Wednesday, September 30, 2009

America Interrupted

Here's Tom Friedman's column in the Times exposing the zeitgeist of today's America, comparing and likening it to that of Israel when Rabin was assassinated.

He shines a lighthouse beacon on the shadows in which such anger breeds and thrives, bringing it out where all can see it and acknowledge it as a problem; essential to addressing it.

This was the topic of our weekly lunch group yesterday. Pat Lang of Sic Semper Tyrannis sees a parallel to JFK's dilemma in Vietnam with Obama's dilemma in Afghanistan. JFK had been resisting the military's call for a massive troop escalation in Vietnam. That escalation happened, but only after JFK was assassinated.

Frightening is too tame a word to describe American discourse today.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ken Burn's National Parks Documentary Series

This is to recommend, just in case you aren't aware of it, a documentary series on PBS TV about our National Parks, by Ken Burns.

I've set my TiVo to record the six episode, twelve hour series, and have watched about half of the first episode.

The scenery is stunning of course, and the influence of and insight into people like John Muir is captivating.

Don't miss it.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Did McChrystal Do Us A Favor?

Perhaps the general did us a favor by portraying a very dim view of the war in Afghanistan.

We must get out of there as quickly as possible.

One can only hope as Bob Herbert writes here and as Gene Robinson advocates here.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, September 21, 2009

Neocon War, Somewhere, All The Time

This piece about more troops for Afghanistan or the war is lost is a cynical and erroneous assessment.

"The" war is actually two wars. We won the first one, but Bush chose not to consolidate it. He started another war in Iraq,which ate up the resources, the troops and equipment needed in Afghanistan and provided the Taliban with an open invitation to keep the fighting going there; thus the second war which is already lost.

For the Neocons the first Afghan war was too successful, too quickly.

A recent cartoon showed a huge vehicle called 'Empire' crashing in Afghanistan with the caption "Where Empires Go To Die".

When will they ever learn? Likely never, because they don't want to learn.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, September 18, 2009

Missile Defense In Europe; An Insight?

Every now and then I read something which makes the hazy picture a little clearer.

Here's an article about the rationale being made public for the change in missile defense in Europe.

As you read it pay special attention to the part about surrounding Iran with anti-missile and military might; our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Navy ships in the eastern Med and in the Persian Gulf. Also note that this kind of pressure is already in place in Asia to protect our allies in that region.

I hadn't made this connection before. Economic sanctions are all about depriving a country of money. They also deprive the decent citizens of that country. Military sanctions have a less direct negative impact on those decent citizens.

The holdout dead-enders of the Cold War, like John Bolton, call this appeasing Russia. Russia is a kind of ally of Iran, but it also doesn't like missiles aimed at them.

I've always enjoyed finding a way to solve more than one problem and a time. This just might be one of those occasions. We remind Iran that they are surrounded and isolated militarily, reduce the tension between the US and Russia and get some points with the Israelis, and perhaps reduce the chances that they might act on their own against Iran.

Russia's figure head president praised Obama for doing this, and the Defense Minister in Israel has said publicly that Iran is not seen as an existential threat to Israel. No coincidence in either of these statements.

Of course all these observations are from the point of view of one(me) who likes to find logic in events. Often that search for logic is naive, being taken in by propaganda and spin. I still believe that the Neocons are a cabal, with a war and American global hegemony agenda(I don't call it a conspiracy because I don't want my views to be dismissed as silly and nutty).

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out at the UN meeting coming soon.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Important Essay at

Here's another important, and well written essay by Tom Engelhardt at It should be required reading for all voters at least.

He, and the other writers he publishes on his site, select important topics and articulate their positions extremely well.

This essay is about endless war as an American way of life. The so-called Global War on Terror is just such an endless war, by definition. It's the sick genius strategy of the Neocons. There's so much money to be made in war.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cry Uncle, or Holler Like a Dutch Uncle?

How is it that Obama, riding a wave of popularity and with a majority in both houses of Congress, is getting rolled? The rollers are lobbyists in the employ of special interests, and members of Congress in the clutches of those same special interests.

Here's a very discouraging analysis of the power of money to block Obama's agenda. Just read the numbers and dollars and whose pockets are being lined by whom. The so-called revolving door results in House and Senate staffers going to work as lobbyists, exercising huge influence on members of Congress. It surely looks like a one-sided fight. In boxing it's called "taking a dive".

When you add in the ugly racist agenda it's truly discouraging.

Until voters are feared by politicians as much as they fear special interests it isn't going to get better.

Holler like a dutch uncle or cry uncle?

I'm a hollower. That's why I blog. Please holler.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Than One Moral Issue

Here's James Carroll's must read column in the Boston Globe.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maureen Dowd Says It Like It Is

Here's Maureen Dowd's Times column saying publicly that racism is behind the ugly and dangerous things being said about Obama. This takes some courage, as she's likely to be targeted by loonies who shout, "You lie", boy.

As I've written here several times, there is a sub culture in this country which just cannot deal with a black man occupying the White House.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bob Herbert Makes Interesting Points

Here's Bob Herbert's NY Times column in which he makes the point that it's the public which is skeptical.

A while back David Brooks said that seldom is a major legislation made in a lousy economy. Bob Herbert is seconding that opinion when he mentions the fear in the minds of the public.

Saying that billions will be saved by eliminating waste and fraud doesn't get it.

So far what seems passable is a bonanza for insurance and drug firms. Not what Obama had in mind.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Maureen Speaks For Me

Here's Mo on Bo.

Less Spocky and more Rocky covers it nicely.

Lighthouse Keeper.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

'A Battle of Wills'

Here's Harold Myerson's Salon article comparing George Will, Traditional Conservative, to William Kristol, Neoconservative.

That's what I'm sayin'.

Myerson concludes that George Will is a quaint relic in Republican circles.

My view is that the Neocons will have their way in those circles so long as Republicans of all stripes are willing to do anything and say anything to bring Obama down.

Should Obama reverse course in Afghanistan, as George Will, urges, he would be vilified as a wimp on terrorism and national security.

The American people are not supportive of a long term effort in Afghanistan, according to most polls, but neither are they worked up about it in the face of loss of jobs, health care costs and all the domestic problems we face.

And as long as there is no draft only the families of volunteers are worried for their relatives in uniform. And as long as the Pentagon's hiring of soldier of fortune private firms to replace support troops in combat zones goes unchallenged, the American public is not likely to rise up against war in Afghanistan any time soon.

We seem to have been raising a private army to fight along side our volunteer armed forces. I wonder where they fall in the chain of command of which the president is Commander-in-Chief.

The Neocons like it the way it is. There are plenty of former soldiers, security guards and other aggressive kinds of people to fill the ranks of the private security firms. The pay is good and fighting bad guys with deadly weapons suits their lifestyle and world view.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Cat's Meow of Cartoons

Enjoy. thanks to Kevin Drum at Mother As one of two staff members for two cats in our home I say this is a classic.

Lighthouse Keeper

Two Links to Blog Posts on Afghanistan

Here's a link to a private citizen's analysis of our folly in Afghanistan. He is a blogger friend of mine, at The Old New Englander.

And here's a link from a reputed Marine general on the same topic, as posted by Col. Pat Lang on his blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Read 'em and weep. I wish we could reshuffle the cards and deal an all new hand.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Brief History of a House

Here is a moving story about Iraq as experienced by a house.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stages of Grieving

David Sirota articulates here what I've sadly come to acknowledge.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross gave us The Five Stages of Grieving. It is an incremental, slow, sometimes halting process. I haven't got to the final stage, Acceptance, yet, and am stuck somewhere between Stage 2, Anger and Stage 4, Depression. I've clearly passed Stage 1, Denial, and don't remember much about Stage 3, Bargaining, except I tried to be patient with Obama, though less patient with Congress.

I listened to my Obama loyalist friends who have been more patient than I, that he's only been president for(name the number of months of your choice) and that it takes a lot of time to turn the Queen Mary around in her berth. But the captain and his crew have not even loosened the dock lines. They are not trying to turn things around. We've still got Bush's secrecy, detention and rendition policies in place. Like W, Obama is rewriting laws with signing statements, to cite a few things that we were told would change.

I am one of those who has felt stabbed in the back by Obama and the Democrat Party. They are guilty of false advertising, bait and switch behavior, if not outright fraud and dishonesty.

Neocons are still able to get war funding passed, the Pentagon is still able to keep the president in line. The military/industrial complex still lives and controls The War Department.(The Defense Department is a euphemism). We are doubling down in Afghanistan to keep the unending, by definition, war on terror going.

As I wrote during the campaign, I hoped for, but didn't really expect that we'd see much if any change in DC, regardless of who won the White House and held majorities in both houses of Congress.

Still I hoped.

But it's pretty clear that just as many Democrat as Republican Senators and Representatives compromise their integrity with acceptance of huge campaign contributions from vested interests; defense, energy, health insurance, finance, auto, etc.. These are vested interests in the status quo located all around the country and around the globe.

Here's Ralph Lopez at Truthout on this point. He cites a 1976 Supreme Court decision which equated money with freedom of speech. He makes the pithy statement that it granted the right to buy your own Congressman, but not expressly mine too.

So the wars roll on, we're still in a Great Recession, unemployment is almost 10%( and that doesn't include people who could work, but have stopped looking for work), nothing substantive is getting done about climate change, the outlook for real improvement in health care is bleak, the financial tycoons are laughing all the way to the plush offices in their banks, the so-called financial regulators are themselves reined in by those they are supposed to regulate, nuclear proliferation seems inevitable, immigration reform isn't even talked about now; and that's just for starters.

It's business as usual in D.C. Follow the money. Them's what has, gets. The more things change, the more they stay the same. So what else is new?, hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and any and all other sayings and shibboleths that come to mind.

Do we just resign ourselves to total and complete cynicism and Depression, Stage 4 or do we find solace in the line from Desiderata, 'No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should', Stage 5, Acceptance?

The Lighthouse is still on; a beacon to the adrift and illumination for the washed ashore.

Lighthouse Keeper

'The Status Quo Sanctification and Extension Act'

Here's David Brooks on having a magical hour to advise President Obama.

He seems to be ignoring the partisan/ bipartisan aspect of the fight, focusing more on the vested interests in the status quo. Though by implication the politicians in the pockets of the vested interests are included as adversaries of change.

Brooks is known as a Conservative columnist. Conservatives are generally uncomfortable with change unless it is truly incremental. In this column Brooks is recommending the fundamental, not the incremental. However the fundamental view of things is also a Conservative principle, as in getting back the fundamentals of blocking and tackling.

I would have preferred that he use the analogy of the forest and the trees, the big picture versus the fundamental, incremental components.

As a student of personality theory espoused by Carl Jung, I'm aware that only about a fourth of the human population is comfortable with the big picture approach. The other three fourths are uncomfortable with major change, which is what Obama, with audacity, hoped to accomplish.

Perhaps Obama has gone incremental in hopes of passing something, anything; like "The Status Quo Sanctification and Extension Act" as Brooks calls it.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Public Fire Fighting, Policing, but not Public Health Care?

Here's Nicholas Kristof's straight forward and sensible talk on health care reform.

I doubt that any sensible American would want to go back to private companies hired as fire departments, or as police departments. Nicholas Kristof tells us why we made these needs public services.

The corruption and poor service that led to these becoming public services is rampant in the private companies which insure health care.

It's way past time for making health care a public service, paid for by tax dollars, just as fire fighters and police are paid by tax dollars. The government doesn't do the fire fighting and policing, it hires people who are good at doing those things.

Government does not do the health care provided by Medicare, it pays those who are good at it.

Perhaps we are a socialistic society to the extent that we make some services like fire fighting and policing public services. We should not be scared off of doing just that with health care by those private companies who know their profits would suffer, when they could no longer use corrupt and discriminatory practices to cause human suffering.

Follow the money.

Lighthouse Keeper

American Militarism

Please read this essay by a retired Lt. Colonel. It might surprise you and hopefully disturb you, the essay itself that is, not its author.

I also recommend that you book mark Tom Engelhardt is a mature voice of reason.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'Bush's Third Term'

Here's a piece which rings true to me.

Two years ago I wrote that I doubt we will see much if any change in policy regardless of who wins the White House. Sadly, I was correct.

Lighthouse Keeper

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