Soft Grass

Listened to “The Inner Landscape of Beauty” http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2010/inner-landscape/  podcast this morning on a bikeride overlooking Bountiful valley.  I just might have chosen this particular conversation, as in the description it mentions Ireland.  And these days, with an entirely unusual cold and wet, wet, wet “Spring” , Utah is looking more and more like the green fields of Ireland.  EVEN the land above the North Salt Lake gravel pit (across from Southern Exposure and the smoking oil refineries- ahh, now you know what I’m talkin ’bout) is swaying in knee high soft green grass.

But I’m sharing it with you because I really enjoyed what John O’Donohue had to say.  He’s inspiring and the message is meaningful and I absolutely loved it.  I’m pretty darn sure you won’t regret the time used to listen.

Go to the link and click on the orange “listen now” or “podcast”.  You can listen to it on your computer or download it as a podcast on your iphone or ipad or ipod or smartphone or whatever it is you have, if you’re lucky.  Listen to it when you are on a run, bike ride, making dinner, washing the dishes, enjoying the view of your garden, on a long drive…….On the bus to work…..making something with your hands.

It’s uplifting.  In fact, I think I need to listen to it again.  Sometimes I do that, though not very often.  But really, to get the most out of something you love, I would think that reading it, or watching it, or listening to it a few times, would help “set” the ideas into the mind.  That’s certainly one reason we go to church over and over….

The program is called “Being” with Krista Tippetts and is a function of American Public Radio.  I’ve blogged about it before and will again, because the conversations she puts together are extraordinary.  If you aren’t allready a regular listener, just check it out- you may find something very special.  I have.

Posted in People, podcast | Leave a comment

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  Have you had it?  I’m sure you have.  I thought I’d had it… til I went to Peggy’s pie making class at the Treehouse Inn.    The tag on this class read something like:  Peggy makes the best pies West of the Mississippi- come and learn the secret.

A tag like that is extremely intriguing to me.  Really?!  Cause I could sure use a good pie recipe.  Pie is a tricky piece of pastry- I hadn’t yet been any kind of consistent with crusts and I didn’t even know if pie was worth it.  But I wanted to see the Inn- where all the rooms are treehouses in giant cottonwoods.

And my life has never been the same since.

OK, it’s not like this is the most amazing recipe out there, I’m sure there are better, but this recipe is easy and works every time and I love it.  I never knew how divine pie could be- it’s a favorite of mine now- even replacing brownies (can you believe it!).

Growing up, I never cared much for strawberry rhubarb pie.  My dad made it every Spring with the giant rhubarb he grew on the side of the house.  My dad likes to make pies, but… how can I say this…. he doesn’t have the most discriminating palette.  The pie was too sour or too glossy sweet, not enough strawberries, or the berries weren’t sliced small enough  and thus tasted “cooked”.  The rhubarb was almost always too thick and big and the pie crust was usually too dry or chewy.  It wasn’t horrible by any  means, but it wasn’t great either.  And I’m not complaining, cause one of the things I most love about my dad is that he makes pies… and he’s gotten better.  But for the longest time,  I just thought I didn’t like strawberry rhubarb pie.

But then I had some at Peggy’s, and it melted in my mouth.  I immediately went home and tweeked her recipe to what I consider perfection and made about 15 strawberry rhubarb pies that spring and summer.  Seriously.  At least 15.  I don’t think I can even finish this post, cause I need to get me some pie.

Just so you know,- you can freeze rhubarb.  It’s best fresh, but still really good and just think of it: you can extend rhubarb pie into the depths of summer!  Always use fresh strawberries though.  And to let you in on my recipe:  I tried different strawberry vs. rhubarb amounts.  I first thought that more strawberries would be delicious, but it turned out that less strawberries and more rhubarb was the secret.  Also, the flour/sugar mixture needs to be just right to get the perfect thickness of pie juice.  Adding lemon- just a little- brightens and warms  all the flavors and is a perfect addition.  There’s also different subtle flavors you can experiment with like orange and ginger- make sure to keep in very small amounts- just a hint.  Make sure to cut the rhubarb in small, thin pieces as well as the strawberries.  And eat the pie about 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven, when it’s still warm but the juices have settled and had a chance to thicken.  This is it’s peak!  If you must serve it with vanilla ice-cream (all it really needs is a glass of cold whole milk),put a small scoop on the plate and only take little bites with each forkful of pie.

I am in love with strawberry rhubarb pie.  It is on my top 5 favorite desserts.  I am so happy it has entered my life.

First, the pie crust recipe:

Pie Dough:

1 ½ cups flour

½ t. salt

2 T. sugar

4 T. butter and 6 ½ T. butter-flavored  shortening  (OR  you can just do 2/3 cup butter-flavored Crisco)

¼ c. real cold water

Mix flour, sugar and salt together and then cut in Crisco and butter with a pastry blender.  You don’t want it to be perfectly proportioned.  Leave pea-sized balls of fat throughout the flour- you don’t want the fat to be too small.  Then pour in water and mix with a fork, just until the flour can be gathered into a ball.  The dough shouldn’t be too dry or too wet.  It is a little drier than sugar cookie dough.  All the flour should be “wet”- if that makes sense. Divide into two balls.

Roll out on a pastry cloth with a cloth sleeve over the roller.  (You can buy these at cooking stores. ($6-$10)  You never wash them- just shake off and roll up.  This “seasons” them and they are wonderful to roll dough out on.  A pastry cloth is a must have for making pie dough!).  Dust the cloth with flour (don’t be too little with the flour) when you are rolling out the dough.

I LOVE this pastry cloth!

Makes a two crust pie

Bake at 410 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 360 degrees for 30 minutes.  Don’t overcook.  It will look paler than you think.  You cook it at the high heat first, to flake and crisp the dough.

If you are only using a shell, puncture with  a fork and put in the oven at 475 degrees for 8 minutes.

Don’t put fruit in pie shell until you are ready to bake (it will make it soggy).  Sprinkle sugar over the top crust.  Cut bottom crust even with pie pan and then roll the top crust over the bottom crust, then seal with desired edging.

The pie is most heavenly about 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven- long enough for the juices to thicken, but still warm.  Wow, I’m hungry.

For fruit pies, 4 cups of berries is about right amount

I think shortening with butter makes a much better pie crust than all butter.

Ohhhhh so good

Win the County Fair:

1 cup chopped strawberries (cut small)

3 cups chopped rhubarb (keep small- deep red is best, and so gorgeous)

½  t. lemon zest and 1 T. fresh lemon juice

¼ cup flour

¼ cup brown sugar

¾ cups white sugar

Sprinkle of salt

little, thin pieces

Combine flour and sugars and salt.  Pour over fruit and lemon zest- mix till all is coated and moist.

Cook according to Good Pie Dough recipe

OR try with orange for a different taste:

 

1 cup chopped strawberries (cut small)

3 cups chopped rhubarb (keep small- deep red is best)

½ t. orange zest and 3 T. orange juice

½ t. (or to taste) of grated fresh ginger (optional)

½ cups brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup flour

Little salt

Mix sugars, flour, spices and salt together and then pour over fruit and zest.  Coat evenly until moist- pour into pie shell when ready to bake.

Posted in Recipes | 3 Comments

The Thought of You

Watch this, “The Thought of You”:

http://conteanimated.com/the-animation-2/thought-of-you/

I love it.  I feel it.  It seems real, I could watch it over and over.

But.

I’m puzzled.  about the ending.  Which I guess means I’m wondering about the beginning as well, but I only wondered about the beginning, when the end came.  It’s such a lovely dance and emotional.  I’m humming right along with it,… until the ending sort of comes crashing down.

What does it mean?  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It means something different to every viewer.  Here’s the problem:  I am the viewer and I still don’t know what it means.  I’m afraid it means something too harsh and sad.  I was wrapped in deep thought and enjoyment, when the ending brought all that to an end.

Yes- I’m pretty sure it can’t mean something good. I’m just gonna pretend those last few seconds never happened.

In romance, I’m a romantic.

One of my favorite parts is when the guy wakes up and he’s “draggin.”    Love it.

Anyways, this little piece of work is so so so so good.  I could watch it over and over.

Posted in Internet Video | 1 Comment

Mad as Hell

Have you seen the Inside Job?  If you haven’t- GO SEE IT!  Watch it on Netflix, borrow it from the library… whatever you need to do to get this information in your head.  It’s important.  Just beware, cause it’ll make you mad as hell.

So definitely watch the Inside Job, but before reading the rest of this post, you must watch this 10 minute, top-notch explanation of the financial crisis:

http://vimeo.com/3261363

The Inside Job starts off with a neatly contained example of how things went wrong in Iceland.  Iceland was once a largely state run economy.  Then, they decided to try and hyperboost their economy by deregulating banking- taking out the rules that aim to protect the average Icelander (the ones who don’t know hardly anything at all about banking- so most everyone).  Their theory was that regulations were inhibiting growth and creativity within the market, and that Iceland was in a comfortable enough position that they really didn’t need those old-fashioned, cumbersome regulations anymore.  So they said bankers:  Go for it!  It’s your own world now!

And they did, of course.  There was money to be made!!!!!!!  And things exploded, banks were hopping, money was being made by the millions, everything seemed to point to success with the new deregulations.  The problem was…. no one really knew what was going on, cause there were no regulations.  Needless to say, Iceland’s banks tanked and the economy is in dire straits.

Photographs of bankers who left Iceland after the financial crisis have a new use in the restroom of a bar in Reykjavik, the capital.

The Inside Job then dives into our, the United States’ financial crisis.  Same scenario, on a much larger, complicated scale.  The documentary starts out with referencing the Stock Market Crash on Black Tuesday- resulting from problems within the system.  This crash led to 15 years of severe depression, affecting the entire United States- even those who had no idea what went on at Wall Street.  CAUSE YOU SEE, THESE BANKERS USE OUR MONEY TO PLAY WITH- you know the money we invest for our retirement…. And they also influence small and big business with their lending powers.  The choices these bankers make affect the entire economy.

Yes it happened. And it happened again.

So the government says:  We can’t let this happen again!  And they get together with some of their brightest and put in some rules.  Rules that check and balance each part of the financial system so there is some accountability.  AND LET ME TELL YOU- ACCOUNTABILITY IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  And for the next 50 years, our economy does pretty darn well.

Then the late 70’s and 80’s come and we’ve all been enjoying a healthy economy, but it could be better.  It can always be better.  Greenspan comes along- brilliant intellect.  He thinks these regulations the government has put in place are actually limiting the economy, curbing creativity and narrowing the future.  He comes to deeply believe that deregulation (and lower interest rates) will help the economy.  So that’s what he does, he starts tearing down the rules.  Rules that were meant to protect people like me and you.

Things get cooking.  With the door wide open now, the sky is the limit.  Bankers start throwing numbers around and changing up the way they process and own loans, Leverage becomes fiat power, derivatives grow into a monstrous three dimensional rubix cube, CDO’s sweep the investment world and cause a frenzy of greed, subprime loans multiply and replenish the earth, short-term gain becomes the only true Bible.  I can’t explain it near as well as the Inside Job, it’s complex and vast, but here are two problems that jumped out at me:

#1- The government deregulated the real estate loan process.

Yes- it's good to ease restrictions a little, but not to the effect of 400%!

Banks could now sell their loans to other institutions- institutions that used money from investors, people like you and me, and then those people bundled loans and sold them once again.  The problem with that, is now banks aren’t worried about the loan defaulting.  So they start loaning to anybody.   Yes- remember the days when you could buy a house with nothing down?  When the bank surprised you and declared you could own a home way more expensive than you imagined.  When credit ratings didn’t matter too much- maybe a little higher interest, but nothing to hinder you.  The banks didn’t care, because they weren’t going to own the loan for long.  So this created a housing bubble and gave homes to people who simply couldn’t afford them.  NO SURPRISE when people started defaulting…. By the hundreds of thousands, and home prices dropped causing bankruptcies galore.  That wasn’t supposed to happen!  This wasn’t in the “theory”.  Oh well, say the bankers….(they don’t care about me and you because they’ve already made their millions- millions safely in their pockets.

#2 No accountability, no transparency.

It’s so terribly ironical there are rules that you can’t steal a lawnmower from someone, but there are no laws about cheating people out of their entire retirement funds.  You won’t believe the lies and deceptions that go on in Wallstreet with very little penalties or accountability.  All those rating systems you hear about that give investment portfolios a AAA rating (good) – all a house of cards.  They get paid by the very companies they are supposed to be rating.  Ex-politicians make $$$ off of policies they put into place, while in office.  Ivy League professors are paid for their supportive positions.  Bankers buy loans and then buy options/derivatives betting against those very loans.

You’ll watch the show and realize the bankers involved in the financial crisis KNEW what they were doing was unethical, corrupt, and horribly wrong!  They knew it!  But it wasn’t about right and wrong.  It was about what they could get away with and how much money they could make.  There absolutely needs to be more penalties and jail sentences and money taken away from people who are so flagrantly corrupt.  Flagrant!  No nuances here.

There are lots of debates on free market vs. government regulation.  But the fact is and always will be:  there is definitively a percentage of society that will do whatever it takes to feed their greed.  They do not care about others suffering, they only care about making money and there is no end to how much is enough.  People argue the free market takes care of it itself.  That’s like saying that we don’t need police or laws, cause humans will take care of themselves.  And yes, “Lord of the Flies” is a great way to explain what happened to Wallstreet .

Look back in the early industrial age:  child labor.  Businessmen hired young children and paid them very little to work the entire day.  Sent 12 year olds into dark coal mines to fill up their lungs and darken their sights with coal dust.  They did this because they could.  There were no laws and children were cheap.  Parents sent their children to work, cause they were poor and because it wasn’t illegal. This child abuse didn’t stop happening, until people petitioned the government and laws were made protecting childhood.  I guarantee child labor would still happen today within certain dregs of society if it was legal.  That’s how the underbelly of human nature works.  We need prudent regulation.

Certainly the government was to blame as well- shifting the risk from the private sector to the public sector.  Bailing out these companies, allowing executives and corporations to get away with criminal behavior.  However, it seems their motives were much purer than the soul-less CEO’s and head execs, that knew exactly what was going to happen.

And now we are in a financial crisis.  But you have to understand the banker- he DOSEN”T CARE.  He played with money, so he could make millions of dollars.  And he made millions of dollars, and when things went south, he took his millions, received a slap on the hand and went his way:

For example, Joseph Cassano, an officer of AIG’s Financial Products division, received $315 million from 1987 until he retired in March 2008, six months before AIG was rescued by the federal government. Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary and head of Goldman Sachs, made $126 million during eight years as a board member and advisor to Citigroup through 2009.

$315 million! ?%*#@ 

Epitome of Greed


This hit me like a thunderbolt?  They really don’t care about what is right or wrong or the impact down the road.  They don’t care about the people who are struggling to make ends meet.  It is all about short term gain, so they can fill their bank account and when it all crumbles (as they knew it would) they take their millions and buy yachts and jewelry.  Not a one of them felt bad for their terrible schemes.  They just played the game.  The market was open and free, no one was checking up on them, there were no laws, it was all about how much money they could make, and with the deregulations, they made money hand over fist, beyond their wildest dreams. And DON’T forget where this money comes from.

No, I don’t believe in a completely free market.  Yes I do think there should be productive regulations.  Greenspan did not take in to account, the whole of human nature.  Yes, government should play a regulatory role in business, though limited. YES!! PEOPLE NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

It just makes me so mad.  We trust our money with these investors and their AAA ratings.  We don’t know the financial world- that’s their job.  We deserve to be told the truth.  We deserve to know if our investors are betting against us, even as they are taking our money.  We are expected to do our jobs with integrity… why not them?  I don’t have time to figure out the complexities of derivatives and CDO’s.  It’s so crazy complex… like the tax code… there’s no way I could see these things as I should.  We are all easy targets, easily manipulated.  That’s why there needs to be consequences and regulations- to keep a balance.  We need to figure out what those should be and make sure they don’t tip in the opposite direction- but it can be done.  Of course it can be done.

Posted in Internet Video, News / Magazines | 2 Comments

Thin Mints

There’s not a lot of things I KNOW.  There are a lot of things I’ve heard.  I’ve been to school, to college, I go to church regularly.  I read.  So, I’ve heard advices and wisdoms and stories galore about how to live life and to be happy and to stay clear of personal devastation, help others- all that kind of stuff.  Most of the time, dialogue seems to fill me up for the day, like a good meal- enjoyed, digested and soon forgotten.  But occasionally, some things, some ideas, some quotes or some experience stick with me for the rest of my life.

Donations.  There are so many causes these days!  People running races, walking for the cure, for diabetes, for MS, for the Children’s Hospital, for scout camp, for the football team, for the Jr. High trip to Europe, for world disasters- floods, tsunami, earthquakes, for orphanages in India, for religious missions, for the homeless, the foodbank, for raising a new library, for the elementary silent auction night,  for National Public Radio, bakes sales, car washes, Aids education,  and finally, not the least of these….. girl scout cookies.

I like to give money or time to all these great causes, but I found myself worrying over the constant pressure, the neverending bubbling up of these very good causes.   I hate to say no-  especially when someone has taken the time and energy to put the fundraiser together and is really trying to make the world a better place.  Especially when I eat brownies and lemon bars so often.   I mean, I could be giving that money away, instead of eating it!  But there were so many requests for money, that I soon realized I needed to start to think about how much we could donate each month- make it part of the budget.  This helped me gain a little control of the frenzy.  But I still frenzied, and you know why?  Pride.

Lots of these fundraisers are being done by people I know.  I wanted to give them a sizeable amount- like $50 or so, but the problem is that I can’t afford to donate that much to every person that asks me and sometimes, if it’s a particularly busy month, I have almost nothing left to give.  But I feel so guilty if an opportunity to give arises and I don’t help out.  BUT, now here’s the my tragic personal vice, I feel MORE guilty or… what’s the word….. embarrassed?… that’s not quite right… something to do with my ego….  I feel MORE guilty or odd at giving someone a small amount of money, like a couple of dollars, than to just not give them anything at all.  For example, the cute little boyscout neighbor (and his mom) selling that nasty popcorn for a troop fundraiser.  I don’t want the popcorn, I don’t have much money left in the budget to donate.  What I need to do is tell them I don’t want any popcorn, but I’ll give you $5 donation.  But I don’t do that, cause I’m too embarrassed.  Instead, I buy the awful popcorn and go over my budget.  Not because I’m such a giver, but because I have no spine.  Another example, a friend is doing a run for a cure.  Well, I really only have $10 to give, but everybody else seems to be giving so much more and I feel stupid giving so little, so I just don’t give it.  Too embarrassing- it makes me seem too tight, not generous.

So anyways, this is how I had been thinking up until a few February’s ago.  My girls were in Girl Scouts and it was COOKIE SEASON!  Oh Heaven help us.

Lemon Chalets have replaced Thin Mints as my favorite GS cookie.

Part of being a girl scout involves not only going door to door to peddle these cookies, but also signing up for a few Saturdays or week-end nights, standing at the booth in the bank or by Safeway for 2-4 hours asking innocent customers if they’ve satiated their thin mints cravings yet?  Yes, moms or dads have to be there too.

So thus begins one of my lifelong lessons.  I was with Kaite, we were at the bank on a weeknight, and it was cold.  People were going in and out of the bank, cash in their hands, but not interested in our lemon chalets.  We started doing jumping jacks to keep our fingers and toes from turning numb, and even came up with some lovely descriptions of the do-si-does and samoa’s.  A few people bought our cookies.  More people went by and the time ticked on.  In the middle of the ordeal, an old man walked right up to our table, looked the kids straight in the eye and with a fumbling hand, pulled out his worn leather wallet.

“Now kids, how much do these girl scout cookies cost?”

“$4 a box”

Look of surprise (yes, that’s highway robbery).  “Well, I don’t have that much money, but here’s a dollar.  I want to give that to you to help the girl scouts.  What a great organization.  You girls are special, thanks for being involved in such good things.”

And he handed them the scrappy dollar, the girls looked at him with wide eyes and he walked off.  (side note:  he had a WW2 (European) accent, which made him even cooler)

The girls hadn’t realized I had been watching, and came over to me to tell me how poor that man was and he must have given his last dollar to the girl scouts.  I smiled and told them, he gave them what he could afford.  He gave them his love and respect.

We had another 30 minutes til the end of the fundraiser.  I sat and thought about what just happened, cause it was like an earthquake to me.  I knew the man wasn’t dirtpoor, I knew he was like most everyone else- on a budget, but comfortable.  But what blew me away and what has stuck with me and changed me, was his humble and loving approach to these girls.  I would never have dared to give just a dollar, even if that is what I could give.  It would have been too little for me, too embarrassing.  So I just wouldn’t have given anything.  But this man knew he could give a dollar, and he did.  He didn’t try and buy the box of cookies he really didn’t want and couldn’t afford.   He simply gave them a dollar and his respect and went on.  I can’t tell you how powerful this was for me.

And I got to thinking how if everyone that had passed by us that day had simply given us a dollar, we would have had an additional $50 to our efforts.  But unfortunately, all that is not given, is lost.

I can always afford to give something, even if it is a tiny amount.  Those tiny amounts add up- they really do!   I see that now and I have been much better about overcoming my pride and giving what I can.  It also helps me not be cynical at others simple donations.

In this world, there are many tragedies:  the tsunami in Asia, the floods of Katrina, the recent earthquake in Japan.  I think how devastating these events are to real people, and I have realized that I need to donate.  I don’t have much, but I can ALWAYS give some.  Every bit helps.  Imagine, if all you had was a dollar to spare, if everyone in the United States just simply gave a dollar, millions of dollars could be raised for each disaster that came our way.  There’s power in that simple action, shown to me by this little old man.

Of course, now that I have set my course of action…. It’s all a matter of actually doing it.  We have yet to donate to the earthquake in Japan… but we will.

And on a sidenote, last Halloween, our kids’ Great Grandparents gave them each $10 and told them to find someone or some cause to give this money to.  I LOVED that.  What a great way to teach children how to be aware.

Posted in random | 2 Comments

Pomplemousse

I love Ruby Red Grapefruit.  I have loved it ever since gorging on it in Texas.  Cause in Texas, the ruby red grapefruit is as sweet as candy, and as big as the state flag.  I am so glad to have discovered such a treasure, while living in Texas.

But now I’m in Utah.  When at the supermarket, when looking for grapefruit, I always search for the “grown in Texas” label, then I know it’ll be delicious.  My kids gorge on the stuff as well, which makes me feel like a good mom.  So, I was at Costco, scanning their produce piles and there was this giant bag of grapefruits, but as I came closer, the bag said “pomplemousse”.  Darn.  I don’t know if I like pomplemousse- what if it’s a wierd, soury version of the grapefruit, like a tangelo is of the orange?  I can’t buy such a huge bag and come to find out they are no good.  I was disappointed.  I was tempted to try them anyways… but money is tight.  But I bought them anyways.

Come to find out…. pomplemousse is the French word for grapefruit.  And they were delicious.  We ate them all up.  I guess the French like their ruby red too.

But THAT is not what I have come to share with you today.  I’d like to talk about the Pomplamousse from California.  The band, though they are a little fruity.

I bet you’ve allready heard of them, but if you haven’t… this will be fun.  Jack Conte and Natalie Dawn Knutsen make up the gal/guy duo, and they perform covers- write and switch up the music, play all the instruments and video the whole process.  They are INDIE all the way baby, and you can even download many of their songs for freeeeeeeeeeeee.

Here is their youtube page:

http://www.youtube.com/user/PomplamooseMusic#p/c/F125407272F3C1A4/10/vsMIuuV05uc

A few of my favorites:

Mr. Sandman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xMCNmUaGko&feature=relmfu

La Vie en Rose  

http://www.youtube.com/user/PomplamooseMusic#p/c/F125407272F3C1A4/10/vsMIuuV05uc

All the Single Ladies

http://www.youtube.com/user/PomplamooseMusic#p/c/F125407272F3C1A4/6/oIr8-f2OWhs

Yeah, they just do it in… like… their basement.  Cool.  Quirky low key, but really good and so catchy.  Listen to the songs a few times, and you’ll be singin em the rest of the day.  The videos are fun, cause they are so original and different.  But I do wish Natalie would move her mouth a little more.  I’d like to see her really belt something out.  She always keeps it all in a tiny seismic graphic, the line never going over an inch or so.  I know this is exactly NOT her style, but I’d like to see more expression from her.  But I love the songs, and it’s them, not a huge recording company with dozens of people involve.  They get to shoot straight from the hip.

Pomplamousse.

Posted in Internet Video, Music | 2 Comments

Libya ??

Decisions that change the world.

What is it with North Africa? That's an interesting question...

A few weeks ago, I was out at the supermarket, thinking of Libya.  The rebel’s revolution was only a few weeks old, things were developing, we were waiting and watching to see what Qaddafi would do.  From listening to the news reports, I could see this was not going to play out like Egypt.  Qadaffi was not going down without a fight, without rivers of blood.  More likely, he was going to use every last resource he had amassed over the past 30 years of his tyranny, to wipe out the rebels and continue his reign.  And from reading the news reports, it didn’t sound like the rebel army was very organized, had sufficient weaponry or strong leadership.

Yes, it really didn’t seem the rebels had a chance against Qadaffi and Libya’s full military force.  I remember thinking of the audacity and courage those rebels had- to think they could overthrow such a power.  Who were they kidding?    But they were inspired, they were fighting for their lives, their humanity, for their families….  Egypt had done it.

But the rebels needed some help.  They called upon the international community:  Please help us!  We can’t do this without some outside help!  We’re trying, and we’re in this for good- we’ve proven that, but how can we go against a 30 year military reign?

And so this is where decisions come into play for our President and country.  I wondered what the president would do?

Should he help Libya at all?  In America’s early years, our international policy was that of isolationism.  We focused on our country and let the world alone, for good or bad.  Many politicians continually state that America can’t be the world’s police force.  We look at Iraq and see the tremendous cost of lives and wealth that has gone into trying to bring democracy to that country.

Do we have appropriate reason to attack Qadaffi?  Libya is not a direct national security threat.  Is it in the interests of the US to get involved?  We need a strong reason, a clear goal as to why we would become involved and what we aim to accomplish.  Is the rebel cause enough reason for us to take action?

Why Libya?  There are many dictators out there, performing horrific atrocities upon their people.  Many leaders with total control and profound corruption.  Many innocent people being killed.  Many other nations crying out to be helped.  So why Libya?  How do we determine who we help, we certainly can’t help everyone…

Do we have the money to help Libya at this time?  Our economy is faltering, our debt is crippling, we are already involved in Afghanistan and Iraq- can we really afford to get involved in Libya?

HOW should we help Libya?  Regime change?  Many think we should attack acutely, get ahold of Qaddafi and oust him, then pull out.  Looking back at Kuwait and the senior President Bush, he let Sodamn Insane stay in power.  Many believe that was the biggest mistake of his presidency, but at the time, Bush thought it would be better as he didn’t have international support and taking Hussein out would have cost more resources and lives.  However, as history has played out, our country has lost 100 fold more lives and untold monies because Hussein remained in power.

Should we stand back militarily and restrict our actions to non-military means, like freezing assets, political pressure and cutting off trade?  This kind of pen vs. sword action is something I would generally prefer, but is that the right action for such a time-sensitive crisis that is the case with the rebellion in Libya?

If we do nothing, what will happen?  Surely Qadaffi will slaughter hundreds of thousands of people in retaliation.  Is it right for America to stand by and do nothing?  Clinton intervened in Bosnia- that seemed to turn out right, though if he had acted earlier……

Are we in accord with the international community?  What kind of role should we take?  Is it better to be the strongarm, frontman and call the shots, or to step back and let the national community make some commitment and carry some of the burden.

If we help in the ousting of Qadaffi, what will the Arab world think?  How can we get them onboard?  What are their feelings towards the situation.  There are other countries in the Middle East with fledgling revolts- does this set a precedent to help these revolutions as well?  Is it good to overthrow these rulers who claim they tamp down Muslim extremism?  Will the Middle East be carried away by the Muslim Brotherhood?

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?  WHAT IS THE RIGHT COURSE?

Certainly, it seems to be easier to just do nothing.  That would leave us a reactionary nation.  We only become involved if there is a direct attack on the US.  A more black and white approach.   Easier, simpler.  Personally, I don’t like this philosophy.    In life, I’ve always admired people who anticipate, plan, intervene, improve, modify, etc.  I think it a higher form of intelligence..

All these questions , I mulled over as I was getting strawberries and sharp cheddar cheese at the grocery store.  I wondered what Obama would do- there were different paths he could take with no clear outcome.  These choices that must be made.

I loaded my bags in the car, turned on the radio, and heard Obama speaking.  He was addressing the nation on the Libyan uprising.  It was strange- as if he had known I was wondering and here he was giving me an answer.  I was pretty excited to hear what decisions he had made and if his speech would be well thought out, covering his decision process, explaining why he chose that course of action.  I know Obama is a man gifted with expression and patience, but so often Political addresses are flat and empty, coated over with layers of gloss.

And so I listened.

Here is his speech.  You can read it or listen to it.  It’s about 25 minutes- definitely worth the time.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20048099-503544.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody

I was impressed.  I was relieved.  I felt the process to be right.  He explained himself- everything he said was weighty and to the point, explanatory.  He wanted the Amerian people to know why and how he and his advisors got there.  It was what I expect to hear and see from a President:  clear logic, encompassing decision making, historical relevance, morally driven.

I don’t know if he made the right decision.  But I believe in his decision.  It makes sense, just the way he laid it out, especially as I had prethought about the issues surrounding what could be done.  I felt it a speech and action worthy of a president of The United States.

I don’t think we can ever fully know if decisions were absolutely right- but I expect to understand why those decisions were made and to feel satisfied that it seemed to be the very best decision with the information available and foremost and always most important:  that it keep with the high moral beliefs of freedom, compassion, hardwork and honesty.

There’s more I’d like to say, specifically about the situation in Libya- but I’ll leave that for a dinner conversation with you another night.  (don’t forget to bring your copy of his speech)

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