Gun Culture is Out of Control in America

 As I sit on the futon trying to concentrate on reading Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich for my Existential Philosophy class I find myself unable to stay focused today. There has been another shooting at a school today, and my heart is aching for the loss of more lives due to gun violence. The question “when does it end?” does not even begin to address the issues at hand. Today’s school shooting in Troutdale, OR makes this “74 school shootings since the Newtown massacre less than two years ago.” 74 school shootings. Michael Luciano echoes some of my sentiments in the Daily Banter today, saying: In this country we always talk about how we can better educate The Children to prepare … Continue reading

Kerry Chews Up Right Wing Fodder on Bergdahl Swap

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry made his first remarks on the release of Bowe Berghdal in exchange for five members of the Taliban freed from Guantanamo, stressing that he “felt confident the five Taliban detainees freed in a swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl posed little risk to Americans.” Kerry added that “Qatari officials were not the only ones monitoring them — and that while the five might be able to return to the battlefield, “they also have the ability to get killed doing that.”” Mr. Kerry, in some of his first public remarks on the exchange, struck a decidedly tough tone, dismissing as “baloney” the suggestion that terrorists would have new incentive to kidnap Americans. He also hinted, without offering … Continue reading

The Appalling Demonization of Bowe Bergdahl

I have been appalled by the demonization of Bowe Bergdahl, which began hours after his release culminated by the “exchange of five hard-core Taliban leaders,” earlier this week. Most notable in the right wing uproar over the prisoner of war exchange is the flip flop of Senator John McCain who told CNN four months ago, “I would support… Obviously I’d have to know the details, but I would support ways of bringing him home and if exchange was one of them I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.” No sooner had the exchange been made when Senator McCain, “as he has so often in the past, switched positions for maximum political advantage. “I would not have made this deal,” … Continue reading

Secretary of State John Kerry Returns to Mekong Delta

Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the muddy waters of the Mekong Delta this weekend, decades after commanding a Swift Boat there during the Vietnam War.  Serving in that war would ultimately turn Kerry against the war and take him full circle from military service, to activist, to decades of public service in the Senate, to presidential candidate, and now as the U.S. Secretary of State. John Kerry’s visit to the Mekong Delta was to “investigate climate change in his role as Washington’s top diplomat.” Kerry, who arrived in Ho Chi Minh City Saturday on a trip aimed at shoring up ties with Southeast Asia, travelled by boat through Ca Mau, a once-dangerous Viet Cong stronghold, an official with the local … Continue reading

Russia Urges Syria to Cede Arsenal In Response to Kerry

Is the tide turning on Syria? I hope it is… Secretary of State John Kerry said today “that if President Bashar al-Assad wants to avert an attack on Syria he should hand over all of his chemical weapons within one week.” It’s some heavy diplomatic pressure from the U.S. on Syria and it appears that “Russia, the Syrian government’s most important backer, quickly welcomed the idea.” […] Moscow’s reaction appeared to represent the first possible point of agreement between Russia and the United States over how to address the chemical weapons issue that has grown out of the Syrian conflict, now well into its third year. Asked if there were steps the Syrian president could take to avert an American-led … Continue reading

What Should We Do In Syria?

I must confess that I have been guilty of sitting on the fence with respect to whether the United States should launch even a limited military strike against Syria, ostensibly in response to the chemical bombing of their own citizens. I have wanted to do two things: first, gather as much objective information as possible regarding the complexities of the situation. And second, I wanted to be able to trust my President to evaluate the much better information that he has at his disposal and then to come to the right decision on behalf of me and the American people. Additionally, I have struggled with an emotional reaction to the use of chemical weapons on innocent citizens, particularly children, and … Continue reading

President Obama To Seek Syria Vote in Congress

In a speech to America earlier today, President Obama announced that he will seek a vote in Congress on striking Syria, effecting shutting down the speculation that he would order a strike without Congressional approval. Obama said in his Rose Garden speech, delivered with Vice President Biden at his side, that he had “decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town until Sept. 9.” Mr. Obama said he believed he had the authority to act on his own, but he did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan. “I’m prepared to give that order,” Mr. Obama said. “But having made my … Continue reading

Kerry Lays Out Reasons to Strike in Syria

We’re in full court press on Syria now. The drums are beating. The debate is ongoing and looking more and more as though action in Syria is on the way. In a speech today on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry “laid out the case like the prosecutor he once was, making a closing argument to a skeptical jury.” Again and again, some 24 times in all, he used the phrase “we know” to describe the intelligence that Syria’s government massacred more than 1,400 people with chemical weapons. And then, while saying no decision had been made, he left no doubt that the United States would respond with military power. Anyone who thinks this issue isn’t weighing hard on Kerry … Continue reading