Closing Thought–16Nov17

Go Ask Alice!

Lots of talk about the opioid crisis here in this country…..the First Lady and her hubby are trying to make this some sort of signature issue for them…..

So far a lot of rhetoric without much substance but there is nothing but hollow words so far……

It’s no secret that opioid misuse has risen to the level of an epidemic. On November 1, 2017, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, appointed by President Donald Trump last March, released its long-awaited recommendations on how best to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis.

The stakes have never been higher. Preliminary data indicate that in 2016, 64,000 people—more than the combined number of people killed by gun homicide and in car accidents in 2015—succumbed to drug overdoses. In most of these cases, opioids were involved. Natural and semisynthetic opioids were linked to more than 14,400 overdose deaths, while synthetic opioids other than methadone, which is often used in treatment, contributed to more than 20,100 fatalities. Heroin contributed to roughly 15,400.

Is this just another one of those plans that sounds good but has no bite in doing anything to change the trend?

A question for the experts…  I am finished for the day…..see you guys tomorrow with more tantalizing stuff….Peace Out….chuq

Zimbabwe–What Hell Happened?

Years ago after my stint in the US Army I almost signed on to go to an African country and fight….the country was Rhodesia today known as Zimbabwe when it was fighting for its independence from the UK….so I keep an eye on what happens there just out of nostalgia.

Woke up this morning with news that the Zim army had taken control of the capital so I thought I would write a posy about just what was happening and why…..but AJE beat me to it so I bow to their journalists to describe what is happening and why…….(AJE has an in-depth story explaining damn near everything that has happened and what lead up to the action by the army….a good read….worth the time it takes to digest the story)…….

Soldiers on Wednesday took over the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices, but the army says this is not a military take over.

President Robert Mugabe, who leads the ruling Zanu-PF party, is safe, an army spokesman has said.

But as yet, there is no official word from the government or the Mugabe family as to their whereabouts.

South African President Jacob Zuma says he talked to his close ally Mugabe, who told him he is safe but confined to his house.

The unfolding crisis comes amid an apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty.

It will be interesting to see just what prompted this takeover and what will come about because of it.

Mugabe is being told he must leave the country for the good of the country……

Zimbabweans faced another day of uncertainty Thursday amid quiet talks to resolve the country’s turmoil and the likely end of President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule. Seizing on the political limbo, a range of voices urged Mugabe to step aside and for the country to transition into free and fair elections, the AP reports. Mugabe has been in military custody and there was no sign of the recently fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country last week. Grace Mugabe, the wife whose planned rise to power apparently sparked the crisis, is now believed to be under house arrest along with her husband, despite earlier reports that she had fled to Namibia, the Guardian reports.

The military, which seized power early Wednesday, remained in the streets of the capital, Harare, on Thursday. Southern African regional officials are meeting in neighboring Botswana to discuss the crisis, and South African ministers have arrived in Harare for talks with the military and Mugabe. A joint statement by more than 100 civil society groups urged Mugabe—at 93, the world’s oldest head of state—to peacefully step aside and asked the military to quickly restore order and respect the constitution. A joint statement by churches also appealed for calm. Analysts believe Mugabe and his wife may seek safe passage to Singapore or Malaysia, where they own property.

Never a dull moment in international relations….that is why I enjoy it so……

Saudi Arabia And The Middle East

Note:  Again this is a lot of info to take in but I try to give ever aspect of this situation so that my reader will have a good grasp of the situation.

For a couple on months now Saudi Arabia has been acting like they are the rulers of the larger Middle East…..the war on Yemen that is serving NO purpose the than the use of Americans ordinance that they need to restock…..the Crown Prince has been acting like a tyrant of old with arrests and such trying to sure up his ascension to the throne as soon as possible…..not many people understand what the Hell is going on in Saudi so let me help out…..

Utter nonsense.  I’ve done business in Saudi Arabia since 1976 and can attest that the entire kingdom, with its thousands of pampered princes and princesses, is one vast swamp of corruption.  In Saudi, the entire nation and its vast oil revenues are considered property of the extended Saudi royal family and its hangers-on.  A giant piggy bank.

The late Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi told me the Saudis are ‘an incredibly rich bunch of Bedouins living behind high walls and scared to death of their poorer neighbors.’

We have just witnessed a palace coup in Riyadh caused by the violation of the traditional desert ruling system which was based on compromise and sharing the nation’s riches.

The world needs to rein in these upstarts before they do too much damamge that we cannot repair……

Saudi Arabia’s monarchy is bombing Yemen, locking up domestic rivals and stirring up trouble in Lebanon, while a slow-burning confrontation continues against Qatar which could split the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Five months after the diplomatic spat between the so-called Anti-Terror Quartet and Qatar kicked off, the ante is being upped. Bahrain — one of the quartet alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt — has called for Qatar to be frozen out of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). As the council starts to unravel, what will this mean for Qatar and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region?

Enough is enough….it is time for the US to stand up to these upstarts and like I said rein in there destructive ways……

If the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has in mind a war with Iran, President Trump should disabuse his royal highness of any notion that America would be doing his fighting for him.

Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the 32-year-old son of the aging and ailing King Salman, is making too many enemies for his own good, or for ours.

Pledging to Westernize Saudi Arabia, he has antagonized the clerical establishment. Among the 200 Saudis he just had arrested for criminal corruption are 11 princes, the head of the National Guard, the governor of Riyadh, and the famed investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Saudi and Israel have inked some sort of deal that they both want and it will involve Iran…the bane of both countries…..

Until last weekend, the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh’s exclusive Diplomatic Quarter was colloquially known as the Princes’ Hotel. It was a luxurious retreat from the heat, where royals could engage in the kind of wheeling and dealing with the global business elite that had made them millionaires on the back of the 1970s oil boom. No deal could be brokered without paying a bribe to at least one prince. Last Saturday that era of boundless opportunity and total impunity came to a dramatic end. The VIP guests were booted out, the front doors were shuttered, and heavily armed security forces took up positions around the perimeter.

A Saudi who lives nearby sent me a message about what he thought was an unfolding terrorist incident. That’s one way of describing the extraordinary, chaotic events. We have seen a mini-wave of terror orchestrated by the all-powerful 32-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been given day-to-day control of the kingdom’s affairs by his ailing father, King Salman, 81. Bin Salman’s ascent and methods now promise to change Saudi Arabia forever.

More on the ultimate plans of Saudi and Israel……which the US will likely look the other way…….

The recent leak of a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry cable sent to all Israeli diplomatic facilities worldwide points to the subterfuge being engaged in by Israel and Saudi Arabia to effectuate political discord in Lebanon and a Saudi military confrontation with Iran.

The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to ratchet up diplomatic pressure against Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran.

The Israeli plan saw an opportunity in the fact that the new regime in Saudi Arabia headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was able to force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a longtime puppet of the Saudis, to resign his post from Saudi soil.

Appears as if Lebanon will be ground zero for the Israeli-Saudi coordination to turn the Middle East into even more powder keg than we have have now….

If the Middle East is at least in part a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, then Lebanon may be called its western front. For nearly two generations, Riyadh and Tehran have vied for influence there, as the country has been, with a few interruptions of stability, at once a hostage to and the object of their competition. The competition resumed this week, and it appears that Saudi Arabia is losing.

On Nov. 4, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a recorded message aired on Saudi media. In the message, he criticized Iran for interfering in Arab affairs and criticized Hezbollah for holding his country captive. He resigned, he said, because there was a plot to kill him. The next day, the Saudi minister of state for Arabian Gulf affairs accused Lebanon of declaring war on his country. Then, on Nov. 9, a Reuters report suggested that Hariri was coerced into resigning by the Saudis and is being held in the kingdom. The Saudi government has since called on all its citizens in Lebanon to immediately return home. Tensions have run high before, but the past week has been particularly acrimonious.

The Middle East thanx to Saudi Arabia with the assistance of the US and Israel will turn the ME to dust and for now other reason than to take on Iran….

Back in December 2015, the German foreign intelligence agency, BND, distributed a one-and-a-half-page memo to various media outlets titled: “Saudi Arabia — Sunni regional power torn between foreign policy paradigm change and domestic policy consolidation.” The document was pretty astonishing, both in its undiplomatic bluntness and remarkable prescience.

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” the memo warned, focusing on the role of Mohammed bin Salman, who had been appointed as deputy crown prince and defense minister at the age of 30 earlier that year.

Saudi has already bombed Yemen back into the Stone Age and has even gone so far as to bomb the airport so that humanitarian aid cannot get to those that need it…..that should tell volumes of what type of pigs the Saudis are and what they are capable of doing.

Look now further than the Arab League…….

The Arab League is set to hold an emergency meeting on Iran at Saudi Arabia’s request, this according to Reuters and various regional sources, at a moment when Saudi fighter jets may be mobilizing for war in an attempted show of force. Egypt-based Ahram Online also reports further that the meeting will discuss “Iranian interference” in the region at League headquarters in Cairo, and other early unconfirmed reports indicate the meeting could come as early as next Sunday.

News of the Arab League extraordinary session comes as tensions are at breaking point as regional powers – especially Saudi Arabia and Israel – talk war against perceived Iranian expansion and domination in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, The Daily Star, citing the Baghdad Post, claims that Saudi Arabia has scrambled its air force for strikes in Lebanon: “Reports now state the Royal Saudi Air Force has placed its warplanes on alert to launch strikes as the region sits on a knife-edge.” The report accompanies undated footage of Saudi F-15’s in aerial maneuvers over what is presumably a Saudi airfield.

War Drums are beating louder everyday.

Now ask….what part will the US play in this saga?

We Sent Them To War

This is a lengthy post but PTSD is too important for it to be shortened….please read and understand…..for too long people have looked down on suffers….this is a disease that we have caused because of our countless wars and the task we ask our troops to do.

We as a country have no problem sending our young to war……it is when they return home and are in the grips of PTSD that we have NO idea what to do.

Perhaps only ancient Sparta claimed to support its military more than the United States. From the “soldiers get priority boarding” ritual that happens only in American airports, to elections where a decision not to serve is forever held against a candidate, there are daily reminders that “the troops” are a presence in our society like few others.

The desire to claim a piece of that presence leads to elaborate lies, known as “stolen valor.” People buy regulation uniforms and walk through society showing off medals, telling fake war stories, and accepting unearned thanks. They want the juice without having endured the squeeze. They are out there this Veteran’s Day, and they are to be loathed.

We as a nation need to educate ourselves on PTSD and the whole nation can become part of the solution instead of part of the problem as it is now.

“PTSD is going to color everything you write,” came the warning from a stepmother of a Marine, a woman who keeps track of such things. That was in 2005, when post-traumatic stress disorder, a.k.a. PTSD, wasn’t getting much attention, but soon it was pretty much all anyone wrote about. Story upon story about the damage done to our guys in uniform — drinking, divorce, depression, destitution — a laundry list of miseries and victimhood. When it comes to veterans, it seems like the only response we can imagine is to feel sorry for them.

Victim is one of the two roles we allow our soldiers and veterans (the other is, of course, hero), but most don’t have PTSD, and this isn’t one of those stories.

A personal story from a father whose son survived war but not PTSD…….

When my son Ricky was in sixth or seventh grade, I got a call from the principal’s office. They said I needed to pick him up because he was covered in mud and couldn’t return to class like that. I thought, Okay, that’s kind of weird. Ricky never got into trouble. Normally when you get a call like that your kid did something, but no, mine was just dirty. My brother picked him up (I couldn’t leave work at the time) and said the dirt was so caked on, Ricky had to ride home in the back of his truck. It had rained the day before and, as it turns out, my son had decided to roll down a hill behind the school. He wasn’t aiming for the mud puddle at the bottom but there it was. When I got home and asked why he would do such a thing, he replied, “Because it was funny.” I couldn’t fault him because it was funny. That’s the kind of person my son was before he deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army — he would do anything to make people laugh.

Another first hand account about dealing with PTSD and the mental anguish that will accompany the disease……

I don’t go out to parties very much anymore. I can’t remember the last time I was at a party where there was lots of alcohol or drugs, because I know for a fact using either of them would be bad for me. Not because they are illegal, necessarily, but because it wouldn’t be good for me. They would put me in a bad place.

I was never medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder, but I did go through a lot of therapy. I still go back occasionally if I’m in a bad place.

I joined the US army in 2005 and served until 2012. I went from second lieutenant to first lieutenant and then from first lieutenant to captain.

The more we know about PTSD the more we can help those in need as they reach out for our help….please help when you can….our vets deserve a country that is willing to help when they are in need.

A simple thank you is not enough.

How Democracy Dies

There are many predictions on how democracy will die…..back in the 50’s it was creeping communism that would bring the demise…..the problem was it was not creeping at all…..more recently the predictions have been that if it dies then this society will have killed it……

Let us step into the “way back machine” and visit the days of 1830-1831 when a Frenchman was touring the US and made some marvelous insights into America and its democracy…..

If there are two things that one is likely to hear from college faculty today, they are that 1. Students are too careerist, and 2. We need a more democratic society. They worry about the growing utilitarian cast of education in general, as well as the remnants of hierarchy, authority, paternalism, and inequality in today’s society.

What they generally don’t see is the deep underlying connection between these two phenomena. A familiarity with Tocqueville’s essential Democracy in America would prove enlightening.

Tocqueville expresses wonder and awe at the activity of the Americans that he encountered during his visit to the United States in 1830-31. In contrast to the relative complacency of people in their social roles in aristocratic Europe—where no amount of work, effort or activity could move one either from the ranks of the aristocrats to the commoners, or vice-versa—Americans live daily with the awareness that their station in life is one of variability, potential, and fragility. The result was a society that was, by appearances, industrious, but more deeply riven with anxiety. Thus, Tocqueville was moved to call this condition one of “restlessness,” or “inquietude,” the inability to be “quiet” or still or in a state of quiescence.

It is a marvelous book with many insights that de Tocqueville witnessed that are as much today as it was in his day.  I recommend that all Americans read the set for there is much to be learned within its pages.

The NFL Bullsh*t!

I have a friend that is up in arms about all this “taking a knee for Jesus” crap… the point the he is boycotting all sports because of it.  I told him I had been boycotting the NFL ever since I found out that they were paid by the Defense Department for all these patriotic salutes to the troops and such silliness.

The American public’s apparent compulsion to demonstrate “support for our troops” in ways that are emotionally satisfying but ultimately meaningless has been described by Andrew Bacevich as the central tenet of our nation’s “civic religion.” It has rightly been noted that the best way to support soldiers, sailors, and Marines would be to bring them home. Bumper sticker sentiments telling the guys and girls that we love them do the opposite, permitting us to avoid any possible guilty conscience or introspection over why young Americans are fighting and dying in a seemingly interminable series of wars. Nowhere is the tendency towards monetizing meaningless bromides about national security more evident than in professional sports, particularly the National Football League.

Paid patriotism….NFL and their salutes to the troops…..paid patriotism…..

Before 2009, Colin Kaepernick would have had to find some other way to protest racism against African Americans.  That’s because until the height of the Iraq War, NFL football players weren’t even required to leave the locker room for the national anthem, much less stand for it.

That’s not to say that the national anthem didn’t take place before every game. The singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” was mandated during another war, World War II, when the NFL commissioner at the time mandated it for the league. The players were told to stand for it about the same time that the Department of Defense was ramping up massive recruitment and media operations around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began paying sports teams millions in U.S. tax dollars for what amounted to “paid patriotism,” or mega-military spectacles on the playing field before the games. It got so bad that there was a congressional investigation led by none other than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a veteran and considered one of the most patriotic men in the Senate.

The NFL will never see my ass watching anything they offer……the sport does not mean that much to me that I feel like I would be missing something.