Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Listening to the Bradley Manning guilty verdict, I was thinking first of all that the military and justice is an oxymoron to say the least. The catchword always is "bring the guilty bastard in." Then, we can listen to a bunch of old white men tell us how this PFC (Private First Class) who should never in a thousand years be allowed to have assess to anything beyond yesterday's newspaper has injured the country. 

Maybe a bit of a conspiracy theory. Why did he want just a judge to try him? She let him slide on one charge to make it appear like it was some sort of justice. Give me a break, conspiracy theory is closer to the truth than most would admit. Plus, think of the irony. You have a guy like John Kerry that I like and wanted to be President, came back after Vietnam, demonstrated, bad mouthed the country, really treasonist if you look at it in those terms. Jane Fonda, the heroine of every Vietnam vet goes to Hanoi at a time when it appears that the North, because of the bombing, might be ready to give up. Here comes this famous movie star and North Vietnam, not knowing our system think that most of America is against the war. They decide to hang on. Then of course, we have Daniel Ellsburg smart enough to go to the NY Times. But, of course this was Vietnam, everybody's war to hate.  


Yes, we were so surprised that Manning was found guilty. (Major tongue in cheek). Well, "not guilty" on aiding the enemy. The idea that Manning would get a fair hearing is about as stupid as one could imagine. Doesn't mean that justice as defined by the law, wasn't done. But, like so much of life, just because something is legal doesn't mean it is ethical. 

Anybody who has adult children know how stupid they can be. Manning was stupid and never should have had assess to anything, remotely resembling important. For God's sake he is a f..king PFC, In the Army, a PFC is hardly authorized

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Death and dying

The "NY Times Magazine" had an amazing article about a college professor who had a bicycle accident and is now a quadriplegic. The wife is a nationally known "right to die" advocate. Now that it is her husband, all changes. He has round the clock care, 8 caregivers, physical therapists,  respiratory therapists; a wheel chair that cost $45,000.  Paying for all of this is a combination, insurance from their University, Medicare, and private funds. 

This appears to be unusual in a couple of ways. Who could afford this for one thing? Without the funding, would he have already died? Probably. He often says he wants to die but changes his mind. Whoa! An amazing story and one in which I am trying to form an opinion. Who would want to live in this state of total dependence. The flip side of the coin is that it is easy to talk when you are not in his condition. But, still the question appears to be consent. This is interpretive based on the actions of the wife. He gets an infection, he immediately is rushed to the hospital and pumped full of antibiotics. A tough question. If I could project a bit, let me "go." If I say I don't want to go, ignore me. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


As one who thinks George Zimmerman should have gone to jail, I don't think the President's remarks today helped us. I really don't know what he was about. Race is pretty much an insoluble issue. What he seemed to imply was that the rule of law in a jury trial got it wrong. Maybe, but I doubt the President's remarks are going to make the discussion any better. The recalcitrant Republicans, the racists, Americans who care--not sure. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Listening to David Gergen on Forum (local NPR show) is an example of these prognosticators who don't know s..t about most anything but especially personality. They apply typical conventional wisdom to the President. There are two things from my perspective to know: the first one is that it is a "personality" issue. If one knows the "Myers Briggs Type Indicator," this is the secret of who the President is. On the MBTI, he is an ENTJ. He is an (E) extrovert, likes people; an iNtuitive, very creative; (T), very ethereal in his head mostly and (J) Judging (not judgmental, a lifestyle), very organized, "give someone a job and get out of the way and let them do it." The SECOND thing is the elephant in the room, "racism." Not racism in a classic sense but more of what I would call "philosophical racism." Gergen mentioned LBJ and the civil rights bill. When it was enacted, LBJ said something like, "the Democtats have lost the South for ten years." He was off by 40 years. Shamefully it is the way it is. It is in our genes I am sorry to say. But, the President has done a fantastic job in living with a recalcitrant and partisan bunch of Republicans who by their own admission have had one goal, get rid of the president. Tell me that's not racism. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


WOW. What a movie. It was extremely well done and if it doesn't win an Academy Award, I will be disappointed. The movie had several tentacles, not the least of which is how we view race in America. The movie is based on the last day in the life of Oscar Grant who was shot in the "back" on New Year's Day, 2009, by one of the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) policeman who later was convicted of manslaughter. The policeman's Defense was that he meant to "taser" Oscar but accidentally shot him with his gun. 

As a San Franciscan, I lived through the incident and have no objective data but it just seems that the incident changed policing throughout the Bay area. As I have watched various protests (Demonstrations are a way of life here), the police seem to be more culturally aware and gentler when crisis happen. 

The movie didn't make Oscar Grant, the protagonist, a hero but a good natured hustler and dedicated dad. Oscar lived in a culture and climate that brought him/it into conflict with a  police that simply went overboard with Oscar and fellow revelers who were returning to Oakland from San Francisco and a night of partying on NY's eve. 

The heavy handed police turned a simple incident into a major conflict. The "bad guys" appear to be the police--this one looked a lot like a Nazi, a reincarnation from the past and Buchenwald Concentration Camp. 

WHAT IS A LIFE WORTH? I surely don't know but if there is any sort of "take away" from this tragedy, (not depicted in the movie), it is the settlement that Oscar's daughter received, payments until
she is thirty. This is something Oscar would like. God bless her. 

Will this movie improve race relations in America. I doubt it but it surely should impact those of us who care. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013


I am often moved by the sheer generosity of some people. Also, the great need that we often confront can be overwhelming too. The informal motto of the UCSF Infusion Center could well be from Saint Augustine "Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you."

Saturday, July 06, 2013


It is their country, their future at stake, not ours. To ignore that reality will be immensely costly in terms
of American lives and resources

Senator Mike Mansfield
Talking about Vietnam in 1968. At that time, a few thousand Americans had died in the war. By the time it ended, the number of American lives lost was 58,000 plus.