Sunday, August 31, 2008

On Building Walls, Again

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense. –Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give a fence. –LK (2008)


Leigh Lake

Leigh Lake is the largest lake in the rugged and beautiful Cabinet Mountain Wilderness of Montana. My trip into the lake with my brother, a three day backpack, almost ended tragically as, on two separate occasions, I narrowly escaped death or serious injury. Luckily, the great granite basin of Leigh Lake did not become my tomb, although it would certainly make a fine and noble one at that. Follow the link below to read the story of my misadventures at Leigh Lake in Montana.

Leigh Lake

Laudizen King

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remembering a Great Friend and Gifted Artist

Remembering my mom, a member of the Manchester Arts Hall of Fame, she is a great friend and gifted artist in my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut.

To read the story, follow the 'Saint' link below.


Laudizen King

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thought for the Day, from Andre Gide

It is easier to lead men to combat,
stirring up their passion,
than to restrain them and direct them
toward the patient labors of peace.

Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate (1869-1951)

Mamma Mia

Shirley and I went to see the movie "Mamma Mia" yesterday. We don't like the large crowds but enjoy the big screen and theater sound, so we had waited a few weeks after the opening and went to an early afternoon showing. There were 25 or 30 people in the theater when the lights went down and the show finally began.

What a laughing good time that film was! The cast was great, there were plenty of laughs, and the music was, well, what can you say but, incredible. I had no idea that the familiar music and songs of ABBA would make such a great motion picture. We both enjoyed it and the movie was over way too soon.

When the movie ended, the sparse crowd erupted into applause, the longest and loudest ovation that I have ever seen from such a small group.

That says it all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bellicose Boy

First, we he have endured years of thankless military sacrifice in Iraq, a war justified by the George W. Bush administration with lies and deceit. Afghanistan, the initial poster child of the war on terror, was left to wither on the vine, and now the resurgent Taliban launch operations against various targets at will throughout the country.

Then Bush's friend and exemplar of the Administration's foreign policy success, Michel Shashkavilli, decides to go to war on Russia's border and is "shocked" by Russia's swift and crushing military response, and by the failure of the West to come to his aid (about as shocked as Claude Rains in the movie 'Casablanca' when he learns that gambling is going on at Rick's). Bush promptly sends the inept Condi Rice to the area so as to allow the peoples of that region the pleasure of ignoring her. And we follow that act of statesmanship with a treaty with Poland that allows the US to install missiles at Russia's border, further inflaming the attitude of the Russians and daring them to respond.

And in the Saturday morning paper in Los Angeles is an article stating that the US may have to take unilateral action against terrorists in Pakistan, since the new government there seems less responsive to our concerns.

Wait a minute. It is time for Bush to stop acting like the bellicose and petulant twelve-year-old boy that he is. For someone who so openly touts the moral high-ground he certainly has none. His administration has been one long slide downhill, his foreign policy marked by confrontation over statesmanship, decree over consensus, and the result is a growing disregard for the US around the world.

Has Bush accomplished anything? Yes. He abolished the inheritance tax and ushered in faith-based initiatives. Perhaps there is a future for a new inbred aristocracy in America, one modeled on the dark days of Europe, where the royal family was aided and abetted by the state-sponsored church.

It is time for George to take a respite from unilateral actions on the international scene, and to cease his war mongering activities around the globe. It is time for a new administration to take over the reins of foreign relations from this childish lame-duck, and see if they can salvage and rebuild the decimated image of the US around the world.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Signposts to Afghanistan

As our attention turns from the war in Iraq to the conflict in Afghanistan, I revisited this piece that I wrote in 2006. It recalled my Army years when I served as an Afghanistan Intelligence Analyst, and the dreams I had as a young man in the Army and as a new civilian making my way in the world. I also voiced concerns over our Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans, and the challenges they and their families face after returning to the States.

That piece seems even more relevant today, as the country seeks answers and questions what our mission is and ought to be. Follow the 'Signposts' link below to read the entire piece.


Laudizen King

Olympic Equestrian Competition

It is a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and as I watch the Olympic Team Equestrian Competition on television, I am remembering my father and my roots back in New England.

From my earliest childhood memories on, there was always one special Saturday every September when the entire family would pile into the station wagon and drive north into Massachusetts to attend the Eastern States Exposition, or the 'Big E', in West Springfield. The 'Big E' is billed as the New England State Fair, and it was always big and exciting when I was a kid. We would go through the exhibits housed in the six buildings on the 'Avenue of States' (one for each New England state), and then we would visit the livestock barns and mill around with the weekend crowd.

I enjoyed eating the fried dough and all the other exotic 'once a year' treats, and I eagerly waited for darkness when the midway would be lit and the carnival rides shown like jewels moving in the night.

It was then that my father would leave the kids with mom and grandma and disappear to the Coliseum to watch the horses in whatever event was happening at the time. Every year it was the same.

The Olympics were another source of joy for my dad, as he watched all the equestrian events that were broadcast during the Games, adding an aura to the stern enigma that my father was to me during those childhood years.

I never did learn where that love of equestrian events came from, or what dreams they inspired in this man of few words.

As I watch the equestrian events this morning in Los Angeles, I realize that there is a lot that I don't know about my deceased father, but the fact that I am remembering him today is enough.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Condoleezza Rice in Georgia

Condi in Georgia to broker peace with the Russians will accomplish everything that Cheney could if he were in Compton talking to gang leaders there.

Nobody in either place cares one iota what the visitor has to say.
Her visit is but a stunt organized for news groups and others around the periphery.
All the players know that the visit is a stunt, and they will act accordingly.

Because of the reckless and unilateral actions taken by the US around the globe, Russia will now act with a renewed sense of animosity, and takes its time doing so. Why should they rush to do our bidding when we are negotiating with Poland over the installation of US missiles there, missiles that would sit at Russia's border?

What arrogance.

On Building Walls

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense. –Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

Osama Bin Laden's Driver

Osama Bin Laden's driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was recently found guilty of supporting terrorism by a military tribunal tasked with prosecuting the Guantanamo prisoners. After all these years, after the threat of terrorism in America and the assault on our personal liberties at home led by Bush and Cheney, we have marched the driver out to face Military Justice.

It has not gone unnoticed that Hitler's driver was not prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials.

The fact that radical Islam preys on the poor and ignorant (Hamdan is a Yemeni with a fourth grade education) seems to require that he be held in super-secret double-dare detention along with the other "important" and "significant" prisoners in Guantanamo. You never know when he might require waterboarding.

Who else is kept under confinement there? The maid? The gardener? A Catholic?

The word 'justice' (and those responsible for dispensing it) does not seem to carry much honor or importance under the current administration, especially when you acknowledge the debacle at the Justice Department.

When I look at Hamdan, I wonder about what the penalty should be for, example, lying about Iraq trying to purchase "yellowcake" uranium, or having WMDs, or for outing the career intelligence agent Valerie Plame?

Bush and Cheney seem to have it backwards. The things that make America great are not small and petty, and the small and petty things that make them both what they are, well, those things are not great.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The real Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are:

Religion, in the way it fosters, abets and uses the problems above to validate itself

As for religion, I generally believe in the words of HL Mencken.

The Mencken Creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty.

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech.

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

-HL Mencken, writer, critic, journalist (1880-1956)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Alberto Gonzales - US Hall of Shame

Alberto Gonzales, what a legacy this unethical cretin left in his wake. George W. Bush touted his Latino roots and religious heritage when he nominated Alberto to be the Attorney General of the United States. But Alberto's oath of office meant nothing, he tried to dismantle the justice department and to create in its stead an uber-agency, built to serve the whims of the president, and to create a new litmus test for those who would be federal attorneys, one built upon espousing conservative, evangelical, and Republican values. Under Alberto, the Department of Justice no longer sought the best and the brightest from America's law schools. Over 150 alumni of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law became lawyers at the DOJ, including the inexperienced lackey (Monica Goodling) who became Alberto's top aide and played such a prominent role in the politically-motivated firings of the US Attorneys. She promptly took the 5th when called upon to testify.

What does justice mean in Texas? Not much, if people like Alberto served on its Supreme Court.

I consider Alberto a permanent member of the US Hall of Shame.

Bernie Mac dead at 50

With the death of Bernie Mac, the world is a sadder place today. We need to cherish those that make us laugh, and I mourn his passing.




Yes Captain, lost Captain
the quarterdeck is empty
and the unmanned tiller swings
to the tide
amid unseen currents
in a rolling sea
as I on deck
a clear day
and a steady hand
with a weather eye
but my sounding lead
finds shallow sand
and shoal and reef below
as a noisome wind streaks
the waves and
shows the storm
roiling dark and fierce

Friday, August 1, 2008

Foul Ball 2

My brother sent me this account after reading the "Foul Ball" story.

The foul ball story brought to mind our family trips to see the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team, the kids always hoping to catch that foul ball but only finding disappointment. A change in strategy brought better results: we sat behind the bullpen off of left field and Kevin & Chris asked the pitchers, "hey, would you trade a ball for a slice of pizza?" The answer was an abundance of baseballs that continued as long as the pizza kept coming. Perhaps not as memorable as catching that flyball in your mitt but certainly more productive. If I remember, they all signed the ball for two slices of pizza. I used to wonder about the embarrassment if the bullpen was asked to warm up and there were no baseballs available.

Thanks, Bro,