Saturday, December 16, 2017
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To Trump Supporters: Do We Dare Take So Big a Risk?

This piece will be running shortly in newspapers in my very Republican congressional district (VA-06). ******************** A word, please, with you who still support President Trump. Let...

Thinking Through the North Korea Crisis (Third Installment)

Appearing in several newspapers in VA-06, this series announced itself as having no partisan agenda, no pre-conceived conclusion, but just the purpose of laying...

Thinking Through the North Korea Crisis (Second Installment)

This series will be appearing in at least two newspapers in the VA-06 region. This is the second installment of a series whose purpose is...

Thinking Through the North Korea Crisis (First Installment)

This is the first installment of a series of three pieces that will be running shortly in one or more newspapers my area of...

The Danger of Applauding Trump’s Syrian Strike

Putting together several of the news articles in Lowell's News Summary of this morning, what comes into focus for me is the great danger...

Remembering the Viet Nam Era

Viet Nam protest photo Protests_zpszyvxdduy.jpg When the neocons planned out the Bush Iraqi adventure the wave of popular sentiment toward the military arising from the first Gulf War had crested and begun to ebb. The undertow was Viet Nam. Somehow they had to make their war invulnerable to criticism. They found a shield: the troops.

Psychological operations directed against the people of the United States are not lawful. But the propaganda was so subtly crafted that the constant mantra, "Support the Troops," was never recognized for the actual message being delivered. The Iraq War was unassailable because to criticize the war was to criticize the troops. Then an unlikely propaganda ally gave the neocons 9/11. Politicians feared airing questions that begged to be asked. The military and veteran bandwagon took on a life of its own. There was no support for mass demonstrations against the war. Senior officers could take bribes and give girlfriends classified documents without indignation from our elected representatives. Support the Troops. What a contrast to the Viet Nam era. But in the end, how much support is there: compare the spending on veterans' programs to that on the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

National Remembrance at 3PM

Waynesboro Riverview Cemetary photo 140526WaynesboroRiverview_zpsd761f5a9.jpgA pet peeve: today is not Veterans Day. There is no equivalence. This day is for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while in the military service. Those who served have their day. You want equivalence? Today should be extended to any who died in service to our nation.

Today I ask all Virginians to take a moment and reflect on the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country and died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a veteran of the United States Army, I have had the privilege to serve alongside some of the very finest men and women in this country who so bravely risk their lives defending our freedom. To those who died while serving our nation, I salute you and your families on this day of remembrance. We are all eternally grateful for your service and sacrifice.

Take care, Ralph Northam, Virginia Lieutenant Governor

I have come to personally believe that the phrase "thank-you for your service" has become a vacuous salutation. I am suspect of most politicians who blather on about veterans. The situation in the Veterans Administration justifies that cynicism. That is another story that is hardly new but I want to focus on actual heroes (a word woefully devalued by Ronald Reagan). I do know Ralph Northam and have no doubt in his sincerity.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato

Since the establishment of Memorial Day (as Decoration Day), we've blurred the line that defines military service for political and economic purposes. So I personally extend my remembrance to the police and fire personnel who have lost their lives in our service. And to the "contractors" whose military positions were "civilianized" so that politicians could claim reductions in force and retired military could suck at the teat of government pretending to deliver service more efficiently than the military.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." - Dwight David Eisenhower

Let us remember Dr. King appropriately – he would not have...

Fortunately, editorials in 2 major newspapers today can help with that.

In The Boston Globe we can read in King Memorial celebrates a leader, not just a symbol the following:  

So let's be clear: Without King, the black uprising would have been far more furious and more painful for African-Americans; even in the darkest days, he reminded his followers of their faith in God and in the American Dream. For white people, especially the timid moderates at whom the Letter from Birmingham Jail was aimed, a more violent uprising would only have deepened the racial wedge. It took King's rational, but urgent, appeals to make enough whites understand what was at stake.

But there is more, both in this editorial, and in that of The New York Times.

A few facts about the military, and more, from Kristof

The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.

That's the first of four bulleted paragraphs of facts about the military offered by Nicholas Kristof in a column titled The Big (Military) Taboo. You might know that. You might even know that we have troops at 560 bases outside the United States. That's the 2nd. And the third?

The intelligence community is so vast that more people have "top secret" clearance than live in Washington, D.C.

But I have not yet offered the most shocking, from the 4th of those paragraphs, for which I suggest you continue below the fold.

Ocean Water Acidification; Outpacing 100,000 Years in 150

Ocean water acidification is the third and possibly the most immediate threat to national security. Admiral Titley calls it the silent cousin of global warming. Simply put, a whole lot of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere ends up in the ocean where creatures have adapted to different conditions.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of the oceans has dropped from 8.0 to 7.9. What's the big deal?

"We have changed the acidification of the ocean more in the past 150 years than it changed, in best we can tell, in about 100,000 years. So the critters, again a technical term, have gone and evolved to living in a pH of 8. All of a sudden, in just like "bang," in terms of evolution, we have shifted the environment." - Admiral Titley

If that turns out bad (and there is evidence it already is) there will be a billion people who currently rely on the oceans as a source of protein stressing agricultural resources. And those agricultural resources are no longer as predictable because of changes in rain patterns and water resources. Competition for natural resources at the national survival level drives nations to kinetic conflict. So there will be two reasons to respond: famine and war. Both demand scarce assets. Our nation's current role in the world demands our involvement. Or, we forfeit that role and the moral advantage it potentially provides. And so begins a downward spiral that ends up with our motivation in all commerce as base as survival interests. And that is not the America we know and love; the values we hold dear.

Threat 1: Opening of the Arctic Ocean
Yesterday: Rising sea levels
Today: Ocean water acidification
Tomorrow: A little more ammunition against skeptics (but they can't handle the truth)