbor regularly walks two dogs, one a small poodle, the other a large long haired red retriever. This morning, as the retriever had just finished relieving himself (herself?) and the neighbor was 1) tugging the poodle back towards himself (and out of my way), and 2) trying to manipulate his fecal-retrieving tools and the retriever's leash, his cell phone rang.

Neighbor stood frozen for a moment--flummoxed! What to do? Call the poodle? Call the by now roaming retriever? Pick up the droppings? Answer the phone?

It sort of gives new meaning to Longfellow's line, "The world is too much with us..."

Maybe we don't need to carry phones with us 24/7.

Then again, maybe we do.

(I smiled, walked on and heard him say, loudly, "I'm with the dogs!")

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