Month: November 2015

  • Happy Thanksgiving

    I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Well, also, I was wondering about my Xanga page.  My last two entries were dated Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, and up until then, the latest blog appeared on top of the page, and continued in reverse chronological order.  But for some reason, Nov. 18 has been on top, and Nov. 19 below that, in second position.  So I'm curious where this Nov.26 entry will appear.

    Another thing I was thinking of, with respect to Xanga.  For a few days, I had to log in to see the two most recent posts.  So I was wondering if Xanga had defaulted all of us into log-in access only.  But then that stopped.  I can now see the two most recent posts without having to log in.  Good.  That's what I want.  I can still invite friends to view the page.  Friends who don't have Xanga accounts.


    So while I'm talking, I have time to talk about the job, finally.

    As you all know, I was fired on Feb. 6 by the idiots who took over security at the hospital, where I worked happily and delightedly for 11 years, and where I did a little of everything that Security did, but I kind of specialized in certain chores that nobody else wanted to do, or knew how to do,, or both.  And when management told the new contractors to leave me the hell alone, management meant what it said.  But they didn't mean it enough to do anything about it when I was unjustifiably fired.  I mean, I never lipped off or anything.

    But I will say one very nice thing about management.  Uberboss R.M. received a phone call from a management company in Atlanta, which manages at long distance one of the hospital's outbuildings.  And R.M. was asked if he could recommend someone who could be counted on to open up a building when it needed to be opened (6:30 a.m. every morning) and locked up after 6:30 p.m. every evening, and he gave them my name and phone number, and that's how I got this job.  That single building would have given me income of just $200 a month (still a lot better than nothing) but the local guy whom I report to has other buildings that need to be taken care of similarly, and while I'm not getting rich, at least I'm making about 60% of what I was making at the hospital for 24 hours of work a week as compared to 40 at the hospital.

    So I lock and unlock doors, and I pick up any garbage that has to be lying around in the parking lots and change a garbage can liner once in a while.

    Not very glamorous work, but it needs to be done and I get satisfaction out of doing a job that needs doing that a lot of people don't like doing.

    And get this:  ZERO STRESS!  I mean, I never see anyone hardly.  So no aggravations from dealing with people who might be in a bad mood.  Who's gonna yell at me, a door?

    The ironic thing is:  that's one of my strengths -- dealing with difficult people, defusing a situation.  I don't get to use that strength.

    But zero stress.  I do love that.  I love that a lot.

    Lots to be thankful for.

  • I'm With Obama on This One

    Well, I usually am with Obama, so that's not news.  Obviously, our political system continues to be broken, thanks to the polarizing effect that causes Republicans to act and talk one way and Democrats to act and talk another.  Whatever happened to that "Country First" slogan that was used in John McCain's campaign in 2008?  But I digress.

    Where "I'm With Obama on This One" is the proposed veto of the proposed bill out of Congress that would seriously impede the President's plan to admit thousands more Syrian refugees than are currently being admitted to our nation.  Elise Foley has written a Huffington Post story that explains the situation quite clearly.  Here 'tis.

    By Elise Foley
    Huffington Post

    WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama won't sign a House Republican bill meant to prevent Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to the U.S., administration officials announced on Wednesday.

    "This legislation would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis," the statement of administration policy reads.

    A veto would be necessary "given the lives at stake and the critical importance to our partners in the Middle East and Europe of American leadership in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis," the statement concludes.

    The House is set to vote on the bill on Thursday. If it passes, the Senate will also have to approve the measure before it goes to the president's desk.

    The bill's authors, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) say it would put a “pause” on the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees by adding vetting requirements to an already lengthy screening process. The "pause" isn't a formal one -- the bill doesn't actually halt admissions and allows the administration to set its own standards for the refugee vetting process.

    Instead, it would pressure law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence officials to be cautious by assigning them political liability for anything that goes wrong.

    The bill would require the FBI, which is already involved in screening, to conduct a background check on every Syrian and Iraqi refugee applicant and certify that each individual had passed. Next, the secretary of homeland security, the director of the FBI and the director of national intelligence would each have to sign off personally on every person admitted from the two countries. The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security would report each month to Congress on the approval and rejection numbers.

    McCaul told reporters at a Wednesday briefing that his bill would create "a very strong standard" for the certification of refugees.

    "What's important is that we're requiring the secretary himself, the director himself and the DNI himself to put his name on this," McCaul said. "With that comes great liability. ... They own it. It's their responsibility."

    The bill is also a way for Congress to show it's acting quickly in response to last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, which the Islamic State militant group has claimed credit for. A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the suicide bombers, although some experts believe it may have been part of a plot to provoke precisely the anti-refugee backlash that's happening now.

    McCaul said the refugee legislation wasn't the only Syria-related bill lawmakers plan to introduce, but that they "wanted to have something done before we went home for Thanksgiving."

    One reason for that: It’s what many of their constituents want. A majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- believe the Obama administration should halt its plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, according to a Bloomberg poll released on Wednesday. Twenty-eight percent said the program should continue as is, while another 11 percent said the U.S. should continue accepting Syrian refugees, but only Christians.

    A number of Democrats have said the government should examine ways to strengthen the screening process, so it's not an exclusively Republican argument. Some, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have said they might support a "pause" in admitting refugees.

    But for the most part, Democrats argue the process can be improved without including measures that would grind it to a halt entirely. House Democrats are planning their ownlegislation on refugee screening that they said will tighten the process, but allow it to continue.

    “Our commitment to refugees and the security of the American people are not mutually exclusive," Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a statement Wednesday. The lawmakers are the top Democrats on House committees that deal with intelligence, homeland security and immigration, respectively.

    The debate is unlikely to conclude this week. Some Republicans want to attach measures to a must-pass omnibus spending bill that would block funding to resettle refugees. Others want to admit only Christian Syrians -- keeping out Muslims, who make up most of the Syrian population.

    Obama has been outspoken in his insistence that refugee resettlement should continue.

    "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that's been coming out of here during the course of this debate," he said on Tuesday.

  • How To Defeat ISIS

    Dec. 6 update

    I don't know what's up with Xanga, but every new post I write is IMMEDIATELY BELOW this one.  So I guess I'm asking you to check the next post down if you want to know my most current thoughts.


    Jessica Stern wrote a wonderful piece for Politico that might well be more worth reading than what I've written below.  To read it, go to

    Now it's my turn.

    After ISIS declared war on Paris Friday night, France has declared war on ISIS and the bombing has started.  Whoop-de-doo.  Don't get me wrong, I am as Charlie Hebdo as you are, and just as angry and frustrated.  I'll even admit -- back in September 2001 -- when we started "bombing the shit," as Donald Trump would say, out of Afghanistan because the Afghans were supposedly harboring Osama bin Laden, my visceral insides were gratified.  It felt good, I'm saying, even though my brain was asking, as it is now, "What good will that accomplish?"

    It's no secret that every act of revenge amps up the animosity.  Creates more terrorists.  Sure, it would solve everything if we wiped the enemy out so we could declare "Mission Accomplished" and be as smug as George W. Bush.  But that's only if we can do that.  And we can't.

    The hawks rightly understand that the war on terror will take a long time.  I don't mind so much that bombs are being dropped as I object to the fact that nobody is saying what needs to be said.  What needs to be said, along with every warlike utterance, is a call for peace, the end of animosity, or a meeting with the "enemy."  Something.  Anything.

    We can bomb.  We can answer violence with violence.  It's not that I'm against what the hawks want.  But I'm saying, offer an olive branch at the same time, and KEEP that olive branch out there and visible and audible.

    The REAL enemy is religious fundamentalism -- the idea that one's own religion is the only right one and that everyone else's religion is wrong.  But I don't know how to deal with THAT enemy right now.  No ideas.

    But we do need to have a desire to end the violence.  And being violent ourselves just creates more terrorists.  I already said that.  I'll try not to say it too many more times in this essay.

    ISIS recruits around the world.  The people they recruit are those who are angry, disenfranchised, poor, underemployed, not particularly bright (sorry about that), and I just got close to the first element in a plan to defeat ISIS, before I got to insulting the intelligence of people who allow themselves to be turned into suicide bombers.

    That first element is to move toward a world in which the population of dissatisfied human beings is appreciably and visibly decreasing.  Yeah, it's OK to be a bleeding heart liberal.

    Those of you who cringe at the thought can at least try to agree with a second element of a plan to win the war on terror, and that would consist of drying up the financing of ISIS.  I don't know how you do that exactly, but there are people far smarter than I am who could set themselves to working on the problem.  At least there's no violence inherent in that element.  None that I can think of, anyway.

    But back to the first element.  Reducing the agony of the would-be ISIS recruits.  Let me go all Pollyanna on you and leave you with a final thought.  Edwin Markham said it better than I can in his poem, "Outwitted."  Here it is:

    He drew a circle that shut me out -- 
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. 
    But love and I had the wit to win: 
    We drew a circle that took him in!