Sunday, September 24, 2006

neighbor dogs......

Just past the boundaries of my flower gardens, in my backyard, is a fence that separates my neighbor (and a whole neighborhood) from mine. Since my yard is so dense with trees, I can barely see past the fence, except for a small part that runs the length of the back flower garden... at the bottom; where I can see into the neighbors bottom part of their back yard. I've always joked that I could walk stark naked past my bedroom window with no fear of anyone looking in, as the trees offer total foliage cover.... well, except for that small patch at the bottom of the fence. This is not a regular solid fence.... more like posts with board runners. At one time someone hammered up chicken wire as further retention, as they had dogs to keep kenneled. I've never changed it in the 14 years I've lived here, and never felt the need. Sure, a nice privacy fence would look good... but I've never been in the mood to jump back there and do it. Besides, the old fence has a weathered quality to it, and I've added artwork for color and texture. Each post holds a sun face with cupped hands... and the many branches that I have pruned hold many birdhouses I've collected over the years. It's totally girlie... but that's kind of the look I was going for. No I don't have any of those silly bending over old people.... or those pin wheels, but I do have statuary, colorful clay pots, birdbaths, and even an old fashioned bicycle plant holder. I often sit out on my porch to admire the new look I did this year as compared to last... and I always find myself keeping very quiet lest the dogs beyond the fence hear me and start a barking tirade.

I can think of many times I could have been ratted out when watering during the summer restrictions, as the dogs would come to the fence and announce their presence. That would start up the dogs that lived next door to them to join in the festival of barking, and quickly I would shut off the hose. After a few minutes of the dogs claiming territorial rights with each other, the owners of both homes would come out to call the dogs off. After all, we do have an ordinance for noise pollution as well.... and barking dogs fall under that category. Once everyone was inside again, I resumed my watering.

It doesn't always take me being out there for the dogs from both yards to get going... all they have to do is hear themselves, and the barking commences. I really don't mind too much, because the owners are always on top of it, and always shouting out their back doors to call the dogs in, and I got to witness such a scene yesterday. As the dogs barked through their own fences at one another (beyond my sight as this was in their side yard), the owners once again shouted from their porch for silence and quite a few "get-over-here"'s. The neighbor dog behind me had a hard time with this one, this time. He walked down to the bottom of his yard, now within my sight.... then walked the length of the fence, looking up every other step to see his owner on the porch. The look on his face was priceless because you could just see that he wanted to push some boundaries. It was as if to say, "If I walk all the way over to the other side of the yard, and am quiet, can I please stay out?" I had to go inside to laugh, because I didn't want to start up the barking again.... and the dog looked like he really meant it.

As I was telling hubby the story, we came to the conclusion that dogs are certainly not stupid creatures. They are much like children: pushing and testing limits, regardless of wrangling through understanding the word "no" or "stop". Since they both have the luxury of time, and more patience than we do, their quest is non-stop for "yes" and "go", anything to get their way... and when all else fails, many will resort to the pouty face for the cute factor.

Funny how the animal world is not so different from us after all sometimes......

Thursday, September 21, 2006

breezy, beautiful and 74 degrees.........

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.... one even Mr. Rogers would approve of. Of course this makes one want to push aside the paperwork and drudgery of the work day in order to enjoy the teasing of Indian Summer.

Slowly the trees are bowing from their weight of green, and being replaced by sprinklings of yellow and orange. It's just a hint here and there, but from the looks of the driveways and decks, Darwins theory of "survival of the fittest" is being seen by the many sweepings that have to be done in order not to track in the fallen foliage. Those leaves that were chewing practice to the squirrels, and did not buckle throughout the summer, are feeling the cool temperatures of the September night, and succumbing in an orderly fashion down to the ground. Very soon they'll cover everything, and I'll be forced to say goodbye to the beautiful impatiens that made it through the summer, but will not last the freeze soon on the horizon. It will be time to repot everything with winter pansies, while mulching the tannin of magnolia, dogwood, maple and oak tree leaves.

But that is for another day.... today I just want to enjoy the last remnants of great weather. A time when I no longer have to turn on any air conditioner, or whole house fan. The natural breezes are finding their way into my house all by themselves, and I am welcoming the cool nights that will be crisp soon enough. Besides Spring, Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I plan to steal a few minutes of it by myself, while I can.

This is true paradise, and I might just curl up with a good book and a cup of tea to further the feeling. How is weather in your part of the world today?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

my pretty city........

Welcome to Atlanta.... or as we would say: hey, y'all!

I've posted about Atlanta a few times in the past, but never accompanied them with nice pictures. Thank goodness google was able to step in and take over for me.

Since I'm not good with being able to move pictures around to where I'd like them to be in my posts... heck, I'm just lucky to just get them up here, I will try to explain them as best I can, and hope they hold their place when the real posting occurs.

The five people in the black and white photo goes all the way back to 1939, when the cast, author and producer of the movie, "Gone With The Wind" premiered in Atlanta at Loews Grand Theatre. The movie would go on to win eight academy awards, including best actress, best supporting actress, and best picture. Sadly, the author, Margaret Mitchell would die in a freak car accident ten years later, while trying to help her frail husband out of their car. She would step into traffic, and was hit by a drunk driver, dying five days later at Grady Hospital.
From left to right: Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell, David O. Selznick, and Olivia deHavilland. Best supporting actress, Hattie McDaniel, not pictured, would be the first woman of color to win an academy award, and the movie still holds the record for highest ticket sales (adjusted for inflation, of course).

The carving of the three gentleman riding, is Atlanta's Stone Mountain, the largest piece of exposed granite, and one of the largest monoliths in the world. It falls behind Mt. Augustus in Australia, and Haystack Rock in Oregon. Starting 300 million years ago, this massive stone is only one-third uncovered today. It is surrounded by forests, a man-made lake, and a small town named Stone Mountain. So, technically, it isn't within the city limits, but Atlanta has a habit of adopting in anything within it's reach, and Stone Mountain qualifies. It has been said that the second wave of the KKK was rooted on top of the mountain back in 1915, when men climbed to the top and burned a cross that could be seen from Atlanta, and it would be with funds raised by these men that the carving would come to fruition on the face of the mountain. Klansmen frequently held meetngs here, until the speech by Reverand King in 1964, when slowly the tides changed and the klansmen eventually were no longer welcomed in the area. Conceived in 1909, replicas of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis were finally completed in 1972..... after many years of starting, finishing, and redoing the carving itself many times over. Today, the mountain and surrounding area is all park land, with attractions that could occupy your time for the whole weekend. Between the anti-bellum house (complete with slave cabins), the skylift to the top, the grist mill, covered bridge, and paddle-wheel showboat that crosses the lake, there is also a welcome center that shows history of the area, an "old town" of gift shops, and a ride on SMARTA, the train that circles the base of the mountain. It is also the largest picnic area in the state.... probably the world. All this is set in the splendor of the forest, not dimmed by any cheesy amusement rides, or boardwalks. You even have the option of climbing the mountain from the backside, where during your crawl up the 1.1 miles to the top, you will see etchings on the granite ground of people who have tread there back in 1898. If you aren't too queasy to make the trip down by yourself, the skylift is a cool ride. Runners and bicyclists are a constant companion of the trails and roadways, and for those who prefer to sit and gaze, there is always the carving, which is used as a backdrop for laser shows at night. Can you see why Atlanta has adopted it?

The Fabulous Fox Theatre is a landmark that will always stand in the city amongst all of it's tall buildings. Built in the 1920's, and of Moorish design, the theatre is a bit dwarfed, but magnificent and spectacular in it's own way on opening night. I have been several times, and still wonder at it's beauty every time I walk through the front doors. The last time I went there was for my birthday to see the play, "Annie". A few girls and myself got gussied up for the evening, ate dinner across the street, and walked the few steps over to make sure we didn't miss our seats in the nose-bleed section. As I watched the show, I couldn't help but wander my eyes up to the ceiling (not too far away, mind you). It's a thing you do everytime you're inside, because the ceiling has twinkling stars, behind a projection of moving clouds, and you get the feeling you are watching the show underneath a calm and beautiful night sky. In 1974, the Fox was headed for the demolition ball, as Southern Bell wished to build their new headquarters on the site. It was saved by celebrities and concerned local citizens, and eventually added to the National Historic Landmark register. Since that time, the theatre and building in total has undergone a complete restoration to bring it back to it's former glory of it's Egyptian Ballrooms, and the Arabian courtyard stage of the 1920's.

The picture of the mansion with the colorful flowers in front is actually named The Swan House, located next door to the History Center Museum in Buckhead (a neighborhood north of the city hustle and bustle.) It never fails to bring someone from out of town there in the Spring, as all the flowers are in bloom, and you feel like you might have stepped back in time. It doesn't hurt living in the area either, as it is "old" money, and the residents mansions reflect as such. Not a blade of grass is out of sync, and your neighbor is the Govenor of the State. You should see his lawn!

Then we have Underground, which is located in the heart of Atlanta. After Sherman came through and bow-tied the railroad tracks, laying the city to complete devastation, the city fathers decided to build the new Atlanta over what was left as rubble, and destroyed store fronts. During the 1970's, builders who revived Boston's Fanueil Hall, came to Atlanta and rebuilt the underground area of the city into shops and restaurants. While it was popular for a short time, it gradually lost it's appeal, and became home to rats, homeless, and wind-blown garbage. In the 1990's, another team came in and revived it once again. Although it was a hot spot for a few years, many of those shops have come and gone, and Underground does not have the same amount of tourists it once did. However, it is still hanging on, and it is where we drop the "peach" on New Years Eve.

I haven't even scratched the surface, as Atlanta has many more places of note that attract many tourists. The Martin Luther King Memorial and eternal flame is located just a few blocks from the Capitol Building on Auburn Avenue. Back in the 1920's, Auburn Ave was the city's own Harlem of it's time. Music and the smells of great food permeated the air, while Ebenezer Church would launch it's most prolific preacher. Today, the neighborhood is only a shadow of it's former self, as it has been quite run down due to the mishandling of it's funds by the King off-spring. As much as they want the city to take over the grooming of the park area, they still want complete say in the handling of the funds (which have been proven to be mis-appropriated), and do not want the parks department to do any more than all the work.
By complete contrast, the Jimmy Carter Library is completely handled by the Parks and Recreation Department (and government funds) , and you will see beautiful lawns and gardens well taken care of, and the wonderful historical papers of our only President from the state of Georgia.

I have been to all of these sites, and many more, as I wanted to know everything I could about this city..... how it breathed, and what stood where before it was reduced to rubble. In my journeys, I have come to see Atlanta as a city that doesn't know how to stop. Just take a gander at it's traffic problems, and you would want to head to the hills to live. Which is precisely what has happened, as the city now has engulfed the surrounding towns, heading forever outward in acquiring landscape. They may be named an entirely different name than Atlanta, but they still are considered part of the metro area. That's alright by the citizens though, as we are a proud bunch anyway. We have wonderful Universities, sports teams, and eateries..... not to mention the largest aquarium in the world (except the actual ocean itself). We don't stop, and we can't be pushed aside, we are Olympians in our quest to constantly build past our boundaries, and it shows through the many trees and parks that are still left.

So.... if you ever make it to my pretty city, make sure to look me up. You'll be invited in for a tall glass of very sweet iced tea, and many rich stories of a city that knows what it is to grow past the rubble it started with during Reconstruction. There is no doubt that the best seasons are Spring and Fall.... and better yet, you don't even need to bring a coat. Atlanta is just that nice during those fair seasons.

Monday, September 11, 2006

our heartache......

They were our pride and joy; the measure of everything tall and magnificent in a country rich in resources and ideas. They were the landmark that let me know that home to New England was only a few hours away, and the one sight I always looked forward to on my journeys north. I made it a point to make sure we saw them on the horizon whenever we traveled through the city. It was more difficult to see the Statue of Liberty, but the twin towers rose out of the horizon stretching to the heavens far beyond any other building that stood by their side. Then I watched them both crumble to a pile of dust and twisted metal in a matter of seconds, and my heart ached for the people who weren't fortunate enough to make it out, trapped in the rubble of the remains. Many would not make it out, and the toll loss would number close to 3,000 people, between the occupants of the Twin Towers, the planes, and the second target of the Pentagon.

We were stunned, shocked, and unbelieving of all the events unfolding.... as never before had we ever been directly attacked in the lower 48 to such extremes. And to find out that we had trained the very men who took this bold step against us, was akin to being slapped in the face. As we sifted through our anguish and anger over the events, the skies were freakishly quiet. The flags went up around the country in a show of our solidarity, and funerals were planned for those who weren't so lucky to make it through the day.

We now come to the fifth anniversary of September 11th, and that gives us time to sit back and reflect all the events that have followed since. Finding ourselves embroiled in a war on terrorism that stretches across the globe, the loss numbers of our service men and woman looms well past the 2,000 mark..... not to mention the countless number of Iraq civilians, foreign servicemen, and news correspondents caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, as suicide bombers and kidnappers complete their missions.

Reports of personnel, who gave of their time to help clean up the rubble left by the towers' collapse, are suffering lung diseases from all the dust they inhaled on the site, even though they were assured by the EPA that levels of toxins were minimal, and "safe".

The already slipping US economy was said to have dove into a recession in the immediate weeks following 9/11, although the government later stated that was false (cough, cough). Business did slow down considerably following the attacks, and although we are told that our economy is strong now, I just don't see it. I know of too many people who are either out of work or struggling to keep their heads above major debt-load handed to them in the form of utilities and everyday living expenses.

Meanwhile the war-chest funds are constantly being re-calculated to support whatever is necessary to get these "evil-doers". We saw that promise by our own leader, declaring it on top of the rubble at ground zero. Well, the money does have to come from somewhere, doesn't it? In our looking to our leader for reasons why, we forgot to ask the question of how.

Other countries who are our allies, have been exposed to varying degrees of terrorism they had never had to deal with. This was pre-9/11, but it also has been post 9/11.... and the terrorists have been deadly at all of their targets. Citizens going about their daily life, once again, in the wrong place at the wrong time, became victims of terrorism, in Europe, as well as all around the world.

Our country takes the helm in leading this fight, and our leader has tried to justify every one of them as they come up at different intervals through the years. Funny how they seem to contradict the ones before them, but we are becoming accustomed to the secrets, fence-jumping, and redirections handed to us as excuses. The means are being suited to justify the end result, and just to make sure we are all in this together, terrorism is the headliner.... because, after all, we did witness it happen on our own land already. That's enough to make one a little more aware of their surroundings...... whether they're willing to admit it or not.

So, five years later, and still on the road to recovery for some, we mark a time in our life that defines like no other before, and we say silent prayers for the victims and heros. Funny thing about recovery.... it doesn't mean we forget the event, only that we learn new ways to adapt to the changes it brings. We find ways to live with the consequences of an environment that has been forever changed, and we hope for a future where the children of the world will not be burdened with the everlasting effects of today.

To those people that gave so much of themselves on September 11th, to the fallen victims, heros, and family members that have to carry on without their loved ones, I extend my deepest heartfelt thoughts. You will be remembered.

Friday, September 08, 2006

the time machine.....

Given an opportunity to decide whether we would like to travel through time, most of us would probably jump at the chance. If it meant the possibility of reuniting with a loved one, now deceased, or correcting a wrong deed, I believe more people would choose to travel backwards. Why not...... somehow it seems so uncomplicated to do so, other than the possibility of time travel existing at all. There are a few that would choose to go forward to see the state of affairs the world exists in the future; but all in all, most people would still want the possibility, regardless of which way they go,
for the back door to remain open.... as coming back to where we start is a powerful pull. Somehow the feeling of home, and a comfort zone is where we still do our best work. After all, home will always be where our heart is, as the comforts it supplies is familiar territory.

We don't travel through time though, do we? We are only offered the opportunity to travel through mapped space, which has changed as much as we have, in most cases. Our suitcases are loaded with memories of a time when everything seemed a little more paced, and we approached everything with fresh eyes and a new attitude. The experience we've gained while the years passed has made us a little more cynical, because we know too much. Regardless, it is still a trip we take with newer, wider eyes.... trying to capture a glimpse of the past, a simple reminder of where we started, while taking in all the changes we see before us.

Somehow it's become easier to make these trips without even leaving the comfort of home. When you age, those memories flood you at the most in-opportune times. You find yourself day-dreaming about past occurrences that might overlap into current affairs of your now time. It can't be helped, it's all you have to rely on.... it's a lifes experience of lessons you wished you knew when you existed then, as it might have made all the difference of where you are now.
I can't complain, but I always compare regardless. It's my own system of checks and balances,
and reviewing it over from time to time is healthy for my soul.

I'm beyond the point of sheer panic in the leaner times than I once was. In my past, I would have gotten a F in that area. I'm not quite at A- level yet, but being a middle of the road child, I'm nearing a nice strong NB..... Not Bad. Ok, so I made that mark up.... it doesn't matter though, as it's an improvement; one that age makes you wear so well, if you do it right. Besides, I've had a lot of experiences that warranted behavior and civility over the likes of shouting and arguing. They say that practice makes perfect...... well, it's true. You do need to walk through a pile of garbage many times over before you convince your olfactory nodes that it's really a pile of roses. Attitude speaks volumes, and it's your biggest stick of defense. I'm still working on that one, but am so much further down the line then when I was in my 20's and 30's. To sum it up: life is too short to sweat all the small stuff..... and a lot of it is small stuff.

No doubt bigger problems arise, as it's a fact of life. Holding up that Louisville Slugger to bat away the issues gets hard and tiring, but surviving the hostage situation it becomes, canonizes you to survivor status. It's a pothole mess for a road, but the ride nonetheless toughens up your back end. The will and fight to go on is a powerful naturally induced drug when called upon..... it's proof you possess persistence.

We already know we can't travel either way in time..... at least for right now. However, our mind does play funny little games with our memories as we grow older. It's the only way we can frolic through the game of time travel for now. We tend to look back to a safer period of our psyche as the worlds problems become mountainous to fix. The images that fill our TV screens and news headlines seem out of control, and the men we depend on to fix the problems appear helpless and relentless in their strife. We play a new game of hindsight when facts become available, while we pray for the innocent victims caught in the middle. We hope that the scholars and leaders can recall the past long enough to remember the previous mistakes in order to not repeat them, as we want so much for them to repair the future now. If they take a little trip through history.... a little time travel back so to speak, they might be able to see the follys we are trying to correct now.... at least we hope so. But that is a lot to rely on, isn't it? Especially when we have little faith in the leadership presenting their solutions.

So I guess it is up to us individually to make baby steps in order to correct injustices we face daily. We may not be able to go back and correct the wrong things, but hopefully we learn from these and vow not to repeat them.

........just some odd thoughts I was having today, and thanks for indulging my ramblings.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

what if we threw a war and nobody showed up......

In his Presidential farewell speech to the nation in 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people of a powerful menace, that unleashed, could be the very demise of our nation as well as the world. He wasn't the first president to do so, as George Washington's words warned the country of the very same dangers many years before.
A country that places all their faith, time, and money in weapons and military does little to help the commonwealth of a country grow and live in peace.
Eisenhower would pen the phrase "military industrial complex", and warned that if left unchecked, power would rise beyond control of citizen votes, and into one of military and government rule. Any of this sounding familiar? You betcha! We are in the midst of this menace now with no exit plan we can count on.

We have already traveled to this abyss since Eisenhowers speech when we entered into Vietnam. Even the most trusted man in America (Walter Cronkite) spoke out against the "war" (which it really was, but nobody wanted to call it that), saying it was unwinable. It was then that Lyndon Johnson knew that if he had lost the confidence of Mr. Cronkite, he had lost the support of middle America. It was one of the reasons why Johnson dropped out of the Presidential race in 1968. The American public had had enough, and were looking for a way to bring their boys home. To them, this was a civil war of which we had no reason to be part of; and not just the poor of this country were fighting it, as drafted boys were taken from all walks of american life. It took a few years, because there is no easy way to shut off a war, but a peace agreement was signed in 1973, and we finally pulled out altogether by April 1975. Just a year before, President Nixon was caught in the throes of the Watergate scandal, which had led to his downfall and ultimate resignation. Gerald Ford, through complete default, assumed the office of President.... and he had a very large job ahead of him in trying to reassemble the trust lost by the American people in their government. It proved a hard road to walk, and Ford committed political suicide by pardoning Nixon of any wrong-doing in the Watergate scandal, either then or in the future. Many Americans did not see that Ford's major concern was to put the past behind us, and forge on ahead to the future and healing. Ford would lose in the polls to Jimmy Carter over that decision.

One of Fords cronies from the "old days" in the House of Representatives was Donald Rumsfeld. When Ford assumed the Presidency, Rumsfeld was called back to Washington to serve as a transition chairman, and then on to the position of White House Chief of Staff. It was during this time that Rumsfeld introduced a friend by the name of Richard Cheney to Mr. Ford, who would become an assistant to the President. This is the point in time where Rumsfeld and Cheney began a political coup of consolidating power in the American government. Their first orders of business were to remove Henry Kissinger from the post of National Security Advisor, tell Nelson Rockefeller (Ford's vice president at the time) to look for a new job, and have Defense Secretary, James Schlesinger fired. They then assumed the positions for themselves: Rumsfeld became the Defense Secretary, and Cheney became Chief of Staff.

With Fords defeat in the presidential election of 1976 (of which Cheney was campaign manager for) , Rumsfeld returned to the private sector, but still held many positions under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. Cheney was elected to the House of Representatives from Wyoming, becoming Chairman of House Republican Conference from 1981 to 1987, and in 1988 he would become House Minority Whip. From March of 1989 to January 1993, Cheney would serve under President George HW Bush as Secretary of Defense. After Bush Senior failed to secure a second term in office, Cheney returned to the private sector as well. This is the time where he secured his little job at Halliburton as CEO and Chairman of the Board.

In 1997, Rumsfeld and Cheney formed a think-tank called "Project for the New American Century", whose self-stated goal was to "promote American global leadership." The PNAC promotes itself to be a non-profit organization of major political players and well known pundits, all in the belief that American leadership is good both for America and for the world. There are seven basic core views and beliefs, but in a nutshell, it has a classy way of promoting the American nation of becoming the worlds police. Some of these beliefs are good, but as in the debacle over the start of the Iraq "conflict", the words of the wordsmiths rarely estimate the actual effects, and most estimates are blown out of proportion to state a cause...... All except the loss to life, sadly. I can say that I don't agree with a few, but I'll let you judge them for yourselves. If you look it up under wikipedia, all seven are listed.

So the military industrial complex has grown into four branches, where it once had three. The military, defense, and Congress made up the first three arms...... and, as of 1997, this complex includes a think tank to counsel the first three how to behave or act accordingly. All it needed to become effective was the event of "a match to a powder keg" to give it a nice test run. Enter the Bush Junior administration, with Mr. Cheney as Vice President, and Mr. Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary...... the same players of the first Iraq invasion under Bush Senior.

The American people were easily upset over the events of 9/11, as was the world. Our decision to go into Afghanistan to hunt for Bin Laden was justified, met with no big resistance, and was accomplished to the point of knocking the Taliban out of control, all within a relatively short amount of time. Bin Laden is still elusive to capture, though, so we leave our military to complete the one last detail of Bin Laden's arrest.
Here's where the lines get fuzzy in the eyes of our current administration. Even though the CIA Director, George Tennent had no real evidence or intelligence that Saddam Hussein or Iraq might be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, or any large ties to Bin Laden, Tennent was told to go back and look through his files again.... to find SOMETHING. This process usually takes many years to gather, but Tennent was given two weeks. The Bush administration was hell bent on finding anything that linked Iraq and Bin Laden, because this would be the premise to make us step in and declare war on a country that posed as a threat. Funny thing is, we supported Hussein and Iraq in 1983 and 1984 when Rumsfeld was the special envoy to the Middle East, while Iraq and Iran were at war. (Just as we backed Afghanistan against Russia during the 1980's.) Ironic how yesterdays neighbors became today's enemies.

Going on evidence of a scientist who had escaped the Middle East, evidence that was mostly false, Tennent found his "slam dunk", and the American people were told that a major threat against our nation was imminent in the form of more terrorism. Still reeling from the events of 9/11, we bought into it..... even though the evidence was sketchy at best. Colin Powell may have addressed the United Nations prior to the first strike on Iraq , that Hussein was a threat, yet he still remained skeptical of the intelligence in front of him to confirm the WMD theory. It contained many facts left out or misconstrued to fit an agenda. He would later acknowledge that information, sources had supplied him with, were wrong; Powell then called upon a reform in the intelligence community.

What we can speculate through all that we've been able to weed through, is that the situation we are in the midst of now, was part of an agenda all along. The Middle East has been a hotbed of disruption for many years....... and why do we care? Because they hold the precious black gold every country needs to function: OIL. Notice how we didn't go into Rwanda to save their people from an oppressive society, and that's because they really don't have anything to give us in return. Anyway.... I'm getting off subject here. My point is this:

As Americans, it is our responsibility as free citizens to be able to point at our leaders and demand true leadership. Why? Because we elected them in those positions on the promises they gave us during their long months of campaigning. We want to believe that a person's word exudes trust, and a mans word is his bond. After all, the alternative is opposite to our own beliefs, so we vote in those who issues mirror our own.
Even when they come into office, I'm pretty sure they wanted the job not only for the prestige of the position, they probably really wanted to make a difference. Then the problems of the world, as well as breaking through the "old boys club" attitude were roadblocks they hadn't considered. Add to that the lobbiests deals made under the table, and we now have a controlled government.... held hostage by it's own decision-makers. This is why it is important to pay attention to who the candidates are.... they may be in charge one day, and like our current administration, play a bit of nepotism. They may also lead us into foreign disturbances under the guise of terrorism.

We have much to be afraid of as we watch the events of the Middle East unfold. Since terrorism is not contained to one country, the threat can be as close as our neighbors house.... so it's not all that unfathomable in the big picture. The problem is, we are reeling from these threats on a closer and steadier basis than we ever had before, and they are not contained to the US alone. Perhaps we stirred a hornets nest by invading Iraq, one which our collective politicians never saw coming..... as a matter of fact, they more than likely felt that it was the other way around. Perhaps this was all a matter time time before fruition anyway. Either way, our current terrorism is not going to go away quickly, even if we pull all our troops out today. We are in for a very long haul, as we try to comprehend some sense of dignity and semblance out of it.

We used to have a saying during the Vietnam War years that I have remembered to this day:
What if we threw a war and nobody showed up? Sadly, we'll never know.