Dear President Obama;
You don't know me; we've never met, I've never been to one of your speeches or public appearances and I doubt you've read my work. I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican, in fact my politics as far as this letter are concerned have no bearing. Suffice to say I am conservative in most things, but in all things I value my individual freedom first and foremost and that includes freedom from the overreach of the federal government.
However, here we have an opportunity to act, decisively and immediately, to counteract what may turn out to be so uncontrollable and disastrous that not acting is simply no longer an option. Here is an example of exactly the power that the federal government was intended to wield, has a duty to wield, expressly, the defense of this country from a foreign invader, in this case a terrible virus that's already been woefully underestimated in its ability to travel and spread and kill.
Now is the time, Mr. President, now is the moment to put aside political advantage, to put aside concerns over legacy or image and either act through executive order, as you've pledged to do when Congress fails to act, or to use your bully pulpit to get Congress moving on a plan to restrict travel from these areas where the infection is running wild, quarantine anyone traveling from those areas into the United States until they can be completely screened and mobilize the Department of Health and Human Services.
The deadly effects of this scourge are, as I'm sure you know, devastating. The areas in West Africa that are effected need our help, they need our expertise and resources and they need our American capacity for compassion and charity. As a world leader of your stature, you have an incredible and unique opportunity to mobilize and motivate people in the cause of fighting Ebola worldwide, stopping this plague before it can wipe out the poorest people in the poorest countries on earth who have no way to combat it. All of those things can be done, should be done. But first, immediate action is required here to make certain and sure that no more Americans can possibly be exposed and you alone, Mr. President, are in the best position to take that action.
But, I know you don't need me to tell you what needs to be done. I know you're a highly intelligent, highly motivated public servant and I know that, as a father, you will do everything you can to protect your family and our families from this awful disease. I'm just asking you, imploring you, as a father myself, as a grandfather and as an American citizen, please don't put off this decision any longer.
With all due respect, Sir, I would much prefer to eat crow later on when nothing happens than be food for the crows when it does.
#ebola #Obama #WhiteHouse #cdc #President
The following is a transcript of the lecture I gave to the students of Madison High School last Friday:
Thank you and thanks so much to your wonderful teachers and faculty for having me here today. Truth be told, if any of my former teachers were to hear that I, Bill Fripp, had been asked to speak to a group of high schoolers about the importance of goal setting and education they would undoubtedly laugh out loud. I was NOT a model student as I'm sure all of you seated here today are. In fact, when I showed up for my thirtieth high school reunion I was informed that was I still suspended from all school functions until I returned the fuses for the lights in the football stadium.
That being said, I'm here and the theme for our little discussion today is the freedom of choice, the power you each possess to exercise it and the responsibility that comes as a natural byproduct of it. Some call it cause and effect, which is a condensed description of a theory by a man named Isaac Newton. How many people know who Isaac Newton was? For those who may not have heard the name or a certain story involving the gravitational effect the earth has on apples, Sir Isaac Newton was a seventeenth and eighteenth century English physicist and mathematician who many believe was one of the smartest men that ever lived, responsible for the law of universal gravitation, the creation of calculus and the three laws of motion, the third of which we will discuss today, namely , "For every action in nature, there is an opposite and equal reaction," and this is as true in our personal lives as it is in the natural world, which, after all, we are all a part of.
Every decision you make, whether good or bad, has a consequence; for good decisions, generally the consequences are good and with bad decisions, the consequences are almost always bad. The choice is the important part, the ingredient that makes the outcome more predictable, the moment wherein one can stop and think about the impact the consequences, good and bad, will have on oneself and, perhaps more importantly, the impact they will have on those who may or not have a part in the decision in the first place.
Of course, not every decision we make has to be life altering. Some choices are more important than others. No one will be greatly impacted by your choice of which cereal to eat in the morning or which American Idol you prefer. But when you have an important decision to make, like whether to stay in school or to speak up when you see someone being bullied, or whether to take that drink or smoke that cigarette, take the time to consider that without a high school diploma, your chances at success in the business world plummet; put yourself in the shoes of your classmate being bullied and ask yourself how it would make you feel for someone to care enough to speak out and rescue you; think about the people you know of or have heard of who drank themselves to death or who have lost their lives to cancer. Every choice has a consequence; it may be instant, it may take months, it may even take years.
Two years ago, I went out to dinner with my wife Valerie, had two beers with my fish, came back home and fired up the PS3. At about 11 o'clock, I began having pains in my stomach. By three AM the pain had increased and I had begun to vomit. By five AM I was in the emergency room. Within the next four hours, I had moved from the emergency room to intensive care and from there to life support and was placed in a medically induced coma, where I stayed for five weeks while Valerie waited by my bedside for me to recover, but expecting me to die. I had been diagnosed with acute necrotizing pancreatitis, which is a fancy, twenty dollar way to say my pancreas popped. While I recuperated for the next three months in the hospital, I learned why, out of the clear blue sky, my pancreas had decided to abandon its post; it wasn't something that just happened for no reason. It wasn't the fish; it wasn't the two beers. It was thirty years of my life wasted drinking as much alcohol as I could drink, eating all of the wrong foods and basically abusing my body, at first because I thought it made me popular with my peers, but then because it became easier to get hammered than it did to take responsibility for my life and make the right decisions. And it very nearly killed me. Anyone who tells you that, given the chance to go back in time, they would not change a thing they'd done, that they don't have any regrets, is either lying or has led a really boring life. I would change more than one thing, I can tell you, though you'll have to use your imaginations to know which ones, because I'm not talking! Suffice to say, I have made some decisions that hurt people, and though hurting them was not my intention, there is no doubt a more thought out and less compulsive decision would have spared them that pain. But, we cannot travel through time, we cannot unring those bells once they've been rung and so we are chained to the reverberations forever, bound to the shame that they cause and responsible for the harm they impart. So, you have the freedom to make your own choices, but like everything else, freedom is not free.
You don't need anyone to tell you you're free; no government, no religion, no authority on earth can grant you your freedom, because you were born with it. Others can only infringe upon it or take it from you and then only if you allow them to. You can enslave yourself, chained to dogma and doctrine, or you can live free, thinking for yourselves and making your own way in the world with integrity and pride. It's all a matter of choice.
Choice is the catalyst. What you choose to do and, sometimes more importantly, what you choose NOT to do have more direct impact on your life than money or power or fame could ever have. Through the power of choice, mountains are moved, hunger is abated, houses are built, roads are cut and lives are changed and each one of you have that power within you. You can choose to be kind or you can choose to be cruel. You can choose to be charitable or you can make the choice to allow avarice and greed to rule you. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to walk under a cloud and live in the gloom and darkness.
For the rest of your lives, after you leave your childhoods behind and begin your lives in earnest, there will be those whose choices and the consequences of those choices have left them bitter and distrustful, whose lives are bogged down in doubt and fear and they will blame everyone on earth for their sorry plight except for themselves. These people, these energy vampires, rather than making the decision to lift themselves and those around them up, instead will actively try and bring everybody they see as above them, those they blame for their condition, down to their level, because in their minds it is better for all to be enslaved and angry than for some to be happy and free and the joy experienced by the Free is, to these energy vampires, like the bright daylight, destroying their paper mache facades of superiority and dissolving them around their feet, exposing them to the Light and revealing them for who they are. The last thing they want is for someone to have something they don't have, could never have despite how much money they make or how many cars they own or how big their houses are and that is the contentment that comes with knowing that you have made the choice to be free, that you have CHOSEN peace and charity and compassion, not because you were told to, not because you were frightened into it by the bogeymen of politics or religion, but because you've discovered on your own that choosing happiness MAKES you happy, and that the only way for us humans to truly coexist in harmony is to not just be brave enough to choose happiness for ourselves, but to also be gracious enough to allow others the freedom to make their own choices, whether you agree with them or not, because true freedom is a two way street. You cannot demand freedom for yourself while restricting the freedoms of everyone else. The energy vampires are out there; they will use whatever they can to bring you down. Your weight, your height, your gender, the color of your skin, the language you speak, your faith, your politics, all of these are fair game to them and they don't care which one they use.
They'll seek out and find your weakness, your kryptonite, your sore spot, and they'll poke at it incessantly until they get the response they want, and all because they recognize in your happiness what their lives could have been, what they think they deserve, and they'd rather all of us be slaves than for one of us to rejoice in our freedom. They're biggest weapon against you, their most effective tool in stopping you from achieving what they are too afraid to even attempt, is fear. Fear is the greatest motivator known to man. Fear can make you run faster, jump higher and fight harder than you thought possible. Harnessing that power, that fear, the fear of missing the buzzer beater 30 foot jump shot, the fear of failing that dreaded test that counts as twenty percent of your grade, the fear of walking down the aisle to get married, or speak to a group of freshman, is the key to mastering that fear and using it. Allowing it to motivate in you the courage and resolve to step in and say, "No! That's not gonna happen if I can help it!" Or even better, " Yes! I'll take this chance and I'll make it work!" Never allow an unfounded fear to keep you from taking chances in your life. Always know everything there is to know about every situation you find yourselves in and you'll hardly ever be surprised. But, as the French say, "C'est La vie!" Such is life. There will always be surprises.
In the overall Grand Scheme of Things, whether you believe it's through evolution or from God or space aliens, humankind, homo sapiens, are the dominate species living on this little rock floating peacefully in the remotest corner of a minor galaxy twisting and turning through the magnificent and wondrous vistas of the multiverse. People, men and women and children, despite our fragile natures, are at the top of the food chain on this planet. We aren't the strongest animals on earth. We aren't fast, like the cheetah; we can't breathe water like a shark; we can't soar on thermals miles above the trees like an eagle; we aren't poisonous; so what is it that allowed us weak, slow, earth bound, non venomous humans to rise to the top? What tipped the scales in our favor? It is our ability to reason, to imagine, to think, to recognize that one decision, right or wrong, can mean the difference between a desired outcome and an undesirable one. When a snake feels hungry, it feeds; when it grows too big, it finds a place to shed its skin; when it's confronted by an enemy, it fights or retreats. The snake has no one to tell it when it's hungry or that it's time for dinner; there are no snake gym teachers to tell it to shed its skin to make room for the new one. It relies on its instincts. To our knowledge the snake has no cognitive process sophisticated enough to help it make these decisions; it just does what snakes do. Snake stuff. People have instincts, too, all passed down through genetics and hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, but the difference is, we have the power to decide not be ruled by them, even ignore them.
We can choose not to eat or to only eat vegetables or grains or to share what we have with other people who might not have any food to eat and while we don't shed our skins like a snake, we do choose what clothes to wear and how to style our hair and we wear makeup and jewelry, not from instinct but from a personal choice, based on how we feel and what others around us are wearing. These are all choices, trivial choices in the face of things as they are, but choices none the less and that ability, the ability to gather data, analyze that data, reach conclusions based on that data and then act accordingly is what separates us from the lower forms of life (on this planet, anyway). But along with this ability comes another unique qualifying characteristic of the human condition; responsibility.
When we make a decision, well reasoned or instinctual, we as a species instinctually feel the responsibility to accept the consequences of those decisions. The snake has no responsibility to the mouse to treat it with gentleness as it swallows it whole; it is without a conscience, without a moral compass. It just does what snakes do without worry and without remorse. But we aren't snakes (most of us, anyway); when we watch, horrified, as tragedy after tragedy unfolds before our eyes on the news, when we see and hear people, sometimes even people we know say and do terrible things, regardless of the pain it causes others, when we watch the smaller, weaker humans among us being trampled underfoot, when we see others like us being bullied because they're different, for whatever reason, we, unlike those lower forms of animal, have the capacity for understanding, for compassion, for kindness and that capacity must come with a sense of responsibility, a feeling of duty to those being bullied, to those being persecuted for their beliefs and to those without the wherewithal to defend themselves, because without that feeling of duty, without that unique spark of humanity, we become like the animals, without remorse, without feeling and without hope. But you, all of you here today, don't have to suffer that fate. You can make another choice, right now, this second. You can choose to think, to exercise those young, vibrant brains and make decisions based on truth, not someone else's truth, but THE truth, because you live in an age where everything, every decision that’s ever been made and every consequence of those decisions, for good or evil, is there for you use as a tool, literally at your fingertips.
You see, thousands of years ago, when I was your age, there were these things called libraries and in these libraries were other things called books and I and other ancient people like me used to have to leave our homes and actually go to these places and read those books in order to learn things about our pasts. The books were called encyclopedias. They were really cool. You should Google them. Today, you don't even have to leave your bedrooms to access a hundred times that amount of information on the internet, so when it comes to decision making, you have a magnificent advantage over people of my generation, so you have no excuses if you screw things up the way those who came before you have. Learn from the mistakes and the triumphs of history, but temper that knowledge with humility and grace, because sacrifices have been made on your behalf, sacrifices by your parents, your teachers and by those who have come before you, for as our old friend Sir Isaac Newton said in a letter to a friend, concerning Newton's own remarkable achievements, "If I have seen further, it is from standing on the shoulders of giants.
So, the past is there for you to learn from, the future is there for you to shape and now is the time to choose to give yourselves every advantage, commit yourselves to the betterment of the world around you and make good decisions based on logic, common sense, grace and charity.
And, for goodness' sake, while you have this time, take some of it to just be kids. The majority of your lives will be spent paying bills, working, worrying about your children, growing old and bald and fat, so do not take these years that you have in front of you for granted. Play! Be silly! Have fun! The world has been spinning for billions of years...it will still be spinning for billions of years after we're all gone and our time here, by comparison, is more brief than the briefest of thoughts... please, for my sake, for your sake's, don't waste a minute of it!
Props to Bill O'Reilly for asking the tough questions and to Mr. #Panetta for answering them...now watch the spin begin...my predictions:
1) George #Bush signed a Statement of Forces ( #SOF ) agreement before he left office and for some reason that prevented #Obama from making a decision on his own (which is just laughable)
2) We shouldn't have been there in the first place
3) #Oreilly is shown on #FoxNews so nothing he says can be trusted
Forget the facts, forget the tens of thousands of people slaughtered in Iraq, it's just about trying to salvage SOMETHING from the failed policies of this#President.
#politics #democrat #Republican #Iraq #ISIS #tcot #tlot #slipstream #WilliamFripp
Everyday when debating issues with people I hear the same old tired complaints from leftists:
"Well, you get your news from Faux News/Faux Noise/(insert thinly veiled insult disguised as pseudo witticism here)"
As if the only way I, an independent conservative former Libertarian, could ever develop an informed opinion without my conservative "masters" telling me what it is and how to present it. I find this highly insulting and, to be blunt, this is the epitome of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. When I hear the same talking points ad nauseum and verbatim from so many different people, I cannot help but assume that they came from the same source, because it's virtually impossible that so many different people can parrot the same exact lines without harvesting them from the same orchard. I could be wrong, but a duck is a duck, after all.
So, is Foxnews really Satan's platform for spreading the subversive messages of modern conservatism? No doubt they have an agenda, no doubt that agenda is right leaning and no doubt there are scores of people who do indeed get their opinions from that single source, exactly the way left says they do. FoxNews viewers and right wing extremists share a common core; rejection of everything "liberal", in the modern sense, though not all are rabid extremists and not all agree on everything.
The main reason "liberals" hate FoxNews is that until FoxNews came along, the "liberal" left had a monopoly on so-called "news" coverage in this country and there was no outlet for the other side except Rush Limbaugh, and Ozzy knows that message is about as right leaning and shrill as any political entertainment program out there, but it was the ONLY one for a long time. FoxNews emerged as a conservative voice in a "liberal" wilderness of PC thuggery and right wing hating demagoguery that demonized anyone and everyone who dared speak out against anything "progressive" (which is another word bastardized into meaning exactly the opposite of it's original definition). Still, to this day, FoxNews pretty much stands alone as the only conservative based "news" media outlet, pitted against NBC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones and so many other left leaning "liberal" apologist sources that there are too many to name in this blog post. (Here is a link that lists most of them) *This same source has an equally long list of conservative news outlets, most of which are internet based*
And what is the message these "news" outlets want you to know? Conservatives are ALL racists, backward thinking, mouth breathing, knuckle dragging contrarians who want to keep you down, take all the "wealth" and hoard it so no one can ever hope to rise above the poverty level, leave your parents and grandparents destitute and steal their Social Security, deny children an education and food...basically we are all evil and hate anyone who isn't white and rich. Conservatives want to "...have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance..."; we are "tea baggers", neo-Cons, war mongers, homophobes and religious nuts and all we want is more, more, more...
So, is it really surprising that, in the face of this much raw hatred from the left, fomented by every "news" outlet on television, in print and on the radio, conservatives would flock to the one place where they can have their beliefs and their ideals championed? I was bullied as a child, mercilessly, because I was a skinny little runt with big ears and because children are the cruelest creatures on this earth until they learn what it feels like to be on the receiving end. I was beaten, ridiculed, terrorized and tortured for most of childhood, until I found a friend who decided I was worth talking to, worth being with and once I found that one friend, I knew for sure that no matter what happened to me, I always mattered to him. He was there when I needed him (and still is), so I stuck to him like glue. FoxNews emerged as that one friend for conservatives, when the rest of the media world was bullying them. And "liberals" hate Fox, not because of the message itself, but because it isn't THEIR message, because it offers a different (though not necessarily always correct) choice than "fall in line or f**k off".
To be fair, "liberals" these days are no less demonized, no less the subject of hate filled diatribes from the right leaning pundits and ideologues and have every right to be as insulted by what some on my side throw at them, the caveat being that the vast majority of right wing mudslinging occurs on social media and the internet rather than from institutionalized and highly regimented "traditional" news outlets.
But if you're reading this far, if you haven't automatically fallen into the trap of dismissing my message because it's true but it's different from yours, then read this:
DON'T get your views from television shows, DON'T base your opinions on the same misinformation others in your "party" spoon feed you and DON'T let your default position be whatever the news media you watch tells you it should be if you want to be a "good American", because America wasn't born with that mindset, it was born with the mindset that WE ALL, "conservative", "liberal" or whatever, have an equal say in the direction the country takes, we ALL are important and we ALL have a voice...don't let yours be silenced by FoxNews, or MSNBC or me or ANYONE...the future of the country depends on it.
The pie analogy, wherein the ideals of any one thing are compared to a pie, and the equitable sharing of that pie is the metaphoric device used to parcel out such grandiose notions as "fairness" and "equality", is a favorite of the modern "progressive" ideologue.
So, as an exercise, let's explore this analogy using its own device.
Our pie, in this exercise, is "wealth" and for the sake of argument we'll call "wealth" the amount of money one must accrue before they no longer need concern themselves with whether the bills are covered or the groceries are covered and they have a home and a conveyance (or maybe even two). "Wealthy" people in our little play could be considered "rich" or in the "1%". Got it? Good.
"Poor" people, by comparison, could be considered as living "paycheck to paycheck", maybe they have a car, maybe they don't, but it's not a good one and the roof over their heads is over the heads of the immediate neighbors on either side and may well be the upstairs neighbors floor. They call themselves the "99%".
These two groups, the "wealthy" and the "poor", have cross sections within their respective groups that share much of the same demographics, but one group is comprised of one dominant subset and the other group a different dominate subset. These distinctions have been drawn along racial, gender and economic lines by the political class which play one against the other for political gain and corporate favor.
So, we've got a big ol' hot, steamy American pie, "wealthy" people and "poor" people all with plates and forks in their hands, each blaming the other for either having too much pie or for insisting on pie simply because they're in the kitchen. And in the middle, the politicians and their cadre of willing apologists in the media on television, on the the radio, in the papers and on the internet fan the flames, twirling the ends of their moustaches and laughing behind their sleeves.
Here's what they don't want you to learn.
The pie is there for everyone to share in, as much as you can grab. Capitalism is the oven and the desire to earn a bigger share of pie is the fire that bakes it. The ingredients are simple; hard work, education, perseverance and a dash of stubbornness, with a little pride sprinkled in for taste. And there's plenty of pie, plenty of ingredients and plenty of fire; unfortunately, the politicians control the gas to the oven and so we all have to go out for pie, pie that doesn't taste as good, isn't made from the right ingredients and costs ten times as much.
Of course, some people, "wealthy" and "poor", don't care about anything but getting all of the pie and they'll beat their own mother's with a rolling pin to get it. They feel like they deserve as much pie as anyone else and more. They'll cheat people out of their shares, hit people over the head and just take it or they'll tiptoe up when no one's watching and steal the pie right from the window ledge and it seems like no matter how many times they get caught, they never get burned. The politicians know this, too and they love it, they love it because it distracts attention away from the legal theft they perpetrate by creating and passing laws that benefit no one but themselves and their corporate concubines, all the while looking the other way while pie just disappears into the ether. And to make it all even worse, they didn't earn a SINGLE SLICE...they get all of their pie from the Community Bakery, where pie is taken from everyone's share (as if it wasn't small enough!) at the point of a gun whether they like it or not. "LEGALLY". So, what can be done?
If you find out someone's been sneaking up to the window sill and stealing your share of pie, we have another dessert, a just dessert called the Rule of Law and we can let those thieves and criminals and politicians have the whole thing, right in the face, because the Founding Father's Bakery knew there would be some unsavory pie makers cutting corners and using inferior flour and Aspartame and flouride and GMO's, so they whipped up a recipe never before attempted called a Constitutional Democratic Republic, where "wealthy" and "poor" all have access to the ovens and the ingredients and, if they have the fire, can make as much American pie as they can hold, even give some away to those who can't for some reason go out and make their own.
So, tired of working your fingers to the bone kneading the dough and only getting bony fingers? Put your Big Boy/Big Girl chef's hat on, gather your ingredients together and get to bakin' ! Oh, and wash your hands first...
How's that for a pie analogy? Too crusty? A little sour? Overbaked? Not flaky enough?
#politics #democrat #republican #obama #money #america
The following is an article written in 2008 by the late Christopher Hitchens and is reprinted from an article in Slate Magazine:
An "anniversary" of a "war" is in many ways the least useful occasion on which to take stock of something like the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq, if only because any such formal observance involves the assumption that a) this is, in fact, a war and b) it is by that definition an exception from the rest of our engagement with that country and that region. I am one of those who, for example, believes that the global conflict that began in August 1914 did not conclusively end, despite a series of "fragile truces," until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is not at all to redefine warfare and still less to contextualize it out of existence. But when I wrote the essays that go to make up A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, I was expressing an impatience with those who thought that hostilities had not really "begun" until George W. Bush gave a certain order in the spring of 2003.
Anyone with even a glancing acquaintance with Iraq would have to know that a heavy U.S. involvement in the affairs of that country began no later than 1968, with the role played by the CIA in the coup that ultimately brought Saddam Hussein's wing of the Baath Party to power. Not much more than a decade later, we come across persuasive evidence that the United States at the very least acquiesced in the Iraqi invasion of Iran, a decision that helped inflict moral and material damage of an order to dwarf anything that has occurred in either country recently. In between, we might note minor episodes such as Henry Kissinger's faux support to Kurdish revolutionaries, encouraging them to believe in American support and then abandoning and betraying them in the most brutal and cynical fashion.
If you can bear to keep watching this flickering newsreel, it will take you all the way up to the moment when Saddam Hussein, too, switches sides and courts Washington, being most in favor in our nation's capital at the precise moment when he is engaged in a campaign of extermination in the northern provinces and retaining this same favor until the very moment when he decides to "engulf" his small Kuwaiti neighbor. In every decision taken subsequent to that, from the decision to recover Kuwait and the decision to leave Saddam in power to the decisions to impose international sanctions on Iraq and the decision to pass the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, stating that long-term coexistence with Saddam's regime was neither possible nor desirable, there was a really quite high level of public participation in our foreign policy. We were never, if we are honest with ourselves, "lied into war." We became steadily more aware that the option was continued collusion with Saddam Hussein or a decision to have done with him. The president's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, laying out the considered case that it was time to face the Iraqi tyrant, too, with this choice, was easily the best speech of his two-term tenure and by far the most misunderstood.
That speech is widely and wrongly believed to have focused on only two aspects of the problem, namely the refusal of Saddam's regime to come into compliance on the resolutions concerning weapons of mass destruction and the involvement of the Baathists with a whole nexus of nihilist and Islamist terror groups. Baghdad's outrageous flouting of the resolutions on compliance (if not necessarily the maintenance of blatant, as opposed to latent, WMD capacity) remains a huge and easily demonstrable breach of international law. The role of Baathist Iraq in forwarding and aiding the merchants of suicide terror actually proves to be deeper and worse, on the latest professional estimate, than most people had ever believed or than the Bush administration had ever suggested.
This is all overshadowed by the unarguable hash that was made of the intervention itself. But I would nonetheless maintain that this incompetence doesn't condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.
None of these positive developments took place without a good deal of bungling and cruelty and unintended consequences of their own. I don't know of a satisfactory way of evaluating one against the other any more than I quite know how to balance the disgrace of Abu Ghraib, say, against the digging up of Saddam's immense network of mass graves. There is, however, one position that nobody can honestly hold but that many people try their best to hold. And that is what I call the Bishop Berkeley theory of Iraq, whereby if a country collapses and succumbs to trauma, and it's not our immediate fault or direct responsibility, then it doesn't count, and we are not involved. Nonetheless, the very thing that most repels people when they contemplate Iraq, which is the chaos and misery and fragmentation (and the deliberate intensification and augmentation of all this by the jihadists), invites the inescapable question: What would post-Saddam Iraq have looked like without a coalition presence?
The past years have seen us both shamed and threatened by the implications of the Berkeleyan attitude, from Burma to Rwanda to Darfur. Had we decided to attempt the right thing in those cases (you will notice that I say "attempt" rather than "do," which cannot be known in advance), we could as glibly have been accused of embarking on "a war of choice." But the thing to remember about Iraq is that all or most choice had already been forfeited. We were already deeply involved in the life-and-death struggle of that country, and March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we ever decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons. This must, and still does, count for something.
Will the President send an official to this man's funeral? Will Sharpton and Jackson and the rest of the media whores show up and cry and moan and wail over the death of this American at the hands of these brutal curs? Or is he just another casualty in the non existent war we aren't fighting because it may damage our relations with Muslims? And what about them, the Muslim countries Obama tiptoes so deflty around? Where are the leaders from the "religion of peace"? If someone were beheading innocent people in the name of my religion (if I had one), I would come out against them in the strongest way possible under the dogma I preached. Why are they silent?
I am disgusted by this President and all of the cowards that represent him and his ideology, disgusted that with all of our supposed might, NONE of it can be brought to bear against these animals, these subhuman mongrels who threaten our homelamd, murder our citizens in cold blood on worldwide television and openly insult our way of life. They are DARING us, double dog daring us, and our "leader" trembles and quakes like a kitten in a thunderstorm, mewling and cowering in the gutter of his own cowardice.
Someone berated me recently for not showing the proper respect for the office of the President; well, I HAVE NO RESPECT for that office while it is being occupied by a man who himself HAS NO RESPECT FOR IT! The Obama presidency will go down in history as the beginning of the end of the America we grew up loving, despite it's flaws and setbacks and we will go down with it as the people who did NOTHING to stop it, in fact openly ENCOURAGED it and rode the debris on the way to the ground. But what, really can we do? Short of a bloody revolution where the winner takes all and citizens fight against citizens, the only recourse we have is to SPEAK OUT, like so many of my friends on both sides are FIANLLY beginning to do, SPEAK OUT and say, "THAT'S IT! You're finished, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, ALL OF YOU are DONE and until you start practicing the bullshit you preach, until you start FOLLOWING the examples set by the Founders when they set this Democratic Republic in motion, NONE of you will ever hold office again"
We have mid term elections coming in November...find out where the debates or town halls are being held and show up and if necessary make them throw you out and arrest you, but MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD! Don't be like Obama and his sycophants, don't be passive aggressive little whining cowards who only want what they're given and who only do want they're told by their so-called leadership, because all they want is your capitulation, all they want is for you to roll over and wait to have your bellies rubbed, like pets. Don't give our American ideals,( GOOD IDEALS, despite what the America haters want to tell you) away to the Obamas of the world. SAVE YOURSELVES and SAVE OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN. Before it's too late.
In my book, Ad Infinitum, reincarnation is a means to an end, a tool used by generations of humanity to pass along knowledge through the commonality of our sentience, which binds all of the higher orders of life. We are all of us made from the same cosmic and multi-universal material and we all resonate with our own unique signature, a bioelectric wavelength as unique as our DNA that literally pulses with life. It is the Eternal Resonance.
Those wavelengths, once accessed, transcend spirituality and connect us through as pure a natural process as could possibly exist. So, the passing on of those signatures through time by the reincarnation of what we, for lack of a better term, call souls, is a natural thing that happens regardless of our intention or beliefs.
It isn't spirituality; it's life.
*Note: I wrote this originally several years ago before Mr. Sharpton's weight loss*
Dear Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson:
For the love of all that’s holy, shut the hell up.
You are not now nor have you ever been relevant, clever, or anything other than race baiting, rabble rousing media whores with no agenda other than your own self aggrandizement and it is time for you both to abscond with your ill gotten gains and retire to some remote island in the Caribbean where there still may be someone who cares about you or wants you around.
We Americans have had enough of you. We’ve tired of putting up with Mr. Sharpton’s supercilious brand of rhetorical flimflamming, bellying up to any dais sturdy enough to support his ponderous bulk and waxing ridiculous to anyone with the lack of understanding to listen.
You are a charlatan, Mr. Sharpton, the punch line to a bad joke told by old, gray haired men at the local barber shop who while away their time complaining about what may have happened to people they’ve never known in a time centuries before they themselves were even born. You inject yourself into the conversation of a nation that no longer finds your shtick amusing or germane to anything other than being an example of what not to say or how not to act. We haven’t forgotten the fraud you perpetrated or the deaths you caused and I say to you, sir, that your time has been long overdue and that you should fade quietly away into the fog of hate and mistrust you yourself have created and never return.
As for you Mr. Jackson, the coattails you rode in on can no longer support you. Dr. King’s legacy is not yours to usurp any longer. You have been exposed. You are not the virtuous paragon you make yourself out to be. You are not the champion for the downtrodden and disenfranchised; you are merely a sad caricature, a political cartoonist’s dream subject, a rhyming dictionary written in crayon with no real purpose other than, like your counterpart Mr. Sharpton, to see your comic visage on a television screen as many times as humanly possible, interjecting yourself where you are neither wanted or invited and relying on the crutch of racial victimization to keep those on whom you impose from telling you to buzz off.
The real stink that emanates from you both is the veneer of piety that you claim, calling yourselves “Reverend”. There is no reverence about either of you; you are not venerable, you inspire no awe, you provide no moral or virtuous example and you only involve yourselves in the affairs of others to further your own celebrity or to increase your own bank accounts.
Many of us fall short of holiness; many of us are imperfect creatures in the eyes of our fellow man, yet unlike such imperfect creatures as yourselves, we do not hold ourselves up to be worshipped and revered as the archetypal leaders of men, hiding our true faces from the light, portraying ourselves rather than being ourselves and deflecting the consequences of our private actions onto others.
We see you, gentlemen, for who you are. We recognize the truth behind the façade you have so meticulously engineered to obfuscate your alter ego maniacal selves. We have bared your faces to the light and we do not like what we see. So again I say to you with all humility, be gone.
And be quick about it.
Let's take this opportunity to reflect on some things...
The tragic suicide of Robin Williams is more than just a sad commentary on how fame and fortune, despite their glittering promise, are not the paths to enlightenment and happiness that so many of us, including myself, aspire to, but Williams' death is also a stark reminder that there are people in this world that, despite their outward, public displays that would suggest differently, are hurting inside in a way only they can understand. What we see we call reality, but most of the time we see what we are meant to see and to look any deeper requires an investment, an investment of time and an investment of the heart, it requires us to drop the veil around our own public facades and risk pain to relieve pain, to extend our shields around another and take the hits for someone who's hurting and vulnerable until they can shield themselves. But there's another side to this that I think is very important that I haven't seen anyone posit on and that is the people that Robin Williams left behind. Not us, his fans, who only knew the funny man in the alien suit, but his wife, his children and his close friends.
They are now left with so many unanswerable questions, so many doubts about their own roles in his death, about whether or not they should have seen this coming and if they could have done anything to prevent it. Suicide is a very selfish act. It's cruel and sudden and it ultimately means that, however strong he might have appeared, that in the end he took the way out that solved nothing, that created no hope and that did the most damage to the ones he loved. I loved watching Robin Williams perform, creating unforgettable characters and moving us to laugh and cry and think and feel, but that is all lost now, in the absolute darkness of doubt and pain that only suicide brings with it. His gifts are lost, now, squandered and thrown away and in their wake is only grief and pain. How truly sad that his legacy of joy should be tarnished forever by his last, great act of desperation.
It goes without saying that if you know someone who needs a guiding hand through a stormy period in their lives, please help them, but it also needs to be pointed out that if you, yourself, feel the walls falling around you, if the only way through the void for you is to surrender to your demons and take the route Mr. Williams and so many others have taken when the air runs out in their lives (including people close to me), please, for the sake of those you will leave in the lurch struggling to come to grips with their own failure to save you, talk to someone, ANYONE, before you give up.
Be brave. Before it's too late.
As a newly published author, I am learning that self promotion is not only necessary, it's mandantory if you're serious about getting your work noticed. I have scoured (and still scour) the internet and Facebook and Twitter and every other social media outlet for potential new readers, because as good as I believe my work to be, it means nothing if I cannot make YOU believe it, too. The obvious way is to get the book in your hands (or your Kindle), so it confuses me when I use Facebook or Goodreads to promote my book and have certain groups tell me they don't allow author self promotion.
How can new readers hear my voice if the very venues designed to share and exchange and discuss books is being, in essence, censored to exclude new work from new authors? I can understand the aversion to spamming; but how can a promotion for a book be considered spamming in a group specifically created for readers? I'd understand better were I attempting to steer your groups members to a website for male enhancement treatments of the latest gadget from Ronco, but a novel being suggested by its author in a group for people who like to read doesn't sound like spamming to me, it sounds like smart marketing...still, it's your group...just seems like you're missing out on an exciting opportunity to expand your reading horizons...oh, and by the way:
Is Remote Viewing real? In #AdInfinitum, Aaron and Indira use a remote viewer to track down The Other...what do you think? Is it possible to use the power of your mind to "see" things that may happen?
#AdInfinitum deals with a lot of different subjects; remote viewing, dream interpretation, astral projection, possession...but the main theme is time travel - by means of reincarnation! The passing along of wisdom and knowledge and the awakening of age old spirit beings within ourselves, in effect having what makes you YOU, your soul, live over and over again, passed along from one vessel to the next, being reborn repeatedly, forever.
So, if you could, would you want to be a #Sojourner through time? And what would you do with your gifts?
In the Slipstream, the rules of reality are poles apart from what we in the waking world regard as real. There, what we call dreams are the fabric from which actuality is woven. There, that fabric can be manipulated, molded and morphed into whatever our subconscious minds can dredge forth from our collective memories, to be showcased and produced as reality, and as easily dismissed and forgotten when we awaken. The dreams we remember, even in bits and fragments, are analyzed and deciphered, broken down into manageable vignettes that psychologists and therapists sell back to us piecemeal as catharsis.
For the enlightened, however, through the Slipstream, dreams are more than mere illusory sideshows for our subconscious edification. Here, dreams are communications wavelengths, inroads into one’s mind, where the practitioners of those skills necessary to bridge the gap between subconscious and conscious thought can commune and where mere suggestion can be manifested into practical application. It is here that we find the Other.
Having abandoned its pursuit of the spirit stuff of what was once Walter Cavanaugh in the Void as it rejoined the Source, the Other cast about until it found a portal into the Slipstream and entered the universe of dreams, seeking the distinguishing beacon of one of its own. It moved at near-light speeds through the myriad dimensions of subconscious thought, searching for that telltale that marked the Wayward, a black radiance of evil light vibrating like the rattle of some unearthly viper. It did not have to search for long.
Ahead of it, the Other sensed a violent upheaval of psychic power, an ebon stain against the luminous and multihued tapestry of the dream world, and homed in on it. With a final burst of speed, it entered the dream of its acolyte.
Here, light was anathema. Here, in the well of subconscious evil which was the dream of a Wayfarer, all was dark confusion, composed of disjointed images of rage and spite suspended within a murky haze rank with evil portent. The dreamer herself had not yet crossed the boundary between deep sleep and REM sleep, had not reached the stage where her subconscious mind could awaken in the Slipstream and receive her master. The Other, whispering to her astral being, provided the final push.
Instantly, the panorama changed. What had been disjointed now coalesced as she drew the surrounding darkness about her in a shadowy shroud around her spirit self. Her almond eyes, half lidded, glowed eerily in the gloomy atmosphere, bathing her face a wan green. Recognizing with whom she had audience, she spoke.
“Master, what is thy bidding?”
“I have need of you, acolyte. I seek a portal through which I may return to your sphere. Seek and find a suitable vessel for me to inhabit. Do not disturb or molest it; it must be intact for the transference. When you have done this, bring it here.”
The acolyte bowed her head.
“I live only to serve, master.”
As the Other left her and exited the Slipstream, Okino Musashi came awake with a start and sat up in her bed, flushed with the prospect of serving the Other and heralding its return to the realm of Earth. An honor, she thought, congratulating herself. Now she could be recognized at last as foremost amongst her fellow Wayfarers, a distinction she felt was long overdue. She had slaughtered dozens in the name of the Other, every four years on the 29th of February, the day of the Awakening, quite an accomplishment for a young woman of only thirty. She had killed her first, a young alter-boy of eleven she met at church, when she was seven years old and to her overwhelming joy, she found she liked it. Since then, she had perfected the art of slaying. Now she could use her particular expertise to bring about the final revolution and claim her place next to her master. Prime Acolyte. Her nerves tingled at the prospect.
Though there was still two hours before her alarm clock would sound, she hurriedly showered and dressed. While she ate her breakfast of warm oatmeal and goat’s milk, she gathered her thoughts and made plans for the hunt.
I announced earlier this month that beginning in July I would begin a campaign that would donate a percentage of my sales for #AdInfinitum to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation...well, it appears that giving money away is more difficult than I thought! I am still trying to get the particulars in order so that when a reader buys the book, they know without a doubt that their donation was indeed made. I don't feel that something this important should be left to some faceless third or fourth party to facilitate. For my own peace of mind I want to make sure your money goes where you intend it. SO...this will happen, I promise, but not until I'm sure it's being done correctly and once it begins, I plan on continuing it for as long as I am able to write and sell books and not just for the JDF, but various charitable organizations (so long as they have a proven track record and can show that the money they take in goes where it was intended.) In the meantime, keep reading!
I want to set the world on fire
Just to watch it burn
I want to reduce it all to ash
Maybe then you’ll learn
I want to perish in the flames
I want to vaporize
I want to disappear from sight
Then like a phoenix rise
From the ashes
Look into the crystal ball
And see what you have wrought
Drown in all the blood you’ve spilt
In the wars that you have fought
There is no way to make amends
The life you’ve known is done
You’ve lost all that you had to lose
And Hell is what you’ve won
And down it crashes