Saturday, December 31, 2011

Questions for the New Year

1. The Republican House of Representatives are not "obstructionists." Here is a link to their votes in the second half of December 2011. They've gotten more done in two weeks than President Obama has accomplished in three years. Why can't they communicate that effectively to the voting public?

2. Can you cash a check without identification? Neither can I. Requiring ID for voting, which is the most important act in a free society, should be a no-brainer. "Brain" being the operative word. Why is this hard?

3. President Obama has golfed for the equivalent of three months since taking office in January 2009. Yet he says Americans have gotten "soft and lazy." What's wrong with this picture?

Happy New Year. Can I vote now?

Friday, December 30, 2011


Unbroken was on my Christmas list, and I must have been a good girl this past year. I received it as one of my gifts and have been ripping through it since December 26.

Today I have less than one-third of the book to finish reading, and I can recommend it highly to anyone who has an interest in riveting stories, excellent writing, vivid history, wartime cruelty, the enduring strength of the human spirit, the brave actions of inspiring people, or any combination of the above.

There's a reason this book, published in 2010, continues to populate numerous best seller lists. The one-time Olympic runner Louie Zamperini's story, as told by the incomparable American author Laura Hillenbrand, will grip you from the first page of the preface and not let go. I've heard Mr. Zamperini interviewed on the radio--he's now a cheerful, chatty 94-year old whose sunny attitude and sense of humor belie the extensive horrors he endured nearly 70 years ago.

Unbroken is an American story, but it's also a universally appealing story of faith, determination, and triumph over evil's deepest darkness. If you aren't one of the millions of readers who have already done so, treat yourself to an enthralling read with Unbroken.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Prayer for Obama

I've heard there's an interesting bumper sticker showing up on the road, although I've not yet seen it. The sticker says "Pray for Obama" and cites a Bible verse: Psalm 109:8.

Curious about the cryptic message, I turned to the reference in my KJV Bible, and here's what I read in Psalm 109, verse 8:

"Let his days be few,
And let another take his office."


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tebow or Not Tebow?

It's a truism that we never know what the next day will bring. For two Long Island teenagers, a recent school day swept them up into a totally unexpected media hurricane.

Connor and Tyler Carroll, my nephews and godsons, are riding the whirlwind of overblown publicity that has engulfed what I view as a clear case of boys being boys.

The hallway prank at Riverhead High School took on "a life of its own," as Connor said. Dozens of classmates joined the fun, and the twins found themselves abruptly suspended for one day. Oops.

The school's justification, that the kneeling throngs were creating a safety hazard, is reasonable. But a heads up to the kids would have been the mature thing to do. The administrators are the grownups here. Why be so reactionary?

I spoke with the boys this morning, grateful that aunty could find a time slot available on their busy media interview schedule. I told them both to have fun with this unexpected adventure and also to try to fly under the radar for the rest of the school year. They're seniors, heading for college next year, and really don't need the aura of controversy surrounding the application process.

One never knows what the next day will bring. For Tyler and Connor, who knows? Maybe the first step to a career in sports.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fading into History

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bowing to the passage of time, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbands at the end of this month. This ending was inevitable, but it is still sad.

A living connection to such a historic event makes it seem more real and vivid. As the last of the Pearl Harbor survivors pass on, we will be left with second hand recountings that can never fully capture the impact.

"Remember Pearl Harbor!" will soon become a whispered plea from the past rather than a battle cry for the present. To all who died that day, may you ever rest in peace. To the few loyal survivors who still honor the memories of their fallen fellow servicemen, thank you always.

Photo: Hugh Gentry, Reuters
Video: YouTube

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Obama Lessons

Victor Davis Hanson's recap of what President Obama has taught us--unintentionally--in the past three years is not to be missed. It's cheerless reading, but it's so important to note the primary source of our current national travails.

November 2012 can not come soon enough.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Preoccupied by Emotion

Being of a certain age, I remember the Vietnam War years well. So many people have remarked to me that the Occupy Wall Street (OSW) hoards are “like the 60s.”

I think not. There is at least one glaring difference between the grungy ‘60s war protestors and the current OSW crop--in the ‘60s, we knew what we were protesting.

Some of my contemporaries railed against the government; others fumed against the military itself. The personal approaches may have varied, but the result was the same: a protestor who had a grasp of his or her issue.

My objection was never to the military per se. Even in my ignorant youth, I respected our troops, although not with the soaring gratitude and appreciation I feel today. The source of my teen-aged protest was focused and specific.

Back then, we did not have a volunteer military force as we do today. Military service was compulsory during the Vietnam War. The draft age was eighteen, but the legal voting age was twenty-one. The fact that young men were being ordered to serve in the military by a political system that allowed them no voice in choosing their elected government representatives was outrageous to me. And so, I carried my candle and marched to the tune of “We Shall Overcome.” With the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971, 18-year-olds were given the right to vote, and the vehemence of my opposition softened. We had overcome, so to speak. I still objected to the war, but I believed that some sense of fairness had been achieved.

Today’s protestors have a more nebulous case. In fact, I have yet to hear any of them coherently articulate any concrete source of their discontent. They're simply ticked off about the economy. Well, who isn't? Ask any working person with a 401(k) account how he or she likes how things are going financially. They're not happy, but they're not pitching personal tents on public property (probably because they need to get up and go to work in the morning).

The best interpretation I can make of the the OWS movement is that they are against “the rich,” “greed,” and “corporations.” I find it ironic that they spend their copious idle time surfing through their Androids, iPhones, iPads, and iPods--all produced by rich, greedy corporations. I also wonder how many of them grew up being housed, clothed, and fed by paychecks issued to one or both of their parents by rich, greedy corporations.

If there is a disconnect, obviously the Occupiers don’t see it. Has there been abuse of power by those at the top of large corporations? Have they been dishonest and greedy? Yes, absolutely, the guilty parties have without a doubt been abusive, dishonest, and greedy--and all of us have suffered mightily for it. We are still reeling from the corruption and unethical behavior of American financial and mortgage institutions. The offending organizations have not even begun to offer sufficient amends for the damage they have wrought. They just keep taking. On that point, I'm with the protestors.

But there are further questions worthy of consideration by any thinking OWS protestor--"thinking" being the operative word.

How many ordinary working people in the "99%" have been negatively affected by the OWS protests? I’m talking about fellow citizens who are working office jobs in the business districts of America, the middle class employees making an average salary, supporting a family, and facing a gauntlet of protestors each morning trying to reach their desks. How many mom-and-pop shops and cafes that used to serve busy workers have seen their business slow to a crawl and watched their incomes shrink or disappear because of the protestors’ obnoxious presence? Why do the OWS protestors assume that they have the "right" to cause difficulty, even harm, to small business owners and working fellow citizens with their noise, disruption, and mess? These are questions that every thoughtful person should examine on a rational--not an emotional--level.

One more question--how much taxpayer money is all the law enforcement and cleanup activities costing the working citizens?

The photo of Zuccotti Park in this post was taken by my niece, who works in Manhattan’s financial district. She told me that one day her boss walked into the park full of protestors, in his designer suit, to talk to them one-on-one. A particular young man impressed him as having intelligence and real potential. The executive gave his business card to the protestor and told him, “When you get over your daddy issues, give me a call.” Within days, the protestor did just that.

It's a reality of life that, sooner or later, all of the Wall Street Occupiers will need to grow up.

Honoring the Horse Soldiers

The statue is of a soldier in action, riding horseback in the line of duty. He's in uniform and outfitted in full gear. He appears to be turning to call to his fellow troops.

This monument is not commemorating the American conflict in the 18th century, the Revolutionary War, or the 19th century's War Between the States. This statue depicts a Green Beret ten years ago, at the start of the Afghanistan war following September 11, 2001.

It's true that we learn something new each day--if we pay attention. I had never known that the first troops in the current war rode horseback in the rugged landscape of Afghanistan.

"It was as if the Jetsons had met the Flintstones," said Captain Will Summers, former Special Forces team sergeant for the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), as his team linked up and operated with members of the Afghan Northern Alliance just weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

The horse soldiers are just one of the many quiet background stories that underscore the dedication and resourcefulness of our military heroes. It is gratifying to know that their story has been captured in bronze and positioned for all to see, standing close by the site of the Twin Towers that were destroyed on 9/11.