Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beyond Human Devotion

Hawkeye was the beloved chocolate labrador retriever of Navy SEAL Jon "J.T." Tumlinson, who was killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6.

Even though Hawkeye will be well looked after--Tumlinson willed Hawkeye to a good friend who cared for the dog during deployments--it looks as though Hawkeye's heart will always belong to J.T.

As any dog owner knows, nothing can wrench our hearts like losing a beloved dog. The photo of Hawkeye lying next to his master's casket during funeral services for the fallen hero seems to prove that the heartache works both ways.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Human beings tend to get cozy in our monotonous daily routines. We begin to feel a certain amount of control over our destinies and a rising level of confidence that each day will be just like yesterday, unless we decide to make it different. As we grow comfortable in this delusional state of complacency, it never fails that eventually, some major event will occur to remind us we are both mortal and at the mercy of much larger forces in the universe.

This week, our cosmic reminder took the form of a rare earthquake rattling the U.S.A.’s eastern coast. Now, being a California resident for more than thirty years, I understand that earthquakes are scary episodes—especially the first experience of one. But the panicked reactions depicted in photos from Washington D.C. to New York almost crossed the line from drama into comedy. I mean, really, people. It was an earthquake, not the Second Coming. And just think, it only measured 5.8 in severity. Pace yourselves. As anyone living in Japan can tell you, things can get much worse.

Who would have thought it, but this might be time for East Coasters to look into some basic earthquake preparedness drills. Running outdoors, where falling debris might be hurtling in your direction, is not the best course of action. And standing next to a damaged high-rise building, staring up at broken glass windows, is a definite no-no.

Yesterday’s earthquake serves as a stark reminder that we are not in control. Nature is vastly powerful, and we are often at its mercy. No matter how calm and uneventful our lives may seem, it’s best to be prepared for a disaster, be it natural or manmade. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring—or the rest of today, for that matter. As any Californian can confirm, it’s a good idea to have a few extra gallons of drinking water, some canned soup, and a couple jars of peanut butter in the house at all times. Don’t let your prescriptions run too low. Keep batteries in the flashlights. Stash a change of clothes and a pair of track shoes in the trunk of your car.

Do all this for peace of mind, if nothing else. Then, the next time life shocks you—as eventually, it will—at least you’ll be semi-prepared.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ten-Step Solution

Dennis Prager’s article, “Still the Only Solution to the World’s Problems,” extols the benefits to society of following a simple set of rules recorded 3,000 years ago: the Ten Commandments.

It’s difficult to argue with Prager’s position. The Ten Commandments set a very high bar for human awareness, behavior, and social interaction, and logic will tell any thinking person that, if followed, they are a recipe for a peaceful world. Read them, with Prager’s insightful commentary on modern examples, and see if you aren’t compelled to agree.

When the influence of the Ten Commandments is absent from any society or civilization, what is the end result? Some tragic examples from the last century are Nazism, Communism and, currently, Islamism. The vast number of people who have suffered and died under these cruel regimes is incalculable.

A popular radio host and author, Prager is also a noted Hebrew scholar and teacher—quite an accomplished fellow. But he makes his case for the power of the Ten Commandments in plain language for anyone of any philosophy to read, learn from, and live by while in pursuit of a better world.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Picking and Choosing

Watching the presidential debate last night certainly helped me to narrow my choices for the Republican candidate. By the end of the debate, I had reached the following conclusions:

Who’s a No-Go?

Rick Santorum

The former senator from Pennsylvania is a crybaby. He made quite a show of complaining he wasn’t getting enough air time, although I think he was getting more than he deserved. Santorum is almost invisible in the polls. He couldn’t even get elected senator the last time he ran. What makes him think he can be president? Santorum lets people know when they’re getting under his skin. Since we already have a Whiner-in-Chief, Santorum needs to get over himself and move on.

Newt Gingrich

The former Speaker of the House wants to be president, but he takes umbrage at questions about why his campaign staff walked out on him. If you want to lead the country, you should be able to lead your employees first. Questions about why you can’t are fair and reasonable and deserve an honest and respectful answer. I don’t care how many fun facts and creative scenarios he can toss out in a split second. We already have an “I’m never wrong” president. Gingrich is too pompous for the job.

Ron Paul

I just wish he would go away. Please. Paul is like an eccentric, rambling uncle taking over the spare room. He makes John McCain look young, dynamic--and conservative. The anti-military Paul is sucking valuable airtime from the other candidates who actually have a chance, and he’s delusional if he thinks he will ever be president. Stop the madness and go home toTexas .

Tim Pawlenty

Remember Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment to never speak ill of a fellow Republican? Evidently Pawlenty doesn’t. With the rich mother lode of topics to address on why Obama should not be president and he should, Pawlenty chooses instead to attack a fellow candidate in the midst of the debate. That was bad judgment, and we already have too much of that in the White House. With his petty nonsense, Pawlenty proved he is not presidential timber.

Michele Bachmann

I like the congresswoman from Minnesota, but I want a candidate who can win. Bachmann embroiders her answers too much and has to backtrack too often. And she says too much that has nothing to do with being president. Did anyone really need to hear her private views on “submission”? That can of worms is going to be a recurring issue, especially with MSM nipping at her heels about it. It was totally avoidable if she had just kept quiet. What will fall out of her mouth next? Bachmann should stand by for a cabinet post (treasury secretary?) and bow out for now.

John Huntsman

The former Utah governor seemed lost in the sauce. I’m not sure what Huntsman is doing in the presidential race to begin with, and he didn't impress me last night. Sorry, Governor, there isn’t much else to say.

Who’s a Possibility?

Mitt Romney

The former Massachusetts governor has learned a lot since 2008. He’s smoother, quicker on his feet, and more informed. But Romney still sounds canned and carefully rehearsed. He picks his way through every response as if afraid an unexpected verbal bomb will detonate. However, his business and executive experience are his ticket, and I’ll vote for him if he is the candidate.

Herman Cain

It may not be practical of me, but I liked Cain the best. He has the business credentials the country needs, common sense, straightforwardness, and a sense of humor as an added bonus. He's also got many weak spots, but I think he’s sharp enough to learn fast. He's undoubtedly a long shot, but I’d vote for Cain in a heartbeat.

Rick Perry

No, he wasn’t in last night’s debate, but now that he’s announced he’s running, I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Receding Jobs

While the president is off celebrating his Big Five-O, the stock market took a bad tumble. Well, as Obama pointed out last night, he didn't mean "change we can believe in tomorrow." Evidently his miraculous powers take considerable time to gestate. Will it be three years before our superhero saves us? Four?

Hmm. I wonder how many more dips the Dow will take and how many more Americans will be out of work before the 2012 election?

On the topic of losing jobs, I recently watched "The Company Men." It's a smart film with a stellar cast portraying a familiar theme in today's hard times. Highly successful career men are caught in a corporate downsizing, and how they manage their misfortune reflects the torrent of emotions that any laid-off worker experiences. The movie also expresses the angst and guilt often felt by surviving managers who must cut their staff, as well as the coldness and greed of executives whose rise has lifted them above compassion.

I'm apprehensive that there will be many more "company men" out on the street before Americans see any signs of that elusive "change we can believe in" Obama was always talking about. Perhaps he was referring to the 2012 election? Now, there's a change I can believe in.