Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ambassador John Christopher Stevens was born April 18, 1960 in Grass Valley, California.  His parents were Jan S. Stevens, then the Assistant Attorney General of California and Mary J. Floris, a Native American from the Chinook tribe.  His mother was an accomplished cellist and played for the Marin Symphony Orchestra.

As a student at Piedmont High School, Stevens became active in the AFS program, and spent the summer of 1977 in Spain as an exchange student.  In 1982, he graduated from Berkeley with a bachelor degree in history, and subsequently taught English as a Peace Corp Volunteer.  In 1989, he earned his Juris Doctoris degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  More recently in 2010, he received a Masters Degree from the National War College.  The National War College is an interesting program.  Check it out.

Ambassador Stevens was a career diplomat and served in the United States Foreign Service from 1991 till his death.  He served in the Middle East his entire career.  He was fluent in English, Arabic, and French.
To be honest with you, I had never heard of Ambassador Stevens until his death.  It is obvious though, from looking at his education and his career that he was not looking to become a General or a Colonel, not even a Lieutenant or a Sargeant.  He was dedicated to bringing about dialogue between our country and the Middle East, using non-military means.

He knew, as do all those who dedicate their working life to the foreign service that today might be the day, the day they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.  I think we honor Ambassador Stevens, particularly we honor his diligent work of twenty one years, by continuing to resolve this insane outbreak of protest and violence diplomatically.  Our impulse to follow a knee jerk reaction to use even more violence to stop violence would be an insult to his commitment and his life.  It’d be like saying, “Sorry, Stevens, your efforts were obviously futile.  We’re going to come in with our big guns and clean up.”  And we can do that, just like in the old Cowboy movies, and then we spend how many more years watching our back and awaiting another September 11.  Vengeful people ALWAYS get even no matter what.  There is no getting the last win, the last act of violence, the last strike.  It works that way in video games, but not in real life.

Please let us honor his life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Yes, what happened on September 11, 2012 in Lybia is despicable, shameful, intolerable, atrocious, uncivilized.  And yes, you have to wonder, why, if Lybia’s security forces were able to over throw Gaddafi, why could they not stop a mob of 200 people?

Yes, it so easy for us to see these extreme militant terrorists, as monsters, as savages, as insane, uncivilized people, and it is equally easy to lump them together with all Muslim people.  And when we do that, we set ourselves up to react to this incomprehensible event and atrocity without thinking.  And in recent history, we have done that too many times at the cost of too many lives.

So, take a deep breath, breathe, STOP.  STOP thinking of how to get revenge, STOP the political posturing and saber rattling.  PAUSE for however long it takes to begin reflecting.  Reflecting on what?  On our own national history and on our own personal history.  Reflect on the parts of ourselves as both individuals and as a nation that have been or still are militant, despicable and intolerant.  Really and truly, we are not too far beyond these militant extremists or their followers in our treatment of those we judge to be potential or real enemies (our version of infidels) whether living inside or outside our borders.

As a Nation, we include LOTS of folks on our enemy or "infidel" list.  As individuals, we have a similar list.

For the religious right, for example, the enemy or infidels includes anyone who is not saved.  It definitely includes gay people.  How despicable and uncivilized is that?

For many of us, we continue to be quite outspoken in our prejudices about people of different ethnic backgrounds, different religious denominations, different sexual orientation, different political persuasions, people who look illegal, people who are illegal, and people who use food stamps or receive welfare.  They are all "infidels."  How despicable is that?  How uncivilized is that?  You know, some of you might be really surprised to find out how many of your friends use food stamps because they really need them.  Some of you encourage your adult children to apply for food stamps so they won’t be a burden to you.  So go figure!
People over 65 are fast falling into the enemy category.  In China, it is illegal to be born a female if you already have a sister.  Hopefully, some day it will not be illegal in this country to be over 65.  We are becoming one of the largest segments of the population and taking up way too much space.  We are costing the health care industry way too much money.  We are becoming progressively more bothersome to our families.  I mean they might have to take care of us if we don't die soon.  So-called old age is becoming older all the time.  Although some of you do take care of your elders and quite well I might add, there is still a larger trend to find a nice place, a nice facility, a nice home for Mom, Dad, Aunt Susy, Uncle Bob, and whoever else is still alive in the family.  Certainly not going to take care of them at home.  

Let’s go the distance here.  Our own founding Fathers may have believed in the principle that all men are created equal, but they did not practice that principle in their lives.  And in whatever way they did practice that principle, “men” referred to males and probably males who were WHITE and owned property.  Equality definitely did not apply to people of color, and it did not apply to women.  How despicable and uncivilized is that?

It is less than a hundred years that women have been “allowed” to vote in this country.  Women have yet to achieve equality when it comes to jobs and wages.  They have not achieved equality within most religious communities, and their lack of equality within many denominations is often said to be supported by God Herself.

Women are also considered unequal by large numbers of men.  I won’t say majority because I do not have the data to support that.  What I do know is that a large percentage of the men who take advantage of my services to work out conflicts with their women partners have either a conscious and outspoken view or a “low-lying” insidious, almost unconscious view that women need to know and accept their subservient place and not complain about it.   How despicable and uncivilized is that?

It has only been about fifty years that the right to vote was guaranteed for Black Americans.  At least as late as the 1960's, in some parts of this country, Black Catholics could not sit in the same section of the Church as White parishoners.  They also had to wait last in line for both communion and confession, and in some instances, pastors stood at the church door refusing to allow Black people to even enter the church.  Despicable?  Uncivilized?

When did segregation end for buses, drinking fountains, bathrooms, restaurants, sports teams, jobs, and the like?  In some cases, not long ago.  I happen to be watching Nightline in 1987, when Ted KoppIe asked Al Campanis why there were not more Black managers in baseball.  Whoa!  I could not believe that an intelligent man would not only hold his viewpoint, but actually express it in front of the entire country.  I was embarrassed for him and for us as a Nation, because I knew that probably many many people thought just like him.

I recently witnessed a black couple being turned down at a car rental agency.  I was stunned and then ashamed of myself for not speaking out.  Recently as in two weeks ago.

What about our long-standing anti-Semitism?  Despicable?  My Church was completely silent about the Holocaust, and continued to label Jews as “Perfidious” up until the mid 1960's.  Despicable?  Uncivilized?  Yes, but Christian!  I know, slap me, but Christians have been anti-Semitic for a very very long time even though Jesus is a Jew and probably more Black than White!

What is my point here?  Well we decry a group of extreme militants who are just OUT THERE.  We cannot understand their culture, their religion, what seems to be religious intolerance, their intolerance in general of the Western world, their subjugation of women, and their seeming support of terrorist activity.  You know I get that part.  What I don’t get is that we don’t see that we are still just like them in so many ways, and our movement forward as a nation has not taken us too far down the road of equality and civility.

Let's be humble enough to look at our own acts of terror in our personal lives.  How many peoples lives have we destroyed in gossip?  How many children's lives have we destroyed by telling them all kinds of things from "how stupid can you be" to "I disown you."  How many people do we put at risk when we drink and drive.  Talk about terrorism.  How many peoples lives do we impact when we continue to smoke?  Not much different from a suicide bomber.

And let's be humble enough to never forget our country's history and journey.  Not to be a dead horse, but how many Native Americans were wiped out in our pursuit of happiness, wealth, and land?  Land that was not ours for the taking.  But we did. How many Black people just disappeared off the face of the earth during our countries bout with segregation?  Only sixty years ago, we were vulnerable to the likes of Joseph McCarthy and J. Egdar Hoover.  Today we are vulnerable to thinking that those on welfare, those using food stamps, the illegals, the elderly are the cause of our declining economy.  They are our "infidels." today, and seeing these folks as the cause for our economic difficulties makes as much sense as saying a bad movie about Mohammed is a good reason for us to kill your Ambassador and burn your embassies.   

I do have some thoughts about a way to respond to the terrorism that you can read about on my Hubpages blog.  But the bottom line for me is this.  Whatever solutions we propose to deal with terrorism, let's go about it THOUGHTFULLY and INTELLIGENTLY, and with an eye to HISTORY.  Leave the revenge behind.  Leave it for the terrorists because it will ultimately be their undoing especially if we discontinue using revenge as a tactic for ourselves.

Our children deserve that we make this our mission.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I know some of you will cynically see me as a “great” Monday morning quarterback.  And that is okay.  I think, when it comes to such devastation as September 11, 2001, it’s required that each of us be good Monday morning quarterbacks.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, many people woke up having no clue that they were going to die.  Some would die just by being at work.  Some would die carrying out their day-to-day commitment to keep New York safe both as paid pesonnel and as volunteers.  Some would die from deciding to board airplanes bound for points west.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, many people woke up having no clue that they would have an opportunity to step up to the plate in ways they never imagined, some of whom have gone relatively unacknowledged, for example, the many ferry boat operators in Manhattan.

This blog is to honor all of these folks, living and dead.  I think it is important that we do not allow their sacrifices and their memories to become just that, sacrifices and memories, but rather to let their sacrifices and memories become seeds that will blossom into new awarenesses for us as a nation.

Unfortunately, I am sure September 11, will not be the last terrorists’ attack on our country, but perhaps we can learn from September 11, how to respond in the future and how not to respond.  We could do that work, that learning, in their honor.  And if we do that work, maybe, September 11, can be the last terrorist attack on our soil.

I am not a security expert, so I don’t know how to begin to even examine what happened security-wise that hijackers were allowed to board the planes.  I am assuming and hoping that we have learned from September 11, and have remedied the cracks and the holes to prevent such a well-planned multiple simultaneous hijacking in the future.

However, I think it is important that every single person responsible for security on that morning find a way to be both accountable and responsible for where ever it was that they dropped the ball.  When I say this, I am not looking for people to blame.  Blame is pointless and useless.  I am inviting all involved to be accountable and responsible in contrast to being defensive and finding excuses, even at this late stage of the “game.”

I am also inviting each of us, as citizens, to join the security folks in being accountable and responsible.  How?  Well, simply by acknowledging “obviously something went amiss” as a starter.  It was not an accident.  And each of us can share in being accountable and taking responsibility for that break-down by not complaining anymore when we are inconvenienced at the airport by those doing their job.

If we can’t get beyond excusing ourselves for security lapses or covering them up, we will revisit September 11, at a later date.  

What made us vulnerable to such a terrorist attack?  What made us so attractive to the terrorists?  I want to look at just one piece of this question.

We are all familiar with the Narcissist, the man or woman who is powerful, very powerful, and often wealthy.  They acquire and have any and everything they desire.  No one ever stands in their way, and they flaunt that no one WILL EVER stand in their way.

Many of us know these folks first hand.  We work for them, have married them, maybe more than one, live next door to them, have a family member or many family members who qualify for this ancient label, NARCISSIST.  But if not, then we know them from literature (novels and plays), from movies, from sports and the performing arts.

Most of us think of the narcissist as someone who is full of themselves.  The reality is that the narcissist is almost totally EMPTY on the inside.  There is no place inside where the narcissist can go and hang his or her hat, so to speak.  There is no internal felt sense of self.  Let me explain what it feels like to be a narcissist.

See, I happen to believe in an hereafter, but on occasion, I do question.  What if when I die, it IS just poof.  It’s over.  I’m over.  When I consider that possibility, I get a nervous feeling in my stomach, and it tends to crawl throughout my skin.  It’s almost a feeling of nausea.

Well, the narcissist carries that pervasive fear of annihilation twenty four seven.  It tends to be out of conscious awareness, so it is a low grade anxiety that drives the narcissist to find a way to know that he or she exists each and every single moment of his waking day.  And that’s where you and I come in.  Those of us who are in relationships with narcissist, those of us who look up to the narcissist or who find themselves subservient to the narcissist, we all act as mirrors for the narcissist.

When the world or the people in the narcissist’s life refuse to be mirrors, it typically enrages the narcissist, and the rage can become self destructive but more often, other destructive.  Revenge and getting more than even become a necessity for the narcissist to know that he or she exists.  Consequently, the narcissist lives under a pervasive almost unconscious fear of being attacked, and any form of criticism is an attack.  Any mistake made by those who are suppose to mirror perfectly how perfect the narcissist is, is an attack.

So why am I taking the time to look at this personality disorder, narcissism.  Perhaps, I’m focusing on the highjackers, who probably would qualify either as narcissistic or folks who, for any number of reasons, felt compelled to follow narcissists, like those who followed the likes of Jim Jones, Adolph Hitler, and yes, Osama Bin Laden.  Narcissists have a perverted charism about themselves.

But I am talking about Narcissism because we as a nation are narcissistic.  We think we are the greatest and most powerful nation in the world and perhaps in the history of the world even though so many facts point to the contrary.  One, for example, is our relatively high infant mortality rate.

We want other nations to believe that we are the most powerful country in the world and directly or indirectly we send a clear message that we are going to do whatever we damned well please no matter what the rest of the world community says.  We are not a humble nation.  We are a proud nation to a fault.

So the question is, why, as a nation, do we experience emptiness in our national soul?  What is that about?  And then why do we pick the likes of groups like al Qaeda to mirror for us that we are powerful?  And why are we so reticent to acknowledge our own evilness, our own quest to conquer the world’s resources for ourselves, for example oil.

Those groups or folks who do not like us, we virtually dare them to stop us or attack us, and guess what, one group has taken up the invitation and will continue to do so until we find a way to be in the world as a powerful nation, but also a humble nation.  We say we are a Godly nation, but our lack of humility decries our Godliness.

The first step for you and me, as individual citizens, in becoming humble is to know history.  For example, do you have any clue why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor?  Start googling and find out.  This is important because we are fighting the same war today in the Middle East, a war over oil!  Little changes.

Unfortunately, when it comes to war, there are realities we do not want to face.  Perhaps the only war we have actually won, gained something from, is the Revolutionary War.  We certainly did not accomplish much by the Civil War.  Our country remains divided today along the same war lines.  We accomplished nothing in World War I except to plant the seeds for Hitler’s rise to power.  During World War II, over six million jews were annihilated.  We obviously did not stop Hitler.  Four hundred six thousand American soldiers killed and almost seven hundred thousand wounded in World War II.  I have no idea what the other countries lost.  These numbers do not look like a victory to me. 

After World War II, the French could not strip Viet Nam of their independence and were literally slaughtered in their attempt at the infamous battle of Dien Bien Phu.  For some reason, we thought we were bigger and more powerful than the French, so we decided to flex our muscles with our former ally, Ho Chi Minh, but to no avail.

And what the heck were we doing in Korea? There were, in fact, “good” reasons that made sense in that time period, but do you know what they were?  And can we learn that these “good” reasons may not be good reasons in the future?  Perhaps we need to rethink the mentality of the Truman doctrine which tends to pervade our thinking even today.

And what was the mentality that drove us into war with Iraq?  We have left that country devastated.  They are worse off today than they were before we went into save them.  Russian could not deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and what made us think that we could?  We walked away from Korea, from Viet Nam, from Iraq, and we will eventually walk away from Afghanistan, all because we have to prove our power.  But there were no victories, and there will be no victory in Afghanistan.  You gotta know that!

And we somehow forget that the greatest war casualties are the survivors and their families.  These men and women who survived are NEVER the same, and their woundedness plagues their families sometimes for generations.  I say that from working with families of World War II veterans and their generational families as well as the veterans and their families from more recent military actions.

Some of us like to take comfort in the notion of necessary evils.  But calling a solution to a problem a necessary evil is just a cover up for not having the courage to say, I don’t know what to do.  Or I know what the good solution is, but it is going to ruffle the feathers of powerful people, people who profit from the necessary evil solutions.
There is a wonderful principle in Martial Arts.  The most powerful power is UNUSED power, unthreatened power.  You might call it silent power.

In honor of all those who lost their lives on 9/11, can we begin to look at our motivation for going after terrorists?  Is there a more powerful way to go after them?  Is there a way of attacking terrorists that does not bate them into attacking us in the most perverse ways?

I think there are answers, but it requires giving up our image that we are number one, that we are the most powerful nation in the world, that we are invincible, but that requires humility.

NO, we do not have to become isolationists.     

I think I am a great person not because I am the greatest person on the face of the earth.  I am great because of the way I live my life.

As a nation, can we look into our national mirror and be at peace with the way we live our lives, with the way we treat each other, with the way we take care of each other, with the way we resolve conflict between each other, or maybe the basic problem is we don’t care how we treat each other or care for each other and we continue to rely upon prowess to resolve conflict even within our own country.  So do we each just live for ourselves?

Looking at this issue of power and shifting into a silent power is where our greatness will come.  The bottom line is we MUST be great about something other than military prowess, because that will never cut it.  It never has in the history of the world, and it never will.  And we must become great in resisting the temptation to acquire everything we want from the less powerful.

For us, September 11 was not about an attack by Islamic militant extremists.  That is what it was about for the terrorists!  Unfortunately for us, it was about our narcissism as a nation, our greed, and our complete lack of humility.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This is my town.  It has its own economy.  Interestingly enough, the city itself has a surplus. .
Yes, the city as a business entity has a surplus, but not everyone in the town is prospering economically.  Why are some prospering and some not?

So when you hear the politicians, the candidates specifically, talking about the economy, do you know what they or anyone means when they use that word, economy?  I googled, the economy and found an interesting article from 2008.  Cannot vouch for the folks who publish The Prime Directive, whether or not they are right or left, but I found the article helpful in understanding what we mean when we say the economy.  There are a zillion of these articles out there.  Google them.  BE SMART when you hear the politicians, particularly the candidates, refer to the economy.

I also saw for the first time, yes for the first time, an important abbreviation, GDP.  Not only haven't heard the term before, or if I did in Econ 101, don't remember, I don't know what it means.  So guess what?  Yes, google GDP.  Click on the link and learn what GDP is.

Then you have to think about unemployment.  What does that mean?  Does it mean there are no jobs?  Well, the Washington Post ran an article indicating that manufacturers say there are plenty of jobs, but there are no skilled workers to fill the jobs,  What?  Yes, thousands of jobs but no skilled folks to fill them.  Wow!  That's something you don't hear from the candidates.  And how in the heck are they going to address that?

Hey, what about this article from the Associated Press by Tom Krisher?  Economy up?  Economy down?  Economy struggling?  It's an easy read, so check it out, but there are figures there about the increase in auto sales, large pickup truck sales, housing market improving.  What?

So please, please, please.  Stop thinking illegal immigrants and welfare as the problem with our economy.  There are plenty of American Companies reporting profits.  Google and find out who and then ask why?  Bad economy or good economy, some companies and corporations are posting profits and large profits.  Illegal immigration and welfare are not affecting them.

Here's something else.  Some companies are posting profits because of their operations in other countries.  What?  Now wait a minute.  What is that about?  They can post a profit in a foreign operation, but not here.  Am I getting that?  You and I need to understand that, learn about that, and KNOW what that is about.

Now understand this about welfare.  The amount of money, the actual percentage of money that goes out in "dole" is miniscule compared to the amount of money that goes into the pockets of good people, good hard-working people, social workers, clerks, administrators working a legitimate job and receiving legitimate pay to make sure the right folks get the economic support our legislature voted to give them.  The same way that legitimate unemployed folks collect unemployment because the legislature chooses to fund the program.

Our so called poor economy has nothing to do with illegal aliens and welfare no more than it does about the amount of money that goes into fighting wars and subsidizing unemployment.

It is interesting to me that bad economy or good econmy, folks continue to spend exorbitant money on cigarettes and illegal drugs!  So just how bad is the economy?

I also heard that business is down in places like Vegas.  Now is that a bad thing?  Well, yes, jobs are effected.  But ironically people are choosing to control some of their vices, and that drives down the economy.  Wow!

I also read tonight that when people save their money, that also drives down the economy.  And when we choose to carpool and not drive very far on a holiday weekend, that also impacts the economy.  In the case of gasoline, it might work to our advantage with respect to price and demand.  And still, with the high price of gasoline, we find a way to put gasoline in the tank.  How?  So how bad is the economy?

And again, what is our bad economy all about?  It's not about jobs, unemployment, welfare, illegal immigrants.  It's about a system that you and I do not know about let alone understand.  There are plenty of folks out there benefitting from our bad economy and making tons of money in this so-called bad economy.  How? 

Obama nor Romney will NOT turn the economy around no matter what they promise or do.  The economy has a life of its own which you and I don't understand and since we don't, the economy can be used as a ploy and a promise to get us to vote.  It's time for us to stop being dooped and to stop jumping on band wagons about welfare and illegal immigrants.  The economy has little to do with either one and neither one has a significant effect on the economy.  The economy is organic and there are many built-in systems at work.  You and I don't understand the organism let alone the systems at work, but we need to. 

It's up to you and me to learn how the economy works, and then assess who makes the most sense at really addressing the economy and what will make it work to our advantage.  And I'm not suggesting the economy benefits only the wealthy or only a few.  I am only saying, it does not benefit the general population right now and why is that?  You and I have a responsibility to find out and vote for someone who will make the economy work for the franchised as well as the disenfranchised, an economy that will support the disenfranchised becoming franchised.

So what do you think?  Are you willing to google till you get it?  Get what?  A good grasp on the economy and what makes it tick, so you can vote intelligently instead of being dooped into thinking that changes in the economy have to do with issues that are totally unrelated..