To All The Great Dads!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you great Dads out there!

For some of you who have a few Father’s Days under your belt, you’ve done an amazing job at being card-carrying members of The Best Dads Ever Club.  Just take a look at the smiles on your children’s faces!

For those of you who are celebrating this day as your first Father’s Day (and I personally know of two such Dads in San Diego), congratulations!  I see the thrill on your faces every time I see you.

My Dad always feels very close to me on this day and I have so many very happy memories of him.  I know several of you out there whose fathers have also passed on …. but who seem to remain close to you, too.  Perhaps that is their greatest legacy to us who remain.

My Dad didn’t have much growing up in the 1920’s – a lot of the country didn’t have much in those days.  One Christmas Eve, he remembered not having anything to eat for supper but potatoes, but they did have a roof over their heads and for that he was grateful.

He never forgot those days, but he never let it weigh him down, either.  He worked long, hard hours – sometimes at two jobs – to see that we had a better existence than he did as a child.  He taught us that being honest, seeing the good in people, and being a good friend were the “things” that mattered – not what you had or what you wore.  He was also a great son, brother, brother-in-law and a favored uncle in our family – sometimes fulfilling the role of a patriarch when family members were seeking advice.

He was a man of deep love and compassion and I couldn’t be prouder to call him My Dad.  I miss him every day.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  You will remain in my heart forever.

Robert H. Blunt
July 1921 – January 2005

Guest Blogger Today!

Hap Brooks asked to serve as a Guest Blogger today.  I would like to invite anyone who would like to add to our discussion here to use this space as our platform.  Here’s his blog:

I couldn’t help but laugh at the breaking news report that said President Trump had called the Former Director of the FBI, Comey, a liar. Amazing, considering this man’s entire professional life had been built on his strict adhesion to integrity throughout.  What has Donald J’s professional history been comprised of, short of his stiffing contractors, and being a bold-faced chronic liar?  Not much.

I really do wonder why he was not beside me in a foxhole in Vietnam.  We are both the same age and I was drafted right in the middle of the war — pardon me – “Police Action.”  There are many adjectives that describe Trump, none of which come from the same side of the tracks that Director Comey’s adjectives come from.

What amazes me is that Small Hands really believes that people like him, as he lives in his make-believe world of fake news and misdirection.  I believe that most of the people that voted for him knew down deep that he was an anchor without a chain.  Most of the people were just tired of the status quo that has prevailed in Washington for years. To be elected anymore, one must be well-planted within the political infrastructure. You first must be beholding to some person or group and/or have a shit pot of money.  Without one or both, the odds of succeeding in politics are nil. With these prerequisites, no one who get elected lives life on the same side of the teeter totter as the rest of us.  Do you really think that any of the Washington crowd, with the exception of a few freshman, have any idea how much a gallon of milk costs or what the average Social Security check will buy after Medicare and the supplements are paid for?  Why should they?  They’re too busy, you know, changing the EPA’s rules and handing more tax benefits to the wealthy — what’s the name they call themselves?  Oh, yeah, the One Percent …..

The system really is bending to the point of breaking.  Actually, I thought it had when the Orange Buffoon was elected.  But now I see it as it really is — business as usual – wearing a different mask.

I don’t think things will change much until some very basic things are adjusted, such as term limits and lobbying.  As far as I’m concerned, we, as the people, should through the government, fund elections.  By this I mean, give qualified candidates “X” amount of election funds and say when it’s gone, you’re done until after the voting is done.  At least no person or group or company would be able to buy a mouthpiece within the governmental power structure.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a Trump fan. However, tomorrow is another day and, I’m sure, filled with more wonderment of the Orange Wiz.

Just understand that we can’t give up, nor can we give in.  This country is much too beautiful and fragile for us to let our guard down.


~~Hap Brooks


Words Of The Day – Quid Pro Quo


Did you read James Comey’s written statement of yesterday?  Did you watch his testimony today?  Did it influence or change your mind about the events in question?  It would have been difficult to walk away without acknowledging that his testimony had some type of affect on your thoughts.  For some, it may have not been plausible – for others, it might have been more of a “I told you so”- type of conclusion.

Throughout the original statement, and evidenced again today in the live testimony, was just how badly Donald Trump wanted James Comey to step forward and publicly acknowledge that he was not under FBI investigation.  That’s a pretty big “ask,” especially of someone who is the Director-in-charge of an independent agency whose very foundation is rooted in its independence from the political influences that often find their way into the Executive Branch of our government.

I believe that Mr. Comey is very savvy at reading people.  After all, I don’t think you make it to the Directorship of the Federal Bureau of Investigations being otherwise.  As he has stated, he knew he needed to document – in detail – his conversations with Trump from the get-go.  Trump, at best, has a revisionist’s memory.  If it makes him look more grandiose in the moment, well then, that’s the truth.  If it sheds a poor light on him – never happened.  Fake news.  How many times have we all seen that?

Trump entered the White House believing that it would run the same way as his businesses – you buy whatever it is you want (money’s no object, of course).  Then, once in, you demolish the existing business (that’s those bombs you keep hearing go off) until the playing field is obliterated, and then you firmly ensconce your “people” in place – and you’re on to your next conquest.  Clearly, he was trying to make James Comey one of his “people” when he asked him to be “loyal,” and later, when he suggested that Comey drop the investigation of Flynn.  He simply has no concept that he does not wield such power from that office.  I find it very disturbing and hugely unsettling to think he has such a weak grasp of how our government is run – and even more disturbing – that he has such little respect for the process.

Kudos to our Senate Committee today for proving that you can reach across the aisle and come together when a threat exists against America.  Comey went to great lengths today to express his feelings for our country and to issue a warning that there should be no “fuzz” in that the Russians meddled in our election process – and that they will do so again.  This is a bell I have tried to ring many times in my blogs.  We need to learn how to be stronger, better and smarter than those that threaten our freedom.

So, thank you, Mr. Comey, for putting your reputation at risk, for being willing to sacrifice your job, for your service to our country, and for telling the truth.  Thank you for loving America that much.


And It’s Only Tuesday …

To our British friends, we send our deepest sympathies on the recent attack in London – but we also send our admiration of your choice to carry on with life and normal activities after such a horrific and senseless event.  It stands as a testament to your resolve, strength, solidarity and belief in one another.  We could use a little more of that over here on this side of the pond.

We also send our admiration to your Mayor Sadiq Khan for his calm leadership in the deepest moments of the crisis and for his crystal-clear responses to Trump’s heartless tweets.  Perhaps Trump just has a problem with the name “Khan,” remembering the Gold Star family Khizr and Ghazala Kahn, parents of the late Humayun Khan, who lost his life in defense of the United States to a suicide bomber in Baqubah, Iraq in 2004.  Trump went out of his way to insult them, too, as he did with Mayor Khan.

Trump said in the wake of the attack on London that we should all be “smart, vigilant and tough.”  I find those to be brave words coming from someone who is none of those things.  A speech writer or press person’s contribution – no doubt.

I think Al Gore’s response on CNN really said it best – “I don’t think a terrorist attack like this is the time to be divisive and criticize a mayor who’s trying to organize his city’s response to the attack.  The terrorists want us to live in a state of constant fear.”  I would urge you to re-read that last sentence again.  It seems like Trump wants us to live in a constant state of turmoil – a word not far from “fear.”  I’ll leave that thought to stand on its own for now.

As you may know, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have collectively elected to break off relations with Qatar whom they accuse of funding terrorism in the region.  This break in relations is a highly political and diplomatic effort to convey their sentiments on the subject.  Just as Kuwait was attempting to step in and mediate the issue for both sides, Trump tweets, “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off.”  There he goes again, pushing himself in front of another diplomat (in this case, a King) to be in the center of the picture – just like he unashamedly did on his recent trip to the Middle East.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – or I should say Washington – our government was in the midst of preparing a balanced, tasteful and well-thought-out strategic response to this development in the Middle East when Trump’s tweet hit the press. When are they going to get it that this is a man who would do his own in, if it served him?  What you do have instead is an unbriefed leader of the free world fanning the smoldering embers in a region that is deeply and passionately divided in their thoughts, ideologies and religions.

And, finally, the inevitable question has been raised:  If Qatar indeed is supporting these acts of terrorism around the world, then why does the US have one of its largest overseas bases, Al Udeid Air Base, in Qatar?” Um, can you say for having a presence — a stabilizing influence — in the region?  Oh, what?  Did we just insult our host nation?

Which begs my final thought:  Can someone please brief the President before his little fingers push the little buttons on his little phone again, leaving a wake of diplomatic debris behind him?

And a special note to all those Trump Fans out there in case you think this is another “overly-critical” analysis of the President’s actions, bear in mind, it is he who chooses to pick up the phone to use the much-criticized media to spread his tweets around the world.  Believe me, we are far from encouraging him to do so.

Coming Up Next:  A Thursday With James Comey / The Russia Connection

A Tribute

As I sit this Memorial weekend, remembering those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom, I think of Arlington Cemetery and its 400,000 graves – flags wavering in the wind at each site.  I also think of the long, winding black wall that commemorates the 58,220 who gave their lives in Vietnam so many years ago.

Those of you who have read Esperance, our first (co-written) book, know that the story centers around a Naval Captain who commanded the U.S.S. Boise, a Brooklyn Class light-cruiser that was in service during World War II.  We spent 7 years doing the research for this story and, as we documented our facts, we felt compelled to remain true to the history of this ship and its involvement during World War II.  While all of our characters are fictitious, we strived to captured the honor, pride and dedication we felt these men had at the time of their service.

In October of 1942, the Boise took her position alongside 9 other ships that made up Task Force 64, just off the Solomon Islands in South Pacific.  The Japanese had been sighted making runs up and down what was commonly called “The Slot” (an area running through the Solomon Islands) redeploying ground troops and dropping off fresh supplies on a nightly basis.  They called these runs “The Tokyo Express” and they were a real thorn in the Allies’ side.  Task Force 64 was sent to disrupt and destroy the shipping lanes.

The battle engaged in a place just off the Cape of Esperance, near Savo Island.  It was a brutal, bloody battle that left the Boise taking 9 direct hits, resulting in a 10-foot hole in her side — 9 feet below the water line — and the loss of [gun] turrets #1 and #2, along with the men who manned them.  But in spite of her damage, the Boise got her licks — in 27 minutes, she and her crew had sunk 6 Japanese ships.  107 men aboard the Boise had given their lives that night in the service of their command and their ship.

The ship was so badly damaged that it had dropped out of the firing line of the Task Force and attended to its first priority – to remain afloat.  While urgent repairs and other acts of improvisation were put into place, she drifted away from the Task Force and for some time was considered lost at sea.  She eventually made her way to New Caledonia for much-needed repairs.  While not all bodies were recovered, she did stop en route to bury 65 sailors at sea, before resuming her trek.  Once there, the sailors that had been interred in Turrets #1 and #2 – all 42 of them – were buried in New Caledonia.

I leave you this Memorial weekend with the words Captain McCullough spoke at New Caledonia, as they should resonate in each of us even today:

“There is no greater price – or higher honor – than that this fine crew displayed on the night of October 11-12, 1942.  We know that – we were there.  But for those that come after us, they will not know or understand the meaning of this sacrifice.  I cannot think of a more fitting legacy for these fine men, than to entrust each of you with this story and the responsibility of carrying it forward in helping those that follow us understand the magnitude of their courage, strength and selfless devotion to their shipmates and, indeed, to the United States Navy.  God rest their souls.”


 [Esperance, ©2011]




Beginning A New Chapter

Yeah, I know — radio silence lately.

As many of you know, I have worked for many years in the legal community — in fact, my first job was in 1968 — for you trivia folks, that was the year before Woodstock.  Our world was shaped a great deal different then.  There was the war in Vietnam; protests all over the country and violence shown at Kent State where innocent students were gunned down by the National Guard.  It was a tumultuous time.  But in business, our beacon was straight in front of us — the client.  Everything began and ended with the client.  They were the sole reason we were there and we were crystal-clear on what our purpose was.  People for the most part were honest.  We performed the work — they paid the bills.

Fast forward to today, May of 2017.  Today in the legal world (and I suspect we are not the only field in which this is true) — a higher purpose has come into focus — and one that clearly drives the train.  It’s not about the client anymore — it’s all about the money.  I have always been proud of my profession, but not-so-much anymore.  The greed of a few in corporate offices far away have eclipsed our purposes, hobbled our talent, and have clearly left the client behind.

So, with that being said, I now speak to you from a retired standpoint — and I’m good with that.  I’m looking forward to new beginnings … fresh new thoughts … and great ideas for my books to come.

For our friends in Israel, let me apologize in advance for our President <sigh>.

For everyone else — until we meet again …

Shalom  … Peace be with you.

Easter — Thoughts of Peace

Easter Sunday with the family.  We enjoyed a good meal and were good company for each other.  Thoughtful.  Caring.  Sharing.  That was how I was brought up. And if I ever forgot that, I have 20-something cousins that would surely bring me back to reality in a heartbeat.  You know, I like that about family.  We all were taught to be sensitive and thoughtful about each other.  And, above all, to take care of each other.   There’s not a lot of that in the world today.

Well, today’s headlines clearly aren’t for the faint of heart.

Kim Jong Un is like a defiant two-year old who’s missed his nap and is becoming angrier as we speak.

President Trump — who did the right thing by responding to Bashar al-Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack against his own countrymen, women and children — apparently felt so empowered by that move that he decided to drop the “Mother of  All Bombs” in Afghanistan.  Be careful, Mr. President.  All that power can easily go to one’s head.

Trump is still looking for a win — and it is becoming more desperate as the days go on.  Be careful, sir, that little men like the petulant Kim Jong Un doesn’t end up playing you.

It’s too bad, Mr. President, that you don’t have a family like I do and, like a lot of people around the world do.  You know, the ones who will step out and right your sails for you .. because they care … and at the same time, in an ever-so-humble way, point out what could have been done better.  A moral compass, you might say.  We all need that for each other .. related or not.  We are all in this together.

May peace be with you and your family this Easter Sunday … from my heart to yours …. shalom.

A Line In The Sand

Of course I’m going to talk about it.  How could you not? That would be like not talking about the elephant in the room, right?  So, let’s get to it …

On Thursday, President Trump stepped away from his normal demeanor, perhaps at the urging of his military strategists, and concluded two days’ worth of discussion concerning Syria’s unconscionable use of chemical weapons against their own citizens by sanctioning a limited airstrike in Syria.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bashar al-Assad gave a nod to this military action.  He’s tired of the war.  He’s running out of money and running out of resources.  He sees the war as an obstacle to a life of wealth that could be attributed to Syria’s vast oil reserves.  Syria is, after all, the only significant oil-producing country in the Eastern Mediterranean region (which is Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories).  And with that wealth, of course, comes power — perhaps even a seat at the world table.  But, first, he must end the relentless, entrenched ground fighting that has paralyzed his country for six years.  And it’s complicated.  As of January this year, his government held 34% of Syria, ISIL held 33%, the Syrian Democratic Forces held 20% and 13% was held by rebel forces.  Talking wasn’t getting it done.  Brut force wasn’t getting it done, either.  But chemical weapons?  The perfect way to obliterate all and begin again. A shortcut, you might say.

But he didn’t count on America’s response — America’s very calculated response. We didn’t go after personnel — to the contrary, we gave Russia a big head’s up, enough so that they could extradite their personnel and aircraft.  And you can bet that Russia gave al-Assad the head’s up, as well.  We were counting on that. But what we did go after was their aircraft and reports are that 20 were destroyed.  Syria does have as many as 450 more Russian-made jet fighters, so our success was minimal in the overall picture — but it spoke volumes in its wake.

Should we have stood up and sent a message?  There are legitimate concerns over being sucked into a political war that has no level playing field.  Understood. But when is it that you stand up for innocent victims — not just soldiers who have volunteered to be in harm’s way  — but women and children, as small as babies, that are utterly defenseless in these circumstances?  They are trapped in a life of daily bombing, sniper attacks, lack of adequate food and medical supplies, left behind in a war that they cannot gain from.  How could we not respond?

We did what we had to do — for humanity — no apologies.  This time, it is America that has drawn a line in the sand.


Things Here … and There

Knowing they didn’t have enough support (or even enough of their own party’s support), Paul Ryan and President Trump finally threw in the towel late this week and pulled the health care repeal bill from the floor — and well it should have been.  Screwing 24 million Americans out of health insurance, increasing costs to a segment of the older population who mostly live on fixed incomes, telling mothers that their maternity-related costs would no longer be covered and oh, by the way, did we mention that they could no longer depend on Planned Parenthood for help with reproductive choices, not to mention the exclusion of the pre-existing clause? It should go without saying that only a politician with no conscience whatsoever could stand in front of the American people and propose the passage of such a bill.   And speaking of conscience, while some part of me would like to think it had something to do with the actual outcome here, I suspect that the reality is more likely that the bill’s lack of support had something to do with the fear of losing an upcoming election. <Just saying …>

So, President Trump now moves on to tax reform — which I guaranty you will only benefit the top 1% of earners in America who will see what amounts to an increase of somewhere near a 20% boost to their income, while the rest of the American population would only see a boost of somewhere between 1% and 10% to their income. Does that sound like equality to you?  Forecasters at the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center have predicted that what then-candidate Trump previously proposed during his campaign as his plan for tax reform would add trillions (yes, that was with a “t”) to our deficit.  How long would it take us, as a country, to dig out of that?  And is this what we want to leave to our next generation?  A precedent of inequality and a lifetime of paying off the debt? To the benefit of whom?

And while all eyes appear to be on Washington and our controversial President, be aware that tensions are escalating around the Straight of Hormuz, a Straight only 21 miles across in one area, where one-third of all the oil shipped by sea must pass through.  Politics are very much in play in this region.  Iranian hardliners may be trying to put pressure on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is the subject of an election this May.  As I have mentioned in my blog before, these hardliners are thought to be behind many of the ever-increasing provocative actions that have been carried out against U.S. and other vessels as they enter and pass through the Straight in international waters.  Previously, President Trump has warned Iran that any challenges to our ships would result in Iranian vessels “being blown out of the water.”  However, just this week, as the USS George H.W. Bush passed through the Straight, Iranian vessels appeared yet again — all weapons armed — and came within 940 feet of our carrier while our armed sailors stood at the ready.

For the sake of many nations, let us hope that we are not provoked into being the catalyst that throws gas on what appears to be already-glowing embers — in a very volatile region.

Shalom, my friends.  Stay vigilant.  And speak loudly – with One Voice.

Our Voice

Once upon a time … long, long ago …. America had but one voice — whether we faced outwardly — toward the world stage in alliance with our neighbors and friends — or whether we faced an internal challenge among our own countrymen.

It was a voice that was truthful, measured and compassionate, and yet firm in its conviction.  Most of all, it was all-encompassing.  No one was excluded.  No one was left out. Democracy is about strength — and it’s about courage.  And it’s about having guts.

Since the era of George Washington, we chose one person to speak and be that voice for us … even when we didn’t agree … because, after all, we were one, with one collective voice.  It was important that we faced our allies with strength and understanding and were able and willing to lend a helping hand.  To those who were adverse to us, we offered to listen.  We offered to negotiate our differences.

On that very foundation, we began to shape our collective identity as Americans. Able to rise, ready to roll up our sleeves every morning, and get our jobs done.

Since January, we have seen and experienced divisiveness, deception, turmoil and near-chaos from our President and and his so-called administration.  The very fabric of our country — our beliefs, goals and ideals — are systematically being dismantled — each one held up like a trophy before being gleefully shattered on the ground before our very eyes.

It makes me sad and it makes me mad.  I am one of those people who have for more years than I care to share, gotten up every morning and put my best foot forward.  “Not On My Watch” has always been my motto.  And, believe me, I know there are plenty of us out there — currently working or not — that gladly contributed to that great fabric and provided some of the strength behind that great voice we have.  I am angry that our President and his self-serving, billionaire Wall Street appointees have such little respect for what we contributed — and in some cases, what we continue to contribute — every day.

And for those great, self-less men and women of America, who put their husband or wives, families and careers on hold while they served our country — what an affront to those people!  Do they not know that thousands upon thousands of people have died protecting that fabric — that belief system?  What more could a country ask?

I feel as though I need to write a letter of apology to Japan, who was the first to extend its hand in friendship to this nightmare of an administration.  And to China who has generously offered to mediate in relations regarding North Korea. To Germany for being willing to meet our President in spite of her personally being the subject of his hostile, tweeting rants in the past.  And to Great Britain, whom we just outright insulted because our President just makes things up because it might make a good headline and it’s always a good diversionary tactic.

Yes, we do have to ride this ugly, old, bumpy, paint-peeling, wheels-falling-off wagon until the bitter end for whatever the future holds for our country.  It is what it is.

But if you have the opportunity to speak out — to add your voice to ours — speak out loudly with strength and conviction.  Let us all be The Voice that doesn’t stop speaking about truth <a concept our President has yet to acknowledge>, our compassion and lack of sectarianism <obviously towards a religion that scares the Be-Jesus out of him>, and our American honor <instead of proving to the world that he has none and never will have>.

Yes, please join Our Voice — the Voice of America — who speaks the truth — even in the darkest of days.  Our Voice can be the beacon of what’s right with America.

Shalom …