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.









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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Don’s Johns

I thought this piece by my blogging friend Elyse, at Fifty Four and a Half, has some staying power.


Sometimes a metaphor actually plops into your lap.  Or your hands.  Or into someplace you hope you don’t drop your cell phone.

That happened to me today, when I read an article in the Huffington Post about one of the, ahem, priorities, of the folks setting up Friday’s Inauguration of Donald J. Trump.  And really, it is a metaphor for what is to come.

You see, whenever there is a big event here in the DC area, there’s a lot of shit going on.  Literally.  Lots of people = lots of pee and poop!  So port-a-potties line the Mall, surround the Monuments; and ring the Capitol itself.  And in the DC area, one company has the scoop on poop.

dons-johns Photo Caption  Don’s John’

But, according to the Huffington Post,

Someone’s Covering The ‘Don’s Johns’ Logo On Port-a-Potties For Trump’s Inauguration

When I saw that headline, my first thought was…

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10 People Donald Trump Is Considering For His Cabinet

Rumors are flying about filling the Trump administration. Here is a great forecast by the great X.

List of X

"I got all the best people - me, Donald Trump, myself, my hairpiece, also me, Don, Melania's husband, Ivanka's father, really amazing, tremendous people! I'll also hire some losers for other jobs." Image source: National Review “I got all the best people – me, Donald Trump, myself, my hairpiece, also me, Don, Melania’s husband, Donald, Ivanka’s father, that guy who just won the election – all really amazing, tremendous people! I’ll also hire some losers for the other jobs.”
Image source: National Review

Last Tuesday, America elected Donald Trump as our new president, and he has been diligently working to assemble the list of people he wants to nominate for various positions in his cabinet. And since Donald Trump isn’t a regular politician, the people he wants to put in charge of the government won’t be regular politicians either. Here are 10 federal jobs and 10 people Donald Trump is considering for these jobs.

1)  Transportation Security Administration: Billy Bush, the co-star of the Trump’s infamous “Grab-em-by-the-p***y” leaked video. In this video, Mr. Bush proved that he would be well-suited for enabling the TSA agents…

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What Now?

What do you want to be when your grow up?

What do you want to be when your grow up?

The Democratic party of 2016 has failed. It lost the confidence of the working class. The best analysis I’ve read so far, and I know it’s early, comes from this Huffington Post article.  If we don’t figure a way out of this problem, the country is in for a very bleak future of war, hatred, xenophobia and recriminations.

From this article I learned what the number one middle-class job is in 29 states.  Can you guess what it is?  I wouldn’t have been able to.

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10 Reactions To New FBI Investigation Of Hillary Clinton’s Emails

List of X has done it again. If you still need some perspective on this crazy election, please take refuge in this humor, the last refuge from political insanity!

List of X

"Note to self: fire James Comey.... Wait... Is this already on Wikileaks?" @DefinitelyNotARussianHacker: "Da." Image source: hacked from AP “Note to self: fire James Comey…. Wait… Is this already on Wikileaks?”
@DefinitelyNotARussianHacker: “Da.”
Image source: hacked from AP

Last weekend, there was a new shocking development in the 2016 presidential election: James Comey, head of the FBI, informed Congress that FBI had seized a laptop belonging to serial sexter Anthony Weiner and his wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and found thousands of emails that may or may not be relevant to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Of course, since there are only a few days before election, this revelation has caused a Samsung phone-like explosion, with Republicans once again demanding that Hillary Clinton is immediately imprisoned regardless of the outcome of the investigation, and Democrats blaming the FBI for conspiring with Russia and Wikileaks to help Donald Trump win the election. Here are 10 reactions to the Emailgate and the FBI investigation.

1)  Francois Hollande…

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The Unthinkable

I am convinced that life in general and politics in particular are like chaos theory.  Anything you can think of is possible.  That is scary to believe, but I know it to be true.


There have been two world wars, but not one for six decades.  That’s because of the invention of nuclear weapons, something so terrifying that even despots have declined to use them.  We did came close in 1962.  But we have had smaller wars of course and the results have been poor to awful.  Korea at least saved the South but Vietnam was a complete failure.  The second Iraq war was also.  Even Afghanistan became a continuing black hole for blood and treasure despite attaining the goal of killing Osama bin Laden.  Why do we keep doing this?

Some people think that JFK would have withdrawn from Vietnam, but we will never know.  He did start the thing by sending 16,000 combat troops there.  George H. W. Bush showed restraint in the first Iraq war, only to see his son decline to do so thereafter, disastrously.  President Obama, to his credit, has actually reduced our involvement in war. He withdrew from Iraq and reduced involvement in Afghanistan to a mostly-advisory role.

History proves that the temptation to use military force is almost irresistible. I think it is so because war-fighting is the one option available to a president which shows decisiveness and gets quick action.  Very satisfying at first. Everything else creates controversy and rebuttal. The danger is made even greater by the refusal of every Congress for six decades to uphold its obligation to declare war before engaging.

In view of this history, we should all reflect in this context, I submit, whether we want to elect an amateur or a professional, experienced politician as commander in chief. Especially since the amateur has zero experience in both government and military service. Zero.  Could Donald Trump actually win the presidency?  The polls say he very well could.  Even more persuasively, one professional observer gives five reasons why he probably will win.

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