Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Keeping a Thought for the Fallen

Today I just want to put HM3 Travis Youngblood into your consciousness. He died of wounds from an IED last week. A married man with a young son and a daughter not yet born. Where have all the flowers gone...
I also want to mention this site... Legacy dot com. It's good sometimes to get an appreciation of who it is that we've lost... not just a name but a son, brother, husband, father, shipmate, buddy... and it's clear from the guestbook that Doc Youngblood will be missed... him and more than 1780 like him.
Semper Fi, Doc... and I'm sorry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Thoughts on Responsibility

A propos of my earlier post on accepting responsibility for the environment in which one finds oneself, I saw this from Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London:
“You’ve just had 80 years of Western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of a Western need for oil. We’ve propped up unsavory governments, we’ve overthrown ones that we didn’t consider sympathetic,” Livingstone said.
“I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s ... the Americans recruited and trained Osama bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians to drive them out of Afghanistan.
“They didn’t give any thought to the fact that once he’d done that, he might turn on his creators,” he told BBC radio.
Yeah, okay then. Nobody wants to hear that.

Accepting the Predictable

It's pretty clear to me, at least, that I have trouble dealing with reality.
The President has just named John Roberts, Jr., to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The response so far in my office has been: "Who?"
I have always believed... although I never really thought much about it... that the Supreme Court of the United States was the venue of the nine best judicial minds in the country... if not in the world. Yeah, I also believed that the Presidential elections should be a choice from among two or three of the best and the brightest, and that hasn't been working out for me either. Hence we have George W. Bush to appoint John Roberts.
I'm fairly confident that Judge Roberts will be confirmed by the Senate. He only has two years of actual judicial experience to examine, and his prior work history as a conservative Republican hack probably can't be used as a basis for holding up his confirmation. Couldn't the President have nominated someone from outside the Beltway? Couldn't he have nominated someone with less obvious partisan roots? Is Judge Roberts blessed with one of the... twenty?... best judicial minds in the country? It doesn't matter. He's been nominated, and there's scant basis for denying his confirmation.
I guess this morning I'm just a little disappointed that I'm so disappointed. This is simply the way that it's going to go.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Thoughts on Responsibility

Two of the blogs I read regularly have had items that touch on accepting responsibility for our environment. Tamar wrote on Chaim Yavin's documentary dealing with Israelis and Palestinians and disengagement. Mary Beth cited J. Krishnamurti speaking to our sense of apartness as a breeding ground for violence. Before I leave for the rest of the week I wanted to talk about this a little.
Karl Rove and the people like him would have us accept that their representations are all true, that all others are necessarily false, and that to question that is unpatriotic. If it wasn't so serious, I'd say it was silly.
One can absolutely understand the visceral reaction following something like the attacks in New York, Madrid, and London. The problem is that the visceral reaction is wrong. The visceral reaction, of course, is to defend oneself by any means... fair or foul. As the adrenaline wears off we reflect that we cannot possibly kill everyone who hates us. Each death serves to create more enemies. It's frustrating, but in truth when you fight terrorists at their level they have "won"... they have brought us down to their level.
Osama bin Laden is a criminal who's in it for the power. The same can probably be said for Zarqawi. The troubling question is where does someone like Osama bin Laden find people who believe that the very best use of their lives is to wrap themselves in explosives and blow us up? What, if anything, have we ever done to make them feel this way toward us? This isn't about exonerating terrorists. This is about accepting the part that we have played in creating the world in which we live.
Where does the anger come from? Where does such hopelessness come from? What are its antecedents? Why them? Why us?
Karl Rove won't tell you the answers. The corporate media won't tell you the answers. The Halliburtons of the world are enjoying best years of their lives. The major oil companies are reporting record earnings every quarter. If they can keep us stuck in fear... maybe come up with an easy mnemonic like "Islamofascist" to emphasize the differences... they can continue to channel the violence to further their goals.
"...a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.--J. Krishnamurti"

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thoughts on the attack on London

I have to say this...
The attack on London this morning strikes me as being sad on a number of levels... not the least of which is a nagging feeling that it just might have been preventable. I wonder what if we had used a substantial portion of the resources we have committed to the Global War on Terror to a committed effort to identify and eliminate al-Quaeda. What if we had treated the mass murders committed on 9/11/2001 as the criminal acts of an organized international criminal network? We used to be pretty good at dealing with organized crime. What if we had focused on al-Quaeda?
Chasing cockroaches with a sledgehammer just seems like an odd strategy... although, to give the devil his due, we have attracted al-Quaeda to Iraq now where we can bring our troops to bear... and we don't seem to be much safer than we were four years ago.
I know that there's no sense crying over spilled milk. It's just painful to contemplate. Terrorism is such a loathesome, cruel and indiscriminate way to go about anything.
I'm keeping a good thought for the casualties in London, and for all those who love them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On the Passing of a Hero

I need to mark the passing of Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale yesterday.
I gave up on heroes a long time ago, but Admiral Stockdale got to me. I actually got to meet him briefly in 1982. He came into my office at the Naval Hospital in San Diego to try to arrange an appointment for his son. Yes, I did bump his son's appointment up. For what Admiral Stockdale gave up for us, there isn't much that I wouldn't have done for him.
Already in 1982 most of my sailors had no idea who he was.
I don't know what made him accept the second spot on Ross Perot's 1992 campaign. I suspect that it was his lifelong commitment to service to his country. He wasn't nearly glib enough for a televised debate, but I damn sure wasn't going to vote against him.
If only there had been even a few more like him.
Rest in peace, Admiral.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Dog

Max was offended that people were posting their cat pictures and he was getting no press at all. I promised to post this.
Don't mention the blue eye... it's why he's at my place instead of living la vida loca at a puppy farm.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I Need to Stop Relying on Labels

At first I thought I must be going blind or crazy. I had just found myself in agreement with a dissent written by Justice O'Connor with Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas.This had to be some sort of a trick.
It has come to me, though, that it should have been the conservative justices who voted for the Fifth Amendment and against allowing government to jack someone's property for the chance to make a buck on it. What doesn't make sense is for conservative politicians to be voting against the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
We get used to the labels being given to things. We start giving credence to those labels, and then we get confused because, after all, the labels are really meaningless. More and more it would seem to be the conservative politicians who are attempting to reinterpret the Constitution and the Bill of Rights while reviling their opponents as unpatriotic.
Today Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement and I find myself thinking... how bad would it be if we had another like Chief Justice Rehnquist on the court? How cool would it be to have another independent free-thinker like Justice O'Connor?
Today Crabby Old Lady writes about the... inevitable?... impact of Kelo v. City of New London on the elderly. In California where Proposition 13 was implemented almost thirty years ago, the longer one has owned their property the more at risk they are of having their property taken on any pretext. Hmmm... what demographic is most likely to have owned the same property since 1977?
I was surprised that the conservatives on the court dissented from the Kelo opinion. Forty years ago I would have expected nothing else. I need to stop relying on labels.