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Posts Tagged ‘Paula Broadwell’

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What are you laughing at?

Just one little moment — “Un momento poquito” — otherwise you’ll think this is piling on atop the schadenfreudean snarkfest already encircling the military’s four-star circus and the question, “Two Generals, Two Women and the FBI: What could possibly go wrong?”

Ethical lapses and all things Petraeus.

The puritanical scolds and the prurient muckrakers have converged and it’s all things David Petraeus right now. Even the Old Testament inspired “The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders” has been highlighted by an enthusiastic press to signal the growing concern over the ethics of our nation’s senior military officers. Find the rubber gloves and ‘assume the position,’ the examination is overdue.

File:Truth-Warner-Highsmith.jpegSince 9/11 and two wars, it’s been politically incorrect and patriotically unfashionable to do anything but nod with approbation, appreciation and admiration at anyone wearing the uniform, especially the fruit-salad festooned high-ranking soi-disant indispensables. But the ground beneath the bobbleheads has started to shift although slightly. And though I count among friends and family, many who have honorably served, the reality-check is a good thing.

The deification of man or of his institutions is never recommendable. Not gods but mere mortals — beneath our robes and chasubles, we put on our pants or wear our birettas like anyone else and even bestride the porcelain throne the same.

Given the ethical lapses this year by top military officers, which so far have culminated with the Petraeus scandal, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has justifiably asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review ethical training standards and come up with ways to keep officers away from trouble.

File:GEN Petraeus Aug 2011 Photo.jpgCertainly, the usual suspects on the left are deriding the “total trust” and “blank checks” given to generals, particularly with respect to David Petraeus, “accustomed to being a demigod, expert at polishing his own celebrity and swaying public opinion.”

But the criticism has also emanated from unexpected sources, including a former officer ‘in-the-know’ like John L. Cook, author of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure, who says Petraeus’s real scandal is the legacy he left in Afghanistan. “What matters more was what Petraeus did as a commander, not what he did in the bedroom.”

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And then there’s Roger Simon who also had a bit of biting judgmental commentary, “Petraeus dumb, she’s dumber, giving both Petraeus and “paramour” Paula Broadwell a verbal beat-down — calling the general “blockhead” and of Broadwell, “She is as smart as a bag of hammers.

All this nastiness because Simon says they were “dimwitted” for using unsecure, traceable Gmail accounts to transmit sexually explicit emails.

. . . getting dumber.

photoNo sooner had I digested Simon’s diatribe, where by the way, he also parenthetically praised Bill Clinton for having “gutted it out” and for lying “sensibly” when caught in his own sex scandal, I next found out the situation is more dire than I realized. Thanks to an unsettling report, “Dumb and Dumber: Study Says Humans Are Slowly Losing Their Smarts,” — don’t tell Simon but we’re all getting dumber! If you believe Simon, Petraeus and Broadwell may just be slightly ahead of the curve. The ‘dumb and dumber’ study was published at Trends in Genetics and authored by Gerald Crabtree, a Stanford geneticist.

The soundtrack for sneaking around.

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So even though the Petraeus affair still threatens to get weirder with each passing day, my real focus is not to pile on but instead to take note that on the same November 9th that the Army 4-star resigned from the CIA, another genre-ranking ‘officer,’ Major Harris, also left the scene.

The untimely but coincidental death of Harris, an old school R & B stylist, was announced this week. And frankly, “Love wont let me wait,” his signature tune provided pretext and inspiration for this post.

The good Major’s riff and bodacious background sound effects “guaranteed to inspire” an appropriate musical soundtrack for sneaking around, military or otherwise — background music if you will to accompany this swordsman tale’s thrusts and gyrations.

The late Major was not a sworn member of any branch of military service. “Major” was his given name. But even after all these years, at least musically speaking, he had a military tactician’s taste for saucy soulful mischief.

Pillow talk.

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Which finally leads me to the most appropriate soundtrack of all, especially now that the question’s also being asked, “Is Petraeus pillow talk a security threat?”

Aptly enough, the tune is called “Pillow Talk” and was performed by Sylvia Robinson whose obituary last year called her ‘the Mother of hip-hop.’ 

A Harris contemporary, Sylvia’s tune emanates the same sensual vibe as she breathily croons, “Un momento poquito — aye-aye-aye-aye.” 

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Photo Credits:”What are you laughing at?” by Dave Sizer at Flickr, via Creative Commons-license required attribution; “Truth (1896). Olin Warner (completed by Herbert Adams). Left bronze door at main entrance of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building,”at Wikipedia Commons, public domain;”Caricature of William Ballantine. Caption reads “He resisted the temptation to cross-examine a Prince of the blood,” by Alfred Thompson, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain; “David Petraeus, portrait photo,” by Monica King, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain; “Bill Clinton,” by DonkeyHotey at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.

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File:David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.jpgPerhaps it’s timely, especially post-election when losers and supporters of all stripes and kinds are still nursing wounds and regretting so much about ‘what might’ve been.’

And it’s almost too convenient a topic to bring up the ‘woulda-coulda-shouldas’ now that the airwaves are full of L’affaire Petraeus of which, Petraeus friend and former spokesman Steve Boylan says the now ex-CIA Director mea culpas “he regrets it on so many levels.” Or as we once said about a hapless high school buddy at his shotgun-wedding — ‘a moment’s pleasure, a lifetime of regret.’

So talk about timing, on Sunday there was another one of those occasional articles that crop up now and then about life regrets writ big and small and particularly about remorse and repentance that comes at life’s end.

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Written by a Jewish rabbi, scholar and author, Erica Brown, “Death: A Nice Opportunity for Regret” detailed an exercise Rabbi Brown conducted where she asked her students to list their small and large regrets on index cards. The responses were insightful, even poignant.

“We rarely connect regret to death, but then we rarely connect death to anything because we’d rather talk about grocery shopping, gardening and taxes. Reading my students’ regrets helped me understand the connection between regret and death,” she wrote.

Regrets.

Even “Ol’ Blue Eyes” who while doing things “My Way,” had his regrets, even if they “were too few to mention.“Regret,” it’s been said, “is insight that comes a day too late” – although Woody Allen famously wagged that, “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.” And Arthur Miller summed it up thusly, “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” 

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We try to avoid it but “the feeling of regret” has a way of catching up to us. Fortunately, most of the time, our regrets are private ones.

Some people have regrets about financial matters, like buying a house or overspending. And others, like professional golfers have their own share of embarrassing regrets.

And yes, even lawyers, have their own share of prosaic regrets, like attending law school or becoming a lawyer. Just 3 years ago, a LexisNexis survey revealed 21% of law students regretted the choice.

George Costanza, who some of you may have now discovered is one of my most quotable philosophers, once decided “to do the opposite” rather than “sit here and do nothing and regret it the rest of the day.”

Our top regrets.

But as for inventorying our final regrets, well before we utter those final words or write them down on classroom index cards, reflection confirms what studies categorize as our biggest life regrets. They’re neatly compiled into “common domains” like regrets about education, career, romance and parenting.

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A few years ago, palliative nurse Bronnie Ware came up with her own list, gleaned from those about to slip their mortal coils. She identified them as the “Top five regrets of the dying.”

As a nurse involved in hospice care, Ware had the perfect vantage point. She cared for patients at the end of life and then blogged about their deathbed revelations at her blog called “Inspiration and Chai.”

Ware’s top 5 list resonates with truth:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Transforming regret.

In her essay, Rabbi Brown notes “You can’t eliminate a regret, but you can transform one.” This, of course, presupposes there’s time sufficient for transformation — never a given when you don’t ordinarily knowabout that day or hour.”

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It’s been frequently said that at the end, not many of us will regret not having stayed longer at work “or not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal.”

In discussing what he called Habit 2, “Begin with the end in mind,” the late Steven Covey memorably asked readers in his best-selling 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to create “A Personal Mission Statement.

The way to do this, according to Covey, was to start at the end — by envisioning our own funerals. “Imagine that as your casket is being lowered down into the ground and your family and friends are standing around watching. What are they thinking about? When they think of you and your life, which statements, images and memories come up to their minds?

“What do you want them to think, imagine, and remember? It is precisely these statements, images, and memories which should be your principles.”

By living in the moment but cognizant of where we’re headed, at the end — at least we might get to that place once said about living. “Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

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Photo Credits: General David Petraeus, Commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, with author Paula Broadwell, via Wikipedia Commons image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the publicdomain.

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