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Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Blog, Politics, What's Left | 14 comments

Nearly Half of All Americans are Traitors

 

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Nationalism is a scourge.  Should you doubt this, look at its grisly record.

In its very worst forms, nationalism has triggered countless international conflicts senselessly costing tens of millions of lives.  Nationalism has pillaged immeasurable natural resources from our lands and plundered federal treasuries.  Nationalism has fortified our most sinister and self-destructive racial and ethnic divisions.  Nationalism has provoked bombings, justified invasions, and been used to rationalize longstanding occupations which enslaved and exploited those who were conquered.  In short, throughout human history — much like religion — nationalism has caused far more harm than good.

Yet, much like the sword, nationalism cuts sharply both ways.  When harnessed constructively, nationalism has be used for much greater common purposes.  Nationalism has rallied ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  Nationalism has aided significantly in defeating terrible foes, both at home and abroad.  It’s instilled a widespread devotion to collective interests as opposed to self-centered individualism.  On occasion, nationalism in its various forms — community pride, allegiance to country, flag-waving patriotism — has served societies well, especially in tough times.

Oddly enough, many of the kinds of people we peg most strongly with possessing nationalistic tendencies now brazenly insist they want to break away from the United States of America.  That’s right.  A sizable number of people in this country, including many self-described patriots, would be in favor of giving our nation a long wave goodbye, followed by the middle finger.  And who says breaking up is hard to do?

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Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 4 comments

President Obama Cheated On Me

 

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Mr. President — you cheated on me.

I no longer trust you.

Once upon a time, we the American people tearfully accepted your proposal.  We agreed to wed you.  We were thrilled when that big day came when you finally walked us down the aisle called Pennsylvania Avenue.  Then, four years after being together, we renewed those marriage vows, by electing you again.

That’s faith.  That’s trust.  That’s hope.

So, what did you do?

Well, you cheated, Sir.  You were unfaithful.  Over and over again.  You kept promising, and kept failing to deliver.  Finally, you even quit making promises.  You just walked away.  You quit on us.

Don’t deny it, Mr. President.  There’s been a long string of mistresses — with cute names like family vacations, golf clubs, ill-timed political fundraisers, and just about anything else which provided a convenient excuse from coming back home to the White House, doing your daily chores, occasionally putting in a little overtime, and behaving like a faithful partner.

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Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics, Travel | 0 comments

Remembering the World Trade Center Before 9/11

 

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Introduction:  Today marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11.  This seems to be a fitting occasion to look back and remember the World Trade Center before they collapsed on that tragic day.  Marieta and I visited the World Trade Center a few times.  We even went to the top of one of the towers about a year before the tragedy.  Today’s essay includes some photos which were taken during those times.  This is all that remains of those fond memories.

 

Note:  For a broader perspective of what I witnessed at the Pentagon on the day of 9/11, read this personal recollection posted at my site two years ago — REMEMBERING SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 AT THE PENTAGON

 

They were colossal even by New York standards.

The twin towers, so utterly unremarkable in design, yet so grandiose by sheer size and scope, weren’t just windows to the world.  They were extensions of our national character and pillars of America’s unequivocal stature as a global superpower.

Within sight of those two towers, the Statue of Liberty is often said to symbolize our national identity.  But the unruffled lady bearing a flaming torch is more of an ideal, really.  Rooted squarely within the planet’s financial epicenter, the World Trade Center arose as the true manifestation who we are and what we’ve come to represent as a nation, as an economy, and as a people — imposing, bold, excessive, and unapologetic for it all.

Which is precisely why they were such inviting targets on that fateful day no one saw coming.

 

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The view from the top of the towers looking east towards Brooklyn was breathtaking.

Visitors rode express elevators from the ground floor to the observation decks.  One was inside.  Another was on the rooftop, outside.

 

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That’s Marieta off to the right of the frame.

Here’s another angle, of the view looking east, but angled more towards the south.  If you look carefully, you can see the tip of Manhattan Island starting to curve around, there off to the right side.  The World Trade Center was only a block or so away from the shore.  In fact, landfill was added to part of the outer perimeter which allowed traffic to move more easily.  A park was also added near the waterfront.  Of course, that’s all gone now, or at least it’s been transformed.

 

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When we stepped inside Windows on the World, the famous restaurant perched on the 106th and 107th floor of the North Tower, this was the view looking out towards Hudson Bay.  There in the center of the photo where the golden sunset radiates off the water, is Liberty Island, which provides the base of the Statue of Liberty.  You can barely see her proudly standing there in the glow of the sunshine.

 

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The twin towers standing so close side by side meant you could sometimes see people over in the other building.  Those working in offices.  Maintenance people.  Company executives with corner offices who by the very definition of where they worked had “made it.”  All strangers.

Watching someone over in the other tower, catching their eye, and waving was pretty amazing.  Seeing them wave back was a real joy.

I wonder what happened to some of those nice people who waved.

 

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The first thing that hits you when you step outside onto the observation deck at the World Trade Center is — the wind.

It’s windy.

Not like a breeze.  Not even gusts.  It just blows…..hard….all the time.

We went outside on a perfect day.  I can’t even imagine the difficulty of what it must have been like to do construction or maintenance work on the roof of these buildings.  The wind was brutal.

Here’s the view from the outer observation deck looking directly north, uptown on Manhattan Island.  Oddly enough, when being up this high it’s so far up one might lose any fear of heights.  It’s almost like flying.

 

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I did not shoot this photo (above).  It shows the brave rescue workers a short time after the twin towers collapsed.

Just about everyone connected in any way to the events of 9/11 had an opinion on what to do with the now-sacred site.  In the end, rich and powerful financiers do what they always do, which is to tear it all down, haul it away, and rebuild again.  The land beneath the bodies and rubble was far too valuable to be left simply, as is, which would have been the most appropriate tribute.

At the very least, part of the iconic outer skeleton of World Trade Center should have been left intact, and then other buildings could have been built around it.  Something, at least, should have remained of those fallen towers, to remind us.  Something tangible.  Something people can see, and touch, and remember.

Now that those two platforms of such wonderfully unique perception are gone, we can no longer gaze out, reflect, and enjoy.  The purgatory between earth and sky stands no more.

 

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Postscript:  So, whatever happened to all the twisted steel and broken glass, and all the other remains from the 9/11 crime scene?  Most of the debris ended up across the bay in a landfill on Staten Island.  Here’s a video clip about what has become of those remains:

 

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Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Blog, Politics | 58 comments

Taking Aim at Gun Magazine Pornography

 

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We’ve all heard that print journalism is in serious trouble.

Americans no longer read, unless it’s a text message.  Newspapers are cutting back.  Magazines are shutting down.  Even major bookstores are now closing.

Yet when it comes to giving red, white, and blue flag-waving — pickup truck driving — Coors drinking — immigrant-bashing — Obama hating —  right-wing American citizenry the latest news and tantalizing gossip about guns and ammunition, let’s just say the market has this subject pretty well covered.  The only thing missing is a new television show, Housewives of Nashville — Packing Heat. 

Indeed, I was getting worried that guns weren’t getting nearly enough attention in our society.  With all the murders, handgun accidents, cases of domestic violence, police shootings, and so forth happening in everyday America (yesterday, a 9-year-old girl accidentally blew someone away in Arizona with an Uzi), who’s got time to contemplate the latest review on the new Glock 3D SF which is about to hit the streets?

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Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 2 comments

Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?

 

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Senator Harry Reid admits he was wong.

At least, that’s what he says.  Now.  Well, kinda’.

A few days after speaking to the Asian-American Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas (which I don’t understand why such an organization should exist), the senior United States Senator from Nevada apologized for two jokes during his luncheon speech that he now says were “in poor taste.”

So, what did Sen. Reid say to the group that was so offensive to them?  Here — you decide:

OFFENSIVE REMARK #1 — “The Asian population is so productive.  I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.”

OFFENSIVE REMARK #2“One problem I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight.”

That’s it.

Pretty scandalous huh?

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