Wednesday, September 24, 2014


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? The Patriarch by David Nasaw. I'm barely a quarter of the way through, Joseph Kennedy (JFK's father) is not yet 45, and he's already been bank president, stockbroker and head of a movie studio. Now he's trying to get into the Roosevelt administration. I'm really enjoying this part because I watched the documentary series on PBS about the Roosevelts. It seems that in FDR, Mr. Kennedy has finally met someone who is more charming, more manipulative and cagier than he is.

• What did you recently finish reading? Gambit by Rex Stout. A Nero Wolfe mystery. I started but never finished it about 8 years ago, where it's been languishing on my shelf. Then last weekend I found it again and simply devoured it. I wonder why it didn't hold my interest before and this time it kept me riveted. Anyway, the title is a chess term but the mystery is only peripherally about chess. It's about mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters and lust and love and jealousy and betrayal. And, of course, murder. I figured out whodunnit at about the same moment the intrepid Archie Goodwin did. What made this book so interesting is that while it was pretty easy to deduce the killer, the hard part was coming up with proof. "I feel it in my bones," will not stand up in court. It was great fun to see how Archie and Wolfe would prove their brilliant deduction.

• What do you think you’ll read next? I've got Webb Hubbell's first novel, When Men Betray. It's a political mystery set in Little Rock. As a former aide to Bill Clinton and Mayor of Little Rock, he's well qualified to tackle this terrain.

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Time to admit it

I hate war but I support our troops.

I had hoped that we really were winding down our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and responded by cutting back on my contributions and donations to my two favorite soldier-related causes -- Operation: Shoebox and Puppy Rescue Mission.

Ok, so my world view was irrationally rosey and it's time to get off my ass.

Operation: Shoebox gets my stuff. I'm traveling a lot through the end of the year, and I must remember to bring home all those little shampoos and conditioners and pack them up for our fighting men and women. I'm also beginning to receive Christmas stuff in the mail -- holiday cards, 2015 pocket calendars, little felt stockings. Time to pack those up for the troops.

Puppy Rescue Mission gets my money. These wonderful people raise the thousands of dollars it takes to bring home the pets adopted by troops overseas. Yeah, I know that your local shelter could save a lot of dogs and cats right there in your neighborhood for the cost of rescuing a single overseas critter. But here's the thing: our troops are surrounded by hostility and destruction and death. These dogs and cats touch a chord in them and reconnect them to their humanity. That is a beautiful thing that makes me even more proud of our soldiers.

I wish I didn't have to help these organizations. But I fear I'll have to continue for years to come. I hope that everyone who supported our over-ambitious, poorly planned interventionism ten years ago get off their asses, too. That's what burns me. In 2004, then-Senator Kerry said we were doing more harm than good in the region, creating chaos and generations of new terrorists. He was, obviously, right. How ironic that it's left to now-Secretary Kerry to clean it up.