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News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Aaron Alexis, Economic Austerity

My barber for the last seven years has died. Mr. Willie L. Shivers was a wonderful man. He was 93!! He was still very active. Hell, he was more active that I am. If you have seen the movie Barbershop… that was Mr. Shivers. He always had something to say. He was thoughtful and kind. He didn’t mention the fact that he was a World War II veteran. When you think about it, is that all you want from someone? Mr. Shivers will be missed. He is survived by two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Government shutdown – well, here we are again. It’s been a little over a year since we’ve heard the phrase “government shutdown.” Now we face discussions (or arguments, rather) over the federal budget and also about raising the debt ceiling. Last week, some lukewarm bill looked like it was coming to the floor before Republicans killed their own bill. Paul Krugman has more – So, now we face the imminent threat of a government shutdown and/or a U.S. government default because Republicans refuse to accept the notion that duly enacted legislation should be allowed to go into effect, and repealed only through constitutional means. The cause for such GOP threats of chaos is ensuring that tens of millions of Americans continue to lack essential health care.

Terrie Hall has died

Terrie Hall has died

The woman in the CDC’s anti-smoking ad has died. She reminded me of Yul Brynner’s ad that he took out before he died.

Look, we always are trying to find the “key” to any mass murder. There seems to be this reflexive, knee-jerk reaction that we as Americans have to these incidents. We foolishly believe that if we had only unlocked one or two things, we could’ve seen this coming. Hogwash. The one thing that is clear is that we are terrible at predicting individual human behavior. It turns out that Aaron Alexis was in the VA hospital system. Although he had some ringing in his ears and some other disorders, he was not labeled as a paranoid schizophrenic. There are no simple answers. Investigations into how he slipped through the cracks and had clearance to be on a Navy Yard base will be ongoing for the next several months. Don’t expect there to be any specific revelations. We’ve seen how these investigations work. They simply will be inconclusive. On the other hand, there is one thing that is clear from this latest shooting incident. The NRA is completely wrong that a good man with the gun will beat a bad man with a gun. We simply need fewer guns. No other country in the world has the number of mass shootings that we do. BTW, did you read the sad note from the mother of Aaron Alexis?  (more…)

By |2013-09-21T21:30:26-04:00September 18th, 2013|Books, Economy, Mass Shooting|Comments Off on News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Aaron Alexis, Economic Austerity

2013 Martin Luther King Jr Reading & Reference List

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(Blogger’s Note—This is the 6th updated version of this list.)

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King Jr was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole. (more…)

By |2013-01-25T06:30:17-04:00January 25th, 2013|Books, Poverty, Race, Religion|3 Comments

500 Days by Kurt Eichenwald

500 days by Kurt Eichenwald

For generations we will be studying the immediate aftermath of 9/11 with the same intense scrutiny that we studied the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and the Revolutionary war. There will be scholars who will agree and disagree about this decision or that decision. There are several books that have already addressed the atmosphere before 9/11 and immediately afterward. One of the best books, in my opinion, was Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies. This book was a personal yet comprehensive account of how the United States throughout the 1990s and early in the Bush administration struggled to get a handle on the growing threat from terrorism. Whether you like Richard Clarke or not, this is not the issue. His information has stood the test of time. The second book, less popular, but no less important, is Bob Graham’s book, Intelligence Matters. Sen. Bob Graham was chairman of the Senate intelligence committee during 9/11. His book focuses more on intelligence failures or lapses. He looks for ways in which the intelligence community could have connected the dots and possibly prevented the 9/11 tragedy. Another book that I would like to put on this list is Bob Woodward’s Bush at War. The reason that I am hesitant to place this book on this list is that Bob Woodward’s work has become so politicized. Some of his work is excellent, as in Bush at War. Some of his work is more sensational and, in my opinion, designed to sell books rather than to deliver information. Jane Mayer’s book, The Dark Side, must also be placed on this list.

500 Days belongs in this same category. It is a fantastic work which looks at the first 500 days of the Bush administration. If you’re looking for a book that either praises or condemns President George W. Bush, then you need to find another book. This book, instead of heaping superficial praise on any one individual, examines specific policies and attempts to figure out who made the decision, why the decision was made and on what evidence the decision was made. If you’re looking for a definitive answer, or whether a particular decision was great or awful, those sorts of judgments are not in this book.

There are several themes developed in 500 Days. One of the most important themes is how the United States conducted the War on Terror. The War on Terror is multifaceted. It involves the military, the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Border Patrol and the Department of the Treasury, just to name a few. This book discusses the decisions made in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in order to try to prevent a second attack. George Tenet, director of Central Intelligence, was convinced tate 9/11 was the first in a series of attacks. The FBI and the CIA were convinced that there were sleeper cells here in the United States and abroad and that these cells were ready to act. Because of this, the Bush administration always felt that they were behind the eight ball. The Bush administration felt that they needed to catch up in order to prevent the next attack. (more…)

By |2012-10-30T22:36:19-04:00October 30th, 2012|Books|Comments Off on 500 Days by Kurt Eichenwald
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