Heroes and Cowards

As yet I have read nothing but scorn and condemnation for Florida deputy Scot Peterson, leading me to wonder whether there is any middle ground between hero and coward in his case. An early account mentioned that he had a long exemplary record prior to the mass shooting that left 17 dead.

Mr. Peterson was armed with a pistol. He says he thought the shooting was external to the building during a crucial four minutes during which his boss says he could have possibly saved lives. Even if this is not true, one might consider the situation he was up against, a notoriously inaccurate weapon with a 5, 6 or 9 bullet magazine against a semiautomatic rifle capable of spraying bullets, high-velocity and possibly armor-piercing, at 60 to 90 rounds a minute.

There are good reasons for SWAT protocols, the team approach, the armor, the deescalation communication attempts. An assailant will always have the advantage of foresight and planning, e.g., the pulling of the fire alarm in the Parkland shooting and the blending in with the fleeing students. Had Peterson thought about this situation ahead of time, and surely he had because of the commonality of mass shooting now, he must have considered the possibility of wounding or killing an innocent in the melee. He was no youth and and he would know this would be a tough thing to live with.

Heroism is highly revered in our culture, but the real thing is rare. Only six Medals of Honor have been awarded since 9/11 and only 472 in WW II. Since Pearl Harbor, 60% were awarded posthumously. The actions that merit this are usually spontaneous and derive from total selfless commitment to one’s comrades. I submit that while this is highly laudable, it ought to be the epitome of what is expected and not what is demanded of all. Men are not taught to fall on live grenades. There is good reason why the most effective military recruits are the very young and it’s not just physical vigor. Reality sets in with age. Congress, famously, has almost no personal experience with such situations.

I debated for a while whether I even ought to post these thoughts for we are culturally conditioned to accept nothing less than perfection from military and police ideals. Real life is much more messy. I will be interested in your reactions, particularly as they pertain to the gun control issues. I understand that deputies in Broward County will now carry semiautomatic long guns.  This is logical, given that these weapons are so easy to acquire.

When I was in the Navy I saw police in the Philippines patrolling the streets with machine guns. We are becoming much like them.

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Uncomfortable Truth

Thanks to a marvelous post by Duane Graham recently, a small group of subscribers had a

credit: richlandsource.com

very interesting discussion on the concept of free will.  Whether such a thing actually exists will probably never be proven, but the politics of the 21st century certainly do not seem to support its existence.  Humanity, led by the United States government, seems headed down a very dark road that diverges from its founding principles.  Evidence of this is an essay by a West Point graduate reflecting on his involvement in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.  It is a remarkable piece of truth-telling, and it is likely not what you first assume.  Facing truth with an open mind can be very uncomfortable.  Here is how it begins:

Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, a former businessman who had helped run companies into the ground, he was widely considered ill-prepared for the presidency, out of his depth, a lightweight in a heavyweight world. Still, having won the Republican nomination and then a uniquely contested election, once in the Oval Office he proved to have a striking inclination for backing extreme acts and seemingly no compunctions when it came to promoting torture, politicizing the Justice Department, or kidnapping terror suspects (the innocent as well as the guilty) anywhere on Earth.  He was determined to fill Guantanamo to the brim, more than ready to loose the U.S. military and American air power across the Greater Middle East, pleased to see that military and the CIA experiment with powerful new weaponry, perfectly willing to kill civilians in significant numbers without mercy, prone to ramping up America’s wars, ready to give the Pentagon whatever it needed (and more), eager to take down Iran and for that matter North Korea, and quite willing to put the fate of his foreign policy in the hands of “his” special general.

Who’s he talking about?  Probably not who you think.  Follow the link to find out.

 

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8 years of suffering under Barack Obama

Democrats don’t celebrate in the end zone. They are generally realists who know there is no end zone in politics. Republicans do, however, and are still celebrating the affable Ronald Reagan despite his poor economic legacy. The trend isn’t good. The present occupant of the White’s House even celebrates on the wrong side of the 50-yard line!

This excellent post encapsulates the Obama era very well and is overdue. Enjoy.

Teri Carter's Library

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3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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Hysteria

I sent this letter to the editor of the Joplin Globe the other day in reaction to a column by a local conservative columnist who thinks concern over the Russian affair is overblown.

As I understand from his column (Globe, July 16), Goeff Caldwell believes the “hysteria” over Russian hacking of the 2016 election is unwarranted. We just need to calm down about it and go about our business normally while the FBI special investigation proceeds. Actually, I think most Democrats are OK with that. Even Senator Kaine, who used the word “traitor”, is not advocating the abandonment of due process. But, I submit, unusual concern is justified because president Trump has challenged the emoluments clause more blatantly than any other president in modern history.

There is a good reason why the founders wrote, “ . . . no person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign state.” The Cold War supposedly ended two decades ago now, but Russian motives are resurgent and adversarial to American interests, both economic and moral.

Maybe it is too soon for hysteria, but I am very concerned that our chief executive has no consistent policies, no grasp of history, no vision, not even trust in our own intelligence and foreign affairs communities. He has shown himself to be gullible by flattery, admiring of tyrants, and has no compunction in profiting from his own executive actions.

I will not, actually, be too surprised if Mr. Mueller eventually finds the Trump campaign innocent of any planned conspiracy with the Russian government. It may well be that acceptance of Russian help derived from nothing more than the same ineptitude, gullibility, disorganization and impulsiveness that have characterized the first six months of this administration. Vladimir must be laughing his anatomy off.

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Interview List

Just after a recent White House press briefing, a note in bold felt pen was found left behind:

Things to ask job applicant

1. Could you ever bring yourself to investigate me?
2. Who do you think is the best U.S. president ever?
3. Why do you think rich people are rich?
4. Why do you think poor people are poor?
5. What do bad people look like?
6. Who are the good people?
7. What news station do you watch?
8. What news station would you never watch?
9. Do you like Andrew Jackson?
10. Would you mind taking orders from Jared Kushner?

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The War Prayer

Thanks to my friend, Herb VanFleet, this essay by mark twain is well worth reading.

The Humanist Challenge

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in…

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How’s Your Mood Today, Mr. President?

 

Every year, at least one intercontinental ballistic missile is launched thousands of miles from a United States submarine to an instrumented area in the ocean. The purpose of this is to test the reliability of the complete system, including the accuracy of its independently-targeted dummy warheads. Also tested at these times is the integrity of the chain of command authorizing the launch.

Does the crew know they are launching a pre-planned dummy weapon?  I hope and expect that the sub’s captain would know, but I’m not actually sure.  It probably doesn’t matter much.  This is what they train for.  The missile(s) will be launched within mere minutes.  I’ve been retired too long from the submarine Navy to be up on such policies, and it would be classified anyway. After all, the deterrence of the system depends on instant and unquestioning obedience to the orders of a single person, the president of the United States.

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The Constitution requires that a declaration of war be the decision of Congress, a power and responsibility that have not been exercised since the invention of nuclear weapons. That’s partly because the orbital flight of such missiles requires only half an hour and even with specialized satellite sensors, there is no time for speculation or debate, nor politics of any kind. The policy, half a century old now, is called MAD, short for Mutually Assured Destruction.  (The other reason a declaration of war is no longer required is technology – no draft call-ups or civilian sacrifice needed.)

An all-out nuclear war would probably end the human species. Not only would we die from blast and radiation, but also from catastrophic effects on the environment.  Crops and livestock would die. The ozone layer would be severely damaged, eliminating the radiation protection essential to life. Some say there would be a “nuclear winter.” But with warhead sizes tens and hundreds of times those of WW II, even limited blasts over populated areas would have severe effects because of fallout.

With these thoughts in mind, and feeling a little insecure about politics lately, I searched and found a fascinating story from 6 years ago, a remarkable story about an Air Force officer who had a simple question about nukes and what happened to him. It seems even more relevant to me now than it would have been in 2011. What do you think?

And, by the way, just what does it mean when they say, tactical nuclear weapons?

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