Monday, February 11, 2013


     Sweet Talk Radio (STR) aka Kate and Tim brought their extraordinary talents back to the central coast and turned out another powerful performance but to an all too small audience at a Paso Robles stage.
     The summit pass was freezing, the stars descended like a dome around us and the lingering refrains from this remarkable couple sweetened our drive over the mountains and through the Templeton gap but we were troubled. We are acknowledged fans and their CD's are among our frequently played, so we were miffed that D'Anbino Winery and music room didn't provide the sold out audience as The Painted Sky has done. 
      "Just one of those nights" Tim said.
      A great night for those on hand.
      Chances are you've heard them on television shows.  Producers and directors hire them to drop in songs for especially dramatic, climactic or poignant moments.  Tim is an accomplished player and song writer. His Writing in Pen is a poignant soul stirrer.  You fall in love with Kate's voice the moment you hear it.  Her tune, My Hallelujah, written after Katrina, will stay with you forever. 
       Her version of Carol King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, a hit by the Shirelles, is fantastic. Kate's singing is beautiful, but her ballad style adaptation underscores the honest, though early, feminist power of the tune. Remember that tune was a hit in the early 60's.  If STR is in your area, make sure you get there.  Check them out here.

    The White House memos related to the President and 
the killing of terrorists by drone strike provided some interesting chatter here-a long way from the studios of New York and Washington-but by men with better credentials than the TV pretties and pundits. The following quotes are from friends, so I know their sincerity, which is more than I know of the TV talking heads.
     A former Navy Pilot
     To quote Spock...the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.....having been subjected to POW simulation during my getting ready to go to Vietnam days; a couple of observations.  Torture does work on most people. The instructors who debriefed us on our performance while being water boarded or confined in a little ity bitty black box with few air holes was very pragmatic: Hold on until you can't..then give in and tell them what they want to know....don't die for intel which may have a relative short shelf life. And most important: Don't lie. Usually they are asking some questions they know the answer to.  Another reality:  You will be tortured...particularly if you are in their land engaged in combat. 

      This from a national daily retired editor
     i agree completely... we can lose ourselves in all sorts of arguments about what is war, what is an enemy, etc., but if we are to claim a moral base for what we do--indeed, for what we are-- we shouldn't torture people. it debases us, and it is all too easy to become accustomed to that...  does this mean that some American lives possibly could be lost because we didn't waterboard, or send current through the genitals of, or didn't hang from the ceiling of rendition cells, some jihadists? yes. but that is the price of decency as a people and a nation. 

        This from a former Marine
   I am opposed to enhanced interrogation, water boarding, etc.  I think we need to be the moral high ground.  If you saw Zero Dark Thirty, giving a prince a Ferrari seemed to be the ticket.  That said, I do think effective use of drones is a much improved doctrine of war... As for targeting Americans, that is a bit more of a sticky wicket.  It would seem to me that using drones against an American should be with judicial approval just as when the government wants to bypass the citizen's right to privacy with a wiretrap or other surveillance.  There is a court of Federal Judges that assure that a judge will be available 24/7 to give approval for those wiretraps... Why not require that the CIA or military or President, prior to launching a drone against an American citizen have to get an ok from that judge?  That provides judicial review and forces the government agency to at least provide documentation to an outside source.  It has worked very well for wiretap and surveillance so why not use that existing structure for this next level?

        This from a political consultant and operative
     The over reaction of Bush/Cheney to 911 produced the most reprehensible behavior in the history of international relations for our country.  We scrapped the conclusions of the Nuremberg Trials completely.  Only the treatment and systematic destruction of the native American Indian culture tops the 911 moral relapse.  I believe over the span of its existence, the CIA has been far more of a liability than an asset for our government.  While I acknowledge our nation needs to maintain a constant and vigilant stance regarding those forces who are committed to our permanent detriment, we must be guided by a sense of propriety and probity.
     The use of drones, while efficient in vanquishing suspected terrorists, have permanently denigrated our nation's standing in the Middle East...  
American citizens are entitled to know the circumstances that permit our government to kill them. Anyone that consciously bears arms or conspires against our country's vital interests deserves the same fate of the states and individuals that rebelled in 1861.

      This from a retired Navy Intelligence Officer
War is in fact War.  All rules are bent or broken.  Ya do what ya gotta do.

    A late add from a retired Navy Communications Specialist 
I have a problem condoning the torture of fellow human beings (animals, too). Whether for intel, resources, property, whatever. I understand that there can be short term accomplishments or perhaps some benefits derived from the information, but the mental decision and choice to use torture lowers us to the level of the bad guy we are at war with. Their choices and actions are at least a part of why we consider them "bad" people. It seems to me that if we are at all serious about eliminating our imperfections as humans, and eventually knowing God/becoming Godlike, we have to try to raise the rate of vibration of all of us and the entire earth by trying to project love, and truth and positive values in every way we can. We are not only the creators of the younger generation, we have a responsibility as their teachers, educators, guides and examples. We need to try to improve the human race. We need to contribute our positive energy and example to try to improve the morals and consciousness of humankind. I think we are all part of the same energy pool. Since we do all have free will, we have to learn the effects, ramifications, positives and negatives of interaction that includes torture as part of the mix and make decisions about how we will behave. I can't endorse it.

    As noted in an earlier post, the film Zero Dark Thirty contributed to the national conversation as well.  It is an important matter for Americans to weigh.  
    I heard someone say the power failure at the Super Bowl served as a reminder how this great nation has permitted its infrastructure to fail and fall toward third world status.
    Good point, don't you think?
      As so many have said, The Impossible is an emotional and powerful experience. Indeed. Great acting by Naomi Watts, Ewan MacGregor and the kids.  But I was most impressed by the small side story of people helping others, strangers assisting each other, the little kindnesses that were manifest in the face of the overwhelming tragedy. That is a take-a-way with a life confronting power.  And that takes us back to Kate's powerful, My Hallelujah. 

   See you down the trail.  


  1. Just watched "Arbitrage" last night. Good flick.

    Next up is "Searching for Sugar Man".

  2. I think it was an embarrassment for the USA that the lights went out with the whole world watching. We need investment in our infrastructure while we still have an infrastructure to improve.

  3. Those two last quotes above on the issue of torture, wow, can they possibly be more opposed?: "War is in fact War. All rules are bent or broken. Ya do what ya gotta do." That condones indiscriminate slaughter on the basis of what our government loosely calls "intelligence." In situations of aggression, animals show more morality. it indicates the thought processes of a blockhead, one who is hard-wired toward aggression. It is, in effect, both inhuman and unAmerican (given the way we like to see ourselves).
    But thanks for the range of responses.
    PS: And to the question hanging in the air, When the shit hits the fan, wouldn't I want those kinds of guys out there protecting me? The answer is "NO." They do more harm than good, if they do any good.