Monday, September 29, 2008

More on Manilow Music Project

Photos from The Desert Sun
Article with Video Link from KESQ-TV, Palm Springs

For some really interesting hints, pay attention to the last couple of lines (emphasis added).

Barry Manilow delivers on promise of instruments

By Bruce Fessier • The Desert Sun • September 29, 2008

Buzz up! Barry Manilow made good on his own bailout program today when the Palm Springs-based singer delivered $500,000 worth of musical instruments to 20 public schools.

With security fit for a high-ranking public official, Manilow stepped up to a makeshift stage and addressed a crowd outside of Palm Springs High School made up of students, band boosters and local school officials like a politician at a campaign stop.

“With a bunch of volunteers, we have been able to put together our own version of ‘Extreme Makeover: Band Edition,” said Manilow, wearing sunglasses and a leather coat at the warm mid-morning event.

“So, now is the time to get those instruments to our kids. Drivers: Move those trucks!”

And with that, a caravan of trucks drove past the high school on Ramon Road, symbolizing the beginning of the delivery of the instruments.

Manilow said this campaign, called the Manilow Music Project, began with a telephone call — “one voice, I like to say” — about the plight of the Palm Desert Middle School band program.

He and a few friends began looking at other local band programs and realized all were suffering from lack of funds.

His grassroots committee asked each school for a “wish list” for their music program. Manilow then went to one of his publishers, Hal Leonard Music, and the Yamaha company, which gives him discounts on instruments.

Manilow donated more than $10,000 per school, or roughly $250,000, and with sponsorships from Hal Leonard, Yamaha and the Toys ‘R Us Children’s Fund, that translated into $500,000 worth of instruments, music stands, sheet music and more.

Brian Foley of Indio Middle School got a tuba, marimbas, three flutes, three clarinets, a bass drum and a bass trombone for his program. He said he was grateful Manilow tried to help every school.

“It takes a community to have the arts happen,” he said, “so, to have Barry Manilow do that for us — the entire valley instead of just select schools — is absolutely wonderful.”

Students also seemed appreciative.

“He’s a real inspiration,” said Palm Springs High School junior Annalisa Cardenas. “He proved you can get where you want to go if you work hard enough.”

Manilow said the hoopla over the announcement was just to inspire more people to support local music programs.Manilow’s publicist, Carol Marshall, said “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” were expected to mention the giveaway tonight.

“I did this on a very grand scale,” Manilow told the crowd, “but anybody can help out on a much smaller scale. Just call your school.”

After the ceremony, with the Palm Springs High School Jazz Band playing while Manilow did interviews, Manilow said he may do more music projects in other regions.

“It all depends if I tour,” he said. “If I actually went to a city that meant a lot to me, and I might be doing that next year, I might coordinate it for when I arrive at that city. I might actually make a donation to a local high school.”

Farewell tour, he said. Too many hotel rooms, he said. Had enough, he said. I guess it's not really "touring", it's setting up concerts in different cities and travelling around to play them, right? >;-P

I can think of a couple of schools in North Georgia that could use a shot in the arm like this...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

All That I Am, You Taught Me to Be

Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Press Release Link

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Who: Barry Manilow

What: Will launch the Manilow Music Project by giving over 300 instruments to 20 middle schools and high school music departments in the Palm Springs, Coachella Valley and Desert
Sands Unified School Districts. Students from each school will be present to help launch the delivery of the instruments.

When: Monday, September 29
Press Check-in starting at 8:00 a.m.
Press Conference begins at 9:00 a.m.

Where: Palm Springs High School
2401 E. Baristo Rd.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Press parking in lot on Ramon Rd., closest to Farrell Drive

Why: In response to the needs of the local public schools and their severely depleted music programs, Manilow gathered some friends and formed The Manilow Music Project as part of his nonprofit Manilow Health and Hope Fund. The Manilow Music Project (MMP) values the importance of music programs in our schools and donates instruments and materials to school music programs. The MMP is sponsored by Yamaha, Hal Leonard and the Toys 'R Us Children's Fund.

For more information on the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope,
please visit

HOW MANY TIMES have I blogged on this? Or posted a link of some sort? Lessee.....

March 5, 2008: NBC Nightly News - Better Minds Through Music

April 15, 2008: More on Barry and Music and Schools

Music Together - Introducing Preschoolers to Music

Cultural Programs at the Hindman Settlement School

I don't mind repeating myself on this because you can't say it enough: music programs are just as important to kids and their academic performance and development in life as any "standard" school subject. The top link describes one of many studies showing that kids who have access to SOME kind of music program do better in "regular" school subjects. That lesson was taken to heart by the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky, a school dedicated to educating children with severe learning disabilities (or "differences" as the headmaster is quick to point out). The cultural programs lift the Appalachian students' spirits, not only taking advantage of the music/academic link, but reinforcing the pride people of the mountains have in their heritage. Even if the rest of the world stereotypes these salt-of-the-earth people as toothless, inbred hicks, they know better and their music is how the truth of their culture is expressed.

But in most school districts, music programs, along with gym and art, are the first to get cut when there's a question of money or priorities. Either they don't acknowledge the positive impact of music education, or they are aware of it and there just isn't any money. Even in California, where the stereotypical image is conspicuous consumption and spectacular wealth growing on trees. The reality is most of the state is no different than the other 49 - average working families who can't afford the taxes that would fully fund all of the programs that are good for their kids. So tough decisions get made and programs get cut - starting with music.

What I love most about Barry's involvement in local schools is that it's just that: local. He's not trying to be some grandiose hotshot out to save the world because he says so. It's an example that anyone in any community can follow. He's not making this contribution alone, he's got at least three major companies backing him. Not to mention contributions to the fund by his fans. And he's starting with his immediate area around Palm Springs.

Is there any community in the US that doesn't have the potential to make a similar contribution to their local schools if they chose to work together and pool their resources?

No. See, wasn't that easy?

I'm looking forward to seeing how the press conference goes tomorrow. If there's video, I'll try to link to it. I'd love to see these schools get the shot in the arm their programs need and a chain reaction to other school districts as time goes on.

Way to go, Barry. There's a lot of us out here who have been trying to spread this message for a long time but it takes someone in your position to get the attention focused where it needs to be.

UPDATE: Here is an account of the press conference. I'll link to more as they come up.
Link on the Network
Pictures on the Network
Pictures on Blogilow

Thursday, September 25, 2008

OT - Looking on the Bright Side

I've lived a big chunk of my life in hurricane-prone areas. This is how we deal with the fear of the storms.

Hurricane Preparedness
We are again in the hurricane season. You may soon be turning on the TV and seeing a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological points:
(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Louisiana. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by 'the big one.' Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:
STEP 1 - Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2 - Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3 - Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in Louisiana . We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:
HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:
(1) It is reasonably well-built, and
(2) It is located in Nebraska
Unfortunately, if your home is located in South Louisiana, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since Hurricane George, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.
SHUTTERS: Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and -- if it's a major hurricane -- all the toilets. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:
Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, they will fall off.
Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.
Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.
'Hurricane-proof' windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection. They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska.

Hurricane Proofing Your Property: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc. You should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.

EVACUATION ROUTE: If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says 'Louisiana' you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

HURRICANE SUPPLIES: If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! Louisiana tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who get the last can of SPAM. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

23 flashlights
At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to >be the wrong size for the flashlights.
Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it's traditional, so GET some!)
A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who > went through the last storm; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)
$35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck, and remember -- It's great living in The Sportsman's Paradise!!!

A sense of humor can get you through almost anything.....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Vault Song - "Friend of the Devil"

Check this one out. NOW!
Songs from the Vault - 9/21/2008

First - geez, Barry, you can do so many different types of music (I've had "The Night That Tito Played" on the brain for a couple of weeks now) and incorporate different styles into straightforward pop, let's hear more of it! This one is in the same vein as "Some Kind of Friend" but the melody (as he says in his notes) is much darker. MMMmmmmmmmmmm.........

Second - the timing on this song was eerie.
Here's an excerpt from Barry's notes from the page:
"Friend of the Devil" is very far away from the feel-good songs I'd been
recording. Adrienne Anderson's lyric is angry and outraged. My
melody represents the ups and downs of being betrayed.

Just a few days ago I blogged on a recent event where my family and I felt betrayed by someone we didn't think was capable of it, and in a way we dared not imagine. Yes, the visual of Lucifer falling crossed our minds.

"Golddigger" was my previous favorite of the Vault songs, this one has replaced it. The lyrics are perfect - hey, how about putting those up in a frame on the Vault page? (Someone tell me if it's kosher to transcribe them here....? Please?)

If this song were available as a special on iTunes, I'd buy it in a shot, no kidding.

Muchos gracias to B & TPTB - this one is really great and (for me) the timing was perfect.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Good Question: Is There a Good Answer?

Scooter posted a comment on Hurricane Ike recently with her usual piercing, no-nonsense insight.

Why are the "persons of prominence" silent to the victims of Hurricane Ike when they poured out so much support for victims of Hurricane Katrina?

Read the rest here - with photos that don't lie.

I don't know about anyone else but I would truly love to hear a from-the-heart answer to that question.

I have friends and family in the area that are surviving by their wits and chopping destroyed houses into firewood because they have to heat water to drink. This is in the middle of the 4th largest city in America, kids.

No, really, I'd like to hear an answer. More than that, I'd like to see another example set of those who have more giving to those who have been harmed again. I'm supporting the Red Cross in these relief efforts, but I don't have the reach of some of the people who gave 7-figures to Katrina victims.

Any time you're ready, I'm listening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some Kind of Friend

"...I thought we were friends
I guess when reality sets in it all depends."

"Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall."
--William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure Act 2, Scene 1

I started this post a million times in my head and deleted them all because I didn't think it applied to Barry or his fans. But finally I found the connection. Bear with me, I'm a little raw.

We elected our city council this week. One of the winners in my district ran a standard negative campaign - twisting facts to suit his POV, lying about his opponent, etc. What's the big deal, you ask? This candidate and the election as a whole in this city was supposed to be different. We organized ourselves as neighbors and friends, campaigns were supposed to be civil. But not for this dude. There were no boundaries, all actions were fair. The candidates in this election were all neighbors and colleagues in civic activities, even friends. This guy turned on a "friend". The opponent in question ran a very clean campaign, answered every query with diplomacy no matter how rude it was, and refused to resort to name-calling or lying, or even pointing out someone's faults. It was already hard enough to cast a vote in this election between people you consider to be close friends without hardball tactics.

Now here's the worst part of all: on his blog this morning, he spelled out step by step how he used his civic group, and his neighbors in achieving his election goal. His wife, well-known for charity work in the city was not doing charity: she was buying votes for him by pretending to do good deeds in public, as was he. He used the ploy of "keeping the public informed" to trick people into thinking he was more qualified than he was. And he admitted this in public to the world!

I'm going to change my name to Charmin because my family and I were wadded up by the handful, dragged across our "friend's" hairy rectum and tossed down the bowl.

There's a lot of crap in Manilow World now as well. When you sit at a computer it's so easy to look at the words and forget that you're really talking to people, not a machine. Some people even forget that Barry is human. Some jerk edited Barry's Wikipedia page last night to include a very disturbing (and untrue) detail in his biography. I managed to find my way in and edit it out in the wee hours this morning. I hope Barry's friends and family didn't see it.

No one has such a surplus of karma points that they can squander them on treating fellow human beings poorly. No matter what religion or other philosophy you subscribe to, there's a line somewhere that says your actions will always come back to you at one time or another. My former friend achieved his goal - but at what cost? His neighbors will never trust him again and should the day come that he or his family are in need, there will be fewer people to turn to. When you sacrifice relationships with people for a goal, you may actually get what you want, but that's all you'll ever have. And if you don't get what you want, you'll really have nothing.

Sometimes people ask about those of us who keep our real identities private, "What are you hiding or something?" The answer to that is a resounding, "HELL, YES!!" I don't want to be involved in backstabbing or anything else dehumanizing. Keeping my name private seems to be the key. Please remember that even online, we're talking to people. Treat each other kindly, even if you don't like each other. Just avoid someone you can't stand if that's the best you can do, it's better than open hostility. It's going to be hard, because it's an election year and passions run high but I'm positive it's worth the effort.

I'm off to mourn my lost friendships and have some good quality time with my daughter. She's known nothing but kindness for her almost 3 years and I'm going to make that last as long as I can before that inevitible lesson about life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Here at the Mayflower" -- Complete?

Someone had a field day breaking up the Mayflower CD into different parts. You have the main version, the Limited Edition with "Shadowman", the UK edition with "Life Has its Ups and Downs" and "I Don't Wanna Know", and then the bonus disc with three more cuts, two of which were not included on any of the previous editions. That last bonus disc is a hot commodity on Ebay. I'm not saying what I paid or how much blood was shed getting my hands on it. But I have seen them sold for over $100 USD a pop. For a 3-song bonus disc!! Maybe that marketing idea could use a tweak next time.

I think that's all of it. If there's any other tracks I've missed, comment or shoot me an email. The only thing that's partially off in my collection is "Shadowman". My copy of Limited Edition was a promo copy, so the bar code was punched. Problem is, it also punched the CD, so the last verse and some of the instrumental is cut off. Oh well, the search continues.

So I got the idea to incorporate all of the "bonus" material into one major playlist. I got the idea from trying to compile an "ideal" Barry concert for the serious fan and from watching the first TV special where one of the sequences seemed to foreshadow the Mayflower album. (Texas_Fan even suggested that "Sandra" would have fit the Mayflower theme as well - nice catch, I hadn't thought of that when I first posted!)

I said it in an earlier post and I'll say it again: no matter how much we beg and cry and whine and moan about what song we want to see on an album or in a show, it is a lot harder to make songs "fit" together than it looks. We're not talking about just shoving tracks onto an iPod they have to make some kind of sense and fit a pattern. I could see why some of these tracks were set aside as "bonus" material: at times they repeat the theme of other songs already there so one of them had to go. (I'm guessing here, I could be wrong.)

So here's my hopefully complete track list of all of the Here at the Mayflower discs. This is how it plays on my iPod when I play the album all the way through.

Elevator Operator: Do You Know Who's Livin' Next Door?
Apartments 3B and 5N: Come Monday
Apartment 3E: Border Train
Elevator Operator: Life Has Its Ups and Downs
Apartment 2H: Turn The Radio Up
Apartment 2G: I Hear Her Playing Music
Apartment 4J: Talk To Me
Elevator Operator: She Should'a Been Mine
Apartment 5F: I Don't Wanna Know
Apartment 6C: Not What You See
Elevator Operator: Freddie Said
Apartment 1A: Some Bar By The Harbor
Elevator Operator: The Walking Wounded
Apartment 2H: Say Goodbye
Elevator Operator: They Dance!
Apartment 4G: The Night That Tito Played
Apartment 5F: I'm Comin' Back
Apartment 6C: I Miss You
Elevator Operator: They Dance! (Extended Mix as a Reprise)
Apartment 3E: Welcome Home
Apartment 1A: Shadow Man

Thursday, September 11, 2008

OT - It's the Least Wonderful Time of the Year

Seven years ago today I was a newlywed of 4 1/2 months living in a different city. I was spending the morning at home, waiting for a contractor to put in a new front door on the house. While doing my delayed morning routine the DJs on the radio announced a plane crash in Manhattan and the World Trade Center had been hit.

No one knew what was going on. It's unlikely that a plane would randomly crash into a building like that due to equipment failure, but it wasn't impossible. I snapped on the TV and every channel was showing live footage of smoke billowing out of the top of one of the towers. Verbal diarrhea ensued from broadcasters with not much to say but obviously in love with the sound of their own voices.

Then, in just a second or so, in absolute silence because there was no microphone on the live footage, the second plane banked in to the shot at full throttle and exploded the second tower.

That's what I remember the most. Watching live at the moment when everyone realized for sure we were under attack.

Pete was scheduled to go on a business trip in a week or so. I called him to turn on the news. It was already on in the main atrium of his office building. I can't even remember what I said. His asshole boss tried to insist on him flying even though we were all scared to death. The company eventually cancelled all business flights before he had to go.

I called my folks. My dad's family and part of my mom's were from NYC and we still have relatives there. The twin towers were a usual stop when we trekked into the city to visit and dinner at Windows on the World was non-negotiable. Dad hadn't heard the news yet. I couldn't tell him. "Just turn on the TV...." I choked out, and hung up.

I called the office manager at work.
"Have you seen the news??"
"Not yet, but a runner from admin just came in to tell us. We're turning it on now."
"Is anyone flying today?"
"Just Eddie."

Eddie: the one doctor in the department on travel today was a first-generation American whose parents were from Palestine and who had an Arabic last name. Eddie was going to have a bad trip. It was only hours after the initial strike that word came in we were dealing with Islamic extremists.

I shooed the contractor back to his truck when the work was finished and headed in myself. Every last person in sight in the medical center was in as much shock as if that attack had happened there. The only aircraft in motion were Air Force fighters. Even the ambulance choppers were grounded. The hospital honchos, up to the president himself were running around with government people; no one knew how widespread this attack would be and our city could be a tempting target. They were planning to convert the specialized hospital into a Level One trauma center, hoping they wouldn't need to.

Every drop of blood stored in a plastic bag was being rerouted to NYC by the Red Cross. Our hospital alone had over 100 major surgeries scheduled over the next two days and they were not elective - the patients couldn't wait for blood. Every able-bodied employee, volunteer, and visitor queued up in a treatment center to roll up their sleeve and donate. I did too, even though I always get dizzy afterwards.

This hospital is an international treatment and research center. The staff is from every corner of the globe. Not a whole lot of work got done. Everyone's face was ashen from the horror of watching people jump out of the buildings. The staff tried to turn off the TVs but riots almost ensued in the waiting rooms. The worst shock of all was on the faces of my friends and colleagues from the Middle East. Every religion has their nutjobs and bad press but now the spotllight was on them as Muslims. Many wanted to make signs to wear that said "I'm a Muslim and I didn't do it." Normally there isn't a lot of conflict between employees of different ethnicities or religions. It's just one of those places where you get used to being around people different from you or you won't do well there. I didn't recognize the woman who was sitting in the cube next to mine - because I was used to seeing her in her hijab. She confessed that she took it off in shame, even though she had done nothing to be ashamed of. But now she felt naked without it.

No one felt like eating but I gave blood earlier so I crawled downstairs for a sandwich. The little man who ran the soup-and-sandwich kiosk - a Chaldean Catholic who escaped from Iraq - wasn't charging for his lunches today. His family had been attcked by Saddam Hussein's regime and he empathised with his new American neighbors who were blindsided that morning.

That following Sunday was the first day of my volunteer job as a Sunday school teacher that academic year. I was teaching junior high kids about Church history. Oh yeah, my first lesson plan got tabled. Instead I spent the week getting some quick lessons in Koran and Islamic history from my work colleagues, Omar and Aisha. Come Sunday, I had never seen a more scared, shocked, and unsure-about-life room of kids in my life. They had already guessed I would be saying something about the attacks. Starting with a quickie true/false pop quiz I got the teens asking questions and looking at Islam and its followers as a whole, not just the caricature that the extremists made it out to be. I couldn't do a complete history, and even if I wanted to, I wasn't qualified. But I could make the point that the kid named Muhammad who sits next to them in algebra class and plays shortstop on the baseball team wasn't going to blow up their house.

The end of the class was something I hadn't done before. We always make sure that the kids get a chance to read their Bibles or learn something from it but this was one hard lesson.
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father...
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? ... if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

--Matthew 5:43-48
The above is a mandate. Not a suggestion, an idea submitted for your consideration, or an agenda item up for discussion. If you're a Christian, this is what you're supposed to do. That's it. I am no saint, believe me. And this is one area of the practice of my faith that I really suck at. But I was commissioned to set a good example for these kids, not flaunt my weaknesses. So the class ended with a sincere prayer that these extremists would see the light of their own faith and change their ways. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Like it did for the rest of the nation, the shock wore off and we got used to knowing that Islamic extremists were after us again. My feelings on war vs negotiation in this are very mixed. IMHO, most people are torn in half over that question if they are very honest with themselves. Islamic extremists have a long history in attacking the US. It predates 9/11, the attack on the USS Cole, the airline hijackings and bombings through the 80s and even the Iranian Revolution and the hostages taken in 1979. The first time the USA got hit by this type of extremism was in 1783 by the Barbary pirates. (Sources: The Barbary Wars on Wikipedia, Victory at Tripoli on

These pirates took the same tack that the terrorists do today: their interpretation of the Koran demands that they attack any "infidel" and enslave anyone they captured. (There's a more exact quote from Thomas Jefferson's correspondence on one of the Wikipedia articles.) So, again, IMHO, our politics aren't the issue - the terrorists' politics are. Jefferson and Madison realized quickly that paying tribute/bribes wasn't going to last long and negotiating was a joke. It was more effective (and cheaper!) to just raise a navy and bomb the ever-lovin' shit out of them. It worked for a while - Islamic extremists left America alone for nearly 200 years.

But is that the right tack for today? The world is a different place, even if our enemy's way of thinking isn't. Does America or the world really want to go the distance and take the measures that it will require to get these extremists to back off, at least for another 200 years? Weaponry today is more advanced than James Madison ever dreamed of; I think even he would have a hard time with that question. In addition, the USA is more ethnically diverse than it was then. Many of our own citizens would be torn over seeing their ancestral homelands attacked, justified or not. Deciding to go to war sounds a lot harder once you see the pictures of your colleagues' relatives who still live over there.

I don't have the answers. I'm just sad that so much of the world I grew up with is gone and pissed that the solution isn't cut-and-dried, even for me. The art I included at the bottom shows the jumble of thoughts and feelings better than this diatribe did.