It’s Been An Exhausting Few Days

I’m tired. Tired of the horror. Tired of senseless terrorist crimes. Tired of beheadings. Tired of seeing people burned to death, locked in cages. I’m tired of politicians who will do anything to violate their oaths of office and shut down this country’s government.

Tired of seeing yet another story of people being made to die “while they’re having fun – eating in a restaurant, listening to a concert, watching a soccer game – freedoms we take too much for granted,” as Madonna put it in Stockholm on Saturday night, after refusing to cancel her concert and “let them win”.

I am tired of Donald Trump’s foolishness, and his wall. I am tired of Ben Carson and his disbelief in science, his denial of global warming and – yes – his belief that ‘gayness is a choice’. I am tired of Charles and David Koch (who couch the pronunciation of their name as if it were a soft drink), who, despite having more money than god, for some reason believe it’s a good idea for them to accumulate more.

I am tired of “Dr. Oz” being revered as a reputable man of science even as he  abuses his position to hawk a spectrum of products only slightly less obnoxiously than the late Billy Mays, an admitted product-pusher, promoted Oxi-Clean.

I am tired of televangelists, who must send hypnotizing waves through their radio and TV broadcasts – there’s no other possible explanation for their totally incredible success at luring in followers and their dollars – of the likes of Creflo Dollar, who told his flock that ‘god wanted him to have’ a $75 million  “long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft [as] a tool that is necessary in order to fulfill the mission of the ministry” which “is centered,” he says, “on biblical principles directly from the Word of God.” (And as George Strait put it, about his ‘ocean-front property in Arizona,’ “If you buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in, too.”)

I am tired of wondering how Louisiana, even as the one-time stomping ground of Huey Long, saddled itself with Bobby Jindal – who, in the official ‘Republican Response to President Obama’s Speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009’, gave the most inane, close-to-insane speech the country had heard since the 1963 day when Governor George Wallace stood in a University of Alabama doorway preventing the school’s integration by two Black students.

I am tired of being reminded – fortunately infrequently – that there ever were and continue to be followers of something known as Insane Clown Posse, perhaps better described here.

I am tired of being impressed – negatively, as it happens – that there have been, in the not-distant-enough past, entertainers billing themselves as Ice T and Ice Cube, names almost as dopy as at least a couple of those adopted by Calvin Broadus, Jr., who I delight in referring to as Snoopy Dog DoDo.

(Whatever happened to good singer/group names such as The Ink Spots, Dion and the Belmonts [based on the Bronx street where two of the four lived], and The Rolling Stones [who just keep on, despite all odds, an amazing 53 [fifty-three!!] years later, doing so). (I once worked near, and hung out in a pub only a pedestrian-bridge walk from, one of the first venues they ever played – on Eel Pie Island in the Thames, a few miles west of London.)

Isn’t it time that we Imagine something better? That we Give Peace a Chance? We, as the human race. We as occupants of a delicate planet that – quite foolishly, with little regard for the children of the children we are producing in far too great numbers – we are destroying. We who fight small and huge battles that, by their nature, can never produce, without a frighteningly large loss of life and property, even a semblance of a ‘win’ for most of those who’ll have to put the pieces back together again – even as the warmongers and politicians and their ilk march, never innocently, toward the next war.

Madonna was right: We can’t let “them” win – steal our freedoms, destroy everything supposedly-free people hold dear.

The ISIS mob, even the home-grown evil-doers and wannabes; The supposedly sane among us most seize the moral compass, right the ship of state, and never let them win.

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Is U.S. About To Threaten Russian Planes Over Syria?

F-15-cNow here’s a scary thought: The Daily Beast suggested earlier today that U.S. F-15-C fighter planes, which are designed for and limited to air-to-air combat, could be destined to engage Russian planes over Syria in the near future. The Pentagon announced late last week that a dozen of the twin-engine fighters were being deployed to Turkey, supposedly “to ensure the safety” of America’s NATO allies, as a Defense Department spokesperson said to The Beast.

“That could mean that the single-seat F-15s and the eight air-to-air missiles they routinely carry will help the Turkish air force patrol Turkey’s border with Syria, intercepting Syrian planes and helicopters that periodically stray into Turkish territory,” the web site speculated – adding:

“But more likely, the F-15s will be escorting attack planes and bombers as they strike ISIS militants in close proximity to Syrian regime forces and the Russian warplanes that, since early October, have bombed ISIS and U.S.-backed rebels fighting the Syrian troops.”

Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported today, quoting Russian media sources, that U.S. and Russian jets “have conducted drills jointly to prevent the possibility of their air forces clashing in Syrian airspace.” The Times cited Russian Army Col. Andrei Kartapolov as having told the Sputnik news outlet that, “Today at 11 a.m. Moscow time, Russian and US air forces carried out joint drills on actions by crews and land personnel in cases when aircraft fly in close proximity to each other.”

While seeming to argue against The Daily Beast’s speculation, it is not unheard of for Russia to say one thing and do another – or for the U.S. to do likewise where Russia is concerned. That’s why The Carnegie Corporation of New York – self-described as “a foundation with an historical commitment to improving the U.S. ability to understand Russia and interpret its policies – noted a year ago, in October of 2014, that, “If there is one point of agreement between pundits in Moscow and Washington these days, it is that U.S.-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War nadir.”

Then, recently, The Corporation issued a statement under the name of Deana Arsenian, Vice President International Programs and Program Director, Russia and Eurasia, that, “For those of us with longstanding interest in U.S.-Russia relations, the current state of affairs is as distressing as it is alarming. By all accounts, this critical relationship has reached a point of rupture.”

Ms. Arsenian continued: “What led to [the current situation] can be endlessly debated by policy officials, experts, the media, and the public in both countries and beyond. And, indeed, it is, with varying perspectives on the root causes of the present situation and what should be done about it.”

Fine and good as that may be, foundations sometimes have a way of taking so long to figure out what’s causing a problem that, in the meantime, the problem has worsened.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin already none too happy with President Barack Obama – and vice versa – and with war planes of the two nations within bulls-eye shooting distance of each other (The Times of Israel report says the planes of the two nations flew, in their joint drills, “a minimally safe distance of 5.5 kilometers [3.4 miles]” from each other), one can only hope that communications between the Pentagon and the White House, on one side, and the Kremlin on the other, are more active than either side is prepared to say.

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Please checkout Commotion In The Pews, an eclectic blog by a brilliant (ex-Naval Intelligence) guy with a fascinating range of interests and a hobby being Santa, wherever he’s invited, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Some of what Joe Courtemanche writes about probably won’t excite you, but at the very least, you more than likely will be impressed by his common sense, and the way he tells his tales.