Friday, November 10, 2006
George W. Bush reprised his role of the inarticulate and yet unbending leader of the Republican Party, divorced from current reality and unable to seemingly grasp the sea change he both orchestrated and yet got snared in. Caught scriptless by the cameras and a cadre of national news reporters who were unabashed in their efforts to eke out admissions of missteps or signs of any newfound flexibility in the President's attitude toward forging new paths, Bush squirmed and bristled and ultimately got caught in a political prevarication. And immediately got called on it. But that wasn't news to anyone who has had their ear to the ground over the last six years.
A few hours later, in the Oval Office, Bush was relentless in his praise of the man and mentor he had been forced to cut loose, lavishing praise on Donald H. Rumsfeld that would humble and embarass any mere mortal. It was painfully clear that despite the resounding roar of disapproval from the American people Bush has just endured 24 hours earlier, his faith in his Secretary of Defense was not shaken. It was also obvious that this resignation was borne more of political expediency than of any "coming to Jesus" over the misguided course of American activity in Iraq and the Middle East.
Enter Rummy, stage left. Where Bush had been cranky and defensive in his tone and tenor, Rumsfeld took the lecturn with a Quixotic look in his eye. Once again, as has been his mein since he wrestled control of foreign and defense policy first from Colin Powell and then Condi Rice, Rumsfeld tried to explain to the pathetically misguided media and ignorant American populace that we just weren't smart enough to grasp the complexities of this war.
"The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in the stars, it is in ourselves!" We just didn't GET IT!
And that's a big "we" that, to Rumsfeld's mind, includes not just the irresponsible media who dogged him or the American people who lost faith in him, that "we" also fatally included the generals charged with carrying out his ill-conceived directives and who withered under his rigid inability to take their counsel, borne of battlefield reality, to heart.
To the last moment of his time upon the stage, Rumsfeld was unbowed and unburdened of the truth. And as his champion looked on in pained frustration, enter Robert M. Gates, 41's CIA director, to take the helm and pick up the pieces.
While I have not one ounce of faith in any administration headed by George W. Bush, I hold out a glimmer of hope that a former CIA Director will have the moral courage to convince Bush Junior FINALLY of this simple truth: that the key to keeping us safe from terrorist activity on American soil is and has always been a combination of well articulated diplomacy bolstered by a strong and relentless Central Intelligence Agency capable of sniffing out, intercepting and averting the next plane (or dirty bomb) before it gets here.
Hubris has no place in American domestic or foreign policy. If George W. Bush has learned anything in the last week, I hope he realizes now that spreading democracy across the Middle East is not and never was his job. Keeping us safe is. And he can do that best by keeping his mouth shut and letting his experts do the talking.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Pelosi Set to Take House Leadership
You can tell you are having a bad day when all your friends are mad at you, your enemies have just moved into BOTH of your upstairs bedrooms, and the media just wants to remind you of gross inconsistencies between what you insisted last week was best for America versus what you have decided we need this week.
When reminded of his change of direction and seeming prevarication, George exclaimed, "What, do you think I'm nuts??"
Don't get me started.
Why does the word 'bipartisan' sound like an ugly lie when it falls begrudgingly from his lips? And why can't I can't shake the nagging suspicion that the actions today coming out of the White House amounted to nothing more than Rove convincing the President that the gesture of ousting the architect of our failed foreign policy would buy Mr. Bush time to regain his composure in the face of a resounding indictment of STAY THE COURSE.
As usual, the press conference was almost like watching the Daily Show... he contradicted himself, rambled and mumbled, sneered and smirked and admitted he didn't see this tsunami of citizen outrage coming.
And I believe that statement.
Our Commander and Thief has been clueless and out of touch with what Americans are thinking since at least mid to late 2003. Whether that is because Cheney, Rove and Rummy have been Master Puppeteers since Bush was first selected, or because he simply refuses to consider or reexamine his options and stances once he has handed in his homework, who knows?
What is clear today, however, is that the American people have emphatically exercised their Constitutional right to CHANGE THE COURSE when selected leaders repeatedly turn a deaf ear to their concerns.
To everyone who felt so moved to make their voice heard yesterday, Welcome home!
Friday, September 15, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
An excerpt from the President's press conference in the Rose Garden today...
Bush: Now, the court said that you've got to live under Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. And the standards are so vague that our professionals won't be able to carry forward the program, because they don't want to be tried as war criminals. They don't want to break the law.
These professionals are decent, honorable citizens who are on the front line of protecting the American people. And they expect our government to give them clarity about what is right and what is wrong in the law. And that's what we have asked to do.
And we believe a good way to go is to use the amendment that we worked with John McCain on, called the Detainee Treatment Act, as the basis for clarity for people we would ask to question the enemy.
In other words, it is a way to bring U.S. law into play. It provides more clarity for our professionals. And that's what these people expect. These are decent citizens who don't want to break the law. Now, this idea that somehow, you know, we've got to live under international treaties, you know -- and that's fine; we do.
But oftentimes the United States government passes law to clarify obligations under international treaty.
And what I'm concerned about is if we don't do that, that it's very conceivable our professionals could be held to account based upon court decisions in other countries. And I don't believe Americans want that.
I believe Americans want us to protect the country, to have clear standards for our law enforcement, intelligence officers, and give them the tools necessary to protect us within the law.
It's an important debate. It really is. It's a debate that really is going to define whether or not we can protect ourselves. I will tell you this -- and I've spent a lot of time on this issue, as you can imagine. And I've talked to professionals, people I count on for advice. These are the people who are going to represent those on the front line protecting this country. They're not going forward with the program. They're professionals -- will not step up unless there's clarity in the law.
Now I wasn't at that press conference, but I don't think there's any doubt about the professionals Bush is trying so hard to protect...
Professional thugs who want free reign to torture detainees in secret prisons without due process.
Professional bullies who have no problem giving orders to subordinates on how to best "extract vital information" from prisoners of war...
Professional liars who will be called upon to defend in court the actions of the aforementioned professionals if and when they are accused of war crimes.
Because in reality, the Bush professionals have shown they have a robust appettite for breaking the law and flaunting the internationally accepted tenets of the Geneva Convention.... but God forbid they should be held accountable or tried and punished for their actions.
If Congress buckles and passes the (un)law Bush has drafted that gives Rummy and the CIA free reign over how detainees are interrogated, Congress is signing the death warrants of every American citizen or soldier who is captured on foreign soil tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows thereafter.
And not surprisingly, Bush, with the help of his army of professionals, has once again employed the rhetoric of fear and the spectre of September 11, 2001 to bully Congress and the American people, and suborn the American justice system, to push us closer to Armaggedon.
God help us.
PEACE -- HeartSleeve
Monday, August 28, 2006
MY KARMA RAN OVER MY DOGMA
It is no secret that the Catholic Church (MY church, or so I thought) frowns upon homosexuality, stem cell research, same sex marriage, freedom of choice and any number of other issues that I either espouse, practice or agree with. But up until Sunday, I always felt welcome at Sunday Mass.
Apparently, there is a new associate pastor at St. Ann's in Bethany, a young man who has decided to lead with his chin when he gives his sermons. To paraphrase his intro to this Sunday's sermon, he decided he "wasn't going to go near the gospel passage that entreated wives to obey and be subordinate to their husbands" -- "not with a 10-foot pole." That got a chuckle from the parishioners. Nope. He decided instead to lash out against the inherent immorality of gays, stem cell research and same sex marriage. And he cautioned that anyone who supported any of those activities was not welcomed in the Catholic Church. Never before have I felt so insulted, offended and enraged, all in the space of less than 60 seconds. "Welcome to Catholicism."
I guess, given his audience of mostly middle aged, white married couples, he figured it would be safer to single out those of us who belong to the fringe element. It rather reminded me of Senator George Allen's recent oafish remarks to a young opposition researcher of Indian descent who invaded Allen's campaign event in rural south western Virginia: "Welcome to America, Maccaca."
What irks me most today, 36 hours later, is that I have chosen to remain a catholic, despite the overwhelming exhortations of friends, because my Bowie pastor assured me a year ago when I returned to Mass after a 30-year absence, that I shouldn't let the fact that I am gay stand between me and my God. Seems the Bethany priest didn't get that memo, because he certainly doesn't operate with the same degree of tolerance or compassion I found in Maryland. I feel like a gauntlet has been thrown down, and I must summon up the courage to address it, spiritually and then literally, to the St. Ann's pastor.
TO BOAT OR NOT TO BOAT,
THAT IS THE QUESTION...
Having faced that slap of cold reality on Sunday, I decided to come to grips with another issue I have been putting off. In what will seem like the mother of all non-sequiturs, I turned my attention to my boat. Since early May of this year, it has been sitting idle in the slip I purchased for it last Spring... a $25,000 investment moored to a $30,000 hunk of floating real estate.
I intended to name my boat "Baramula East" in homage to a long-ago Mendocino vacation cottage that was sublimely idyllic. In hindsight, I should have cut to the chase and named it "Bucklew's Folly," because it represents the most outrageous example of impulse buying I have committed in all my 56 years. It also represents a time in my life when luxury boat-buying was only one of the several questionable decisions I made.
So this morning I made the decision to cut my losses -- at least my material losses -- and put the boat (if not the slip) up for sail.. er, sale. What is true is that my life has careened in many different directions since May 2002, and the solitary confines of boating solo no longer holds the charm it once held. And I never guessed it would be so difficult replacing my "First Mate."
NEW CHALLENGES (or) "When God closes a door, He opens a window."
Exit boating, enter GOLF. When I embrace a new interest, whether it is a new hobby or a new skill, I throw myself into it 300 percent. It was true 20 years ago when I got interested in wine, it was true 10 years ago when digital photography first delighted and amazed me, it was true five years ago when boating consumed me, and it is true today, as I embark on a new passion, thirsty to learn all that is required to be respectable in playing a game of golf.
Perspective is everything, and for me, at this stage and age in my life, finding something that inflames my passion for learning a new skill, especially one that relies as heavily on physical prowess as it does mental focus, is absolutely a GODSEND. It is juicy and delicious and humbling and enthralling and oh so beautiful in the morning when the fog has just lifted and the dew is still heavy on the ground. And it is practiced in graceful, bucolic surroundings offering the most magnificent vistas. Almost like an outdoor cathedral.
I am into my second year in retirement, and this new obsession couldn't have arrived at a more opportune time in my life. I have the time, the resources and the incentive, not to mention a gazillion opportunities, to study the rudiments of the game, take practical instruction, practice what I learn and put it all together on any number of fine local golf courses.
And unlike boating, where it was next to impossible to meld schedules with anyone who might join me on the high seas, golf has expanded my social circle and given me an open door to a pasttime that I can enjoy well into my dottage. It is something I can enjoy in solitude, on the driving or practice ranges, and it is a team sport that welcomes participants at all skill levels. What's not to love about that! And almost every woman I know plays golf!!!!!!
Surely the most gratifying aspect thus far for me is that with a modicum of weekly golf clinics and due diligence on the driving/practice range, I have gotten good enough in a mere six weeks to post a respectable round of 80 on the scoreboard after 18 holes at a local course. The magic of golf is that no matter how many humbling stinkers I hit, there are those pocketful of lucky shots that just light my hair on fire when I hear that coveted "ping" of club face squarely meeting the ball.
Maybe it is just summertime or a new era, but life has gotten more social lately and my community of friends is slowly but surely widening. In the past six or seven months, through the wonders of online social networks, chance meetings, new hobbies or full moons, I've met many new friends and enjoyed a more robust social life than I did my first summer here as a Delawarean. And what is true, is that no matter how much I enjoy my "life of the mind" perched here at the computer or bent over an art or photo project, nothing takes the place of personal interaction: making someone smile, sharing a meal, engaged in friendly competition or sharing a heart to heart talk.
ISN'T IT MORONIC (Sad but true headlines)
* Tom Cruise and Paramount parting ways... YAWN...
* John Mark Karr -- Your 15 minutes is over...
* Bush celebrates Katrina anniversary... PUHLEEESE!
* "Morning After Pill" finally given the green light -- eight years after the launch of Viagra...Enough for tonight...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
(Go on and take the bait, Mare!)
WHO ELSE MIGHT I HAVE BEEN?
I'm tempted to go totally "Walter Mitty" here, skydiving like the Red Baron and pirouetting like Ballanchine through alter-ego lives full of derring-do and romance, but the truth is, I'm mostly smitten with the me that is...
Who I am is mostly a result of the choices I've made in my life, and less so the result of external forces, at least, that's the way I see it.
My parents assumed I would graduate from public high school and GET A J*O*B. But I've never been one to jump into anything without a little research, and I didn't expect anyone would hire an 18 year old high school graduate to play sandlot baseball, write melodramatic poetry to the light of the moon or crack jokes, and those were the main skill sets I had acquired at 18.
So college beckoned despite my father's insistence that he wouldn't pony up the tuition so I should just GET A J*O*B!!!
I knew how to craft a sentence or two back then, so I wrote an essay, masquerading as a senatorial scholarship application, outlining my suitability for higher education and my total lack of financial resources. A brash young state senator from Maryland, who is now the House Democratic Whip in the US House of Representatives, liked what he read and decided to take a $250 a semester chance on me to attend Frostburg State College.
So that choice, to go to college, detoured me from what might have been a more traditional (back then) path of high school, job, marriage, kids, divorce.
When a teaching job didn't materialize upon graduation from college, I GOT A J*O*B working for an international freight forwarding company in DC for the summer, thanks to a high school friend who was working there full time. On a lark, having shipped tons of household goods all across the planet, I applied for a Peace Corps teaching job in Western Samoa, never for a minute thinking they would seriously consider me.
Must have been another craftily worded essay, because a month or so later, a large manila envelope arrived from the Department of State/Peace Corps, inviting me to an orientation in Chicago that November, where they would interview me and psychoanalyze me and grill me and test me within an inch of my 23 year old life, to see if I was suitable Peace Corps material.
So off I went, for two years in James Michener's South Pacific, looking for remnants of Margaret Meade and finding instead a descendant of Bloody Mary... it wasn't Bali Hi by any means, but neither was it Capitol Heights, Maryland, the small town from which I hailed.
I had never seen poverty and wealth juxtaposed so closely as I did during my two years in the Peace Corps. Funny thing was, the Samoans didn't consider themselves poor or impoverished, and were in fact some of the most generous and genuinely hospitable folks I've come across, before or since. I learned more about myself than I taught over the course of those two years:
- Sexuality is a fluid and often confusing endeavor.
- Teaching kids is fun - hassling with school administrators is hell.
- Abundance and scarcity are in the eyes of the beholder.
- Grading papers for the rest of my life was not for me.
A lucky internship with the Department of the Army resulted in the government paying for my Master's degree in Communications, and I parlayed that degree and those wonderfully useful skills and abilities into a lifetime of writing for various government transportation agencies. In the bargain, my employers sent me hither and yon around the globe, interviewing soldiers, photographing cargo ships being loaded with ammunition for mock military battles in Europe, and generally chronicaling the lives of ordinary folks doing often extraordinary feats.
Now that I am retired, once again I have the opportunity and the means, within reason, to be someone other than who I am... but the fact is, whether I'm a cat burglar or a science fiction writer, I'd still be who and what I am:
56. Female. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Niece. Friend. Blessed.
Monday, April 17, 2006
For the three people on the planet who haven't heard, Scientologists believe that the birthing room should be SILENT... not merely devoid of the idle chatter from family members getting it all down on video-tape, or husbandly exhortations to breathe, or the errant epithets of mass destruction being hurled by the new Mother who decided against an epidural, but also of most of the instructions of the doctors and nurses in attendance.
Never having given birth, I am grossly ignorant as to the efficacy of this decision, but I think it has definite possibilities in other medical scenarios.
For instance, I am seriously considering becoming a Scientologist in time for my next visit to the dentist! I've never met a dental hygienist who didn't insist on engaging me in a spirited Q&A while having her hands in my mouth up to her elbow, as I am doing my best not to choke on the plaque she is chipping off my teeth or sucking the detritus out of my mouth with her trusty waterpic... invoking silence in that situation definitely has its merits!
And I am so "there" with Tom and Katie the next time I am flat on my back looking at my gynecologist thru the stirrups craddling my knees, while she chats amiably about the little "pinch" I might feel as she aims the speculum toward my throat! Silencio!
I can't wait to announce my conversion to Scientology when I schedule my next mammogram! Gone will be the useless instruction to "hold my breath" for 30 seconds while my left or right breast is being pancaked in a steel vise, automatically inhibiting the ability to breathe, much less the desire to do so!
I can see other venues where being a Scientologist and insisting on SILENCE would come in handy:
- movie theaters (no more side conversations, especially the ones that give away the plot!)
- subway cars (ah, reading or snoozing without the cacophony of idle chatter, cell phone conversations or Bubba's music choice)
- elevators (let's deep-six MUZAK's rendition of Mantiovanni's Greatest Hits!)
Yes, Tom and Katie may be on to something!
Monday, March 13, 2006
Only time will tell if this heading should have been, "be careful what you ask for," but I pondered part-time employment several times over the last two or three weeks, and on my first attempt, God slapped a green Giant polo on me and said, "grab your apron and get to it!"
Eventually, after my OJT is completed in about a week or two, I'll be recruited to get the not-yet-open-for-business Giant ready for its first customers -- it is opening on April 20 less than a mile from my house, and that lack of distance was what drew me to Giant as opposed to higher paying jobs farther away in Rehoboth. I've always been tantalized by the prospect of working 5 minutes from home, and -- VOILA! -- here we go!
I am hoping this new "prototype" Giant will afford me the option of suggesting wine pairings along with the gourmet meats, cheeses, breads and olives that will be our mainstay. That would get me a step closer to a dream job that involves the marriage of food and wine in any capacity. And I am amazed at how quickly this entire experience went from 'thought in my head' to 'reality.'
So what this experience has once again taught me is this: God is still listening!
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Spring cannot get here fast enough.
I am smoking too many cigarettes (one is too many).
I am spending too much unproductive time sitting in this seat, staring at this screen and finding frivolous time wasters to justify my current existence.
I am outspending my monthly retirement check by about a grand or more a month.
I am sick and tired of beautiful blue sky days that invite me outdoors, but are still too damn windy and cold to spend more than a few minutes outside.
I am puzzled and frustrated by my inability to hold more than a simple thought in my head for more than a nanosecond, which makes it impossible to pen anything of substance.
I want to go home. (Newsflash: I AM HOME).