Monday, February 23, 2015



("Who Loves America?")

Do we not have a mandate to challenge a society that denies basic health care to millions, that incarcerates rather than corrects, that has sympathy for its soldiers at war but little room for them at home, that seeks to diminish rather than elevate the lives of illegal immigrants, that loves its guns but ignores its consequences?

Do we not have a mandate to challenge those among us who bend truth to fit their narrative, who distort and deny, who pretend and prevaricate, who leave science and knowledge to others, who have failed us but are somehow now entrusted with leading?

What is love for our country? It is love for the idea of democracy but not for every idea in a democracy. We fight for our freedoms but it does not mean each of us is free. We believe passionately in our potential for greatness, but it does not mean we are great.

We are a country with many flaws, with ever evolving dilemmas, lurching from one crisis to the next, trying to put out each small fire before it becomes a conflagration. We are constantly on watch, on guard and we must be diligent to protect what is best and protest what is not.

It is presumptuous and disgraceful of the former mayor of New York to question the President's passion for our country. Mr. Obama has suffered fools before and will surely hereinafter, but there is a line that Rudy Giuliani has crossed. Saying stupid things just to get applause has never seemed crueler. Shame on him.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Modern Face of War

So this is what it boils down to after all the missteps, the miscalculations, after we invaded under false pretenses, after we announced mission accomplished, after we stayed far too long and strayed  far afield, after all the blood has been shed and the instability has taken root,, after the seeds of hatred have multiplied and the images of brutal vicious death have been mockingly thrust upon the screen as a warning to us and as a cry for jihad, after all this time and all of this effort we are now left to consider a new strategy: out tweeting the enemy.

We are losing the battle of the minds. In the 21st century this turns out to be more critical than the fight in the trenches, for there no longer is a foe who stands before us in military garb announcing its intentions. Now everything appears in shadows, in hints, in momentary flashes of light and long stretches of darkness.  Now, borders and boundaries of allegiance have disappeared.Now it seems that nothing can be won by way of the conventional. Now it is all in promotional videos and slick advertising, as the campaign shifts from the battleground to the editing room. We no longer require generals, we need advertising executives.

It is a treacherous and dangerous time and it appears that we are always one step behind. We must learn a new language and a new way of thinking. We are facing a flexible foe, one capable of understanding the psyche of those it seeks to attract far better than we do in our ponderous, plodding fashion. We are last century's conventions.They are today's realities. 

For now we must stop doing the math in bullets and bombs. Our attack now lays on the internet. This is the modern face of war.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jon Stewart


Several million among us are about to get a little stupider. Jon Stewart has been able to inform and advise, teaching us while he ruminates on the absurdities that attack his senses, and by extension our own.

For a generation who barely knew of Brian Williams, Mr. Stewart's surprise announcement was a mini-tragedy. There will soon be another host of The Daily Show and maybe even one as witty and acerbic to fill the void. But there can never be another first to expand the concept of the manner in which our views are formed and our shortcomings are exposed. 

Presenting the news with humor, always poking and prodding, searching for the truth beneath the facade, those are the gifts bestowed upon us for the last 15 years by Jon Stewart. We have accepted them with the belief that they would remain with us far longer. Mr. Stewart's vast talents will be greatly missed.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pete Carroll, Village Idiot?

("Seahawk's Final Play Call Roundly Criticized")

This was the mother of all "Monday morning quarterbacking" calls. This was the one that provided the brightest of lines in the biggest of moments between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

But what were the odds that this selection would be so monumentally unsuccessful, not only failing to accomplish its mission, but snuffing out the chance of success, not merely an incompletion but an interception?  Russell Wilson had not thrown a pass into the opponent's hands all day, had only to get the ball one yard to a receiver, and even if the airborne 12.5 pounds of pressured football fell harmlessly to the ground, the clock would stop and there would be ample time for two more attempts at glory.

In the first half, the Seahawks had a choice to make in the waning seconds between the certainty of field goal and the mere hope of a touchdown. If the play failed, there was the thought  hanging menacingly in the air that no points would be put up on the board. But the touchdown was scored, and those watching surely praised Coach Carroll for his daring and his determination not to let the pressure of the moment make him less willing to trust his judgment and instinct.

His decision in the final moments of the Super Bowl seems a horrendous miscalculation only because everything went as wrong as it could. There was probably equal chance that a hand-off would be bobbled, or an exchange between quarterback and center muffed, or even that Lynch would fumble as he struggled to break into the end-zone.

It will most likely forever be known as The Call, as though the coach decided to bring in the water-boy to do an end around. But it was probably statistically rational and fundamentally not nearly as absurd as history will suggest.

Did Pete Carroll freeze at the most crucial moment of the most crucial game?  Did he turn from genius to village idiot in the blink of an eye?  No and hardly. But he will forever wear a dunce cap in the eyes of the many millions who find truth only in results.