The Longest War

December 22, 2010

The President will announce the findings of his yearly review of the war in Afghanistan today. I think he is lying to us. The report (all 5 pages of it) claims progress over the past year, but in the wake of a devastating intelligence report and the WikiLeaks documents, the word “progress” assumes an Orwellian connotation. If this is progress, then there is no end in sight.

Afghanistan is the longest war in American history and even the military admits that whatever progress has been made in the past 10 years, it remains “fragile and easily reversed”. “Progress” in the past year includes more Americans being killed and wounded than ever before. “Progress” means that the number of attacks on Coalition troops is greater than ever. “Progress” means more Taliban activity in more areas of the country. “Progress” means propping up a corrupt government that can control (barely) only the 3 largest cities and none of the countryside. “Progress” means spending $2 billion a week even as Karzai and his relatives are depositing millions into foreign bank accounts and shipping out more heroin than any other country in the world.

We’ve been through this before, folks, but even Viet Nam is beginning to pale in futility and lives wasted on a lie. When he was alive, Richard Holbrooke, our principal diplomat in the region regularly despaired over the corrupt and corrupting nature of the war in Afghanistan. His last words before Mr. Holbrooke died was to the effect of “end the war”. The President later claimed that Mr. Holbrooke was only “joking”, which (to me) demonstrated that he is not even making a pretense of honesty anymore.

Please write your representatives in Washington and demand an end to the war in Afghanistan.

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Grateful

December 16, 2010

Looking out from my office window this morning and seeing the bright sunshine and lush green lawn and trees, I am feeling grateful. I turn back to my office and already entertaining a steady parade of attorneys and assistants, and again I am struck with gratitude. I have spent decades building a law firm that reflects my own passion for the law, for justice and for serving people who are most in need – and I can see that I have been successful. In just the past few weeks we have won successful verdicts for the estate of an elderly man who was killed by a nursing home, a man made paraplegic by medical malpractice, and a baby burned by a hospital. In every case the defendant corporations refused to settle, banking on the prejudice against lawsuits and desperation of their victims. I am proud of the attorneys I work with in those cases and countless others, who make this job and this world a better place.

So… once more to the breach, dear friends, once more to the breach.


Leadership

December 16, 2010

As the employer of a large law firm my employees and my clients look to me for leadership, especially when trials begin and the battling begins. I am aware of the responsibility I have to lead them past their anxieties and fears and get us all to where we want to be. I don’t know if I am one of those so-called “born leaders”, I consciously try to emulate those qualities in the leaders I have admired over the years, people such as Dr. King and Robert Kennedy. Which is why I have been so disappointed and confused by President Obama during this tax “compromise” issue – well, actually since he took office.

Maybe he is not a leader who can get what is right by sheer effort of will and effort. Maybe he is a community organizer, who gets people together to work on “something” for the sake of working together more than the goal itself. Unfortunately, the problems we face right now in this country are too great and the opposition to getting there so intransigent, that we need a leader, not a compromiser, and increasingly President Obama does not look like a leader.