Monday, October 14, 2013

TITLE "BAD GOVERNMENT FOR ALL" Today is the "observed" National Holiday honoring Christopher Columbus. We learned as school kids that he "discovered America in 1492." Today is also Day Fourteen of the "Partial" Government Shutdown of 2013. Federal Offices are closed, and there is no mail delivery. But many Federal offices have been closed for two weeks, and the news media have been full of the consequences to many of us when the U.S. Government failed to function on October 1st. Reports from Washington now tell us that Republicans in Congress no longer insist that the Affordable Care Act be repealed or defunded as their cost of reopening the government. Now they have linked the Debt Ceiling to the Shutdown, so that they could cause a global economic collapse. It was Senator John McCain who called one of his party's freshman colleagues a "Wacko Bird" a few weeks ago. We hear that about forty hard-core members of the Tea Party Caucus now have effective control of Congressional Republicans. These radicals demand concessions in government spending beyond the extreme sequestering cutbacks - without any added revenues - before they will allow government to reopen or raise the debt ceiling so the Treasury can pay our obligations. Bond interest, social security payments, federal salaries, medicare payments, and on and on. For thirty years now the USA has drifted into a condition of severe income inequality. The wealthiest among us have captured most of the benefits of the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the Middle Class is doing worse or no better that they did forty years ago. This Country is surely in decline. Today we have both Inequality and Bad Government for us all. With the messed-up districting across the United States, we cannot pull out of this nose dive with anything less that a political upheaval. The World is watching to see if our Democracy can function. One wants to hope, but it doesn't look good on this National Holiday.

Friday, September 6, 2013

TITLE: WAR CRIMES The Middle East has been the site of conflict since the end of World War II. As the British Empire was being dismantled, with France and Germany crippled from their defeats, the United States emerged as the guarantor of freedom for oppressed peoples in this region. President Truman with Congressional support acted in the creation of the State of Israel. But displaced Palestinian Arabs never were incorporated into an autonomous State of Palestine. The Great Powers in the League of Nations and in the United Nations had drawn borders across this region and enforced their mandates during most of the Twentieth Century. In 2013 we are living with the consequences of age-old hostilities where tribal religions have intersected and clashed - Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Contrary to the teachings of these three great religions, there has been unending and fierce hatred, fear, and brutal conflict during much of the last century. Today the United States government is debating its response to the use of sarin, a poisonous nerve gas, in the two-year civil war in Syria. The nuclear powers of Israel, Russia, and the USA are weighing in on this action. Neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are involved with refugees and spill-over consequences to their vital interests. Is death by poison gas the most heinous act possible in this conflict? What about the delivery of nuclear explosives and radiation? Civilian loss of life through the use of Predator Drones and the delivery of Tomahawk Missiles on any target in Syria is certain. Is America policeman to the world, or are we a member of a union of civilized nations? I oppose a military strike into Syria at this time, under the present circumstances.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

TITLE - WHY VETS SAY LITTLE TO FAMILY I recently returned from a Squadron Reunion in Norfolk, Virginia. We used to be a Hunter-Killer Air Group on the Carrier Essex in the Atlantic Fleet, formed in May 1960. I'm a 20th Century guy, whose best days are back several decades. I can focus, hear and see pretty well, and remember the skills that served me and our family well. I answered the call to military service over 60 years ago, and still volunteer for causes that count. In the news and entertainment media I hear and see that "Veterans keep quiet" about their wartime episodes. Children and spouses, grandchildren, wish that Dad/Gramps had told them what he did when he served. I have been reluctant to continue telling my sea stories when listeners have tuned out and need to be about their urgent lives. It is when old shipmates find each other at reunions that we can speak freely - even about events that went unmentioned at the time, so long past. Accidents, mistakes, deaths, crash landings, awards. You want to know what Dad did, and what motivated him? Find the time together. Ask him now. It's that simple.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Title: BEST DAYS What about government today? It's at the Federal level where I declare my opinion of No Confidence. Last week five presidents met in Dallas to open the George W. Bush Library. In his remarks the last President Bush repeated his view that "America's best days lie ahead." I am not convinced. Maybe this week is better than last week because Congress just took another of its frequent recesses. The future is unknowable. So when will we see - or did we see - America's Best Days? The government in Washington is unusually inept right now. The current Congress cannot pass a budget, is unable to close a prison in Cuba, unable to address the firearms epidemic that threatens public safety. This Congress is a disgrace. The global climate is in peril, but ultra conservative radicals in the Republican Party deny scientific evidence and block any action to address the danger. With high permanent unemployment across the nation, Congress has sequestered federal spending which harms children, the elderly, and slows down our recovery from the Great Recession. All that the majority in the House of Representatives favors is cutting taxes and shrinking the size of government. This is not a path to "best days in America." Unless the many wackos and corporate lackeys are voted out of Congress and sensible replacements can be found, our Worst Days could be just ahead. This was first posted Thursday, May 2, 2013, on "A Navy Vet's Opinion of Government and Opportunity."

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Senate Republicans are filibustering again. Senate leadership tried but only got three or four members to cross the aisle and failed to get 60 votes to bring the nominee for Defense Secretary to a vote on the floor. The Candidate Chuck Hagel was voted out of committee on a straight party-line vote. There's quite a bit to learn in this latest Beltway drama. There's a new Senator Cruz who is called "Nasty" on the Op-Ed page of the Times. GOP Senator John McCain, a critic of Hagel, chewed out this raw new kid from Harvard and Texas in the Armed Services Committee hearing on Hagel, for his lack of respect for the decorated Viet Nam veteran, Senator Hagel. The kid had some wild notions of financial corruption regarding Saudi Arabia that he was spewing. He's a Tea Party favorite who makes up stuff. But the story out of Washington is that GOP Senators just need a little more time to study the Hagel record - on Israel, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and the Pentagon. They will do this in the next ten days of vacation. Or rather their staff will stay in town at their desks and pore over the files while the Senators leave town. Senator McCain assures us that he will vote to bring the nomination to the floor when the "recess" is over - in ten days. Chuck Hagel is widely expected to be confirmed then, "if there are no blockbusters discovered." Wait a minute. A ten-day recess? The Congress just started its new term in January. We had an inauguration, a State of the Union speech. A few committee hearings - Congress only convenes between Tuesday and Thursday. And on February 15 they have recessed until the 26th! Good luck, Mr. Hagel! This week our Representative Rick Nolan reported that Congress is scheduled to report to work only 32 out of the 52 weeks in 2013. Our hopes to get a budget, get action on firearms, immigration, global climate, unemployment, housing foreclosures, or the post office, seem awfully slim if just confirming the President's choice to run the Pentagon is so difficult. Why are these congress persons getting salaries and big pensions, anyway?