Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear Factor - The Pseudo Reality

In the days halcyon days of the cold war, before global warming, the DNC ran an ad now known as “The Daisy Ad.” Take a moment to watch it. Some of you, gentle readers, will remember the ad. I did. Vividly. Others of you probably don’t even know what the cold war was, and will need to better understand why this was terrifying when it was broadcast in 1964. The Cuban Missile Crisis was recent history. Countries were racing to develop their own nuclear arsenals. We were doing duck-and-cover drills along with fire drills at school.

Eventually, it became pretty clear that nuclear winter was a serious byproduct of actually using nuclear weapons and sane thought prevailed. Not that everyone is signed on to SALT and other arms treaties, but generally speaking, we have a clear idea of what constitutes fallout. Of course, when you have children like Kim Jong Il running a country, ll bets are off. 

Face it; fear sells. Even cartoonist James Gillray, back in 1802, was scaring people away from the new cowpox vaccine. And if you think that's just a bunch of silliness, there are a whole lotta people who aren't vaccinating their kids because they refuse to believe the science that goes with vaccination, and are relying on everyone else for herd immunity. But once again, I digress.

The following appeared in Congressclown Kline's email missive this weekend:
Conducting Oversight on the Ebola Epidemic
Nearly 9,000 people have been afflicted with Ebola since the outbreak began, and more than 4,000 have died as a result. My prayers go out to the health care professionals who have contracted Ebola here at home and those impacted by the virus around the globe. In an effort to address this crisis, the House of Representatives has been conducting hearings to assess the federal government’s response. As these oversight efforts progress, I will continue to monitor the situation and any relevant legislation that comes before the House.
This is the only reference to Ebola in the newsletter. Nowhere does he mention the outbreak is in Africa. He neglects to mention only 2 health care professionals have tested positive, and that the lack of protocol was unique to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the original carrier was initially released back into the population without being properly tested for the virus. The two nurses who have contracted the disease will, in all likelihood, be just fine. Mr. Duncan, the original patient from Liberia, was not treated in a timely manner and died. Hmmmmm. Who owns this one?

About 3000 Americans died from the flu last year. Is anyone blaming the President for their deaths? Over 40,000 Americans died last year from preventable diseases including diabetes, measles and whooping cough, so where are the politicians raving about that? Do you see Congressclown Kline or any of his co-clowns-in-crisis jumping up and down about AIDs which still kills thousands of people in this country each year? 

And lest we forget, more than 30,000 of We, the People died from gunshot wounds last year. Wanna talk about sensible gun laws?

This really isn't about Ebola, is it? Nope; it's about fear. It's just that simple. Not that Ebola isn't is....but not nearly as dire as the very real threat of influenza and guns. 

But fear sells papers and increases ratings. Half truths are easier to glom onto than real truth. Just ask the guy in the restaurant who called for an ambulance because he caught Ebola from a pilot:
911 Operator: Sir, sir, listen to me. There's an airline pilot there and he told you he had Ebola?

Caller: Yes, he has been exposed. He came out of West Africa.

911 Operator: He came from West Africa?

Caller: From a European environment. Yep he has.
911 Operator: You said you were exposed?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him. And he has been on a flight from European countries.
911 Operator: Is it just that you've been exposed, or are you having any of the symptoms?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him and having dinner. And he just revealed that he's been in the European countries, including west Africa.
911 Operator: Ok, and are you having any chills or sweats?
Caller: I am not exposed. I am not having any indications.   
Fort Worth, TX 911 call
Really? How did this guy come to this conclusion without help from the media? And how did the media manage to spin this into a giant rumor mill without politicians spouting off nonsense? 

Let's be real clear: travel bans are not going to stop the virus. And the odds of West Africans traveling to Mexico in order to cross the border into the US is also a rather far-fetched scenario. As is the one about the ISIS fighters who are going to infect themselves with Ebola and then come to this country to spread the disease. What are they going to do? Pee on people? Barf in subways and then throw it like monkeys throwing poo in zoos? 

So as a public service, here are some things you need to know about Ebola:
  1. Ebola is an RNA-type virus. It is extremely infectious, but not extremely contagious.
  2. Ebola is not airborne, like the flu or measles. 
  3. Ebola is not contracted through casual contact. Like AIDs, you can become infected by being in direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, or handling contaminated items like bedding or clothing.
  4. Ebola is treatable when caught in early stages. 
The endless barrage of nonsense about Ebola is here to scare you. The non-facts are repeated and repeated until you are tempted to believe the President and his administration are not doing their jobs when, in fact, they are allowing the experts to do theirs. Could they do more? Maybe. Would there be a massive change to contagion management if they instituted travel bans and temperature tests at the airport? No. 

So here's the bottom line: don't listen to anyone trying to scare you. They are after your vote, not your well-being. The talking heads and the political hacks are using this the same way they used the Affordable Care Act death panels, ISIL/ISIS, and immigration. It's the crisis du jour. Ignore them. They make up stuff. If you're reading this, you're already smarter than they are and shouldn't be taken in by their baloney.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Waiting for something exciting to happen can make a week feel like forever. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Candidate?

Well, I've survived the first week of being on my own. Now, on to matters of greater import.

Back in 2008, We, the People elected a fellow name Barack Hussein Obama to be the president of these here United States. He won rather handily, with 52.9% of the popular vote compared with 45.7% for John McCain. Those numbers are outside the statistical margin of error. 

In order to run for POTUS, Senator Obama had to provide proof of natural born citizenship. This was easy enough. His mother was unquestionably from Kansas. He could've been born on Mars...or in Panama like his opponent Senator McCain, and he still would've been a natural born citizen of these here United States by virtue that his mother was a citizen.

Senator Obama became the first black president of these here United States. With 52.9% of the vote, more than just black people voted for him. He had the numbers, he won, and he was declared the winner. 

And it's been downhill ever since. 

No Drama Obama is a smart guy and We, the People, elected him because President Bush II was neither of those things and that proved to be deadly for We, the People. We wanted a guy who wouldn't drag us back into war; in fact, we wanted to be pulled out of a war we had no business being in.  We wanted someone who could right the ship of economy in such a way that it would not be another half-baked-quick-slipshod-shady-bargain-in-the-shuk kinda of fix and we got exactly that: a slow steady recovery, not as fast as some would've liked, but steadily upward. And if it wasn't for this new pseudo-war into which the House would like to drag us, we might be okay.

But we're not. 

From the beginning, Fruit Loops like Donald Trump and the Tea Bags have continued this birther bullshit. The confederacy of GOP congressclowns have done everything possible to sabotage this government, including stopping the government. No other president, not even William Jefferson Clinton and his traveling penis extravaganza, has been subjected to the kind of derogatory and defamatory rhetoric that is currently being broadcast masquerading as campaign-speech....and it isn't even a presidential campaign.

Don't get me wrong; the Democrats are not exactly the poster children for clean campaiging. Both sides own a piece of this action.  But what is getting my knickers all twisted is the abject evil implication of this campaign season. Not that it's ever been clean, fair, or on point, but there is an undercurrent which began with the election of a black president and has escalated into something that shames this nation wholesale. Then venom with which the President's name is spit out in those ads is grotesque. Not President Obama...just Obama, as if he is not worthy of being President of the United States. 

And then it all spills into the local campaigns: they're not about ideas, they're about fear. The issue is not policy, the issue is how to hide croneyism. It's certainly about not about We, the People, it's about deep pockets. And it sure as hell isn't about electing a Congress that will work for the betterment of this nation.

The process has devolved into nothing more than fodder for the chat shows and the butt end of one-liners.

Our little Minnesota 2nd won Bill Maher's Flip-A-District Contest. I had hoped that this would give a bit of a boost to Oberbobermober...but he's functionally invisible. Kline now has ads running on television, but Oberbober has nothing. He couldn't even manage to parlay Maher's visit into anything. His people let Kline's mouthpiece run amok on Bill Maher rather than use the spotlight to get his message out. This isn't a campaign; this is that butt end of a joke. 

That's a shame. Kline, a guy who's never met a checkbook lobbyist he didn't like, will continue to suck up more oxygen in Congress where he does nothing. Says nothing. Accomplishes nothing. He's actually pretty dumb, and if you ever have the misfortune to listen to one of his town hall meetings, you'll know what I mean. Porch light is flickering and there ain't nobody home in there. Instead, he is a shill for the Tea Bags and the other neo-cons who fight to keep America in the dark ages. Kline has sold his soul, his conscience, and his vocal cords to the Koch brothers and my district is going to send that mindless marionette back to Washington without so much as a decent squawk. Makes me want to barf.

Just so you know...this is what set me off this week: images. The images used in a number of ads created by the National GOP election committee are right out of George Orwell and Nazi, Germany. They are dark, distorted, and subliminal. There is an image that keeps popping up and disappearing: the candidate (or I believe in one ad, it's POTUS) with his right arm outstretched waving at the crowd. But the way the ad is cut, it looks like a Nazi salute. There is a subtle intimation that these guys are Nazis. I thought it was me, and then someone else mentioned it, and then two other people mentioned it. It's no accident; nor is it all that subtle. It's fascism. And in case you don't remember what fascism actually means:
Fascists sought to unify their nation through an authoritarian state that promoted the mass mobilization of the national community and were characterized by having leadership that initiated a revolutionary political movement aiming to reorganize the nation along principles according to fascist ideology. Fascist movements shared certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism. Fascism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation, and it asserts that stronger nations have the right to expand their territory by displacing weaker nations.  [from Wikipedia]
This is the direction the GOP and the war mongers are pushing us...neo fascism. Without war, profiteers lose money. Spending our tax dollars on stuff like infrastructure, schools, and roads does not benefit them. Keeping the war machine churning out 2.5 million dollar toilet seats does.

Don't believe me? Listen to James Risen's talk about protecting his sources and his new book PAY ANY PRICE on PBS Newshour

Fasten your seat belts, people, we are in for a very bumpy ride. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When Jeb Bush runs for president....that's when to start really worrying.

Monday, October 6, 2014

FIL has left the building.....

Friday night at sundown began Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. And it's only fitting that a guy who only could remember holidays by what food was served, should take his leave on this day of fasting. The was my Father-In-Law in a nutshell. 

We had had a really good week. We took a ride to an apple orchard. He'd been feeling a bit better with an adjustment to his meds, and he was chattier and much more engaged. We laughed a lot. We made plans to take another ride on Sunday...maybe to see the new bridge in Hastings. He groused that there was no big Friday night dinner this week, and I pointed out it was the beginning of the fast, but a blintz-souffle holiday would start Wednesday night and that cheered him up. Friday right before I served our dinner, Senior Son called home to wish me an easy fast, and then talked to Grandpa about the new band van. Grandpa was so pleased that Senior Son, who is usually totally unconscious about such things,  knew the answers to all his questions like "what kind of tires do you have" and "what oil do you put in the van?"

At about 7:30 a.m., I heard the walker on tiles moving toward the bathroom, and then I listened to see if he would would head into the kitchen where the coffee auto-started at 7:15...which was one sound, or the walker would go back to the carpet of the living room where we had put the hospital bed for him, which was a different sound. Scrape-scrape-quiet told me he went back to bed, so I rolled over and did the same. At 9, I figured I should get up and get ready for shul, and I was already sitting up when I heard him cough...pretty normal...and since he had, just two days before, told me I was "irritating" when after every cough or sneeze I asked him if he was all right...I did not run down the stairs, but went to put a robe on. 

Lt. JG Siegfried
Doc Siegfried ~  DVM
There is a slender balance between doing the right and the wrong thing for aged parents. In Sieg's case, I was flying by the seat of my pants caring for a guy who came from another planet. He grew up on a hardscrabble farm during The Depression where they didn't have enough money to do more than raise enough food for 6 kids with a few extra eggs and some corn to sell in town. He was sent away from home to attend high school. He joined the Navy and went to OCS at Notre Dame never having seen an ocean until he arrived at his first commission. He was the first one to go to college...and he became a doctor. He was as strong as forged steel and as silent. For a kid who grew up near the city in a world with museums, theaters, and summers on the beach, his world could've been another planet. After Ziggy took his leave, it took us a while to find our footing and no, it was not always easy, but we managed. We came to an understanding. After all, he gave me a reason to get up in the morning when I thought I didn't have one. 

As for my own parents, they, too are aged and I am far away. My elder brother masterminds their care, but I have not spent nearly enough time with them these last five years. I end up torn in half, wanting to be in both places at one. Now there will be a bit more time to get down there, but I know it will not be nearly enough to make them happy. And they're quite good at letting me know how they feel.

Somewhere in the middle, I get to figure out who I am. I went from grad school to wife to mother to widow. I've lived on my own for a total of 6 weeks...and that was only because Ziggy was in New Hampshire, the kids at my folks for tennis camp, and I was here trying to sell the house. I knew it was temporary so it was party city all the way. This will be different. This is real life. I have to learn how to say "yes" to invitations. I can go out at night. I can go to the movies, a play, a concert, a lecture without watching the clock. 

Great grandpuppy Bialy
The best laid plans are not always realized and Sieg's plans were not. His plan was to live long enough to hold his first great grandchild in his arms...and then check out. He was looking forward to that. 

There were but a few moments between the cough and my arrival in the living room, but it was long enough. He was lying on his on his bed, on his side, the covers kicked off his feet as they usually were in the morning. But this time, when I said, "G'morning! Whaddaya wanna eat?" there was no answer.

FIL had left the building. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
You cannot be in two places at once....
but I bet you already knew that. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

May the World Be Sealed for a Year of Peace.

I wanted to write about the beheading in Oklahoma, but the truth is the guy was a lone nut. Apparently, even the members of his mosque thought he was "a little weird." Yeah, like the Boston Bombers or the would-be beheaders in Australia, there are always gonna be nutty people who do this kind of stuff because they believe they're fulfilling some kind of prophecy. Biblically speaking, Jeremiah might have been considered one of those, or even Samuel who anointed David even though Saul was King of Israel. Religion does produce more than its fair share of lunatics and we can do little more than trust that most of them are not mass murderers. Can we not just give them what they want by putting them on the front page of every tabloid in the land? All they're doing is encouraging the next one. 

And I considered writing about the vitriolic campaigns ads already running in Minnesota. The hate is almost palpable. There is no debate. No civil discourse. It's just pointlessly evil. And I am so sick of the whole damn thing and it's not even October yet. The hate spewing out of the television is disheartening as much as it is disgusting. It's not like I believe any campaign has been anything but grotesque...

As a last resort, I thought about writing how I have finally ordered a new fridge (GE counter-depth French door made in the US) and a new double oven. My most beloved SubZero is dying and all the valiant attempts by Wolfe Appliance Repair to stave off the inevitable have failed. Sub is so old (25 + years) that the fixes for the problem I am experiencing don't exist for my model..only for the model two years newer. I cannot imagine my kitchen without the beloved behemoth, but alas, I will have to learn NOT to yank the door open because it has hermetically sealed itself. Again. And I confess, I won't miss the ice explosion every time I open the freezer. As for the ovens, they have served well, and now, there is a short somewhere back there that keeps blowing up the oven light bulbs and my appliance parts guy who's been walking me through oven maintenance these last few years said, "One day, yer gonna turn it on and it's gonna smell real bad. Turn it off. It's over." Well, they haven't smelled bad yet but as long as I'm shelling out on kitchen updating, I may as well replace the ovens while I'm at it. And no, they are not convection ovens. What strikes me as odd in this scenario is that I actually did it. I've been talking about this long enough, but tomorrow evening, I will sign off on the new floor. 25 years of Armstrong's defective floor is about to end. Whatever will it be like to have a kitchen floor that actually looks clean? 

The truth is I don't feel much like writing about any of it. My father-in-law is fading faster than he anticipated. Tonight was not a great night. I am prepared as can be for a variety of events, but the truth is that you can never really be prepared.Just let him make it long enough to hold his great grandchild. 

And on a semi-related note, this is the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, that time of year when we take a rather critical self-inventory to see where we stand against our own yardsticks. 

This year, I worked really hard at not doing egregiously stupid stuff. And except for a couple of notable exceptions, I pretty much succeeded. I also worked hard on vetting before commenting. The overall effect is to decrease the size of my own moronic footprint. I don't ever want to be the kind of commentator I detest. I want to voice my own opinions in my own voice, but not at the expense of truth.

So, if you have disagreed with me, that's okay, but I have pissed you off this past year, I am sorry. I can only promise that, in this new year, 5775, will vet more, research more, and, write better jokes. It's the best I can do.

The Wifely Person's tip o'the year
Wishing everyone G'mar chatima tova ...
May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year. 
And may the world be sealed for a year of peace. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shana Tova u'Metuka - A Sweet and Happy 5775

Every day of the month preceding Rosh HaShanah, the shofar is blown. This is supposed to be a wake-up to put your mental house in order in preparing for the Yamim Nora'im: the Days of Repentance between Rosh HaShana and, ten days later, Yom Kippur...the Day of Atonement. Shofar blasts are serious ear-splitting sound to remind you that self-examination ain't easy.

I am in no way ready for the mental housecleaning and preparation proper for the holiday. I don't have time to sleep, much less examine anything. There are too many bits and pieces at the moment, and I'm having a helluva time trying to juggle them all. 

We started home hospice for my father-in-law and it has not gone well. Having experienced the best that could be offered during Ziggy's last weeks, this was a crushing blow. Everything was a battle. It got so bad that I was ready to fire them first thing come Monday morning. I won't go into the details, but Doc was put at risk by the case manager nurse. 

I spoke with the director of the program this morning. She was horrified...and determined to make it right.

The new case manager came this afternoon, and from what Doc said, he just about burst into tears when he realized it was the nurse who masterminded all of Ziggy's hospice care. It was a grand reunion. Patti immediately set out to make things right. When I got home and Doc told me who the new nurse was, I just about burst into tears....of relief. I called Patti and in a matter of minutes, I was pretty sure things will be just fine.

Now, on to to Rosh HaShanah. 

First, there is the matter of the brisket. Doc doesn't want the usual Aunt Cynthia Brisket, he wants no tomato sauce brisket like Cousin Peshe makes...only that has tomato sauce in it. And he doesn't want my chicken soup. He wants like Cousin Laurie or our friend Leslie makes. If my husband was here, he would assure me this is a clear case of Irene's Cookies....they're only good if Irene makes them....even when his mom brought them and Irene only put them on a plate. Then he would still ask how come she couldn't make cookies like Irene. Now I know where he got that from. 

Cooking is not an acceptable substitute for brain-cleaning. I cannot cook my way out of this one. I don't know if it's the enormity of knowing I'm losing Doc, or the soon-to-arrive grandchild, or the idea that I will truly be on my own for the first time in my life. These are some pretty scary things. Okay, the baby isn't scary...just me being a grandmother is. 

Still, these are big issues for me. Almost as big as climate change or mid-term elections. Okay, maybe not that big, but these impact as directly as affordable care and clean water. To be sure, this is personal baggage, but it's kinda heavy and I've yet to find a Red Cap to check them through.

If the purpose of Rosh HaShanah is to take stock of the past year, put it in perspective, and get ready for the new year, then I'm stuck somewhere between one and two. I have so not met my own goals that I'm not so certain I can have much perspective. I guess, then, the goals don't change much, and as I figure out who I am and what I am, I'll try lining up the the yardstick I picked up a while ago. Not that it makes much difference, but it's something to glance at every so often. 

And I will keep telling myself this is an adventure. 

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy and sweet New Year. May you meet the challenges that meet you, and may you glide through them all with grace and equanimity. 

 Shana tova u’metuka….a happy and sweet new year.

!שנה טובה ומתוקה

Monday, September 15, 2014

Caution! Morons at Work!

About two weeks ago, someone from Oberbobermober's congressional campaign called. I assured the fellow the candidate had my vote no matter what his name was because I thought CongressClown Kline wasn't fit to be elected eraser monitor, much less to misrepresent us in Washington. I went on to explain that in the last go 'round, I'd tried to volunteer my services to the cause but had a dickens of a time contacting anyone....and then no one ever contacted me back. I also said I'd asked for a lawn sign, but never got one of those either. He got all excited. I told him what I could do. I gave him my email address. He said, "There will be  sign on your lawn by Monday the latest!"

He just didn't say which Monday.

I'd just about given up when lo! and behold! The lawn sign has appeared on my lawn! The first on my block!

It's a miracle!  

Now, to make mine happiness complete, Congressclown Kline just won Bill Maher's Flip-A-District contest. His flunky-in-charge, Troy Young, responded to the news:
“Minnesotans are tired of sleazy and slimy politics, but DFL candidate Mike Obermueller certainly isn’t. Maher saluted 9/11 terrorists and called our troops ‘cowardly,’ he repeatedly has degraded Christians and calls them ‘schizophrenic,’ and he repugnantly compared special-needs children to ‘dogs,’ yet Mike Obermueller promotes this behavior essentially naming Maher as his campaign manager.”
Well, I'm okay with that. I hope Bill comes to visit our little district because Lord knows, we could use the excitement. It sure isn't coming from Kline. The guy is silent. Completely, utterly silent. When he talks, sure, words come out of his mouth, but they are pasty, wan, and devoid of position or meaning. If you want to distill his message into three simple principles, this might help:
  1. Don 't require equal pay for equal work. 
  2. Don't let women control their own bodies. 
  3. Charge women more for health insurance.
And never, ever let them speak aloud in the public forum. 

I can attest to the third one personally. I once tried to ask a question at one of his phone-in forums, and he kept interrupting me...and then didn't answer the question. I asked about health care, he responded with his theories on gun control.  I thought I was having some kind of episode, but I had written out my question and it had nothing to do with guns.....

...which, according to the congressclown, don't need any more legislation since it's a state issue and the Feds have enough laws on the books for "this sort of thing." Maybe he should ask his colleague and former fellow House member Gabby Giffords how she feels about this sort of thing.  

Now, I will give him credit where credit is due: he did say something sane about ISIL and ISIS: 
It’s not the place of Congress … to sit and develop policy strategy and tactics to implement that. I can’t imagine a strategy that doesn’t include more American air power. … He needs to lay out the strategy so that we can implement something in a meaningful way

September 8th, 2014
Of course, the sane part was short-lived; he changed his mind the next day. Seems he thinks the President has overstepped his "bounds" and should not even think about doing anything at all until he's discussed it with Congress. But he should telegraph to ISIS or ISIL what he is not going to do even if he has to discuss it openly with The Hill.  I guess as long as POTUS wasn't outlining a strategy, he was wrong, and now that he is, he is still wrong. What's a President to do?

Oh, well. Let the wild rumpus start!

Meanwhile, from the TSTL* department: Urban Outfitters offered a one-of-a-kind vintage sweatshirt for sale on their website.

Now, I was a sentient human being on May 4th, 1970; a very sentient senior in high school. I remember vividly what happened that day. I vaguely knew Jeffrey Miller, the one lying on the pavement in the famous picture. He was the neighbor of a friend from camp. I thought he was cute. And then he was dead on the front page of all the newspapers. 

Kent State, for a lot of us, was the day we lost our political cherry. We didn't believe something like that could happen here. Jeff Miller's death didn't make us afraid; it radicalized us. It made us march more, harder, with greater determination so our voices would be heard. 

Urban Outfitters was betting we wouldn't notice or, if we did, we'd just cluck our collective tongues and let it go at that. 

Uh.....guess again, little retailer. 

In multi-parts, Urban Outfitters tweeted the following statement today:
Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.
Come on, folks, no one is that stupid. You don't even have to have an imagination to get the subtext here. By the way, did you happen to notice that the sweatshirt was similar in color to Jackie Kennedy's Dallas suit?

Which really makes me wonder about the following:

  1. The person who designed it.
  2. The person who decided to offer it as part of a collection.
  3. The person who designed the marketing of this one-of-a-kind sweatshirt.
  4. The photographer who shot it (no pun intended....or not.)
  5. The person who did the print layout.
  6. The person who did the line editing.
  7. The person who sits in the big office who shoulda been looking at this stuff.
Those are at least 7 people who did not notice the resemblance to blood and gore. At least 7 people who have knowledge of iconic historical images in this nation's history. And you mean to tell me not one of those 7 people looked at that sweatshirt and shuddered? If that was true, there are at least 7 people over at Urban Outfitters who are just too stupid to have their jobs. 

Folks, if we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it. We need to be teaching this stuff. Our kids need to see the images. If they can play DOOM, the can see this stuff. And we cannot afford to be silent about companies like Urban Outfitters who would turn the scant sacred we have into a profane marketing opportunity. 


*TSTL: Too Stupid To Live

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The key to doing hospice at home is dignity. 
At the end of the road, it's the only thing that matters

Monday, September 8, 2014

Death, Destruction, and the Summer of '14

There must be one heck of a production company in the olam ha'ba these days. Looks like there's open casting call, and this company is rapidly being filled up with some pretty heavy hitters. It started with Sid Caesar during the winter, then Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ruby Dee, Bob Hoskins, Eli Wallach, James Garner, and Lauren Bacall. The writers aren't too shabby either: Harold Ramis and Maya Angelou. But it's the trio of comedians that really gets me: Elaine Stritch, Robin Williams, and Joan Rivers. I am afraid to ask who the director is....It's reminds me of #76... that old punchline:  "and you're pitching on Tuesday."

Hoffman and Williams aside, the others on the list did not leave this earth of their own volition. They pretty much died in bed, some with family and friends nearby. They probably would've opted for a longer contract if they could've, but they didn't; they shuffled off their mortal coils and hopefully have gone on to the next level. (See DEFENDING YOUR LIFE for my take on what happens next.) But while they're hangin' out in Judgement City, there's a terrific show in rehearsal. 

James Foley and Steven Sotloff
Two writers, however, not of the theatrical traditional, shuffled off their mortal coils along with their heads. James Wright Foley and two weeks later, Steven Sotloff were behead by an ISIS executioner and the acts were filmed for the world to see. Snuff films...real ones...the kind that make you want to throw up your guts.

These were not just executions: these were statements being made about who ISIS and ISIL really are. This is a rejection of modernity and about plunging the world back to the 7th century C.E. They wage war in a way commensurate with pre-technology thinking, certain that the world at large believes we have progressed past ruthless bloodletting. ISIS and ISIL know "modern" warfare is not waged on so personal a plane; they rely on this to stop a western response out of sheer disgust. After all, how do you combat those who behead journalists and kidnap school girls for sex slaves? They betting
 it's beyond modern comprehension.

But it shouldn't be. 

We've already seen what they are capable of in Somalia and Sudan. We've seen them test the waters in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This past weekend, a branch of al-Qaeda announced they were bringing jihad to India....a densely populated and fairly under-developed other words: easy prey with no defenses whatsoever. Never mind that India has a nuclear bomb. All the better to demonstrate how toothless that tiger is because that weapon will never be least by a civilized nation. 

Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, and Hamas all work under the same pretense: civil war is the way to divide, destroy, and ultimately conquer. The whole function of terror is to force a population to over-react in fear. If you want to know how to deal with them take a page from the IDF playbook: defend the population first, then take out the bastards. Israel has been dealing with terrorists for some 66 years...they know what to do. 

Clearly, Congress does not.

In his September 2nd column, Ready, Aim, Fire. Not Fire, Ready, Aim in the NY TIMES, Thomas Friedman wrote: 
When you have a region beset by that many civil wars at once, it means there is no center, only sides. And when you intervene in the middle of a region with no center, you very quickly become a side.

No, actually, you become a giant sitting duck smack dab in the middle of the fight. You no longer have allies, you have all sides firing at you. You become a grand distraction, giving lots of little sides reasons to band together against the BIG BAD WEST. 

The US cannot and should not enter this arena. If we have not learned the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, we should try to at least remember how Vietnam ended. 

President Obama is spot on when he says, "Don't do stupid stuff," and when he states the obvious, "We don't have a strategy yet." If he already had a strategy here, I would be much more worried.

Amazing how the same congressclowns jumping up and down about spending money we don't have seem to think it grows on trees when it comes to war. As for a strategy, the US cannot possibly have one until we find out exactly what the Arab nations are going to do first. 

Talk softly... and carry that big stick right behind your back. Let the M.E. heads of state come to a conclusion about what they are going to do before we decide what, if anything We, the People, are going to do to support their decision. 

Those governments all have nifty war toys we sold 'em. Maybe it's time for their militaries to finally try out all that cool stuff. 

Meanwhile, US and the western allies have a choice to make...either force the Islamic governments who wish to be part of the global economy to step up to the line and deal with this....or cut them all off completely. No trade. No euros, no dollars. No aid. No arms. No technology. No meds. No flights in or out. Treat them the same way they are allowing these roving bands of miscreants to treat their own populations and rest of the world....à la the 7th century. The time has come to stop fighting their battles. Either they are of this century and take responsibility for their compatriots, or they will be given the accords of whatever century in which they choose to live. 

Let's see what happens when the air conditioning is turned off. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you have aging parents, don't put off having 'the conversation.' 
Knowing what they want preserves their dignity and 
eases the inevitable moments of transition.