Sunday, September 21, 2014

You're Kidding, Right?

Top of the evening all...

News of the recent goings-on within the NFL has been all over every media out there.  Said news has nothing to do with the scores and the standings.

Apparently, a player for the Ravens flattened his spouse (might have been girlfriend at the time).  There is video.  The player was appropriately fired from his team and suspended from the NFL.  This is the right response, even though it should have happened months ago.

Several people have asked the appalling question: why does she not just leave?  Let's analyze this question before answering it.

A parallel situation: a person walks into a store with a gun and robs the place.  The storekeeper calls the police.  The police come.  They take a statement, and then go and look for the alleged perpetrator.  The case goes to trial.  The defense lawyer questions the storekeeper.  Oddly enough, no one suggests to the storekeeper closing up shop and moving elsewhere.  The Crown pursues the case as though the storekeeper is innocent.  The reason for that is very simple: the storekeeper is innocent!

Now that we have analyzed our parallel situation, let us come back to the question at hand.  Why does she not just leave?  It is her home.  She was attacked by someone who is supposed to keep her home safe.  She should not have to leave.  Why does he not just leave?  He committed the assault.  Asking the original question says that she, and she alone, is responsible for her own safety.  She, and she alone, holds the keys to preventing such threats to her body.  She must suffer the loss of her home after having been assaulted. 

Furthermore, all of the statistics will tell us that the most dangerous time for an abused woman is when she leaves.  With that in mind, let us rephrase the question: she has been assaulted.  Why does she not increase the danger to life and limb by leaving?

A few other notes are in order.  Physical abuse is usually only the tip of the iceberg.  Prior to that, there is often sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and social abuse.  Leaving becomes far more difficult when one has already been so beaten down prior to the actual punch.

Furthermore, the question itself takes no other circumstances into consideration.  A society that asks the question about her leaving is not exactly going to provide the support she needs when she finally does.  Beyond that, where will she go?  Leaving is easy.  Going somewhere is not so easy.  What happens with her children?  She cannot leave them in a home where she is unsafe.  Now the question becomes: where will they go?  That question becomes even more acute as summer draws to a close.  We had days last year when it was -18 C/0 F last year.  It is remarkably easy to ask where someone will go when the weather is lovely.  As of mid-February last year, Toronto had 19 days of extreme cold weather alerts.  Baltimore, where this couple lives, had 26 days.

Folks, we need to ask the right questions on this.  What are we doing to prevent this man from ever punching another person?  What are we doing to protect those who have been abused?  What are we doing to support those who have been abused as they come through the ordeal?  These are better questions.

Have a good evening everyone.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

But Wait! There's More....

Top of the evening to all...

A couple of weeks ago, I published a blog entry about the News You Should Have Seen.  In that entry, there were multiple news reports on the goings-on in Gaza that somehow managed to escape the heavy-handed censors.

I would like to report to you all that it is not over yet.  Here are a couple of other articles.  I will continue to add articles as I find them.

Hamas Threatened UNRWA Personnel at Gunpoint

The only annoying thing here is that we have to have a little sympathy for the UN.  I will work on that.

Also, see Hamas Admits to Rocket Fire from Residential Areas.  

I have no comment.

Good night.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Days that Will Live in Infamy...

Top of the evening to all...

Hopefully, you recognize the original quote in the variation that is the title of this blog entry.  President Roosevelt made the original quote on December 8th, 1941.  It was in an address to Congress requesting a declaration of war against Japan the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Even though Hawaii was not yet a state, FDR understood the attack as an attack against the United States.

Why do I allude to that quote here?  It is here because the US has been egregiously attacked twice over the last few weeks.  You have all heard about the executions in Syria of the two American reporters.  They were executed for being American.  The executioner spoke in English, and blamed American policy for his actions.

The comparatively tiny scope of damage in the attacks (2 dead, as opposed to over 2300 at Pearl Harbor) should not take anything away from the national nature of the attack.  These murders were a declaration of war.  There will be more of them.

The President has said that the US will see to it that justice is served.  I hope he does not mean in a courtroom.  The people who did this will laugh the entire way to the maximum security prison in Colorado.  Justice should be served, up close and personal.  The damning evidence has already been delivered to us via youtube.

Air strikes are effective only in a limited manner.  There comes a point when there must be boots on the ground.  While the US military is probably a little tired right now after ten years in Iraq and in Afghanistan, I am certain that we stand ready to answer the nation's call.  I am certain that every Sailor, every Marine, every Soldier, and every Airman is prepared to help deliver that justice.

Combat operations require a clear mission.  They require the right equipment.  They require overwhelming force.  And frankly, they require a steely, angry glint in the eye of the troops.

There is little use in sitting down to negotiate with people who have no desire to talk.  Building a coalition is lovely.  Still, there comes a point when one must act.  Failure to do so in a timely manner reflects a lack of resolve, and will only invite more of this violence.

Somehow, we missed on the ounce of prevention.  I hate to sound like a warmonger, but it is time to deliver the pound of cure - emphatically.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Contemplating My Naval...

Top of the afternoon to all.

GS - the spelling is correct.  Trust me.

One of my congregants asked me this week about how he might come to grips with his imminent retirement.  There is so much in the question.  Other people, perhaps more capable, are taking over your job.  The routines of life change dramatically.  There is no professional reason to get up in the morning. It requires a complete rethinking of how to view life.

I answered him as follows: I have the same question.  I do not know.

(No sympathy please)

I took my naval commission on October 31, 1994.  By tradition, officers get two runs at the promotion board.  If they fail to make rank on the second look, it is the Navy's quiet way of saying "thank you for your service.  Enjoy the rest of your life in any endeavour you pursue."  In the reserve community, officers usually get a third serious look.  By law, the Navy must consider anyone on active duty for promotion, no matter how many times that person fails to select for the next rank.

I have failed to select for the rank of Commander three times.  The third time would have been my best shot, with a fitness report signed by a 3-star admiral in my files.  Lieutenant-commanders (lieutenants-commander?) are allowed to serve a total of 20 years.  I am not exactly sure when that point occurs.  I have at least one year that does not count.  In any event, it is sooner rather than later.

I have realized the same question that my congregant asked.  I am not the future of the US Navy.  I am the present.  Younger people, perhaps wiser people, are filling the ranks that I will soon leave.  The security blanket that has left me not having to decide how to match my socks to my clothing will soon be pulled away.  The absolute, crystal clear, job description will no longer be absolute and crystal clear.  The loss of something definite, something palpable, is downright scary.

To my congregant who asked this question, I do not know.  Ultimately, one must come to terms with his/her mirror.  One must like the reflection in the mirror.  One must be able to look the mirror in the eye and be comfortable with what looks back.  Torches must be passed.  Mine will be.  Everyone's will be.

The week I interviewed for rabbinical school, the dean's mother died.  I was not the only candidate to interview.  There were probably two dozen.  The dean made a remarkably difficult decision to avoid checking in during the week of shiva.  When he came back, he found that everything that was supposed to happen happened, despite his absence.  He learned that when he is gone, the world will continue, more or less as it is supposed to continue.

So it is for my congregant.  So it is for me.  The world will continue as it should.

Have a good evening everyone.