The Talking Dog

September 27, 2015, Human decency delayed...

I'm a little slow on the uptake (nothing unusual there)... Andy reports that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at GTMO, is being released. He had been cleared for release for the last several years, but... well... see above re: "human decency delayed."

In the end, we as a nation seem to prefer our military having "a presence" in the vast majority of the world's nations, engaging in wars on terror, drugs, and on nations that refuse to abide by American capitalism and foreign policy, even as the cost of maintaining such a vast military infrastructure is the utter decline of our own infrastructure, be it transportation, education, healthcare, energy transmission, soil health, or frankly, you name it. More important we show that we are "strong." Strong defined as scared shitless of men like Shaker Aamer, a father of four, who, hopefully, will soon be reunited with his family.

This is an extraordinarily welcome development, as well as long overdue. Let's hope that the lack of a UK resident at GTMO will not dampen the enthusiasm of Brits toward ending the GTMO project (and its progeny)... including the use of "British" territory Diego Garcia by the American military for God knows what.

September 18, 2015, The Talking Dog blog turns 14 today

Seriously. Check yourself, if you want.

I began this blog a week after 9-11 as a bitter crank, approaching middle age. Fourteen years later, I find, of course, that after the major 9-11 inflection point from which we could have sought our best selves and instead have had a fourteen year race to the bottom, I find, of course, that I am more bitter, more middle-aged, and more cranky. And I'm still, btw, one of the happiest people I know.

Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the internets, so I can share the warmth with everyone.

September 13, 2015, Happy new year

On the Jewish calendar, the day before sundown of the First Day of Rosh Hashanah is effectively new year's eve. I partied like it was... I don't know... and eked out a finish (and an official finish by just s few tenths of a second) in the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon today.

And now, I will be tired and sore when schmoozing with the mishpacha and davening in schul.

The religion is, after all, largely about suffering.

Happy new year, everybody (particularly my Jewish readers... if I have any...)

September 11, 2015, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Honestly, on this, the 14th anniversary of the day that has been used to justify... so much... I'm not really sure I have anything to add (other than, of course, happy 9-11 to all, even the haters and losers; what did we all do before The Donald?)

One of the things that 9-11 did spawn, of course, was blogs. This one will celebrate its own 14th birthday in a week or so. Fourteen years... represents over a quarter of my life, but something like 90% or so of my daughter's... and she (and countless millions of her contemporaries) have not known a world before September 11th and the official national state of paranoia and Global War Against Everyone and Everything Terror.

Indeed, fourteen years is so long (representing, I think, much of, if not the majority of time since Al Gore invented the internet) that "blogging" as I once knew it has largely been replaced by social media, which, since its a game I refuse to play by and large, has left this blog in the dust (not that it was ever not within proximity to the dust).

But, as some of you know, I've also spent most of my working life in Downtown Manhattan, just a hundred or so yards from the World Trade Center complex (and the day itself resulted in the loss of the job I then had, as the firm I was with lost the use of its office space from a building one block North of the WTC, offices with a clear view of the events at the WTC. So, working in proximity to the target (and near such other targets as the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Federal Reserve Bank), one
tries to function without the endless maudlin hysteria that, alas, seems to have gripped the nation, a grip not loosened apparently in fourteen years.

Don't know. A cold, realistic assessment will acknowledge that this nation has been an empire since approximately 1940, when FDR extorted Churchill for access to numerous military bases owned and operated then by the British Empire in exchange for the lend/lease of military equipment (which, let's face it, Churchill kind of needed), and what had been an impressively expansive military presence anyway became the most widespread global empire in the history of the world (an empire, of course, that is fraying because it no longer pays for itself, though we insist on maintaining it and the hundreds of garrisons and hundreds of thousands of troops we must "forward deploy" abroad to keep it together)... and of course, it was blowback from maintaining this empire that led to 9-11, the formation of ISIS, the current "refugee crisis", etc., etc. Meaning, we were already largely a permanently mobilized praetorian state, with many of the unfortunate post-9-11 attributes (the surveillance, the permanent never ending wars on everything, the scapegoating of "the other", etc.) largely already in place... But still, 9-11 seemed like an inflection point, if nothing else, to take a lot of this out into the open. Which seems really disconcerting to me... especially as I consider countless young people who never grew up in the "pre-9-11 world." Which was more than just the ability to talk to other human beings through some means other than via a computerized intermediary.

Seems... like something has been lost. Something really important. Hey, what can I tell you?

September 8, 2015, Happy birthday

To Vermont Senator, and perhaps our next President, Brooklyn's own Bernie Sanders, who turns a spry 74 today.

We'll leave aside his opponents' youth and inexperience and note that just as things a mere seven years ago were so awful that, we could have a Black man as President, the nation's worst job... so it seems, a septugenarian Jewish socialist from Brooklyn might be the man for these times.

Who knows? Repeat after me: with Hillary, all things are possible.

Happy birthday, Bernie!

September 5, 2015, Saturday Hillary Funnies

Let's try to do some reconciliation of the following, shall we:

Item: A national poll (whether we accept its methodology or not) now shows upstart Republican candidate Donald "The Donald" Trump with a 45-40 per cent lead over Hillary Clinton (and a lead over other Democrats such as Sanders, Biden, and for some reason, Al Gore).

Item: WaPo reports that the Gruesome Twosome Gomez and Morticia Bill and Hillary Clinton paid an on-duty State Department staffer separately to maintain Hillary Clinton's e-mail server (located in the Clinton manse in Chappaqua, New York), while Mrs. C. was the Secretary of State.

Item: The Grey Lady reports that this year's "grand Hillary strategy" is to hold on to a "Southern firewall" in the event that Bernie Sanders scores big early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. [Kind of like "by-passing Iowa" back in 2008, allowing Obama to pick up a win there... hmmmm...]

Item: The Clinton campaign proposes to "weave women's issues" into all of its campaign themes, and "take them out of the silo" they were in, I guess in her earlier campaign.

Item: A Gallup poll shows Hillary Clinton at her worst overall favorabality rating yet (around 41% overall) although she remains steadily strong among Democrats.

I don't know what to say about Trump, other than, as a Brooklynite myself for the last third of my life, I can't tell you how much I relish a national battle between Brooklyn's own Bernie Sanders and Queens' own Donald Trump. Notwithstanding that Hillary's main campaign office is a fifteen minute or so walk from Stately Dog Manor, and she has represented my state in the Senate, no one really thinks of Hillary Clinton as a New Yorker (including herself). Which, I suppose is what we're looking at: she would, if the question were specifically asked, register remarkably low on "authenticity." And say what you will about either Trump, or Sanders (or Biden for that matter), they register "authenticity" off the chart (and Jeb Bush, I'm talking to you-- your older brother was a far better actor than you, and pulled it off... just what is your problem, dude?)

Mrs. Clinton, you would think, would be campaigning as "Remember that eight years of peace and prosperity, growth, budget surpluses, and general optimism you had the last time a Clinton was in the White House? Isn't that what you want?" But she can't seem to get it out of her mouth, amidst what seems to be the Divine Right entitlement she seems to project (entitlement, of course, that allowed her family to earn well over $100 million in the last few years simply by trading on their name and apparent influence, as they fight to maintain their position in the aristocracy while she can't quite seem to project giving a crap about actual working people... the people she voted to screw by voting to make filing bankruptcy harder, and that her husband screwed in signing on to NAFTA, student loan exemption from bankruptcy, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act that gave us unbridled derivative trading and... well, I could go on for days even before I bring up the deliberate and needless antagonizing of Russia at a moment when we could have made that nation our friend forever that has led directly to what maybe the next Cold War)... Did I say that out loud?

Bernie Sanders has been described as having the politics of Lenin (or is it Lennon?) and the charisma of Ralph Nader. And yet, actual people on the ground can't seem to get enough of him-- his crowds and popularity are growing. He. Is. Authentic. And. perceived. to. be. Trustworthy. And amidst ever-more trying times, his "Neo-New Deal" policy proposals are popular. Will America get Bernie Sanders as a major party national candidate, the most distinctly ethnic New Yorker since Al Smith in 1928? It once seemed an absurdity. Now? Repeat after me: "With Hillary, all things are possible."