Sunday, April 13, 2014

APRIL 12, 2014

       I'm not sure how travelers judge world capitals.  London would win grandest, I expect;  Paris, most romantic.  But there's a very pretty tree just in front of my building which might win most charmimg, prettiest, ethereal, something like that, for my city.


    The tree is a flowering cherry, one of hundreds exploding all over the city in flowers of every dazzling shade of pink.  They came from Japan oringinally but they now say Washington as authentically as any of those duller symbols like the Capitol.
    
   The flowers teach of the sweetness of life.  Come share it if you can.  It won't last long.  The blooms vanish in a trice, petals carried on a breeze.  Pay a visit if you can. Your lasting souvenir will be memories of genuine magic.  How many cities can offer that?

    

Saturday, April 5, 2014

APRIL 5, 2014

    As a reporter I have covered half a dozen foreign wars and one American one, Vietnam.   I know that if you go to them, you see awful things.  Some people react very badly to them which is why the headline in the paper—"gunman wasn't seen as a threat," did not surprise me.  I refer, of course, to the shooting at Fort Hood this week.


     He was a veteran of Iraq.  The morning paper says he was getting help, psychiatric help.  But it obviously didn't help enough.

     I don't know how much all that care costs,   But we all know guns and planes cost miillions and we surely know that the young people who fight our wars are the most precious things we have,

    Until we stop sending our children to wars, let's spend all we can--all, if we're lucky, they will need.

    

    

 

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fwd: APRIL 3, 2014

       Something unusual seems to be happening--a major government program has been introduced and seems to be working well.  I refer, of course, to President Obama's health care plan...ACA or Obamacare.

        I guess they blew the introduction in a pretty big way;  the newspapers were full of stories about blunders.  But have you noticed how the tone has changed lately?  Stories now are about enrollment beyond predictions – seven, eight million or nine or whatever.  I’m guessing it's the kind of publicity for the kind of program that a president concerned about the government's social role would have liked from day one.

     And while it's true that the US is very up to date in lots of things, we are the only major industrial power whose people do not have some kind of national health insurance…until now

     Maybe, just maybe, the times they are a'changin'.

 


Monday, March 31, 2014

MARCH 28, 2014

     You probably remember--I know I do--the news a few weeks ago that the government, through the National Security Agency, was tapping every telephone in America. 

    
     The President already knew, of course.  I could imagine him listening to cozy clips of an evening--a love affair, a stock tip, whatever.  But maybe he got bored.
    

 

     Now, the Washington Post reports, the president is going to ask Congress to pass a bill which would limit his own (well, the NSA's ) authority to tap.

 

     (Pardon me for a moment while I recover from the thought of asking Congress to pass anything!)


    Couldn't he just do it himself?  He seems to think not.  Meanwhile, the taps are tapping.  Isn't this a funny place? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MARCH 26, 2014

     I suspect that few things are harder for the leaders of democracies than fighting or preparing for wars.  Our president, Barack Obama, has no experience at preparing for them, not much at fighting them. That may be changing.


     Vladimir Putin of Russia seems to have conquered Crimea.  How much further his dreams of reconstituting the old Soviet Union go remains to be seen.  If it's any distance at all, the West will have to do something about it, probably fight.

     How eager a warrior Putin is, we'll have to see.
   

     We'll have to see about ourselves too.  Let's hope we're ready.

 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MARCH 19, 2014

I was a little child when Adolf Hitler invaded Austria.  It was only from reading later that I learned he justified his conquest by saying it was really one country anyway, the same language and so on. Vladimir Putin could use the same arguments, I suppose.  The headline in the morning paper has him saying Crimea is part of Russia.

     The easiest time to stop Hitler, probably, would have been early, but nobody wanted to.  Leaving it to later cost millions of lives.

     So should the West go and hit Putin hard now?  I can't imagine it--drop atomic bombs on a country that could drop them back?  I can't imagine a Congress that would put its job on the line to do that.

     Assassination--as in Osama bin Laden--might work but it's doubtful—he's too well protected.

    If Putin really sees himself as the new Stalin, really wants to reconstitute the vast old empire, the rest of us face some very hard choices.  We should start thinking about them soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MARCH 17, 2014

      It's election time – or at least the beginning or it.  Early primary voting started on St Patrick's Day in Washington.  You first class citizens are electing Congressmen and Senators;  we second class citizens here in the District of Columbia are electing a mayor and some city council members.  That's about all that you real Americans let us elect.  Well, we have one non-voting representative to Congress.  That word, non-voting, says a good deal about that.


      Most of us bear our deprivation silently but some bleat protests.  It is a sad thing in a democracy to bleat to no avail.

     The District Board of Elections has published a Voter Guide full useful information--where to vote and when, a good list of the candidates with their bios, and so on.  But there is room in it for fantasy too.

     Some candidate bios list people--real or not, I don't know--running for imaginary offices. "Senator" is popular.  Those candidates have little bios, just like the City Council guys except that, of course, they are running for imaginary offices.

     Wow.  Maybe you should visit here and run.  Can't hurt much to lose, though I have no idea what you get if you win.  All in your fantastical mind, I suppose.

 

    

 

March 16, 2014

      It's happening now.  It's March.  Time for Madness.

 

     Watching a baseball game outdoors in God's sunlight is really my favorite sports fan pastime, but every year I get somewhat caught up in the big national basketball tournament which hovers over our television sets.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association is its name and it surely is national with seventy-some teams.

   
     To be fair, the basketball is pretty damn good.  Florida, Arizona, and the other high seeds are absolutely worth watching.  Some of the teams are chosen by experts--no problem there--others are in because they won a conference.  That can be tricky--not so much if they won the ACC, say.  But then there's my old school, which plays in the Ivy League and is much more noted for--ahem--scholarship than sports. 

     My Old School--don't want to embarrass anyone by using names--MOS played well enough to win the Ivy.  I'd bet a dollar to a c-note they lose in the first round of the NCAA.

     The Washington Post notes they are playing in their third tournament--but mentions nothing about winning.  How could they;  the Post ain't fiction.

     Still, good luck, guys.  You'll need it.