The dogs are in full cry. They think they have Gov. Scott Walker treed, and well they might. The formerly "secret" John Doe documents recently released seem, at least from reading the media reports, to consist mostly of allegations and accusations by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's staff. In case you just came out of your cave, he, John Chisolm, is a Democrat. If you carefully read the report in Friday's daily newspaper, it consists almost totally of quotes and statements by said prosecutors, who not only have been defeated in the courts but are actually being sued.
Lost in the fog is the fact that state and federal judges have shut down the second John Doe, now well into its third year, stating clearly that there is no evidence of a crime having been committed by Walker or his campaign staff. I won't go into all the legal ramifications, which are complex, but essentially money spent in political advocacy is virtually unlimited so long as said advocacy does not specifically endorse a candidate. The advocacy can parallel the campaign platform of a candidate so long as he or she is not mentiond by name. Consultation between the candidate and advocating entities is also not illegal so long as there is no quid pro quo.
The real issue here is the blind anger of the left at Scott Walker, who took a state spent into fiscal danger by a Democratic governor and turned it around into one with a budget surplus, and he (horrors!) actually cut taxes in the bargain. Coupled with his unprecedented defeat of a recall which cost unions and other lefties mucho bucks, the dogs are indeed ravenous.
The news media is complicit in this hatchet job because, while obviously left-leaning, they most specifically do not like a totally Republican, conservative to boot, state government. They would like to see a Democrat governor to put things into "balance". Translation: gridlock is better than conservatism. I am reminded of a quotation from Samuel Johnson, who said, referring to journalists:
Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull."
Thus we have a campaign of innuendo, allegation and accusation with, as the courts have stated, no basis in fact. Scott Walker has committed no crime, but that won't stop the dogs. This story will have "legs", with a story-a-day for a long time. Many unthinking voters, and there are many, will assume that where there is smoke, there is fire. "He must be guilty of something because I have heard it so often." This is a basic principle of propaganda.
Sadly, this might just work in November. If it does, then we are indeed in deep trouble, because the left will have found a strategy to take down anyone they don't like with nothing more than fog and smoke. And they sure don't like Scott Walker.
Are we going to let them get away with it? I hope not, but I am not optimistic.
The headline references the last line of the second verse of America the Beautiful, a patriotic song that I believe would have made a much better national anthem than The Star Spangled Banner. But that's not the subject of this post. The subject is the pervasive attitude of lawlessness emanating from Washington. I have never in my many years seen the like. Yes, Dick Nixon and Bill Clinton lied, for which they were either impeached (Clinton) or threatened with impeachment. No such fate awaits our present occupant of the White House who is insulated by the inevitable accusations of racism directed towards any opposition.
There is an old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees. The blizzard of scandals and outright prevarication endemic today I believe obscures a much greater threat to our Republic. We are focused on the IRS, NSA, VA, Benghazi, Syria, Iraq, Obamacare's illegal "adjustments", border incursion of thousands of "children" (many are teenagers), and other outrages, while the larger issue is obfuscated. That is the cancerous spread of arrogant lawlessness and disregard of the Constitution that this administraton practices every day.
Our nation's leader has discovered the secret. The Attorney General, constitutionally charged with enforcement of the nation's laws, is in his pocket and will not enforce any law the president doesn't like. These actions are justified as being "for our own good" or to "correct inequality." Thus we have the basis for despotism. The Marquis de Custine in 1839 observed, "Despotism is never a greater menace than when it claims to do good. It excuses its most heinous acts by its intentions, and evil posing as a remedy has no limits." Make no mistake; what is happening is evil with respect to the preservation of our Republic.
However, the real enabler of this outrageous behavior is us. As Pogo Possum observed many years ago, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Where is the public outrage? Where is the media outrage" (O.K., I guess that's expecting too much.) If we allow this cancer to consume our nation in the name of benefits and governmental paternalism, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Perhaps the worst consequence is the spread of this paradigm throughout society. "If the government can get away with lying, cheating and ignoring the law, well, why can't we?" Should we be surprised at widespread cheating in schools and colleges, corporate irresponsibility and greed, local political and governmental corruption, and lawlessness among inner city youth? Monkey see and monkey do.
Edward Gibbon, author of the monumental work The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, said it well regarding the fall of the city-state of Athens, a lesson for us all:
"In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."
If we as a nation do not rise and clean up this putrid mess in Washington and elsewhere, then we are indeed doomed to second-rate status and mean pettiness. Moral principles matter. The Ten Commandments are more than the "Ten Suggestions." Whether or not you subscribe to Biblical precepts of conduct, the Christian ethic guided this nation for a very long time. Yes, there were injustices and corruption, but they were anomalous, not basic. Slavery was wrong but we eliminated it at great cost. There was corporate greed but it was considered wrong, not "business as usual." There was a foundation of morality that is missing today. There were no mass murders or school shootings. There was respect for authority and it worked, not perfectly but a lot better than now. And we were strong.
We must begin to see the forest before we as a nation become totally lost in the woods of corruption and lawlessness. Wake up, folks; time is not on our side.
I have published this before, but it remains, in my opinion, the greatest speech President Reagan ever gave, as well as today, a most poignent tribute to this, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944. It was a different time and a different national ethic, one that we will probably never see again. But, despite the horrendous cost of that war--some half-million casualties--it was in many ways our finest hour as a nation.
I pray that the sacrifices made on this day in 1944, in World War II, and in other conflicts to preserve the American way of life and our freedom, which indeed was, and is, the motivation of those who fought and gave all, will not have been in vain.
May they rest in peace. God bless America
American Cemetery Memorial, Normandy, France
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon.
At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only 90 could still bear arms. Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are the men who in your lives "fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."I think I know what you may be thinking right now, thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him. Lord Lovat was with him, Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.
There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet" and you, the American Rangers.Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge, and pray God we have not lost it, that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all know that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought, and felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m.; in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also that night, General Matthew Ridgeway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
… We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.
… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgeway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.
Well, here we are again. Winter's over and we're enjoying the unofficial first day of summer, at least in Wisconsin. Time for visiting Grandma, or the Dells for the first time this year. Or maybe a backyard get-together complete with brats, beer and friends and neighbors. Perhaps rather just enjoy the three-or four-day--if you took Friday off to extend it--holiday quietly with a good book. Might be a good time to get some yard work done after a rough winter. Holidays are great. But this one, Memorial Day, is special. I wonder how many of us actually think about what it really means.
Of course it's about honoring our servicemen and women and veterans, right? Well. yes and no. It's actually about remembering those who died to preserve our freedom and all the privileges we enjoy as Americans. President Obama recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our country's highest honor, more often than not awarded posthumously, to a soldier who, in Afghanistan, had thrown his body on a grenade about to explode to protect his comrades in arms. The grenade exploded, grievously wounding him but he miraculously survived due to a peculiar characteristic of explosions. If you read the article, did you ask yourself why someone would do such a thing with every expectation of dying? Acts like this were not rare in our military. What motivates our young men and women in uniform to perform such life-threatening acts of heroism, or even just putting themselves in harm's way for their country?
The answer has to do with military service for our very special nation, the United States of America. Other nations' military members rarely perform similar acts of heroism. On D-day, 1944, at Normandy, France, thousands of American soldiers slogged ashore in the face of a nearly solid wall of Nazi machine gun bullets. Many never made it ashore, but no-one broke and ran back. We prevailed that day and the war was won. There are many similar stories from World War II and subsequent conflicts. The bravery of the American fighting man often dismayed and gained the grudging respect of the enemy. A German Me-109 fighter pilot escorted a crippled solitary B-17 bomber back to safety out of respect for the courage shown by his adversary.
Something happens when you put on the uniform of your country. You realize you have become a part of something much greater than yourself. You are defending your country and its freedoms. The folks back home are depending on you. It's a life-changing experience. I know, I experienced it. As a shallow young man entering the United States Air Force, it suddenly--yes, suddenly--dawned on me that I was responsible for the lives of hundreds of thousands, I and my compatriots in the Air Defense Command. Our mission was to intercept and shoot down Soviet nuclear bombers. To a man--and we discussed it--if we were out of rockets and there was a target left, we would ram him to prevent him from dropping his nuke. We knew that ramming at the speeds and altitudes involved was likely not survivable.
So, this Memorial Day, and all those subsequent, think of those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Pause a moment and remember those who gave all, and perhaps even shed a tear for those vibrant young lives who never were able to realize their ambitions for the future. We owe their memory ("Memorial") more than we can ever pay. Scripture says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he give up his life for a friend."
In the end, it is all about love.
I have not previously commented on the monumental train wreck commonly referred to as Obamacare because much has already been said ad infinitum and I have little to add. However, I am impelled to throw out a comment or two.
One: When dealing with politics, a truism is that nothing is as it seems. Everything has a hidden agenda. Two: Politicians know next to nothing about health care, an extremely complex system. Three: Politicians know even less about computer software systems. Notwithstanding all this, they--all Democrats--fashioned a ridiculously complex, 2000+ page law purporting to revamp and control the American health care system, ostensibly to provide health care to 46 million uninsured, currently reduced to 7 million, or is it five? This involved a computer software system consisting of millions of lines of code created by an inexperienced foreign vendor.
Are you getting a picture here? This contraption was never intended to work. The "hidden" purpose was to move eventually into a single-payer health care system, commonly known as Socialized Medicine. I am not going to go into the merits or demerits of socialized medicine. There are a number of these behemoths clanking along in other countries, evidencing various degrees of ineptitude and disfunction, all at costs far exceeding the wildest pre-predictions.
It is an apparently irrestible impulse of the left-wing to state goals far in advance of implementation. It has been clearly stated by several lefties, including our esteemed king--I mean president. Single-payer was and is the clearly-stated goal. Obamacare is intended to be a disfunctional stepping stone to that end, riding in like the proverbial white knight to save us all from the current mega-cyborg clanking loudly towards functional oblivion.
How, you ask, will this work? Won't it be even more of a mess than the current one? Not really. It already is in place. It's called Medicare. All that is needed is to expand it to cover everyone instead of us lucky folks over 65. Gobs of money will be required, but then the Chinese seem to have an inexhaustable supply to lend us, or maybe the Federal Reserve can just create the money out of thin air like it already is doing to pump up the stock market. All it takes is a simple computer keystroke. "How may trillion did you say you wanted?"
So, be of good cheer, folks. The Cavalry is coming to save us all. Except folks like me who are already there. Lucky us.
Bet y'all can't wait.
I have long made a practice of prognosticating and commenting on issues involving aviation by virtue of my background as a former jet fighter and transport (C-130) pilot. But I must admit this one has me stumped. There is no doubt Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was hijacked, probably but not necessarily by one or both flight crew members--pilot and/or co-pilot. The problem is not what happened, but why.
The what is clear because the aircraft transponder and a flight data reporting system were turned off 12 minutes before the final voice transmission from the pilot. The key equipment was the transponder or SIF. A transponder is a device that replies to an interrogation with data. The SIF, which stands for Selective Identification Feature, responds with a selectible four-digit code when interrogated by a radio frequency signal. It is used by Air Traffic Control to uniquely identify various aircraft. The response codes are displayed on the ATC scopes.
As a matter of interest, this system dates back to World War II and the advent of radar early in that conflict. The problem was telling the good guys from the bad so you didn't shoot down a friend. This problem was solved by the development of IFF, which stood for Identification--Friend or Foe. The early IFF's used a two-digit code, 00 to 77. Why 77 is lost in the murk of history, but probably had something to due with the octal numbering system favored by IBM. The codes would be changed daily.
After the war, the system was adapted for civilian use, the code set expanded to four 0-7 digits to allow for the unique identification of many aircraft under ATC monitoring. A unique application incorporated later was a special hijack code, which was 7777. What was neat was the fact that code digits were selected by thumbwheels set close together so that all four could be rotated upward, selecting all 7's, by sliding the palm of the hand forward. It was not necessary to look.
I'm sure modern airliners have equipment considerably different from what I was used to in the planes I flew umpteen years ago, but the principle would be the same.
In the case of MH370, the hijack 7777 code was not activated, suggesting crew complicity. What is equally mystifying is the flight path, identified by line of position (LOP) determination by a satellite. This identified the likely flight path as either circular northward over parts of India and possibly China into the southern Arabian peninsula, or southward over water toward Australia. The northern route is unlikely due to probable detection by ground radar. The southward path was largely over the Indian Ocean to nowhere.
Some large pieces of possible wreckage have been detected by visual satellite west of Australia, approximately at the limit of the aircraft's fuel. It seems likely to me that MH370 flew southward overwater to nowhere and ran out of fuel, crashing into the ocean with the loss of all aboard.
This whole scenario makes no sense, as there is no apparent motive. If this was a suicide effort, why fly for hours and hundreds of miles? If it was a hostage incident, where were they going? There were 160 Chinese citizens aboard out of 229 total. What nation or terrorist group would want them? Certainly not Iran, the home country of both pilots. China is a friend to a number of the Middle Eastern terrorist-supporting countries, especially Iran who certainly would not want to antagonize their Chinese friends. And what would the Taliban or Hezbollah do with that mess?
I'm sorry, but for the first time in my memory, I have no plausible theory, except an act of irrational and evil insanity. There is little doubt that MH370 and its crew and passengers are lost. The hours-long flight must have been an horrific experience for the passengers. I suppose in this secular paradise of an un-Christian world anything is possible. We may never know the real reason why.
I think a number of analysts and reporters are missing the point when it comes to the current antics of Vladimer Putin regarding the Russian incursion into the Crimean Ukraine and Ukrainian border areas. Based on long personal observation of Russian/Soviet actions going back to World War II, I think I have some slight understanding of the Russian mystique.
Russia was a feudal cripple prior to the Communist revolution and a world non-entity afterwards, that is until WW II. The ill-considered Nazi invasion, engineered almost solely by a psychologically crippled--after grievious injury in an assassination attempt by his own high military officers--Adolf Hitler, inspired massive Allied assistance and eventual German defeat thanks to dogged resistance by outgunned Russian/Soviet armies and incredible suffering by the Russian populace and, of course, the brutal Russian winter. This monumental achievement began the ascendency of the Soviet Union on the world stage. Continued massive aid, largely from the U.S., helped the now Soviet Union, consisting of Russia in the lead and including the star--the Ukraine--and other lesser lights, achieve world status.
At the end of WW II, the U.S. was the sole nuclear power. However, it is not well known that Nazi Germany had a very active atomic bomb development program reputed to be in advance of our own. It was detected by underground agents and subsequently bombed to rubble by the British. Hitler decided not to reconstitute it. [Thank you, Lord!] Both the U.S. and the Soviets grabbed off German nuclear scientists, with The Soviet Union getting most of them along with a bunch of rocket scientists. (Remember the V1 and V2?)
Much of the Soviet nuclear program was the result of extremely effective espionage led, you guesssed it, by the KGB, against a feckless U.S. Consequently, the Soviet Union became a nuclear superpower in competition with the U.S. in what was called the Cold War. Russia/Soviet Union was now a major player on the world stage, a heady experience for what was and still is a depressing, mostly gray country. The Russian people loved their new-found, unfamiliar status as a feared entity.
Then came Reagan, Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980's. This largely was the result of an obsession with military hardware without an economic infrastructure to support it. There are many Russians today who regard those Cold War days with nostalgia, perhaps foremost our friend, Vladimer Putin, former head of the KGB. He has publically stated his ambition to be the architect of the reconstitution of the Soviet Union. The Ukraine, former star member, is his first target.
Having observed weakness, incompetence and indecision in the American executive branch and confident in his immunity from meaningful consequences, I believe he has decided to make his move. Crimea, a strategic region with fine all-year seaports which Russia lacks, is simply the first shoe dropping. Be prepared for more footwear thumps.
Either our Administration is oblivious to what is going on or has not the guts to take meaningful action or, sadly very likely, we do not presently have the military capacity, especially air power, to engage in any major action due to depletion by several unwise and protracted Middle-Eastern wars, followed by extremely unwise budget cuts and downsizing. The Syrian diplomatic/military flop was, I believe, the cardinal event in emboldening Putin to make his move. He is probably unstoppable, particularly because he has the support of much of the Russian public who yearn for the heady days of yesteryear.
Economic sanctions will be ignored by stalwart, long-suffering Russians, for whom suffering is an art form. Such is the consequence of weakness, real or perceived.
In the words of the Lone Ranger, we return to the days of yesteryear. Should be interesting to watch.
"....give me death." words spoken by Patrick Henry at the founding of this great nation. Words that would never be heard today in this self-indulgent, dependent society. This post is about liberty, or freedom if you will. This nation was founded by people who escaped from a despotic all-powerful monarchic government under King George III in England. They were deptermined to limit the centralization of power, which they accomplished by writing a Constitution that restricted government to limited, specified, functions, all other powers to be vested in the states. By enforcing decentralization, they hoped to prevent the concentration of power that inevitably results in despotism. In the words of Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
I was eight years old at the start of the Second World War for the United States. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, but I knew it was something very important. As time passed, I became aware that we were in the fight of our lives, for the survival of freedom. The entire nation joined in the greatest mobilization of industry and military might the world has ever known. There was no dissent, because the cause was so precious--our freedom. Great numbers of young Americans sacrificed their lives for an ideal so important as to impel the dire risk of life. Civilians sacrificed in a severe rationing program without complaint; well, maybe a little. Consequently, we prevailed over the powerful Nazi and Japanese war machines. Make no mistake, it was a near thing. I personally believe that God took a hand in this struggle to give us the victory. The D-Day invasion would have failed except for a fortuitous confluence of happenstances that blunted the Nazi response to the invasion. I don't believe in "fortuitous happenstance," otherwise known as luck
Time has passed. Bit by bit our freedoms have been co-opted in the name of security and protection. Government has grown into the all-powerful megalith that we have today and we have let it. The Constitution has been circumvented and often simply bypassed to justify "programs" promoted as benefits. As the Marquis de Custine said in 1839, "Despotism is never a greater menace than when it claims to do good. It excuses its most heinous acts by its intentions, and evil posing as a remedy has no limits."
Every law, every regulation, every bureaucratric policy constitutes a loss of freedom. Each government intrusion into our lives incorporates a transfer of power to the central government. Degree by degree, over the years, the frog has been boiled. Today, virtually every activity involves government to some degree. Yes, we are secure, more or less. Yes, we are comfortable, more or less. But at what price? We have abdicated the first two letters of "independence".
Of course some law and regulation is necessary for an orderly society. But we have gone well beyond that. The free, aggressive, independent entrepreneural spirit that built this nation has been coopted by government control. Liberals would say, "Good; only government has the power to fix things." Unfortunately, as Lord Acton wisely observed, with power goes corruption. Government has become an end in itself. It has become more concerned with perpetuating and expanding its power by whatever means necessary than serving the public.
Everything political has become about power. Even environmentalism-at the government level-and health care ("Obamacare") are about power. Common Core is more about federal control than education. The "War on Poverty" instituted in the 1960's, an abject failure by any measure despite the expenditure of trillions, was more about centralized power than helping people. You don't help people out of poverty by giving them things; you simply sap ambition and make them dependent--on the government. An African-American leader, I think it was Sharpton, once said in all seriousness, (I paraphrase) "The solution to the poverty problem is for the government to give every poor person $10,000." (Ten grand was a lot more money back then.) Only personal ambition and resolve will solve the poverty problem, and that's what our liberal, socialistic government actively discourages.
I'm not saying all politicians and bureaucrats are charlatans. Unfortunately, though, many are. The fault lies with the philosophy. Helping and giving are not necessarily synonymous. "Please help the poor" should not mean a handout, but rather a hand up. The liberal approach is a handout; the conservative is opportunity. This is perhaps overly simplistic, but the concept is valid. Only the opportunity, exercised, to become self-sufficient is a permanent solution. Al Sharpton's approach would last maybe six months and the recipeints would be worse off than before. Don't scoff; a version of that policy has already been implemented.
Freedom is the heart of opportunity. Freedom and independence are intertwined. Take away a person's independence and you stifle ambition and incentive. Our government, mainly at the federal level, has become so pervasive in our society that the kind of brave resolve so evident during the "Great War" is largely gone. The frog is boiled and I fear for the future of this soon-not-to-be great nation. It was a noble and daring experiment created by inordinately brilliant men, I believe with divine guidance, and enforced by the most remarkable document ever created, our Constitution, a set of precepts that uniquely enshrined freedom. Diabolically clever people have found ways to circumvent it, to our great peril. What the Founders feared has come to pass. We have become for all intents and purposes a monarchy.
George III is reincarnated and lives in the White House.
As is the custom, Memorial Day is featured in newspaper articles and newscasts. Tributes to the fallen are numerous and fully justified. However, there are many unsung heroes that languish in anonymity. One such account is of the hell ships of WW II. Towards the end of the war, Japan was desperate for POW labor to replace their young men gone to war. Consequently, they shipped American POW's in the holds of merchant ships bound for Japan. The conditions as you can imagine were abysmal and many died during the voyage and afterwards from debilitation.
In violation of the Geneva Convention, the ships were not marked as POW transports. As a result, many were sunk by American submarines and aircraft. The loss of life was horrendous, made worse by the Japanese killing the survivors instead of rescuing them. A total of 3600 American POW's were lost in Japanese merchant ship sinkings, most during 1944. Another 700+ who were not sunk died later. There are stories of American POW's attempting to save their comrades by hoisting them out of the sinking ships' holds by building human "ladders", only to be gunned down in the water by the Japanese.
In September, 1944, the Shinyo Maru was sunk with the loss of 832 Americans, 82 executed in the water. In October, the Arisan Maru went down with 1800 loss of life, 8 survivors executed. The Arisan Maru went down on October 24th with the loss of 49 POW's from Wisconsin, the deadliest day in the entire war for our state. These are just a few examples.
There are two lessons to take from this largely ignored chapter of WW II. One, is that America is one of the very few nations who fight wars under moral precepts. Other nations typically ignore the Geneva Convention and execute prisoners or starve them under unspeakable conditions of detention, including extreme torture. We are the stronger as a result of our inner moral strength. One reason for the tenacity and valor with which Americans fight is we have a cause, a moral imperative that our opponents rarely possess. This leads journalists to wonder where we find such men and women today in our volunteer military.
Second, there are many cases of valor and bravery not directly related to combat. Our POW's with very few exceptions, conducted themselves with patriotism, bravery and an inner strength that often confounded our enemies. They must not be forgotten. So, on this Memorial Day, 2013, let us remember them all, those that died in combat and those that died at the hands of a depraved enemy. They too served with honor.
God bless them all.
Last Sunday's newspaper contained a story about a stroke victim who sued and won a $2 million settlement from a hospital in West Bend and its Emergency Department (ED). They misdiagnosed an early minor stroke event, a transient ischemic accident (TIA) that caused temporary stroke symptoms. He was sent home and later suffered a major stroke that left him partially disabled. The ED and its physician were cited for failing to administer or inform the patient of a simple test, an ultrasound, that would have detected a 95% carotid artery blockage that later resulted in the major stroke. The article was informative but contained some erroneous information.
I feel compelled to relate my personal experience with stroke to correct the error in the newspaper article and to provide some important information concerning strokes and their treatment that I believe is inadequately understood. This in the hope that someone may avoid the mistakes made in our case that had tragic results.
My wife, Joan, experienced a stroke in 2009 at home. I detected the symptoms almost immediately--confusion, inability to understand questions and inability to stand. I immediately called 911 and the ambulance was there within 10 minutes. She was transported to a nearby hospital, arriving well within the first hour after symptom onset. At the hospital, she was examined by their stroke "expert" neurologist. Upon my arrival, he informed me that he "didn't think it was a stroke," a diagnosis that surprised me since both I and the EMT's who transported her thought it was. I asked what he thought was wrong and he said "something chemical." Joan was awake and struggling with everything she had against what she knew as an RN was happening to her.
I objected to the doctor's diagnosis as an impossibility since she had taken no medication that morning. He informed me--and this is the error in the newspaper article--that they had taken a CAT scan and "it was clear" except for "evidence of an earlier stroke," which was correct. The impression I got was that there was no evidence of a stroke so I stopped objecting. Joan was admitted and spent two days struggling against the dark monster that was destroying her brain, screaming "NO!, NO! GOD HELP ME!" almost non-stop. I can only imagine the horror that she was experiencing as her personality, her essence, was being inexorably snuffed out as her brain cells died. ( It takes about two days for brain cells deprived of blood supply to die.)
Joan had suffered a blood clot, caused by atrial fibrillation. A-fib is erratic contraction of the upper chambers of the heart, the atriums, that draw in blood and pass it to the lower chambers, the ventricles, that then pump it out. A-fib causes pooling, like eddys in a stream, which can result in the formation of clots. In her case, which is common, the clot passed into the aorta, the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The first major arteries branching from the aorta are the carotids, one on each side of the neck, that supply blood to the brain. Her clot passed through the left carotid and lodged in the left cranial artery that supplies much of the brain's left hemisphere. The areas affected included speech recognition and generation, a major motor cortex (muscle control) and cognition areas at the front and rear (parietal and occipital) of the brain.
Atrial clot formation is effectively treated by anticoagulants, most commonly warfarin or coumadin. Due to some medical miscommunication, Joan was not taking that drug. This is an important point. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with A-fib, make sure that anticoagulant therapy is instituted promptly. The second medical screw-up, the most damaging, occurred in the hospital ED.
There has been substantial public exhortation to get stroke victims to the hospital as soon as possible. However, there has been little specific explanation as to why. Blood clots form relatively slowly, starting as soft fibrous masses and gradually solidifying in a matter of hours. There is a drug called tPA--tissue plasminogen activator--that, when administered during the clot "soft" phase, will dissolve the clot. After the clot hardens, usually six hours after initiation, tPA is no longer effective. If administered within the first hour, when Joan was in the ED, tPA is 70% effective in achieving significant improvement.. This decreases gradually until at 3 hours it is about 50% effective and at 6 hours about 10%. (These statistics come from a definitive study by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke [NINDS], a division of the National Institutes of Health.) Unfortunately, thanks to the hospital stroke expert's "I think it's not a stroke" diagnosis, tPA was not administered to Joan. In fact, virtually nothing was done for her, leaving her to fight alone, a fight doomed to failure. Those two days while she screamed and her brain cells died were the worst two days of my life.
So, here is the bottom line, the things you need to know should a loved one experience stroke symptoms. These are: weakness, facial drooping, confusion, lack of motor control--e.g. inability to grasp or stand, unresponsiveness. Should any or several of these symptoms occur suddenly, do not hesitate. Call 911 and get the patient to the hospital.
At the hospital, the ED will typically order an immediate CAT scan. The purpose of this procedure is NOT to determine if a stroke is occuring, but rather to identify the type of stroke--thrombic (blood clot) or ischemic (hemorrhage). The X-ray cannot see brain cells dying due to blood starvation. (Only a PET scan can see this, but is rarely covered by insurance.) It can see blood escaping from a hemorrhaging blood vessel. In the case of bleeding, tPA should not be administered because it will exacerbate the bleeding. However, if the bleeding can be arrested, substantial recovery is likely as flooding with blood does not kill brain cells, it merely shocks them into non-functioning which usually diminishes with time. About 2/3rds of strokes are caused by blood clots choking off blood supply to part of the brain. Brain cells deprived of blood supply eventually die--permanently.
If the CAT scan "sees" no blood, you must insist on the immediate administration of tPA! Some few doctors hesistate to administer this valuable medication because there is a 5% statistical possibility it may cause bleeding. Medically, this is a very small risk, but because of the vagaries of malpractice suits, some physicians prefer to avoid it. It also is expensive, about $3,000, usually covered by insurance, and requires some expertise to administer properly. But it will most likely greatly minimize subsequent. stroke disability. Insist on its administration; it is your right as a spouse or relative.
I will never forgive myself for allowing myself to be misled, I believe deliberately. My dear wife and I will live with this the rest of our lives. Joan is almost completely disabled, unable to communicate or do most anything for herself. She must be fed and is incontinent. She spends her days in a hospital bed or a special wheelchair (Broda). She is being cared for at home. It is the least I can do.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, as my profile attests. The recommendations and descriptions in this post are based on my personal experience and fairly extensive research into tPA. I should note that there are guidelines relative to the administration of tPA beyond the results of the CAT scan. I did not list them because they are not common, except perhaps for the limit of sentient blood pressure not in excess of 185 mmHg. I believe the reason for this limit is that chronic hypertension can weaken the walls of blood vessels making leakage more likely, which could be aggravated by tPA. In my and Joan's case, she had a blood pressure in the ED of 187 mmHg, but this was not sentient BPas she was extremely agitated and struggling. Anyone's blood pressure elevates under stress.
The purpose of insisting on administration of tPA is to force the physician to justify not administering it, should that be his or her decision. In no way am I suggesting that a doctor's recommendations be ignored, just that they be in the best interests of the patient.
There have been much blogging and news commenting concerning the Boston Marathon bombing, much of it inaccurate and some of it flat off the wall. Early and even recent news reports have contained much inaccuracy. Even a skeptic like me jumped the gun a bit, as my previous post on the subject indicates. I apologize for that, although I wasn't far off.
However, there is one element of this outrage that is incontrovertible. This was an act of pure evil. There is no possible rational or even irrational justification for blowing up innocent civilians at a celebratory event like the Boston Marathon. No political statement or religious belief can justify this event.
I have in past blog posts referred to the existence of a palpable evil in the land. Lest you misunderstand, I am not talking about a psychiatric aberration or some abstract concept. This is not something amenable to therapy. This is a case of an evil entity utilizing susceptible individuals to commit heinous acts. I believe that people that commit mass killings of innocent strangers are the implementation of a malevolent entity whose purpose is to sow doubt and discord to the purpose of unmoralizing us.. I can think of no other reasonable explanation.
History is replete with atrocity. The Holocaust, mass murder of thousands and even millions for political purposes, mothers killing their children, and the plethora of serial killers that have plagued society through them ages to the present day. Society has struggled to understand and eliminate these myriad unexplainable heinous acts without success. We've tried, and continue to try, to identify a solution to the problem through the methodology of mental health treatment, also witout success.
Evil fears the light of day. Acknowledging its existence and dealing with it openly is the only viable reaponse: the proverbial cross thrust in the face of the vampire. There is an omnipresent force for good in the world. We used to acknowledge it openly in schools and the workplace. Today, religious activity is discouraged and even banned in public in the misguided cause of separation of church and state. Even at this moment, some of you are uncomfortable with me, a person of scientific background, openly talking about supernatural religious concepts. I should keep it to myself except on Sunday morning for about one hour.
God exists and so does the Devil. Despite past man-made distortions and abuses in the name of religion, Christianity and Judaism consistently espouse good and oppose evil. Will religious practice and faith solve the problem of mass atrocity? I don't know, but anything that diminishes evil influence I believe is the only effective antidote to evil. If indeed those who perpetrate these acts are not in control of their impulses, then maybe, just maybe, a more open relationship of people with the only real force of good in the world will help. The desired end would be reduction in the susceptibility of individuals to succumb to evil.
Before you dismiss me as a religious fanatic, which I am not, think about the force behind the epidemic of horror afflicting society in recent and past years. To my extensive recollection, it clearly has gotten worse as we have progressively de-emphasized religious belief in society and relegated it impotent to influence our actions. Maybe it's time for a turn-around. We keep trying the same "fixes", with the same disppointing results. Repetition will not work in this instance. Onloy a greater force for good will result in effective change.
Scripture states that Satan has dominion over the earth until the last days. Looks to me like he's doing a bang-up job.
Note: I have extensively edited this piece.
It's too soon for detailed discussion, but a couple of things struck me in listening to the news coverage of this outrage. First, this has the fingerprints of al Qaida all over it. There was an early report that five additional bombs were discovered, unexploded, for a total of seven bombs including the two that did. Classic al Qaida tactics are to set off one or more coordinated explosions and then secondary blasts a short time later to catch the emergency personnel responding. I believe this was the tactic employed in Boston, except that the second set of explosive devices did not explode.
Had all seven bombs detonated, the loss of life would have been easily in the hundreds and al Qaida, or one of its splinter groups, would have had the follow-up attack predicted by Osama bin Laden after 9/11. It's generally accepted that they have been desperately trying to accomplish another major terror attack in the U.S., unsuccessfully which is a tribute to the safeguards instituted after 9/11 and the effectiveness of Homeland Security. President Obama wisely has kept much of the Bush-era policies, like the USA Patriot Act and electronic monitoring (ELINT), in place.
I believe this was to have been the big one. The fact is this attack, bad as it was, was not as horrendous as it could have been had all seven bombs detonated. The reason they didn't appears to have been that cell phone towers were shut down immediately after the initial blasts, according to early news reports. Al Qaida frequently uses cell phones to set off IED's. The folks who set up this procedure and implemented it so promptly deserve our gratitude. They are the real reason al Qaida did not get the massive terror conflagation in the U.S. that they so desperately desire.
Rest in agony, Osama.
NOTE: News reports at this time are confused and contradictory. The newspaper today (Tuesday) reports only two additional bombs were found and that cell phone service was operational. Until the situation clarifies, please treat this post as purely speculative. I still believe al Qaida was involved.
My atttention to this blog has been erratic of late, to say the least. Particularly with respect to the post on gun control, I have not serviced the comments with the attention they deserved. The reason is complex, but relates to the physical and emotional stresses of my caregiver role. At times I get quite tired and have no ambition to write, even though my head is still filled with ideas. There is a period in the day of two or three hours in the afternoon when Joan is down for her nap that I could come up to the computer room and sit down and write. But in fact I just plunk down in my easy chair and let the daily newspaper put me to sleep. I don't get enough sleep in a typical day.
So, don' t lose faith, my friends. I value your kind attention to my work in reading and commenting. I appreciate each and every comment, even those somewhat lacking in erudition or courtesy. I am feeling better and may now be able to again entertain you with my scribbling. At least I hope.
Pierre, I particularly regret not, as you put it, engaging in a give and take of ideas. With respect to the gun control issue, let me try to explain my position. Your argument is that if new restrictions save at least one life, it's worth it. No, it isn't. We are dealing with a constitutional issue, the 2nd Amendment. It clearly intends to protect the possession of arms by the citizenry. The reference to militia is in recognition of the fact that, even up to the Civil War, there was no national standing army or navy. War was simple in those days. You got a gun and, with your neighbors, shot at the enemy. (I know this is an oversimplification, but the principle is valid.) He shot back and whoever shot the best won the day. Thus, it was essential that the able-bodied citizenry had arms behind the door, ready to be taken up in defense of our fledgling nation.
Times have indeed changed. We have standing military that fights our wars. Citizen militias are an anachronism. But, it is in the Constitution, however irrelevent that part of the 2nd Amendment may be today. We tweak the Constitution to suit our present-day needs at our peril. It could very well lead to decimating the entire document, leaving us with a hollow document providing no protection of our rights against the predations of government "fixers". I think no one wants that.
There is a mechanism for changing the Constitution by amendment. It is somewhat tortuous and lengthy, deliberately so as to prevent knee-jerk modifications in response to an emotional issue. (Sound familiar?) If, however, the majority of states, 2/3rds to be exact, agree to a change, it can be done and not infrequently has been in the past. Simply put, if you don't like the constitutional citizen arms provision, then change it.
Oh, that will never happen, you say? Well then, I guess we'll have to live with it. Or maybe not. As a specific example, say Congress passes a so-called assault weapons ban, sometimes referred to as a ban on black-painted rifles. The problem is there are probably millions of black rifles already out there, so banning new sales will be largely ineffective. Then we have another tragic incident. The next step would logically be to confiscate the millions of assault weapons in private hands. Then there's an incident with Glock 17's, so we ban large-capacity magazines, leaving only Glock 10's. The same scenario repeats and existing private Glock 17's are confiscated. Need I go on? That is really the danger the NRA fears: gun confiscation. So do I.
I agree that the 2nd Amendment is somewhat outdated. But I fear that attempts to circumvent it with legislation could lead to a very undesirable paradigm. That is, working around constitutional provisions to suit immediate societal concerns. A slippery slope, indeed.
I have been on a self-imposed sabbatical, for reasons that are not clear even to me. Consequently I have not written any posts for some time now. However, a recent newspaper article so incensed me that i could not remain quiet.
The article described a situation involving a young girl, age 3, the daughter of an unmarried woman. This woman, one of 25 children by 15 different men, had a long history of physically abusing her other children, who had consequently been removed from her control and placed in foster care. Then, about three years ago she gave birth to another child, a girl whom she immediately abused with injury. This infant child was also removed from her and placed in a foster home.
Time passed, about three years, as the child grew up in the foster home, apparently in a loving, nurturing environment. However, nothing was done to terminate the mother's parental rights. The foster family experessed a desire to adopt the girl but was unable to because the mother still retained parental rights. By policy, the girl could not remain with her long-term foster family apparently because of concern for bonding, which was a bit late in this case. The Milwaukee child welfare agency then returned the child to the biological mother, who had received counseling. The mother, who appparently is suffering from mental problems, then immediately abused the child again.
The issue ended up in court before a Judge Foley, apparently a good man. Because action had not been taken to terminate parental rights by the agency, adoption by the original foster family, the only family the child has known, was not possible. The child could not be returned to the control of the mother because of the history of abuse. Therefore, the judge's only recourse was to place the child back in the foster care system. Judge Foley was publically incensed at this record of incompetence. This poor child's future is now one of multiple foster care environments with, believe it or not, supervised visitation with this obbviously incompetent biological mother. Talk about a bleak future.
Milwaukee has the unenviable reputation of possessing one of the worst records of returning children to biological mothers that resulted in further abuse. This is a classic example of the destruction of young innocent lives at the hands of an incompetent bureaucracy. I can only speculate on the reasons for this incompetence. Lack of concern is certainly a possibility, but a misguided racial element may also be involved. There apparently is a philosophy in the black community that states that black children should be raised only by black parents. I do not know if this was a factor in this case. I don't even know the race of the original foster family, although many are white. I sincerely hope that race was not a factor in the mishandling of this case, which resulted in ripping this child from a loving foster family wishing to adopt her and throwing her to the bureaucratic wolves. Had adoption occurred, this child's future would have been brightly optimistic instead of the present portent of dark disaster.
I don't have a solution, except that this bureaucratic morass should reorient itself to the welfare of the innocent child above and beyond any biological considerations, race-tinged or otherwise. I would hope that this case would result in legislative or at least administrative remediation, but, sadly, I doubt it.
This first rule: Protect the bureaucracy.
Hi, fans, I'm back! Did you miss me? Oh, well anyway, here I am again. Seriously, things got a bit hectic with the holidays and all and with my caregiver responsibilities. I just lost the incentive. So, herewith I will make a few concise comments--yes, I can do that--on a current subject that bothers me. More to come, Lord willing.
Gun Control and Mass Murder: The recent rash of multiple shootings involving individuals not normally considered mentally deranged has inspired the gun control advocacy community to again rail against assault weapons--which they are not--and guns in general. First, the so-called assault rifles used in some of these incidents were not assault rifles. The actual assault rifle that these weapons resemble is the military M-4, a selectable full or semi-automatic weapon chambered for a high-velocity .223 caliber--about the size of a .22--high-velocity cartridge.
The AR-15 is an M-4 lookalike that is only semi-automatic, firing once for each trigger pull, just like all modern handguns. It is mostly a status symbol or souvenir-type weapon, not really very suitable for hunting. (The .223 bullet is fairly light, not much good in brush found in many hunting environments. A leaf will deflect the bullet.) The classic .30-06 is a much better hunting weapon.
Having said that, banning this and similar rifles will do little to deter mass shootings. There are plenty of other hunting-appropriate weapons available as well as myriad handguns. Banning any specific weapon type is a futile gesture designed to harass gun-owners. Even though the AR-15 is not a very useful weaon except to defend against terrorists, lack of legality would have a negligible effect on mass killings such as Sandy Hook.
Banning a weapon type would only result in shifting to another for someone impelled to commit mass murder. So, what is my solution? Believe it or not, I am not in favor of the NRA aproach of arming the schools. While this might well prove effective in deterring or neutralizing a perpetrator--think if the Sandy Hook Principal and/or Psychologist had been armed and trained--I think it creates an unacceptable atmosphere of schools as armed camps. (However, I have no problem with individual school authority figures availing themselves of concealed carry under the law, just not requiring it. "Gun Free Zones" only advertise vulnerability.)
The problem, as I see it, is the nature of the society we have created. There is a clear perception of entitlement and equality, as advertised by our President during his inaugural speech, that results in much frustration among certain individuals who for personal or circumstantial reasons are frustrated in their desires. Some of these folks, suffering from a total lack of moral scruples, will react with anger at any convenient target, resulting in apparently unexplainable atrocities. They are simply motivated by mindless anger at their percieved misfortune and lash out at totally innocent victims.
This is the concequence, unintended of course, of our government's misguided attempt to "fix" everything. When "everything" isn't fixed for someone, the result is often anger and sometimes mindless rage. Until we instill a more realistic concept involving personal responsibility for one's situation in life, I'm afraid the ground will remain fertile for evil.
Sounds too simplistic? Got a better Idea? I'm listening.
I recently published two posts on the existence of evil as a palpable entity in the world (Face of Evil and Dual). I recommend re-reading them. Now we have another horrific example, the Sandy Hook massacre of Kindergarten children by a 20-year-old misfit. Adam Lanza was an obscure loner who, while considered strange, was not thought to be insane. Strangely, the divorce court gave his mother complete control over his affairs. It would be interesting to know why.
After an altercation with his mother, he took one of her guns and shot her in the face, a particularly brutal way to shoot someone. He then went to a nearby Elementary School with which he or his mother had no connection, broke in by shooting out the glass in the door and, armed with two handguns, embarked on a rampage. The principal and the school psychologist tried to stop him but were no match for his guns and were shot down dead. (One wonders if things would have ended differently if one of those school officials had been armed. A moot point because the school was a gun free zone.)
He then proceeded to a Kindergarten classroom and shot 27 children to death, finally taking his own life as the police closed in, for a total casualty count of 31 killed including him and his mother. There is no conceivable motive for this most horrendous of acts. No level of insanity would impel such an act, and Adam was not psychotic by all accounts.
As usual, we are currently engaged in an orgy of attempted explanations and preventive action proposals, from greater gun control although no-one has shown how that would have prevented this event outside of complete gun confiscation, which actually has been proposed by one legislator, to greater concern for mental health. Another legislator proposal has been to ban "semi-automatic handguns" in complete ignorance of the fact that all modern handguns, including revolvers, are semi-automatic--firing each time the trigger is pulled. An assault weapons ban is completely irrelevent to this situation in that none were involved. Tighter restrictions on gun sales would also have been ineffective in that the two weapons he used were legally and conventionally purchased by his mother.
So, what to do, for we must do something in accordance with standard liberal philosophy, other than wring our hands? The answer is, there is nothing we can do to prevent this type of perpetrator from committing heinous and inexplicable acts or horror. What we are dealing with, as I have previously stated, is a palpable force of evil. If you prefer demonic possesion, I suppose that's close enough. Evil is loose in the world and getting more powerful with each passing day. Even in pacifist countries like Norway, evil performs. I won't talk about some of the atrocities occurring daily in the Middle East and Africa, and other places around the world.
Gun control, even confiscation, is not the answer. The British are considering banning knives to stem the increase in violence following their gun ban. The only protection against evil is to oppose it with force. Yes, I'm talking about an armed responsible public. Sandy Hook is just the latest in a series of senseless mass killings that could have been prevented or mitigated by armed civilian opposition. Not in every case, of course, but at least potential victims would have a fighting chance against the encroachment of evil.
I know this is controversial, but I am open to a better suggestion. (Please, not forcible confiscation of 17 million guns.) I firmly believe that the only way to defeat evil is to confront it with effective means.
I was eight years old. It was Sunday, December 7, 1941. We went to church and came home for a quiet Sunday day of rest. We didn't watch the news because in those days we didn't have 24-hour saturation news coverage. Television was in the experimental stage. We had one radio, a brown RCA table radio on the kitchen table against the wall. It had a short wave band with which I liked to fool around. Otherwise, it was seldom turned on.
We knew nothing of the events in the South Pacific on the Island of Hawaii, more correctly Oahu. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval facility and Hickam Field, the airbase, that day. Bombs were falling and U.S. warships were blowing up and being sunk. Men were dying by the thousands, over 2300 by final count. The mighty battleship Arizona was mortally wounded by, it was later speculated, a bomb that went down a stack and exploded deep in her bowels next to the powder magazine. (Naval guns fired so large and heavy a projectile that the powder charge and warhead were separate. The gunpowder charge was in cloth bags loaded behind the projectile. The ship's magazine was full of bags of gunpowder.)
The Arizona blew up and capsized. Oil spilled out and caught fire. Few of her crew were able to escape as the lifeboats were useless and the ship was surrounded by a sea of burning oil. But we at home were oblivious. Our sole news source was the evening newspaper. The attack started at about 7:00 A.M., 11:00 A.M. our time The evening newspaper carried an early account of the tragedy. My parents were dumfounded and I was confused. We turned on the radio. Sometime either that day or the next, I forget which, our President Roosevelt spoke to Congress and his speech was carried live on the radio news. We listened to F.D.R.'s famous "This day shall live in infamy" speech, declaring war on the Empire of Japan. The man gave a great speech.
And so we were at war. Soon after Germany declared war on us as an ally of Japan. It is rumored that Hitler was upset at Japan for giving F.D.R. justification for entering the war. It was Adolf's strategy to keep us out. It is also reported that Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese naval office in charge of the attack, was opposed to it. He is reputed to have said afterwards, when his fellow officers were celebrating their great victory, that he feared that all they had done was to awaken a sleeping tiger. History proved him to be prophetic.
The war effort that followed was remarkable in its dedication and single-minded goal: to defeat the Axis. We had war bond drives. Schoolchildren purchased war stamps for 10¢ each and pasted them in a booklet. When the booklet was full you exchanged it for a $25 war bond, We kids planted victory gardens to help with food. Seed packets were distributed through the school free of charge. The garden was only 5 ft. x 7 ft., but everything helped.
We had food rationing with ration books that allowed limited purchases of staples. No steak. Gas rationing allowed the purchase of limited amounts of gasoline a month, just enough for my father to drive to and from work. Nothing was left for recreational trips. We had an "A" ration card, designated by a black sticker with a white "A" on the inside of the windshield. This was the lowest priority. Farmers, workers in essential industries and government officials had other letter placards like "B" and "D" allowing more gasoline to be purchased. We collected fat drippings and turned them in. (Fat was used to make munitions.) Nylon stockings disappeared, replaced by rayon which ran so easily that stockings with runs became the norm. (Nylon was needed for parachutes.) There was much more.
War plants sprang up seemingly overnight and other industries converted to war production. There was a shortage of workers because of the draft and the expansion of the industrial base. Women went to work in large numbers. Some journalist coined the phrase "Rosie the Riveter" and it stuck. The gals did a great job. Many signed their names inside warplanes, occasionally with an address.
The country was united like never before. There was no dissent, no peace activists, no media criticism. Patriotism was endemic. There was but one purpose and that was to win the war. Sleeping tiger, indeed. The rest is history.
So, that's what we commemorate on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, this year the 71st anniversary of the "Day of Infamy." The commemoration seems less of an event with each passing year. I think that's unfortunate.
We live in an unfriendly world armed to the teeth with weaponry that dwarfs anything that existed in 1941. There are people out there who don't like us very much. There are powerful nations working hard to equal and exceed our military capability. We are the king of the hill and there are those whose goal is to pull us down. The risk to this nation is not al Qaeda or the Taliban; they cannot defeat us. China and Russia are not our friends and they are growing in power while we are focused on this Middle East exercise in futility. Does anyone really believe that the Arab world will become peace-loving democracies, regardless of what we do? Our danger comes not from there but from nations with the capability to defeat us militarily. Not yet, but there are policies in place in Washington that do not bode well in the long term for our military strength. This could turn out to be a tragic mistake.
Complacency is a deadly enemy. Just ask the souls of the 2300.
The morning dawned dark and dreary. A cold drizzle was falling. I went out to my mailbox to get the paper and...there it was, big, black and scary: the headline--"It's Obama!" My heart sank. I hadn't watched the election coverage the night before. I went to bed fat, dumb and happy. Today, on this depressing day, the truth slammed into me. We are doomed! We won't survive another four years of the Evil One.
The I went into the kitchen. There, at my window feeder was a tiny black-capped chickadee. Another was at my (heated) bird bath drinking. Then a beautiful crimson cardinal flew onto my white bird feeder in the yard. Then I realized, God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world. Life would go on and we would suvive.
O.K., that's a bit embellished. I didn't--and don't--think we are doomed. I don't like our continuing president. I think he is not good for this country. He will try to drag this nation further to the left, perhaps with some success. The economy will stagger onward in the doldrums. Unemployment will stay high because many businesses, especially small ones, will be reluctant to expand and hire due to uncertainty about government regulations and the impact of Obamacare.
But we will survive! Four years is a drop in the bucket of history. This is a strong country, with great resources that, unfortunately, we are not utilizing. But this nonsense of renewable energy, windmills and solar panels, will eventually sink under its own weight of excessive cost and inefficiency. If by some miracle it doesn't, then I am wrong and it will work, which would be a good thing.
The greatest danger, in my view, is the rise of an entitlement class of people who depend on government for sustenance. This includes many college students, who came out in droves for Obama thinking that he would somehow forgive their loans and/or provide for their education. Should this group become too large, we could have an "Atlas Shrugged" condition where the payers would be buried by the takers. Remember, government has no money of its own. All is our, or China's, money, and the latter is not limitless. Thus, the drift toward socialism, if that's where we're headed and I believe it is, will of necessity be self-limited and will collapse of its own weight. I doubt we will get that far. This country has too long and successful an experience with capitalism.
So, take heart, all you conservative Republicans out there drowning in your beer. At some point we have to learn that we cannot win a negative smear campaign. The left is too good at it, based on long experience. Regardless of media hand-wringing, negative ads do work. In this campaign, they persisted despite published rebuttals. Repetition is diabolically effective. As Alvin Toffler said many years ago (1965 to be exact), "We are advancing the sophistication of deception faster than the technology of verification. The consequence of this is the end of truth." We are there, Dorothy.
Bottom line, I am not depressed. Personally, I believe God has blessed America and will continue to do so. As the Desiderata says, "Although it may not always be clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." So again, take heart, losers. There is always another day.
No, I'm not going to tell you for whom to vote. That is solely your decision. I just want to mention a few things for your consideration. This is, as many pundits have stated, some vehemently, a critical election. It will in all likelihood determine the kind of country we will be for generations to come. There is a stark difference between the two parties and candidates.
President Obama is a borderline--some say extreme--socialist. This is not necessarily an evil thing. A number of countries in the world are socialist, or socialist-leaning, and they are surviving. Some of them in Europe have hit a rough spot, mainly due to irresponsible fiscal policies, but they will undoubtedly survive. (The viability of the European Union is another matter.) We in this country have also been fiscally irresponsible, but due to our inherent strength and resources, we are surviving and probably will continue. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is still survivable, but barely. We should be sweating it.
Should he win this Tuesday, this country will undoubtedly shift further to the left toward a government-managed economy. This will be a form of fiscal socialism, wherein government has the power and resources to manage our lives to our benefit. The absence of the necessity to face re-election will in all liklihood embolden the leftward shift. This will require transfer of significant wealth from the private sector to the government to implement policy. It may not be entirely in the nature of taxes, but in myriad fees and loans. The latter are paper transfers to the private sector, paid back in real money. Hence a transfer of wealth to the government. Obama rather obviously believes firmly in the efficacy of government to "fix" things and manage activities that once were the province of the private sector. Nationalizing of industry is a logical eventuality. If you believe this is a desirable paradigm, then vote accordingly.
On the other hand, if you feel that the private sector is the best vehicle for economic and social progress, then the other side is your cup of tea. Republicans generally support a capitalist model. This country was built on such a model, but it can be argued that today it is outmoded. Capialism/free enterprise generally rewards entrepreneurship and individual responsibility. You are left essentially to sink or swim on your own. This is not a pure policy, but rather a tendency. So, if you favor limited government power over society and the economy, then vote accordingly. What is at stake Tuesday is a choice between two models of society for this country that will endure.
I'm sure many of you have been waiting with great anticipation for my take on the current campaigns and upcoming election. Well, this is it, beginning, middle and end. Truthfully, there isn't a whole lot to say, which of course will not stop me. This election is much like others in the recent past, just a little more extreme. The rhetoric is more aggressive and nastier, although the issues are similar: The economy (jobs), social issues like abortion (women's health) and health care especially for the elderly, and that old faithful, the middle class. Oh yes, I almost forgot foreign policy. Misrepresentations and outright lies abound. This, unfortunately, is what elections have deteriorated into.
What is new is the extreme polarization, the gap between left and right. The Obama administration is arguably more government-centric than, say the Clinton years (not all would agree), and Romney is somewhat more conservative than, say, the Bushes (again, not all would agree). The label "Socialist" is frequently applied to President Obama, with some justification, and a "Capitalist" sticker is slapped on Romney. In reality, that's essentially what this election is, or should be, about: philosophy of government.
All else derives from this factor, a consideration often lost in the fog of rhetoric. Domestic and world view depend on philosophical perception of solutions to problems. Obama and the current crop of Liberals have a centric world view that sees the solution to conflict as a meeting of the minds of all nations under centralized enforcement. Nationalism is undesirable. Hence a permissive and benign approach to the Middle East quagmire, an approach that currently does not seem to be working all that well. Our extended hand of friendship has been bitten.
Romney and most Conservatives adopt a more nationalistic approach to foreign relationships, a policy that essentially ensures an armed standoff among unfriendly nations. This, incidentally, is Benjamin Netanyahu's Middle East peace concept: an armed standoff, his version of MAD. But I digress. Both approaches are obviously flawed, but then the situation is intractable unless you subscribe to Jimmy Carter's solution: the elimination of Israel.
Domestically, the differences are classic liberal-conservative. Much misleading rhetoric abounds in this arena. For example, there is an Obama-Biden yard sign that reads, "Bin Laden is dead; the auto industry is alive; vote ... ." Not so. The assassination of Osama bin Laden was in the works for years, before Obama took office. It was authorized under G.W. Bush. Much planning and investigation, including identifying bin Laden's courier-driver and tracing him to Osama's compound, with subsequent mapping of the compound via IR satellite and drone analysis. Obama was called in at the last moment as Seal Team 6 was already in the process of executing the operation. Obama had very little to do with the operation other than giving the final go-ahead. Like he had a choice.
Insofar as the auto industry is concerned, GM and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy. The implication by the administration is that without the massive infusion of bailout--read taxpayer--funds, the two industrial giants and their hundreds of thousands of jobs would disappear from the face of the earth. Anyone familiar with Chapter 11 bankruptcy knows that this is completely contrary to the principle of Chapter 11, which purpose is to allow the company/corporation to reorganize and remain in business. Practically every major airline has gone through bankruptcy and is still in operation.
The real issue was the UAW union contracts, which would have been abrogated by the Chapter 11 process and subject to difficult and certainly less beneficial renegotiation. The bailout was to salvage critical union support for the Democrat administration. Yes, it worked, but so would have Chapter 11, without the huge commitment of government (taxpayer/Chinese) funds.
Romney on the other hand paints Bain Capital as a benevolent organization dedicated to preserving jobs. Hardly. Bain Capital was and is a business primarily concerned with making money. Certainly, the salvage of troubled companies is part of the picture, since could very well be financially beneficial to Bain. However, should circumstances dictate, shutdown of a troubled company and loss of jobs is also in the picture.
I have previously discussed this business of the "middle class," which has myriad definitions. I do not like the division of the American populace into "classes". This is contrary to the principles of this country and the economic system that made it great. "All men are created equal" is not just a clever phrase. It means we all start off even, regardless of circumstances, and our station in life is the result of our efforts. The "middle class" can become the "upper class" or the "lower class" depending on our skills and effort. The "middle class" benefits from the economic progress of the nation as a whole. Government has precious little to do with it except to screw it up.
So, whom do you vote for? Depends on your own personal socio-political philosophy. If you are a lover of government and believe in its efficacy in solving problems, then vote for what we currently have. If you favor independence and personal initiative and believe that the less fettered the economy the better, that money in private hands is better than in the government's, then vote for a change.
I think you know where I stand. Most of all, please vote, but only once.