I know no more about the Ebola crisis than you, but I served for years on a medical center foundation board, and was often briefed by the hospital administrator. A few years back, she told us her current internal campaign was to convince medical staff to wash their hands before and after patient contact in her hospitals.

That’s right: “WASH YOUR HANDS!”

If basic sanitation instruction and follow-through has been so poor in our hospitals that medical staff doesn’t know enough to consistently wash their hands, it’s not too much of a leap to understand why protocols for handling of suspected Ebola patients are not being properly implemented.

Today is the 143rd anniversary of the Chicago Fire. On that fateful day in 1871, much of Chicago burned, as did Peshtigo, Wisconsin, with the greatest loss of life in any American fire, as well as the fellow upper midwestern cities of Holland and Manistee, Michigan, all on the same day!

Many wealthy Chicagoans, displaced by the fire, used the recently opened railroad to move their families to new estates along the rocky, un-farmable shores of Lake Geneva (some call it Geneva Lake), while the city was being rebuilt. Many stayed, at least to enjoy the lake as as a summer home. Millions, then billions were invested to turn rustic Lake Geneva into what came to be known as “The Newport of the West” for the wealthy and a tourist haven for the multitudes of Chicago and Milwaukee and Rockford.

Would the Lake Geneva of 2014 have been better off without the Chicago Fire of 1871? Good question.

While much of the shore of the lake is still beautifully wooded, and the deep, spring-fed waters remain fresh, increasing numbers of white McMansions break the natural shoreline, and hundreds of boats, increasingly fast power boats criss-cross the lake. Yet lake area residents are more and more sensitized to what environmental conservation means to the importance of their natural inheritance. The modern concept of “re-wilding,” or restoring natural surroundings and native wildlife is taking a foothold.

Only 8% of you approve of what Congress has been doing.

Here’s one BIG reason to vote this December, and vote OUT all incumbent candidates and bring in fresh blood.

In the aftermath of the school massacre at Sandy Hook, two years ago this December, 92% of gun owners wanted to see mandatory background checks required for all gun purchases. Yet Congress did nothing. In some states, up to 95% of the population wanted background checks, yet the Congress was afraid of the remaining 5%.

Instituting background checks for gun purchases and coming down hard on illegal gun trafficking by gangs and drug addicts could make a BIG difference in community safety across this nation, without restricting the legal ownership of guns one bit. Yet Congress did NOTHING.

Where were you when you heard about Sandy Hook? (I was driving home from officiating at a cause-related communications awards program I support at Bradley University.)

Where do you stand now?

Vote OUT Congress (of BOTH parties) this December. Send a new message, and a new Congress, to Washington.

For those who know no more about the Barbary pirates than the movies and stories of Barbarrosa, there were between one and 1.25 million Europeans captured and sold into slavery by the Muslim Barbary pirates from the 16th to 18th centuries. My point is that Muslim “terrorists” have been after non-Muslims for a long time.

The current attacks by ISIS and similar Muslim radicals in the Mideast have not been focused on non-Muslims, notwithstanding the beheading incidents of late, but have been intramural attacks on fellow Muslims. Yet the U.S. has felt compelled to take the strong lead in international reaction to the modern terrorists. Meanwhile the Muslim countries surrounding Syria and Iraq, as well as the nearby European powers, are providing light support, to say the most, to the latest American-led initiatives.

I fail to understand why the U.S. feels so compelled to take the strong lead, when it is the regional Muslim countries that are, or seemingly should be, so threatened by the Syrian Muslim extremists. Even more so, considering that it is the U.S. that has sold modern arms and trained the military of so many neighboring Muslim countries. This is not the age of the Barbary pirates, when a million or more Europeans, and some American warships, were directly impacted by Muslim extremists, yet by the actions being led by America, you would think it still is.

While U.S. airstrikes may or may not have the desired negative impact on ISIS, one thing is sure: the collateral damage among neutral civilians we are now inflicting, will assure another generation or two of America-hating among the families of those innocents effected. If you lived, for example, in some American small town, and an overseas nation bombed your community because they said some bad guys were hiding there, how might you feel toward that foreign nation? While collateral damage is inevitable in air strikes, the point is that the U.S. is courting repercussions that will last for generations ahead by not deferring to the Muslim nations in countering the extremists there. The unwillingness of fellow Muslims in not reacting more forcefully against ISIS suggests we are either misinterpreting the situation in the Middle East, or we are being sucker-punched not just by ISIS, but by all the Muslim countries surrounding Syria.

In my view it is the U.S. that should be in the supporting role in countering ISIS, with the surrounding Muslim countries in the lead, NOT the other way around! While Washington stretches to tell us that there is some support for our initiatives from other Mideast Muslim countries, while we lead the attack with missiles from our warships and American bombers, and have sent nearly two thousand soldiers back into Iraq (so far), we are not hearing the truth about how and why ISIS is not being seen as an imminent threat by Middle Eastern countries. It is time for the truth to be heard.

In light of the referendum yesterday, I happened to be reading at bedtime, just after learning a majority in Scotland had voted to stay with the Brits (though with 1.6 million voting for independence),a book on Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England in the 17th century, and found this illuminating quote on the origins of the Scotish/English union from the author, Catherine Drinker Bowen:

“In (King)James’s first parliament of 1604, Bacon had sat for Ipswitch and St. Albans. Both Houses had chosen him as Commissioner in the King’s great cause of a proposed union between Scotland and England — a complex matter which was to take a century for its accomplishment. The commons were stubbornly jealous lest a wild and barren country encroach upon a prosperous one: they hated every Scotish courtier that James brought to England.”

400 years later, the irony is not that that it took a 100 year campaign to roll Scotland into the British Empire, but that the partnership has lasted so long. As nation/states around the world find themselves in a time of re-casting, as our political systems evolve and devolve, it should not be surprising that this old relationship between two disparate peoples is in the limelight. And the future of this odd pairing, based largely upon geographic adjacency, remains anything but certain.

Oak Street Beach, Chicago 2014

Will we still be in the "Long War" 60 to 80 years from now?.

After you look at how the Pentagon is moving forward with its “Long War” strategy, consider how the impending bombing in the Middle East will fuel further anti-west hate as we rain our own version of terror from the air, with collateral damage that could kill innocents 10 to one or more. While our government may be implementing a revenge strategy the public supports, we will be investing billions in assuring this and future American generations of the worst possible form of public relations damage to U.S. reputation throughout the Middle East. We should instead look at the reasons that the so-called moderate Muslim countries consistently refuse to commit ground troops to curtail violence in Iraq and Syria.Through the recent beheadings were seen through the media as engendering fear among American people, we are also being cleverly “sucker-punched” by ISIS into our own violent chain of reactions, which will cost the U.S.stature, treasure and lives by rallying further support to them among many Muslims. We should not underestimate how ISIS is moving forward by trapping the U.S. into making decisions that are dangerous to ourselves.

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The issue of police militarization looms, especially in light of the recent excesses of Ferguson. In 67-68, I served as a platoon leader on the staff of the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, home of Dickenson College. We trained our enlisted men in drills and classrooms for the contingency of crowd control, in event Vietnam student protests would break out on or near the War College complex.

Our soldiers, though regular troops, were not combat soldiers, but rather the cooks, clerks and motor pool mechanics of the War College support staff. They were the same guys who put on their uniforms to participate in honors ceremonies, special events, and sometimes military funerals at nearby Gettysburg National Cemetery. They learned how to line up and push protestors back, to don gas masks if commanded, and to hold their M14 weapons, pointed up, not AT the protestors. They were not issued ammunition. We never had a major protest event, and did not have to deploy our crowd control tactics to defend the War College, thank heaven, but if we had to, we would NOT have used the aggressive tactics that the militarized police and guardsmen employed in Ferguson just last week. Have we regressed that much in 35 years? Did we learn anything from the aggressive crowd control tactics that saw National Guardsmen kill four students at Kent State in 1970?

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