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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Conversation with my mother........

Links: A. Quick Review Of Obama's Foreign Policy
           B. College Graduates Living At Home
           C. The Accurate Employment Rate, Explained By Forbes

My mother doesn't care much for the spotlight.  Certainly she appreciates a nice thought on her birthday and Christmas, and she loves to have her children visit, but she has no interest in being on TV, or discussing her personal opinions with total strangers.  My mother was born and raised in southwestern France, fell in love and married a U.S. soldier (my father) at a young age, and has managed to create her own unique bridge between France and the United States.  She has an advanced Degree and has taught in the Texas Public School System; she is both book-smart and naturally intelligent.  Like the rest of us, her perspectives are derived from her life experiences and her education.  Both she and my step-father are what I would consider to be "brilliant", but I'm admittedly biased.  My mother is also very forgiving and patient, characteristics that I try to emulate on a daily basis.  I always enjoy discussing current events with my mother because she has a way of "settling me down".  I can be ranting and raving about some issue or other, and after a thirty minute conversation with my mother, I have adopted a less mercenary approach to the opposite perspective.  There was a time in my life when my mother was the only person who could affect me in this manner.  As I grow older, though, I seem to be more patient and forgiving.  I like to believe that I learned these traits.  I would hate to think that it has taken me almost fifty years on this planet to mature.

Yesterday I learned for the first time that Bradley Manning, the slight, former Army Corporal who downloaded thousands of classified documents and gave them to WikiLeaks personality Julian Assange, was scheduled for sexual reassignment surgery (I know, I'm a bit behind the news on this one), which was to be paid by the U.S. government.  Since Bradley (or Brenda, or whomever) will be spending thirty years in the stockade, most taxpayers won't be able to appreciate the expensive transformation that they are funding.  At the same time, in VA hospitals across the country, U.S. military veterans are having difficulty getting therapy and treatment for PTSD; others are on unending waiting lists for surgery to mitigate the combat-related loss of a limb.  I was angered by this fact, and I spoke with my mother to get her thoughts on the subject.  I can't explain why, but I have always had a certain sympathy for Bradley Manning; no doubt he was sick, and manipulated by that snake and sexual predator Julian Assange.  When I expressed this sympathy, I was a bit surprised that I didn't sense an agreement from my mother.  Instead, she seemed to believe that his thirty-year sentence was just punishment (I can't be sure because she never actually commented one way or the other).  At that point in the conversation, my mother made some astute and sobering comments about U.S. policy vis-a-vis Syria.  My mother has never been in combat, but she has no trouble comprehending basic military strategy.  The situation in Syria has her upset, because she believes it could have been avoided.  I won't get into the details, because she has not given me permission to do so on my blog.  She is a very private person, and her opinions are just as personal and valuable as the jewelry sitting on her nightstand.

I wrote this post because the conversation I had with my mother today has brought a bit of simplicity into my perspective on current events and the state of our nation.  You see, if she makes a definitive statement about one particular thing or another, you can rest assured that it has been seriously considered and researched (in her own style).  At times she has made me frustrated by not jumping on my "angry bandwagon".  It has always been her nature to avoid quick conclusions and easy fixes, and instead wait for the smoke to dissipate and emotions to settle.  Today I realized that she is very concerned about world events, about the bold and violent terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the confused policy in Syria and Iraq, and the never-ending search to find more ways for the U.S. government to spend money.  If you read my blog regularly, you are aware that I am horrified by the endemic growth of terror around the world, and our inability to develop a policy to counter the bad guys.  This blog isn't designed or intended to focus on domestic issues, but occasionally I bend the rules, hence, the following: the Obama Immigration Reform Bill seems to be part of a larger effort to create a one-party state in our country.  That upsets me, as does the soul-numbing ease with which Obama utilizes Executive Authority.  Our national debt has doubled during his administration, and what do we have to show for it?  A downsized, underfunded, underappreciated (by Obama) military, an unemployment rate that in reality sits near twelve percent, race relations worse than they have been in fifty years, and rampant use of our grandchildren's credit.  Obama didn't create all the troubles we face today, but he certainly has exacerbated the situation.  And today I noticed that my mother, who is eternally optimistic and has a smile for everyone, seems to share my concerns about the future.  Fortunately we had other subjects to discuss, and my mother always finds a way to make me laugh.

My mother shared with me the latest family news from France, and we reminisced about my wonderful great-uncle Tonton Abel, who passed away last year, and his lovely wife, my great-aunt Tata Nina, who may have slowed a bit physically, but continues to stay as sharp as a tack.  So really, my mother accomplishes two things when we have an opportunity for a one-on-one conversation: she infuses patience and understanding into my perspective, and then puts a smile on my face by reminding me how lucky I am to be half-French.

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