Saturday, September 07, 2013


My expectations of President Obama were never high so I never thought he could disappoint me.  I was wrong.  Betweenhis ill-advised Afghanistan surge and the expanded drone war, Obama has been far more of a war president than I expected.  Add Syria on top of that and he's a typical "shoot first" American hawk.  He's a bit smoother than his predecessor and I'm sure he ponders the situation more than GWB but in the end, he sends in the drones and cruise missiles.   Somehow I was hoping that Obama would be smart enough to maneuver the US in the world without resorting to military force. 

I agree with the president that using chemical weapons should not be ignored.  I don't know what the most effective response is but I know that it is not a unilateral American missile attack.  Upholding and enforcing an international norm is an international responsibility.  America has plenty of allies who also condemn chemical weapons use in Syria but few share our taste for military force.  Obama would disappoint me less if he sought to mobilize serious diplomatic and economic international actions against the Syrian regime rather than simply launching a missile attack.  Something like this, maybe.

Even more than Obama, John Kerry has disappointed me.  Here's a fellow Vietnam veteran who once spoke eloquently about a mistaken war now shilling for an uncertain military action with no clear objective in the midst of a civil war and regional unrest in which the US has no good choices.  I was disappointed with Kerry as a presidential candidate so I guess this is no surprise.  I was proud of him as a Vietnam Veteran Against the War, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during Dewey Canyon III.  He was a powerful image of veteran opposition to war at a time when I was humping the boonies in Vietnam.  Later as a member of VVAW, I learned that Kerry was regarded by some VVAW leaders as a self-promoting opportunist.  He certainly never acted strongly on those anti-war in later years as a senator and his "I was before the [Iraq] war before I was against it" was a barely-concealed attempt to play both sides of the issue.

So these days John Kerry is playing the hawk who would protect us from another Hitler at Munich, another Holocaust and a world full of proliferating nuclear weapons starting with Iran's.  These are the same arguments we heard about Vietnam and so many of America's military actions in the years since.  Those canards are as bogus now as they were then.

Barack Obama was smart enough to see the folly of the Iraq war in 2003.  John Kerry saw war's folly his youth.  Age and experience does not guarantee wisdom.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Late Summer Velo News

Yesterday morning began with a twilight view of the crescent moon and Jupiter together in the eastern sky.  At this point in the lunar cycle the visible moon is  considerably reduced so that it counterbalances rather than overwhelms the much "smaller" Jupiter.  Seeing these objects against the still-dark sky reminds me of gems and I think of our own small planet as a blue-green gem in the vastness of space and how improbable is the likelihood that either it or I exist in the universe.

But I and the Earth do exist and on this morning I am out for a bike ride,  Rolling out around 8:00 am, I have a clear sunny day.  The air isdelightfully cool--low 60's on its way to near 80 later--and the low angle of the sun makes for lots of shade along my route.  I ride north against a slight head wind, through northeast Olympia to the north end of the Chehalis Western Trail.  Mist rises from the Mission Creek and  Ellis Creek wetlands, back shadows adjacent to open fields and the occasional roof newly exposed from the shade.  A deer leisurely crosses my path on 36th Avenue.  Not much traffic along the way at this hour and the ride isfairly easy.  This section of my route has only one moderately challenging climb.

North of the CWT, the route is a bit more difficult.  The downhill to Woodard Bay is always a scream but once across the bridge it becomes a long climb to Libby Road.  Libby Road has a few ups and downs but nothing too bad.  At the junction with Fish Trap Loop I stay on Libby.   A cycling group overtakes me and gradually pedals out of sight.  I get some nice views of Henderson Inlet before coming around the point and picking up Fish Trap for the return leg.  A sharp dip into a drainage adds both a screaming downhill and a steep climb that tops out with a view across Puget Sound to Harstine Island.  Rejoining Libby Road, I retrace my route back to the CWT.  That long climb out of Woodard Bay is an easy descent but now that earlier screaming downhill is a very steep climb.

Heading south on the CWT the morning is much warmer now but the trail is well shaded.  I see lots more people now--all enjoying the day as much as I.  I cross Martin Way and I-5 on the bike overpasses and thread my way across Pacific Avenue traffic to the Olympia Woodland Trail and a beeline for home.  I'm back by 11:00 for a 26 mile ride.

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