Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Bones of the Past

"For who can say they be loose their mortal coil
And think that their flesh will be saved from the soil?
Be you scoundrel or fool, prince or a poet
You walk over the bones of your past, 'ere you know it."

Thirty years ago or so, a ragtag group of misanthropic Iranian students marched upon the US Embassy--taking it and capturing the staff as hostages. Rumored among this group, a youngish Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The more things change....
Apparently time and maturity have not diminished Mr. Ahmadinejad's appetite for hostages and chaos as he wets his pen to author his latest ransom demands--yet to be revealed. I think that his real demand has already been amply met. Attention and aggrandizement are what he craves. And get them he does, in spades and to the detriment of the people he purports to serve.

Scoundrels and Fools
The last time the world was thusly held at the point of Iranian scimitar, all it took was the raising of a leader to back down the Ayatollahs who appropriated the uprising. As I look to my right and to my left...well, the pickings may be slim. Ronald Reagan did his job, it is time for another.

We are told (often by Ahmadinejad himself) that he lives in prophesized times. I might tend to agree. But history has tended to demonstrate that scoundrels and fools are usually displeased by the eventual outcome of such struggles--goodness and freedom being, as they are, stubbornly triumphant. I will remain faithfully confident in Mr. Ahmadinejad's eventual disappointment.

To the British sailors now held without just cause I say, "Godspeed."

To Mr. Ahmadinejad I say, "You walk over the bones of your past, 'ere you know it."

Be well,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Scooter, Scuttled

Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been found guilty. Asking the random passer-by what he has been found guilty “of” elicits some interesting responses.

Some say, “He ‘out’ed’ Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative, endangering her and in violation of law.” Actually no—that was Richard Armitage.

Others state that, “He leaked classified information to the press for political purposes.” Armitage once again, I’m afraid. In fact, Mr. Armitage actually admitted this to Patrick Fitzgerald (the Special Prosecutor in the case) quite early on in the investigation. One would have thought Case Closed! But alas, not. Mr. Fitzgerald had some more investigating to do, it seems.

Harry Reid (D), the current Senate majority leader, said that someone was finally being held accountable for the “campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics.” (1) What? I will double check, but I am rather certain that there is not a crime delineated in that chunk of political rhetoric—true or not.

The most common claim I seem to hear and read is that Scooter Libby was just the convenient “fall guy” for Dick Cheney (et al) and that they are the ones who really committed the crimes. Even the jury thought as much during the trial and deliberations. One jury member (coincidentally a former employee of The Washington Post) said in an interview, “We wish we weren’t judging Libby…This sucks.” (1)

When trying to determine exactly what Mr. Libby was convicted of we are faced with the uncomfortable realization that federal courts have determined that no crime occurred at all (this ruling survived several appeals and re-filings). The courts determined that Valerie Plame was not a covert CIA operative at the time her name was mentioned. Further, they determined that Richard Armitage revealed her name to reporter Robert Novak by accident in a fit of piqued bravado and that no violation of any state or federal law had occurred. What then of Mr. Fitzgerald’s investigation and multiple grand juries? Well, Richard Armitage is no friend of the Bush administration and a bit of a buffoon—there is no sport in chasing him. But I am sure he found something for the investigators and juries to do.

So, while Mr. Libby sits in some half-darkened room with his attorneys vigorously preparing an appeal while contemplating the significance of his unfortunate nickname upon daily prison life, I ask you: What was he convicted of?

The answer is that he was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice—serious crimes, to be sure. It seems that when the feces was hitting the fan (actually, more like the ACME Turbo Feces Flinger), Mr. Libby panicked a bit, dithered, obfuscated, delayed, laid claim to failed memory, and—the Granddaddy of all political parsing—“did not recall” as he strived to be loyal to those around him and figure out what to do. Turns out the paper trail and witnesses could reasonably testify that he should have recalled quite a bit. Thus, the jury is in and Mr. Libby leaves Washington….in stripes, pending appeal.

Even Handed Justice
Assuming the jury took to heart the task at their feet, we will trust that they were as fair as they could be. If the verdict holds, Scooter should by all rights scoot-off to the big house with our thanks for that which he did well, and the even-handed punishment justice delivers for his criminal failings. Hmmm…..Even handed Justice?

As Democrats and Liberals celebrate this verdict as a political victory, they would do well to remember the charge and conviction—perjury—as they cast their eyes up to the podium to see Bill Clinton standing at the side of their candidate Hillary….with Sandy Berger in the shadows, his pockets stuffed anew.

Be Well,

(1) The Economist, March 10th-16th, page 27
An Open Letter to The Reagan Foundation and Library

Please Assuage My Fear
I am concerned.

As I opened my mail--discovering the latest "Coming Events at the Reagan Library" flyer-- I was at first comforted by the listing of conservative speakers and family events planned. My eye then quickly fell to the scheduled Reagan Forum event of April 28th with...Senator Edward M. Kennedy?

( )

Now then; there are most certainly Democrats of national renown that might be appropriate for this event (Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman?). However, I feel safe in stating that if the entire universe of possible Forum presenters were to be drawn into a list with the most appropriate at the top, the current Senior Senator from Massachusetts would undoubtedly appear quite near the bottom--perhaps just below Jimmy Carter and one or two rungs above Muammar Khdafi (pardon the gentle hyperbole--but the mind reels).

As a long term supporter of both the Reagan Foundation and the Reagan Library I feel entitled to ask who made this decision and why? So often, fine institutions with noble purpose are segued into politically corrected prattlers by time and distance from those who honorably set out their bylaws and courses. It seems far too soon to have such a fate fall upon any institution with the name Reagan attached. Please keep my heart from breaking by defending the Kennedy decision.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Word from Huck - Diaspora

When capitalized, Diaspora is used to refer specifically to the scattering of Jews from their ancestral homeland. Used in lower case, it refers to a migration or movement of any group of people from their traditional, accustomed, or assumed area. The word comes to us from the Greek (as so many interesting words do)--but more on that in a moment.

In common usage, it has come to be a reference to the history of not just the scattering of a people, but to include their struggle to return. One can therefore be interested in the diaspora of nomadic tribes as they pursue new pastures. Further, I do not believe that the lexicographers at Webster's nor the grammatically prickly in Chicago would complain too awfully much if the word were used in the singular--referring to an individual or self. Thus I give myself the permission to refer properly to the scriptural passage as the "Diaspora of the Prodigal Son."

Prodigal Son....Hmmmm....

What was the original meaning? Well, the Greek prefix "dia-" had several uses. In certain instances it implied "through" or "from" among other things. Sometimes, dia- meant "apart," which is the case here. The root word "speirin," meant "sow" or "sown" as in seeds or grain. In this sense, diaspora means to sow or be planted apart.

Well, what which was planted has grown. And the fruits of that growth are made complete in their return--whole once again.

Recent events and family news have brought this to my mind as I celebrate the diaspora.

Be well,

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ann Coulter—Reexamined

An Open Letter to Jon Friedman of

Jon –

There is little to argue with factually in your recent article on Ann Coulter in response to her instantly infamous John Edwards comment (Ann Coulter’s the Paris Hilton of political coverage, March 7, 2007). Excepting that your effort is steeped in irony—and not just the “she wins because I am writing about her” variety of which you are aware.

Ann (the beautiful of face and intelligent—yet loud of mouth—right-wing pundit) enjoys a love/cringe relationship with much of the right. But her most common rants are against one-sided journalism. You are certainly free to rail against her harshness of temperament and voice, but where have you been? Where was your critical pen when Al Franken called President Bush a Nazi or when he challenged Richard Lowry to a fight (actual fisticuffs)—amongst other outrages? Where is your objective eye when the gals on The View ambush Dr. Laura Schlesinger (it was ugly)? Or when Karen Bates of the New York Times commented that the sound of Trent Lott’s voice called to mind the image of nooses hanging from trees? Or when Julianne Malveaux (left-wing syndicated columnist) openly wished in print that Clarence Thomas would die of a heart attack. Or when Nina Totenberg (PBS) hoped on-air that Jesse Helms would die of AIDS? Or when Harry Belafonte called our President the “biggest terrorist in the world” in a series of interviews with the foreign press? Could I not go on?

I regularly follow your MarketWatch columns—did I miss something or are you practicing selectivity in your disdain? Perhaps Ann Coulter believes she needs the outrage to be heard at all. Rail against Ann Coulter if you will—she may deserve it on occasion. But she is your creation and that of your journalistic brethren (themselves no strangers to outrageous statements).

Is Ms. Coulter in danger of becoming "obsolete" as you claim? Ask not for whom the bell of obsolescence tolls; for it may toll for thee.

Be well,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Copybooks, Markets, and Tigers….Oh my!

The Gods
I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by Rudyard Kipling (first introduced to me by my father) titled The Gods of the Copybook Headings. The premise of the poem is that man falls and fails with each generation to the extent that the new generation fails to remember the hard-fought lessons and wisdom of the past. It is a great read—thought dated in its analogy—and reiterates a truth common to us all.

The Capital Markets
Over the last few weeks, the stock market—being the bastion of sanity and stability that it is—took a header. Billions of dollars in market-valuation were wiped out more quickly than they ran up and gains for the year turned into losses. Friends and business associates alike screamed in pain. Before the final tallies were taken each day, fingers were rapidly pointing at villains du jour—to the right and the left. Stock proponents blamed comments made by Alan Greenspan (“He has retired, now he should keep his mouth shut!”), the larger fall in China’s Shanghai indices (“Currency controls restrict the markets!”), and banks themselves (“Sub-prime mortgages are destroying value!”). Even perpetual Bears—who go through life expecting a market’s fall—were aghast that their hoards of hidden gold bullion did not rise in glorious counterpoint to the falling market they have been predicting, lo these many years (several articles and blogs are adequately represented by the following headline from MarketWatch: “What forces are trying to hold down the price of gold?”).

The Tiger and the Monkey
There are several versions of a good story involving a tiger who looks up into a tree and sees a small monkey. The tiger says, “Come on down from the tree little monkey and play with me.” The monkey says, “No, no. I shall not, for you shall eat me up.” The tiger replies, “My days of eating monkeys are over, dear friend. Besides, you are so small! A tiger like me prefers much bigger game. Come down from the tree and play with me.” The monkey say, “I cannot trust you because you are a tiger and will eat me up!” The tiger looks up longingly and proclaims, “You are wrong small friend. I am simply lonely and desire your company. Come down from the tree and play with me for just a little while.” The monkey jumps down from the tree to play with the tiger. Quickly, the tiger seizes the little monkey and as the monkey is about to be devoured, he cries, “But you said that I am your friend and you would not eat me!?” To which the tiger replies, “What do you expect? I am only a tiger.”

Markets are Markets
Markets go up and markets go down—sometimes quickly—taking their revenge upon those who have forgotten that the market is, after all, just a market. No doubt I will have regular occasions to recall Rudyard Kipling and his fine work of poetry again in the future. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Be well,