Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, August 21, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 13

Mountain Views News Saturday, August 21, 2021 OPINION 13 
Mountain Views News Saturday, August 21, 2021 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 



Stuart Tolchin 
Dinah Chong WatkinsAudrey SwansonMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 

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I am a crusader for the public good, at least I like 
to think of myself that way. Although I have always had 
criticisms about some specific practices in our modern 
technological world I have always had a reassuring sense 
that there existed a sense of mastery over a complex world. 
Modern life and technology is great; where, for example, 
would we be without air conditioning? If there are still 

problems like racial inequality and unfairly paid service workers and the pandemic and 
even climate warming, secretly I believed that all of these problems would be solved as 
progress made things better for everybody in the world. I am just not feeling that way 

It is as if I am waking from a dream and learning that the whole world is in peril 
and, globally, we are all unable to do much about it. The major reason for elation was 
that Barak Obama was a Black Man (at least his father was) and his election proved that 
United States was emerging from centuries of racial discriminatory practices and that 
now everyone or anyone could become President.

The selection of Barak Obama also had to with a couple of other things, he was a 
former editor of the Harvard Law Review which generally ensures success in the world at 
large. It is unfortunate that Barak had to cut down the size of his sixtieth birthday party. 
The original invitees were almost all people of a similar kind of excellence, perhaps 
not all Harvard grads or wealthy beautiful actresses but still unquestionably successful 
in their own world. Those cut from the original party list had to cope with their own 
disappointments. So sorry! What about the rest of us---all of whom by any definition 
are pretty ordinary folk with no particular claim to excellence. Yes, an incredibly able 
articulate Black Man with educational credentials, a beautiful wife also a Harvard Law 
School Graduate, and a beautiful family can be elected President. Yes, it is a huge step 
but, at best, it is only a beginning step. What about Black People without the incredible 
abilities of Barak and Michelle? What about us? 

To my mind being a crusader for public good never meant opening the doors 
and welcoming in people of excellence. These people can usually find a way to open 
their own doors although in the case of non-White, non-male, non-straight, non-
gender questioning the doors have remained closed pretty much throughout American 
history. As I said in my first paragraph, no matter my criticisms, I always felt that as 
Americans we had the ability to exercise mastery over the whole world and that in 
due time most of the world’s problems would be lessened if not completely eliminated. 
Certainly, Donald Trump was a very strong argument against this belief but now Trump 
is gone, or should be gone; but now I am more depressed than ever before.

Where are our people of excellence who can handle every situation if just given 
enough time? Have they already received their awards of money, fame, and power? The 
recent humiliating debacle of the American pull out from Afghanistan unquestionably 
evidenced incompetence, ignorance, and indifference. The televised pictures of misled 
and disappointed Afghani people who been promised assistance by Americans for 
whom they had risked their lives as they attempted to cling to flying departing American 
military planes should sicken all of us. Right now we are surrounded by awareness of 
the climate crisis seemingly imperiling the future of all humanity. The Pandemic is 
or is not getting worse. The scientific news is so confusing it is hard to know what to 
do. Throw in food shortages, and water shortages, and all around safety issues plus the 
absolutely crazy attempt at recall of the California governor. I have friends who cannot 
watch the news. They do not allow me to talk about world or national events with them. 
Of course talking and writing these article is about all that I do. 

I await the proclamation by those people of excellence and ability who have leftthe mainstream to return to save the rest of us. The open doors should let them back 
in and I expect to hear the reassuring cry of “Here I come to save the day” but then I 
remember that that reassuring call was made by a mouse (mighty though he might have 
been) I am not worried about mice, I am worried about people and we all have a lot to 
worry about.. 




The midnight black SUV swings round, slowly trolling 
the parking lot filled with rush hour commuters returning 
home. The theme from Jaws plays over the radio. “Da 

Dum. Da Dum. Da Dum-Da Dum.” From her high perch 
she spots an empty space and guns the accelerator. A bandaid-beige, compact 
Kia sedan blocks her way as they face off for the identical parking spot. 
The elderly man in the Kia jiggles the Handicap placard hanging from his 
rear view mirror. She realizes it’s a reserved spot and grudgingly pulls back, 
letting the Kia slide in. She takes another loop of the lot, ignoring the dozens 
of empty spaces littered along the back of the shopping plaza, hunting for a 
space nearest to the Safeway entrance. 

The ignoble strip mall parking lot. Under appreciated and taken for granted 
like WiFi, it’s a basic expectation that turns us into stomping, entitled lunatics 
when we're forced to find street parking or worse, pay for parking 
in a private lot. I’ve lived in giant metropolises where free parking was an 
unknown concept and like my husband’s three putt golf rule, that’s the maximum 
tries you got at parallel parking before you had to abandon that spot 
and escape from all the abusive honking. 

You can tell by the shopping carts dotting the parking lot how good the 
discounts are going to be in that supermarket. The more dented and rusted 
they are, when you have to manhandle the cart to stop it from turning in a 
circle, that’s the mark of a supermarket with wafer thin markups. If the carts 
are neatly lined up by the entrance instead of stuck between 2 cars, you’ve 
hit the super sale jackpot because those carts are chain linked together by a 
little locking device requiring a twenty-five cent coin to be released. Now 25 
cents won’t even buy you a phone call but that coin is a siren call to shoppers 
to return their cart and get their quarter back. If only they used that method 
for library books or child care. 

Parking lots intertwine with our lives but they do it under the radar. The beginning 
of life and the last vestiges of it are bookended with reserved parking 
spots for the pregnant and the elderly. We honor the Employee of the 
Month by their temporary prestige spot next to the corporate suite executives 
whose pecking order coincides with the location of their space. 

After the shoppers leave and the lots thins out, a whole different crowd 
moves in. Fearful of their teenagers dinging their neighbor's cars when they 
practice their left turns, countless parents have depended on the sanctuary 
of the parking lot to teach their kids and allow their aging Boomer parents 
who refuse to give up their car keys, a few turns in safety. 

And while it’s rates a 1 on the 5 most romantic places to take your date, who 
of us hasn’t snogged by the blueish, fluorescent cast of the parking lot light 
poles? Flea swaps, farmer’s markets, ad hoc taco stands, a game of street ball 

- the strip mall parking lot embraces them all. 
Even the more nefarious activities, like the ones shown time and time again 
on “COPS”, the parking lot is the favored location for drug deals, underage 
drinking, rendezvous between a disgruntled spouse and a hired killer and 
the most horrible of all - skateboarders. 

Parking lots are suburbia’s equivalent to the interstate rest stop. It’s a place 
you can always pull over in, get a meal and take a nap in peace. The folk 
singer Joni Mitchell wrote a song about parking lots and paradise, sometimes 
they’re one and the same. 

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lotWith a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spotDon't it always seem to goThat you don't know what you got 'til it's goneThey paved paradise and put up a parking lot” - Joni Mitchell 

Email me at 

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A major part of my mission is to equip friends (that 
means friends) with tools that amaze, delight and distract 
others. After all, aren’t we here improve the quality 
of each other’s lives? Let’s im-prove shall we? 

First, let me tell you what oxymoron is not. It is not 
a skin care product. An oxymoron is the combination 
of two ancient Greek words. Oxys means “sharp,” and 
moronos, means “dull” or “stupid”. Hence…oxymoron. 
Oxymoron also effectively describes my decade long 
friendship with former Caltech Professor, Dr. Charles Seitz. Hi Chuck! Moro-
nos here! 

An oxymoron is a figure of speech utilizing two self contradicting terms that 
somehow make sense…or at least seem clever or funny. And I discovered, early 
on, being clever, and/or funny, can be a very powerful tool in communicating. 

Famous quotes below demonstrate how oxymorons and oxymoronic logic are 
used to communi-cate effectively. 

“I’ve never said most of the things I said.” Yogi Berra“I am a deeply superficial person.” Andy Warhol“Of course I can keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t keep them.” 
Anthony Haden-Guest“I can resist everything but temptation.” Oscar Wilde“I distinctly remember forgetting that.” Clara Barton“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” 
Mark Twain 
“You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.” Dolly Parton“I hate people, but I love gatherings.” Edna St. Vincent Millay“Always be sincere, even when you don’t mean it.” Irene Peter“We must believe in free will. We have no choice.” Isaac B. Singer“Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so.” Josh Billings“I’m not going to say, I told you so.” Anon 

I hope you find the following oxymorons useful in your everyday 

Act Naturally, Airline Food, Childproof, Clearly Misunderstood, Congressional 
Ethics, Crash Landing, Definite Maybe, Express Mail, Found Missing, Genuine 
Imitation, Government Organ-ization, Intense Apathy, Jumbo Shrimp, Military 
Intelligence, Militant Pacifist, New Classic, Peace Force, Sanitary Landfill, 
Terribly Pleased, True Lies. 

And how about this one: ”Temporary Tax Increase”! 


By the way, there is one person I don’t like…Len Mendoza. Len is a fellow guitarist/
singer. Why don’t I like him? Easy! He’s got a full head of hair, in better 
shape, and a much better singer than I am. But what I really don’t like about 
him is he puts on a 2-3 hour concert at least once a week at Corfu Restaurant 
here in town. He sings mostly songs from the 1960s (you’ll recognize most all 
Typically plays on Fri-day or Saturday evening starting at 6:00 or 6:30. Great 
Mediterranean food at Corfu. 

Call (626) 355-5993 FOR INFO. 48 W. SIERRA MADRE BLVD. 



Anyone who professes to be shocked by the Taliban victory 
in Afghanistan has not been paying attention. 

It was always bound to happen. It was merely delayed be

cause Uncle Sam kept his trillion-dollar finger in the dike 
for 20 years. Were we fated to remain forever, in a land that had already proved 
fatally inhospitable to the British and the Russians and Alexander the Great?
The harbingers of failure had long been obvious, but most Americans, benumbed 
by the war, had long ago stopped paying attention. In 2019, word leaked that the 

U.S. officials entrusted with propping up the Afghan regime were disgusted with 
their proteges, saying in memos and private interviews that “after almost two 
decades of help from Washington, the Afghan army and police are still too weak 
to fend off the Taliban.” 
They were weak largely because they were deeply corrupt. In the private words 
of Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador, “they’re useless as a security force 
because they are corrupt down to the patrol level.” Nevertheless, as another U.S. 
official admitted to gov-ernment interviewers in 2015, “The less they behaved, 
the more money we threw at them.” 

Fairly or not, President Biden will own the humiliating images of retreat – but, in 
reality, the Afghanistan debacle was authored by American presidents from both 
political parties. What we’re seeing now is a bipartisan clustermuck.
It was launched by George W. Bush, who committed us to the impossible task of 
nation-building. (From his 2005 Inaugural address: “It is the policy of the United 
States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions 
in every nation and culture,” even though, he admitted, “our country has accepted 
obligations that are difficult to fulfill.”) 

It was sustained by Barack Obama, who approved a troop surge in 2009 and 
whose mili-tary spokesmen kept saying there was light at the end of the tunnel 
(Gen. James Mattis to Congress in 2010: “We’re on the right track now.”).
It landed in the capacious lap of Donald Trump, who decided it was time to get 
out, who invited the Taliban to Camp David in 2019 (“We’re getting along very, 
very well with the Taliban”), and who set a May 1, 2021 withdrawal deadline for 

U.S. forces. 
Nevertheless, Republicans are predictably hammering Biden, conveniently forgetting 
that antiwar sentiment has long been rampant in their own ranks. Mitt 
Romney, the Republi-can’s presidential nominee in 2012, said of Afghanistan in 
2011: “We’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of 
independence for another nation.” 

As recently as last April, Trump endorsed Biden’s announced intention to withdraw 
the troops: “Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to 
do. I planned to withdraw on May 1, and we should keep as close to that schedule 
as possible.” 

“Biden understood that the choice was between getting out or being stuck there 
with no end in sight, and he rightly judged that the former was better for the United 
States,” wrote historian and veteran conservative commentator Daniel Larison. 
“The fact that the Afghan government has lost so much ground so quickly proves 
that the U.S. failed in building a functioning state that could fend for itself… Far 
from showing the folly of Biden’s decision, it confirms the wisdom of it. A state as 
rickety and incapable of protecting itself as this one would not have been saved by 
delaying withdrawal a few more months or even years.” 

As Biden said on Saturday, “One more year or five more years of U.S. military 
presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will 
not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of 
another country’s civil con-flict was not acceptable to me.” 

That view also jibes with the sentiments of the most Americans. He’ll likely take 
a hit in the short run as the images of surrender resonate globally – although 
that’s akin to blaming President Gerald Ford for our chaotic final departure from 
Vietnam in 1975 – but the fact remains that the current withdrawal is supported 
by 70 percent of Americans, including 56 percent of Republicans.
What most Americans appear to understand – even while mostly tuning out the 
war – is that leaving Afghanistan is basically the least bad option. There’s no point 
in investing a few more trillion dollars and more American bodies just to keep 
meeting the definition of insanity, the compulsion to do the same thing over and 
over again in expectation of a dif-ferent result. It takes wisdom and political courage 
to face reality. 

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a 
Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.