I remember as a youth seeing Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." It left me with its profundity but it also left me with a feeling of sad foreboding as the characters of "Our Town" leave it in death one by one. In other words, all that one loves and with which one is familiar cannot be taken for granted as it will, one day, be taken from us including ourselves. I walked out of the theater as a youth chilled convincing myself that play surely did not apply to me. But it does apply to me and to everyone who is blessed for a short time to see this planet. The play teaches and provides us with a rule to take nothing for granted. Tell those whom you love that you love them while you can; try to forgive those you do not love if you are able. Our life says the 16th/17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbs is short. It is no less true today than it was then. Carpe diem Latin for seize the day says the Roman poet Horace (thank you, Wikipedia, for his name) and "do not ask for whom the bell tolls" says Ernest Hemingway. "It tolls for thee."
Ernest Hemingway in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" has much to say about war. In this book the Spanish Civil War at first imbues a sense of excitement for those who want to and will fight it for the glory of the cause as some, especially in the south, felt about entering the Civil War. Soon they learn the awful reality of war. In our time we see and fear war and yet it is still fought by some with a great joy of purpose and even as General James "Mad Dog" Maddis, soon to be Trump's Defense Secretary, talks about a sense of the joy he has for killing. Yes, he really said that. Hemingway avers quite the opposite that those who came into the war with a sense of ebullience soon lose it. The ebullience withers on the vine of violence and all the devastation it brings. How many signed up for the Iraq War with joy and patriotism only to be returned broken in body and spirit some returning in coffins of the dead. I rather subscribe to our Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman's edict that "War is Hell" which admonishes me to fight against ugly policy that convinces us to fight it and use all the powers of the written word I have to stop it.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
From the Forward -- (Haaretz) Israeli intelligence officials are concerned that the exposure of classified information to their American counterparts under a Trump administration could lead to their being leaked to Russia and onward to Iran, investigative journalist Ronen Bergman reported by Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot on Thursday.
The intelligence concerns, which have been discussed in closed forums recently, are based on suspicions of unreported ties between President-elect Donald Trump, or his associates, and the government of Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
As Russian intelligence is associated with intelligence officials in Tehran, highly classified information, such as Israel’s clandestine methods of operation and intelligence sources, could potentially reach Iran. Such information has been shared with the United States in the past.
American intelligence officials expressed despair at the election of Trump during a recent meeting with their Israeli counterparts, Bergman reported. They said that they believed that Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, though they did not elaborate. The American media reported on Wednesday that Russia has embarrassing intelligence about the president-elect.
According to Bergman, the American intelligence officials implied that Israel should “be careful” when transferring intelligence information to the White House and the National Security Council (NSC) following Trump’s inauguration – at least until it is clear that Trump does not have inappropriate connections with Russia.
Cooperation between the Israeli and U.S. intelligence communities has intensified over the past two decades, with most of the joint operations directed, according to reports, against Iran. Hezbollah and Hamas were also intelligence targets. An official agreement in 2008 for comprehensive cooperation, including the exposure of sources and methods of action, reportedly led to impressive results, including the disruption of the Iranian nuclear program.
The dignity of the president and his entire family cannot be overstated. I was with him politically from the beginning in 2008 and said so. The New York Times at that time printed my enthusiastic opinion of him from the start of his campaign because I was in awe of his brilliance and in love with his grace, charm and humanity.
I am more solidly enveloped in those Obama characteristics now than I was even then. I want to hang on to every moment there is left of his administration and hope he continues to spread his kindness, eloquence and warmth in the days ahead helping to breathe life into the Democratic Party once again.
His successor would do well to study the Obama legacy as Mr. Trump's modus operandi has been quite the opposite of President Obama's. Trump's crudity, rudeness, coarseness and mendacity is an embarrassment to the nation and the world.
I agree with John Lewis, Trump is an illegitimate president, in whose shadow team Trump cannot even walk. The start of Trump's presidency is marked with controversy dedicated, as the Republicans have been all along, to doing everything possible to thwart the humane legacy Barack Obama has bestowed upon this nation in the shadow of a treasonous alliance with a Russian butcher, Putin, to steal an election so Putin can run roughshod over Eastern and maybe even Western Europe. Trump refuses to show his tax filings and we know auditing is not the reason why. This shadow on Trump's presidency will NOT disappear into morning's light unless authoritative non partisan investigations take place and uncover buried business secrets perhaps on Russian soil and about which Russia knows something or a videotape of vile activity emerges. It would not shock me if it did as past is prelude.
I lament the passage of time allowing a crudeness of character to enter the White House. May our nation survive the onslaught of the next four years. Barack Obama, this Jewish woman loves you today and she will love you if she could live forever. Thank you, Michelle and your children for giving us the best that humanity has to offer. I will miss you all very much!