August 2007


If Only.

If only America hadn’t wimped-out during Viet Nam?  If only we had nuked North Viet Nam?  If only we had unleashed our military and humbled the Viet Cong?  If only all those commie-pinko, long-haired, draft-dodging, cowardly, college war protesters had served (and died) in Nam?   If only America’s leftwing journalists had been more patriotic?  If only Walter Cronkite had stayed behind his news desk?  If only America’s effete weren’t so, well, effete?  If only America had won in Viet Nam?

If only President Bush read history?  If only he had understood the religious divisions in Islam?  If only President Bush had comprehended what would be unleashed with Hussein’s elimination?  If only he had listened to the many naysayers arguing against his war of choice in Iraq?  If only the neo-cons had been relegated to rightwing thinktanks instead of actually developing war policy?  If only the Supreme Court had allowed a full and accurate recount of the 2000 Florida presidential vote?

President Bush invoked the lessons of Viet Nam last week saying we had to remain in Iraq because of what we learned from America’s long ago war in Southeast Asia.  He also argued, again, that if we leave Iraq now, our dead and wounded soldiers will have died and suffered in vain.  For no purpose.  Using that logic, the President’s logic, more should die in vain so those already dead shall not have died so.  In vain.  It would be laughable, his articulation for his war, if it were not so tragic.  Who elected this man?

Funny, too, pathetically so, this President argues for more sacrifice when he did everything in his power to avoid active service in Viet Nam.  Vice President Cheney, too.  We all know this.  Why then do we give any credence to what he now says?

What was the lesson of Viet Nam?  Seriously.  To President Bush?  Avoid it.  That was his lesson!  Avoid going to Viet Nam and dying. At all costs.

Yet, his lesson today is to invade nations that are not at war, nor are a threat to America.  Cavalierly use America’s sons and daughters in some messianic mission (a crusade to the Holy Lands, perhaps) to spread democracy in a part of the world ill-prepared for, and unresponsive to Western democratic principles and values (such as: separation of church and state).  What hubris.  What ignorance.  What tragedy.

President Bush effectively dodged the draft to avoid dying in a futile land war in Asia.  That showed a level of sense we have not seen from the man since.  He invokes the lessons of Viet Nam and asks America to support his skewed interpretation of history.  For all intents and purposes, he has never read a comprehensive treatise on the subject nor does he have any actual first hand experience in Viet Nam.  It is too funny.  Who elected this man?

The lessons of Viet Nam are lost to President Bush.  He offers his distorted (biased) and uninformed interpretation and asks us to follow him one more time.  Ask yourself this:  What did the President get right about invading Iraq? Not one thing. Not one damn thing.  No weapons of mass destruction.  No connections with Al Quadai.  No greetings for America as liberators.  No Iraqi oil revenue to fund the war. No sound planning or policy for post-invasion Iraq.  And on and on and . . .

Yet this President has the gall to connect his war with that of Viet Nam.  All I can say is, “Well, he definitely got that right.”

Ironically (and sadly) we now have a recently released taped interview with a much younger Dick Cheney from 1994 justifying why the first President Bush (41) didn’t go into Baghdad (kill Hussein) after liberating Kuwait.  Guess why?  Cheney articulated chapter and verse what would happen and he nailed it.  For all the reasons we see today.  Cheney is proof positive that wisdom doesn’t necessary accrue with age.  So sad.

If only.  If only America had leadership today worthy of her ideals and promise.  If only.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

08.30.07

A Worse Crime

Sometimes after Sunday yoga I drop by Publix and grocery shop. This past Sunday was no different. I invariably swing by the free blood pressure stand near the pharmacy and get a read. I’m a sucker for any free medical test. Ask me to pay, well, that’s a different matter. This time an older woman was seated and it took the longest time for her numbers to be displayed. Up they came and I exclaimed, “Wow! Great numbers!” I know, I know! Gawd you’re nosey, Jepson.

She turned to me and smiled and her eyes were the palest, loveliest blue eyes I’ve seen in years. I guessed her age at 80. She was (is) a beautiful woman. I immediately slid in behind her, slipped my arm into the cuff and struck up a conversation with her husband (I assumed as much). He was sitting casually nearby with his legs crossed at the knee and I took him for a retired professional. He told me he was 83. He had a sharp, crisp look to his eyes and we started talking about cholesterol medicines which I have an interest in and I asked both of them what they took and what were the results. He shared with me that he gets a hell of deal at Costco for his cholesterol pills.

My numbers flashed, I got up and as I typically do, I asked who they were liking for president?

Aside: I like to talk religion and politics, anytime, anyplace. I like heated yet civilized exchanges of ideas and opinions. I like to know what people think and why. I believe people who abjure such discussions are un-American weenies. If you will not substantiate your thinking with some semblance of reasoned thought, backed by agreed upon facts, well, I suggest you rethink your definition of mature adult.

Regardless, at this point I did not have any idea whether I was talking to Republicans or Democrats or Independents. But I always like it when they say, “Anyone but the man now in the White House.”

The man said he was once a Republican but was now more of an Independent. We got to talking about our times. I enjoy hearing the perspective of those older because they’ve experienced more. Whether or not that translates into “a” wisdom is always up for evaluation (mine in this case).

I shared with my new Publix blood pressure friends that two people recently, out-of-the-blue, volunteered their utter disillusionment and despair with mankind based on their assessment of us as individuals and collectively as a species.

I can be blacker than black when it comes to what I think and expect out of human beings. But, by gawd, are we fun! Yet. We are a pox upon this planet. I know it and, if you have half a brain, you know it, too. We slaughter each other at will. We relentlessly rape nature. We’re the first generation of humanity to know categorically what a cancer we are upon our Mother Earth. We’re intolerant, small-minded, infantile bigots. We’ve created gods that have little more sense than your average fourth grader and we worship them as divine. Are we a hoot or what?

Yet, that said, I love humanity. I love our story. I love our trip out of Earth’s primordial slime. I love our art, in particular. Yes, yes, we are beasts but we’re the only beast who writes poetry, declares love, creates art or who futilely protests the injustice of it all (death). We humans are talking stardust and isn’t that a delight? Yet.

I mentioned to the elderly couple that both my dissatisfied friends had identified the recent murder of the doctor’s family in Connecticut, how the mother and daughters had been raped, bludgeoned and then lit on fire. I said what a horrific crime.

And, what did my 80-year-old, blue-eyed beauty say? “The war is a worse crime.” I could have kissed her. The war in Iraq is a worse crime. She gets it.

I recently received an e-mail from a longtime reader (and friend) who particularly liked my recent piece on traveling by train to Savannah. He said, “Give us more of this and less of the angry young man bit. You are not going to influence world politics with your slanted views that are, sorry to say, boring, hackneyed and old hat. We have heard it over and over! Give up the Bush hating bit - that's only gonna last a few more months anyway.” 

I wrote him back and said, “But that I were a young man.”

I don’t hate Bush. Hardly. But what he has created in Iraq and what he is leaving America is going to be with us far, far longer than a mere few months. Bush exemplifies, to me, some of the worst in humanity. Hubris, privilege, ignorance, incompetence and corruption. That is President Bush’s legacy.

What’s hackneyed about that?

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

08.23.07

Savannah Bound!
Woooo-Wo!

At night as a young boy I could hear the train yards in Sioux City.  You’d feel the distinct bump of coupling cars and if the wind was right, the hypnotic clickety-clack sound of slow moving locomotives. Absolutely sublime for wo-wooing you to sleep.

When I was 13 I was the first in my group to actually hop a freight train.  I rode it, maybe, two miles. It dropped me off downtown and from that point on I was hooked.  I taught my buddies how to grab onto a ladder and let the train pull you up.  This, while running as fast as you can.  I showed them how to exit a train.  Same process reversed, only far greater potential for pain.

As a teenager I took late night rides to Onawa and Council Bluffs.  I went overnight once to Minneapolis with my brother (in a cold March). In college, again with my brother, into Kansas City and Columbia.  If the conditions are right, hopping a freight is a total hoot. I love a train trip.  Woooo-wo!

I took a train trip last week but this time I actually purchased a ticket.  Forever, I have wanted to take Amtrak from Winter Park to Savannah, Georgia.  Which is exactly what I did with my wife.  Booked the train, a couple of nights in Savannah, it was a leave on Thursday, return on Saturday kind of a deal.

I recommend this as a couple’s adventure, although however you do it is fine.  Be prepared to sit with humanity, all examples of it.  Unless you get a sleeper cabin, it’s a crapshoot who you are around.  Regardless, we spent a lot of our time in the club car.  We played cribbage and talked with fellow travelers.  I had two meals on board (a lunch up, a breakfast back), both were tasty and relatively inexpensive.

The train arrived two hours late, turning a five hour trip into seven hours.  You get the picture.  Relax.  Adopt train time.

For $10, I took a cab from the station to downtown Savannah.  There are many interesting accommodation options. (Check the internet.) We opted for the restored Marshall House on Broughton Street.

If you have never been to Savannah, you are in for a treat.  Heat is not a big deal for me.  I prefer traveling in ideal circumstances. Yet, sometimes you go when you can.   You might consider visiting Savannah some time other than August.  I walked all over and sweated.  Regardless, I dressed for it.

The town is a stunning little microcosm of another time.  Walk Bull Street.  Parts of it are like no other place in America. Beautiful, towering shade trees canopying over idyllic city parks and squares and everywhere is a pre-civil war home or turn of the century mansion.  The parks flow, one flower garden, one fountain to the next.  And stately statues everywhere.    From Colonial to Civil War, from George Oglethorpe to a zodiac moon.

Neat little boutiques galleries and eateries mingled in it all. The Savannah College for Art and Design (founded 1978) is taking over the town and how wonderful.  They have an incredible number of small galleries, featuring fine student and faculty art.  A real community asset.

I recommend the tour of the Mercer Williams House. It costs $12.50.  They filmed “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” there.  Clint Eastwood directed it. The tour (and story) is worth it.  Interesting history and people associated with the house.  Eye candy of a sort.  The whole town is, for that matter.

They’ve a fine, fine new art Museum in Savannah called the Jepson Center for the Arts (no connection).  It is part of the Telfair Museum of Art.  There is a Marcus Kenney mixed media exhibit showing at the Jepson that is worth the trip, now, to see. I purchased a $30 see-um-all ticket that included both Museums and an historical home of some note and interest.  Recommend all.

I ate at two decent (but not incredible) restaurants, The Pink House and Vics. Two totally different experiences.  Both moderately priced.  I enjoyed myself at both.  Both had piano players in the bar. I asked each performer to play Bing Crosby’s, “Kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss . . .” They both knew it. Night life consisted of blues and jazz bars.

The return train (one a day) leaves Savannah at about 6:45 AM.  I recommend you call the station to confirm departure time before leaving your hotel. Trust me, you’d rather be sipping coffee in your hotel room rather than waiting in the terminal.

And then, clickety-clack you’re back!  Be advised, trains sway back and forth, worse than airplanes, generally speaking.  You end up walking down aisles with your hand moving from one headrest to the next.  It’s not a problem, just a challenge.

Get your gang together and make this trip.  Folks you like to chew the fat and share a laugh with and just hang out.  Trains and Savannah are great for both.

Once smitten, always smitten.   Woooo-wo!

Reach Jepson at:
Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

08.16.07
 

 

 

SEX

What a nasty, nasty four-letter word!  I’m reminded of actress, Tuesday Weld’s observation on the subject: When grown-ups do it it’s kind of dirty—that’s because there’s no one to punish them.  That sounds more like American politics to me.  The GOP, anyway.

Boy, Republican politicians sure get their undies in a bundle over the subject don’t they?  Gay marriage, Gays in the military, Gays adopting, Gay sex, hetero sex, pre-marital sex, abstinent pledges, condom advertisements, the morning after pill, birth control for minors, birth control at all, women’s liberation (don’t kid yourself, it’s about sexual control), and, of course, the big one, reproductive rights (abortion).

Republicans campaigning in Iowa for President all have to make the pledge that a woman’s body is really not her own but a national vessel subject to government control.  That is the bottom line isn’t?  That if you’re born a woman in America, your uterus is public property (for 30 or so years) and, as such, belongs to the state.

It is always amusingly ironic to me, that the one political party always yammering about individual rights and big government intrusions (that’s our Republicans for you) would so hypocritically impose the government in so personal and private a matter as a woman’s right to reproductive choice.  I guess they see neither the irony nor the hypocrisy.

The University of Texas just released a study on Why Humans Have Sex (see: http://www.happynews.com/news/7312007/237-reasons-sex.htm).  They came up with 237 reasons.  I actually downloaded the study onto my computer because I was intrigued in where “having a baby fell on the list.” I initially thought it would be in the Top Ten.  Some reasons were predictable, to feel good, attracted to the person, expression of love, feelings of being desired by the other person, blah, blah, blah.  And on to 237 reasons.

The number one reason was, ready for this, I was attracted to the person.  I was surprised that being in love was only number nine. The person being a good kisser was rated number 29 by women as sufficient reason to have sex.  Number 39 by men.  Hmmm?  Go figure the difference.

If someone had said to me, “Chris, we’re doing a study and we want to list the reasons people have sex, where do you think to make a baby fell?”

Boy, am I naïve. It didn’t even make the list.  I am unsure why this is. 237 reasons and to make a baby didn’t, as they say, make it.  In the last few decades with the onset of effective birth control and the women’s rights movement, I have to believe those have made a tremendous difference. Sex has moved from procreation to recreation.  Except, if you review the list and the scientific methodology, folks are having sex for a lot more reasons than just recreation. But that is grist for another essay.

Actually, it isn’t a surprise at all when you think about it.  Come up with a number in your head on the number of times in your life you’ve had sex (with someone other than yourself.  Ha!).  Ask yourself, out of that number how many times was it to make a baby?  Uh, uh, uh.  You get the picture.

Yet, we Americans just can’t eliminate the notion that somehow sex is all so very, very nasty.  Dirty, if you will.  So many mixed messages.  Women are saddled with a Madonna/whore role.  Men carry heavy baggage, too.

We’re this walking, steaming cauldron of hormones, put on constant alert by our genetics, driven if you will, to get our hormones into the next generation and sex is the vehicle for that achievement (reproduction). With six billion of us and counting, we’re some success aren’t we?

Sex isn’t dirty.  It’s who we are.  It’s messy.  It’s confusing.  It’s gratifying. It’s glorious. It’s so very human.

And, it’s private.  It’s time our Republican politicians outgrew their infantile preoccupation with the subject. And did what that great, modern American, Dear ABBY so eloquently suggested, “MYOB!”  Mind your own business!

To our Republican  politicians: Time to quit sniffing the sheets, boys and girls.  Time to quit being the punishers.  Time to grow up and move on.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

08.09.07