Archive for October 2010

Dwight Eisehower, Osama Bin Laden,   Leave a comment

General Dwight Eisenhower gave American citizens a warning in his farewell address to the nation. He cautioned against the domination of our democracy by the Military-Industrial Complex. He said, “The U.S. traditionally was an isolationist nation. We focused on our own hemisphere, we focused on developing our economy, not policing the world. We were Anti-Imperialist, that was part of our tradition. ”That was not just Jefferson, but it was Madison, Adams, Hamilton and all of them…This was an Anti-Imperialist nation!”  Today we spend $500 billion a year on arms. That’s more than the entire world put together! Who benefits from war? Is this the beginning of eternal warfare?

Journalist Guy Lawson interviewed Omar Bin Laden for Rolling Stone Magazine. Lawson writes that now 28 years of age, Omar is one of 11 sons of Osama bin Laden. But from an early age, Omar stood out from his brothers for his independence. Though Omar does not believe that any of his siblings are still by his father’s side, he is the only bin Laden son to publicly disavow his father’s violence. In Growing Up bin Laden, co-authored last year with his mother and an American writer named Jean Sasson, Omar not only captures the insanity and cruelty inside his father’s world, but also provides an intimate portrait of what it is like to be the son of a sociopath.   Omar says, “My father’s dream was to bring the Americans to Afghanistan. He would do the same thing he did to the Russians. I was surprised the Americans took the bait. I so much respected the mentality of President Clinton. He was the one who was smart. When my father attacked his places, he sent a few cruise missiles to my father’s training camp. He didn’t get my father, but now after all the war in Afghanistan, they still don’t have my father. They have spent hundreds of billions. Better for America to keep the money for its economy. In Clinton’s time, America was very, very smart. Not like a bull that runs after the red scarf. I was still in Afghanistan when Bush was elected. My father was so happy. This is the kind of president he needs — one who will attack and spend money and break his own country. I am sure my father wanted McCain more than Obama. McCain has the same mentality as Bush. My father would be disappointed because Obama got the position.

“Will there be more attacks?”

“I don’t think so,” Omar says. “He doesn’t need to. As soon as America went to Afghanistan, his plan worked. He has already won.”                                                                                                                                                     Guy Lawson concludes: “As Omar sees things, his father had destroyed the Soviet empire. Now, nearly a decade after 9/11, his father’s vision for an America of economic ruin and a soul-sapping war in Afghanistan has come to pass. As far as Omar is concerned, his father has brought ruin to two empires.”                                                                                                                                What if Al-Queda has only 50 members?  BBC’s documentary called “The Power of Nightmares” speaks with top CIA officials who openly admit, Al-Qaeda is a total and complete fabrication, never having existed at any time. The Bush administration needed a reason that complied with the Laws, which were originally set in place to protect us from mobs and “criminal organizations” such as the Mafia, so the Bush Administration could go after “the bad guy of their choice.” And Bin Laden fit the bill after his attack on the U.S. and then the drive through the media was to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was our enemy, even though he had nothing to do with 911.  According to the documentary, the Bush Administration paid Jamal al Fadl, hundreds of thousands of dollars to back the U.S. Government’s story of Al-qaeda, a “group” or criminal organization they could “legally” go after.” this information comes from  And from a senior U.S. intelligence official to “The approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.” Thirty thousand more troops have been sent to Afghanistan. Will the cost to taxpayers, many whom have lost homes and jobs, cause poverty to engulf the middle class?                                                                                                                        Prizewinning reporter Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewed British author David Cornwell who writes under the pseudonym John Le Carre. Le Carre is best known for his novel “The Constant Gardener.” Le Carre says of the previous Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, “It seems to me that any politician who takes his country to war under false pretenses has committed the ultimate sin. I think that a war in which we refuse to accept the body count of those that we kill is also a war of which we should be ashamed. I think it’s true that we’ve caused irreparable damage in the Middle East. I think we shall pay for it for a long time.  Le Carre goes on to say; I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin-doctors, here and abroad, particularly the United States media, to perpetuate lies. Mussolini, I think, defined fascism as the moment when you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between political and corporate power. I worry terribly that the absence of serious critical argument is going to produce a new kind of fanaticism, the new simplicities that are as dangerous as the ones which caused us to march against Iraq and as misunderstood. And on the media, he says, “I suffer from the same frustration that every decent American suffers from. I don’t know what the percentage now is, but I believe it’s still something like 65 or 70 percent of Americans believe that Saddam was involved in the Twin Towers. John Le Carre says that he would ask Tony Blair, (for Americans, George Bush and Barack Obama could be asked the same question), “I would ask him the really painful one, which I could not have asked if I hadn’t gone on my own journey . Have you ever seen what happens when a grenade goes off in a school? Do you really know what you’re doing when you order shock and awe? Are you prepared to kneel beside a dying soldier and tell him why he went to Iraq, or why he went to any war? I think that if anything has happened to Europe since 1945 that defines it, it is collectively Europeans do not believe in war anymore, until it comes as an absolute last resort, and then they’re going to do it rather badly. The United States, I think, still sees war as a necessary part of its existence. It’s impossible to maintain the military on that scale, a Pentagon on that scale, without turning it over. You’ve got to have officers who are experienced in command and control. You’ve got to have troops who have been bloodied. So, we were, in that sense, at odds. I was, as a European. I was at odds with the whole notion of a preemptive strike. And I think many Europeans have that in common, of course with very many Americans, too, feel the same. So I would have tried to challenge him in that area.”    The question Le Carre would like to ask Blair, who believes what he did what was right regarding war decisions,  and who defines himself as a Christian is “How that (his decision for war) relates to the Christian ethic? Do you believe in war first and negotiation afterwards? Exactly how does this work?

Maybe all the questions are for naught, because as author Chris Hedges writes, “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”  The longer we are addicted, and the more of us who become addicted, the stronger the craving, and the more powerless we are to this way of life, until we have a habit that is impossible to break, but in which we also have no resources left to feed. When greed and military expansion are the focus of an empire, a super power, and not their citizens, these empires crash.

“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” George Orwell


Posted October 26, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays

Snakes and Dogs for Tucker bitten by a rattlesnake on 10-16-10   Leave a comment

just trying to make a living

a little sun, a cool drink, a place to lay our heads

we bite when we need to

we jump when bitten

trying to make a living

like beggars do, like billionaire bankers do

like all the rest of us

warming our skins in the sun

still chilled from a fall night

cold snakes fail to rattle

warm snouts take the bite

all just trying to make a life, trying to make a living

among snakes and dogs

also trying to make a life, trying to make a living

Posted October 25, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

My Dog   2 comments

Recently, I have learned interesting things that I didn’t want to know. Last month I learned the signs of “actively dying” while watching my dad labor through his last hours, and now I’ve learned how rattlesnake poison works its way though my dog’s body. My beloved Tucker. Nosy, fun-loving, wiggley Tucker. One kind-voiced sound directed at her gave the speaker an immediate happy response.

Choices are often made for the right reasons like deciding that a couple of sluggish blue people should take their dogs to the country to run, because those dogs do love to run, unleashed, no fences, and it makes their people feel good to watch these wild free spirits roam. But I said that sunny fall day, “This is nice weather for snakes to be out” warming their own sluggish selves. Some choices are bad. This was my bad choice. We went out and after about 20 minutes of walking, I saw Tucker jump straight up. She was 15 feet ahead of me. I watched the spot on the bare dirt she had been on when she jumped and did not see anything move. Tucker did not yelp and seemed fine when we reached her. We walked a little further and she started slowing down and walking beside me. “Something’s wrong. She’s not acting right” I said. “Look, her muzzle is swelling.” We looked her over around, inside, and outside her mouth. Ran our fingers along her gums and inner mouth. She had a swollen muzzle one other time when she ate a wasp, and Brando, our other dog, had also experienced a huge muzzle, but he had not left his town-backyard when his had swollen and he was fine in a day or two. We hoped it was a bee or wasp sting. We got back to the car and that was the first we saw the slow drops of blood coming from one spot where her nose and mouth meet. Ed gave her some Benadryl for the swelling and I got her to the vet in less than 45 minutes. By that time the swelling was very bad on her face. I had no idea her face would become even worse, distorting her perfect little rust and brown nose until it went straight out on either side. The vet did not seem alarmed, and said we had gotten Tucker there in time. I asked if there was any chance she wouldn’t be all right. And, of course, there’s always a chance, but I did not sense a cause to worry from the vet. They would use a plasma solution instead of an antivenom, and she would also be given a steroid injection, antibiotics and pain medicine. They called me back in an hour to say that she was responding all right so far to the treatment. It would take hours for the plasma to be complete, but she would remain on an IV, and they would call me in the morning. When I phoned them in the morning, Tucker had been vomiting and had some blood in her urine. When I arrived at the vet’s, she looked bad. She did not react when I walked into her cage. I sat down next to her, talked to her and petted her. If I stopped she looked up at me with sad eyes until I started petting her again. After being there for an hour, I convinced myself that she was having a bad reaction to the bite, but she would be okay. I went home to get some lunch and the vet called and said they did a blood test,  and Tucker’s kidneys were not functioning well and once they start this, they do not usually get better. “We should have her put to sleep?” “Is that what you are saying?” I asked.  He’s a nice man, a dog lover, and he did not tell us that’s what to do, but did agree that it might be for the best.

“My dad just died a couple of weeks ago” I said aloud as my mind was trying to sort my choices out.

“Well, we can wait and see. She’s alive and who can say there is no hope when she’s still alive.”

“Yes, but I don’t want her to suffer. We will come over now.” I closed my phone, laid my arms on the counter, my head on my arms and sobbed. We both cried. Then sort of pulled ourselves together and drove the short distance to the vet’s.

We asked more questions. Ed said, “She’s not in pain. I think we should give it another day. She might pull out of this.”

I had gone to the vet’s thinking we were giving her the shot to end her life, and now we were changing our minds. Confusion, backtracking emotions. I did not want her to suffer, but maybe she would be better tomorrow. We told the vet to wait and take the blood test in the morning to see if there were changes. We stayed a little while, and then left. I told Tucker I would be back to stay with her soon.

We went home. I paced the floor. “Let’s get out of the house for a while. How about bread pudding and Irish coffee.”

We went to  a restaurant that makes great bread pudding with caramel sauce. First we had their daily special which was noodles over mashed potatoes. Comfort food is what we needed and we got it. After we ate, Ed went home and then planned to run errands and I went back to see Tucker. When I came in,  she lifted her head and wagged her tail when she saw me. What a difference from this morning. She’s better!!!! I was so excited to see her respond to me. I was going to help her die this morning, but now, hope!  I phoned Ed. He let the answering machine come on. “Pick Up, pick up” I said into the phone. He did. “She wagged her tail!” She’s better.”

“Ohhhhhh! I’m so glad. I thought it was the vet calling to tell me that she had died and you were on your way over to that.” I could hear the relief and the tears in his voice. “She’s going to make it” Ed said.

Oh my! If Ed hadn’t said wait, she would be gone. I sat for two hours on the cement floor with her and we exchanged some looks that were incredible. She looked at me for several times with such directness, such compassion or love or something in those brown dog eyes of hers. Connection. I left feeling very hopeful, and when I returned the next morning, she was even better. She stood and wagged her tail. The day before she never stood except once to turn around, and she moved closer to me if I moved away from her. Her regular vet was back, and I said, “She’s so much better. Her face is much less swollen and she’s up, and drinking lots of water. ”

“Yes,” the vet said, but we still need to check her blood.  Drinking lots of water is a symptom of kidney failure. I’m worried about her kidney function. She still has blood in her urine.”

“Would she be physically this much better if her kidneys were functioning less?”

“Yes, she could be. The swelling is down on her face and moving down her body. She’s feeling better, but the kidneys may still be deteriorating” the vet said.

My heart dropped to my feet. My body has been through too many mood swings in the past two days. Here we go again.

“If her kidneys are worse or not, we can take her home today, right? She will perk up at home and maybe eat something.”

So they took blood, and the tests showed that Tucker was making more red blood cells which is good, but her kidney numbers were slightly worse than yesterday.

“I’d like to give her another bag of fluids with the IV and then you can take her home.”

The IV finished by 4 pm, and Tucker was able to get in the car by herself. She seemed happy to be home. I took her outside and she peed in her backyard and wagged her tail a bit, then laid down. I could not convince her to eat anything, but she did drink a lot of water, which I know now is a sign of kidney failure.  We had to stick pills down her throat, which makes us feel mean but is necessary. Necessary if she’s going to live, but if she was on hospice, they would not administer the antibiotic just the pills for pain. Please little friend, help me do the right thing for you.

The next morning, she’s looking sad. I read that depression, bad breath, drinking lots of water are all signs of kidney failure. She seems to have all of these. I poured a little milk in the water and she drank it. I laid down beside her on the floor and petted her, and we were sad together, but then I coaxed her outside into the sunshine and brushed her coat, which she seemed to like or was just sweet enough to appease me. She drank some milk. I tried yet again the soft dog food with a little bacon grease on it. I had tried it the night before and she would not taste it or the liver I bought to help with her anemia, but today, YES!! She ate about 2-3 tablespoons of the meat. Tucker even walked out to the yard and chased a bird for about five steps before giving it up, and walked to the fence and perked her ears at the neighbors dogs. They usually run along the fence together in a daily game of growl, bark, race, then peek through the fence and do it all over again, careful to avoid the cactus by the fence. She laid down, and looked sad and droopy again. I’m leaving now to buy her an ice cream cone, because I promised one to her when she was in the dog hospital. I’ll get one for me and Brando, too. Brando will take care of any leftovers.

Back from The Creamery with two small vanilla cones and one rocky road. Brando was most pleased with his first whole all-to-himself cone. Tucker hesitated but agreed to a few licks and then a few more before turning away. I put hers in the freezer for later. Then waited a short while and got the soft dog food out and smeared it with bacon grease and fed it to her by hand. She ate more than this morning!!!!! Maybe 1/2 cup. Again my spirits soared! Later she stands with tail down, looking sad and hopeless. Worried, happy, sad, doubtful, concerned and on and on sort of my whole life the past couple of years, but there is hope as the vet said, “She’s still alive, so there’s hope.” I’m still alive. Don’t give up this ship, this big old paint peeling ship. It’s the deal. No pain without love. Seems like a strange concept. But it would be worse to have the pain of never having loved or been loved.

A poem about Tucker written several years ago:


she shimmers down her grassy runway

weaves a path of her own making

her silken coat of shine across muscle

passes over tiny insects that sprout into morning

rising like sprays of celebratory confetti

her body is bound to joy

I am grateful witness

her tail spikes its Iroquois-like feathers of freedom

I love her more than some people get loved

one more step on humanity’s ladder of unfairness

another sprung rung to crack a human spirit if allowed

but not now

she is art for the backyard Louvre

as just the right light strokes her rust and black shine

and never once does she pause over past regrets

Posted October 20, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Run, Chase, Laugh   4 comments

Run, Chase, and Laugh

After your second parent dies, it changes your place in the world, not that anyone else notices, because they are busy not losing their own place for this or other reasons. But it feels to me like I am standing on the top of a mountain looking down on both sides. I know how fast those fat little babies will be leggy teenagers, and now I know that death is not nearly as distant a place as I had imagined up to now. I have been present with two people when they died. My first experience was two years ago with my mother, and it  was amazing, heartbreaking, and a last gift, mine to her and hers to me. The second time, I understood that dying is a process, different for each person,  fascinating, and difficult as laboring to give birth. A couple of weeks before my father died, he said, “I’ve always been able to get out of anywhere I needed to.” And he did.

He died on September 28th, and a few days before that when I knew the end was coming, but he was not “actively dying” (a term I know much more about now) I bought paint to touch up the metal on the awnings outside. While I painted on that perfect September day, I felt gratitude for both my parents. They did their best or their near-best, and here I am, living in the moment, in the sun, in the world. There is no place in this moment for regret or blame, just gratitude for both of them, an unlikely pairing of personalities who had five imperfect children who care so much for each other that these parents did something right.

While I stand on my mountain looking at each side of the slope, I think of both of my parent’s funerals. My mother’s was so painful, my grief so intense, I barely recall the mass or the priest’s words, but I do remember the clouds separating at the cemetery and the eagles we saw on the way to my sister’s house afterwards. I am told there were eagles at the cemetery for dad, and I do remember large birds as we left, but my mind was elsewhere. My dad always loved the babies, and at Dad’s service, it is those little great-grandkids of his that I will remember. Five-year-old Curtis in the first pew, nodding in agreement, and saying yes to the minister’s words about good memories. Curtis who enters any room with polite greetings like he’s a middle-aged man, but with eyes ready for the wonders of living. He sang along to King of The Road with Roger Miller and a few others. It was the last song played at the funeral. Eight-year-old Jared crying hard before the service started. He recently lost his lifetime pet, Sadie, and understands the emotional loss of what “forever” really means.  When the minister read funny memories about Grandpa, Ava who is almost three, used her best and loudest fake laughter to join in with everyone else. Baby Monica sat behind my partner Ed. She spent the funeral time feeling Ed’s arm, squeezing it with her little fingers, checking out the feel of bone under cloth, learning, testing, discovering more information to store away in her gathering mind. And best of all was three-year-old Eli, who had been still and quiet for so long, breaking loose at the cemetery and running across the land of tombstones, touching some, squealing as his embarrassed mother chased him. I wish we had all broke loose and ran, the whole group of mourners. I wish we had run and laughed and been chased one last time by our mother, by our father.

Good Bye Dad

This morning’s September sky,

striking as a blue-eyed dog,

is the day we say good-bye to you.

Your once strong hands now rest.

Those hands that waved

from the cabs of trucks,

hands that became as soft as aged leather.

Hands that tickled little bellies, pulled

wrenches, patted dogs and buttered

those good homemade rolls

will wave no more to us,

but we will remember

their young strength

and their softness later.

Somewhere tonight a dog will raise his muzzle

and howl because you have gone.

And somewhere a father will sing,

“Hey Good Lookin’

“I got a hot-rod Ford and a two-dollar bill
And I know a spot right over the hill.
There’s soda pop and the dancin’s free,
so if you wanna have fun come along with me.
Hey, good lookin’,
Whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?”

And the child will smile at their dad,

and remember the songs of his life.

Posted October 10, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays, Have a Chair

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