November 16, 2015

“How do we move forward? in Syria”

By Glenn
“Strangely today you are touting that Obama has been wanting to go to war when mostly he has said that he is going to get us out of it. How about we move on and not just continue the political spin? “
Actually, what I have said is President Obama has continued to wage war and has asked for Congressional authority to expand the war. Conservatives have denied that he is using the military, ie ignoring Syria, and demand that he do more, but refuse to authorize him to do more.
How do we move forward? As I’ve said many time, we should evaluate the situation using the Powell Doctrine. No one, including the President, has answered all of these questions.
Is a vital national security interest threatened?
Do we have a clear attainable objective?
Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
Is the action supported by the American people?
Do we have genuine broad international support?
With the attack in Paris, we know are closer to answering some.
Is a vital national security interest threatened? Yes, a NATO ally has been attacked. US National interests are now at stake.
Do we have a clear attainable objective? No. Defeat “radical Islam”? Eliminate the territorial control of Daesh? What/who takes its place? Assad? American/Coalition forces? How many Americans for 15 million Syrians? Will we be welcomed as liberators? Should the Kurds get their own state? How will the Iraqis, Iranians and our NATO allies the Turks respond to that?
Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed? No
Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted? No. Keeping Assad in place would be the quickest path forward, but that would mean giving “Putin a victory”. Is that an acceptable trade off?
Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement? No. This would requiring a complete restructuring of the Middle East.  There would be not guarantee of success.
Have the consequences of our action been fully considered? No.
Is the action supported by the American people? No. the polling is 50/50 right now, but it is always stronger before rather than after an invasion.  There must be a real Declaration of War to hold politicians accountable.  Taxes must go up to pay for the war.
Do we have genuine broad international support? Yes, the President right now is coordinating an international response. This didn’t exist before Paris.  We also need to acknowledge that the Iranians are our allies in the fight, and that the Saudi’s are our enemies.
October 11, 2015

Promoting Responsible Gun Ownership

By Glenn

Rewriting the Second Amendment has made us all less safe, particularly Police Officers and Children. Guns should be treated like cars. Owners should be trained, licensed and have insurance, then we could have real responsible gun ownership.

The authors of the Constitution understood their own language.  In fact, they confronted many of the same issues that we do today.  Madison and Jefferson knew guns and college campuses don’t mix well.

No Student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any \spirituous/ or vinous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder, keep a servant, horse or dog, appear in school with a stick, or any weapon, nor, while in school, be covered without permission of the Professor, nor use tobacco by smoking or chewing, on pain of any of the minor punishments at the discretion of the Faculty, or of the board of Censors, approved by the Faculty.

Yet the conservative media and politicians continue to push false narratives that are historically ignorant and intellectual dishonest.  No, gun control didn’t promote the rise of Hitler.  Hitler played on racial hatred, a sense of victimization and a “call to arms.”  No, Europe and the Jews did not submit quietly to Nazism.  The German people voted to support a vast war machine built to impose the master race’s will.

We are not helpless in the face of these senseless massacres.  We should not tolerate this insane fetish.  We can, and should, demand responsible gun ownership.

July 28, 2015

Lincoln won the election of 1860

By Glenn

Why did the Slave states rebell? Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860. What upset them about losing the election? What did Lincoln say? We know he didn’t do anything as President because the slave states seceded BEFORE he was inaugurated? What did they fear? Read Lincoln’s own words from 1859.

We must not disturb slavery in the states where it exists, because the Constitution, and the peace of the country both forbid us — We must not withhold an efficient fugitive slave law, because the constitution demands it —

But we must, by a national policy, prevent the spread of slavery into new territories, or free states, because the constitution does not forbid us, and the general welfare does demand such prevention — We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade, because the constitution does not forbid us, and the general welfare does require the prevention — We must prevent these things being done, by either congresses or courts — The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it —

Lincoln wanted to stop the spread of slavery. Southern states feared the entry of new, non-slave states, upsetting the balance in the Senate. They saw the eventual death of their way of life, a way of life founded on white supremacy and the ownship of human cattle. They feared the growing call for racial equality and human freedom.

July 13, 2015

Who Should Modern America Honor?

By Glenn

The debate over the Confederate flag has finally forced America to confront its past.   In Louisiana “the mayor of New Orleans is proposing the most comprehensive plan yet to achieve lasting racial reconciliation in the wake of last month’s mass shooting in a South Carolina black church. Mitch Landrieu wants to dismantle a historic city statuary that honors key figures of the civil war, and rename a major parkway whose namesake led the Confederacy.”

His proposal starts with the fact that the Confederate States of America left the United States of America to protect the states’ right to legalize race based slavery.  This was their great “moral cause.”   Whites in the South feared they would lose their position as the superior race. Yes, there were other issues, but this issue dominated all others during the war, during reconstruction, during Jim Crow and during the Civil Rights era.  Do the Southern politicians, generals and soldiers who waged that war against the United States of America deserve our honor?  Our respect?  Our admiration?

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March 21, 2015

Pan Seared Duck Breast

By Glenn

European grocery stores have a much wider range of meats than American stores.  This wonderful duck breast was prepackaged and obviously not a luxury item.   I bought this beauty at the Monoprix.


Scored duck breast on the left. Fresh plum reduction on the right.


On low to medium heat slowly render the duck fat while drinking pastis.


Once the fat has render, turn up the heat and sear both sides quickly.




Seared Duck Breast with plum sauce. Roasted eggplant and rice on the side.


February 17, 2015

America is exceptional.

By Glenn

America is exceptional.  It was the first nation founded on science, separating church and state and social contract theory.  These ideals, while not actualized at first, allowed Americans to mature and grow.  These ideals provided a pathway to building Modern America with its large middle class and diverse population living in peace.

Today’s conservatives fear and hate Modern America. They want to return to the failed polices of the past.  They reject science as “just a theory” or simply “punt” when confronted directly with “tough questions.”  They insist that politicians, teachers and coaches control and lead prayer.  Conservatives reject the notion that We, the People of the United States of America, can expand liberty beyond traditional, divinely inspired limitations.

We must reclaim, proclaim and protect American Exceptionalism if we are to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   We must insist on real history that teaches the successes of science, separating church and state and social contract theory as well as teaching the pain and suffering that steams from superstition, theocracy and blind obedience to tradition.   American exceptionalism means rejecting these mind numbingly, short sighted, anti-intellectual politicians who mean to tear down Modern America and replace it with a dystopian fantasy.

At a certain point moderate conservatives must step forward.  Will they?  Will they in time?   How much damage will be done before they say enough?

Fifty-one percentage of America has already made the choice.  Our Federal system and Electoral College, however, has placed great power in the hands of the far right.  It is up to the moderate conservatives to make a choice.  Destroy Modern America?  Embrace American Exceptionalism?

January 25, 2015

Beaufort Cheese

By Glenn

The Savory region of France is world renowned for its “savory” cheese.  The mountainous  landscape provided few opportunities for cereal production but was ideal for dairy farming.

View from our apartment.

View from our apartment.

In Chamonix I bought a Beaufort (€ 17.75) at a local grocery store and used it to make a white wine cheese sauce.  It served as a side for pork chops and peas one night as well as sausages, zucchini and tomatoes another.  Later in the week I added slices of it to sandwiches.


Grated Beaufort

Melted Beaufort

Melted Beaufort with white wine and sauteed onions.

Pork Chop

Pork Sausage

It was ideal food for some causal hiking and incredible sites.

It was ideal food for some causal hiking and incredible sites.



November 14, 2014

Pope Francis, the Christian Mission and Being Pro-Life

By Glenn

Pope Francis has a fully developed pro-life message to the world’s secular leaders. It is a message about improving and securing all our lives,liberty and happiness but especially the world’s poor. Such a refreshing break from the money changers who have for too long invoked the name of Christ to support greed. We can, and must, address poverty, reckless business practices, climate change and public investments. Being pro-life means making life better.

Pope Francis said there is a “fundamental imperative of creating dignified and stable employment for all. This will call for improvement in the quality of public spending and investment, the promotion of private investment, a fair and adequate system of taxation, concerted effort to combat tax evasion and a regulation of the financial sector which ensures honesty, security and transparency….”

“Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy….”

“I express these hopes in light of the post-2015 Development Agenda to be approved by the current session of the United Nations Assembly, which ought to include the vital issues of decent work for all and climate change….”

“It should also lead to eliminating the root causes of terrorism, which has reached proportions hitherto unimaginable; these include poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion. It has become more and more evident that the solution to this grave problem cannot be a purely military one, but must also focus on those who in one way or another encourage terrorist groups through political support, the illegal oil trade or the provision of arms and technology. There is also a need for education and a heightened awareness that religion may not be exploited as a means of justifying violence….”

“The international community, and in particular the G20 Member States, should also give thought to the need to protect citizens of all countries from forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious. I am referring specifically to abuses in the financial system such as those transactions that led to the 2008 crisis, and more generally, to speculation lacking political or juridical constraints and the mentality that maximization of profits is the final criterion of all economic activity. A mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice. Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level.”

November 13, 2014

Face Reality. It is the American Way.

By Glenn

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Retired Lt. General Daniel P. Bolger does a commendable job launching a preemptive strike against the push for more “boots on the ground.” He makes the case that “The surge in Iraq did not ‘win’ anything.” He explains the allure of myth making around the failed surge.

“As veterans, we tell ourselves it was all worth it. The grim butchery of war hovers out of sight and out of mind, an unwelcome guest at the dignified ceremonies. Instead, we talk of devotion to duty and noble sacrifice. We salute the soldiers at Omaha Beach, the sailors at Leyte Gulf, the airmen in the skies over Berlin and the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and we’re not wrong to do so. The military thrives on tales of valor. In our volunteer armed forces, such stirring examples keep bringing young men and women through the recruiters’ door. As we used to say in the First Cavalry Division, they want to ‘live the legend.’ In the military, we love our legends.”

But I disagree. The threat of the mythical surge does not come from the military. It comes from the civilians sitting at home with little to lose. It has become so easy for voters to throw away “boots on the ground.” Too many voters accept the mythology of war but not the reality of war.

Honor veterans by stopping politicians from throwing more lives away for their failed mythology. Demand reality. Our veterans and our serving Armed Forces deserve no less from us. Once the flag is placed on the coffin it is too late. There is no reset button in reality.

October 14, 2014

The tide has turned.

By Glenn

Having read the entire “Relatio Post Disceptationem,” I am struck by its embrace of, rather than its rejection of, the Catholic tradition. It is a tradition that has shown incredible flexibility and adaptation over 2000 years. The Catholic Church is not a fundamentalist church. Over the last 40 years, fundamentalists have tried to deny that tradition, ardently fighting the reforms of Vatican II. Pope Francis is simply revitalizing a tradition that recognizes perfect often stands in the way of the better.

According to “Relatio Post Disceptationem,” the problems in today’s society are individualism and hedonism. In other words, when confronted with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” too many people around the world answer “No.” While this may make Ayn Rand smile, it makes Christ weep. Families teach us that we are not alone. Our actions can either lift up or tear down those around us. Families are the first to teach us to feed the hungry, cloth the naked and care for the sick. “Relatio Post Disceptationem” makes clear that any form of family is better than the Obectivist world of Ayn Rand.

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