Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Cross of Gold: The similes and metaphors of the deception in this decade and its politics are astounding as a relative of mine illuminated to me. From the balloon boy, Tiger Woods, and the Salahis to Iraq and to heath care, the recipients of that deceit are we the people and the change that is needed is systemic and all encompassing. That our oligarchic form of government is failing us cannot be disputed. Howard Zinn, professor of history at Boston University, says change comes from the bottom up. I think, at times, he is delusional to think we the people have the power to perfect that kind of change. Change, if it comes at all, is incremental measured in inches one century at a time. Revolutions in histories past often replace one tyranny with another, the hope dies and the populous is left in stuporous resignation to their repetitive fate.

I feel the next generation will have to perform the wizardry needed to redo our bleak house. Indeed, Dicken’s “Bleak House” captures the futile essence of it all. My politically aware life has been spent fighting causes. We and like-minded allies fought on college campuses the murderous anti-Communist hysteria with its trumped-up enemies duping the powerless to do the corporate bidding trading in their lives and lives of a million innocents so that others could make bundles of cash. Again, in this time, we fight in Iraq for oil, revenge and pure greed while people burn along with our planet from the filthy oil that makes a few inordinately filthy rich. The list is infinite as we trade in the people’s lives so that insurance companies can make their crosses of gold.

We have reaped the history and policies we have sewn and still want to know why other nations hate us. It is not our freedom they hate but our invasive policies which make the few obscenely rich at the expense of the many while the policy-makers’ lives are sheltered behind closed doors which see no light or blood on the many battlefields. Health care is no exception to this rule.

Obama, who really held out some hope for me, seems to be, at least initially, succumbing to the weight of the corrupt blocks of stone that are placed on his shoulders attempting to crush him like the block of stones in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” used unjustly to kill the innocent. Maybe even my hero FDR could not have endured its fury. This is a different global age and the culture of corruption is everywhere. The vastness of it stretches far beyond the boundaries of this country. Our fate and corruption are tied to other nations’ corruption as the Kharzi Afghanistan regime we are propping up is exemplar supreme. The press who often exposes this corruption sometimes is in bed with it. So where can the people turn? I can only hope there are a few ethical ones left and they will continue as Anderson Cooper says “Keeping them Honest”.

Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.” I feel, though, my energy waning and my sleep approaching all too quickly and I see promises which we may never keep. I face the harsh reality that my generation cannot do it all and, soon, the battle will be left to the next generation to fight.

Still, one has to reflect on our history, how far we have come and the human rights we have achieved. It gives me hope while it makes me see the thoughts we could do it all in 1968 were born out of the naive innocence of youth. The fight for a more just and honest world will, as long as we are not catapulted from this planet, go on even when I have long vanished returning to the earth from whence it all began.

I hope for a better year. Although my expectations are dimmed the fight continues. Happy, healthy New Year and a better year for our nation!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not a Zero in Life: John Skoyles wrote a beautiful editorial (Boston Globe, Monday, December 21, 2009 link below) entitled “Pawing her way into my heart.” My heart ached and I cried at the end of it for the little bull dog runt-of-the-litter pup Mr. Skoyles embraced despite the blindness and other severe orthopedic disabilities with which the dog named Zero, was born. She could not see and barely walk but she tried and he stuck with her until the dog’s body couldn’t suffer anymore.

I could relate to orthopedic disability being a polio victim since age five. Now at 61, paralysis plus the cursed reality of aging, severely compounds my ability to do what I always wanted to since a child – dance, run, skate and ski. I marvel at the birds whose mighty wings catapult them to places about which I can only dream and envy my cats whose run is like a prance of lithe beauty with swift speed climbing trees and, best of all, they never seem to fall. How I wished and still do I could dance, run, skate, ski and most especially never fall.

The end of the article, though, touched me the most. John Skoyles says of his deformed and pain-plagued runt-of-the-litter bulldog named Zero“I could only think she never seemed meant for this world, and I recalled the hunchback’s words when he hugged the gargoyle along the ledge of the cathedral, ‘why was I not made of stone, like thee’?” I can relate to the harshness of life with its physical pain when one wishes, at times, to be even an inanimate object rather then face the pain a body not of one’s choosing can inflict.

Zero may have been the little pup’s name because of a white zero-like tuft of hair on her back. She was, however, anything but a zero in life despite the short one she lived.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A response to a blog about Santa -- The Health Care Sleigh Ride:

Yes, when Virginia grows up she will have a RUDE awakening. Things ain’t (pardon the colloquialism) what she was taught they were. One premise with which I take issue is that our country was founded upon great principles of freedom and equality. I do not think it was exactly so. Without the discussion of the inherent inequalities of slavery which the country had from its inception as a colony of Britain, the revolution was initially manifested because of a tax on tea. The initial spark was about money. The Bill of Rights ensuring our freedoms was an afterthought inserted as the first ten Amendments to the Constitution some ten years later when radicals within the revolutionary movement demanded something be written within it to guarantee a check on the power of government.

Moreover, our country was founded by men of privilege and class who changed the Constitution after the Declaration of Independence was written (which said people have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to people have a right to life, liberty and PROPERTY. That was an important change. It attached an importance of property that has remained to this day even within our attempts to create a more just nation. I do believe that that very concept of the importance of property and money made it possible for a corporation to be accorded the same rights as a person when in the 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a private corporation is a person and entitled to the same legal rights and protections the Constitution grants to an individual. We all know what that did. Our entire government is controlled now by the corporation at the expense of the individual person’s rights simply because it has the wealth that the average person does not possess to essentially buy the government it wants.

Our present wholly watered down so called health care bill proves that point. The little guy of no pecuniary standing will ultimately have to pay huge amounts of money he cannot afford to the health care industries because Congress, the presidency and the political parties receive hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars from the insurance, health care and pharmaceutical industry and the bill without a public option will mandate coverage. The corporation and the state are now inextricably bound to each other and nearly impossible to untangle. The state is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporation.

Virginia will have to learn if she is not among the fortunate to have been born into wealth OR with the brains to acquire that wealth in this country she will be out of luck and even perhaps out on the street! Yes, Virginia there may be a Santa Claus for one day but the other 364 days belong to Wall Street.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Maybe I'll offer one other excuse for the president. He just does NOT know how to govern. He does NOT know enough as to how to do that, how to wield power and how to threaten those who will NOT tow his former liberal line. I don't get it, I may never know.
The Batty Beck: Glenn Beck presents, by far, the most insane and ridiculous inanity of any contemporary “news commentator” on the planet. He is, though, not the most frightening political phenomenon of our day. The most frightening phenomenon is that anyone with a brain could buy into his money gushing idiocy. He is no question capitalizing on the historically systemic white racism that exists in the country. One has only to look at signs so called “tea baggers” proudly carry at their events. This rancid racism has persisted in different forms for over 300 years and has not been completely eradicated even today. It shows its ugliness from Glenn Beck to Limbaugh and worse. The most frightening thing about it is that a nationalist fascist-like militarist movement is sitting as a cobra waiting for right moment to strike and unleash its venom intending toward, of course, a takeover of the power structure of the United States government.

I am hoping that this is not representative of most of the people in this country. There are many here who are much more intelligent than the cerebrally challenged and intellectually unsophisticated minions of Glenn Beck. I hope I am correct. Nothing less than the liberating fruits of the Enlightenment which took hundreds of years to cultivate are at stake. The Enlightenment, which our Founders knew, brought a science-denying violent barbarian from the darkness of irrationality and superstition into the sunlight of reason, truth and social advancement. This is in danger of subversion by right wing extremist movements which are the opposite of the very freedom and patriotism they claim to espouse.

I won't believe that will occur until I see it. I am seeing, though, disturbing images that say to me this nationalistic militarism hovers in the primitive arena of man’s limbic brain and within the muddy archeological muck of a distorted philosophical layer of some. I am hoping it lies deeply dormant and will not rise at the perfect moment to pose a threat overthrowing the ideational underpinning of our government as we know it.

Make no mistake, it is every bit as threatening as Islamic fundamentalism and maybe even more so because it occupies a place as a recessive gene within the chromosomal DNA of American politics. Now, it legitimizes itself in the tea bag and other right wing movements which Republican politicos are more than happy to milk for all the power and every penny they can.

Be afraid of that be very afraid!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Glen Greenwald a historian's historian: Here is another analysis as Obama’s polls are falling like a rock among his base (including me). Glen Greenwald gave a FANTASTIC analysis and even appeared on David Shuster’s MSNBC this afternoon. This may be even more explanatory as to just what is going on or NOT going on in the Obama White House. It hurt me to read it but Greenwald is one of the best historians and news analysts I have ever read. I urge you to read the following and pass it on. If any change is to happen it must happen at the grass roots level and we should put Obama’s feet to the fire. He has, in my opinion, abrogated his responsibility and down right lied to us. He has betrayed his sacred trust as every other politician has done since the beginning of time. I THOUGHT he was different. Wrong again. Here is the link:

A suggestion: If Barack Obama continues to be this disappointing and downright mendacious to his own base we have the right to run opposition in the Democratic primary in 2012. Obviously, we should not jump the gun but rather remain vigilent and never forget we have this option. If he continues as he has I would want to see someone truly progressive defeat him.
The Powerless Power: I must be true to what I have thought for quite some time. There is SOMETHING missing in our president. He was beloved by the world and by me, initially, but he is NOT now what I thought he was. There is something that is vacant in him which I saw during Oprah’s Christmas interview. There is a coldness maybe some say aloofness but I am not so sure it is that. I believe it is something deeper. I perceive a controlled anger that, perhaps, if you can suffer some armchair psychology, has as its etiology his childhood and festers in him as a half black man whose father was absent. There is SOMETHING about him that is absent that a successful president should have but seems to be missing in him. He does not give me a sense of power or control that, for example, a Jack Kennedy or certainly LBJ and FDR had. He has charisma as the first African American president and he gives a wonderful speech but on an interpersonal level it appears to me he does not manifest the necessary ability to wield the immense power he has been given and is inherent in the presidency complemented most especially by a Democratic Congress.

I say, the white guy powers are steam rolling over him. Whether it’s the bank CEO’s three of whom including Blankfein of Goldman Sachs did not show up for the presidential meeting allegedly because of fog an apt metaphor or the generals in the ramp up of the war in Afghanistan which is slated to cost ultimately trillions not to mention the human cost in blood I believe he cannot stand up to power. At this ever so critical moment in history I am seeing a president who caves in the face of it. I am fearful. Today, Iran launched a test which could carry a nuclear warhead missile which could reach Israel and parts of Europe. This is a serious time and requires a president of IMMENSE power and the ability to use it presciently and masterfully as FDR knew how to do. I am NOT seeing that in this president.

I suspect the CEO’s left laughing when the President politely asked them to loan to small businesses. Oh sure, yes Mr. President, sure will, Mr. President, in a pig’s petuti, Mr. President. I think he cannot stand up to power especially white power and the white men know it. I truly think there is an issue with who he is and his blackness is a part of that. He’s trying like hell to fit into the white guys club by a pathological appeasement of a Republican foe who wants no part of him and kicks dirt in his face at every opportunity. Even African Americans are showing a disappointment in him as an article in, I think, Huffington Post today said.

Something is missing in Barack Obama and health care is merely a symptom and a reflection of it. Health care passed with a strong public option should have been successfully completed by now but the President waivers and equivocates to appease the conservatives. The conservatives should be appeasing US. I would like to see more Malcolm X in him than MLK. The ONLY way one fights power is by any means necessary and he simply is either too inexperienced or psychologically unable to do it. I believe he is less at ease with who he is than one might think but does a fantastic job of masking it and making us think the emperor is wearing clothes when it is clear he is not.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As a Jew I am disgusted. As an American I am simply sick. How Joe Lieberman, a pious Jewish man, could have sold us the American people, out is beyond anything I can fathom. He sold us out on something even HE advocated for as little as three months ago and even more strongly when he ran for vice president. He has been for universal health care all his political career EXCEPT now when we need him the most. Why? The blogs say he is angry at the weak support which was accorded to him by Democrats in 2004 and even angrier at his loss in the Democratic primary to Lamont in 2006 when he decided to do an end run around his party, managed to bamboozle the Connecticut people and get elected as an Independent. Understandable BUT that is about HIM this is about us. This is about lives our lives not his. He will have health care but SO many of us will not.

With the prodding of Rahm Emanuel, the President's front man and a pious Jewish person himself, we the American people are getting the rawest deal we have ever gotten in American politics bar none. The president's leadership abilities to me, a huge supporter, are SERIOUSLY in question. I am sad, depressed, and demoralized that he has betrayed all of us who were behind a huge movement to get him elected. Once we did, one by one he betrayed us on many issues but this is the epitome of madness. We should all be devastated.

All those politicians' words who went on to the progressive talk shows who sounded so upbeat and so positive are empty promises they mean nothing. To have one man, Joe Lieberman, a religious man, derail and subvert the destinies nay the very LIVES of millions is beyond anything I can fathom or words I can use to voice my fury and emotional destruction. It is a sad day, a very sad day and an even sadder day for the American who needs health care so desperately but will not be able to afford it even now with a Senate of sixty votes. Some no many will die because of this. I am simply disgusted and ever so depressed. If THEY are not for us who will be and if not now when?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If you get a chance to see it I suggest you view Bill Moyers "Pushing a People's Agenda" which included in the second half a discussion with Howard Zinn, a leftist professor of history at Boston University with whom I have been acquainted and who influenced me immeasurably in the late 1960's. They rebroadcast this discussion on PBS OR you can Google it and see it online.

Moreover, on the History Channel Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. (I think) there will a program entitled "The People Speak" and will include selections from Zinn's collection of voices of poets and writers from the American past performed by actors including Marissa Tomei, Matt Damon and many others. From the trailers I have viewed it appears it is extraordinarily inspirational as it reflects Zinn's view that social change is made from the bottom up by average people doing extraordinary things.

I wrote the following on the Moyers blog about this segment:

I am 61 and have known Howard Zinn nearly all of my adult life although he has not known me except in present day via email. I was a student at Boston Univ. in the late 60's and had the occasion to be involved in student protests and to have been fortunate to hear lectures of Prof. Zinn at that time protesting the Vietnam War.

I adored him and still do. I have read much of his "People's History" and his views of our government surely shed new light on some egregious, nefarious and destructive-to-human-life our government, in our name, has perpetrated. He opened up a world of thought to me which remained unknown certainly within the structure of a public school system which never told the flip side of the story. History nearly always is written by the victors and at that time the US, in my naive and innocent mind, was victorious (and good ... nay exceptional) in everything it did. So many told me that fact.

After hitting the steps of Boston Univ. in the late 60's, hearing Howard Zinn, Murray Levin, Edgar Bottome and others I swiftly did a cerebral about face concerning US history. Still, during the many years I have had to think about events, age brings a jaded cynicism as to just how much progressives can change a quagmire and how much can I do to affect that change within my lifetime. I began to question who is correct in their world view the left or the right. Perhaps, is it really somewhere in between.

I would love to have asked Prof. Zinn more questions. Does he really believe the basic nature of man is non violent? Does he really think no matter how non violent a society we could be there would not be another nation state somewhere at some time who would want to attack us? Negotiations with such a state would be fruitless and that if we did not strike first another country would.

Obama said that the United States has underwritten, like an insurance policy, the security of the world. Professor Zinn surely does not believe that. I suspect he believes quite the opposite. I would have liked Bill Moyers to have put some tougher questions to Professor Zinn the kind of questions we, who call ourselves progressives, have to answer when confronting the opposition every time we express an opinion.

Mr. Moyers came close when he talked about Palin as a populist and Prof. Zinn said yes she had some elements of that but she was militaristic. I wanted Moyers to follow up on that. I would like to know from Professor Zinn how threatening the populist tea bag movement, who loves Sarah Palin, is to the other populists or progressives of my ilk who would lock horns in mortal combat with Palin's populism if it came to that extreme.

How much civil disobedience is possible and how much will be tolerated? What if during the protests we meet up with various gun loving, god fearing, gay loathing populists who do not like our message and who would be stronger them or us?

There is a split, as I see it, in this country. Both the left AND the right hate what Washington is about and yet the left and the right hate each other possibly even more than they hate the nature of Washington DC itself.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Does Death Exist? New Theory says No.: I urge you to read a very interesting article written by Robert Lanza, M.D. entitled Does Death Exist? New Theory says No. It has a rather unique perspective in that it refers to quantum physics and its hypothesis of parallel universes which transcend time and space. It also says that matter can neither be created nor destroyed negating the reality of death as our human minds know it. Yes, it is a bit esoterically obtuse but nonetheless fascinating to contemplate. It is done so in the world of physics all the time but most of us know little of that. Here is the link:

I have heard of parallel universes and watched a Science Channel documentary about quantum physics which dealt with the concept. I found this article endlessly interesting since, of course, being human I have thought about, been scared of and would do anything to avoid my own death. Except I know the time will come when one cannot, no matter how much tofu one eats, how many chips one avoids or how many miles on the treadmill one can run we will not be able to avoid the unavoidable or will we?

I believe, at some point I will cease to be. That is difficult for me to conceptualize. Is it possible that I will not hear or see what my brain sees and hears now? Worse is it possible I will not see ever again those I love, or another news broadcast or not know what happens in the Middle East with Israel and Palestine or know if the glaciers melt or if humans adequately adapt to global warming and even worse, will I not know ultimately if a Democrat will lose the White House? (Well, maybe I do not want to know that!) As much as it is inconceivable that I will probably not know the answer to some or all of those questions death will be something, I believe, I simply will not be able to avoid and that there is nothing else beyond it. Or is there?

When I was a student I took ancient history and stupidly, in my naïveté, thought those people did not apply to me. That was then and this is now. They, of course, apply to me because I will be like they and there is nothing I can do about it. It is life's conundrum. I envy my 19 year old cat who I am very sure has no idea she will, sooner rather than later, cease to be. Only Homo Sapiens is, sometimes unenviably, bestowed the understanding of that which is hard to understand – our own death. At the same time because we know that we also can appreciate its opposite – life, the beauty and wonder of it all the understanding of which seems to have been bestowed only upon us. So how can we just let it go? Maybe we do not have to.

This article, if I understand it correctly, is saying “death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world.” The article goes on to say “immortality doesn't mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether" and death can never be because matter is neither created nor destroyed. It says, I think, that when we die we will also live too and that because of parallel universes what we experience now lives somewhere else in another dimension. This is a positive contemplation. There is hope my energy will never die.

Still, will I know that? That is the question, indeed. Personally, I suspect not although I am open to other scientific hypotheses. I say, as I always do, prove it. Until then I suspect this is all there is that I will be able to understand and we should appreciate the beauty, stop killing one another, and honor the life, for however long it is that some energy somewhere has bestowed it upon us. We can always hope, though, in some parallel universe we will experience existence in another form once again.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Minuet with the Minaret: Ross Duthart of The NYT wrote an opinion "Europe's Minaret Moment" (Link Below) to which I responded.

What a conundrum: to keep or not to keep minarets in Switzerland. Can't we all just get along? Apparently not. Mankind has been going at each other since he came down from the trees and probably even before then. It's one thing to fight over food, small swathes of territory or mates and it's quite another to fight over religion, cultural ideologies and power, with huge pieces of geography in play not to mention the possible threats of nuclear war or the acquisition of WMD's. The stakes are certainly higher than in Australopithecus Boise's day.

The events of 9/11 and George Bush's destabilization of the Middle East hardened Islamic resolve across the globe. It now walks hand-in-hand with the U.S.'s utterly failed economic con games and has catapulted not just the US but the entire globe into a threat which need not have existed IF the powers-that-be AFTER 9/11 played their hands right. They surely did not. They created a catastrophe initiated by Iraq helped in no small part by a stupid, unquestioning and derelict-in-its-duty media including the prestigious New York Times.

Islamic rebellion is now a global problem. Europe who needed the labor of immigrants and who wanted to purge themselves of guilt for their own sorry treatment of the "other" now reaps what they have sewn. The Europe that gave us the glorious Enlightenment is threatened and the US is leading the charge against the threat with more attacks through its Afghanistan surge. It has its own horrific Christian fundamentalism with which to contend as more and more of the power brokers seek to cozy up to their religious fanatical base. It is a poisonous brew.

One can only HOPE that more rational thought prevails in BOTH the Islamic and Judo-Christian world. I THOUGHT Obama would be the conduit to do just that. I thought he would give us hope by fundamentally changing US policy on a myriad of fronts. It appears in many ways he is mirroring his presidential predecessors. Admittedly, he was handed a can of rancid policy botulism. Still, he could do so much. Instead, he appears to be acting in the same old way listening to the same old folly of generals who are leading him and us into yet another abysmal trap to what end I have not the foggiest idea. I hope I am consummately wrong because the dance of the Minuet with the Minarets of Europe will pale in comparison to the threat of the all out war with its attendant nuclear peril the clash of cultures and civilizations could certainly bring!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

To Go or Not to Go to the Jersey Boys That is the Question: In response to Betsy Hart’s December 5, 2009 Metro West Daily News editorial about her dilemma in taking her children to see The Jersey Boys because of its profanity I have some thoughts.

I absolutely want to see The Jersey Boys. The vulgarity of it, however, is the part of the cultural shift beginning in the late 60's that bothers me. Nothing is verboten and when nothing is verboten most EVERYTHING is permissible including not only a profanity of language but a violence of behavior. Things I would not have dreamed to have said to my parents are said by some of my acquaintances' children today with no hesitation. Worse they get away with it. It's the culture the adults say. What can you do? Well, if I had a child I know what I would do if disrespectful language were said to me. I have no children so I cannot fathom whether I would take mine to see The Jersey Boys or not. But I do believe, as the cultural raconteur Steve Allen once said, vulgarians are at our gate and have been for a long time.

I always thought if I had had children my home would be a vulgarity free zone. I thought, too, I would have introduced them to life by reading, reading and more reading. I would have showed them the great masters of classic literature, listened to classical music and made frequent trips to science and art museums. It is easy when one has no children to think of the perfect scenario. Unfortunately, it does not always work out the way one wants and at some point in time children, I suppose, must emerge from the domestic cocoon.

Yes, I have used profanity and yes I love some of the utterly necessary changes in culture of the late sixties which took place so that people could finally breathe free and not feel oppressed, suppressed and repressed. It is the dialogue between people, the illiteracy and ignorance of so many that to me is disheartening. One can hear public vulgarity used by even children to each other, who, in times past, never would have said such things in private much less in public. These relaxed attitudes of speech are reflected in how people dress or lack of it, modesty or lack of that, the high rate of divorce, and sexual promiscuity which allows for the higher transmission of disease, unwanted pregnancy, mothers who are children themselves and a generally unpleasant so often violent milieu. It takes a toll on all of us and even extends to the marketplace. On Wall Street anything and everything CERTAINLY was permitted which introduced a gilded age the excesses of which led to unparalleled greed resulting in the near catastrophic collapse of a global economy, and an economic system which became unhinged with all of its attendant social pathology.

The human animal needs structure, it needs a stable and loving home and most of all it need limits. Would I want to go back to the fifties when SO much was denied, and so many were unhappy and even suicidal but could not talk about it? No, absolutely not. However, I do wish there were some way to put that part of the liberated genie which has created such vulgarity, excessive greed, and an extremely angry divided country, back into the bottle. As an adult though, I still, hope to see The Jersey Boys.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Audacity of Hope: I do not know as of 6:00 p.m. December 1, 2009 what Barack Obama is planning for Afghanistan. All signs point to a 35,000 or so troop escalation supposedly with caveats and boundaries for exit. I am worried. The President courts disaster and he courts a schism within his own party. Is he strong and right enough to hold us together? I do not know. Many Americans stand to die and many Afghans among the innocent will die as well. That is a given. In war many things can go wrong and often do. It is delusional to think otherwise.

There have been some decisions the President has made I clearly do not understand. This is one of them as it seems to go against what he stood for in the Senate. I am hoping he knows what he is doing and trusting he does. This one may be the most important decision of his presidency and, in fact, a second term could rise or fall on the success of it.

If one uses the yardstick of history in this particular country, Afghanistan, is probably the worst place besides Mt. Everest or Russia in winter to wage war. The conditions are brutal and our forces are stretched thin. Afghanistan has been the graveyard of other powers at other times. The stakes are high; as high as they have ever been. The die is cast. Our way of life, our economic life, and even our physical security depend on the success of this very risky venture. Quagmire is not an option.

Beyond knowing that there is not much I can do except harbor the audacity to hope that in the end it will have been worth it and those who live now, if they die, will not have died in vain.