18 August 2014

Important Thoughts and a Unique Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment

Sooo, we had a lively dinner conversation at home last night with my partner Robbie Kaplan of DOMA fame, my daughter Liz, their respective spouses, and some younguns.  The question on the table: Was Barack Obama the first President of the United States to change a diaper?  The clear consensus was that he had changed diapers, but the more difficult question is, was he the first? No one could imagine either of Bushes doing that.  Can you, in your mind's eye, see Bill Clinton taking the pants off any female under the age of 16?  I would guess Dwight Eisenhower had a corporal who did that work, and Ronald Reagan? I can't see it. Tricky Dick?  Hah.  FDR, Jack Kennedy? Lyndon Johnson?  No way.  Maybe Harry Truman, maybe Jimmy Carter. That's it.

The conversation was enlightening because pretty much everyone agreed the answer to the question was "yes", he was the first, and that tells you, (or at least me) much about what distinguishes Obama from his predecessors, virtually all of whom since FDR have sent young men into battle. 

Worried about future US wars?  How about this two-clause Constitutional Amendment:

1. A national draft. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 25 serves. Everyone.

2. Nobody gets elected to Legislative or Executive Branches unless they i) have children, ii) whose poopy diapers they have changed. Personally. Bare-handed. (I know evidence will be hard to come by, but we'll work on that.)

This will certainly not prevent future wars, but it will certainly have an impact on go-to-war decisions.

The more I think about that program, the more inclined I am to make it apply to all law enforcement officers as well.


Lately I have become persuaded The New York Times is  back to its WWII mode in bending over backwards to hide the fact that its publisher is Jewish. As it did during WWII in its now well-recognized failure fairly to report on the Holocaust, and its failure to editorially condemn this country's refusal to admit refugees who were therefore consigned to the death camps in Europe, the Times appears to be on not-so-subtle campaign to make clear its disinclination to write anything that might be construed as helpful to Israel in reporting on the Gaza war.  I have long ago stopped reading editorials in my favorite (read "only") newspaper, but I now suspect its news reporting as well.  Bits of bias on this subject are everywhere:

Last week the paper described the terror-tunnels between Gaza and Israel as "allegedly" built by Hamas!  The clear implication of the "alleged" qualifier was that Israel's assertion that Hamas built the tunnels was open to question.  After this absurdity was called to their attention (by me, and I am sure many others), the news writers switched to "said to be" built by Hamas. "Allegedly"?  "Said to be"?  Duh, why the qualifiers given that Hamas not only admits building the tunnels but boasts of their construction?  Outfuckingrageous.

Then the other day, the paper reported the number of Gaza casualties, and the percentage of them that are non-Hamas fighters, without attribution, i.e, as absolute facts, despite clear dispute about both numbers. In the same article the paper reported the casualties were the result of Israeli shells and missiles that "Israel says were aimed Hamas rocket sites and tunnel entries."  "Israel says." One small step removed from "Israel alleges, " or "Israel claims,"  but which means the same thing. Again, an assertion of that the claim is open to question. Subtle, huh?

And this is followed by three successive front page "soft news" stories:   

The first about an Israeli medal winner from WWII who gave back his medal because of the Gaza war.  While the front page "medal" story detailing civilian casualties was a long one, only one or two sentences gave it all away.  A short paragraph buried in the middle of the long detailed story reveals the gentleman had no issue with Israel's conduct of the war until his relative in Gaza was injured!  This is front page news?

The next day's paper had a  long story about three men in Israel who arranged for kidney transplants in Costa Rica, where payment for such transplants is not necessarily illegal.  The article was highly critical of the sale of body parts. That the brokers were Israelis was not incidental: their Israeli citizenship was part of headlines for this front page news piece.  And that was not exactly a slow news day.  There were renewed problems in Ferguson, follow- ups on the Perry indictment, continued travail in Ukraine, Ebola in West Africa, etc, etc.  

Today's front page soft news story is about the difficulties of the Gaza residents are having with so many houses destroyed during the war.  It points out that building materials, i.e., cement to make concrete, are in short supply because of Egyptian and Israeli embargos, but fails to mention that previous shipments specifically designated for building homes, schools, and hospitals were instead diverted by Hamas to the construction of the aforesaid "alleged" tunnels.

Sigh, I await the front page soft news stories of the Hamas leadership (located in Qatar) placing rockets in the midst of the civilian population, firing them into Israel, and then repeatedly refusing to agree to armistices despite the injuries to the civilian population when Israel allegedly struck back at the launch sites after warning the civilians to leave the area. I am not holding my breath.

Should I move to the NY Post? Cannot quite get there, but I am making progress.


Finally, a bit of personal trivia:

As attentive readers know, I had back surgery earlier this summer. I am fully recovered, thank you, but realized the 8 yr. old boat I was piloting was too hard on my post-surgical L3/L4 disc, and so I traded it in for a softer riding, outrageously more expensive fish boat for which I am contemplating billing Medicare.  The new boat is very cool, and has a unique silhouette.  I will spare you the details.  So last week, while fishing amidst a fleet of 30-40 boats off Block Island, Rob and I were selected for boarding by the young men of the Rhode Island Station of the U.S. Coast Guard.  This was a "random safety inspection." (I had incurred one of those, five years earlier, in the old boat.  When I passed that one, they gave me receipt saying so, and told me the U.S.C.G does not do random safety inspections of any vessel more often than once every three years.)   So last week, on the new boat, when the Coasties approached and asked if my boat had ever been boarded and if so, when, I told them "Never, the boat is only one month old." Three Guardsmen eagerly hopped aboard, examined every inch of the boat, literally from stem to stern, checking fire extinguishers, life jackets, signal pyrotechnics, navigation lights, paperwork, etc, and finally gave me a receipt saying I had passed with no problems.  Hooray for me.  

Then two days later, while approaching my dock at 5 mph here in Lake Montauk , I was again approached by a U.S. Coast Guard boat with blue lights flashing, this patrol boat from the Montauk Station.   Pulling alongside, the Guardsman said, "Sir, When was the last time you were boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard?"  The guy was clearly taken aback when I answered, "Actually, it was the day before yesterday!"   I handed him the receipt, he looked at it, wished me good day, and pushed off.

I could not get over the unusual pattern.  Once in eight years on the old boat, then twice in three days on the new one?  When I got home and told Pinks, she laughed. "Duh," she said, " the new boat is way cool, and the guys wanted a tour." It is like a red convertible in the highway--a magnet for state troopers.    She was correct of course. I am honored but then again... .  Next time they approach, I am going to ask for a flag I can fly so I get my earned immunity.  

Ok,I am out of problems for now.  Mtc.

A bientot.

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