I keep hearing that many people are blasé about voting in this election. The great American historian Gordon Wood described liberty in the Revolutionary era as meaning the right to vote, the great right of a free people.
Cancer is a horrible word. Everyone is affected, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes. Everyone is affected – either personally or when it impacts someone they love.
In so many Hollywood films of yesteryear, American soldiers and war veterans-- particularly those of the World War II era-- are depicted as valiant, well-adjusted warriors who have fought for their country. They smile, even if they are wounded. Upon coming home, they are ever-willing to be embraced by their loved ones while disappearing into the mainstream and getting on with their lives.
Anyone who's jumped off a haystack or played on a trampoline, knows the pleasurable feeling of weightlessness, wherein there are, for a fleeting moment, no more sagging body parts.
Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year old Austrian military parachutist, intentionally jumped from a capsule 24 miles up, on Oct 14, thus certainly knowing weightlessness for a decent amount of time. And what a fascinating lot of physics the man who fell from space experienced!
Late last month, renowned cyclist and cancer activist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competitive sport. Mr. Armstrong has repeatedly denied the allegations, and has only tested positive once for a banned substance -- cortisone -- for which he provided a prescription. The prohibited steroid was in a doctor-provided cream used by many riders to treat saddle sores.
Have you ever heard of Leon Cooperman? He is a billionaire whose 1500 word letter of complaint to President Obama has made him the darling of the top one tenth of one percent. In the NEW YORKER’s October 8 issue he is profiled in a fascinating article that quotes from his letter.
I am reprinting the entire letter with my comments interspersed:
As much as medical care, public policy decisions have a tremendous impact on Americans’ health care. And there is no decision more important than next week’s Presidential choice.
Americans who watched the 2000 Presidential election – including Al Gore – know that it’s not the nation’s total popular vote that chooses the President. In fact, there have been a total of three Presidents elected while losing the national popular vote.
As I record this commentary, there is a powerful storm approaching the East coast. The last hurricane to hit this area affected a number of people in my office. One of the women who had worked for me lived in Schoharie. Her home and family were OK but she was devastated by what happened to her town. This time, my thoughts are in Brooklyn where my son and his family live – near the water but in the area that serves as a port so we hope more protected.
I’m no meteorologist. So how do you talk about a storm?
As the shadow of a doomsday triad looms over the coming first week in November, this WW-II combat-veteran-turned-commentator is compelled to dwell on an over-riding truth, that any military commanders who have seen war’s effects on the bodies, minds and spirits of combatants must – ever after – become reluctant warriors. This does not make them more timorous or less diligent in carrying out the savage and frightful actions that combat leadership compels; it does, though, constrain them from committing those they command to needless or foolhardy slaughter.