Monday, December 31, 2007

An Ode to Good Women

And so what about good women,
And why I'm attracted to them?
Is it because they still teach us
Much more, it would seem, that most men?

The ones I love and admire
Accept aging with comfort and grace.
They are much more attentive to Life
Than their hair tint or lines in their face.

But that doesn't say it just right;
They enjoy still being attractive.
It's just that in pulling it off
They're so real while still being active.

And so what can I say about how
I can reach out again, perhaps now?
Is it really that simple, with my smile and it's dimple,
Trust a good woman, and bow?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Phat: Look it up as I had to. Try Wikkipedia has a piece called "How Phat conquered Palestine". The title of the piece itself got to me enough that I had to check it out.

Seems there's a Palestinian Hip Hop group who likes to make rhymes about politics in the region.

What really got my attention though was something I read on line that they are similar to a group in Israel with which they have had "scant" contact. Why scant, why not contact?

Could it be that there are those for whom peace and getting along, is the last thing they want to promote, because they only make their fortunes in conditions of conflict?

I'm going to leave this here for now, but I have a lot more to say about this.


Stuff like this punches a button in me, causing an eruption of a kind of psychological/emotional acid reflux, a regurgitation of my cynicism.

Peace in the Middle East might be difficult, but it is surely obstructed by those who have a stake in continued conflict.

Richard Ben Cramer published a book a couple of years ago entitled "Why Israel Lost". He identified himself as a Jew who was critical of what Ariel Sharon was doing vis a vis Arafat.

"If you don't understand something follow the money." I put that statement in quotation marks because it is, to my way of thinking, a universal truth. And also because Iwrote about that on another of my blogs, Lighthouse Keeper.

Richard Ben Cramer made a strong case that Sharon and Arafat had a kind of Faustian compact which ensured that both of them had power and control over the huge amounts of money involved in the selling by Israel to the Palestinians of all kinds of goods and services. Their plans and their goals were not motivated by any semblance of an altruistic nature.

Ben Cramer wrote that Sharon and Arafat made huge amounts of money from the skimmings, commissions, paybacks and payoffs they got(choose your own label) from arranging, facilitating and the greasing of skids, which resulted in the availability of basics which the Palestinians needed, and which the Israelis could supply.

As I have written many times, If you don't understand something, follow the money.

The essence of Capitalism, as a belief system, is its dependence and reliance on the reality of supply and demand in the free market for goods and services. The key word of course is "free", including the implication that it is also "honest", as opposed to "corrupt".

Here's what I'm thinking, (and I'm going to try my best to limit my Voice Crying in the Wilderness to issues of my own time, the span of years I've been alive, and which experiences and reactions to them have informed my view of life. However, as you read what I am "Crying in the Wilderness" about, I suspect that you will, if you have any sense of history, realize and come to understand that what I am crying about is only the most recent history of the problematic impact of humans on earth.)

C. G. Jung, a Swiss physician and a colleague of Sigmund Freud in the early 20th Century, introduced the idea of personality and temperament as important to any understanding of behavior.

How's that for an introduction? If you opted out at this point, I'd understand.

Since the end of WWII, two plus generations, supposedly adult humans, have continued to talk about, and profess commitment to, making peace on earth, but continue to make war on earth. They claim that their supposedly sophisticated inteigence, military prowess and diplomacy are all designed to optimize "our" chance to Make Peace on Earth.

The key word here is "Our".

Those who make money by supplying the instruments of war, want us to believe that they are only making and supplying those intruments of war for our benefit, and in our interest. They are skilled, talented and adept at using surrepticious devices to convince us that we should believe and accept their version of reality, what they want us to believe and accept as essential to our well being, when in fact it's their own well being they care about and are assiduously working on.

As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, when he didn't agree with the plan, "What's this Me kemosabe?" (My phonetic attempt at spelling what Tonto said.)

In the Middle East, it seems that we have the current generation(s) embracing an African/American cultural phenomenon as a way to connect to and get the attention of their own people. Why have the contacts between the Palestinian version and the Israeli version been scant? Apparently because our current so-called adult humans block it.

It's my nature to ask why, or more to the point, what for?

I continue ask my friends why our American administrations have, since the end of WWII, which saw the establishment of the State of Israel, continued to play games with, and in, the region.(The games are not confined to Palestine; one can see the evidence of them all over the Middle East, going back at least to the late forties. And even before that the British empire was the inventor of games and their own rules in the region.)

It's important to acknowledge and understand, contrary to our wishes for fairness, that the one who choses to play games( the outcome of which is supposedly subject to either chance or the reality that the better team wins) defines and makes up the rules of the game, and even during the game, for their own benefit and advantage. (At the risk of adding even more to what I hope my readers will tolerate, I have come across some writings of people who were in school at Yale with George W. Bush, who related their experiences of him as one who, when faced with the prospect of losing, tried to renotiate the rules of the game.)

Dwight David Eisenhower tried to warn us.

He was the guy who commanded and led the allies, with his essential vision and skills, in the campaign to defeat the Nazis. He relied on, and benefited from the incredible response to the challenge and the ability of the combined efforts, dedication and people powered efforts in and of our country to provide him with what it took to overwhelm the enemy, warned us about the power and danger of that same military/industrial machine. The key word is Establishment. He was grateful to the machine, but was wary of it as an Establishment

James Carroll of the Boston Globe published a column in that paper last Sunday in which he detailed the rise of the Department of Defense(have you ever found a more euphemistic label?), compared to the Department of State. One little part of that article grabbed me as a way to grasp the significance of the huge disparity between Defense and State. Secretary Gates, of the Defense Department said that the State Department budget was smaller than the health care budget of the Defense Department.

So, let's go back to the beginning question.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who Do You Want to Speak for You?

In small towns we can speak for ourselves in town meetings. At the national level we have a representative system. We can only speak for ourselves in the voting booth, and hope that the others who vote speak as we speak. One of those for whom we vote will emerge as the chosen one of the majority of speakers, voters, to represent them and their views in the process of governing.

For right now, I ask that you try to ignore, put aside and suspend your examination of whatever topic, subject or issue you might be considering and concentrate on your evaluation of those who deign to speak for us.

Here's an example of an exercise which might be helpful.

Compare and contrast your reaction to, and evaluation of, George Mitchell's message to us, the American people, on the topic of MLB players' use of drugs, to any presentation by George W. Bush and/or presentations of the current candidates for president. State why, and on what basis, you admire and prefer one or more of their presentations to those of others.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Romney's Speech on Faith, At Once Brilliant and Deceitful

Romney hit a home run for a lot of folks when he made his speech on religion; those who are easily moved by his endorsement of God, motherhood, country and apple pie, and those
who believe that our president should continue to be a white male who projects a so-called presidential image.

His speech writer is brilliant, even if he wrote it himself.

Brilliant, in this case, applies to the ability of a writer to compose a speech which moves people who want to be moved, and to get the attention of those who listened from a skeptical point of view and who were impressed enough to listen for more.

I found myself in the latter group for the first part of the speech.

At some point I began to feel uneasy, as one who is beginning to wonder if he is being had, spun, blind sided.

"The Music Man" came to mind, with it's seventy-six trombones to arouse and excite positive feelings, in contrast to the "Right here in River City" warnings designed to induce fear in the townspeople.

The genius here is that, in the process of alternating the message back and forth between the positive and the negative, the hopeful and the fearful, those who are on the receiving end of such manipulations can erroneously come to think that the one who sends out these messages has their best interests at heart, and come to believe in that one as trustworthy and one they look to to lead them out of difficulty and trouble.

I began to see the unstated implications of what he was saying; how he established points of view to which almost no one would object, but followed up by ascribing and attributing the source of those virtues to God; an anthropomorphic God who is in touch with our problems and intervenes on behalf of His(note the patriarchal implications) believers, and also condemns non-believers to the eternal fires of Hell.

He did an admirable job in his efforts to do a couple of things. He made an appealing statement for the benefit of what he hopes will be his Christian, Evangelical, Right Wing, Republican base.

He made a clear distinction between those who believe in God and those who don't.

Those who need the simplicity of that view of life were applausedly happy with what he said and which they wanted to hear.

He even went so far as to say that those who don't believe in God are trying to establish another religion, a secular religion, and said, "They are wrong!" The applause meter pegged out on this one.

It matters not to him that those who think of themselves as agnostics, if not atheists, have no use for organized religion. It matters not to him that such people reject organized religion as not only troublesome to humanity, but as actual causes of war and all manner of horrors.

This is a man who wants to be president, and as he has demonstrated publicly for all to see, is willing to say anything to get his way. He has redefined flip flopping.

He is likely to get away with this pandering to the Evangelical base because most polls indicate that a large majority of Americans say they believe in God, whether or not they regularly attend places of worship. Those who respond to polls on this topic by saying they are not religious comprise a very small minority in our population, a group of voters candidates can safely ignore, or at least not need to pander to.

But in our society it's not at all cool to say that one doesn't believe in God, and it remains to be seen what comes out of the voting booths next year.

I lived in Atlanta, GA when Lester Maddox, the axe wielding racist, ran for governor and won. Funny thing was that almost no one admitted to voting for him.

It was no accident that Romney chose to make that speech at the George H.W.Bush Library at Texas A&M University. He was photographed with Bush, Senior's arm on his shoulder, with a broad grin, and Barbara Bush looking up at Romney with approving admiration. (She, the out of touch woman of privilege, who said of those who were devastated by Katrina, the huddled masses yearning to breath free in the Superdome, that "It's working for them", since what they were enduring was no worse than the quality of their lives before the storm.

One would have to be completely clueless to not understand that this was the Bush dynasty anointing Romney with its imprimatur. I suppose some might not have gotten it unless Romney made that speech from the Rose Garden.

I have a friend who is as cynical as I about this topic. He has been predicting that Dick Cheney will step down as Vice President sometime in the coming months, for health reasons, if he doesn't do the right thing by checking out before then. President George W. Bush will then appoint Mitt Romney as Vice President, thereby giving him the upper hand in the 2008 election, the Vice who should be elected president, to continue the policies, positions, and "values", if you can stand the smell, of those who worship and practice social Darwinism, the economic version of the survival of the fittest.

That's their true religion; everything else is smoke, mirrors and light shows.

As the haberdasher said to the tailor, "Get out the blue light, the man wants a blue suit".

In my naivete I continue to hope that someone, without regard to political party, will emerge who can and will grab us with her or his authenticity, who believes in and values the idea that most folks want to do their best, hope to do what they can to be independent and able to support themselves, but who understands that there will always be a need for a safety net, when the boot straps we wanted to believe in and tried to count on, break.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, December 6, 2007

No Religious Test for President

Romney stated the obvious today apparently, that there is no religious test for being president. I doubt any would disagree with that, but that doesn't stop voters from evaluating candidates based on personal and subjective preferences.

I have not read the Book of Mormon, but some have written lately, without being shot down, that a Mormon belief is that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri. Of course it's not. Everyone knows it's in Mid-Coast, Maine.

Perhaps Romney doesn't buy everything written in the Book of Mormon. In fact an awful lot of folks see that the truth in the Book of Genesis, is not in its purported statements of historical fact, but in its morality plays, revealing the flaws of both men and women.

But a psychiatrist named Amen(I kid you not) apparently thinks that candidates should have brain scans as a test for office. Now I can get behind that idea, however creepy it sounds. And also how about an IQ test?

I don't care what religion a candidate believes in, but I do care if they have some smarts.

Here's a question they might be asked: Where was the Garden of Eden? It's not a religious question, it's an IQ question. If one or more answered "Missouri", personally, I'd like to have that information before I voted, wouldn't you?

Collins and Cohen

Gail Collins on the born yesterday candidates, and Roger Cohen on Venezuela and the Americas are excellent pieces worthy of reading and thought.

I commend them to you.

Look for them in the NY Times op-ed page for Thursday, Dec 6. Easily found online.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Do Figure

As a career counselor for the last 17 years, after serving as a CEO of a small industrial company for 18 years, I ask you to be suspicious of figures related to employment, and those who use them.

Those who back their claim with statistics that our economy, and the lives of our people in their world of work, are doing well, use and cherry pick their statistics of choice to support their claims, while conveniently ignoring other statistics which are clear indicators of trouble for our citizens.

In my own work/life, first going from gopher to president of a small company, and more recently as a career,work/life counselor, I've been asked by heads of families, fathers and mothers, recent high school, tech school and college graduates what to expect in today's world of work. These are the people, the families to which today's charlatans declare their commitment to family values but are actually ignoring, if not cynically using, statistics as a tool to cement their power.

They base their glowing claims on employment figures and are quick to use new job statistics to support such claims that we are all doing better. How convenient and cynical. They use figures which do not lie, but they are liars who use figures.

Statistics that reflect the level of employment are likely to be accurate and true to the extent that they are used to report how many people are employed. What they don't report is how much people are earning and what people are doing, compared to what they were earning and what they were doing before they lost their previous jobs.

Some jobs are lost even in the best of times. Some people aren't up to the tasks, or come cropper to conflicts in the work place. There is always a baseline unemployment rate which is difficult to analyze. Something like 3% or so unemployment is considered a full employment economy. It might be the plus or minus margin of error of polls, or it might be that some people do just enough in trying to find a job to stay in the unemployed category, but who are so marginally employable based on what they have to offer that they are likely to be the last employed under any circumstances.

But I'm not talking about these people.

I'm talking about people who have found a job, but a job which pays less than their previous job which was eliminated by their previous employers who, for one or more of many possible reasons, understandable from the point of view of the employer, decided to move their operation to a part of the world, next door or to the other side of the globe, where labor was less expensive.

As a former business executive I understand this.

In the 1890's, the New England textile industry essentially left New England and relocated in the Southeast of our country.

Since then industry after industry moved from their traditional base to places with lower wages; e.g. the shoe industry, steel industry.

As a career and work/life coach, in my attempts to counsel such people, help them understand what they need to learn and what they need to do to find work and income, I am faced with the challenge of re-educating them about today's reality of the world of work, the so-called new paradigm, to use the buzzword which made it's first appearance in the early 1990's.

If they want new jobs, if they hope to be employed again, they are likely to need new skills since those they had counted on in the past did not protect them from being let go. They also need to understand, adapt and decide that they need to look for work, not a job. They need to accept the reality that those who need what they can do, those in the market for their skills, might offer them work as an employee, or a contractor, or as a consultant. They need to understand that it is no longer their father's world, the comforting hymn not withstanding.

The concept of the job, with its benefits, salary or wages has gone the same route to extinction, for now, as the buggy whip. Owners of companies don't want employees, and in fact they don't want to be thought of as employers. They need and want someones or somethings to perform whatever tasks are needed to produce products and services which they have determined from their marketing analyses, will result in sales growth, and by virtue of reducing costs, most of which are associated with levels of employment, will result in increased profits, asset and equity growth.

These people see themselves as owners, not employers, with their focus on the owner's need for capital, investment. That means they need to keep the value of their stock high. They do that by the only two means possible; increasing revenue and reducing cost. Increasing revenue is usually a long term project, unless the fates smile on them by some dramatic change in technology or a sudden windfall which would have been difficult to predict.

Reducing cost can be accomplished more quickly. Reduce payroll by eliminating employees, and/or switch to temporary and contract workers, who receive none of the previously expected benefits; health care and retirement contributions for example. The cost reductions can be almost immediate, though sometimes less immediate due to commitments to severance packages.

However, Wall Street is inclined to reward them immediately by bidding up their share price, anticipating lower costs and the consequent larger profits; as they, the current and future shareholders compete with each other to buy in at the lowest cost they can.

The ownership and managers of profit oriented organizations are rebelling against the values and standards of the former paradigm which was characterized by rewarding loyalty and faithfulness, attributes and values normally associated with so-called family values.

If I were to write a book about this, I could come up with a lot of anecdotal evidence in support of my big picture, paradigm change acknowledgement, forty thousand foot view of today's world of work.

Others have already written those books. One of the best is, Job Shift, written in the early or mid 1990's. I wish I could remember the name of the author. can find it for you.

I take a dim view of folks who only complain and point out the obvious negatives. I have no Cupid magic arrow, nor does anyone else. But let's not focus on the arrow, the shooter, nor even the target.

Let's look at the idea of the shooting range itself. To be successful two things must be in place. The shooter has to be good, and the target has to be stationary, or at least available to the shooter's ability to hit it. This is familiar to many; the 22 rifle range at summer camp and/or the M1 or M14 firing range in boot camp. It was simple; you hit the target or you didn't. You qualified or you didn't. That's a pretty good metaphor for the world of today's job search.

By way of segueing to my next thoughts, here's a personal experience from my Army boot camp days.

At Fort Knox, in 1959, I was assigned to a group of grunts to try out a new gun site for tanks. We were instructed in how to use the background and foreground, left and right controls available to us for giving the tank gunner the target's coordinates.

I was quickly eliminated because I was consistently way off in the fore and aft setting. I since have learned that I have an ocular astigmatism, the solution to which is corrective lenses.

This is not a perfect example of the point I'm trying to make. The Army didn't move the test to another country, and they found other work they assigned me to do.

In fact, had they let me go back to civilian life I would have been thrilled since I had not wanted the job in the first place, but needed to fulfill the military requirement in place at that time.

This story, though, can help us be open to a need to consider the relative merits of the boot strap view of life and the safety net view of life.

In a sense the Army, putting aside motivations and preferences of the employer and the employee, took a safety net view of life in not eliminating my job, but finding another one for me in their organization. That next job resulted in my continual employment with no loss of income. It's not a clean analogy, since I was not an employee who could quit my job, but I hope you grasp the point I'm trying to make.

Some time ago I wrote on another of my blogs an essay entitled, Boot Straps and Safety Nets.

I spent a fair amount of thought and time on that, and if I were to try to summarize it here I would not be effective, nor successful.

Should you be sufficiently interested in this idea, I commend to you "Boot Straps and Safety Nets", at

Please take advantage of the opportunity to respond in any way you'd like, by clicking on the underlined, light blue words, "Comments", which always appear at the end and just below the post you have just read.

Those who write do so for at least one or more of several reasons. Restricting myself to a simple few, I write in the hope that readers ponder something which they might not have considered before, and which they might be open to adding to their personal and particular stone soup recipe of life.

Those who try out their latest recipes on their company, their friends, are always a bit on edge as to whether their guests will like it; but nevertheless they usually are of a sufficiently imaginative and creative temperament to put it out there, hope for the best, and live with, and learn from the results.

At the risk of adding to the maudlin gag response, those of us who write understand that we count on living to write another day.

The title of this web log is A Voice Crying in the Wilderness. That is intentional. Voices come and go, but Wilderness will always be with us.

In Desiderata, the poet wrote, "No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should".


"Strive to be happy".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Ultimate Dilemma

What to do when the citizens are wiser than the politicians?

Or more troubling and frightening is the question, what to do when the politicians know that, but ignore the citizens because they can, and so couldn't care less?

When those in power, fall in love with, and are enthralled by that power, they act as rulers, kings, not as one person elected by the citizens to govern for a specified and limited time.

It's been widely reported that Karl Rove's goal and vision was to do what he had to do to keep the GOP, his version of it, in power for years to come.

The Third Reich was to last for a thousand years.

We're talking grandiosity here.

The very and same people who ridicule anyone for invoking the spector of Nazi Germany as a way to get peoples' attention to the serious threat of forces against which they can be overwhelmed, do so to deflect such accusastions from themselves and refocus them on those they fear are on to them.

Such people are quick to focus on the Holocaust of Nazi Germany as it's singular evil and something that can't and won't happen again, as if by promoting that belief, to which all decent people subscribe, they can hide their selfish actions under the radar which is focused on and set to detect the horrors of a Holocaust, but which are not set to detect the less obvious, and in the short term, seemingly less damaging undermining of those values on which our founders staked their lives and reputations.

Statements like this one I just made are too frequently today thought of as quaint.

For now, I will put this out there as an example of
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

Please know that I hope that somewhere in the wilderness it will be heard and might even generate a response.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When Logic Feels Futile

How many lives will be sacrificed, how many billions of dollars will be poured down the rat hole which is Iraq before some kind of citizen coalition gets worked up enough and led well enough to oppose those who promote war, somewhere, anywhere, because it's in their financial interest to do so?

One kiss of death is the use of the word "conspiracy" to describe what's going on and which has a foul odor. That word has been so overused that it has become an indication of just another rant, and considered merely as a Voice Crying in the Wilderness. The clear implication is that the voice is out of touch with reality, and should be dismissed as irrelevant if not actually weird and off the wall. But all people understand the phrase "hidden agenda".

Many of those who might coalesce have not. Perhaps it's because they have continued to want to keep believing that Cheney/Bush deserved the chance to make the surge work because that would give the elected Iraqi government space and time to bring their country together.

Such a view and hope is a credit to us as a people. We really do hope that our leaders, those we elected, share our values, dreams and hopes for us and our children. But, sadly, I can only conclude that they talk that way, but act differently.

Their actions speak loudly that they value promoting aggression, though they speak peace.

Even a superficial look at how they made their money, and who has supported their election projects, brings to light, if one is open to seeing the light, that those they "value", in a rather corrupt connotation of the word, are all about making money; and armed conflict is the requirement because money is made by selling arms and ammunition, often to both sides.

These people, and the organizations they create understand that it's easier to make money by fanning the flames of conflict than to turn and focus their energy on dousing the flames. It's been acknowledged for some time that some of the most successful criminals have brilliant minds. They differ from others of brilliant minds more in their goals than in their genius.

Those in charge today are feeding us the pap, the pablum they know we crave, so that we will give them the benefit of the doubt as they pursue their goal of making money on conflict, conflicts which they, the military/industrial establishment, stir up.

This is not new to our species nor to our own nation. Such people sold guns and ammunition to both the north and the south during our own civil war. These are people who have no allegiance to a people, nation or country. If they have any allegiance it would be to the power of money.

Taylor Caldwell, in the 1970's, wrote a novel, "Captains and the Kings", in which she tried to awaken her readers to the reality and the threat of such people who understand that their success depends on how well they can stir up feelings of nationality and fear.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, November 12, 2007

More and More Through the Looking Glass

Up is down, left is right, right is wrong, black is white; and the reverse of all of these dichotimies and more are spun suffiently that they will, by virtue(surely an odd and perverse use of the word) of repetiton come to be accepted as reality, truth and fact.

I'm not all that great at remembering facts and details, but if I have anything of value to offer in the many and varied aspects of life and living it's that in by being exposed to facts and details I seem to percieve a pattern in them, a trend; perhaps from experience or more quickly than those who prefer to focus mostly on what's going on in their lives on a day to day basis.

I've been then and there in the before of life. I've been that person. I've walked in those moccasins. I have experienced the worries, doubts and frustrations piled on as expectations, requirements and needs of being a husband, father and small company president.

Essentially I was in blackout mode during the Vietnam War, to the extent that news of the death of a neighbor's son in Vietnam registered in my mind for a short time, as a fact, though absent of emotion, and was soon burried by my own personal reality; the facts, emotions and frustrations weighing on me then. The breakup of our family through divorce was on the horizon, but not yet acknowledged.

I mention this only by example of what the vast majority of citizens of this country are dealing with every day. Budgets are strained if not broken. Credit card debt is looked to and accepted as a way to supplant the disappearance of income due to loss of jobs, and/or inflation's erosion of incomes.

An individual situation, though supported by fact or detail can be an aberration, an isolated event. Repeated facts and details for some are a continuing string of aberrations and isolated events. For me that stringing together alerts me and triggers a need to step back from what is currently happening and look for a pattern, a trend, which might be eluding us, or which some might not want to recognize for one reason or another, often because offered antidotes threaten those who, right now, for a time, are not suffering.

I speculate that paying attention to the physical age of one who is adamant about a position on this issue can be useful to politcians, economists and those they look to for information and advice. The following story, based on an actual life experience, is just one example of the facts of life which confront those who made what they thought at the time were the best decisions they could, based on the circumstances they faced, but which, due to genuinely unintended and unpredicted circumstances, led to most unfortunate and disagreeable outcomes.

I know a man who, up until the age of fifty, though strapped financially, and whose ex-wife's new husband, a banker, told him that he was de-facto bankrupt, due to the loss of the asset value of his house and home through divorce, and faced with the need and wish to pay for college for four sons, he continued to believe that, if and when he could get himself together, he could restart, and believed that he still had enough time left to work that he could provide for his retirement, after completing the obligations to his children.

He didn't anticipate becoming incapacitated with a back injury. He didn't anticipate a three year long treatment for prostate cancer. He didn't anticipate that his employer would be sold to a firm who told him he was no longer needed. He didn't anticipate that these circumstances would result in his going without income for several years. He was forced to sell his home at a discount before losing it to foreclosure. He applied for Social Security at age 62, rather than waiting till age 65, and a larger monthly check. He did what could with his skills to find occasional work as a consultant. He burned through his savings and ran up credit card debt when he needed to pay for car repairs, new tires and such. When he turned 65 he became elligible for Medicare. He applied for Social Security Disability but quickly learned that anyone drawing Social Security was not elligble.

His closest relatives, a sister and her family, four sons and their families, those who might be expected to offer shelter, care and assistance, are dealing with their own stresses and strains; some with severe health issues, some with financial challenges and some who live far away and in climates which would exacerbate his physical limitations.

In this particular case, he is fortunate and blessed to love and be loved by a widow whose deceased husband had built their retirement home with no mortgage, and with whom he now lives. His love, older than he, still holds down a job to supplement her social security benefits so that she can pay the real estate taxes and insurance premiums on her property which go up every year by more than her social security income.

Some weeks ago I wrote on another blog a piece entitled, Boot Straps and Safety Nets.
In that essay I made a case for Safety Nets, while acknowledging the appeal of Boot Straps. I hope you will take time to read it at:

If you do, I hope you will leave a comment, which you can do very easily by clicking on the blue highlighted word "Comments" at the end of the post.

Or, if you prefer, write to me at

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Frog legs for dinner: The Key to Preparation

Select a pot, large enough to handle the introduction and melting of any and all ingredients. Fill it with water, the most important, essential and natural element of life. Select from a population of living beings (in this case frogs for purposes of example)who are pretty much instinctively pre-occupied by their immediate needs. They likely have no concept of time in the abstract perception of past, present and future, but are limited to the sense, that is to say, what their senses confirm to them of present reality. In this example they experience warmth inititally, and like most beings, as small and gradual rise in temperature actually can feel good to a point. I don't have to draw you a word picture of what finally happens to the frog.

Most psychologists will tell you that many criminals are brilliant, but they use their intellect for dark purposes.

I submit that the Bush/Cheney elected mafia dons are brilliant, and have used their intellects for dark purposes.

They understand the frog thing. They turn up the heat on the burner of fear a little bit at a time until those they know they can fool into thinking that they are safe are overcome by the heat of fear.

It happened in 2003, and many signs indicate that it's happening again.

David Brooks wrote recently that the Bush administration is not going to attack Iran, "(trust me)" was his parenthetical statement.

David Brooks is a columnist of the NY Times, with a Conservative, if not Right Wing, agenda. His previous employer was The Weekly Standard, clearly a voice of the far Right; a house of neo-cons, often associated with red light neighborhoods. (Oops, that was not a politically correct statement). If I really had what one might call an audience, I exsAppologies to Fox News, and in particular Bill O'Reilly's need to expose for his viewership's pleasure, skin and bones,

David Brooks, for me, is easy to like. He's smart, but not smarmy, though occasionally clever. He understands and appreciates the powers of the memes of cultures, has a subtle sense of humor, has the credentials of education and intellect of one worthy of respect, and also projects, if not embodies, many of the views, wishes and values of Americans.

David Brooks' opinions and offerings encourage me that trying to remain independent is an OK stance. That it's not only OK to suspend judgement, that by doing so is not "Waiting for Godo"

I could write, honestly, a similar post about the offerings of George Will.

I could not write, honestly, a similar post about the offerings of Charles Krauthammer or William Kristol.

As one who is easily dismayed, disappointed and disilussioned, if not afraid, that he is just another voice crying in the wilderness, getting any kind of reply, positive or negative, would be received as a great and valuable gift.

As for giving, it's been written, said and credited to God that He loves the cheereful giver.

Let's hear it and give it up for God!.

The Spy Who Wants Israel to Talk

That's the title of a column in Sunday's Washington Post, by David Ignatius.

The credentials of the spy are impressive, and his reputation in Israel is apparently "iconic".

What always troubles this cynical voice is that talk like this assumes that peace is the goal.

The military/industrial establishment can't handle peace.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Will: Unused War Powers

Please read George Will in today's, Sunday, Nov 4, Washington Post.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Andrew Sullivan on Obama

I commend to you Andrew Sullivan's short essay on Barack Obama, found on his blog, The Daily Dish and/or Atlantic Monthly.

It's about Obama being the one who can begin the transformation so urgently needed in this country.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Quality of Mercy

The Bard wrote, "The quality of mercy is not strained". It's tempting to focus only on the word "strained". But he wanted us to focus on the phrase, "not strained"?

What did he mean by "not strained"?

Perhaps that becomes clear in reading his following words. "It droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath".

He did use the word "strained"as a synonym of "stressed" or "Stretched". He meant "unimpeded".

And it's not a strain or a stretch to conclude that "the place beneath" is Earth as in "us".

Such was his connotation of "not strained". It, the quality of mercy , passes, unrestrained, unimpeded, undiluted, to earth and thus to our benefit, as in "rain" and "sunshine".

And also not to be ignored, the Bard said it is the "Quality" of mercy that is not strained, not mercy itself.

I know, I know, I'm now making too fine a point on it, and am much too caught up in my enjoyment of logic, reason, and the parsing of language.

Today the Supreme Court , (I guess we have to call it something special, and condone an element of hyperbole, in acknowledgement of it's being the court of last resort in our country; but "Supreme"?) stayed the execution of a living being.

I want to believe that decision contains within it an element of mercy, however based it is on law, which today is marketed to the people as being impartial.

Speaking for myself, I experience instinctual physical, gut level revulsion at the killing of almost any living creature, and psychological, spiritual revulsion and trauma at even the contemplation of such killing. Far too often I experience psycho-traumatically induced physical responses to news of the impending or actual execution of a living being.

However I try to think about it objectively, look at it logically, and understand that I am removed from that being, and am not that being, I cannot deny and divorce myself logically from my feelings. I identify with the accused, the living being who is feeling the ultimate terror that other living beings have ultimate power over him, and have decided without his consent that they will execute him at a particular certain time and place. The well known
philosophical, and thus distant and objective expression of this is: "Nothing so focuses the mind as the sure and certain realization that one will be hanged in the morning".

Just writing that statement makes me sick.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Lighthouse

Lighthouses usually project two lights, a white one and a red one. They alternate in their projections, and alternate in the direction of those projections. I've often wondered about the value of and logic for the red one.

But, upon reflection, all puns shamelessly acknowledged, perhaps I'm beginning to see the light.

Our senses have evolved in such a way as to detect changes in our environment. It's those changes that get our attention and so provide us with the information we need to survive. If the lighthouse only projected a steady, unchanging white light, we, that is to say, our senses, might "turn it off", stop paying attention to it, and thus dismiss it as being irrelevant to our situation and survival.

Perhaps the value of the 180 degree red light projection is that it provides a visible, though dull by contrast, light, and, as such, sustains the attention of our senses by it's being the opposite of the bright light we need to aid our survival.

As a work/life navigation coach and counselor I often ask clients to describe what they have disliked about the elements of what used to do to earn a living; those they've worked for, their peers and subordinates, if any, and the tasks to which they were assigned. Then I ask them to describe the opposite of those things they disliked. Inevitably they describe a work/life environment they wish for.

The Black Hole of Politics

Today, on a cable news channel, it was reported that Barack Obama "vows" to step up attacks on Hillary Clinton. I don't know if he used that word or if it was put in his mouth by the media.

Large numbers of citizens have come to admire Obama for his character and his ability to articulate genuine visions and values. We became aware of him as a special person when he addressed the last Dem convention, and since by his public statements and the message of his book, The Audacity of Hope. We have hoped that the citizenry will view him and what he stands for as genuine, honest and honorable, in contrast to the cheap, knock-off, out-sourced discount store values flaunted by those who cynically use the word "values" in their dishonest, hypocritical and dishonorable campaign.

At some point each of us, if we chose to participate in the the electoral process established by our Founders, has to make a decision about a choice for president, and then act on it by actually voting.

I believe Obama is committed to lead. I see in him a person with the personal constitution, intuition and vision of a leader; a real life, actual statesman. How long has it been since we had a president of that nature, stature and charisma? JFK comes to mind.

In this particular election cycle we, the citizens and voters, are being bombarded by bombast for three years in advance of the election set for November, 2008.

It's ridiculous, absurd, boring, and a huge imposition on the time we have to attend to just trying to get along with the challenges of daily life. For some the challenges are struggles; paying bills, for others it's about parenting, health issues and having the energy to deal with what comes along. For others it's about doing one's best at work. For others it's about -------- add yours to the list).

I titled this piece, The Black Hole of Politics.

Scientists speculate that there exist in the Universe what they call black holes. They impute their existence from the observable phenomena that stuff seems to get sucked in to some point in space-time, and after passing over what they call "the event horizon", the rim of the hole, appear to disappear.

I submit that there exists in the universe of politics the equivalent of a black hole. It exhibits behaviors similar to those observed by astrophysical scientists. Its pull is powerful and difficult to resist. It has the power to suck in and eliminate from existence everything which falls within its influence and which succumbs enough to its attraction that it passes over the rim of the hole, beyond which nothing can escape, nor even eventually emerge; not even light.

I fear Obama is vulnerable to being sucked into the Black Hole of Politics. By "vowing" to confront Hillary, as it has been reported in the MSM, he is exposing and making himself vulnerable to the black hole of politics.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Being in Awe

Sometimes you can only stand in awe, relax and enjoy.

As much as I would like to attribute the weekend's sports accomplishments of the Red Sox and the Patriots to superior talent, clearly that doesn't get it.

Scientists can assemble all the molecular, biological and chemical molecules essential to existence, but that assemblance, by and of itself, doesn't constitute life.

Tito, Theo, Luchino, Warner and Henry have assembled all the talent elements essential to existence, but that assemblance, by and of itself, didn't constitute life.

The mystery of life is that the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ranting: Sometimes the Only Way to Get Attention

Crying in the wilderness and Ranting are both manifestations of frustration. As such they are examples of venting, a way to let off steam, relieve pressure. But the Crier and Ranter are also trying to draw attention to something important to them. As such they share the frustration of a child who throws a fit or a tantrum. All have in common the element of shock value. Sometimes shock is necessary to get attention.

The source of my frustration is the shamelessness of the rampant hypocrisy of those who want us to believe and trust that they are honest and honorable people who have the best interests of our nation at heart.

"Bullshit"!, Says I, in my Rant mode. "A plague o' both your houses" saith the Bard in his Rant mode.

I established this blog because I wanted a platform, podium or pulpit from which I could express how I perceive what is going on in our land. I tend to be drawn more to the forest than the trees, to a view of the so-called big picture more than today's details. That's my nature, and to the extent that what I have to say gains any credibility with the reader, it is likely to be with the reader who is sufficiently aware of the facts and details of today's reality, but also appreciates the pattern inherent in the details of day to day reality.

There are many valuable blogs, the authors of which focus on, if not specialize in, reporting what has happened daily and what is being said, written and shown on a daily basis.

" EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!" was the cry of the newspaper hawker on the street. "It" was the story behind the headline of that day's paper.

It's generally assumed that the so-called Main Stream Media is still looked to as a trustworthy, reliable, credible, honorable, honest and objective source of the daily news.

"EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!, was about selling newspapers, not blogs nor cable news. The advent of these two news sources gave rise to the term Main Stream Media.

That title is at least generous in its implication that the newspapers represented by that collective term reflect and represent the main stream of opinion.

Traditional Media would be a more accurate and honest label. It suggests what are thought of by many as positive and admirable qualities: historical, established, sustainable, recognizable, even reputable.

Of course the owners and editors of the MSM have opinions about what they report as the daily news. There is the editorial page, replete with the opinions of its editors, and usually includes a so-called Op-Ed page.

In this case Op might mean "opposite" in the sense that it is printed on the opposite page from the unsigned editorials. It might also mean or imply that what one reads on that page is somehow opposite of the opinions expressed on the editorial page. In practice Op seems to stand for Opinion, not necessarily Opposite opinion.

The most significant differentiator seems to be that the columns on the so-called Op-Ed page are signed and can be attributed to a particular individual, whereas the pieces on the Editorial Page represent the group opinion of the owners and editors of the institution which publishes the newspaper; in other words, their bias.

Now, there's nothing inherently bad about bias, though the word itself conveys a negative connotation. Bias includes opinion. But "bias" seems to connote "opinions" which have become grouped in such a way as to become so predictable that the holders of such opinions can be called, "opinionated".

Opinions, in the best sense of the word, are initial and perhaps tentative judgments about one's perceptions and initial evaluations of facts and events. As such opinions are open to and acknowledge that there are other opinions. Opinions beget and welcome discussion and dialogue, and are willing to suspend judgement.

There are those whose opinions are so one sided as to qualify as biased. They will use, spin, distort and quote out of context supposedly undisputed facts to persuade and convince the reader that they are the trusted and objective sources in which the reader should have confidence.

Of course this is not new to the history of our species. However, over the past several years of reading different opinions, I have found a disturbing increase in instances of factual reality being distorted, spun, quoted out of context, etc., with the clear intent of twisting facts to suit a bias; a pretty good working definition of propaganda.

I hasten to add that I have not found this to be peculiar to any particular political persuasion or party.

For what it's worth, here's my take on how and why bias has proliferated to such an extent that it feeds and encourages polarization of the citizenry.

The campaign for the Nov. 2008 election began soon after the Nov. 2006 election, and it's dynamics probably can be traced back to the Nov. 2004 election. So much has been made of the amount of money needed to sustain a campaign. That money corrupts, and big money corrupts absolutely, is a truism.

How to say this as clearly as I can. To the extent that politicians believe that they always have to make raising money for a campaign their top priority, and can't resist the temptation to campaign for the next election, the country loses the governing it deserves and for which it voted in it's most recent election.

We vote, politicians are elected to govern as they told us they would, then ignore the reasons we elected them, and start again, almost immediately to tell us why we should elect them again.


When do we get what we voted for?

That's the naive question of the day.

The sadly cynical, but reality based answer is, You Get What You Pay For.

Part of growing up is coming to terms with the admonitions of the poem Desiderata; in particular, and germane to this rant, "Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery".

It's easy to complain.

What I want people to think about has to do with the dominance of campaigning versus governing. I think it's more about the length of campaigns, than the money needed to campaign. If campaigns were limited in terms of weeks or months as they are in other countries, Germany and Australia for example, the need for raising money to sustain campaigns should decline in direct proportion to the length of time over which a campaign must be sustained. That's simplistic of course, and it would take some time for politicians to relax about how much money they needed to get or keep their jobs. But over time, a few elections cycles, perhaps limiting the length of campaign time might result in the voter getting more of what he voted for, than what he couldn't afford to pay for.

Our Founders gave us the best gift they could, based on their knowledge and understanding of history and their own times. Their bequest to us is the Constitution, a framework for a sustainable society, a big picture of what life should look like in a nation based on the principle of justice. What they decided upon and encoded in our Constitution came into being as antidotes to the injustices from which they and their fore bearers fled in England and Europe.

They were prescient in their awareness that they needed to identify, define, decide upon and reduce to written form for posterity some basic and immutable principles of a society, culture, even a country, essential to ensure the the health and survival of the land they had come to love.

The current president and vice president have acted more like those old kings than elected public servants. The do not wish to govern, but to rule.

Members of Congress are so focused on keeping their jobs that they are ignoring the erosion of the Constitution our Founders bequeathed to us.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crooks and Liars

The title of this post is actually also the name of a blog. It can be accessed at: I haven't checked it out enough times to evaluate it from my perspective, but because I consider the current administration as a bunch of crooks and liars, I am predisposed to be at least open to what the author or authors have to say.

You might ask yourself why such a blog, with such a title, exists.

A few weeks ago, a political cartoon in the Boston Globe made the point. It consisted of four panels, two of which depicted then AG Gonzales with mouth closed and two with mouth opened.

The caption under the mouth closed panels read, "Not lying". Under the mouth opened panels the caption read, "Lying".

I love to laugh at some cartoons, like some in The New Yorker magazine.

I didn't laugh at the Globe cartoon. I grimaced.

As one who likes to find a middle ground upon which people with honest and honorable intentions can debate with others of honest and honorable intentions, I find myself not only discouraged, but angry about the kind of discourse we hear and read about in the so-called Main Stream Media. Even employing the word "discourse" to describe those reports constitutes a generous concession that the motives of the MSM are neutral in their nature.

Personally I am at least doubtful that the MSM is neutral. Of course one has to agree on the definition of the MSM. For purposes of this essay, I choose to define the MSM as comprised of institutions whose mission is to report and interpret news to those who read and/or see and hear what they publish. In addition I limit my definition of the MSM to those institutions which, according to generally accepted parameters, have a substantial audience, are well known and financially well funded and with a history of sustainability.

Examples include, but are not limited to, The New York Times, The Washington Post, New Yorker Magazine, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Washington Times, New York Post, to name a few with apparent opposite editorial bias.

Then there exists today a vast and growing number of alternative sources of news, like the existence of alternative medicine. They spring up all over the place and time. They are called blogs, short for Internet Web Logs. There is almost no discipline to which the writers of such blogs commit. They can write and publish stuff on all topics, obsessions, persuasions, perversions and narcisisstically fueled needs.

So, how is one to know what to believe in, what is accurate and truthful?

And the answer is, drum roll please, Judgment. There has never been, is not now, and never will be, a substitute for Judgment. Where does one "get" judgment? You can't buy it anywhere, you can't inherit it, though genetics plays a role, you can't luck into it like buying a winning lottery ticket, you can't find it dropped by another on the street, or in the local dump, land fill, recycling/transfer station, or in a dumpster.

Some might proclaim that you either have it or you don't. A good education is the beginning, followed by continued use of the mind on issues which have at least two sides, and by listening to and reading the arguments of opposing sides. The MSM has become too compliant with respect to politics. The blogosphere is full of opinion and is not compliant. It is the equivalent of the pamphlet phenomenon of 18th century America.

A Flip of the Tongue

If one hasn't been offended enough by Romney's whoreish campaign, his flipping the names of Osama and Obama should do it.

He even started saying Osama, in reference to the Terrorist-in-Chief, then clearly said Barack Obama, not once but twice, as the one who issued a call to all terrorists to unite.

Shame, shame, shame!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll would be amused.

The mullah-in-chief of Bob Jones U, Bob Jones III, who calls the Mormon Church a cult, has endorsed Romney.

However he also calls the Catholic Church a cult.
That's high cotton for cults.

Also, to his credit, he says he's not supporting a preacher candidate, but a presidential candidate. I like that stance.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who Will Speak for Us?

The question suggests a hope that there exists one who can speak for us.

And inherent in that question is the assumption that there is an "us".

Unfortunately, and this is not new in the Universe, there is also a "them".

But it is becoming more and more apparent that the us vs them is more about getting elected than governing, especially since campaigning for the next election now begins immediately following the last election. In the Congress those who show up and bother to vote do so more with their eye on the next election cycle than from principle and conviction. How else can one explain Hillary's vote for the resolution labelling a part of Iran's military "terrorists"?

However, as I read what I just wrote I recall that she voted for the measure which Bush used to invade Iraq, and has equivocated since when asked if she made a mistake. George W. Bush admits that he can't remember when he made a mistake.


Hillary and Bill are more a Political Action Committee than whatever else they claim to be.

Said the Queen, "Balls!! If I had two I'd be King".

Obama's handlers(even the word conjures up an image from the Westminster Dog Show) want him to show well, meaning show up; compete against his Dem opponents. Get in the game, go fifteen rounds in the ring, go to the mat, get down in the trenches, and all that other crap which the small dim people resort to as the best metaphors they can come up with, and which they confuse with wisdom.

Obama wouldn't even be a candidate save for his uplifting speech at the Dem's last convention. He solidified that appeal with his book, The Audacity of Hope. As for hope, I keep hoping that he will remember who took him to the dance, and resist the advances of the political whores whose message is, "Get out the blue light, the man wants a blue suit".

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Fairest can of Them All?

As for mirrors, perhaps we would do well to acknowledge that there might be more than one kind.

Clearly, as in the physical world, there is the tangible one, the objective one we consult as if it's another form of ourselves. It reflects back to us an image we have been trained to examine, critique and clean up before we leave the house; how do we look, how's our hair, have we combed it, do we need a haircut, what about our shirt, pants, socks and shoes, is it "snowing down south", have we done a good job putting on our face?

The implied question is, "Are we presentable", in other words, "Are we acceptable to others?".

Less clearly, perhaps even obscurely, even subconsciously, there "exists", in the sense that we experience an influence on us, another kind of mirror. It is the subjective one we would do well to consult, but often shy away from because it is so multi-faceted, and as such can appear to provide us with a blurred, if not distorted image, and therefore be confusing. It is not comprised of objective and logical stuff, but personally felt subjective and values stuff.

That kind of mirror also implies the question, "Are we acceptable?" Implied in that question are the unstated words, "and meet with the approval of others". Also unstated are the qualifications of the "others" to have and to hold license to judge us.

However, the criteria in this context and of this venue are quite different from those of the physical, objective mirror.

Both kinds of mirrors constitute reality to the extent that they exist, which is to say that we are influenced by what they reflect back to us. Both kinds of mirrors challenge us to consider how we are perceived and thus judged; by ourselves, as a proxy for others, based on how we were trained to be acceptable and to fit in, or by others we hope will accept us for how we look and behave.

Neither of those mirrors can describe who we are in our essence, since, by definition, the best they can do is to describe or portray who we seem to be to others, our mirrors, at a given time and place.

Robert Burns wrote about this. "Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us!

Mirrors provide us with an unvarnished, airbrush free objective image by reflecting back to us, in accordance with the laws of physics, the visible details of our physical being, warts and all; except for one seemingly insignificant, but important difference. The reflection is of us, but it is not us. It is an image of us, complete, but opposite in every detail, an image of us, but not us. And so that reflection, in a sense, is a 100% false image. Still and yet we would do well not to dismiss it as being without value.

That reflection has value because we can see in it the details we need to acknowledge, some of which we can ascribe to aging, accept and take no action, and some of which we can evaluate as in need of advice from a health care professional. Whether what we see appears to be on the left or right side of us is likely only of interest to those who are drawn by their nature to be critical in their approach to life, their scientific analysis.

The news of the day, to the extent that one listens to and views it, also provides us with a kind of mirror. However the reflection we see in that mirror is not a realistic and objective one, but a subjective and an enhanced, air-brushed, even distorted one. To the extent that we respond to it, however positively or negatively, it reflects back to us our personal perceptions, our values, our preferences and even those prejudices through which we prefer to perceive and make judgments about the world in which we find ourselves living for a time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Conspiracy Theories or Hidden Agenda Realities

If one proposes or advances the possibility of a conspiracy theory in an attempt to understand and expose nefarious motives and events, he or she is usually targeted and subjected to personal attack on his or her IQ, motives and values; in short, character assassination.

Those who are persuaded to dismiss out of hand Conspiracy Theorists are themselves the fools they are known to be by those who fool them, the actual Conspirators. The defense against claims of conspiracy rests on the idea that they simply cannot exist because they would have to be based on a vast and comprehensive plan to which all conspirators would agree never to divulge; and no one can be counted on to keep such a pledge.

Their defense is that all people have their own personal, self -centered, selfish motives and cannot possibly agree, commit to and stay in such a compact.

The key words here are "personal, self-centered, selfish motives". They expose the motivation of such people, and as such can lead, at least for a time, to a unifying compact.

The word "conspiracy" implies a nefarious agreement, compact and plan to snooker those who are too simple-minded, dumb and naive to wake up to what's going on before they have been had.

These nefarious things have been documented in history. Ridiculing those who call such things Conspiracies, is often a cover up in itself.

How about calling them Hidden Agendas. Try convincing anyone that these don't exist.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Six Foot Five, 250 Pound, 9.3/100, Four Foot Standing Jump, Ambidexterous, Ballet Schooled High School or College Pro Prospect

There's actually a penalty in College football for excessive celebration. In the pros, excessive celebration is at least tolerated if not encouraged, perhaps mostly by the ticket buyers.

I understand how that penalty came to be and what it was designed to prevent. The powers that be in the NCAA hope to inhibit the behavior of college athletes who want to imitate the professional players' self-congratulatory and obnoxious behaviors.

If it still could be argued that there is a distinct difference between the amateur and professional levels of sports this might make some sense. But in the world of sports, the NCAA Division 1A "college" teams are really the farm clubs of the pros.

In the world of professional baseball there exist several levels: A, AA, AAA and Major League. Everybody understands this to be a kind of "earn your ups" game like, but more serious than, the one we played on the street in front of our houses before Mom called us in to dinner.

In the business of professional sports, the college "game" is essentially the business equivalent of the minor league system in the world of professional baseball, but with a most significant difference.

In minor league baseball the managers and coaches understand that their role is one of developing their players; a teaching, mentoring role. Far too often, college coaches understand that their role is to win games, conference championships, bowls and the Holy Grail of college "sports", National Championships. Off season college coaches compete with each other for the best of the best in the high schools of the country. As in the pros, money talks. It's supposed to be offered in the form of scholarships, but now and then they or their side -mouth speaking wealthy alums flash some cash. It's not supposed to be that way, but those they are trying to persuade often are the kids of struggling Moms and hopefully Dads.

Fortunately and happily there are college coaches who have the attitude, perspective and values to resist those pressures to do almost anything they can to "win one for the Gipper". Coach K at Duke seems like one of those.

Such pressure often comes from the sophomoric and mid-life crisis alums who have made it big financially, but have not made it big in values. These are the ones who rely on the power of their checkbooks to hide their personal inadequacies and impotence's. These are the ones who use their checkbooks to buy respect from the presidents and trustees of their Alma maters. It's likely that these persons are not aware of their own self-deception. Unfortunately, more often than not, they are not brought up short in that self-deception due to the fact that those they want and need to influence have their own wants and needs, and so the enabling, co-dependent behavior continues. As usual, if you don't understand something, follow the money.

Perhaps it's fortunate that the Div 1A college coach's job is much tougher than the minor league baseball manager's job. The baseball guys keep their jobs if they are positively evaluated by the owners of their major league franchise, according to how well they scout, recruit, coach, mentor and train their young people to be ready to play at the major league level. Of course they want to win, but their win/loss record, though personally important to their players and themselves, is secondary to their mission, and not national news as it is with the coaches of the Division 1A colleges.

This is something most everyone who is interested in sports knows, understands and perhaps even wonders how long it will be before there is a sufficient ground swell of enthusiasm to tackle
the issue. I think it's a problem. Not everyone does.

Now here I go again in my usual tendency to take an issue I care about and subject it to and infuse it with the heat of my personal thoughts and feelings. Such is the nature of A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good Grief

I think it was Charlie Brown who made "Good Grief" the iconic statement of disbelief? It rivals "Oy Vey" on the Exclamation Meter.

That's my response to what's going on in DC. For example the non-binding resolution from the House, almost a hundred years after the fact, which condemns Turkey for the Armenian genocide. Representative Lantos said that it is something that had to be acknowledged and put to bed. I suspect it was more like wanting to raise Lazuras from the dead in order to rescusitate an old grievance for political gain.

I wonder how Lantos would react to a Turkish parliament resolution that condemned the US for its slave based economic system, a hundred and fifty years after the fact.

On my Cape Cod Lighthouse blog a few days ago I wrote about why Helen Thomas speaks for me. Her point was that the voters are being ignored by not only the Republicans but the Democrats. Her ending question was something like, where can the voter go who is fed up with the disaster of the war in Iraq?

I extend that question to where does the voter go who is exasperated at being ignored by those they voted into office, and who obviously are more about partisan fighting and gaining voting control than representing the voters who put them in their fabulous jobs, complete with exclusive perks, from access to global media to the best and least expensive health care plan on the planet?

The Democrat led resolution condemning Turkey was at least gratuituous. Why that and why now?

The motivation has to be partisan and political. Turkey wants admission to the EU. Turkey has allowed and enabled all sorts of materiel bound for Iraq to pass through their country, though they obstructed the passage of those things through their country in 2003. I'm sure there are many other factors of which I am unaware but which I hope will surface in the coming days. I have to leave it to those who are in command of the facts. As for me I have to admit to believing there is something most foul as a result of experiencing a stink most foul.

After the 2006 election the country had barely a year of governance before the new Holy Grail, the 2008 election, became the focus of the quest, characterized by all things sectarian.

We love to look down on the Iraqis as sectarian zealots when, in fact, we have become just that which we like to condemn. The foundations of our country have been terribly eroded by the incursion of tribal and sectarian tides.

Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, and a self-declared Christian within the Episcopal denomination's approach to faith, said that though we are a nation of mostly Christians, we are not a Christian nation. That might be the wisest statement I have heard in my lifetime.

The voters are being marginalized and disrespected, viewed as and relegated to, by those they elected to positions of power, members of tribes; Republican Nation or Democrat Nation, like Red Sox Nation and Patriot Nation.

The insult is egregious and unforgivable. Dismissing the voter as nothing more than a dedicated fan of a favorite team or tribe is to make the mistake of assuming a voter's enjoyment, pleasure and satisfaction in rooting for a local team can be manipulated, used and transferred to commitment and loyalty to a political party, regardless of what that party professes and stands for.

As a voter I am listed as Independent. However I tend to believe in and support the need to provide safety nets for those who, for one reason or another, have not been able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps as the fortunate and faithful of the Republican Party expects and requires of the average Joe; unanticipated things like divorce, loss of employment, disability and medical care costs come to mind as conditions and situations which are conveniently ignored by those whose financial situation protects them from such.

The ad in the Times was outrageous, a cheap shot and nothing more than a sixth grade school yard taunt. And the Times should receive its due opprobium for its role in enabling that slur. I make no case for General Petraous who I think has an Eisenhower complex. Some folks in Iraq have come forward with stories about his wanting to run for president in 2012. Who knows when it's just heresay and rumor. But his being trotted out and advertised as the savior of all things Iraqi a few weeks ago, given the best exposure one could ask for, and awarded the imprimatur of the Republican current occupants of the White House seem to me to be planned, calculated, carefully and cynically orchestrated.

Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" statement was equally outrageous.

The war goes on in Iraq, Afghanistan is falling back into the control of the Taliban, the Cheney/Bush/neo-con cabal is beating the war drums against Iran, just as they did in 2002-2003, our government has been unwilling to be the Dutch Uncle to Israel, regardless of what party has been in power. The front runner Dem candidates are demurring when asked what they will do to get us out of Iraq by the end of their first term, if elected.

Talk about frustration. Good Grief! Oy Vey!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not an Epiphany, But Perhaps a Re-evaluation

On tonight's PBS News Hour program Ray Suarez interviewed John Edwards.

I have felt turned off by Edwards for at least two reasons, one of them too personal to be defensible.

I have an aversion to anyone with a southern accent which I associate with insincerity, if not hypocrisy, as one who grew up in the Northeast, but lived and worked in Atlanta for 26 years. That is my personal problem, and is assuredly not defensible as either critical thinking, nor empathic feeling.

My other problem with Edwards has also been about hypocrisy, namely his. He has been campaigning as one who understands and hates the gulf between the haves and the have nots. But he has not repudiated nor apologized for the reality that he's built himself a mansion, and seems to be comfortable paying several hundred dollars for a haircut. Though I have a hard time agreeing with him he seems to be using his financial success as an example of what those he professes to support might expect from life if he is elected. That's at least a stretch.

Nevertheless, tonight he seemed genuine, honest, authentic and consistent in his responses to questions from Suarez about his views on the problems we face as a country and people. He got my attention and admiration when he said that we need to be patriotic on issues other than war.

Overall, having listened to and watched him in that interview I've decided to re-evaluate my earlier thinking and feeling about him, especially since I've lost respect for Clinton after she voted to label Iran's military as terrorists, giving Cheney/Bush their pipe dream, and her adding Sandy Berger, an ackonwledeged criminal who had his security clearance suspended, to her campaign team.

I still like Obama as the most honest and authentic candidate.

Having said all that, I want the DNC to be as hardnosed as the RNC, and work hard to come up with a candidate who can win the White House and candidates to get a veto proof Congress. I'm not against Republicans, I'm against anyone who thinks himself and operates as if he is above the law.

That will be the legacy of Cheney/Bush. They and their ilk are hateful people, out for themselves, using money and intimidation for their own ends, what I call the 2000 Supreme Court appointed Mafia, and the 2004 stolen election(think Ohio) Mafia.

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hello?; OY Vay!

"Hello?" seems to be the modern slang equivalent of the voice crying in the wilderness. It conveys a kind of sardonic and sarcastic surprise at the hearing and reading of stuff said and written which defy belief and fly in the face of common sense, reality and history. I have a Jewish blog friend whose response to such stuff is " OY Vay". Like Hello?, OY Vay needs no dictionary definition to convey its meaning. It somehow speaks for itself.

There are some other phrases which get at the same thing, such as, "You can't be serious", and,"You've got to be kidding". But somehow none of them quite conveys the same feeling of frustration as "A Voice Crying in the Wilderness".

Here's my first voice crying in the wilderness.

In the election of November, 2006, the voters sent to Congress a majority of those they believed would call out Bush for what he is, a liar, and who would stand up to him to end the fighting of our soldiers in Iraq. The voters have been ignored. Congress has become at least compliant, and knuckled under to fears of being labeled unpatriotic, and soft on terrorism.

Hello? The disconnect between the voters and those they voted for is extraorinary. Polls show approval ratings of Congress less than those of Bush. What is going on? Here's what I fear is going on.

The Dems are focused on getting elected in Nov. 2008. After the election of 2006 they played at governing as the voters told them to for about a year, but then began campaigning for re-election, years ahead of the election. All their efforts are about getting elected or re-elected in Nov 2008, and are posturing themselves for that and not being faithful to the principals for which they were elected in 2006.

It's becoming clearer with each passing month that the Dems know something which they don't want to admit; that the war in Iraq is about oil, and the need to secure our access to it on a reasonably sound economic basis. The front runners in the Dem campaign side stepped a straight forward question about what the would commit to doing about getting us out of Iraq by the end of their first term if elected.

I put up a post on another of my blogs a few months ago, entitled, It's The Oil People, in which I stated my belief that nothing much would change about Iraq after the Nov 2008 election, even if a Dem won the White House.

The Voice Crying in the Wilderness.