The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

It’s so long ago that I don’t remember the exact number but I think I had ten or twelve of them.  They were jigsaw puzzles but not of the type that we find today, cut from cardboard.  The frames were made of wood, perhaps 3/8″ thick.  The pieces were individually hand painted.  Each puzzle had, perhaps, fifteen pieces.  Naturally, they were fairly easy to do.

As a challenge, my parents would empty three or four puzzles at a time, mixing up the pieces.  This proved far more entertaining to me.  I could work on these for hours at a time, swapping in different puzzles and doing the same thing, mixing together four  new puzzles.

But eventually, my interest in doing the puzzles diminished since I had done them so many times.  They were consigned to the little closet in my room.  Their main function was to take up a fair amount of the limited space on the top shelf.

Several years went by and I hadn’t even thought about playing with these puzzles when my mother came in one day and said, “Honey, I was thinking.  You haven’t played with your puzzles for a long time and they’re not doing you or anyone else any good.  Why don’t we take them down to the N. Y. Home for Foundlings and give them to the children who live there?”

I didn’t know it lived within me but as soon as she had spoken those words, I suddenly felt as though the air had been sucked out of my body and one of mankind’s greatest enemies, selfishness, rose up and spoke on my behalf.

“I don’t want to give them away, Mommy.  I’ll play with them again.”  And I walked to the closet, stood on the little step stool and reached for the top puzzle which I promptly emptied on my desk just to prove my point to her.

My mother said, “Okay, dear if that’s the way you feel.”

When she left the room I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had held on to my puzzles and no one was going to take them away from me.  So I completed the puzzle which held no interest for me and returned it to its place in the closet.

No more was said of this as we approached the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was the Saturday before the big day and my mother asked if I would come with her to do some grocery shopping.  I was happy to tag along.

So we stopped at a couple of stores and purchased a few items.  Then we went and took a detour and ended up at the orphanage to which my mother had wanted me to donate my puzzles.  It was a fairly large building, rather grey and bleak both from the outside and, as I was to learn, equally as unspiring inside as well.

When we rang the bell a matronly lady came to the door.  She wore a simple dress and a cardigan sweater and her grey hair was knotted into a large bun at the back of her head.  Her hair reminded me of the yarn with which my mother knitted to make sweaters for the family.  You could have put quite a few of those knitting needles in that bun.

But she was warm and very friendly as my mother introduced herself and we quickly were brought in from the chill and entered the building’s lobby.  Apparently, this lady had been expecting us.  I didn’t know that my mother had called and asked if I might join the children in a “play date”.

I was ushered into the orphanage’s play room where there were seven or eight children involved in a variety of activities.  Several were playing Chutes and Ladders and other board games.  But there was one little boy who was working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I asked if I could join him and he agreed.  His name was Timmy.

So Timmy and I worked together to put the puzzle together.  It was one of those less expensive puzzles with quite a few pieces but made from cardboard.  I remember that the puzzle was of a German Shepherd, standing in a field.  We had almost all of the puzzle finished with only three or four pieces to go when I noticed that there were no more pieces.  That poor German Shepherd had no nose.  So I asked Timmy where the other pieces were.  He told me that they had been lost a long time ago and that we were finished with the puzzle.  I remember feeling bad for that German Shepherd.  How could he smell his dinner?

Timmy and I started on another puzzle.  This one was a picture of a sail boat on a lake.  We had just finished the frame and were starting to work on the insides when my mother came in and told me that we had to leave.  I said goodbye to my new friend and mom and I returned home.

I didn’t sleep well that night.  The thought of that poor noseless German Shepherd kept running through my mind.  And I felt sorry for Timmy and the other kids because they had to work on puzzles with missing pieces.  I remember running into my parents’ room and waking my mother with the urgent news that I had decided to give my puzzles to the kids at the orphanage.  Despite being awakened out of a deep sleep, I remember seeing a few tears well up in my mother’s eyes and she smiled with approval.  “We’ll talk about it in the morning, dear.”

After we returned from church, Grandma prepared a light lunch.  It was just enough to keep our stomachs from growling but not so much as to spoil the large Sunday dinner that she always made.  And when we had finished, mom asked if I would like to help her pack up the puzzles as dad was going to have to drive us over to the orphanage as they were too heavy to carry.

I got on the step stool and started handing them down to her.  She had gotten two cardboard boxes to put them in.  I remember looking at them somewhat wistfully, knowing that I would never see these old friends again.  Maybe I had made the wrong decision in giving them away.  But then I thought of Timmy and the other kids and the German Shepherd who had no nose and those thoughts vanished from  my thinking.

Dad picked up the two boxes and we headed toward the elevator.  When we got to the ground floor he put them on the floor and went to get the car which was parked several blocks away as mom and I guarded this bit of treasure.  When he returned, he left the car running, grabbed the boxes and the three of us headed to the orphanage.

We were lucky to find a space right outside the building.  Dad turned off the car’s engine, grabbed the two boxes and the three of us walked to the entrance.  I remember ringing the bell.

The same nice lady whom I had met the day before, greeted us and invited us inside.  She quickly led us to the game room and dad found a desk on which to place the two cartons of puzzles.  Timmy and several of the other kids who I saw the previous day were there.

“Timmy, I brought you some new puzzles.”

Timmy came over and eagerly started looking through the first box.  He reached in and pulled out one of them.  It was a silly puzzle, a duck riding a bicycle.

“Wow, these are neat!  And I’ll bet we won’t lose these pieces, they’re so big and heavy.”

It gave me a warm feeling to see the joy in his face.  And I was sure that would be shared by many of the other kids as they played with what once had been my very own jigsaw puzzles.

Despite the turmoil in which we find our world today, there is still reason to be grateful at Thanksgiving.  It goes beyond a day filled with football and a meal replete with over eating.  It comes down to something far simpler and yet far more profound.

We are fortunate that despite the tumult which wells around us, there are still people who are willing to show charity to strangers for no reason other than it gives them a warm feeling inside.  And if we ever lose that, we are much like that jigsaw puzzle that is missing a piece or two, the pieces that comprise the finest part of the human spirit.

Have a joyous Thanksgiving.

Recent posts have focused on world and national affairs that are serious by their very nature.  But sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously and a little levity helps us refresh our minds and spirits.  So I thought that I would share a routine that comedian Don Novello created, playing his most famous role as Fr. Guido Sarducci.  Enjoy.







It was 1972 and the Democrats had settled on Sen. George McGovern as their nominee for president to face off against former Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  McGovern felt certain that Ted Kennedy or some other well known, prominent Democrat would readily agree to fill out the ticket in the VP spot.  He was surprised that all of those whom he asked declined his invitation.

After culling through other possible Democrats, McGovern was advised by the Massachusetts head of the Democratic Party that he would support the candidacy of Sen. Thomas Eagleton (MO).  The McGovern camp approached Eagleton who agreed to meet with the candidate for an interview.  The two got on well and McGovern settled on his choice for the second slot on the ticket.

Shortly after he became the vice presidential nominee, news leaked that Eagleton had been hospitalized on three separate occasions for depression.  During the course of his hospitalizations he had been given shock treatment to treat his condition.  The prospect that, should he happen to become president, these conditions might impair his judgment as the nation’s chief executive, caused McGovern to remove Eagleton from the ticket, replacing him with Kennedy in-law, Sargent Shriver.

In the Electoral College, the only votes the McGovern/Shriver ticket garnered were cast by the Massachusetts and DC delegations. Remarkably, the senator did not even carry his home state of South Dakota.

There have always been frivolous if not outright deceptive comments made about a presidential candidate which emanate from the other side.  Harry Reid made totally fabricated statements about Mitt Romney’s “non-payment of any taxes for ten years” and when he was confronted with the fact that Romney had delivered copies of his returns showing that he had paid income tax replied, “Well, he didn’t win did he?”  That’s just politics at its slimiest – and who better to engage in that then the senior senator from Nevada.

There are serious matters of character which rightfully should be examined by the voting public.  Naturally, people on one side will try to get maximum mileage out of any gaffe, slip or past indiscretion which they can attribute to the candidate of the other party.  And the hyperbole of electioneering unfortunately allows people to make allegations which simply are untruthful.  That’s why we now have “fact checkers” to correct mis-statements.  But the fact is that while many of us might have seen the untruthful ad containing these assertions, few of us read the story that the information and accusations contained in them were lies.  That’s why most political ads, at least the most effective ones, are negative in nature.

Back in 1972 there was not the immediacy with which information could be communicated.  It was far easier for a candidate to fail to reveal a negative event or trait which was part of his background and hope to escape detection.  That was the route that Eagleton took – failing to disclose his hospitalizations and the reason for them.  But the information came out and that ended Eagleton’s short-lived berth as the number two person on the Democratic ticket.

McGovern acted decisively in having Eagleton step down.  I never agreed with McGovern’s policies, but I do believe that he was a man of integrity.  No doubt, taking Eagleton off the ticket was self-serving, a move which McGovern must have felt would improve his unlikely chance of winning the election.  But I also suspect that he was concerned about the future of the country should something happen to him, Eagleton became the president and then have another of his depressive episodes.

Hillary Clinton is under scrutiny on issues that seem, at their root, to question her honesty and integrity.  That is the case whether the question is about whether she failed to take appropriate steps that might have resulted in a different outcome in Benghazi; why she maintained a private unsecured server and then deleted half of her emails; and whether foreign donors and governments might have bought influence while she was Secretary of State.  Those investigations should be conducted and the facts should be made public without the interjection of partisanship.  The presidency of the United States is too important to hand over to anyone because they make nice speeches or belong to a particular gender.  The past seven years have made that only too clear.

But, as with Eagleton, there is an even more fundamental issue that has been significantly neglected by the press – the question of whether Ms. Clinton is healthy enough to be president.

You may remember that she was to testify before the Benghazi Committee in 2014 but suffered a fall, injuring herself, and was granted a change in date because of this episode.  In his newest book, “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary,”  prolific political author, Ed Klein asserts that Ms. Clinton has experienced a number of small strokes and, as is not unusual with women her age, might be expected to experience more in the future.  He describes her feeling fatigue as she hits the campaign trail and having bouts with insomnia.

In fairness to Ms. Clinton, Ed Klein could hardly be described as a fan of hers and I’m sure that the book is slanted to open questions into the state of her health.  I would not accept his statements as absolute facts which are beyond dispute.  But on the other hand, I’ve seen enough footage of Ms. Clinton stopping to make speeches and meet voters at small assemblies to have noticed that she does look rather haggard.  That might be understandable were she in a hotly contested primary race – but that simply is not the case.

I would hope that the media would look into the state of Ms. Clinton’s health more thoroughly so that we don’t have another Thomas Eagleton moment on our hands.  The people of this nation deserve a president who is, at the very least, healthy enough to discharge the duties of the office.

Whether Ms. Clinton fits that description – well, at the moment I’m maintaining a healthy skepticism.

It was 1960 and time to watch one of what, was to me, one of the most interesting shows on television, The Twilight Zone.  That night’s was the twenty-second episode of the show’s first season, an installment entitled, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.”  Perhaps you remember this story.  Critics have called it one of the show’s ten best and it is always included in the “marathons” that run every New Year’s Day.  But for those of you who may have missed it, here’s my synopsis of the plot.

On Maple Street, a street in a typical middle class suburb somewhere in America, strange things start to happen.  Suddenly the electricity goes out.  The neighbors come out to see if anyone else is experiencing the same problem or if it is merely a power failure in their home.  But the outage extends throughout the entire block.  They begin discussing their options – whether they should call the power company – but they find their phones are out as well.  They also discover that they can’t start their cars.  Of course, they begin speculating about what could be the cause of all of this.

One teenager says that what is happening to them is just like what he read in a book – about how monsters from outer space came to Earth and disrupted our power – just before they launched an invasion of the planet.  And the scariest part of their invasion plan is that they had disguised themselves to look human and for a long period had planted spies among us.

Suddenly, one if the neighbors who had been working on his car is startled when it suddenly starts by itself.  The others begin probing him as to why his and only his car is now working.  They become suspicious of him, now that they have been seeded with the teen’s story about enemy infiltrators.  And they not only bring him under scrutiny but begin questionning why others of them do what they do, like going out late at night and staring up at the sky.

Rational people are quickly turned into a lynch mob and one of the neighbors who had walked over to the next block to see if their power was out as well returns and in the darkness of night is shot dead by one of his friends.  Their fear of the unknown and the imponderable has overwhelmed their felings of friendship.  Unexpectedly,the lights come back on and they are left with a murder and the realization that their comity is not as deep as they might have believed it to be before it was put to this test.

In the final scene, we learn that there are indeed aliens on the planet and that they were responsible for the power failure.  Their plan to conquer the planet is to allow us to destroy ourselves and then they can mop up the residue that remains.  One of the aliens speaks the last line of the episode, “It’s always the same  – every time, everywhere.”

In 1939 the S. S. St. Louis, a luxury cruise liner, departed Hamburg, Germany.  Aboard were 900 Jews who were fleeing Hitler.  They were bound for Cuba with the ultimate intention of coming to the United States.  But when they reached Cuba, the authorities refused them permission to dock or for any of the passengers to debark.

The captain tried negotiating with the authorities over several days but they were emphatic in their refusal.  So the captin turned the ship northwest toward Miami.  The ship was intercepted before it reached that port and they were again refused permission to dock – this time by the government of the United States.

Direct appeals were made to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but the ship did not receive permission to land and ultimately the captain had no choice but to turn the ship back around for a return voyage to Europe.  Out of fear and desperation, one of the passengers on board had slit his wrists and thrown himself into the ocean.  Of the remaining passengers, two hundred fifty-four were killed in the death camps.

One might argue that the reason that Hitler’s agression was allowed to grow exponentially as it did was because the other European powers chose to hope that they were dealing with a person who could be pacified by giving away the Sudetenland – a geographic area which was removed from their personal neighborhood and in which people lived to whom they were unrelated by blood.

One might argue that the reason that we have a Syrian refugee crisis today is that as the de facto leader of the free world, Obama has abdicated his and our country’s position of leadership and tolerated the intolerable – a dictator in Syria who regularly gasses his own people and has slaughtered more than 250,000 of them.

When the U. S. turned the S. S. St. Louis away it was four months before Hitler invaded Poland and started WWII.  There was no reason to fear that these refugees were coming here to act as a fifth column.  No open hostilities had yet occurred.  The sole reason for refusing them entry was that Roosevelt was not a fan of Jews in general.  He did consider allowing some of them admittance but wanted to keep them in small numbers and spread them throughout the country so that, “They wouldn’t disrupt our culture.”  This was discrimination and racism in its purest form.

The Syrian situation is very different.  For one thing, while it is apparent that ISIS has declared war against the U. S. and the West, they are not an enemy in the traditional sense.  Their borders are amorphous albeit growing.  The other nations of the world do not recognize them diplomatically.  But they are beginning to look more like a traditional country as western leaders, notably Obama, dawdle in their efforts to defeat them.

They do occupy territory, now the size of the UK.  They have an income stream from black market oil sales, and they have initiated laws which they impose on those who live within their occupied geography.  They have also developed a currency.  All these are characteristics of legitimate governments and countries.  And, to state the all too obvious, they have weapons and are not hesitant to use them.

Two thirds of Americans do not want us to admit any of the Syrian refugees.  But is their opinion formed by the attack in Paris, the Brussels lockdown or is this merely an overreaction owing to the “Maple Street Effect.”  For me, I think the most alarming reason for leaning this way is Obama’s statement that, “We really have nothing to worry about in the U. S.”  The man hasn’t made a truthful statement on any issue of substance during his seven years in office.

At the very least, we ought to take a pause before admitting anyone who might potentially be a terrorist.  That is what the House bill does.  It is sad that partisan politics rather than national security in the guise of Harry Reid may delay or abrogate discussion of this matter in the Senate.  But it is government’s responsibility to keep the country and its citizens as safe as it can within their capabilities.  However this plays out, this is merely a short term deferral of the real problem.

And that real problem is ISIS, its sister organizations and terrorism in general.  And the real solution is for America to get on the Reality Train that Europe is now boarding, make and take real steps to decimate it militarily so that the refugees can return to their homes and start the process of rebuilding their country.


If you thought from the song that this post was going to be about music, the lost art of letter writing or the post office I’m sorry to disillusion you.  I just happen to like the song, haven’t heard it in years and when it suddenly came to mind it provided the inspiration for what is to follow.  Today we’re going to talk about letters – those little funny symbols which are the building blocks of our language and which you are currently reading.  I know that all those who stop by here can read since I seldom include pictures in these posts.

But let’s get down to business.

One day I was perfectly happy, sitting at home when my parents announced that I was going to be going to something called school.  Heck, I was barely potty trained and still had to make occasional mad rushes to the bathroom hoping that I could loosen my belt in time.  I’m pleased to report that I was successful at this endeavor – usually.

Anyway, my parents explained that school was a place where you learned things and met new friends.  Sounded good to me.  So I went.

Well, sure as the sun rises in the east, I found myself in school with a bunch of kids I had never seen before and a lady who introduced herself as Mrs. Scott.  She was going to be our teacher for the entire school year.  She seemed very grandmotherly with her beautifully coiffed grey hair, but at this point my greatest concern was knowing where the bathroom was – because of those occasional accidents, don’t you know?

As luck would have it, our classroom was as far from the bathroom on our floor as it possibly could be.  So I planned on making sure that if even the slightest urges started to overtake me, I would ask for permission to go and if I had to sit on the potty for a half hour before something happened, at least I would avoid the ignominy of messing myself.

Anyway, we were all assigned to a particular desk which stood on a metal base to which both the desk and our seat were attached and which had a wooden top that opened so that we had a place within the desk to keep our school supplies.  Those consisted of a pad of very yellow lined paper that felt coarse to the touch and had chunks of wood pulp stuck in it and a couple of the biggest pencils that you had ever seen – or at least the biggest that I had ever seen.  I mean seriously, they were so large that when I found out that I was supposed to make marks on the yellow paper with them, I had to hoist the end with the eraser so that it rested on my shoulder in order to maneuver it.  Well, I was a small kid.

Of course, it never occurred to me that there were no warning labels on the pencils that we should not eat them as it might result in lead poisoning.  In fact, in those days, I’m not sure if we had warning labels on anything – and somehow most of us made it through.  But as I later found out, there was probably no reason for such a notification as most of the kids who got lead poisoning did so by eating the paint from the walls of their apartments.

Above our blackboard were individual pieces of  heavy paper on which were written something I found out were called letters.  They came in two versions – big and not so big.  Learning these was one of our first orders of business – and Mrs. Scott led us in the familiar jingle that begins, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G …” – well if you’re over forty you know the rest and I won’t bore you with it.  If you’re under forty you can google it.  Mrs. Scott always began our recitation with the letter “A”.  We were a very conservative school.  It never crossed my mind that doing so somehow diminished the value of L,G B T or Q by making them take a back seat, not to mention the other twenty letters.

But as I’ve learned that we must be sensitive to and respectful of all things (letters being a sub-set of all things), I’ve written to my school and suggested that they have an annual random drawing to determine which letter should be first, which second, etc. during that particular school year.  That way every letter has an equal opportunity to shine.  I have a set of missives going out to the publishers of dictionaries with the suggestion that they list words in their books in the same way.

Anyway, to get back to our subject, I learned that when you put certain letters together in a certain order they could form something called words.  Of course, if you just combined them willy-nilly you might accidentally get words but were more likely to get gobbledygook.  As I mentioned earlier we were a very conservative school so at age five they weren’t teaching us sex education – or even that there was a sexual tension that existed between letters.  That’s something that I had to figure out on my own.  And for those of you who have missed it, this is your lucky day.

Take the letters “K” and “R”.  They sometimes have a very intimate, nuzzling relationship standing strong together against the world.  But they also have a sort of Dominator/Submissive relationship as well.  Fortunately, they have found a way to work out their relationship without having to resort to a court of law and both of them share the opportunity to be in a position of control.

Think about it.  “K” and “R” can be together in that order to start a word, “Kruller” comes to mind.  But they cannot end a word in that same order.  On the other hand, “R” and “K” can end a word in that order, as in “Landmark” but can never begin a word in that position.  What a perfect example of harmony and mutual respect.

Mrs. Scott informed us that some of the letters were called “Vowels” and others were called “Consonants”.  There were five vowels and twenty-one consonants – except that “Y” sometimes was a vowel and sometimes was a consonant.  I guess in today’s parlance one could say that “Y” was a transgendered letter depending on its mood.  This would have been useful information because if I had known about all this I would certainly have done a thorough investigation of any “Y’s” I brought along with me as I sat straining on the potty for a half hour.

Now there are some letters which are so strong and powerful that their mere presence at the beginning of a word makes that word so sacrosanct that we cannot even speak its full name but call if by its first letter.  The “N” word, the “F” word and the “B” word are examples.  This, of course, is a recent improvement to the language brought about through the creation of “emojis” which came into being so that people with limited vocabularies could communicate with other people with limited vocabularies and do so by using a total stranger’s idea of how they should convey their feelings.

This movement towards condensation has been going on for some time.  It’s at least a half century that we began referring to more and more things by acronyms or initials although there seems to have been a geometric increase in the numbers of such things which occur in our speech.  Perhaps that’s a function of convenience although my personal belief is that trend has been far more influenced by the lack of ability on the part of much of our population to spell words correctly.  To them, should the publishers of dictionaries follow my suggestion, it will make very little difference.

So what does all this have to do with the 2016 election.  (If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you knew we would get to that).

Most of us are aware of the rise of a radical, hateful and otherwise despicable group of people who have called themselves by three separate sets of letters during their brief existence:  IS, ISIL, ISIS.  Those translate into “Islamic State”; “Islamic State in the Levant”; “Islamic State in Syria.”

Republicans regularly refer to their version of dismembering and murdering people as “Radical Islamic extremism”.  Democrats including President Obama and front runner candidate Ms. Hillary Clinton refer to them merely as “Radical extremists”.  The Democrats argue that by using the word “Islamic” to describe these bastards we somehow will be offending the vast majority of Muslims who are as horrified as the rest of the world at their activities.  But wait a minute Madam Secretary Dunderbutt.

How can you possibly offend (not that we should really be too concerned for that as the basis for establishing a policy on how to combat these people) when they describe themselves using the very word you seek to avoid using at all costs?

Well, it’s late, I’m tired and I think I’ve pretty much exhausted my entire knowledge of letters.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll attack numbers.  But then again, maybe not.  Check back to see what’s in store.  And remember on this blog, “What you see is what you get.”

That’s probably why I’ve never considered running for public office.


Several days ago I mentioned the impact that 9/11/01 had on me psychologically.

It was inconceivable to me that a person could be so unfeeling to take an airliner filled with innocent people and crash it into a building filled with thousands of other innocent people.  And that sense of overwhelming despair only increased as we found out that it wasn’t one person but many.  And the death count mounted, as those whom they left behind hoped against hope that perhaps somehow, by some incredible miracle, their loved ones had escaped the devastation and the rubble.  But for most of them, their hopes would not come to fruition and they had to face the reality that they were gone forever.

The ennui that I felt I’m sure was shared by many Americans.  And if there were one thing that helped me through it that came in the person of two individuals.

The first was President George W. Bush, (not one of my favorite people).  But giving credit where it is due, when Bush went to New York, donned a first responder’s jacket and rallied the people of the city to press on, I believe that was one of the defining moments of his presidency and was a statement of his love for this country.

The second was Mayor Rudy Guilliani (one of my all time favorites).  The Mayor not only had the Herculean task of dealing with all the turmoil, the heartbreak and the aftermath of the destruction of two of New York’s landmarks but he did so without giving any indication of feeling the strain from this undertaking and, most importantly got the job done.

Both of these men fulfilled their duty and went above and beyond the call of rallying us out of our shell-shocked state and proved examples of how the American people can rise above tragedy and regroup and rebuild.  They were an inspiration – at least that’s how I viewed them.

One of the more popular current television programs is The Walking Dead.  I inadvertently ran across it as I was surfing channels in a desperate attempt to find something that would be entertaining and stimulating.  I had the show up for probably ten seconds when I saw a lineup of men, apparently kneeling and then systematically having their throats cut over a trough into which their blood ran.  I happened to catch this episode not too long after the iconic picture of some Syrian Christians wearing orange jump suits were similarly slaughtered by ISIS.

I quickly changed the channel.

Now movies about zombies are nothing new.  They’ve been around since I was a kid – although the preferred method of “zombie-ification” was normally caused by a spell or potion which the Haitian voodoo doctor had concocted.  Today, we have managed to advance beyond herbs and arcane rituals and have been able to harness the power of chemicals, germs and viruses with the intent of weaponizing them.  (Normally, the research is done under the much more noble guise of trying to figure out how to weaponize them so that if one of the “bad guys” weaponized them we would be prepared with an antidote – if you believe that story).

But what if, just what if, there were some virulent poison released on the general population which either decimated the population or transformed us into those flesh-eating zombies?  Would those of us who might be lucky enough to survive such an attack be able to rely on the resources and people who head up government – or would we have to go it alone?

Or what if a far more realistic possibility occurred and those JV terrorists knocked out the electric grid?  We’ve known that is a serious vulnerability and have known that for at least a decade.  What is more disturbing is that we also have a way to fix the problem so that it wouldn’t cascade into a national power outage but have failed even to take steps to begin to implement that protection.  And with all that knowledge, with all the money that Washington finds for pet projects, not one dime has been allocated to protect this vital resource which, if it were crippled, might result in the death of as much as ninety percent of the population.

The way in which the Obama administration has addressed every assignment thrown at it or which it has initiated does not inspire me with confidence.  The mantra of Hope and Change suckered enough of us to hear a chord of promise which turned into a cacophony of pretense.  And as I wake each morning with a sense of dread deep set in the recesses of my mind, I now cling to that campaign theme and hope that we make it through the next fourteen months and find a leader who will help us change back into a united country, strong in resolve and optimistically leading the world toward a new and brighter dawn.


The UN Human Rights Commission agreement considered the best outcome for those who were displaced by war to be their repatriation to their homeland once hostilities had ceased.  Those who were able to escape in the course of the war become the legal responsibility of that country to which they first made their way.  In the case of the Syrian refugees, that burden has heavily fallen on Jordan.  But in the latest waves our NATO ally Turkey has become a migratory route.  For whatever reason it has acted less as a new host country than it has as a funnel for these refugees to reach western Europe.

Since it’s explicitly clear that neither western Europe nor the United States has a legal obligation to accept any of the Syrian refugees, the question of whether we should accept refugees comes down to a question of morality.  Should we as caring people accept these people and welcome their to our country?  Sadly, that question is not as clear cut as those who are advocates for bringing the Syrian refugees into America would have us believe.

Obama and the left offer a case intended to make any opposition to accepting Syrian refugees appear to emanate from people who have no hearts and no compassion.  But a truly compassionate and insightful president would have been aghast at the more than one quarter million Syrian civilians who have been killed by President Assad during the last three years and would have, once he had drawn his “red line,” actually taken action against that tyrant.  But he didn’t.  And in large measure, the current Syrian refugee crisis is a direct result of his lackluster “policy” which seems to be founded on the theory that if you don’t pay attention to a problem or give credence to it, it will ultimately go away – hopefully before your term of office expires – but, if not, it will be your successor’s problem.

But setting aside the root cause for the massive influx of immigrants from Syria, why should we believe that offering them safe heaven in the United States will actually benefit them?   According to HUD, there are nearly two million Americans who are homeless.  These people are citizens of the United States.  It is estimated that of this number more than fifty thousand are veterans of our military.  So if we are unable to care for our own people, why would we add additional people who in many cases do not have language skills that will enable them to fit into society and whose customs and culture is so different from our own?

The serious and real objection to the acceptance of Syrian refugees does not stem from hard-heartedness but a genuine fear that ISIS will implant some of its operatives in their number.  Obama pooh poohed this as an irrational fear, challenging Republicans as “cowards” for their fear of “widows and orphans”.  If the president’s passion were as great for destroying ISIS as it is for denigrating any who challenge his opinions this crisis might not have existed.  But even some staunchly partisan Democrats, notably Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) have advocated taking a pause before admitting any further Syrian refugees.

Of course, the president and his administration have claimed that there is a thorough vetting process to ensure that no terrorists will be admitted among those to whom we might give refuge.  Several days ago, the National Security Council’s advisor, Ben Rhodes, who holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing – which makes him an ideal spokesperson for the administration but might call into question his qualifications for making recommendations about national security – again put forth this notion that the vetting process would be both thorough and certain.  That is in direct contradiction to what the heads of both the FBI and the CIA who will share in the responsibility of vetting these prospective refugees have stated.  So who are we to believe?

Most of us who were raised within the Judaeo-Christian tradition believe that lying is always wrong.  The same cannot be said of Islam in even its most benign varieties.  Both the Quran and the hadiths permit a devout Muslim to lie to the infidel if his intentions are good and his goal is to spread the “true faith” which is their mission.  Muhammad signed a ten year truce with the Qurayash residents of Mecca and a year later, after he had built up his military, broke the truce and slaughtered them.  Yassir Arafat, apparently inspired by the prophet, signed the 1993 Oslo Accord, by his own words, strictly for the purpose of deception.

If we review the mis-statements and outright lies that Obama has spewed during these last gruesome seven years, perhaps his statement that, “There is no more beautiful sound than that of the Muslim call to prayer” may be the most, if not the only, truthful statement that he has made during his term in office.

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