Monday, September 17, 2018

I am my own grandpa






In the year that I was born, the singing duo of Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe released a song titled, “I am my own grandpa”. A later version was recorded by Ray Stevens (one of many people, including Guy Lombardo, who also released versions), which you can listen to at the link below:


If you follow the diagram in the video, you can see that it IS possible for a man to be his own grandpa, even though it is highly unlikely.

Obviously, I am NOT my own grandpa, but (as of last week) I AM someone’s grandpa, due to the arrival of a little boy named Alexander, who was born on the morning of September 13.

My wife and I had long resigned ourselves to the fact that the only grandchild we would ever have was our daughter’s dog, Cody, who officially was our grand dog.




However, nature sometimes has a way of throwing us a curve, so the Brennan surname will live on for a lot more years.

Being a parent, of course, has its rewards, as well as its challenges, but being a grandparent is even better because you don’t have to worry about the 3 a.m. feedings and the dirty diapers.

When Brian was born in 1976, he had a touch of jaundice, so the hospital kept him and his mother in the hospital for about a week, several days longer than the normal stay in the early 1970’s.

Brian and Kim had decided that the birth of their child would be as natural as possible, so they made plans to take delivery at a birthing center in Tucson. On the morning of September 13, they DID make it to the birthing center, but little Alexander got impatient, and Kim gave birth before she had aa chance to get into “the birthing tub”. Kim was in labor a total of 2 hours, and all three of them were able to go home a mere 4 hours later. That’s not quite a “drive through” delivery, but it is pretty darn close.

So far, our grandbaby seems to be a very relaxed individual, as evidenced by the picture show below:





Welcome to the family, Alexander !








Friday, September 7, 2018

The mosque at Ground Zero - the update






Prior to the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11, there were two mosques located close to the site that would eventually be named the World Trade Center. The New York Times profiled two mosques that have been in existence for years not far from ground zero. Masjid Manhattan, founded in 1970, is four blocks away from the World Trade Center site, on Warren Street, and Masjid al-Farah, which used to be on Mercer Street, is 12 blocks away on West Broadway. Prayer services have actually been held at the 45 Park Place location since the latter part of 2009. According to the Park51 website, one of the main reasons for including a mosque in the new center is that the previously existing ones aren’t large enough. These mosques, of course, were in addition to the prayer rooms that were in each of the towers when they were completed in 1970.

 Park51 (originally named Cordoba House) is a development that was originally envisioned as a 13-story Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan. The developers hoped to promote an interfaith dialogue within the greater community. Due to its proposed location two blocks from the World Trade Center site, it was widely and controversially referred to as the "Ground Zero mosque" . 

That title, obvious, attracted a lot of negative publicity, which you can read about at the link below:






The project would replace an existing 1850s building of Italianate style that was damaged in the September 11 attacks. The original design was by Michel Abboud, principal of SOMA Architects, who wrestled for months with the challenge of making the building fit naturally into its lower Manhattan surroundings: on the one hand, it should have a contemporary design, and, at the same time, it should look Islamic. His design included a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, and memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks. It also included a prayer space for the Muslim community, which would accommodate 1,000–2,000 people.

In late September 2011, a temporary 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) Islamic center opened in renovated space at the Park51 location. In summer 2014, it was announced that there would instead be a 3-story museum with a prayer space, as well as condos, at 49-51 Park Place. The plans were changed again in September 2015, when the owner announced a 667-foot (203 m), 70-story luxury condominium building at the site. In May 2016, financing was secured for a 43-story condominium building with room for an Islamic cultural museum.








One of the primary opponents to the Park 51 development was a woman named Pam Geller, who felt victorious when plans for the original site were changed. Her column, on the less than reputable site called Breitbart, is shown below:


Pamela Geller (born 1957/1958) is an American political activist and commentator. She is known for her anti-Islamic writings, opposition to the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near the former site of the World Trade Center, and sponsorship of the "Draw the Prophet" cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. She describes her blogging and campaigns in the United States are against what she terms "creeping Sharia" in the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center have described Geller as "Islamophobic".



Pamela Geller has been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists, including most notably a plot inspired by an ISIS supporter as retaliation for her "Draw the Prophet" cartoon contest. She is currently the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) which she co-founded with Robert Spencer. The American Freedom Defense Initiative (also known as Stop Islamization of America) has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The British government barred Geller's entry into the UK in 2013 saying her presence would "not be conducive to the public good."[ She and Spencer co-authored the book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America in 2010. Multiple media outlets have called her "far right", while others, such as the BBC, contrast her right-wing support for small government with her culturally liberal positions on abortion and same sex marriage.



Not surprisingly, Donald Trump also tried to take credit for the change of plans at the Islamic Center at Park 51. An article titled, “How Donald Trump Stopped the Building of a Mosque at Ground Zero” turned up on a website titled “stumpinfortrump.com”. When I tried to open it up, tough, the computer I was on said that it was blocked due to the strong possibility that it contained a virus. Again, I am not surprised.

One of the prayer rooms in the World Trade Center was in a stairwell just outside the restaurant known as Windows On The World. To my knowledge, there is no restaurant planned for the new Liberty Center, but there are PLENTY of dining options close by. For a trip down memory lane, though, here’s a magical view from a place that no longer exists:




Although Pam Geller will likely be pleased that there will be no mosque at Ground Zero, the rest of us can rejoice in the fact that the Muslim community is finally becoming an accepted group in American society.



Allah be praised.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Was Trump chosen by God?






There are a surprising number of people who believe that Trump was chosen by God to lead our country. To me, that makes no sense at all, but there is actually a historical explanation why people who consider themselves very religious are ardent supporters of Trump.

Trump’s approval rating varies widely by religions groups. The religious group that supports him the most are the Mormons, who STILL give him a 61% approval rating, the only group that gives him higher than a 50% approval rating. For obvious reasons, his lowest approval rating (18%) is with Muslims.


During the 2016 Presidential election, Trump received 80% of the vote from people who considered themselves to be evangelical Christians, and they STILL support him today in spite of the many controversies surrounding his administration. Their support is NOT driven by economic issues, but is due to the fact that evangelicals are far more conservative on a wide variety of issues than any other group.






To give you a better perspective on the reasons for the evangelical support of Trump, you need to go back to the 6th century B.C., when a man named Cyrus, a historical Persian king, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance.


While Cyrus is not Jewish and does not worship the God of Israel, he is nevertheless portrayed in Isaiah as an instrument of God — an unwitting conduit through which God effects his divine plan for history. Cyrus is, therefore, the archetype of the unlikely “vessel”: someone God has chosen for an important historical purpose, despite not looking like — or having the religious character of — an obvious man of God.

For believers who subscribe to this account, Cyrus is a perfect historical antecedent to explain Trump’s presidency: a nonbeliever who nevertheless served as a vessel for divine interest.

For these leaders, the biblical account of Cyrus allows them to develop a “vessel theology” around Donald Trump, one that allows them to reconcile his personal history of womanizing and alleged sexual assault with what they see as his divinely ordained purpose to restore a Christian America.

Among a certain subset of evangelicals, even innocuous details seem to be evidence of prophecy. The most famous biblical verse about Cyrus as God’s “anointed” is found in Isaiah 45 — and Trump is the 45th president. A spokesman for the Christian Broadcasting Network  made this connection explicit, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that God spoke to him directly to tell him, "Isaiah 45 will be the 45th president ... Isaiah 45 is Cyrus.”

The link below goes into MUCH more detail about the connection between Cyrus and Trump, but the paragraphs above give you a reasonably good summary of the article.


One of the strengths of our country is that freedom of religion is embedded in the 1st amendment of our Constitution. As a result, we are free to worship (or not worship) as we see fit. Technically, it is actually unconstitutional to criticize someone for their religion, a fact that is ignored altogether by our fellow citizens who criticize Jews and Muslims.

I am absolutely opposed to the beliefs of the evangelical Christians, but I support their right to hold their beliefs, in spite of the fact that those beliefs helped to elect a man who is totally unqualified to be the president of the United States. The good news, though, is that that error will be corrected some time prior to the 2020 election, when one (or more) factors forcibly remove Donald Trump from office. You may under the impression that that's wishful thinking, but the most recent ABC poll found that Trump's DISAPPROVAL rating just hit a high point of 60%, and a clear majority support Robert Mueller's investigation:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-60-percent-disapprove-of-trump-while-clear-majorities-back-mueller-and-sessions/2018/08/30/4cd32174-ac7c-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.1b49ece3a2bb

 When that change finally comes to pass, it will be time to, once again, sign Leonard Cohen’s best known song.  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hillary Clinton, our 46th president




William G. Stinson (born circa 1945) is a former Democratic member of the Pennsylvania State Senate. He was elected to represent the 2nd senatorial district in the Pennsylvania Senate in a 1993 special election.
However, Federal District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer declared him the loser of that election after finding that Stinson had engaged in election fraud. and ordered Stinson's Republican opponent, Bruce S. Marks, be seated in his stead. The latter took office on April 28, 1994.
The fraud was conducted using absentee ballots, often in the names of deceased people. The decision was notable because it shifted control of the state Senate from the Democratic party to the Republican party, the first time such an event had occurred at the order of a federal judge.
By now, you are well of the fact that history often repeats itself, so allow me to bring the story shown above into the modern era.

On August 21, 2018, Michael Cohen (Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer) pleaded guilty to 8 felony charges in a Manhattan court. At almost exactly the same time in a Virginia court, Paul Manafort (Trump’s campaign manager) also pleaded guilty to 8 felony charges. In addition to pleading guilty to the felony charges, Cohen also admitted to the court that Trump had instructed him to make hush money payments to both Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford/Stormy Daniels so that the affairs would not affect his results in the 2015 Presidential election, which would be a violation of campaign finance laws:


In addition to Cohen and Manafort, three additional associates of the president (Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos) have either pleaded guilty or been convicted of crimes since Trump took office:


In addition to the legal problems of the five individuals listed above, the fact that White House Counsel, Don McGahn, has been cooperating extensively with Robert Mueller’s legal team will mean that the 45th president will be under even more pressure than he was before, a fact that was brilliantly illustrated by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson on the morning of August 22:







Ominously, the cartoon has been removed from the electronic pictures on the Arizona Republic, which means that the paper undoubtedly received a LOT o flack for printing it.

Rudy Guiliani, of course, is making Trump’s position even shakier:






Despite yesterday’s stories about Cohen and Manafort, Robert Mueller’s investigation is far from over. In June, Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians for their role in hacking the DNC website. In July, it was revealed that the National Rifle Association has deep ties to accused Russian spy Maria Butina. (since the NRA contributed $30 million to Trump’s campaign, the legal term for the situation they are in is called “deep doodoo”), but things are going to get REALLY UGLY from this point forward:

On June 9, 2016, a meeting was held in Trump Tower in New York City between three senior members of the Donald Trump presidential campaign – Donald Trump Jr.Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort – and at least five other people, including Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The meeting was arranged by publicist and long-time Trump acquantiance, Rob Goldstone on behalf of his client, singer-songwriter Emin Agalarov. It was disclosed to U.S. government officials when Kushner filed a revised version of his security clearance form. Although the initial excuse for the meeting was to discuss the adoption of Russian children, the true purpose of the meeting was to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russians:


According to 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, the Russian government definitely interfered in our 2016 presidential election. Although the Obama administration became aware of the Russian involvement prior to the election, and disclosed it to members of Congress, Mitch McConnell suppressed evidence of the collusion so that it would not effect the election results, and act that would likely be considered obstruction of justice, and would force McConnell out of office.

To get a better idea of what could happen next, we need to go back in time, to the year 1789, when the Electoral College was established by the Founding Fathers.  The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.


As Alexander Hamilton wrote in “The Federalist Papers,” the Constitution is designed to ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” The point of the Electoral College is to preserve “the sense of the people,” while at the same time ensuring that a president is chosen “by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”

Since the establishment of the Electoral College, 5 men have lost the popular vote, but became president due to the actions of the Electoral College. Here they are:

John Quincy Adams, in 1824

Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1876

Benjamin Harrison, in 1888

George W. Bush, in 2000

Donald J. Trump, in 2016

If you analyze the list of our best and worst U.S. presidents, you will notice that the quality of the winners has declined over time. Here are the rankings of the 5 men shown above:

John Adams - #14

Rutherford Hayes - # 29

Benjamin Harrison - # 32

George W. Bush - # 30

Donald Trump - # 44


Let’s back up a minute, and repeat a key sentence about the Electoral College that I mentioned above:

” the Constitution is designed to ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications”

In the fall of 2016, more than 100 of American newspapers published editorials stating that Donald Trump was not qualified to be president. One newspaper, the Arizona Republic, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, the first time in the paper’s 126 year history that it had NOT endorsed a Republican for president:


The opening paragraphs of the paper’s editorial is worth reading again:

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
This year is different.
The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.
The complete article is listed below:
In view of the fact that many of candidate Trump’s rallies were pretty rowdy affairs, it’s not surprising that the editors of the newspaper received death threats because of their comments about Donald Trump. It’s also not surprising that a Trump supporter shot and killed 5 employees of the Capital Gazette in June of 2018:
 During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 65,845,063 votes. Donald Trump received 62,980,160 votes, a margin of nearly 3 million votes less. Due to gerrymandering by Republican legislatures, and active voter suppression practices of the Trump campaign, Donald Trump received 304 electoral votes, and Hillary Clinton received 227.
Wisconsin, along with Ohio and Pennsylvania, proved to be critical in Trump’s victory, since the popular vote margin was razor thin in all three states. The link below goes into more detail on how Hillary Clinton was robbed in Wisconsin:
If you have read Hlllary Clinton’s most recent books, “What Happened?” and “Hard Choices”, you’ll recognize the fact that not only s she one of the most qualified presidential candidates our country has every had, she was also cheated out of a victory that was rightfully hers.
Most, if not all, Trump supporters have likely forgotten the fact that Donald Trump was VERY supportive of Hillary Clinton in both 2008 and 2012.
As ugly surprises continue to result from the Mueller investigation, it is rumored that even leaders in the Republican party would be in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, but it is highly unlikely that impeachments proceedings would start before the 2018 mid-term elections. Even if impeachment eventually came to pass, it would not be the most ideal situation, since Mike Pence would not actually be much of an improvement over Donald Trump. Although Mike Pence called for an end to the Mueller investigation as recently as May, there is strong evidence that he was ALSO involved with the collusion with Russia, which would also make him ineligible to hold office.
Barack Obama has been rated as the 8th best president our country has ever had, but Donald Trump seems to be determined to erase as much of Obama’s legacy as possible while he is still in office. In order to protect Obama’s legacy as much as possible, and to repair our relationship with our allies, there is only one logical way forward,
As I mentioned in my first paragraph, there IS legal precedent for removing a public official from office due to “irregularities” that jeopardize the validity of the election. As a result, the BEST approach for our country is for Congress to remove Donald Trump and his ENTIRE administration as soon as possible, and swear in Hillary Clinton as the 46th president of the United States BEFORE the election of 2020. Since it will take more than 2 years to repair the damage done by the Trump administration, her term of office should run from the time that she is sworn in until January 20, 2025, but she would not be eligible for another term after that.
Her inauguration would make the majority of the country (especially Hillary) very happy.




Monday, August 13, 2018

Let them eat … crow?




Queen Marie Antoinette is often given credit for saying, “let them eat cake”, which exemplified her disdain for the French peasants who could not afford the price of bread. After what I witnessed yesterday, though, it may be time to upgrade the phrase.

My wife and I were a few blocks from home, after running a few errands, when a HUGE black crow landed on the road about 100 feet in front of our car. After a brief pause, it flew off again. Naturally, that triggered an old memory in my head, which I’ll share with you in a couple of minutes.

I discovered a couple of years ago that a large percentage of the people of Africa actually consume rats as their protein source. Believe it or not, you can find numerous recipes on line on how to cook rats.  The link below is one example:


None of those recipes, incidentally, would be considered ratatouille, which is a dish that it made entirely of VEGETABLES. Here is the Disney ratatouille recipe:


Eating crow is a colloquial idiom, used in English-speaking countries that means humiliation by admitting having been proven wrong after taking a strong position. Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proven wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.

Since there ARE recipes on line for cooking rats, I though that there might be recipes on line for cooking crow, and I was right. I found the video below on YouTube yesterday:


If you ignore the fact that the man in this video is eating crow, the finished product actually looks pretty good. Keep in mind, though, that I lived in China for a year, where you will find PLENTY of unusual foods being served on a regular basis.

The SARS epidemic of 2002, incidentally, was caused by people in southern China eating civet cats. I saw bamboo rat, snake, and donkey on menus, and I knowingly consumed a couple of cooked worms, AFTER I had a couple of beers. I also witnessed people at a large shopping center eating squid on a stick, and chicken feet REALLY ARE considered to be a treat by a lot of people.

Would I eat cooked crow? Not a chance, and I’d feel a lot better if we had one of these guys in our neighborhood:









Friday, August 10, 2018

Godzilla







The original Godzilla movie came out in 1954. Even as a little kid, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out that the special effects used in the movie were more than a little amateurish, which did little to diminish the popularity of the movie.




I discovered quite recently that there were sequels to the original movie. If you had to guess HOW many, what would you say? If you said THIRTY-TWO, you would be “right on the money”. The Godzilla series holds the Guinness record for the longest continuing movie series, since production continues on the movies even today, a period of 64 years from the original film. If you are a “car guy” that is almost the same length of time that the Chevy Corvette has been in production. (You may think that the Corvette holds the record for the longest continuously produced car model, but that honor actually goes to the Morgan 4/4, which has been in continuous production since 1936.)


I recently met a “special needs” student at a local high school who would name all 33 movies, the order in which they were released, and the plot of each movie. The last time I saw him (last week) he was wearing a Godzilla t-shirt.


I’m not a psychologist, but the young man would likely qualify as an “idiot savant”. The dictionary definition is “a person who is considered to be mentally handicapped but displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one involving memory”. The best example that I can think of in popular culture is the movie “Rain man”, which Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise starred in in 1988, but the movie “Forrest Gump” also proved that even a young boy with an I.Q. of 75 could still be a success in life. “Rain man” won 4 Oscars (including Best Picture) and “Forrest Gump” won 6. “Rain man” cost $25 million to produce, and grossed $$345.8 million. “Forrest Gump” cost $55 million to produce, and grossed $677.9 million.
When we lived in Wisconsin, we attended a concert that featured a young man named Leslie Lemke. The book about him is titled, “May’s boy”. Blind almost from birth, he faced some definite challenges, and did not start speaking until he was 6 years old. He was not able to stand until he was 12, and 15 before he was able to walk. He started playing the piano when he was 12, but the real miracle happened when he was 14. His foster parents awoke in the middle of the night to Leslie flawlessly playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no. 1, which he had heard on television that night. Leslie was soon playing all styles of music, from ragtime to classical. Leslie can remember and play back a musical piece of any length flawlessly after hearing it once, a remarkable achievement for an individual who has a verbal I.Q. OF 58.




In our own way, all of us are “idiot savants”, at least to a degree. Over time, most of us discover talents that are truly remarkable, even though there are also a number of skills that we completely lack. The key to happiness in life is to focus on the things that we excel in, and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about our inadequacies in other area.


 


 


 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Gulf of Tonkin




On August 4, 1964, the spy ship USS Maddox, operating within North Vietnam’s coastal waters, opened fire with what the New York Times described as a defensive barrage against attacking North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Almost immediately, President Johnson used the alleged attack to galvanize Congress into passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted the president full authority to defend South Vietnam against “Communist aggression”. Johnson now had the green light to introduce conventional U.S. forces into the war on the North.


However, there was one little problem with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. There were no North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the area the day of the alleged attack.

As Johnson later confessed, the Maddox was actually firing at flying fish.


The United States actually had advisors in Vietnam as early as 1954. At the time, the Cold War, fueled in part by Senator Joseph McCarthy, made it imperative to oppose Communism wherever it appeared. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA did whatever they could to fight Communism. The CIA encouraged more than 40 coups during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. In many cases, dictators who the CIA felt were the most opposed to Communism replaced freely elected rulers. Like the crazy people in the movie “Dr. Strangelove”, members of the military (in particular, General Curtis Lemay) were seriously considering pre-emptive nuclear strikes on at least three countries.





JFK was opposed to increased military activity in Vietnam, likely due to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in the spring of 1961. Although he did approve a modest increase in military advisors, he opposed sending combat troops to Vietnam, and he also opposed bombing of military targets in the country. His plan was to withdraw completely from Vietnam by the end of 1963 or early 1964.


Then Dallas happened.


Although LBJ followed Kennedy’s wishes for about 15 months, he eventually listened to his military advisors. At the peak of our involvement in Vietnam, in the summer of 1968, we had 525,000 combat troops in Vietnam. We also started a bombing campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder, which lasted from March 2, 1965 to November 2, 1968. Despite the fact that we dropped more bombs on Vietnam (864,000 tons) than we used in the Korean War (653,000 tons) or in the Pacific theatre in WWII (500,000 tons), the operation did not achieve its purpose, and was terminated.


If you are a slow learner, let me explain something to you.


Our enormous military operation in Vietnam was the direct result of a LIE about North Vietnam torpedo boats, and it cost us dearly. By the time all the casualties were added up, we had lost 58, 209 people in Vietnam. In financial terms, we spent $168 billion, which would be the equivalent of $950 billion in today’s dollars.


Eventually, our relations with Vietnam improved over time. During the Clinton administration, Vietnam became one of our favored trading partners, and a lot of the coffee that we drink comes from Vietnam, which is the third largest coffee producer in the world. If you try not to think of the 388,000 tons of Napalm that we dropped on the country during our military involvement there, you’ll feel a little more comfortable about your cup of morning Joe.


You have heard the expression, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.


Despite the fact that the truth about Vietnam started to come out, especially after the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, we AGAIN fell victim to ANOTHER whopper, which also cost us dearly.


During George W. Bush’s first term, intelligence reports started to circulate than Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. As a result, Congress passed the Iraq resolution on 10/6/2002, and it was not long before our “shock and awe” campaign commenced on 3/20/2003. Hussein was quickly forced from power, and hanged by his own people, but our involvement in Iraq has been very costly for us. The death toll so far is 4497 people, but the economic cost, so far, is $1.1 trillion.







Most of our leaders felt comfortable about invading Iraq because Hussein truly was a very evil man. He invaded Iran 8/2/1990, but the conflict finally ended in a truce on 8/20/1988 without either side achieving its objective.


The truce did not quell Hussein’s desire for expansion, so he invaded Kuwait on 8/2/1990. The allies quickly created Operation Desert Shield to protect Saudi Arabia, which was followed a short time later by Desert Storm, a consortium of 35 countries that quickly forced Iraq from Kuwait.


The lesson of both Vietnam and Iraq is that is not always necessary to use massive force to achieve our objectives. The Arab Spring of 2011 (which you can read more about at the link below) caused regime changes in several countries in the Arab world, including Libya, which had been ruled by the murderous Muammar Gaddafi for more than 40 years. Our losses in all those countries, including Libya, were minor, and would have been even less if Congress had not reduced funding for embassy security in places like Benghazi, Libya.




My dad served in WWII, a conflict that resulted in the death of 400,000 Americans. I was in college during the height of the Vietnam War, and came to realize how effective peaceful resistance can be. I was in basic training when four students were killed at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, and thousands of people marched on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967. Resistance to the war effort forced LBJ from power, but it still took 7 more years for us to withdraw from the country completely.


I am currently reading Robert Kennedy Jr’s latest book, “American Values – Lessons I learned from My Family”. It is clear that our country would be much better off if one (or both) of the Kennedy brothers had lived, and our involvement in Vietnam would have been significantly smaller. Both Kenney brothers courageously opposed the forces of evil in our society (including people in the government) and both of them fought for “the little guy”. Bill Clinton also greatly improved our country, but the Kennedy spirit is best exemplified by our 44th president, whom financial analysts consider to be the 8th best president that our country has ever had.


Now, more than ever, it is time to rekindle the spirit of rebellion that we experienced during my college days. Political analysts now categorize Donald Trump as the worst president our country has ever had, and many experts consider him the most dangerous politician alive today. I would be astonished if he manages to complete his first term without getting impeached, or forced to resign, but I was also very much surprised when he was elected in the first place, despite the fact that every major newspaper in the country said that he was unfit for office.

See the source image



Fortunately, for all us, there are enough patriotic politicians in both parties to protect us from the worst of Trump’s excesses – but there still are not enough. Unless the adults can reclaim control of both the House and the Senate in November, we will continue to live in some very dangerous times.