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It’s been bugging me that the State Department hasn’t taken more heat for what happened to the Ambassador in Libya. Part of their job is contingency planning and protection of U.S. personnel. The former ambassador in Kenya was interviewed and mentioned that she had been asking for additional security at their Nairobi embassy for two years before the 1998 bombing there. Why wasn’t the “safe room” in the Libyan consulate safe? Why wasn’t there   oxygen and masks available against smoke inhalation? I hear there was a security waiver, approved by the ambassador, because it was a temporary facility. Well, security isn’t a temporary condition!

When I was a young staff officer in the Army, I was responsible for contingency planning at a facility that was supposed to survive nuclear attack. I inventoried and determined that supplies weren’t current or complete, and  I raise cain about it. My superiors thanked me. People have to care about contingencies. Why the hell did the State Department fail in Libya? And what are they doing to see it doesn’t happen again?


Political rhetoric in this year’s Presidential election seems to be fixated on use of the term “middle class,” to refer to the vast electorate. We hear the “middle class” drumbeat incessantly. Yet in our supposedly “classless” society, we almost never hear a politician refer to the “lower class” or the “upper class” that would give the phrase “middle class” some relative meaning. What we hear instead are the words “the poor” in place of “lower class” and “the rich” in place of “upper class.”  Politicians just can’t seem to articulate that indeed we have a downtrodden unemployed and marginally employed “lower class” that  amounts to the social serfs and peasantry of our contemporary American culture, and heaven help us, bookended by a moneyed, uppity “upper class” that is populated with the princelings of our modern society. Why is that?

Well, when we hear “middle class,” I think what is really meant is reference to a middle-income class, not some middle social caste. And often, much or the lower-income class consisting of regularly paid workers are meant to be included in that aspirational, voting “middle class” moniker.  As for the unheard of “upper class,” it suffices politicians to refer to “the rich.” They seem to dare not refer to the well-born and socially prominent, but to those who have accumulated great wealth. Donald Trump is “rich” but hardly “upper class,” except for the trappings of estates, planes, country clubs and starlets that come with vast fortune.

So, that leaves us with a political “middle class” electorate with no acknowledged “lower” and “upper”social bookends to surround it. I think I’ll choke the next time I hear the epithet “middle class” from a politician. Can we get back to a socially classless American society, where we have people with a little or a lot of money, and those of us hard-working managers and professionals struggling somewhere in between?

You know those ubiquitous “news crawls” that appear across the bottom of the TV screen throughout cable news shows, often obscuring part of what you’d like to see onscreen?

Have you noticed how increasingly the so-called breaking news they were created to showcase just isn’t kept as up to date anymore? I just saw another one, reporting “breaking” news that was broadly reported several days ago. The old adage, “if you don’t have anything to say, keep your mouth shut,” could well apply here. It’s not journalism when it’s just news junk!

I can see interrupting regular programming with a news crawl when there is new, hot, important news, but just to make a screen busy and distracting is a negative. If some of these TV stations and programs don’t start investing in keeping their news crawls relevant and up to date, and boring me with old junk news, I may just retreat one step further away into this internet. How about you?

It’s what you see just above, though my desk in our little library is a little to the left of what the photo shows, and right behind our giant old apple tree, the base of which is now strewn with newly fallen fruit. The morning sun is bright on the left of the tree trunk, and the grass is deep green again, and long, after such a dry summer. The day is bright and promising here at Applewood, and I’m feeling good again after several days of some unknown illness. The Geek Squad is on the way over to hopefully install a much-needed wi-fi range extender, and I may get the lawn tractor out later if it warms up enough. Feeling hungry, so I’ll go get a bite, and watch a little more of Morning Joe to see what political blunders today holds. Both indoor cats have been needy this morning, and they are always a delight.

Pre-internet, we recall that the hostages from the Iranian embassy were released on the day Reagan was inaugurated.

Now, we see our embassies in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi stormed, with Americans killed, and today our embassy in Yemen stormed. The Internet has everyone in touch with everything.

And what happens here? Romney blasts Obama’s handling of the situation on TV. Do you think we are playing into Al Qaeda hands? Of course. If Mr. Romney has some comments and advice for the President, perhaps he ought to provide it privately. Just a thought on what a patriot might do.

Some 15 thousand journalists have been credentialed to each of the national conventions. You’d think they were printing press passes on cereal boxes. The media have spent a reported $60 million sending those reporters. And what do the people get? Largely, scripted political positions, echoed by hundreds of speakers and spokespeople, even those “sitting” in empty chairs.

These farcical, archaic conventions are made all the more ludicrous by this sort of media pile-on. Not to mention the millions/billions spenty on the whole election campaigns. If America is to get value from its government, it should start with reigning in the endless campaign process and associated wasteful spending. Then maybe the political leaders could spend a little more time on building consensus and delivering action on governing policies that would actually benefit the nation. And the press would have something substantial to bring to the public, who crave constructive, cooperative solutions to the nation’s challenges and in their own lives.


September 2012

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