Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".
Great, Ulrich! Many thanks again for helping us keep in touch this way. I hope you all noticed my homage to "Pultizer Prize winner" George F Kennan in Rex's blog, especially his being known as the Father of our cautious "Containment" policy after WW2. The effect of his wise counsel lasted for decades, through JFK's response to the Cuban Missile Crisis to the final breakup of the old USSR... Just imagine if we'd had a trigger-happy "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive warfare during all those Cold War years! Shudder. W and his cohorts go away none too soon.
@all: I have been somewhat lax in the last few days in my attempts to respond on the various active threads. I've been doing a very labor-intensive digital photo book, which has to be printed by xmas and just went to the publisher, and couldn't really concentrate on much else. Things will be back to normal after a good night's sleep.
The preceding two comments were not really deleted--they were just moved to a new thread.@artlvr: We are just reading Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner. It's recommended for people who don't mind getting enraged when they try to understand what happened in the recent past. I mention this b/c George Kennan does make his appearance in the book, and I get a somewhat different impression of him from what I read. None of this, of course, absolves the current administration from anything. I still shake my head in wonder: Can anyone remember an 8-year administration in the recent past that has not a single foreign-policy success to show for itself and managed to create what may go down as the biggest foreign policy fiasco in the history of the US.
To everyone who is troubled by the feeding frenzy surrounding Blagojevich, I recommend Frank Rich's op-ed piece of today, which puts all of this into a proper perspective.
Thought I left a note here yesterday -- re latest shocker of Bernard Madoff's arrest on the biggest investment fraud ever! Estimates on losses exceed $50 billion, and victims include big names to big banks... Spielberg to Royal Bank of Scotland. Ugh, what timing!
p.s. thanks for the link to the Frank Rich op-ed! Nice summation -- so far -- of the Bush era ills. What a nightmare, especially bankruptcy of major newspapers... Decline was one thing, but instant disappearance of massive enterprises on which so much of our daily lives depend? One can only say What Next??? This feels like a virtual Pompei-like burial.
p.p.s. Enlarging my last remark on Rex's blog: I was appalled to see John Dean as a guest on Keith Olbermann's show again this evening! Dean is the guy who ran the espionage out of Nixon's White House, pretending authorization came from higher up. He initiated the two Watergate break-ins (the burglars were caught in the second.) He tricked Nixon into the illegal cover-up, lied to Congress, and blamed everyone but himself. He even fooled Woodward and Bernstein.The stunnung expose is "Silent Coup: the Removal of a President", by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, published in 1991 by St. Martin's Press., It's over 500 pages, but the last 70 pages are appendices, etc. They nailed everything except Deep Throat!The authors, both journalists, began work on the book in 1984, checking daily details published or not. Endorsements of their findings came from John Mitchell, in a private letter to Nixon, and Roger Morris, National Security Council staff member and biographer of Nixon.I can't wait for the day a team does as thorough a job on the secret agendas of W and his cohorts!
Oh boy, such a coincidence -- Mark Felt, a.k.a. Deep Throat, died yesterday!
@artlvr: John Dean has gone over to the side of the angels. He's done time, saw the error of his ways, and has been trying to make up ever since. As I said weeks ago on the previous pol. thread, he has now become, together with Kevin Phillips, my favorite neo-lib. So, don't get mad at Keith!Here again is the link to the Dean article I recommended then. I think Dean is spot-on.
Okay, thanks -- Haig was equally devious and the greater manipulator by the end of the book, got his espionage buried, got off scot free and went on to NATO command or something... then back to serve as Reagan's Sec. of State! His gaffe at the time Reagan was shot was memorable, as the TV reporters asked who was in charge in the interim and he said "I am, until the Vice President gets here." Not in control of himself!The author I just heard speaking about his book was fascinating on the subject of differences in culture, stereotypical and otherwise. He's Malcolm Gladwell, and the book is "Outliers: The Story of Success". He was highlighting the improvement in pilot training in various countries where theories of Hofstede (spelling?) have been included. "Pilot error" has diminished as a cause of plane crashes, as their mode of communication is improved!He spoke of ranking of countries' cultures along a continuum -- not making value judgments. Said Columbia was the most hierarchical society and the US most tolereant of individuality, South Korea most concerned with collective ethos, etc. This analysis was tied in with black-box recordings of crashes, especially of Avianca (Columbian airline) where co-pilots were so low in rank compared to a captain that their warnings (like fuel running out) were too polite -- not urgent enough to get any reaction! Pilots at Korean Air were too self-effacing too, but they turned their safety record around to one of the best through speccific assertiveness training!He emphasized that one's cultural biases are not determinative of non-optimum outcomes unless ignored! If you confront habits that may mislead people elsewhere, you can change them. Another example was controllers at NYC airports, known to be the "bitchiest" -- but quick to respond if the word "Emergency" is made clear. The Avianca pilots thought these controllers were angry at them, and so apologetic about being low on fuel that nobody took them seriously! Of course, all long-distance flights are getting low on fuel near their destination, designed that way to avoid being too heavy during landing, but Avianca pilots were too intimidated to make their dire situation plain.
So Happy New Year, Ulrich and everyone! The surprises continue -- with Blagojevich making that appointment to fill Obama's Senate seat. Will it stick, or get shot down? Tune in again in 2009...∑;)
Happy New Year, everyone! I have so enjoyed meeting Ulrich and Laraine, and several times Chef Barbara, and I hope that Foodie shows up again. I am definitely going to the championship, although with my luck that would be another cancelled trip.....We're happily snowed in, but quickly did some food shopping before the driveway became too bad. I guess I will tell you about our menu in the food schmooze!
@artlvr: My initial answer has disappeared--and I have been trying to be careful about this!What I mentioned was a very strange piece I found through a link from a blog I go to daily. The author claimed that the Obama team is hurt by its own success: They have been so well-organized and focused, and completed all tasks before the end of the year, that they have nothing to throw to the media when they want to divert attention from certain happenings, like the Blogo thing (as if that was their problem in the first place!). The implication seems to be that one should never spill all the news, in order to be able to create some diversion when the need arises. The larger implication is that the media are by now totally driven by appearances and story lines of their own making--if something doesn't fit, it gets short shrift, or is actually treated as a sign of weakness. It's a strange world we're waking up to in the new year.
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