Archive for November, 2015

Letter From New York 11 30 15 Stepping up to hope…

November 30, 2015

Brian Gallagher.  Joe Boardman.  Amtrak. Hudson River. West Point. X-tra Mart murder.  IS.  COP21. Climate Change Conference. Producer’s Guild of America.“Tut” SpikeTV. Christ Church.  Hope.

It’s a grey day, chill and gloomy.  The train is crawling south toward the city.  In front of me is Brian Gallagher, who is the sidekick of Joe Boardman, President of Amtrak, who is sitting across from him.  Brian is by way of being a friend and  I went up to say hello to Brian when I saw him, realized that Boardman was across from him and said hello to him too.  He seems a very shy man, something Brian is not.  Perhaps that’s why they seem to make a good team.

The Hudson River is smooth as a mirror, reflecting the muted colors on the banks above it.

With me I am carrying twenty pounds of textbooks from which I must choose the one I will use in the class I will be teaching at our local community college near the cottage.  It’s challenging and I have to make the plunge by Friday.

That said, I’m excited about teaching the class. 

Waking up around seven, I almost immediately plunged into emails and got lost in them.  Before I drove to the train station, I organized all the Christmas presents I’ve purchased during the year in piles for the person for which they are intended.  With Christmas carols playing, I found myself in a festive mood.

Which is the mood in which I intend to stay.

It was, as you know, a harsh weekend out there.  Our local tragedy was that a woman, working at the X-tra Mart not far from my local grocery store, allegedly went into the restroom, gave birth to a baby boy, strangled him and disposed of his body in a trash bin outside the store and then returned to work.

She is currently in the hospital receiving a mental evaluation.

As is the man who shot dead three in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’re all a little crazy.  I think it is part of the human condition but these folks are really crazy, in tragic ways.

Crazy zealous are the members of IS, who, I think, honestly believe they are doing what God wants of them.  How you believe in such a crazy God is another question, but they do.

On a brighter note, COP21, the Climate Change Conference, has begun meetings in Paris.  Out of this might come good news, of nations agreeing to work together to cool the planet, which was warmer last year than any other year in recorded history.

That’s important to remember that we’re talking about “recorded history.”  The planet has gone through much colder and warmer times. 

As I am a member of the Producer’s Guild of America, I get screening copies of movies and television shows to watch for judging purposes.  One of them I got was “Tut,” the massive SpikeTV mini-series.  As I was watching, it occurred to me that it is amazing how humans seemed to make a leap toward civilization about 10,000 years ago and haven’t looked back.

The time we have wandered the planet as beings you and I would recognize, has been an incredibly short amount of time.

As I am choosing to be joyous, nature has chosen to support me with a burst of sunshine.  We have just sped past West Point and the sun is glittering off the river water.

Every Sunday that I go to Christ Church, I light a candle for myself, for a friend who is struggling with brain cancer and one for all the things I should be lighting a candle for, like world peace and the eradication of poverty.

I’m older now than I have ever been and will only continue down that path and as age piles upon me [with attendant wisdom, one hopes] I will continue to seek to be grateful for all the wonders of the world, those which I have experienced and the ones which lie ahead of me.

Letter From New York 11 28 15 Walking toward Christmas…

November 28, 2015

First Sunday in Advent.  Christ Church Episcopal. Shooting at Planned Parenthood. Obama. Media and Society. Pope Francis. Kampala, Uganda. John F. Kennedy. Erdogan. Putin. Climate Conference. Justin Trudeau. Queen Elizabeth II.

Christmas. Pandora.

It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I’ve been up for a while but am still rubbing the sleep from my eyes while sipping my second cup of good, strong coffee.  It is a long, lazy day ahead of me. 

The day is very grey and the deck of my house is wet with the results of light rain through the night.  In other words, it is drear out there.  The unseasonable warmth has receded and I am warming the interior of the cottage with the soft sounds of “Cool Jazz Radio” on Pandora.

Today, at 3:30, young Nick is coming over and we’ll do what we do every Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We will put up the tree and decorate the cottage for

Christmas.  I will begin to play Christmas music and the season of celebration will commence.

Tomorrow is the First Sunday in Advent.  I enjoy the sense of community I get from attending Christ Church Episcopal.  Back, a long time ago, a friend of mine described herself as “quite spiritually moist” when asked by her boyfriend, an evangelical Christian, if she didn’t feel something was missing in her spiritual life?

I guess I might describe myself as “spiritually moist” myself.

Yesterday, I almost started to write a blog but didn’t.  The shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs affected me rather badly.  What, ANOTHER shooting? 

For reasons I don’t quite fathom, it rocked me; I felt broken in some way.  Obama has said, “Enough is enough.”  True but how to achieve it?

Today is better.  I got up and wanted to write.  The coziness of the cottage is alluring.   I could sit here and do my best to ignore the world but how can I?

On January 20th, I will start teaching a class at the local community college called “Media and Society.”  Can’t turn my back on the world while teaching that class…

300,000 people attended a mass in Kampala, Uganda offered by Pope Francis on his first trip to Africa.  Another 150,000 young people attended a “pep rally” at an unused airfield.  Francis urged Ugandans to be “missionaries at home” by attending to the old, ill and abandoned in that country.

For all his many flaws, John F. Kennedy was a beacon in his time.  Francis is a beacon of hope in this time.  In Argentina, he was known as “the bishop of the slums” of Buenos Aries. Now is the Pope to the slums of the world.

Paris, if it is even possible at this point, has increased security in advance of the Climate Change Conference coming there this coming week.

The young man who was the mastermind of the Paris Attacks on November 13th, planned more attacks, on Jews and on transport and schools.  He had grand plans for terrorizing France.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is hoping to have a private moment with Putin at the Climate Change Conference in Paris, hoping to tone down the tension that has been rising between Turkey and Russia since the Turks shot down a Russian warplane.

On his way to the Climate Conference, new political heartthrob, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, stopped off at the Commonwealth Conference in Malta.  He, of course, toasted the Queen of England, Elizabeth II and commented that she had seen more of Canada than most Canadians.  She responded: thank you for making me feel so old, said with a smile.

Yesterday it was nearly 66 degrees.  Today it is 37.  I am tempted to curl up in the cottage and ignore the world but I won’t.  I’m off to the gym after a Thanksgiving break and then to the Dot for food and this afternoon, the tree.

Despite the world’s woes, I am going to push myself toward my inner Christmas self and celebrate what is right with the world and not what is wrong.

Letter From New York 11 25 15 On Thanksgiving Eve…

November 25, 2015

It is 5:12 on Thanksgiving Eve and it is dark out, pitch black.  The sun has receded and gone to sleep for the night.  As often is the case, jazz is playing and I am writing what probably will be a fairly quick Letter.

In the kitchen, I am preparing pumpkin soup for tomorrow, a quick and easy Jacques Pepin recipe I found some time ago and dearly love — as do the people to whose house I am going tomorrow for the Thanksgiving feast. 

When I finish that, I am going on to do the creamed pearl onions with peas.

Tomorrow, I will do the cranberries once I have decided on a recipe.  Then, around one, will pack it into the car and head up to Larry and Alicia’s where I’ll be, staying at their place for the night so I don’t have to drive back after all the feasting and fun.

Lionel will be there and has been asked to bring along his sheet music so he can bash out some tunes for us after dinner.

So, for me, this has been a day of prepping, which I find fun.  Had a haircut, for which I was overdue.

Even without the fire, it is cozy in the cottage.  In about half an hour I am going to head over to Lionel’s house where he is cooking us dinner.

Cooking onions now…

While I am involved in the pleasantries of prepping for The Great American Holiday, which I love almost as much as Christmas, I know the world is not having the fun I’m having.

There is the knotty problem of IS, and Syria, Turkey, Russia, France, the US, Iran, UK,  are all working to figure out how to deal with them against the backdrop of Turkey having just shot down a Russian warplane.  Russia is deploying anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.  Kick it up another notch…

Paris is still recovering.  Tunisia has been hit with a suicide bomber. 

Video of a young black man being shot by a white policeman in Chicago has stirred protests and residents are being warned of possible gang violence in the wake of its release.  The police officer has been charged with First Degree Murder. 

The video is online but I don’t have the stomach to watch it on Thanksgiving Eve, while cooking and prepping.

And the magic moment has arrived when I must close this missive and head over to Lionel’s.

To everyone who reads this and to everyone who doesn’t, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  May you enjoy your day and the people with whom you spend it.

Letter From New York 11 24 15 That attitude of gratitude…

November 24, 2015

Howard Bloom.  New York City. Thanksgiving.  Metrojet. Claverack.  Howard Bloom Saves The Universe. Anne Frank. Jason Rezaian. Nancy Wiard.  Penn Station.  Chad Dougatz. Metrojet.

It is mid-afternoon and I am beginning this as I am closing in on New York City, on the train.  I’m down this afternoon for Howard Bloom’s Podcast [Howard Bloom Saves the Universe, look it up on iTunes or

I have a breakfast in the morning and then I am scurrying back north for the long weekend.  Trains were getting hard to get yesterday – every other one seems to be sold out.

Depending on when I get finished with breakfast, I may take an earlier train.  I’m eager to be back at the cottage, priming for Thanksgiving.  I have a few side dishes to make for the feast I am attending.

It’s cold today and it is going down to a mere 14 degrees tonight in Claverack.  Yikes!  I am wearing my winter jacket and have pulled out my favorite scarf.

But my hardships are minimal.  I could be a refugee somewhere in Europe as the cold settles in on the Continent while, at the same time, finding themselves feared by the countries to which they have been fleeing.

Earlier today, in a Facebook posting, I saw that Anne Frank had applied to come to America but was denied.  We weren’t very open to Jews before the war.  If that visa had been granted we may have been denied her diary but she’d be 77 if she had lived.

That fact saddened me.

People are wrestling with what to do about refugees.  Some of most liberal friends are now feeling fearful of accepting them.  I have been seeing the postings on Facebook.  There is great support for and there is great fear of refugees, both views understandable in the light of current events.

Jason Rezaian, a journalist for the Washington Post and who headed their Tehran bureau is headed for prison for an unspecified period of time.  Holding both Iranian and US citizenship, he seemed a natural for the posting.  The Iranians have convicted him of espionage.

He has languished in prison since July 2014.

Now, I am sitting just outside the studio while Howard is doing his podcast, discussing with Chad Dougatz, the host, the roots of Islamic terrorism. 

Terrorism, the bane of our time…  Just moments ago, my phone buzzed with a notice that the US has issued a global travel alert due to increased threats of terrorism.

My friend, Nancy Wiard, is traveling to the European Christmas markets.  She sent me a message today from Amsterdam, which is close to Belgium whose major city, Brussels, home for the European Union, is under lockdown. 

Multiple operations are underway in Brussels as I type.

It is believed that the bomb that took down the Russian Metrojet was placed under the seat of a fifteen year old girl, seat 31A.

I didn’t get to finish last night.  Today is a beautiful, slightly chill, afternoon on the train heading north.  I’m seated on the river side of the car and I’m watching the Hudson slide by as I move north.

As I headed toward the train this morning, Penn, not unexpectedly was overflowing with people heading out for Thanksgiving.  It, too, had more than its usual contingent of police and soldiers.  In the fourteen plus years since 9/11, I have yet to accept their presence as the new normal.

But, it is, and during Thanksgiving the city is on a higher alert level.  More police, more soldiers, more…

Yes, the world is a grim place.  The Turks have shot down a Russian warplane which kept, according to them, violating its airspace.  Let’s just ratchet up the tensions, why don’t we…

However, I also read an article in the NY Times this morning about the positive health affects of being grateful, so I am attempting to settle myself into my “attitude of gratitude” mode.  It will be a healthier place for me.

It is two days from Thanksgiving and tomorrow I will be prepping my contributions to our annual feast of gratitude and I will do my best to remember all the many things for which I am grateful.

Letter From New York 11 22 2015 The world goes its crazy ways…

November 23, 2015

Anniversary of Kennedy’s death. Lionel White. Pierre Font. Brussels. Paris. National Registry for Muslims. Donald Trump.  Marco Rubio.  Jeff Cole. George Stephanopoulos. Jeb Bush. Ebola. Liberia. Earthquake in Afghanistan.

It is the 22nd of November and for some reason I remembered that today is the 52nd anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy.  When I was reading the Times this morning with my first cup of coffee, it struck me.

I was in middle school and the principal came in and whispered to the teacher, who told us and we were all sent home from our Catholic School and began a mourning that I am not sure we are over.

It was a grayish day today and on the chill side but tonight there was the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen in my time here.  The sky was a lush red that filled the horizon.  I attempted a photo but it didn’t do the colors justice.IMG_1062

Also, the deer have returned.  There was a family of them scattered on the road, on my property and across the street at Lionel and Pierre’s home.  Standing proudly in Lionel’s yard was a young buck, watching as his family crossed the road in front of my very slowly moving car.

While I listen to jazz and wait for Lionel to arrive for Thanksgiving week festivities, the world itself goes on its crazy way.

Brussels seems to be in a virtual lockdown and a series of raids have been held during the course of the evening.  The city is on the highest level of alert, the Metro will not run tomorrow and schools are closed.  People are being advised to stay home and inside.

In Paris, they are searching for a third suspect and some are saying many “red flags” for the attacks were missed.

The world has changed, again, since the Paris attacks.  Trump is talking a “national registry” for Muslims.  He also claims that on 9/11 “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered as the Towers fell.  He claims to have seen it himself, on television.  Really?  George Stephanopoulos reminded him that the police say it didn’t happen.  But it did, George, but it did.

The Washington Post did an evaluation of the top Republican candidates and estimated that the nominee is likely going to be Marco Rubio, which my friend Jeff Cole suggested when we had lunch six weeks ago.

Jeb Bush comes in at number 5.  Number two is Donald Trump.  Is this really happening?  I have stopped laughing because The Donald might just pull it off and that is a really scary thought.

The Paris attacks have changed the tone of our electoral campaign and will continue to influence it as we progress toward this, to me, most bizarre of electoral cycles.

Sadly, Ebola has re-emerged in Liberia and 153 people are being watched to see how it develops in them.

There has been a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Northeast Afghanistan, bringing even more misery to that land of misery.

Thankfully, the jazz is soothing and the fire cheery.  So I end the day, curled up in the comforts of the cottage, Tempting as it might be, I am not yet retreating into blocking out the news of the day.

When I was younger, globe trotting, I felt like a citizen of the world.  I still feel that way.

Letter From New York 11 20 15 Another day, another atrocity…

November 20, 2015

Claverack. “A Trick of the Light” Louise Penny. Three Pines. Linda Epperson. Mali. Radisson Blu in Mali. Agatha Christie.  “Murder at Hazelmoor” Paris.  Ca’Mea. Hudson, New York.

Today was a startlingly beautiful day; a perfect early fall day, the sun shining brightly with the temperature scraping near 60 degrees.  The best part is that it is now late November! 

I woke early and watched the sun glitter on the creek while sipping my morning coffee and reading the NY Times on my iPhone.

It has been a good day.  I finished reading “A Trick of the Light,” a Louise Penny murder mystery set in the fictional town of Three Pines in southern Quebec.  There are twelve or thirteen of them.  My friend, Linda Epperson, told me about them some years ago and I have been working my way through them.

When I was in, I think, 3rd grade and was home sick, restless of course, my mother tossed an Agatha Christie at me.  It was “Murder at Hazelmoor.”  It converted me to being a mystery fan and a bit of an Anglophile.  Thanks to my friend Dalton Delan, I am the proud owner of an original edition of the book.

Three Pines is a little village filled with eccentric characters and a disproportionate amount of murders per capita.  What it does remind me of, a bit, is my little town of Claverack without the disproportionate number of murders.

A few years ago the son of the man who owns the house two doors down from me did, apparently, an amazing number of drugs and shot his father and then killed himself.  I was out of town.  The father lived and is still in the house.

But that moment haunts our street, just as all the murders in Three Pines haunt that village.

I am writing on about mysteries because I don’t want to think of the mystery which is the world.

Today’s tragedy was in Mali.  Al Qaeda terrorists burst into the Radisson Blu hotel there and killed, at last count, at least 21, screaming “Allahu akbar” [God is Great, I think] while slitting one man’s throat and rampaging with automatic weapons.

It is over now.  They are counting the dead.  At least one American is gone.  Another day, another tragedy played out.  In Africa, where there have also been all the atrocities from Boko Haram.

Tuesday night, the night before my birthday, my friend Larry took me to dinner at one of our favorite spots, Ca’Mea, great northern Italian cooking.  We talked about Paris; he and his wife, Alicia, had been there not long ago.

He was torn, thinking on one hand he wants to know what is really happening in the world and, on the other hand, not wanting to be overwhelmed by it.

I totally understand.  Sometimes I just want to retreat to my two little acres of land and listen to jazz and watch movies and not think about what is happening out there in the world.

But I can’t.

I care too much.

Letter From New York 11 19 15 Wanting to kill us because we are…

November 19, 2015

Outside it is dark already and it is only 5:15 PM.  Sunset was at 4:31 PM according to my Weather app.  It is still another month to the shortest night of the year and the long lengthening of days that follow.  It is a time for hibernation and that is what I have done all this live long day, hibernate.

Outside, it is blustery and a heavy wind has been blowing.  The electricity blinked on and off.  Winter is arriving in the Hudson Valley, no question about it.

A fire burns in the Franklin stove and floodlights illuminate the creek and the front of the cottage.  I’ve spent the day doing my best to personally thank all 250+ people who wished my “Happy Birthday” yesterday.

While it is still unseasonably warm, it was impossibly drear all day.  No glint of sunshine brightened this day.  I’ve been psychologically chilled by the dreariness.  Having managed to whittle down my inbox, I took some time to read a book, a mystery. 

When I woke this morning and read the headlines I saw that there had been an overnight raid in the Paris suburb of St. Denis.  A young woman killed herself by blowing up her suicide vest and a young man, now identified as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the 11/13 attacks, was also killed, his body riddled with bullets.  They used DNA and fingerprints to identify him.

People are asking how it was that he was in Paris when French Intelligence thought he was in Syria?  The raid is being called a success and a failure.  Success because he has been taken out and a failure because he wasn’t where they thought he was.  How had he gotten back onto the continent and into France?

Young Abdelhamid was quite the IS poster boy, featured in some of their videos and their online magazine, shown in one video dragging bodies behind a pick-up truck.   His own family had disowned him and wanted him dead.  They now have had their wish come true.  He recruited his younger brother to Syria.  I wonder where he is now?

Here is the US dozens are under watch as the government does its best to prevent a Paris type attack here.  There have been reports that Washington, DC is targeted as well as New York City’s Time Square. 

The real lesson from Paris is that nowhere is safe.   And that is frightening a LOT of people.

Congress voted today to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the country.  Obama vows to veto it if it comes to his desk.  It is a sign of how afraid we all have become.

Europe, which has had an “open” border policy is now re-thinking that.  It would be something like, again, having to go through border controls when going from New York to Massachusetts.  Enormously inconvenient but that is what they’re thinking about in the EU.

Especially since some of the participants in last Friday’s tragedy came from Belgium, which is now promising to crack down on anyone they suspect of being a terrorist.  It all feels a bit like a bad Hollywood movie but this is the world we live in.

French officials believe the raid in St. Denis prevented another attack.

Sitting here, listening to jazz, staring out at the floodlit creek, it is hard to imagine the world beyond here but that world exists and it is relentless.  There are people who are out there who desperately want to kill us because of the world we have created.


Letter From New York 11 18 15 Happy Birthday to me…

November 18, 2015

The day started grey; it looks like it will end grey but at lunchtime the world was flooded with sunlight and happiness, the way I was feeling.

Today is my birthday.  I’m a year older and, I think, a year wiser.  It has been an awfully contemplative year this past year.  When I was in high school, I had my “gang” and we’d laugh and say: live quick, die young and have a good looking corpse.

Unfortunately, some did just that but most of have lived on, exiting middle age for the last act, working to shape this phase of our lives with as much care as we worked to shape other periods in our lives, whether we succeeded or not, we attempted.

At 6:00 AM my friend, Nick Stuart, texted me with what he wanted to be my first “Happy Birthday” of the day.  It was.  I went right back to sleep.  Later, up and having my first coffee, another friend, Mary Dickey, called and we chatted, planning a time to see each other.

I’m here for the rest of the week, snuggling into my cottage.  Right now, I’m listening to jazz and looking across the table, out to the creek.  The trees have shed their leaves and the branches claw nakedly to the sky.

It is not the winter of my discontent.  If anything, I am more content than I have been in my life while watching life unfold in its mysterious ways.  Next January, I will be teaching a class, “Media and Society.”  I’m excited.

My friends Jeffrey and Joyce sent me a message today:  I hope today is a reminder of all good things that have and can happen.

And I am reminded of all the good things that have happened and may well still happen.

As I drove through the countryside, my friend Dairo phoned and we’re meeting for a martini in Hudson, a completely unexpected delight.  Alana Hauptmann, proprietress of The Red Dot, phoned me while I was eating at Relish to sing me “Happy Birthday” and to tell me to stop on by as she had a present for me.

My inbox overflows with messages of good wishes on this day.   Every other second it seems, a new Facebook birthday wish pops up.  This is one of the wonderful things about Facebook.  I’ve heard today by phone, text, email and Facebook from at least a 150 people wishing me well, not to mention the snail mail cards I have collected.

I have not paid much attention to the world beyond me today.  I know there have been developments in Paris and I have not followed them. 

It is my birthday and I am allowing myself to be joyful and whimsical and inattentive to the problem’s of the world.  Time enough tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to me!

Letter From New York 11 16 2015 From Paris to Beirut to Minneapolis…

November 16, 2015

Hudson River. Hudson Valley. Paris attacks. French manhunt. IS. Raqqa. Alabama. Michigan. Minneapolis shooting.  Jamar Clark.  Ferguson. Beirut. Lebanese bombings.

It is Monday and the sun glistens off the Hudson River as I ride south, into the city for a meeting today and a lunch tomorrow and then back north to celebrate my birthday on Wednesday.  Another year has passed, this one having moved past me more quickly than any other year.

My mother said often that time moves more quickly the older you get and it appears that she was right, in this instance.

It is a beautiful day in the Hudson Valley, a day so bright and cheerful it feels as if everything was right everywhere in the world.

Of course, it’s not.  The world is still reeling from the Paris attacks.  A manhunt is on throughout France and Belgium looking for a man believed to be one of the attackers who escaped in the chaos following the shootings and suicide bombings. Many have been arrested and taken into custody. 

A Belgian, now believed to be in Syria, is said to be the mastermind. He is 27 years old.

A video was released, purportedly from IS, saying more Paris style attacks would be coming, specifically naming Washington, DC as a target. Its authenticity is questionable and it does not have the high production values usually associated with IS videos. 

In retaliation, French jets, with help from the US, bombed Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of IS. There were at least twenty sorties.

Muslims across Europe are fearful of more backlash because of this and they are, unfortunately, right.  The Governors of Alabama and Michigan have declared their states are closed to Syrian refugees.

At the same time, Obama is ruling out ground forces against IS.  Hollande says he going to speak with both Obama and Putin in the next few days to discuss the situation.

On Thursday, bombs went off in Lebanon, killing 48.  There was no great outcry or notice until Paris.  Now people are noticing and vigils are being held for the Lebanese victims of IS, too.

France has declared itself at war and Hollande is asking for three months of emergency measures.  The US Military has told service members they are not allowed to go to France on leave.

Obama has declared this is a war on civilization.  It is.

I glide south, seagulls swooping over the river in graceful circles.  A tanker inches southward.  We are nearing the city and it becomes more industrial.

Minneapolis is my hometown. There was a shooting there last night.  A young black man was shot and is, according to his family, brain dead.  Witnesses say he was handcuffed and on the ground when he was shot.  The police report a different story.  Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has gathered in protest and is occupying the lobby of the Police Precinct in North Minneapolis where the shooting took place.

North Minneapolis has long had a reputation as a dangerous place.  When I was in my twenties I worked there in an alternative high school.  One of the students warned me against wearing the expensive watch I had as well as the ring I wore.  People were planning to relieve me of them.

People are asking if Minneapolis is having its “Ferguson” moment.  Hard to think of Minneapolis, my hometown, as a “Ferguson” kind of place.

But violence is everywhere and we are becoming so aware of it.

Letter From New York 11 14 15 The Real Great War to end all wars…

November 15, 2015

Paris. Hollande. IS. Daesh. Bruce Thiesen. Christopher Hitchens. Hitler. Stalin. Mussolini. Afghanistan.  Alexander the Great. Russia. Viet Nam. Democratic Debate. Jihadi John. Marco Rubio.  Fox News. Libya. Pope Francis.  World War III. Genghis Khan. Fred and Ginger.  The Great Depression. The War to end all wars.

When I finished blogging yesterday, the body count in Paris was below thirty.  Today, when I woke and reached for my iPhone to check the news, 129 were dead, 350+ injured with 99 of them in critical condition.

Friends of mine, Chuck and Lois, have an apartment in Paris and spend a good part of every year there; thankfully they were not in Paris yesterday. 

All morning I felt grim, unbelieving and so very deeply saddened.

Last night’s event has touched the world in a way nothing has since 9/11.

Hollande has all but declared war on IS or Daesh, using the Arabic acronym for the organization.  Countries around the world have lit their most important buildings in the red, white and blue colors of the French flag.

There is the weight of tragedy in the air.  The events were on the mind of ever thinking person I know.

Bruce Thiesen, a fellow blogger, posted this quote from Christopher Hitchens:  This is an enemy for life as well as an enemy of life.

Truer words were never spoken.  It all harkens back to the horrors of World War II, of men like Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin. 

The events of last night have infected my day as they have for everyone I know.  It came to me as I was shopping, for tomorrow is my day to do coffee hour after the 10:30 service, that Hollande is correct; we are at war.

I’ve felt that since 2003, when we invaded Iraq. We are at war. We have participated in wars without really involving the American public.  We fought but the public was to go on with their normal lives, shopping and eating at restaurants and not think about war.

I think that was a mistake.  In some way, shape or form, we should all be engaged if our men and women are fighting.

We should be actively supporting them in some way. 

It’s a favorite rant of mine.  I wanted to be asked to sacrifice if they were being asked to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice.

Now, we are years into this.  Afghanistan is our longest war ever, a place that has bedeviled military leaders since Alexander the Great, the place that was Russia’s Viet Nam, a place the British couldn’t hold at the height of their power.

Tomorrow there will be another Democratic Debate.  Really?  I’m exhausted already and can’t imagine all the campaigning yet to come.  But because of Paris, the debate will be focused more on terrorism and how the candidates would respond.

Jihadi John, the British terrorist who beheaded a number of men, is apparently dead in a drone attack.  On Friday, the head of IS in Libya is believed to have died in an air attack.

At the gym today, the TV at my treadmill was turned to Fox News and I actually didn’t change the channel.  I wanted to know what they were saying.  They brought on Marco Rubio who decried events and blamed them on Obama and said as President he would take the fight to them.

Yes, I do think that will happen.  Probably right now we’ll be led by France which, in righteous anger, will attack Daesh in every way it can.

More war.  Pope Francis suggested we are fighting World War III now, in bits and pieces.  He may be right.

Rubio said it was a “civilizational war” and he is not wrong. 

IS wants to destroy the West.  It hates our civilization with a passion and a fervor not seen, I suspect, since Genghis Khan who swept all before him before he and his Empire became dust in the wind.

It is dark.  Floodlights illuminate my beloved creek.  I am going to make myself a martini and watch a movie that, I hope, will transport me beyond the ugly realities of the day, the way Fred and Ginger lifted the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression.

We may well be now fighting the real Great War, the war to end all wars.