Colin Powell: So Much Was Lost

Colin Powell:

His most memorable statement:

In early 2003, during the rush to invade Iraq, Powell was told that then-president George W. Bush slept like a baby.

 

Powell’s response was:

 

In February, Powell read a speech at the U. N. Defending the invasion, a speech which was full of lies.

What is missing: any clear acknowledgement, apology, or any atonement from him.

What was lost (not a complete list):

1. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, killed.

2. Millions more wounded and/or made homeless refugees.

3. Thousands of U. S. troops killed; tens of thousands wounded.

4. Powell’s reputation, credibility & integrity.

5. His future, and that of so many others.

6. Trillions of American citizens’ tax dollars, lost, wasted, stolen and diverted from the humane purposes and constructive needs of two generations, and counting.

May he and all the others rest in peace.
Especially the others.

 

Four New Views of Robert E. Lee: History Comes to Richmond

On a road trip with daughter Molly. She too is a history buff.  When we went to Richmond on Oct. 14, I was most eager to drive down fabled Monument Avenue, where a new history is overtaking a former one.

Stonewall Jackson, blood-spattered and bereft.

For more than a century, Monument Avenue was famous for a parade of mounted Confederate leaders, deemed “Heroes of The Lost Cause” by those who planted them. They seemed likely to hover forever above those who passed, permanently secure on huge granite pedestals.

But change has come to Richmond: all the figures in this procession, save one, are gone now. In their places are monuments of a very different kind. Many are almost blank, the lettering engraved on their sides nearly invisible.

Yet on one in particular, new texts & images abound. The current authorities have worked to hem in these new words, and obscure them within a circle of high tight fencing.

The traffic circle where Robert E. Lee stood since 1890 is tightly fenced in. But not tight enough to stop my camera.

Some of the new words are rude and profane. Their colors are strong and garish. The new artists did not, as far as I could tell, sign their work.

Lee’s statue was so big, its base had four sides, each of which became an oversized canvas & billboard.

Fortunately, my camera is small, and fit into many of the narrow gaps between the posts linking the fence’s dozens of sections together. Still, the messages are clear enough, if haphazardly arranged.

 

Only one statue on Monument Avenue stood undisturbed when we were there, that of tennis great Arthur Ashe, which went up in 1996, more than a century after the others. Ashe was born & raised there in the city’s rigidly segregated years.


Ashe is the only person of color among them and, as a writer for Sports Illustrated recently noted, the only winner in the pretentious parade. On the bronze visage, his arm is raised, but he brandishes  neither rifle nor sword but a tennis racket.

The image of the designated demigod of this doomed pantheon, Robert E. Lee, was the last to come down, on September 8, 2021, and it drew the most attention from the protest artists.

It stood in the center of its own traffic circle, and the massive pedestal remains. For how long, who can say?

But it is a monument still, covered with key texts of a new, and hotly contested “historical narrative.”  Here are my glimpses of it, through the fence, on all four sides.

How long, I wonder, will it stand?

Scaring the Shirt out of me: living with a busted supply chain

I hear about the messed up supply chain all the time. You know: the pandemic, a shutdown, an economic crash, China, the rollercoaster recovery, the Delta wave, etc., etc.

I’ve written about it too, how our washer has been on the blink for ten months now, waiting for a small part, made in China, which is Out There Somewhere. . . .

Well, here comes the complaint again, but this time there’s a bit of an upside. And I hope, some style. Because it’s about shirts.

l expect many readers are like me, and get catalogs in the (postal) mail. And if like me you’re of a certain age, you get catalogs aimed to make your “golden years” more comfortable.

But don’t worry, I’m not going for the gross-out stuff about geezer gadgets and gimmicks to help us relieve ourselves, replace our ears, hair, feet, backs, eyes and other incidentals.

Instead, let’s talk about shirts. Continue reading Scaring the Shirt out of me: living with a busted supply chain

A Tale of Two Bridges: Selma, 1965. Del Rio 2021.

Del Rio,Texas, September 2021. A U. S. Border Patrol agent snatches a Haitian refugee. Planeloads of such refugees, crowded under a nearby bridge, are being deported to Haiti. Their Caribbean homeland has been rocked by the assassination of the president, a major destructive earthquake, and generations of corruption and poverty.
March 1965: An Alabama state trooper stands over the body of civil rights activist Mrs. Amelia Boynton, who had been knocked unconscious during an attack on marchers demanding equal voting rights for Black Americans.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, being crossed by marchers, including the late John Lewis, who was also beaten in the 1965 attack.
2021: The Del Rio Ciudad Acuña International Bridge. Thousands of Haitians, some of whom have been refugees for tears, are gathering there, seeking refuge and safety. The U. S. Government wants to be rid of them.
2021: A U. S. Trooper stands guard over Haitian refugees under the Del Rio bridge. Food and sanitary facilities are in short supply.
2021: The Selma attack resulted in passage of the Voting Rights Act, or VRA. For almost fifty years, the VRA helped millions of previously excluded citizens to vote. But beginning in 2013, the increasingly rightwing U. S. Supreme Court dismantled it. By 2021, the law was all but dead. State actions to suppress votes by citizens of color were again rampant, and spreading like a pandemic.
What will happen to America next? “Quien sabe?” But today. I believe, somewhere, John Lewis is weeping.

 

 

Correction: My Personal Independence Day

Yes, it finally happened.

I’m free.

Dr. King spoke it best, but I can say it too:

And in the end, it was pretty easy:

– A quick search;

– The right turns in the Labyrinth of Settings.

– A single swipe;

– No money down, and

– Not even any “Accept” and “Agree” buttons to click.

Then, when I moved the little dot from “On” to “Off”

PRESTO! It was gone.

I had broken the shackles.

Sawed through the handcuffs.

Picked the lock on the thick cell door.

Yes, mark it on the calendar: September 19, 2021 is The Day I —

TURNED OFF “Auto Correct”!

Yes, much-maligned Google still had enough juice to point the way without putting me through several hours worth of self-playing ads.

And while the IOS geniuses of Apple had buried it several layers down, the switch was right where Google said it was supposed to be.

So now, I am finally liberated and able to feel at long last the thrill of—

Making my OWN stupid mistakes again.

Not some damned fiendishly inventively algorithm’s anymore. MINE.

I was late to the grim party of recording the old regime’s endless horrors: the slip of a pinkie on one letter that was used to turn a weighty colleague’s name into a rude insult; the recurrent demonstration that even after a serious brush with the Ivy League, I had no clue how “its” differed from “it’s”. Or with more at stake, the time  “Clopidogrel” (a blood thinner crucial to many heart patients) became “Cloud ogres” in an email to the Doc. Or when “Short link” turned into “chortling”; and “Bibles” morphed into “Orca inlets.” (Not making any of these up. Other sufferers will have their own lists of lasting humiliations.)

But those days should finally be past. Now the ball is back in my court, and the old gang of familiar typos and screwups can regather, where they’ll be, one hopes, more manageable, less monumentally dumb.

I mean, “Orca inlets”??

 

 

 

 

 

Capitol Pro-Insurrection rally: An Independent View

The much-ballyhooed Sept. 18 rally in support of the January 6 Capitol invasion was largely ignored by much U. S. Media Saturday afternoon.

By midafternoon, the Drudge Report still featured it, but Fox News was fixated on refugees crossing the Texas border. Other networks were also ignoring the rally.

But The Independent, a major UK daily, had a succession of end-to-end live dispatches. Here are some excerpts:

Far fewer than expected in attendance at Capitol

While the rally has officially begun, crowds are much smaller than had been anticipated. Around 700 people were expected to attend the event, but so far no more than 200 protesters have shown up. Scores of media and security personnel are on site too.
– – –
Rally speaker reads note comparing treatment of rioters to Holocaust victims

As the rally progressed on Saturday in front of a small audience of supporters and a larger group of assembled media, one female speaker read a note claiming to have been authored by the mother of a defendent currently awaiting trial for their actions on 6 January.
The note’s most shocking line indefensibly likened the treatment of accused rioters to victims of the Holocaust, which the author justified by claiming that the accused persons did not have access to shaving equipment or haircuts.

“This reminds me of how the Jewish people were treated by the Nazis,” the female speaker said, reading from the note.

The woman identified herself as “Kelly” and as the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, a man accused of attacking Capitol Police officers with a stick or other blunt weapon of some kind during the 6 January attack.
– – –

Attendee tells NBC she’d celebrate ‘nuclear bomb’ being dropped on Capitol

A paralegal from Georgia who argued that she did not support the mob that stormed the Capitol but nevertheless was at the rally in support of them on Saturday told NBC News that she wanted to see the US Capitol destroyed in a nuclear blast.

“If a nuclear bomb dropped on that Capitol building,” said 58-year-old Lori Smith, “I would celebrate.”

The woman went on to argue that the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, a woman who was killed while allegedly attempting to breach the House chamber with lawmakers inside, should be charged in a manner similar to Derek Chauvin, the former officer convicted of killing George Floyd.

Capitol Police announced that the officer, who recently revealed his identity publicly as Lt. Michael Byrd, would not face disciplinary action.
– – –
Attendees chant names of two rioters slain during Capitol attack
One of the speakers at Saturday’s rally led rally attendees in a chant of the names of two women killed during January’s assault on the Capitol.
The small crowd, along with the female speaker, chanted the names of Ashli Babbitt, who is thought to have been shot by a police officer and killed while inside the building attempting to breach the House chambers, and Roseanne Boyland, who was trampled outside of the building as chaos ensued while hundreds of protesters attacked Capitol Police barricades.
– – –
Rally concludes less than two hours after beginning
Saturday’s rally on the grounds of the Capitol ended with little fanfare and none of the violence feared by law enforcement and residents of DC ahead of the event, likely due in no small part to the small crowd size and overwhelming police presence.

Videos showed rallygoers walking calmly out of the Union Square venue as counterprotesters blared the YG & Nipsey Hussle hit, “FDT (F*ck Donald Trump).
– – –
– 4:40 PM EDT: Stage taken down, attendees, media, law enforcement leave

The last remnants of the Justice for J6 rally were already disappearing mid-afternoon on Saturday as a few stragglers remained behind to debate with counter-protesters who also attended.

Well, that’s a wrap, folks. Stage & law enforcement all wrapped up and gone after the Justice for J6 rally, where many people commented that the number of members of the media seemed to match the number of protesters. No violent incidents that I saw. Some ppl lingering to debate pic.twitter.com/4xNFCeiK3A

— Emily Brooks (@emilybrooksnews) September 18, 2021
A massive law enforcement presence and dozens of reporters also were seen clearing the area as the event concluded and the stage was torn down, leaving only the Capitol fencing as a reminder of the rally.

A Tortured evasion of the ultimate issue in U. S. Torture

Usually it’s gratifying to see the New York Times devote a rare column to the ongoing outrage of the U.S. resort to torture during the failed “war on terror.”

But not today.

Today’s article, The Legacy of America’s Post-9/11 Turn to Torture, mostly ticked me off:

“Twenty years after the attacks, the United States is still grappling with the consequences of brutal interrogations carried out in the name of national security.”

Not really. Not in this piece at least. Continue reading A Tortured evasion of the ultimate issue in U. S. Torture

Reflecting on 9/11: My Other Lost Cause

From a letter to a friend:
They’re talking and talking about the 20th observances for the 11th,
with Biden going nonstop,
and there’s an article in the Times or somewhere
about a bunch of the books which supposedly show
all the ways we totally screwed up the impact & aftermath of all that.
Which is all true enough,
But I can’t bear to read it, though I have read a stack of such titles.
And I don’t want to hear all that retriggering retraumatizing stuff on Saturday, or today either,
Tho I know they have to do it.
I think I’m going to hide out that day.
Oh wait — I’m already hiding out. So where do I go from here?

Continue reading Reflecting on 9/11: My Other Lost Cause

A Quaker Theologian for Our Hard Times.

A substantial Holiday Weekend Read:

I always feel uneasy when finding myself in agreement with rightwing Catholic pundit Ross Douthat. But in his August 31 NYTimes column, he nails it, mocking the spectacle of :

”  . . . generals and grand strategists who presided over quagmire, folly and defeat fanning out across the television networks and opinion pages to champion another 20 years in Afghanistan. You have the return of the media’s liberal hawks and centrist Pentagon stenographers, unchastened by their own credulous contributions to the retreat of American power over the past 20 years.

“Our botched [Afghanistan] withdrawal is the punctuation mark on a general catastrophe, a failure so broad that it should demand purges in the Pentagon, the shamed retirement of innumerable hawkish talking heads, the razing of various NGOs and international-studies programs and the dissolution of countless consultancies and military contractors.”

But I’m not nodding to Douthat today about Afghanistan. It’s more the “general catastrophe,” or cascading crises, that have been similarly botched and booted by our rulers and most of our reigning “elites.”  And rather than piling on, I’m looking for some help in getting through and making some hopeful sense in the aftermath, if there is to be one. Someone outside the discredited mainstream pundits and bemedaled poseurs.

Which brings me to Jim Corbett.

Continue reading A Quaker Theologian for Our Hard Times.

Surviving our COVID-Induced Coma

Yes, things could definitely be worse: the filibuster is still in place. The Chief Insurrectionist remains unindicted. And the wildfires and hurricanes!

But there has been some summer relief around here. The fires and hurricanes have missed us so far. Delta has too, tho it’s still prowling the neighborhood. And we’re (almost all) out of Afghanistan.

Yet we have paid some pandemic dues. Maybe one of the biggest hits is the member of the household remaining in a COVID-induced coma, which has now lasted almost nine months.

No, it’s not me, or the Fair Wendy, and not our cat.

It’s our washer. (Washer-dryer, actually; a cool compact combo.)

The thing served faithfully for eight years,  including the first three seasons of the pandemic. But then around last Christmas,  it came down with a fever, which soon became general & paralytic.

The appliance guys came and did major surgery.  It wasn’t as bad as it looked, they said. Recovery was sure, they said. But to beat the bug definitively, and before stitching it back together, they said they needed a part. Maybe it was in the truck. Continue reading Surviving our COVID-Induced Coma