Thursday, May 26, 2011

R.I.P., Nikki

If you are reading this, you should know that I, Nikki, wrote it. It's my obituary, and I wanted it to be in my words. I passed over today, May 25, at 10:30 in the morning.

I had a terrific life. I came into the world in Lewiston, Idaho, in September, 1994. I was the offspring of a wild barn cat and a tom who was "just passing through." I lived in Uncle Glenn and Aunt Michelle's barn for a few weeks. During that time, Aunt Michelle captured me and began socializing me. I was about three weeks old when my permanent human mother, Betsy, saw me. I was so cute she decided to invite me to live with her and my human father, Terry.

There was only one tiny problem. Uncle Glenn and Aunt Michelle lived in Idaho; Mom and Dad-to-be lived in Ohio. Not a big problem. Uncle Glenn got me a frequent flyer card and delivered me to Ohio just before Christmas.

I loved my new home. My new parents fussed over me (what's not to fuss over with a calico?), gave me a nice house to live in, plenty of toys, lots of good food, and a seemingly endless supplies of mousies in the back yard. I became the mouse killer of the neighborhood.

After a few years, Mom and Dad moved me to Virginia, where I had another nice house and more backyard mousies to eat. We were happy in northern Virginia, until both of my parents got restless and bought some land at Smith Mountain Lake.

They built a house and began taking me to the lake almost every weekend. I had my own traveling condo, a nice cage Dad raised so that I could look outside. Mom says I was a really good traveler. I liked looking out the window, but I liked getting to one of my two houses more. How many cats do you know who have the suburban house AND the country house? Well, I did.

I confess I was ready for my transient life to end. Four years ago it did, when Mom and Dad promised me I wouldn't have to move again. They were almost right. I grew mature and wise on the sunny deck and under my very own miniature Japanese maple tree. I slept in puddles of sunlight on the rug, lay under the Christmas tree and played "find the cat" among the presents, enjoyed drinks of shower water, and many lap naps and pats from my parents. I loved lying on Mom's tummy when she stretched out to read, and I loved lying on Dad's legs at night to watch TV. I didn't like being evicted from tummy and lap with complaints that I was too heavy. I wasn't heavy; I was fluffy.

I declined over the past few months. About three weeks ago, my private friend, Karen, gave Mom a communication from me. I told Karen to tell Mom I was ready to go when I got too frail. She and Dad cried but listened to what I had to say.

Last week, I got really sick, but no one knew it. I got attacked by the bully in the neighboorhood. This mean cat bit me on the shoulder, but I didn't know it. I knew he bit my ear, but no one knew about the shoulder. I grew a large absess that finally broke open this week. I couldn't fight this off, and I didn't want to. I gave Mom and Dad plenty of love the last two days. Then I asked them to help me go into the light, my last move. Today, they did.

Please don't cry for me. I had a great life and left it much loved, with memories no one can take away. I hope Mom and Dad stop crying soon. Eventually, I want them to get another calico. It won't be me, but they have so much love to give any calico who came to live with them would be in Kitty Nirvana.

Good bye, my friends. I had a great life. and I had the last word.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Terrorism after Osama bin Laden

You knew a blog post about bin Laden was coming, if you know me.

Ding, dong, the beast is gone.Terrorism isn't.

Our Seals and the CIA may have taken out the titular leader of Al Qaida, but they didn't take out Al Qaida itself. Networks work differently than hierarchical organizations. It's probably been years since Bin Laden actually planned any activities. We know he planned 9/11, the bombing of several US embassies, and the bombing of the US Cole. He has so many cells around the world it's naive to think taking out the figurehead would take out the network.

It won't.

I see warnings coming from what the Seals did on May 1. First, you can hide, but we will get you. Somewhere, somehow, we will get you. We won't bring you to trial; we will take you out. As George W.Bush said, bin Ladin was "wanted dead or alive." Our team executed a near-perfect mission. They went in, found their man, killed him and brought out his body for confirmation. It was also fitting the Seals and the US Navy buried his body at sea. There will be no martyr memorials where people can trek and pledge further jihad.

Second, we have to be on alert for the next set of attacks. They will come. Too many jihadists and others who hate the United States will continue trying to destroy us. This war on terror has no borders, no fixed battlefields, no end in sight. We can fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the war on terror will be fought anywhere a jihadist or hater of the United States can get his hands on bomb-making materials. We see the small guys all over the place getting arrested and shut down. We see the small guys targeting malls, train stations, large gatherings of people. That's why they call it terrorism. The battle is fought in the shadows, not in the glare of media spotlights. It's fought by children wearing suicide vests, by cowards who strap explosives to women with disabilities, by men on motor scooters who have no problem taking as many lives as possible, dying in the attack.

Another warning. If you are a jihadist or are making headlines promoting violence against the United States and its people, we know who you are, and we will get you. You have targets on your back. We have the stomach to take you out. No warnings. No telling the local government we are coming in. We don't want you warned. We want you dead or neutralized. Make that dead.

There's no room for negotiation here. We don't want to talk about your future. You don't have one. We don't want to offer you life in prison without the possibility of parole. We don't even want you in SuperMax where you will never, ever see sunlight again. We don't want you in Gitmo, outside scrutiny and barely covered by the rule of law. WE. DON'T. WANT. YOU.

You started this war. We will end it.