War

warIt’s been a year since Sandy Hook. It’s been a frustrating year for the most part for those of us who see the proliferation of guns in our society as so obviously insane that it begs the question that we are still having these conversations at all.

I’m not going to bore you with statistics. If you want to see what has transpired in terms of our response to the horror of Sandy Hook and Aurora and all the hundreds of children and adults who have died from gun violence, go here. It ain’t pretty. More loosening of gun regulations, the NRA with more money, fewer people having guns but more guns in a growing minority of very frightening and frightened people.

No, today I want to talk about war. After all, much of the argument around guns stems from our ideas of war doesn’t it? Was not the 2nd Amendment formulated so that states could call up their citizens in the face of invaders of one nature or another? How that all got bollixed into some personal freedom to carry a high-powered rifle to shopping malls is beyond my comprehension, but that’s not the issue either today.

It’s war itself.

War is the admission that we have progressed not so very far from the plains of Africa and the caves of France. We are still a species who settles disputes or responds to fear with weaponry and killing. Some suggest it’s in our genes, others that it is learned behavior, a product of our environment. As I have said many a time, no war ever ended war, though the motto of one, WWI was just that: the war to end all wars. It was but twenty years later that the greatest war of all occurred. So how did that work for ya?

My views about war are and were shaped by three things mainly: a book, a book, and a TV show. Sorry right-wingers, my passivity is not the product of elite liberal universities. No my opinion, my dedication to peace was formulated from reading the Bible, a book by Norman Mailer called The Naked and the Dead, and Star Trek, episode 23, A Taste of Armageddon.

As to the Bible, who can not be moved to ponder the following:

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. . .(MT 5:39-40)

This is Jesus, and while there are some interpretations that suggest that Jesus was in fact making it impossible for the aggressor to accomplish the second strike, the import of the words are clear. Returning force to force is not the answer. Regardless of how we might come down on the issue of faith or religion, surely Jesus and His teachings are worthy of emulation. If they are, then war is unthinkable, nothing more than returning force for force on a massive scale.

Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead about his experiences in the Philippines during WWII. He wrote it in 1948. Say what you will, it paints a picture of war in decidedly unheroic, unglamorous terms. In a word, war is truly hell. It is dehumanizing, fear is palpable, death is only a shot away. Death surrounds and envelopes the characters. It’s unbearably hot and humid, it stinks, it’s lonely and it’s boring, and death stalks. It is shudderingly realistic. It would make NO one run down and sign up.

The Star Trek episode involved a planet that has suffered from war with another planet within its system for years, so many years that they were both in dire straits. If the war did not end, both planets would be utterly destroyed. So they hit upon a solution. They agree to a computer simulation of war actions. The computer assesses the “battle” and assigns casualties. A lottery system calls up the victims on each planet to report to “disintegration” chambers to voluntarily suicide. They have been doing this for years too, while their infrastructure is undamaged and life goes on.

Kirk and company put an end to the computer and the resultant real damage brings chaos and terror. Forced to confront the realities of war, Kirk hopes that they will rush to the peace table. The lesson is all too real: remove the overt ugliness of war, and war will go on forever.

Last week was another anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a so-called infamous day, because the Japanese made a sneak attack while diplomats were engaged in discussions in Washington on how to avoid war between them. This was viewed as a violation of the “rules of war”.

Things have not changed much. It is considered a violation of the “rules of war” to bomb civilians. It is considered the same to use certain types of weapons, such as chemical or biological ones.

I have to wonder at such limitations in general. For I truly get the logic of war being so God-blessed awful, so ugly, so painful, and so damaging that we will do nearly ANYTHING to avoid it or stop it. My husband tells me that I am a student of Sun Tzu:

Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live.

I take that to mean, that if you put the utter fear of death into your enemy ,  he will race to the peace table. My husband tells me that there must be rules of war, otherwise there is not path to peace. He may well be right.

I prefer to make war so ugly that no one considers it a viable option. I am a pacifist.

Left to my own devices, I would allow people the possession of paint guns to stalk and “shoot”  game. I would allow people to go to shooting ranges to shoot targets. I would allow no other weapon ownership.

I am a pacifist.

I would declare gun manufacturers and shops to be “eminent domain”, paying them a fair price for their companies and giving them free education in another line of work.

I am a pacifist.

You are free to disagree, but you will follow my rules in my kingdom. And they say that Obama is a socialist! HA!

Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu402344.html#3qejOVy3lD5FFvIg.99
Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu402344.html#3qejOVy3lD5FFvIg.99
Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu402344.html#3qejOVy3lD5FFvIg.99

Items to Make You Queen of the Watercooler Next Week

large_overworkedSee that’s me. I mean, imagine a woman instead of a man, and that’s me. I’m spend hours reading just so that you don’t have to. I mean you can if you want to of course. God forbid that fine education goes to waste, but I have burned up the Intertubes in an effort to find all the news that you missed.

And I read it all. And some of it was crap upon further inspection, and so I ditched it. And the rest, well you gotta know this stuff. Especially if you want all your friends and aunt Tilde to think you are just a real smart ass. (meant in the kindest way of course)

So, let’s get to it, in no particular order.

Paul Krugman has a fine op-ed in the NYTimes detailing the crazy party, AKA, the GOP. What he says is very true. The GOP argument for deliberately toying with the very health of our economy goes something like this: I have put a gun to your head and demanded your money or your life. If you refuse to give me your money, it’s your fault that you’re dead. I gave you the option to live after all!

On the other hand, this may all go to prove that one can actually get admitted to Harvard and get through it with flying colors and still be utterly and profoundly stupid. Ted Cruz may be set to be one of the most spectacular blazing super nova that sputtered out in record time in the history of horses asses, err, super novae.

If it is true that humans have an individualized predisposition to violence, is it equally true that humans in community have a predisposition to violence in the form of war? It seems many assume this to be true. But evolutionary biologist, David P. Barash argues that this may in fact not be true. The latter may be only a capacity rather than an adaptation. Want to learn more? If you don’t think it matters, think again. We base our defense systems on assumptions of what other groups are likely to do. If we assume all people are driven to war to achieve ends, we build a different defense system than if we do not. And we’ve sure got the tax bills to reflect that.

I know that most of you are just thrilled every time you get a chance to read about quantum mechanics, I mean what self-respecting grease monkey or grocery check out lady  isn’t obsessed with the working of the universe at the extra-tiny scale? Ever heard of an aplituhedron? I bet not. It all means that all the complicated mathematical twists and turns are eliminated as well as the super computer to do the computations. Now little Bobby can explain the most complicated sub-particle interaction with nothing more than a pencil and paper again!

If you are going, uhh, okay so what? Well, you all know that physicists have been since the beginning of time, trying to join the big universe with the small universe (macro and micro forces?) and it has just never fit well, and well, the don’t call it the elegant universe for nothing. Everybody who knows this stuff figured the answer would eventually be simple. This might be it. I’m not a physicist as you might have guessed by now.

I mean this is simply delicious early fall reading. Get to it.  :)

Now I know you will love this one. There is a new book out there that you probably will want to get. I can imagine about half a dozen of you will be on Amazon in moments. It’s called Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, by Melissa Mohr. Colin Burrows review of the book is worth the reading. Now read it your grouthead gnat snapper!

Steven Pinker from Harvard has written a book that details how we are becoming less violent as societies over time. He also argues that the world would be better led by science than by the humanities. Some beg to differ. A great essay from The Berlin Review of Books, and Gloria Origgi, A Reply to Steven Picker’s Scientific Manifesto.

overworked4111Love words? Lots of words? Okay.

The American Scholar has a fun essay called Is There a Word for That? Words are being made up all the time, but you knew that. Want to know who created some words we now take for granted? Who is responsible for katydid? Or neologize ? Or Anglophobia? Blurb? Gerrymander? Bromide? Oh I bet I got your attention now.

Similarly, if you have ever remembered the quote but not the quoter, and the more you looked the harder it got? Who Really Sad That? You would be surprised at how often we get the attribution wrong. Amaze your friends by correcting their quotes!

“Whoever is not a socialist when he is 20 has no heart; whoever is not a conservative when he is 30 has no brain.” Usually attributed to Churchill. Actually? Nobody knows.

Enter the fine world of WAS–Wrongly Attributed Statements.

I betcha thought that the human mind created the gear, that round thingie that has “teeth” and meshes with other objects similarly constructed? That together makes things turn and other things go up and down and maybe side to side? You would be wrong. Scientists have found a gear in nature for the very first time. And YOU are some of the first non-specialists to know that, so don’t you feel so very proud?

A cute little guy called a planthopper (he has a very important scientific name you need not memorize) has a couple of gears in his back legs that mesh together and then when he calls on them to, spin backward sending him off on a leap across the earth that looks pretty fun. I’m sure it made sense to him too in terms of escaping predators or getting up as high as he wanted to feed. It’s called evolution folks. There is a little embedded video so you can watch him go!

Must a life be meaningful in order to be happy? Do we prefer meaningfulness over happiness if we can’t have both? They are not the same by the way. Happiness in part is getting what you want or need in life. Meaningfulness can have zero to do with this. Similarly happy people report that health is essential, yet health has nothing to do with meaningful lives. Happiness is apparent in the now, while meaningfulness tends to be a future assessment. This is a long article but one that raises lots of questions to think about. Well worth your time.

Nautilus brings us the ever-beloved essay on dinosaurs. The discovery and explanation of our bird predecessors have had a varied history as scientists working from small numbers of bones, continually revised their thinking of these creatures over time. As is usual, it is the unsung tiny dinosaurs that have done the most to correct our understanding over time of what these cuties looked like and how they lived. For the kid in all of us, this article will satisfy. I still wish there had been Brontosaurus, they were so neat!

With the advent of all the cute devices we have now from phones to tablets to readers to computers, all with calendars and reminders of one sort or another, there is less and less reason to have to memorize things. Nobody has to write down a phone number or address. The call is registered, switch it to contacts and it’s saved forever. Enter an address in your Google maps app, and you don’t need to record that address again. And maybe, just maybe that’s a good thing. Memorization may be a much over-rated thing. Curious? Read on.

How many late night gab fests have lingered long into the night over the ever-present question– Why was Spinoza excommunicated anyway? I mean this guy was ostracized with a big O, like in members of the congregation being order to be no closer that four cubits to the man. That’s some serious excommunication! Worse, payment of a fine served to dissolve most bans. Spinoza’s was life long. Spinoza himself never spoke of the harem, most of his works and fame came long after it. What is as interesting as why is by whom: Jews who had escaped forced Catholicism in Spain and Portugal and once free in Amsterdam, practiced a form of Judaism that was anything but normative. All in all, quite fascinating.

Happy reading everyone, and to all a good day!

books

Tales in Humility and Gratitude

CampHopeThere is little that grows in Hope City. It is too hot and dry. There is a small “community garden” that sits adjacent with a few struggling plants pleading for moisture. A lonely and very tiny apple tree grows alongside, producing miniature fruit.

A wigwam sits in the center of this small community, encompassing no more than ten tents. We are told that four of the ten are veterans.

We have come to meet Bob and Mary, two residents. We read about them in our local paper and I soon realized that the location was behind the food pantry and soup kitchen.

We went to see how we could help. Bob and Mary, so it was reported, had a couple of pups and we hoped perhaps we could at least help with the dog food bills.

We were met with smiles and invitations to “come sit on the porch”, a small enclosure made with plastic, and bits of wood that supported a billowing covering against the slow drizzle that was falling. First real rain since last summer as we recall. The dogs were excited at seeing somebody new but soon went back to digging in the soft earth, smelling every few seconds.

Bob is the veteran, having served during the early 70′s. When he was denied a hardship transfer from Germany home to be with his dad who was ill, he turned in his papers and left the service. Mary had raised three kids in Kentucky, moved to Florida, and was happily employed at a good paying job and had a nice home when she met Bob.

They fell in love, married, and life seemed good until one of Mary’s daughters called and told her mom she needed help. Mary quit her job, sold the house, and they headed to Kentucky only to find upon arrival that the daughter had reunited with her abusive husband and their help was no longer needed.

As Mary put it, things just seemed to fall apart after that.

The ended up traveling to Las Cruces because of job offers. Those offers fell through when it was learned they had no car. The car they had? Well that was repossessed when Mary got ill and, although they had paid off a good two-thirds of the note, the car dealer wasn’t interested in giving them a bit more time. The car was repossessed.

So they found themselves in Hope City. Their tent was big enough for a nice air mattress and not much else. Three portable coolers kept their water and food. No cooking allowed, too much of a fire hazard. No electricity.

Even with all they endured they had found the compassion to seek out these two woeful looking mutts and give them some semblance of a home. The smaller of the two had been found in a ditch with all her legs broken and two ribs, a batch of still-born pups still within her. She was a happy tyke now, as was the other larger one. Both had elements of terrier and goodness knows what else in their lineage.

Mary was a full-time student at NMSU on a Pell grant. She has applied for disability SSI and they are hoping.

Bob is 63. He gets work as a day laborer whenever he can. Mary is a year younger.

We found out what the dogs liked to eat, what they might use most, and left with promises to return on Saturday.

We went to lunch at a fairly upscale Italian restaurant and then on to Lowe’s to pick up a new microwave, since ours had conked out earlier that day.

As we moved from lunch to shopping we discussed how best we might help these two and the others Hope City.

Later at home, the Contrarian walked in after some time and looked at me. “You know, we lived pretty tight for a lot of years in the meadow,” he said softly. “Yet, it wasn’t the same. We knew that we would sell the farm and reap a benefit, and live very well after that.”

“Yes,” I nodded. “When you know it’s not forever, it’s not so hard, and well we never lived like Bob and Mary. I would be terrible at living like that.”

His eyes, moist, he too nodded. “I can’t imagine being in their shoes.”

And we can’t truly.

But we looked at each other in those moments and I know we both felt the same thing. Utter humility. For they had “lived right” by anyone’s standards, making no more mistakes than we all do. We choose the wrong mate, the wrong job, the wrong career. Some mistakes we can fix, some we live with, some cause us pay heavy prices. But we don’t expect to end up living at the age of 63 in a damn tent.

Nobody deserves this.

Yet, Bob and Mary are often lumped into that group of lazy folks who just enjoy the “good life” on the government dole. One of the patrons at Camp Hope was in his 80′s. He too was a veteran. He finally agreed to go to a facility operated by the VA when he got to where he could no longer look after himself. That’s a hell of a way to end one’s final days.

We first thought to take dog food with us. Then we remembered that taking away choice is a mean thing to do to people who have nothing. I hear lots of anecdotal stories about how the “poor really don’t want food”. The story is always how they asked for a couple of bucks in lieu of the half eaten pizza so magnanimously offered. It’s always about seeing the poor buy things “they shouldn’t”. We know what they should eat after all. We aren’t poor are we?

We don’t bring soap either. The Contrarian becomes livid at that. People always want to give the poor soap. People don’t want to smell poorness. They don’t want to see the dirt of poverty. Clean up and I’ll feel a lot better about doling out the lunch I think you should eat! Keep back, don’t touch me. I don’t want lice!

If such a scene doesn’t make you feel small and mostly useless, I don’t know what will. If it doesn’t make you feel grateful for all the stuff you take for granted, than you have a heart of stone.

You really don’t have to do a lot. Most churches collect food for the poor. Every town larger than one thousand probably has some sort of food pantry or informal mechanism for helping those who need it. Just do something. A lot of small somethings make a big impact. It really does.

By the grace of God, fate, and any of one thousand choices we all make, go any one of us. And just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it won’t.

I’m nobody special. I don’t do enough. I have too much. I live life well. I am not a saint, nor am I working at all hard to become one. I’m just exactly like you probably not as good. But I can’t live with myself and do nothing. And that makes me human. And being human is a good thing. We are all in this together.

 

And the Nominee for STUPID is. . . .The GOP

bobbyjOh my head hurts. I mean seriously people, the list of nominees for MOST STUPID is the most widely contested race of all.

Shall we poll the Internet denizens?

Here are some of the nominees. Feel free to add any you can think of. The winner will receive a dead fish wrapped in the NYTimes, delivered by a pony express rider wearing a Dior gown of sparkling crystals.

1. Proving that he can’t read, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin says he will sign a new bill requiring an ultrasound of any pregnant woman seeking an abortion. Having learned nothing from what happened in Virginia when Governor McDonnell also planned to sign the same sort of thing, Walker announces that “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound”. No I guess HE doesn’t. But perhaps if it were required that all men who decide to treat women like children and tell them what to do with their own bodies, should undergo a lobotomy, he might, just might, change his tune. But then again, maybe not.

2. Arizona House Representative, Trent Franks resurrected the old “rape victims block the pregnancy” argument of Todd Akin, stating the “incidence of pregnancy following rape is very low.”  This was in support of a bill introduced by Franks making abortion illegal after 20 weeks. Democrats had introduced an amendment making an exception for rape and incest. It appears that Republican man are raised to believe that they are doctors by osmosis. It’s a male thing.

sarah-palin-stupid-republican-quotes-dumb-republicans-best-republican-quotes 3. So utterly against any immigration bill are some Republicans that they don’t even want to debate the issue. The reasons are obvious. The final bill may well pass the Senate, and then it’s on the House where Boehner will wring his hands and insist that he’s only there to help the House speak it’s will. The likes of Steve King and Louis Gohmert and Steve Stockton, will provide the show there. For now this group joins in a team effort to win the golden smelly carp award: Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Mike Lee (Utah), James Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and David Vitter (La.). A finer band of brothers in stupid cannot be found.

4. Virginia Lieutenant Governor nominee, E. W. Jackson wrote a book, and published it. It is called The Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life. Trouble is, he misspelled Commandments to Comandments in the title. Then he said that yoga would lead to satanic possession.

5. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is somebody you probably never heard of. I suspect you can continue to not hear of him. He took to the floor last week in the House and ranted on about how the President was “a vengeful liar who lacks the moral compass” to lead the nation. He likened himself to Patrick Henry. He thinks he did a good job. Trouble is, I guess he forgets that the polls suggests he may be the one without a moral compass. It’s improper to cast such vitriol on the House floor. But alas it’s nothing new for the crazy crew. And by the by, all his reasoning was based on factual untruths. ALL of them. So I guess he’s intellectually impaired on top of being a flagrant abuser of the mouth.

6. Darrell Issa claimed through selected editing of testimony, that the order to select “conservative” applications for tax-exempt status came “from Washington”. He promised that the full transcripts would be released shortly. Of course the full transcripts said just about the opposite. The person who has owned up to the screening methodology, describes himself as a Conservative Republican and says he doesn’t believe there was any political motivation in the process, but merely a method to extract those applications that would undoubtedly necessitate deeper analysis. Issa now claims that release of the full transcripts would be “dangerous and irresponsible.” He now claims it is Cummings who is the problem.

Santorum_dunce17. Now I admit, this is not a Republican. But well, we have loved Carl Levin for many years. But we are pretty darn happy he’s decided to retire. He voted to keep the decision-making on rape charges in the hands of command. It was wrong. He sided with the military men. It was wrong. This kind of thing makes no sense on any level. It doesn’t promote cohesion in the ranks. It promotes distrust. Shame on him. And on Clare McCaskill who also voted this way.

So that’s my line up for today.

As I said, please add your favorites.

It’s hard to miss a week without Gohmert being on the list I know.

But he’ll be back in the top ten. He won’t let us down.

don-young-wetback-comments-immigrationSo.

Vote.

Vote often.

oops

 

 

I’m Going As Fast as I Can!

SONY DSCReally I am. Actually, I’m traveling at lightening speed.

For example:

Yesterday I got up, cleaned house until 6:50 a.m., walked Diego two miles, finished cleaning the house, went to the grocery store, returned home, put away groceries, searched through all the papers in the file cabinet, finding 90% of what was necessary for the accountant tomorrow and the taxes, drove the Contrarian to the Eyemart with his new prescription, picked out frames, and stopped for *gasp* fast food for lunch, and arrived home, all before 1 p.m. At 3:00 p.m, I returned to Eyemart and picked up his glasses. The(Two more weeks and I can have chocolate again!)

Today, I cleaned house until 6:50 a.m, (finished by the way!), walked Diego two miles, and returned to make the basic parts of a Shepherd’s Boy casserole, which is now waiting to go in the oven. And *gasp* it’s only 9 a.m. and I have 50 minutes of leisure before we head off to get the taxes done.

Tomorrow, I get to go to the pool, and get my hair cut. We are determined to get all our “stuff” done this month. We have to hit the Veterans Affairs office to turn in our property tax exemptions yet, and something else that needs filling out, which I no longer remember.

I keep waiting for that blessed week when there are no “things” to attend to. I never used to be this busy. I really never used to be. The more retired I get, the busier I get. I know there is something important I should be ingesting from that realization, but I’m either not aware of what it is, or I’m scared to discover what it is.

I once upon a time said that virtually everything I dreamed about moving down here came true, but for a couple. The Catholic churches basically suck here (which I never would have imagined), and there is no pool within two blocks of where I live. Well guess what? One just got a good deal closer.

It turns out that one of the parks and rec outdoor pools is only about four miles from me. A darn sight closer than the approximately thirteen mile one that I go to now. It doesn’t open until Memorial day, but I have been told that almost nobody goes there, so I can enjoy myself in solitary bliss probably. Why they wait so long I have no clue–it’s in the mid-seventies every day now, and often in the low to mid-80′s.  Go figure.

It’s been ten years since the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq. Where are all the celebrations? Were we not greeted as “liberators”?  Yeah, I guess not. It’s really hard to make an argument that awful as he was, the Iraqi people are not really any better off than they were before we “saved” them. I suspect they are much worse. And nobody worth a damn went to jail for that crime.

The GOP screams like a stuck pig that they have “no war on women”. Well, yeah they do. But it’s only a huge segment of a much bigger picture in which a lot more people (mostly men, but not all) are implicated. Cases in point.

  • Remember the dude at the CPAC who wanted to know why Frederick Douglass sent a letter forgiving his slave master? After all, the North Carolinian “white demographic” pointed out, he got “food and shelter” after all. He pointed out it would be a damn sight better if we still had segregation, and that Black folk could do all the voting they wanted in Africa. Well it turns out that as that meeting broke up, a woman approached and proceeded to give him a thing or two about his overt racism. Said White Male, retorted, as I am told, “so is this the new rebranded version of the GOP where women confront and tell off men in public?” or words to that effect.
  • You all no doubt heard or read about the Steubenville case where at least two young men of high school age took advantage of an inebriated fellow teen girl, and raped her. The coverage has been, to say the least, extremely sexist in its presentation. The reporters and their networks cannot get over how sad it’s been for the boys, who had “promising football careers” and were so altogether nice in every way. They never missed a chance to remind us that the girl was so drunk she passed out. Oh and they ALL “inadvertently” dropped her name in their video reports even though she is a minor.

Forgive me if I still bluster about the need of women to continue the fight for full and complete rights in this still patriarchal world we live in. We put on the trappings of equality, and people do the “politically correct thing” and underneath it all, well, men will be men and boys will be boys, and women? Well women just keep taking it.

Read the link. It’s an important commentary on how we still operate in this country.

And well, it’s time to be off to the tax accountant. Sigh…you know I just love this!

I Need Two More Feet!

brokentoeWandering into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water, my toe met its Waterloo. No I didn’t trip up to Iowa, rather my toe met the corner of the wastebasket container, and my toe lost the battle. At first I figured it for merely another stubbing with searing pain for about two minutes, and then chalk it up as another of those miserable toe meets _________stories.

Twas not to be. As I turned from the sink, and began to walk, a tingling was felt that was definitely harbinger of much worse to come. I sat upon the sofa and manipulated the fourth digit and heard/felt a distinctive popping, which suggested that all was not kosher.

I moaned and hobbled off to  bed, where I moaned again. The Contrarian sat up.

“I broke my toe,” I groaned.

“Where?” he asked.

“On the way into the kitchen,” I quivered.

“On the wastepaper container?”, the specifics somehow of great importance here.

I squelched the question, “are you going out there and beat it up?” and merely said, “yes.”

He got up. I tried to get as comfy as possible. A few minutes later, I heard him coming into the room.

“Still awake?” he whispered.

“Yes.”

He turned on the light, and stood there with an ice pack. He got one of the decorative bed pillows and laid it in place with the ice, and fixed my foot upon said pillow. “The internet said to keep it elevated and iced to prevent swelling.” he advised as he climbed back into bed.

“Thank you dear, it’s really not hurting.”

Which would all not be so terrible were it not for the fact that the other foot sports something we have called a stone bruise, which has lasted for about three weeks on my heel. I have tried to ignore it and “walk it off” but it hovers between getting much better, and then being horribly painful and hobbling. That leaves me with no good feet.

With flip-flops, and my toe taped in friendly buddy camaraderie with the bigger middle toe, there is just enough padding to my bruised heel foot to get around. Oh and with a healthy dose of some prescription ibuprofen given to me by the dentist to assuage sore gums from my teeth cleaning last week.

Diego, I might add, is bummed.

Meanwhile. . . . .

Drone-WarfareThis kinda sums up my concerns about drones.

Whether for surveillance or for attack, they pose a serious intrusion on our lives. Nobody thinks it wrong that they are snooping at the border, because we don’t want “them” coming across.

Probably few in America would object if they patrolled in high drug trafficking areas within some of our cities, because we want “them” stopped.

How many other areas are we prepared to accept drones as a part of modern law enforcement?

How many are prepared to have them used in a more aggressive form?

There is an old Star Trek wherein constant war between two planets resulted in an agreement that each side could “score” computer attacks, and “casualties” would be generated. People would then march dutifully to disintegration chambers. Thus each country could preserve its infrastructure and life could go on. This had gone on for five hundred years.

Proof that what we get too far from, we find more palatable. Making war nice and easy and unmessy, has unintended consequences.

President-Skeet-Shooter It was predictable.

We knew they would.

They can’t help it.

They hate with a viciousness and wild fresh-meat smell that is scary, funny, and as I said, oh so predictable.

They claimed we would never see a picture because he never had shot skeet, or as one Blazey Boob put it, “I have shot lots of skeets and he ain’t shooting any skeets that I ever seen.” Yes skeets indeed.

When they produced the picture, if was of course, doctored, like his birth certificate, his college transcripts, his law license, and well, his “I’m a human being” card.

He kills over three thousand Muslims with drones, and is called a card-carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood, intend on bringing Sharia law to Merika.

Go figure. They are nuts. It shows.

Anchors-AweighOn the other hand, watching the GOP engage in a mmmm, Tea People taste good, feeding frenzy is most entertaining.

I mean you go to bed at night a card-carrying conservative Republican, and wake up the next morning an RINO, to be heaped on the pile of derision by the reactionary right-wing. NOT CRAZY ENOUGH ARE YOU screams Yoda.

Some don’t think the Tea Bibbers have the stomach for a long fight against rational Repubs who just want to win a damn election. Some don’t think they have the numbers or will to start their own third party and linger in the basement with Ralph and the other groups that vie for a place on the ballot. HERE WE ARE ↓ IN THE BASEMENT. I think remnants of the old Communist Party still dust off the buttons every four years and give it go for the Bolshevik cause.

Rush and the folks at Foxy Noise are in a tither, not knowing what to do, while Karl insists that if you will just give him more money, he will use it and WIN this time. He promises. Rush has made a living off of cheating and double-dealing all his miserable life. He’s so very prepared to continue.

Meanwhile the Tea bibbers no longer have a clue what they were about in the beginning. It had something to do about banks they think, though what it was, nobody recalls. They look down and find a KJV bible in one hand and an AK-a5 in the other, and look longingly at the Bud on the table. I may not have two good feet at the moment, but they need another hand immediately. The Bud eases the cognitive dissonance of what is in their hands.

Maher-TroubleDonald is suing.

You see, Bill said that he was the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.

Donald whipped out his birth certificate to prove him wrong.

Bill, smilingly suggests that old Hair-do misses the point.

Donald wants Bill to donate some money to charity.

Bill smiles.

Donald sues.

Donald has nothing to do.

All those Apprentices run his business.

He can’t spend all day trying on toupees.

He can’t spend all day looking up all the words that people call him, that would take forever. And besides, things like Asshat aren’t even in the dictionary yet. But the word has been submitted to the Oxford English Dictionary committee with his picture.

Have a glorious day, and don’t stub your toe. Because I will laugh if you do. Really i will. Misery loves company.

1-sad-pup_1

To Drone Or Not to Drone

dronesLet’s just start out by saying: I’m conflicted here.

So don’t expect answers, just a lot of questions.

Under the Obama Administration, drone attacks of a lethal nature have increased from something less than fifty under Bush to something over 350 under President Obama. Some of this undoubtedly has to do with better technology, but more has to do with an increasing willingness to use predator drones as a means of assassinating so-called “enemy combatants.”

My moral sense, informed by my faith, tells me that drones are simply wrong, because war in general is wrong, and killing people deliberately is wrong. I find nothing in the teachings of Christ which can make war appropriate; indeed his life and death suggest that it is never appropriate. That said, my own church, and most Christian denominations support the concept of war in limited circumstances–something called “justified” warfare. That includes, but is not limited to wars of self-defense to repel an invader. The trouble is, the term just is pretty broad, and although there are a series of elements to it, in the end, each is big enough to drive a truck through. It ends up meaning, war is acceptable when we think it is.

Still, I could go much further than the Church and stick to my basic belief that the way to stop wars is to stop warring.

Yet, I live in a real world with real threats. Innocents around the world are dying by the hundreds each day due to the evil of lethal aggression from a variety of sources. There seems to be a duty to intervene to stop it. When and how and for whom tend to be the stumbling blocks. Sadly our intervention seems more determined by how “strategic” the country involved is. Do we want or need something from it? If we do, we are inclined to do what’s necessary to bring it to stability.

That stability, sadly, has little to do with what is morally right or wrong. It is the main reason we find ourselves hated by large numbers of people throughout the globe today. That is true of every continent. We have supported vile dictatorships in the name of that stability and the consequent protection of our “interests”. The people have not forgotten. Some, perhaps most, recognize that the American people at large don’t make these decisions–they hate our government but not necessarily us.

So, if we life in a world where war is going to go on regardless of our moral objections, where do drones fit in?

First, let’s set the record clear. There is nothing wrong with using drones on the actual battlefield. It is no different from a large cannon or a tank. Nobody argues that the use of drones should be prohibited here.

The area of contention is the use of lethal drone strikes in otherwise “neutral” territory. Best estimates suggest that the number of people killed by drones issued by the US, amount to somewhere between 2,000 and 3200, give or take. Somewhere between 18-23% of those killed were non-combatants or as we like to cleanly call them, “collateral damage”. This should give pause by itself.

There seem to be several points of inquiry about their use in general:

  1. Who decides?
  2. What are the standards by which decisions are made to identify a target?
  3. Should Americans be subjects of attack?

Some argue that it is unseemly or somehow wrong that the President signs off apparently on each of these targets. They claim he should be more divorced from the action. Since he is undeniably accountable for the program and what it does or doesn’t do, I find this argument specious. In fact,  am slightly comforted that I can trust that a sane head is making the ultimate decision.

By the way, the very fact that President Obama has expanded the drone program so dramatically during his tenure in office, suggests that the Tea Party reactionaries who claim that Obama is in love with Muslims and is secretly working for them, are as we would expect, crazy as loons. Yet of course the Tea Party does not laud the President either for his actions, suggesting that their motives as we always suspect are more racial than rational.

The standards, we understand are largely revealed in documents released. They suggest that the following must be met:

  1. The target must be an imminent threat to US citizens safety and lives.
  2. There must be no reasonable way to capture the target alive.
  3. There must be no other rational alternative.

Since most if not all of those killed by drones have occurred in foreign countries, it is hard to explain how the first standard is ever met. One can only conjure up claims that this target was the one to give the “go” to a plot ready to be employed but for the target’s okay. I suspect that such a situation is rare.

The second standard would seem to be regularly ignored as well, since we know that special ops alternatives can and are used on occasion, and it is unclear when they cannot be used as opposed to when they can.

The third standard seems redundant.

The third issue, regarding Americas being targets seems to be the one that causes all the wringing of hands and hysterics. I find the claim that American citizens are citizens and therefore “different” completely bogus. If we contend that American citizens should not be subject to drone attack because it violates their constitutional rights to life and liberty absent due process efforts to remove them, than I think the same applies to foreign targets.

We claim that our “rights” are nothing less than human rights. We tell the world that they too should give their citizens nothing less, because it is simply morally right. We often attempt to interfere in other countries precisely in an effort to help the people there “obtain” their human rights. We maintain sanctions against countries that we find in violation of “human rights.”

Given all that, how can we treat those we capture and claim to be “enemy combatants” anything less than the right to be charged as such, and to be afforded due process. Guantanamo is a hideous example of the ugliness of American policy toward non-citizens. Before somebody suggests that it is no different from a POW camp, think again. Most  all POW’s wore UNIFORMS. Their ACTIVE engagement in warfare against us was not in dispute.

Many at Guantanamo dispute their designation. Some have been released years later because it was determined they were arrested in error. We have held some of these people for nearly 14 years not. It is immoral, period. To suggest that they are not entitled to  the basic right of having an impartial judicial determination of their “guilt” is inhumane in its narrowest sense. To suggest that we cannot “safely” conduct trials in this country is ludicrous and makes Timothy McVeigh and other terrorists who were tried here, some kind of “special case” which they were not.

At present, polling in the US suggests that 83% of the country approves of the drone program. Close to 2/3 believe that it is appropriately used against American citizens. There seems to be no real divide between Democrats and Republicans; this is one area where partisanship apparently does not play.

That is what I know. I’m sure there is much I don’t know. If you can assist me in my quandary, please do. I’m still not sure where I come out with all this.

You may way to take a look at the following:

The American People Love Drones

The International Law of Drones