Seventy-five tomorrow

Hmm, don’t know where that came from for a working title. This is just a diary of a long, hot day, but somewhat positive in that I refocused my blurry mind and aching tired body toward eating well and exercising from the getgo this morning and experienced a remarkable turn around in how I feel nearly 11 p.m. this evening. I have been feeling awful for weeks now, with very high blood sugar postings in the 200 and 300s and higher. Yet continuing to eat bad food, lots of breads, pasta, rice, sweets, cookies, biscotti, you name it. I have always tended to indulge myself with little provocation — a full moon, my birthday month, week, day, special year, holidays, whatever small hook to place a holiday from wisdom or even sensibility.

I have been feeling awful and the reason is simple. My blood sugar is out of control because my diet has been crap. Eating well for three meals today, starting with a two hour nap after breakfast of a banana, V8 can and a hard boiled egg, with insulin, and later a solid veggie salad lunch at Kaiser, with insulin, and followed up by driving to Sonoma — no tiredness, no nodding off. Amazing

Also took a timed 20-minute walk up the canyon before breakfast. 10 minutes got me to the General.e

BS at 85 before heading to Roses for shamefully good birthday dinner: lamb bbq, ratatoulle, garden tomatoes, artichoke with sauce — all fresh, mostly Rose’s garden, followed by Beverly’s special crushed pineapple upside down cake (two good size servings and the rest safely (so far) shut in the car outside.

Bought $120 of good food at Olivers — no bread, lotsa veggies.

OK — 11:01, test and shoot … 218 from the cake and cup of coffee I had an hour ago with cream and sugar. Taking 40 units nighttime insulin. bet BS is fine in the morning.

The adventure

Plus $1,000 check.

This spilled out of a very old, chewed up manila folder in a mouse infested file cabinet I was cleaning out this weekend. I’d forgotten completely about borrowing a thousand dollars to buy a truck to haul wood and country-boy stuff from Sonoma County to San Francisco after the 1940 Chevy Special Deluxe died on me. The truck was a powder blue, 1964 Chevy C/K long bed with a 293 cu. in. inline six and three-speed transmission. Absolutely nothing fancy about it; it had been a working truck for a carpenter; not abused but not pristine by any means.

Stock image. Mine was considerably less attractive, though in good shape.

The money was paid back, and the truck was thoroughly enjoyed for the ten years I used it, and while looking online to find a picture of one like it, I was floored to find a fully restored version could sell for over $20,000 in 2019.

The note evoked a strong feeling for my mother for the Grand Adventure she — and my father — set our family on. I only recently have sensed just how much of an extraordinary adventure my life has been and continues to be, and a fairly wonderful one at that. No life is without darkness and miasma; but on the whole, mine has been full of light, laughter, beautiful days of sun and rain and fog and snow and twilights and dawns …

My Dad, Adventurer

Col. Jay F. Gamel — not yet a Senior — was posted to the 10th Army Air Corps in the China-India-Burma theater, sometime in late 1943 or early 1944. He was in Burma when I was born in August of 1944, so that dates my conception using Kentucky windage to somewhere around Thanksgiving in 1943. He served under Mountbatten and Stilwell and told stories about both of them. I’ve since harbored romantic notions of the the war — WWII — in China and Burma.

I grew up listening to tales of planes full of medical supplies headed for both Chang Kai Chek’s Kuomintang and, eventually, Chou En Lai and Mao’s Communists, being shot at by Japanese, crews freezing to death at altitudes over 15,000 feet, balky and badly designed new air frames disintegrating mid-flight. Dad had the ribbons to back up those stories. He once told of being berated for not carrying a side arm in forward areas. Having finally secured a 1911 Colt .45, he managed to bag a tiger that was marauding the local chickens while sitting in a latrine. These stories electrified my pre-pubescent brain, let me tell you. A frequent visitor to our dining room was Johnny *** a survivor of Bataan whose emaciated body never recovered, a living, breathing example of what Hollywood movies would never portray, lest audiences be repulsed by the reality of war. His impact on me lasts to this day.

Dad earned medals for feats and service, flying The Hump over the Himalayas in cranky new C-46s, as Chief Surgeon of the 10th Air Force — a Command Flight Surgeon — staffing advanced medical facilities for Vinegar Joe’s ill-fated though often glorified sortie into Burma. I’m reading Barbara Tuchman’s Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911-1945, a work that earned her second Pulitzer Prize. The book puts some real-time perspective and insights into the enormous egos at loggerheads in this thoroughly misunderstood and murky theater of war. With nearly 75 years of perspective, some of the fog has been lifted, though the monumental national polities remain locked into eternal conflict over how best to enrich their owners and continue to cloud insight and reason to further their aims.

My Mother, Adventurer

Mother shopping in london 1950
Jayne Doris Gamel, Sr., and friend shopping in London, 1950

Mom was one of two girls left fatherless at a fairly early age, raised by a none-too-hardheaded, opera trained, southern belle, with ‘notions.’ Let me be clear here; Jayne Doris Estes was a beauty and given to no little drama to fill her days and hours. That I know from personal experience. I have come to doubt much of what I heard from her and learned from her sister and mother, but what I know for certain is that she loved life, her children, her husband for all his martial ways, and being on the grand adventure she chose, an adventure that led her to England and France, a life in mansions with many servants, married to a diplomat/officer serving in the murky regions of American policy making (at times) in the capitals of England and France. And, boy, did they have a time of it.

What she said: She graduated a fine girls school at 16, went on to read law but never obtained a degree. There were some other stories I do not know about (talk to sisters), but she headed to Hollywood in 1932 or so, with a stop in Carmel where she made silver jewelry in a swimming pool and played tennis with a young Pancho Gonzales (though that is patently impossible, since he was born in 1928 – though she may have met him later. What do I know; I was a kid when I heard this stuff.) She married an Army General, Fred Gardner, a doctor whose wealthy mother convinced him never to have children (short version). Mother divorced him, met my father (though the order of these events was never clear), and they were married in 1939, honeymooning at the Ahwanee in Yosemite.

There’s a whole lot more, but that can wait. What’s clear is that I came by my adventurous nature legitimately and have carried on a family tradition with abandon and joy. I no longer have to be frustrated, confused or sad about not having decided to “settle down” or any of that other nonsense people spout to justify becoming fossilized by forty. I yam what I yam, and that’s a fact.

9/11

An awesome day to contemplate, though to tell the truth, I didn’t think about it much until tonight. My little sister, Janet, woke me up with a phone call and said, “Turn on your TV, now.” I tuned in just in time to watch the second tower hit and remained glued to the tube the rest of the day. It was Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and a few other national disasters all over again, with the same, mind killing lack of information, perspective and grasp heaped in vast quantities over my captured attention riveted to the tube — which I no longer watch.

The attack was overwhelming in it’s completeness and savagery, sophistication and sheer genius. My country, the biggest and bestest, was totally unprepared, reacted poorly, and lurched into the unknown future without leadership or accountability. Eighteen years later, I don’t feel one bit safer or better prepared to cope with the world’s dangers than I did on 9/12/01. It’s worse, if anything.

The leadership was bad then and it’s worse now. The conditions on the planet are far worse than they were then: climate, population, wealth mis-distribution, health, failing education, and a never ending list of ‘things’ that can’t be done because of our mismanaged money and human capital.

I’m older and more cynical, to be sure, but I don’t think I’m wrong in my assessment of where we are today. The very wealthy still own and run everything — from China to Luxembourg — for their own selfish and greedy desires — and have even more of it than 2001. There are nearly a billion more people to feed. The oceans and atmosphere are dying from man-made pollution. There is no cohesive movement on the planet that can physically address any of it. Violence — individual more than collective — is increasing daily with no hope of diminishing. Stability of any sort is ever less probable in any part of our daily lives.

As Pogo said to Porkypine,

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/49/Pogo_-_Earth_Day_1971_poster.jpg

I’m almost embarrassed to be writing about a TV show, but I am hooked on Game of Thrones and consider it to be a remarkable piece of storytelling in an almost mythic sense. The TV show became much more than the novels through some very strange congruences of people and money and timing. The show itself reflected it’s structure, coming together at a time of tumult and confusion in the public body concerning leadership, religion, fate and a rapidly changing physical reality.

I wander. While I have absolutely no idea what will happen next week, I’m having a lot of fun working through some alternate scenarios that could happen, however unlikely.  At least they could if I were writing the show. My favorite is that all the power mad rulers, wannabe rulers, minions and sycophants manage to weaken themselves enough that the long suffering serfs rise up and slaughter them all, declare a nonarchy and agree to go home, raise vegetables, animals, and children and never, ever follow blood mad idiots again. I’d like that world.

My next favorite would be the missing fire god to pop out of nowhere and toast every man, woman and child on the planet for no reason other than it’s an irritable sort of fellow having a bad day. It moves on, leaving the planet cleansed of erstwhile intelligence.

Less imaginary (within the bounds of the show’s structure), there are only a few possibilities: Dany takes over with her soldiers and the cycle starts over with a new mad Targaryan on the throne — let’s hear it for gender equality, and a diminished, presumably non-propagating dragon in reserve which will probably  eat every ruminant in the kingdom over the coming years.

The kind hearted diminutive Lannister could take over after the young Arya Stark knocks off Dany and her leaderless minions melt away into the ocean from whence they arrived. Or maybe Tyrion does Dany in and Arya takes over. Yawn. No way no how is any sympathetic character gonna win in this game.

My money is on — something most of us won’t see coming, something that doesn’t quite finish off the show, with the makings of a sequel buried in it. I’m a certified cynic when it comes to big money making enterprises being willfully abandoned. If not a sequel, certainly a remake. Or half a dozen storyline spinoffs, or some sitcoms and cartoons … even so, these folks have made “different” pretty amazing.

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SDC negotiations in a tizzy


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Politics on Tap
I’ve decided it’s OK to talk about the bigger world of my work as a journalist for the Kenwood Press and explore the land I live in as it’s being tossed about — or at least just under a thousand acres of state owned land now being abandoned. The former drooling ward Jack London cast his wry eye upon a century ago is to fade into the sunset, leaving a couple of hundred dilapidated buildings scattered over two hundred acres, with the rest of the land allocated to deer, bobcats, raccoons, birds and wandering neighbors. This jumps you into the middle of the fray. Read my articles at kenwoodpress.com over the past few years to catch up.
An Oct. 28 bulletin from the Glen Ellen Forum noted that, “The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has shelved its agenda item on SDC for the time being. The process continues to be dynamic and fluid. Rather than bombard you with alerts, we invite you to stay up to date on developments by checking the supervisors’ agenda, visiting TransformSDC, EldridgeForAll, or sending an email to eldridgeforall@gmail.com.”
First District Supervisor Susan Gorin has led negotiations with the State of California since the Sonoma Developmental Center’s (SDC) closure was announced in 2015, advocating for patient safety during the closure process and for local control over the ultimate disposition of the extensive property. Word is the county’s four other supervisors are in no rush to take responsibility for the Sonoma Developmental Center property and buildings, which has thrown the ongoing negotiations between the county and state into some confusion. The county’s negotiating team flatly rejected an earlier offer from the State Department of General Service to hand over the land and buildings with no promises of future funding.
“The county and state are in close conversations on a path forward,” Gorin said on Monday, Oct. 29, “and we need more time to work on several issues that involve multiple parties. This will most likely come back to the Board of Supervisors in open session in December.”
At the local level, the potential liability for the dilapidated buildings and extensive open spaces may be more than the county can chew, especially considering the current state of post-fire finances, and the current slate of issues, including marijuana ordinances, road conditions, health issues and a raft of other pressing problems. It costs money to allocate staff time to the negotiation process, with $150,000 already set aside for it.
On the Legislative side of the SDC’s future are a new governor and a lot of new faces in the Senate and Assembly who will have to agree to whatever is worked out by Sonoma’s representatives, Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, along with Assembly members Jim Wood and Cecilia Aguierra-Curry.
Supervisors David Rabbit, James Gore, Lynda Hopkins and Shirlee Zane have all heard from the groups working to have the SDC’s open spaces become parkland and its many problematical buildings put to locally approved purposes.
They will hear more at a December public hearing when it is scheduled.

Lies and guilt — a family tradition

“But, please, you can’t tell mom!”
Or, sister brother dad daughter cousin cat.
Or all hell will break loose. The family will disintegrate, a person will be devastated, a relationship will dissolve, etc. The delicate balance of lies and guilt that ties the group together will come crashing down with momentous consequences.

Who hasn’t been party to one of these insider conversations, where dark secrets shared with some are shared with another because bearing them has become to great a burden. A burden now passed on to the newly ordained Keeper of the Secret.

Group dynamics — particularly family dynamics — often sort themselves out on who knows what. Select sharing of information creates an immediate subset of insiders and outsiders, and fractures the concept of group in the process. Mom and dad know stuff the kids don’t. Mom tells the oldest things that can’t be told to the young’uns. Parents vs children, Parents and oldest vs youngest, everybody vs the baby, mom and her sister against … the branches fork infinitely and with lightning speed.

While there are good reasons to delay communications: parents to kids, grandparents to grandkids, etc., there’s no reason to put it off beyond what is necessary — a personal call to be sure, but a CALL that eventually needs to be made.

It’s not meant to be antagonistic, but the consequences are inevitable. Once secrets are formed and shared, access is a currency, a bond and a weakness all in one. A secret has some of the feel of a valuable object: it’s heavy, and if you have it and someone else doesn’t, someone who probably would care about knowing, it’s like gold. If you cut it up and give it to everybody, it’s worthless. Regardless of the intrinsic value of the secret, the nature of it confers the gravitas.

Trust is the given currency of family. They are accorded the full level upon recognition of the concept. Life is a subtractive process for trust. You start out with 100 percent and wind up losing it, bit by bit, secret by secret, lie by lie, guilt by guilt.

Secrets are a great precursor to lying. In tight groups where communication occurs often and rapidly, having to avoid the subject of the secret often leads to misdirection and obfuscation in communications, conditions which themselves often give rise to suspicion and doubt. People who know each other well quickly detect deflection and evasion.

Well, some do.

Guilt arises when we are less than honest and forthcoming with people we expect to be that way with us. Short of being a complete sociopath, people acknowledge fairness as a semi-universal doctrine. “Do unto others …” and are quite aware — guilty — when they fail to live up to this all too basic standard of conduct. Bad enough with strangers; lying is intolerable within family.

Anxiety creeps in when our lies and evasions compound, as time is wont to bring about. Who can remember last month’s evasion? Oops, sometimes people do and we are trapped — hoist on our own petards — and consequences come into play.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave …” is a platitude for a reason. It’s so true.

Life is gray, not chiaroscuro as the moralists would have it. Judgment is needed all the time. The day your brother’s cat is run over may not be the best time to tell him his best friend screwed his wife before she was his ex. Or, maybe it’s a great time … take his mind off the cat. You may never have occasion to share that secret. But in the long run, understanding reality is the clearsest way to learn how to grasp life, understand ourselves and deal with consequences in a rational manner. Why would anyone deny that to someone they profess to love or care for?

There’s more than a hint of superciliousness about making a decision over who needs to know what when.

Deciding to exclude some but share with a limited group is a comment on what you think of those who are excluded. It is using your personal star chamber to place distance and judgment from those excluded. How can this not lead to guilt and anxiety if you continue to relate to the excluded group? Or suspicion and estrangement once the whiff of exclusion is perceived?

In the bathtub

From my earliest memories, I always liked being in a warm bath. I can’t even begin to plumb that earliest memory, but I do have a sharp one ready for the word forge. It was adolescence, 13 I think, and just having been pulled out of my four-year reverie in Rock Creek Park where I owned the world. We’d moved to Dayton, Ohio, or Wright-Patterson AFB to be more precise, in Fairborn, a few miles East of the fabled midwestern technoburb — home of National Cash Register and other last-century techs. Then, it was the cutting edge of 1957 military technology, home of the Aerospace School of Medicine (my dad’s job) and soon to host a major Strategic Air Command, though not until after I left.

The age of 13 was as disturbing to me as I suppose it was to the rest of us. Confusing enough as a hormonal rite of passage, it was compounded by displacement into a low-brow cultural Gobi. No comics nearby, no wood fortresses just down the hill, no Rock Creek to forage. Just a brand new culture: Junior High School. Perhaps the most terrifying experience on Earth, and far beyond anything the proto-CIA could imagine, in those pre-chemical days.

Aside from a continuing sexual coming of age — I’d experimented a lot in Washington and even earlier — the social drives put me in an intolerable position of having to socialize and being terrified of coping with it. Fairborn Junior High School was a three-story red brick 1910 building that smelled of horses and chalk dust. Just walking in the first day was enormously depressing. I wanted to run away and hide but didn’t have a clue where to do that. The building was dark, the classes boring, and the classmates … strange. Nowhere near culturally diverse or expressive as my fellow inmates in Washington, and speaking idiomatic English I could barely understand.

We lived in a corner duplex in officer territory on the base; the Gamels, next door to the Hamels. The doublet houses were situated akimbo to the entrance to OfficerLand, adjacent to the golf course and a few blocks from the central Officer’s Club complex — indoor and outdoor pools, teen club, gym, steam rooms, and more I don’t even remember. I frequented them all, eventually. Many stories there, too.

Opon moving into the Ohio house, I was given a choice of living space and chose the third-floor attic, complete with bathroom. all with gabled ceilings, like the Paris attic I would inhabit many years later for a few months. Offered the heady choice of choosing colors for my digs, I picked midnight blue for the bedroom and lobster red for the bathroom, just to be adult and daring. To their everlasting credit, my parents let me do it, though I’ll never know if dad even checked in on that choice. Once done, it was mine, all mine. No one else in the family ever even wanted to come up there.

Those rooms were special in many ways. I’d been given my own room in DC after Dorothy left to get married, but that dispensation was driven more by the need to get me out of my sisters’ sleeping quarters as puberty knocked on my chubby carcass. Ohio was different. This was MY territory. I furnished it, arranged it and was free to indulge my solipsistic ways without fear of discovery or censure. It was mine.

I was a nerd before the class was invented. That’s a favorite conceit of mine. Truth told, all us geeks were being forged from fragile clay in the 1950s by dozens of science fiction writers, Popular Mechanics, Life and the Saturday Evening Post, all of which I devoured — ahem, voraciously. (Yes, I know today that the trend began in the 1880s with Verne, etc.) I started down this path in DC after I checked out my first book ever from the Chevy Chase Library at age 9. It was Robert Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, and I was hooked for life. Name any science fiction author publishing from 1936 to 1959 and I read almost everything they published, via Ace, Bantam, and every other pulp publisher who distributed to drug store book racks where I’d spend my $.35 every Saturday after the movie.

I remember this period well — it was DC — because I shifted from buying comics to books and had a really hard time deciding where to spend my very limited funds. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I had between $.50 and $1 to spend any given Saturday. I was a rich white kid. I could buy more than I could read in the next week, or at least read without seriously compromising my public life. Which I did more often than not. Which explains my grades.

Oh, about the warm bath … I’m in Ohio, just moved into my new, private digs in the attic of the corner duplex, listening to F101’s  firing up about 300 yards away to scramble aloft every morning to save us from Russian nuclear incursions (still haven’t connected those dots). My lobster red bathroom had a five-foot long clawfoot iron tub with an endless supply of hot water at the beck and call of my left foot where I could abandon all reality for as long as I wanted. Nobody cared when I disappeared. I’d been doing it for years in DC, leaving the house after breakfast on non-school days and not coming back until dinnertime. Just so long as nobody got nervous and called out the cops, I was good to be gone. This worked really well in Ohio. In DC, when I languished in the tub, 17 people would beat on the door after a half hour spent with my beloved kitchen pots and pans and tiny plastic submarines … Ohio was paradise!

I remember reading A.E. van Vogt’s Weapons Shops of Isher, Heinlein’s Door into Summer, and just about everything Andre Norton put between covers in those years. And those are just the clear memories. Just writing about it is bringing back a flood of memories of characters, plots, planets, all entwined with the smells of steamy pulp paper and my scent wafting out of the water. Powerful stuff those olfactory remonstrances.

Still prisoners of the Saudis – The Press Democrat

Still prisoners of the Saudis – The Press Democrat

Dealing with the Saudi’s has long been a sore point with me. After 911, George Bush had to hide the royals, including bin Laden’s relatives, at his parent’s ranch until they could be whisked out of the country. They have played a masterful game with the U.S. and Britain from the beginning, girding their loins with Wahabbist and Salafi extremists who would be the only likely successor to the eminently dictatorial and backwards regime, an unacceptable alternative to the West and viable insurance against western interference with anything they want to do.

Management or marketing?

This is strictly from the hip, reading a story in the Sonoma Index-Tribune on management/professional difficulties at the city’s new Community Health Center.

It seems the top three mental health professionals at the Center, two doctors and a family therapist were “let go” — ostensibly because they weren’t complying with new electronic record requirements. All three claim the head of the center is autocratic and unbearable to work with. The administrator has the favor of the Board of Directors and points to the Center’s ratings:

“If one were to ask the United States Department of Health and Human Services, however, fears about quality of care might be calmed. On Dec. 16, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that the Health Center was the recipient of more than $46,000 in Affordable Care Act grant funds, rewarded for quality and improvement in care in the 2012-13 year.

“Health and Human Services named the Health Center among the top 10 health centers in California for “quality” – noting that it exceeded national clinical benchmarks for chronic-disease management, preventative care and pre- and post-natal care. The Health Center was also named among the nation’s biggest “improvers” in patient health.”
“The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center was founded in 1992 by Cynthia Solomon and Heidi Stovall, with a mission to provide health care for the Valley’s uninsured and underserved residents – many are agricultural workers and their families, non-English speakers, and low-income residents including the homeless.
“Its importance to those it serves would be difficult to overstate. According to svchc.org, Sonoma Valley is a federally designated Medically Underserved Population and a Health Professional Shortage Area.”

But interviews with some patients in the story found there was poor follow up in assigning new therapists and indications that the clinic is not running as smoothly as Washington thinks. There does not seem to have been a direct audit of the facility by the Federal bureaucrats, simply paperwork evaluation.
Of interest is that the Center received NO grants in the area of electronic records.
On the surface, it looks to me like the administrator is someone adept at obtaining Federal and State money, something the Board obviously appreciates, and the story itself equates size of grants to quality of care and notes the Federal evaluation is based on achieving “benchmarks” which is government speak for having the right boxes checked off on the paperwork. Tending to the sticky details of actual patient care may not be the administrator’s strong suit. While the grant paperwork may be immaculate, the day-to-day administration is definitely chaotic at the Sonoma-Valley Community Health Center.
That autocrats tend to be dismissive of knowledgeable underlings who question their fantasy paperwork to superiors does not require an exhaustive study.
I suspect another triumph of marketing over mission.

The Arab/Islam community needs to step up and the Saudi’s are at the bottom of the spread of intolerant Wahabbism. This appeared in the New York Times this morning.

The giant protest the world needs to see


P
resident Barack Obama was criticized for failing to attend, or send a proper surrogate to, the giant anti-terrorism march in Paris on Sunday. That criticism was right. But it is typical of American politics that we focus on this and not what would have really made the world feel the jihadist threat was finally being confronted. And that would not be a march that our president helps to lead, but one in which he’s not involved at all. That would be a million-person march against the jihadists across the Arab-Muslim world, organized by Arabs and Muslims for Arabs and Muslims, without anyone in the West asking for it — not just because of what happened in Paris but because of the scores of Muslims recently murdered by jihadists in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria and Syria.

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, one of the most respected Arab journalists, wrote Monday in his column in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: “Protests against the recent terrorist attacks in France should have been held in Muslim capitals, rather than Paris, because, in this case, it is Muslims who are involved in this crisis and stand accused. … The story of extremism begins in Muslim societies, and it is with their support and silence that extremism has grown into terrorism that is harming people. It is of no value that the French people, who are the victims here, take to the streets. … What is required here is for Muslim communities to disown the Paris crime and Islamic extremism in general.” The truth is there is a huge amount of ambivalence toward this whole jihadist phenomenon — more than any of us would like to believe — in the Arab-Muslim world, Europe and America. This ambivalence starts in the Muslim community, where there is a deep cleavage over what constitutes authentic Islam today. We fool ourselves when we tell Muslims what “real Islam” is. Because Islam has no Vatican, no single source of religious authority, there are many Islams today. The puritanical Wahhabi/Salafi/jihadist strain is one of them, and it has more support than we want to believe.

Ambivalence runs through Europe today on the question of what a country should demand of new Muslim immigrants by way of adopting its values. Is Stratfor’s George Friedman right when he argues that Europeans adopted multiculturalism precisely because they didn’t really want to absorb their Muslim immigrants, and many of those Muslim immigrants, who went to Europe to find a job, not a new identity, didn’t want to be absorbed? If so, that spells trouble.

Ambivalence runs through Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia. Ever since jihadists took over Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca in 1979, proclaiming that Saudi Arabia’s rulers were not pious enough, Saudi Arabia has redoubled its commitment to Wahhabi or Salafist Islam — the most puritanical, anti-pluralistic and anti-women version of that faith. This Saudi right turn — combined with oil revenues used to build Wahhabi-inspired mosques, websites and madrassas — has tilted the entire Sunni community. Look at a picture of female graduates of Cairo University in 1950. Few are wearing veils. Look at them today. Many are wearing veils. The open, soft, embracing Islam that defined Egypt for centuries — pray five times a day but wash it down with a beer at night — has been hardened by this Wahhabi wind from Arabia.

But U.S. presidents never confront Saudi Arabia about this because of our oil addiction. As I’ve said, addicts never tell the truth to their pushers. The Saudi government opposes the jihadists. Unfortunately, though, it’s a very short step from Wahhabi Islam to the violent jihadism practiced by the Islamic State. The French terrorists were born in France but were marinated in Wahhabi-Salafi thought through the Web and local mosques — not Voltaire.

Also, the other civil war in Islam — between Sunnis and Shiites — has led many mainstream Sunni charities, mosques and regimes to support jihadist groups because they’re ferocious fighters against Shiites. Finally — yet more ambivalence — for 60 years there was a tacit alliance between Arab dictators and their Sunni religious clergy. The regimes funded these uninspired Muslim clerics, and these clergy blessed the uninspired dictators — and both stifled the emergence of any authentic, inspired, reformist Islam that could take on Wahhabism-Salafism, even though many Muslims wanted it. An authentic reformation requires a free space in the Arab-Muslim world.

“Muslims need to ‘upgrade their software,’ which is programmed mainly by our schools, television and mosques — especially small mosques that trade in what is forbidden,” Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fandy wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. “There is no choice but to dismantle this system and rebuild it in a way that is compatible with human culture and values.”

In short, jihadist zeal is easy to condemn, but will require multiple revolutions to stem — revolutions that will require a lot of people in the Arab-Muslim world and West to shed their ambivalence and stop playing double games.Thomas Friedman is a columnist for the New York Times.