Saturday, October 31, 2009

My week was extremely trying, and I hope to end personal news with this posting.

My dear, sweet Black and Tan Coonhound mix survived her emergency surgery and is now home. Yesterday my wife and I were given the bad news, that the blockage in her intestine was malignant. It is called spindle-cell sarcoma. This disease is also in humans. It is an abnormal growth of the soft tissue and can happen just about anywhere in the body.

Torre came home from the vet on Thursday night. Her first day and a half was very tough, but today she seemed to turn a corner. She started eating and seemed just about her old self. We're overjoyed, but in a guarded way. We hope that the surgery got all of the tumor cells, but we know that some may have dispersed on a cellular level that is impossible to trace until it grows again.

She will not live a long life, but now, every day is a bonus. We were told to strongly consider euthanasia on Monday, and she is still with us. Not only that, but she seems almost normal.

I will not go on and on with this subject, and my next posting will be once again topical.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Morning News

One of the vets at the animal hospital called this morning. Torre has made it through the night pretty well, and is able to walk. She's still very uncomfortable and is being given IV pain killers and fluids. They will attempt giving her solid food later today, and we will be able to visit her this evening.

For us the night was long and empty. Jayne looked from our bed to the sofa where Torre frequently sleeps. She lays on the sofa and looks at us. Last night we looked at the empty space.

During the night I tiptoed into he bathroom, careful not to step on her, where she frequently sleeps. I remembered she wasn't there as I was feeling my way into the bathroom in the dark.

I know that when the end comes we will go through this all over again. It is a future time that I dread, knowing what we're going through now.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Long Hours

Yesterday our beautiful mixed breed Black & Tan Coonhound begged me to take her out at the usual time for the early evening walk. Jayne and I decided to go on a family walk so that we would be back in time for the Yankees playoff game. Once we got to the corner Torre started to behave strangely. She didn't want to go in any direction. She sat and planted herself, all 90 pounds of her. When she doesn't want to move, I call her the furry anvil.

After a minute or two I was able to get her to cross the street and head towards Madison Square Park, a few blocks away and the location of one of her favorite dog runs. She walked past the lamb gyros cart that she always stops at, operated by a very nice pair of brothers who love her and frequently give her a small piece of chicken. She didn't even look at the cart.

Within a minute of arriving at the dog run she threw up, partially digested food, her breakfast from seven hours earlier. All she did after that was stand still. She did not go to the water bowl. We decided to take her home. On the way back she vomited two more times, no food, just bile. Again she walked past the gyros cart.

We decided not to feed her for obvious reasons. Besides, she wouldn't even take a treat from me, a sure sign of illness. This dog always seems to be hungry. We picked up her water dish as well, counter-intuitive, but standard procedure for a dog that can't keep down food. She went into the bathroom and lay on the tile floor.

Normally when a dog has picked up something off the street that does not agree with her she'll throw up and it'll be done with in a matter of hours. If the problem persists, take the poor pooch to the vet the next morning. This is what we figured. We watched the game, occasionally looking in on her. There was no change.

The Yankees clinched the pennant. After the post-game show Torre got up and walked to the kitchen to her water dish. I thought she was starting to feel better and gave her some water. Within a few minutes she vomited again, all water. This was a bad sign and I knew it. So now it was midnight or so. Jayne and I decided that we'd take Torre to the vet first thing in the morning. I went to the corner and got a couple of Village Voice newspapers to spread on the floor in case she needed to throw up again.

It was at this point that her behavior started to really get strange. She refused to lie down and moved around the apartment. One step at a time. She'd take one step and stand, staring blankly, for a minute or so before taking a next step. I had started to doze, but Jayne couldn't sleep, watching Torre's behavior. Jayne woke me up at around 3:00 and showed me what was going on. This was something I had never witnessed in many years of being around dogs. I decided that we couldn't wait until 9:00, and we got dressed and took her out to the corner, looking for a taxi that would take her. Not every taxi driver will take a passenger with a dog, especially a large dog. It was a little after 4:00 by now. The nearest 24 hour emergency vet is not that far from us, but with a 90 pound dog that won't walk it's a great distance.

One of the blessings of being in New York City is the amount of all night services. In Manhattan there are at least three 24 hour emergency vet hospitals. Torre was admitted after a brief intake conversation. They would give her some IV fluids and the main doctors would arrive at around 7:00 or so, do rounds and then do an ultrasound on Torre, probably by 10:00am. We went home and tried to get some rest.

I only had one work obligation today, and I didn't have to be there until 1:00pm. At 10:00, I got up and called the emergency vet hospital. She was just about to get her ultrasound and they would call back soon. Just before 11:00am I got the call. She had a mass in her small intestine. In most cases, I was told, this meant one of three possible cancers. Only rarely would it be benign. I called work and told them I would not be able to come in.

Most of the afternoon was spent speaking with our regular vet and doctors at the emergency vet hospital about possible courses of action. She needed immediate emergency surgery, or she would have to be put to sleep. We were devastated. Torre is like our child. To us this was a bolt out of the blue. Only a day earlier she was chasing and playing in the park like she was shortly out of puppyhood.

We asked the vets if there was any hope. She would have to undergo some scans to see if there were any additional masses. There were none, so we decided to go for the surgery. We were not ready to say goodbye, and we felt that she had a chance to live, hopefully, another year.

A little over two hours ago, the surgeon called. Torre is out of surgery. It was a little more complicated than he thought it would be, but he felt that she could come home in a couple of days.

Torre will not have a long life. We have no illusions about that. But we want to have her last months to be happy and comfortable. It has been a day of tears, and there will be more tears to come. If she needs additional surgeries we will likely have to say goodbye then. We will not put her through a long painful end. Once there is a lack of quality of life, we will have to call it a day. But with a hopeful prognosis for the short run, we will take the time we have. Because that's life, with both animals and people.

Friday, October 23, 2009


There's Something About Your Facebook

Like millions of people, I have a Facebook page. I check it daily, mostly to see what my group of friends are up to and to send out birthday greetings. I personally know almost all of these people. The few I don't know are friends of friends who have been suggested to me by friends. I have a feeling that most people who are on Facebook do the same.

For the few out there who don't know, a profile picture is your face of your Facebook, as it were. Some use pretty standard photos, some use head shots, some use funny pictures of themselves. I have a friend that uses a picture of her feet in her house slippers. My wife uses a picture of our dog. My friend Mert Rich, a fellow Second City alum, uses a picture of George Clooney. Mert does not look like George Clooney.

My profile picture is a picture my wife took of me and our dog lying side-by-side, looking at the camera, at the foot of our bed. The picture is not retouched in any way. I look younger than my years, but if you were to put the photo next to an old picture of me, you'd see that I have definitely aged.

The only 'work' I have had done, other than the removal of a mole I didn't like, have been medically necessary. It is only the blessed accident of genetics that makes me look as young as I do.

At the right-hand side of the home page near the top, there is a place called "Suggestions" which is mostly people that I may click on to add to my 'friends' list, or fan sites that friends of mine subscribe to.

I take a look at these suggestions fairly regularly as well, mostly to see if someone I actually know pops up. The software decides who will be listed there by analyzing the friends lists of my friends. Every once in a while I'll click on this list of strangers or vaguely familiar names to see how I am connected to these people. Here and there I'll find people who have no known connection to me, and I'll check the x box to rid the page of these people. Immediately new ones pop up.

Readers of Rob's News know that I have worked with some celebrities over the years, so it should come as no surprise that some celebrities pop up as people I may know. Some of them I do know, some I have met briefly, and some are friends of friends that I have never met. Some are like those people with which I have no known connection.

Yesterday Al Jardine popped up. I have never met Al Jardine, and I don't think anyone I know is acquainted with him. I clicked on his name without clicking on the friend request button. I wanted to read his description and see if we had mutual friends. He has all of his information, including his friend list blocked from view, so I have no way of knowing if we do have any mutual friends. There is just his profile picture.

His profile picture looks like it came from a press packet for The Beach Boys 1965 tour. I have a feeling he no longer looks like this, seeing as 44 years have passed. If he does look like this, then he's the Rock & Roll Dorian Gray.

Dave Mason is on my friends list. We're not close friends, but we are actually acquainted. His profile picture does not look like a Traffic album cover from 1970. He looks like himself, unashamed of his vintage. Bravo, Dave. You're a damn fine musician and a good, unpretentious guy.

Al- take a lesson from Dave. People out in internet-land and in the Rock & Roll blogosphere know you by name. We don't have to see a forty-year-old picture of you to figure it out. Show us the real you. Or at least your picture in the attic.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Deeply Engrossed in Something or Other

I don't know about you, but I prefer my airline pilots to be awake in the cockpit. Especially if I am counted among the passengers on the flight in question.

I say this because I caught this little tidbit via the CNN website. "Airline Crew Flies 150 Miles Past Airport." It seems that a Northwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Minneapolis went quiet, meaning they did not respond to radio calls, for over an hour. They passed their destination by approximately 150 miles, sixteen minutes of flying time.

Maybe they wanted to go fishing in the Boundary Waters.

The pilot and co-pilot's explanation for this lack of communication with two different air traffic control stations smacks of, shall I say, a statement pulled out of someone's ass. They were having "a heated discussion regarding airline policy and lost situational awareness." For over an hour. They were so engrossed in conversation that they failed to respond to radio calls from two different FAA control stations.

The aircraft, an Airbus A320, was always on radar and showed no signs of mechanical distress, flying straight and level at 37,000 feet, leading most people to believe that autopilot was engaged. Denver air traffic controllers had communicated with the pilots, then lost touch with them to the point that they called the Northwest dispatcher to attempt contact. Denver control handed the aircraft off to Minneapolis air traffic control as a NORDO, the designation for 'no radio communication.'

FAA officials secured the cockpit recorder and flight data recorder, and have placed the pilots under investigation. The cockpit recorder is a sensitive piece of equipment and records all cockpit noises, including snoring.

I should say at this point that it is a rare occasion that pilots fall asleep on the job, but it has happened.

Northwest is now owned by Delta, who also had an embarrassing event this week. A pilot landed on a taxiway instead of the runway at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport. Oops. It's fortunate that there were no planes actually taxiing on the taxiway.

So until the investigation is complete we'll have to go with the pilots' explanation. They lost situational awareness. For over an hour. A lot can happen in an hour. A commercial airliner can easily travel 550 miles in an hour. That would give it an eleven hundred mile possible spread. If the center of the circle with a 550 mile radius is Chicago, the circle could reach both Pittsburgh and Omaha. Duluth and Memphis. Far.

I'm hoping that the pilots were engaged in a debate, and not sleeping. Hell, anything is possible.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A True Love Story

Now that New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate has been found not guilty of felonious assault for allegedly slashing his girlfriend's face, the State Senator from Queens is looking towards the future. A large number of lawmakers of both major political parties are demanding he step down due to his conviction of a lesser misdemeanor. The misdemeanor was captured on video by a building security camera, the Senator plainly dragging his bleeding girlfriend down a stairway and through the building's lobby.

After Senator Monserrate's girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, stated to emergency room doctors and nurses that the Senator had attacked her, she recanted, stating that it was all an accident. She accidentally fell onto the broken glass, cutting her cheek and facial muscles to the bone and requiring twenty stitches to close the accidental wound. Yeah, sure. She fell onto a glass that happened to be in the Senator's outstretched hand.

In a bench trial, a judge found that there was insufficient evidence to prove felonious assault.

In the mind of this politician, being guilty of misdemeanor assault is full vindication. He has stated that he will remain in office. A guilty verdict of the felony charges would have meant automatic dismissal from the State Senate. The ever increasing voices of his fellow Senators on both sides of the aisle demanding he step down coupled with newspaper editorials throughout the state mean nothing to Senator Monserrate. He will hold on to his power for as long as he can.

Staying in the State Senate is not his only plan for the future. Senator Monserrate has another idea. An announcement was made for Senator Monserrate through his criminal defense attorney: The Senator will propose marriage to his target, I mean, his sweetheart.

How romantic. What girl can refuse a proposal of marriage via the news media by her sweetheart's criminal defense lawyer?

Why didn't the Senator take her to a romantic restaurant that features a live violinist, or maybe Ms. Giraldo's favorite place, like a Hawaiian getaway? It could be that he has a restraining order against him, preventing him from getting too close to his lady love.

Some have been speculating about proper wedding gifts for the couple. I have seen some tasteless jokes about unbreakable glassware. I will not sink to that level. My suggestion is far more practical. A gift certificate for emergency services at Roosevelt Hospital in Jackson Heights.

Friday, October 16, 2009


What's Missing from the Health Care Bill

A horrifying truth was thrust before my eyes today.

While perusing the health care bill I have discovered that something is missing. I'm not talking about the Public Option. We all know that the Public Option is missing. But you have to get to the fine print to discover all the shortcomings of the current bill.

This is crucial. A letter writing campaign must be mounted. I'm talking about a fundamental need that is an essential ingredient to base-line health on every level- physical, mental and spiritual health.

The price of chocolate has gone up yet again.

We need a guarantee from the federal government that chocolate will be provided to the needy. Chocolate is good for blood pressure. Especially mine. On the first of the month, a case of Kit Kat should be delivered to my door, along with five gallons of New York Super Fudge Chunk.

I am not a stingy person. This is not just for my own chocolate needs. My proposal is that every American should be provided chocolate in some form. Some will require kisses or maybe milk chocolate Easter eggs. Some will have a crucial need for brownies. The point is, chocolate must be distributed to the public for the good of all.

I have heard that there are unfortunate souls who have allergies to chocolate. For those down-and-out sad sacks, I propose the caramel option.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Judgement Day

Judge William Erlbaum will be delivering his opinion later this afternoon in the case of Queens County vs. New York State Senator Hiram Monseratte. Senator Monseratte was one of the two Democratic State Senators who aided the state Republicans in hijacking the state senate for a month earlier this year. Senator Monseratte is on trial for assaulting his long time girlfriend, Karla Giraldo.

After Ms. Giraldo told doctors and nurses at the hospital she had been assaulted, the care-givers were legally obligated to report the incident to police. Once charges were filed, however, she recanted her statement and told police and press that it was all a mistake, and that she fell. Yes, she fell, face first on a broken glass that happened to be in the senator's hand, creating a gouge that went as deep as her cheekbone and required twenty stitches. It can happen to anyone.

Videotape from security cameras in the apartment building where Ms. Giraldo fell onto the broken glass in Senator Monseratte's hand seemed to show the senator dragging Ms. Giraldo down the stairs and to the lobby. In a hurry to take his lady love to the hospital he stopped at the garbage compactor chute to throw a small item into it. The item allegedly was the business card of a man. The Senator allegedly theorized that Ms. Giraldo was considering entering into a non-business type relationship with this man. Ms. Giraldo and the Senator had an argument, which ended with her falling face first on the broken glass. Uh-huh, yes indeed. She fell.

The Senator requested a bench trial. No jury. In my native Chicago, when a high profile individual requests a bench trial, more often than not the verdict has been not guilty. Even in open-and-shut slam dunk cases where the public is expecting a guilty verdict, not guilty has all too often been the result. This especially was going on in the late 70s and early 80s, until Operation Graylord.

Operation Graylord was a justice department sting operation that uncovered a number of judges that were on the take. The most celebrated case was a murder trial of a known operative of The Outfit. Harry Aleman was well known to Chicago police and the Chicago office of the F.B.I. as a hit man and high end thief, employed by a list of Italian-Americans with colorful nicknames. Need I say more? Mr. Aleman allegedly killed a witness in a trial against his employers. This killing was witnessed by a neighbor of the victim, who came forward. In spite of forensic evidence and an eyewitness, Mr. Aleman was found not guilty in a bench trial.

I bring this up because although it is the right of a defendant to request a bench trial over a jury trial, and that defendant is an elected official or a member of a criminal organization, my first reaction is to suspect that the fix is in. Elected officials and mobsters over the years have had a judge or two on the payroll, and it seems to always be a judge that nobody would suspect as being dirty.

Of course, I am not saying that Judge Erlbaum is in any way corrupt. But if Senator Monseratte is found not guilty in the face of testimony from the hospital workers and the videotapes of the security cameras, I will no doubt suspect His Honor, Justice Erlbaum. Time will tell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Decisions, Decisions

I am torn as to what I should write about today. Two choices have leaped off the pages of today's news, both relating to health care. One is regarding the current debate around health care reform, the second is about health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, previously known as the Veterans Administration. I have history with both subjects, as has many millions of Americans.

First, a report was released on Sunday by America's Heath Insurance Plans, a major industry trade group, stating that government meddling in health insurance will raise premiums and costs for consumers. Republicans cheered at the report, publicly stating that they were right to oppose health insurance reforms, privately, no doubt, cheering at the prospect of bonuses from health insurance companies that are funding their reelection campaign war chests.

This report was branded as deeply flawed by Jon Gruber, a health care economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Gruber's background in the subject includes assisting the state of Massachusetts in its effort to provide universal health coverage. He revealed that the report, prepared for the insurance trade group by PricewaterhouseCoopers failed to take into account government subsidies. Mr. Gruber crunched the numbers- all of them, and came up with the opposite conclusion, that health care costs would be reduced to the consumer.

Health insurance companies are also developing "low cost" plans that have extremely high deductible thresholds, ensuring that in most cases companies will be able to collect premiums and pay few if any benefits. Premiums in the neighborhood of $1000 per month for family coverage are not unheard of, with annual deductibles of as much as $2000 per patient. This means a family of four would have an out-of-pocket expense of $12,000 plus a possible additional $8000 in deductibles. The government tax credit proposed is a meager $2000. Big help. Many people who are insured are still being financially ruined by doctor and hospital bills, and still, premiums are rising, prescription drugs cost more, and co-pays and deductibles are going up as well. "Low cost" obviously refers to cost to the insurance company and not the consumer.

This is why Representative Alan Grayson stated that the Republican health care plan was 'don't get sick' and 'if you do, die quickly.' The Republicans were hopping mad at Rep. Grayson for telling the truth on the House floor, something that is apparently frowned upon. Now they are stamping their feet and screaming that he should apologize for telling the truth.

One of the biggest complaints made by the Republican Senators last week was that the health care plan would harm the insurance industry. If there were any doubts before, now you know who they are representing. Not the people.

Now on to the Veterans health care needs. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they are adding a list of diseases to be covered that were likely caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam era. Nice to see they are so prompt. Our last troops departed Vietnam in 1975. Agent Orange exposure was recognized as a serious health hazard as far back as 1970, when the armed forces stopped using it.

For the young ones out there, Agent Orange was the term for an herbicide that was heavily used in Vietnam for two reasons: To kill crops and thus starve the people aiding the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army, and to reduce the forest canopy and thus eliminate hiding places for snipers. Aside from the moral issues of killing the food supply to pretty much everyone, Vietcong supporters or not, Agent Orange caused a wide array of illnesses, including Parkinson's and some cancers.

During the years after the troops came home and began to fall ill, veterans went to VA hospitals for treatment. Many of the sickest were told that the VA had no record of these men and women serving in Vietnam, and therefore were not eligible for benefits. It fell to sick veterans and their families to prove that they had been in Vietnam, which was frequently answered with a statement from a bureaucrat that the veteran's service records had been lost and their service could not be verified. I suppose that's where the private sector health insurance companies learned their craft.

Now that the VA has decided to add these diseases, it still doesn't mean that those ill will qualify for treatment if one goes by the previous stellar record of the VA. This is how costs will be kept to a minimum. That, and many of the veterans who were most affected by these illnesses have already died. Oops.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Short Term Gains vs. Long Term Planning

Over the last two nights, while trying to write a piece about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dust-up in progress over climate change legislation I fell asleep at the keyboard here and there and woke up with writing that had such insight as the following:


along with other pearls of intellect as

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I had grand ideas about tying Western thought and reliance of short term goals devoid of long term vision to the American business philosophy. I would then compare it to Eastern thought and it's current approach to geopolitical expansionism via the business markets.

It's a good thing I fell asleep. I would have been guilty of rash generalization against the Chamber of Commerce. The arguments taking place there have more layers than the pastry parts of a Napoleon- aptly titled Mille Feuilles (1000 leaves) in it's native France.

I am right about the lack of long-term vision in Western business and politics, but it doesn't apply to the arguments currently going on at the Chamber of Commerce. I am also right about the subject matter putting people, including this writer, to sleep.

An example of short-term policy and lack of long term planning: The U.S. handling of Iran. We sponsored a coup. We installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in hopes that we'd get cheap oil forever. He took this installation as an invitation to subjugate his people, developing a deeply feared secret police force and engaging in torture of his countrymen. The torture could be inflicted for what would be thought of pretty small offenses by American justice standards. As far as American foreign policy is concerned, in our desire for cheap resources that would help our economy grow, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was our kind of guy. American government and big business didn't care much about what was going on inside Iran as long as the oil flowed, and flowed cheaply.

Forever lasted until 1979, when he kicked the bucket and the Iranian Revolution installed the Ayatollah Khomeini, a man who, along with his followers, didn't like the American government very much, mostly because of the coup of 1953 and the reign of terror inflicted upon the Shah's opposition that followed. Now, instead of an American-friendly government, we've had 30 years of animosity so deep that we now have lots to worry about from this former ally.

While researching this post I discovered a website that has a population clock for the People's Republic of China. The stuff you can find on the internet is truly amazing. The population goes up a tick roughly every four seconds. At this writing the population is well over 1.3 billion.

I bring this up because part of my argument was going to include China trade and Mao's promise to dominate the West, especially the U.S.A. This is a case of long term planning. Long term planning that is coming to fruition, though students of Chinese civilization and history will no doubt attribute more to Deng Xaioping's economic reforms than to Mao.

The bottom line is: China is taking over. After all, they just bought Hummer from G.M., so can the end of U.S. economic domination be far behind? I can feel the tremors emanating from the Republican core now. They may have to join the boycott of Hummer automobiles by Lefty Liberals and Tree-Huggers. A truly horrifying prospect.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Comments from Readers

I welcome comments on my site. I enabled the comment function for feedback by readers. I repeat. Feedback by readers. This does not include links to other sites that promote alternatives of any kind. If a reader has a contrary opinion, please, frame it in the form of a letter to me and my readers. The only links that I welcome are the links of legitimate advertisers placed by

It has come to my attention that my postings, and, I would imagine, the postings of others, are being used as a platform to sell things. In the most recent case a document of religious dogma.

In previous postings I have discovered links attached to my site that push various other items, keyed to the subject matter of one of my postings.

Let me state here and now that in no way to I support or condone any of these postings. This is not a website for the sales of the ideas of others.

The religious text is being given away for free. So what. It has no place on my site, and I will be seeking to have it removed. I do not believe in organized religion of any sort, and I have stated this in the past. Spirituality is within the self, and cannot be placed upon anyone by others. Don't try to win me over. I will not be converted.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Lessons of History

The time has come for an average citizen to stand up and remind the powers that be in Washington of an important fact: You need to hire a military historian to tell you to wake up.

The previous occupiers of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn't have one on staff, or if they did, they never listened to him/her. This is what brought us 9/11. I remember every spokesperson for the former Governor of Texas bleating on and on about how "nobody could have predicted that the terrorists would use airplanes as missiles." This phrase was used at least a dozen times per day on every news outlet they could get their faces on. If this statement was true, then the obvious conclusion must be that the Bush administration was either too naive or too stupid to rule. This is also a statement that anyone who knows me will recall hearing me say since 9/12.

This is how I came to that conclusion-

Item #1: In John Carpenter's "Escape from New York" the opening scene is terrorists hijacking Air Force One and intentionally crashing it into Manhattan. This film was made in 1981. So someone thought of it twenty years earlier than the true event.

Item #2: Hassan Ibn Al Sabbah. Does this name sound familiar? I have known of this man since 1973. Who was he? A fundamentalist Muslim extremist who founded the Order of Assassins. This is the man who pioneered the strategy of the suicide attacker. He lived 950 years ago. This strategy of battle has been in Muslim culture for nearly a millennium. I'd say that's pretty well ingrained. Suicide attackers have been part of the landscape in the modern Middle-East since the late 1960s, and anyone who can read a newspaper should know that.

If the strategists at the White House, the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Administration couldn't figure this out ahead of time, then they were too stupid to have the jobs they had. I believe that these people are not stupid. This leaves us with one conclusion. They were lying to the American People, hoping that nobody would notice how they were huge fuck-ups. Well, I noticed, along with a few others.

This brings us to today's news item: That President Obama has ruled out a large reduction in American forces in Afghanistan. Let me once again suggest to this man I voted for in hopes that he would bring change to The White House. Hire yourself a military historian. Once you do, listen to him or her.

No foreign force has ever held Afghanistan. Ever. Afghanistani tribesmen have always driven out invading forces successfully since the days of Alexander the Great. The tribal groups there, always regarded by outsiders as backward and inferior, have owned that stretch of mountains and dirt for 6000 years, and they will continue to own it. What they lack in technology and material they more than make up with in desire and willingness to die for the ground they stand on. This is why they eventually defeated Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, The Ottoman Empire, The British Empire, and the Soviet Union. Keep it up, Mr. President, and we can join that list.

A military historian will tell you, Mr. President, that home born guerrilla fighters will always eventually defeat an occupying force. The Vietnamese defeated the French and then the U.S. Hell, we don't even have to look overseas- just go to any public school in the country and take an American History class, Mr. President. The Colonists were a backwards, under equipped rag-tag force that took down the British Army and established The United States of America.

Remember your history, Mr. President. If you want to find the money to pass health care and slow out of control spending and economic calamity, bring the troops home.

We have seen time and time again that stopping terrorists is most effective with good police work. Let the investigative agencies do the work they do best. The greatest successes in stopping the terrorists happened in the last few weeks, and would have happened if the FBI had listened to the reports of Middle-Eastern men in flight schools that had no interest in learning how to take off or land, but only how to control a plane in flight.

You must do what is best for the people of the U.S.A. and not what is best for your image among Republicans who don't give a rat's ass for you or anything you stand for.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Every once in a while some good news emanates from the courts. Today the United States Supreme Court rejected a request to delay the court ordered release of thousands of documents relating to evidence and allegations of child abuse committed by priests. This particular request was made by the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Although the cases of abuse by priests have been piling up for the past fifteen years or so, this has been the Catholic Church's worst kept secret for a very long time. When I was a student at Loyola University of Chicago in the early to mid 1970s fellow students told me of cases that they knew of where priests who had been pedophiles were routinely transferred to a different parish, free to practice in a new community. Some into boys, some into girls, all united in their interest in underage individuals, some as young as six years old.

Mostly The Church did not immediately transfer the pedophile priests, they sent them to some kind of church rehab facility first, where the offenders would be cleansed of their sins before turning them back into a blissfully ignorant society a few towns, counties, or states away.

I should point out here that pedophilia is, in my opinion (along with others who actually went to school to study psychology) a sexual identity as ingrained into a person's identity as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Pedophilia has the highest recidivism rate of all sex crimes.

At Loyola I met a small handful of former priests and nuns who left their various orders to get married, and I knew that they engaged in sexual activity before transitioning into the civilian world. One of them was one of my professors.

When I was working at Laury's Records in Evanston, IL, adjacent to the Northwestern University campus, one day I was approached by a priest, with collar, in conventional vestments. He looked around to make sure nobody else was nearby. He spoke to me just above a whisper, confessing to me that he was gay, and that he had a hot date that night. He proceeded to ask me for an album of romantic music that would set the atmosphere in the right direction. Without batting an eye I gave him "Touch" by John Klemmer. He bought the album and went away happy. I have no reason to think that this guy was into kids, but he was the first priest who disclosed sexual proclivities directly to me.

In my years in the theater I have worked with many gay, bisexual and transgendered people, male and female. Some of them have told me that they had affairs with active duty Catholic clergy.

We're all human, and we all have sex drives. The suppression of sex drive has been proved time and time again to be a very bad thing for the psyche. The Catholic Church has been at or near the top of the list of groups who have practiced suppression of human sexual nature. The chickens are coming home to roost.

The ruling does not mean that the documents will be coming out tomorrow or the next day. The Church is arguing that a shield should be put in place to hide the identities of the wrongdoers. This is out of a real fear of vigilante actions that could be perpetrated by a justifiably angry public. I do not condone frontier justice, but I do understand the desire for it.

I understand the Church's position. The need for the truth to come out however, and come out fully, outweighs the Church's position.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Ethics and the U.S. Senate

The United States Senate has come to the realization that Senator John Ensign's actions related to his affair with a married campaign staffer, doubling her salary, and putting her husband on the payroll, may have raised some red flags regarding his ethics.

Really? They're just now figuring this out? Most of the details around the affair came out in mid-June. This includes awarding a job to the woman's husband as an "administrative assistant" for a meager $144,000 per year. Hey Senator! I can run a PowerPoint presentation as well as anyone! Don't I rate a six figure job? What's that you say? I'd have to loan you my wife?

It's so good to know that the 99 other members of the U.S. Senate are so adept at sniffing out these things. They are right on the case. Gives you faith in the system. Next thing you know they'll realize that they should actually read bills before they vote them into law, something not done with the "Patriot Act" that overturned the Bill of Rights. Well, maybe not the WHOLE Bill of Rights, just the first, fourth and sixth amendments (but only for Muslims). That still leaves seven out of ten, great stats if you're talking batting averages.

This is the same Senator who just the other day was a louder than loud critic of the health care plans put forth by Democratic Senators that included the Public Option. The man should not be allowed to set foot on the floor of the Senate, much less influence debate on any bill. If Senator Ensign had any respect for the Senate he'd resign immediately. But he won't, because it's not about respect for the Senate. It's about power mongering.

No, when an American Senator is caught in any situation that would send the average person to jail, or at least force them to move out of town and change their name, the Senator will always hang on for as long as possible. While the Senator hangs on the situation will always worsen and eventually cost the taxpayers millions. In almost any other country the lawmaker would immediately step down. Some would kill themselves. Not here. No, a corrupt official caught in the act in the good old U.S.A. is required to humiliate everyone within a five mile radius, starting with his or her spouse. It's one of the things that makes this country great and the envy of all other countries.

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