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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Don’t let us forget

Unlike fine wine or a good brandy, I don’t really believe that man gets ‘better’ with age. Wiser, perhaps, more self-assured, of course, but ‘better,’ now there is a question? We tend to remember our youth with greater clarity, or is that called egocentricity and exaggeration? All too often, our feats of daring do are more likely, in recall, to match those of some of our comic book heroes and heroines. In reality, we weren’t a great deal different than those who grew up before us…but wait, that’s not quite accurate either.

The generation that grew up before my own has been called, and rightfully so, ‘The Greatest Generation.’ And, for my money, they were. In a time of unprecedented crisis, they responded in a manner that propelled the United States of America into a force to be reckoned with from December 7th, 1941, forward. That “…date that will live in infamy” turns 75 this year, and very few members of that generation are still around to remember the horrors of the succeeding four plus years. Oh, sure, there have been books written, documentaries generated, and movies produced, but the people, the actual men and women who served are now well into their nineties and, despite medical advances, are dying faster and faster.

I had turned seven years old three months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bluntly put, I really didn’t know my ass from my elbow. It happened on a Sunday, and I really can’t remember if we went to Mrs. Greenan’s second grade class the following day or not. However, I am willing to bet that every single soldier, sailor, and marine who is still living knows exactly what he did on that Monday. He probably ran like hell to the nearest recruiting office, swore an allegiance to the US of A and went off to face horrors he never could even begin to think of. He may have been only 16, 17, or 18, but, if he survived, saw carnage that he might never discuss with his family or closest friends. They went in, many of them, as boys, and they came back to us as extremely mature men. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am fully aware of the sacrifices made by women during the Second World War, including the 400 who were killed in combat areas.

In some ways, I am grateful to whoever did create the Internet, whether it was Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, or Al Gore. It doesn’t matter because the material available to anyone interested in WW2 or almost any war in which the world has been somewhat engaged is plentiful enough to satisfy the most avid history buff. The problem that I see is who is going to ask the uninitiated to look? Who will remind them that the Second World War is of equal importance to the Revolutionary War as far as the US is concerned? If they should ask why, one can always respond with a remark such as, “Do you speak Japanese or German?” The blank look on the face of the original questioner should allow a discussion to begin. Truly, the first couple of years of WW2 were not really the best for America, and the manner in which things were turned around is something of which every American should be proud.

I was in Mr. Metievier’s sixth grade class when victory in Europe was declared, and we were on summer vacation when the Japanese surrender was signed aboard the USS Missouri. How my hometown put together a parade that large and that fast still baffles me. Of course, at eleven years of age, a whole pile of things baffled me. It really wasn’t until many, many years later, that I became aware of why that generation didn’t want to talk about what “they did in the Army.” The branch of service didn’t matter, but the horrors of war certainly did.

So, I guess my message is this: “To those of you younger than I, don’t ever let those who are younger than you forget what changed America from an isolationist nation into a world power. Let them know that while Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and those Patriots of Revolutionary War days established the free nation that we now take for granted, 416,800 men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that those freedoms would endure 160 plus years after the nation’s founding.”

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“Hey, we bagged the guy who planned the terrorist attack in Paris!”

“No kidding. You really got him?”

“Yeah, had to shoot him in the leg, but we got him. Now we just have to interrogate the son-of-a-bitch and see what else they might be planning.”

“Oh, man, that’s great!”

“Yeah, we found a number of suicide vests in his apartment. See ya later.

“Yeah, later.”

Less than two days later, what happens?

“Breaking news…There have been two bomb explosions at Brussels-Zventam airport outside of Brussels and another in the underground train system. At this moment, 21 are known dead…update…36 are now known dead, and ISIS is claiming credit”

Was this a real conversation? I don’t know; I wasn’t there! I didn’t shoot the son-of-a-bitch in the leg. I’m not a member of any Belgian law enforcement group, but I cannot help but wonder…Did you beef up security at the airport, railroad stations, underground transit terminals, and other public places that daily draw crowds? The minute he was in cuffs, did it occur to anyone that perhaps other cell leaders might start thinking about changing their time tables? If the answer is, “We cannot afford to have a continued heavy presence in all of these places,” then I have to believe that Belgium, like nearly every other nation will continue to be shocked every time another guerilla attack of this nature takes place.

“Suicide vests in his apartment?” What the hell is that? “Oh, hi…Mary…this is Abdul….yeah, fine, thanks, and you (pause). Oh, that’s great. Hey, listen, we finished your vest. Yeah, that’s right, the one with the Semtex in the back. Yeah, that’s the one. You can come over anytime and pick it up. Oh, by the way, has Hassan told you your target yet? Wow, that’ll be spectacular…yeah, right. Okay, we’ll see you later tonight then. Okay, Mary, see you later.”

This is the world in the early 21st Century. Would it be an open phone line? No, of course not. Would the conversation have been that blatant? I really doubt it. Could it actually happen just like that? You bet your bottom dollar it could.

We. Are. Living. In. A. World. Of. Terrorism. And. A. World. Of. Hatred. Why is this so? I do not have a clue. Political candidates in the United States say that Americans are angry. Are the Belgians angry? Are the Spanish angry? How about the British or the French? Are they angry? It would seem so because terrorists – I guess these are the angry people – are setting off bombs to kill those who aren’t angry; who are innocent and haven’t done one damned thing that they deserve to die or be maimed.

What is the ultimate goal of these terrorist people and groups? It can’t be world domination…well, I don’t think that’s what it is, so we have to ask, “What is the end game,” and the answer is that no one, the terrorists probably included, knows what the hell it is. For now, it appears that all that want to do is create world panic about who will be next. “The main and principle goal of the Islamic State that ISIS tells their new members is that to establish an Islamic State that will encompass the Arab world and after that we go to other countries.” Wasn’t Hitler’s goal to get back the lands the Germans lost after WWI and then get the rest of Europe? I believe that was the original plan and, as has been asked many times of many people about many things…”How’d that work out for ya?”

Am I being simplistic in my thinking? Yes, deliberately so. There is so much that none of us know about Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS. Can we identify how their religious beliefs differ from those of other forms of Islam? Sure we can, but that makes no difference. It appears that in the end, this religious sect wishes to rule the world as they see the world, and they will achieve that goal through the spreading of terror around the world until every single person conforms to their beliefs. As a consequence, total destruction of this group is the only answer, and the only way to achieve that is a vigilance level that we have yet to reach.

My simplistic sense tells me that the FBI, Homeland Security, or any other federal agency with a terrorist task force, could walk into an apartment in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or even Washington, D.C., and find bomb-making equipment, perhaps even a few unclaimed suicide vests. They could do that if… but where would that lead? So we will continue to follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice that, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and we other nations will do the same.

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It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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Okay, Jihadi, John, any plans you may have had for terrorizing the United States can now be put on hold. You’ve won, baby, and you didn’t even have to drive a tank down Pennsylvania Avenue or march around the Lincoln Memorial – that would have really fucked up DC traffic if you did it at rush hour. See, here’s the way this is going to work…you send a couple of guys into Congress; one goes to the office of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the other goes into the office of House Speaker John Boehner. Each delivers a bill that relates to the Department of Homeland Security. The one to McConnell will be falsely authored by Boehner and will include nothing on immigration. The bill to the House Leader will be a fake, supposedly written by McConnell that will include a section that would nullify the Presidential executive order. By the time they determine the fraud, both houses of Congress will be so confused, they’ll be shooting at each other. Just stand back and wait, Johnny-Boy, and our own legislative branch of government will implode.

On a more serious note, I am so sick and tired of the Congress of the United States that I’d almost be willing to move to Canada. The only thing preventing that is that the Canadians are beginning to sound almost as idiotic as the Americans. Excuse me, but if you’re a Canadian citizen and you wish to buy an airline ticket for Turkey, the answer is a resounding “No.” If all of you took classes in Islamic studies from a known Islamist, (a) double “No” and (b) the government will buy the ticket for the known Islamist and fly his ass directly to Syria.

If, as has been publicly said, the United States is conducting terror investigations in each of the 50 states, why hasn’t some action been taken? If we are already aware of whom the catalysts in our prisons are, why hasn’t some action been taken to weed them out, isolate them, or martyr them? If we know, and I’m quite certain that our intelligence agencies know – oh, god, I hope I’m not wrong about this – the mosques and imams who are radicalizing our citizenry, why the hell hasn’t action been taken to close the mosques and ship these people back from whence they came? Have we become so politically correct that we are willing to turn the other cheek until the jihadists decide that slitting our throats is easier?

The time has long since past when America should tolerate extreme Islamists. Whoever they are; wherever they are, they should be shut down now. “Oh, but if we do that, it’s a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution!” Bullshit! When a sect or cult begins to threaten the rights of the people who built this country, their First Amendment rights no long pertain or exist. Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus during the civil war. We are currently engaged in another, undeclared civil war right now against a group of foreign invaders who, if not dealt with as soon as humanly possible, will be flying the black and white over cities, towns, and hamlets all across America.

Do I sound paranoid? I’m too old to be paranoid. I am not yet old enough, however, to stop loving my country or to see that it is being eaten away from the inside out. The “new” Congress, controlled by a single party, was elected by the people because they promised to break gridlock and “govern.” Since that time, they have passed one major piece of legislation and that was vetoed by the President, as they knew it would be. Now, the houses cannot agree on a piece of legislation, which if not passed, will leave the security of our nation, closed for business. If that is what the Congress calls “governing,” then many of them have stuck their heads in the sand or somewhere else where the sun doesn’t shine.

The problems that we face cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the Legislative Branch of the United States government any more than they can be fully blamed on the Executive Branch. More than ever before, I blame the American people for electing the same political hacks who promise everything and deliver nothing, for creating the fix in which we now find ourselves. Google the number of criminals who are serving in the United States Congress; you’ll find that most of the investigations and arrests involve money. Income tax evasion, illegal campaign funding, illegal use of campaign funds…and you think that these people give a good goddamn about the people who voted for them? The answer to that depends entirely on how much which voters contributed to get them elected.

Ross Perot said it years ago; “Wake Up America.” From infiltration by jihadist terrorists to an inept legislative branch of government that can’t agree on anything, we are, to use an old saw, “up to our collective asses in alligators,” and the swamp remains undrained.

I propose that before any candidate for national public office is allowed to run, the same type of background investigation be conducted as is done for members of the military to be granted a Top Secret Code Word clearance. That would include a polygraph examination as well as random drug testing.  Given sufficient time, I’m quite certain that other requirements could be developed that would separate the wheat from the chaff.

Think about this for a moment: We are a nation of 320 million people, ninety-five percent of whom don’t give a damn as long as they have a roof over their head, a meal on the table three times a day, a new car in the garage or carport every six or seven years, and shoes without holes. On the other hand, you have the one percent who wants more than their fair share. You also have about 46 million children going to bed hungry every night. According to a UNICEF study, the United States has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the world. Is it any wonder that ISIS is able to recruit young people to its cause?

There you have it…from Jihad John to an inept and a somewhat corrupt government to a castigation of the American public and the way it treats its poorest, we have a great deal to overcome. Lordy, Lord, how I don’t envy the generation charged with pulling us out of this shit pile!

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I was six years old in 1940; sixteen in 1950; and 26 and married for three years by the time 1960 rolled around. On my fifth birthday, Adolph Hitler and his thousand-year-Reich invaded Poland. Korea was on the verge of exploding and I was still a naïve American young boy, just old enough to begin working, at least according to the labor laws of the time, when I was 16. Sputnik had gone up and scared the crap out of everyone by the time I graduated from college the first time, and it seemed that the dreaded and hated Soviet Union was going to win the “space race.” As ‘they’ say, “A lot of water has passed over the dam and under the bridge since those days.

When I was in high school, there was one Black kid…Leo Kennedy. Leo was a great athlete, something of a good friend, but I really never sat down and talked with him. He was the only Black person I knew, and, well, I really couldn’t talk about him at home. Jimmy Proctor appeared in high school when we were sophomores and he made two Black kids in school. We even had our token Jew, Freddie Ferber, but all we knew was that he didn’t go to any of the churches in town. You see, I grew up in about as white bread community as you could possibly see back in the fifties. It wasn’t so much that it was a slower time of life as much as it was just a different time. Looking back, I’m happy as hell that I don’t have to be growing up today, and someday, some old fart like me will dictate or thought transfer the exact same thing onto or into God-only-knows-what, and that person will say the exact same thing…”Wow, I’m happy as hell that I don’t have to be growing up today.”

Times were really bad when I was born. It sort of makes me wonder if my conception wasn’t some big accident. There were still breadlines in some places in 1934…hell, there were breadlines in various communities right up through 1936. What kind of crazy people would want to conceive a child during times that were that tough? Accident or not, I’m rather glad that Bud and Rae decided that I was worth the making. I guess it paid off. Dad was a shipyard worker and, when war broke out seven years after that glorious September morning when I appeared on the scene, money became plentiful once more because the shipyards were so damned busy, they were going three shifts around the clock. Overtime was just one of those things of which you took advantage.

Things just seem so much faster-paced today than they were when I was growing up. Maybe, just maybe it’s not that things are that much faster; maybe it’s just that I’m slowing down. When I was younger, it wasn’t cancer that killed people; it was polio…and car accidents…and heart attacks, although no one seemed to know what brought about heart attacks. I suppose doctors knew about cancer when I was a kid, but I don’t recall ever hearing the word tossed around. Uncle Stanley dropped dead in the shower; never did know what killed Aunt Stacy or Aunt Celia – she was the former postmistress in Cohasset, you know – but it wasn’t until my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1968 that I ever even considered the word.

Everything has changed; in many ways you – at least if you’re near my age – and I have changed with a great many of them. We have cell phones with apps and maps and cameras and so many other gadgets that I’ve stopped trying to figure out what they all do or mean. I wear head phones to listen to my I-pod at the gym. Other folks use ear buds, but I can’t get the damned things to stay in my ears. Rather than seeing only one or two people who are Black, I find that most of my friends are either Black, gay, or from a country other than America. My next door neighbor is a rabbi, and I turn to him as much for a counselor as I do to anyone else.

What will life be like in 2214 or 2314? How much will it have change? Will there still be a world as we think of it today. Will kids go to work at 16? What will that work entail? Will college still be an attractive way to further one’s education, and how will students attend college? Will they sit in front of a television screen and take online courses only? If so, how will they learn to interact on a social level? Many people, when I was growing up, believe that the year 2000 would be the age of the Jetsons. Well, that one sure blew by the boards in a hurry, didn’t it? War has certainly changed since I was a kid. Back during the days of WWII, you knew who the enemy was…and they fought like men, not using the skirts of women or children to sneak around. Today, they don’t seem to be world wars as much as they are, religious actions. At least that’s what the politicians would have you believe.

While it’s been the case since time began, I don’t believe the division between the “have’s” and the “have not’s” has been so great since the late 1800s. Conspicuous consumption or “keeping up with the Joneses” has put many a family in ruin. The idea of having a new car every so often; sending the kids to a prestigious college, even if it means refinancing the house; having the newest of this or the very best of that seems to be the downfall of too many people in this country. Job uncertainty doesn’t appear to be holding people back from this idea of wanting everything without the means to provide it. Juli and I have adopted the philosophy of, “The Joneses are in debt and we don’t care to join them.” I wonder how that will be playing out in a couple of centuries. No one seems to be too concerned about these questions, and I’ll be pretty dusty by the time they come along, so I guess I shouldn’t worry a whole hell of a lot about them either. They do, however, intrigue me.

When I was teaching a workshop in creative problem solving, I would often open with some icebreakers. The class would be split into random five-member teams…strangers getting to work together. They would be given a problem similar to the following: “The year is 2375. You and your family are spending your two-week vacation on a beautiful tropical island, once known as Massachusetts, in a country once known as America. What happened to make this a reality?” Every member of the team had to speak; the story they told had to be cohesive…and they had only fifteen minutes to come up with their scenario. To me, this kind of thinking is what we need today if we are to ensure that there will be kids growing up two or three centuries from now. My life was so simple and today’s life seems so complex. I wish you well, those who are not yet conceived. To those of us nearing the end of our time on earth…have we done the job right? Will our kids do the job right? Oh, how I hope we haven’t messed up everything!

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I suppose that if we really wanted to, the United States could always find a way to keep its population from growing by sending its young men and women to die somewhere. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Columbia or any Central American country, or any other African country for that matter, and we could send in the cannon fodder, just for the hell of it, right?

What is wrong with us; no, not us; what is wrong with the President, the Congress, the Department of Defense, and the rest of the idiots who believe that we, the United States of America, must stick our noses into the business of other countries? Isn’t that why we have a United Nations? Just because that operation happens to be headquartered in New York – a fine place from which spies from other countries have a field day studying American processes – does not mean that we are the chosen one to send our children out to die. Why don’t we headquarter the UN in someplace like Berlin or Paris or Moscow or Milan? Let those people take the lead in interfering with what’s going on in other nations? Why not; the answer is simple; they wouldn’t. They are too intelligent to interfere. It’s a freaking wonder we haven’t sent some troops to Gaza and some to Israel…just to be fair.

These “wars,” for that’s what we seem to be calling them, are costing us billions of dollars. However, I really don’t care how many goddamned dollars we’re spending, we’re also killing and maiming our young men and women, and that, my friends, is the real tragedy of war. Oh, look, isn’t that wonderful; we’ve created an entire new charity; it’s called the Wounded Warrior Project; give now, and support our veterans. Bullshit and I’m not saying forget the wounded warriors. I’m saying that we should stop interfering in things that don’t concern us in order that we not have a need for programs like the Wounded Warriors. We have the technology to create arms and legs, hands and feet; we don’t have the technology to mend the minds of these young men and women. We cannot take away the memories of what they have seen and what they’ve been forced to do to protect themselves.  Post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] has become an ingrained part of our vocabulary. We hear it every night on some ‘news’ program or other. We ‘find’ the causes of it, but no one, as yet, has found a cure for it. Therefore, because we have the ability to do so, let us lessen the opportunities for people to endure it.

There are so many things that are in need of support here at home and America still has to find away to insert itself into the business of people abroad.  I kept hearing that we went to Korea to stop the “red menace” from taking over the country and then moving on until all of Southeast Asia was under the iron fist of the communists. I heard basically the same thing when we went into Vietnam. Then what happened? The bastion of communism, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ went kaput. The red menace was a menace no more…at least that’s what we believe. With KGB’s Killer Putin in charge, one never knows what to expect. The Middle East is a different story. We have no business interfering with tribal warfare. Let them kill each other; it’s just adding a bit more bleach to the gene pool. We have enough problems at home to take care of. How about spending fewer dollars on defense and a few more on (a) increasing the minimum wage to something above the poverty level; (b) protecting our borders to  the south from an immigrant invasion that is going to cause us nothing but problems in the future; (c) strengthening our infrastructure so that every time I drive over or under a bridge, I’m not terrified that the damned thing is going to collapse under me or crash down on top of me; (d) revitalizing cities like Detroit and others that have been allowed to go to hell in a hand basket; (e) revamping our educational system in order to allow future generations to compete on a world stage that is becoming smaller and smaller; (f) rewriting our tax laws to allow average Americans to at least attempt to live the American Dream; (g) taking a hard look at our immigrant population and getting rid of those who are abusing what we have to offer without buying into our language or culture – yes, there is such a thing as being too nice.

Does all of this mean that I’m opposed to a strong military? Absolutely not, because we need a strong military if we are to survive.  We require a dedicated military that can respond at a moment’s notice to threats directly against the United States. My military service was limited, for the most part, to reserve activities. However, I spent a tour at the Pentagon, and it was one of the most rewarding times of my life. For many, the discipline and structure of military life are critical, and we have the best damned military of any nation in the world…but let’s not waste their lives so generously or to protect the assets of a few wealthy people. That’s wrong, and as a country, we should know better.

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There is a war going on in America. It is a war that is so silent and yet so deadly that most Americans don’t even know it exists. The only public evidence of this war took place nearly ten years ago. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, an anti-government radical militant detonated a truck bomb that destroyed the north wall of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bomb killed 168 people. It wasn’t the opening salvo by right-wing militia groups but it was, by far, the most devastating to date.

We see on television the civil wars in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and other places around the world, but we rarely think of our own country as being in a similar situation. No, there aren’t rebel groups with tanks and surface to air missiles…that we know of, but there are any number anti-government groups, generally organized around the issue of gun control, that might at any moment decide to make themselves known via the McVeigh phenomenon.

A little over a year ago, Donna Leinwand Leger, writing for USA Today, noted that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “…the number of groups operating in the USA reached an all-time high in 2012.”  She added that, “The center tracked 1,360 radical militias and anti-government groups in 2012, an eightfold increase over 2008, when it recorded 149 such groups. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy, the center says. That growth is likely to continue as the groups recruit more members with a pro-gun message, the center’s senior fellow Mark Potok said.

As Congress continues its threat to impeach the President; as Secretary of State John Kerry returns home without any accord between the Palestinians and the Israelis; as we see the chasm widening between the one percent and the rest of the nation, it’s frightening to believe that we have over one thousand militias, any one of which could suddenly decided to attempt a takeover of a town or hold hostage a city by different forms of violence.

Perhaps one of the signs that the right wing militia is becoming more active took place last month when a married couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller killed, without reason, two Las Vegas police officers and an innocent civilian. Alter Net wrote, “Police say they proclaimed “the beginning of the revolution,” and laid an American Revolutionary flag and a swastika symbol on the dead officers’ bodies before turning the guns on themselves.” Incidents of this nature appear to be on the rise in a number of states across the country.

It seems to me that most of us just chuckle when we learn that one of our neighbors is a member of the such-and-such militia, and we may remark that he, or in some cases she, always was a little on the strange side…”if ya know what I mean.”  Please don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to cause a panic among the few folks who read this blog. What I am trying to get across is that we stand damn near as good a chance of having more idiots like the Millers, McVeigh, Dennis Marx, who attacked a Georgia courthouse and was killed, and many others doing their best to take potshots that undermine our way of government and life and diverting assets that could well be used elsewhere.

Americans are so used to seeing terrorism in other parts of the world that we have become, somewhat justifiably, complacent as well as ignorant to the fact that it could happen here. Even after the episode with Timothy McVeigh, people appeared to believe that he was just a nut, and we really had nothing about which to be concerned. Few even considered the fact that McVeigh had spent time with the Michigan militia which advocates armed resistance to federal authority.

Have I gone completely around the bend on this topic? No, I don’t think so. There are protests daily near several federal buildings in Washington. Thank God that they, while noisy at times, are confined to carrying protest signs against this thing or that. For the most part, protests appear to center on two major topics: guns and birth. Groups are terrified that their guns will be taken away and that the federal government will then control them by armed force and they will have no way of defending themselves. The pro- and anti-birthers protests center on whether or not a woman should or should not be able to do with her body as she wishes.

On a purely personal note, I often wonder if Homeland Security is fully aware of the amount of dissension there is in our own country. This group doesn’t want to pay taxes because they believe all of their money is going overseas to help some country in Africa…and they hate black people; or going to make the rich richer in Washington because they see how many Congressmen are now millionaires; or feel that they aren’t receiving any benefit from the taxes they pay because they won’t or don’t want to take the time to see where the money actually goes. There are any numbers of reasons why some Americans hate America. The federal government is too big and interferes with the states; the states are taking too much and giving too little. It goes on and on and on ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Mr. Lincoln hit the nail squarely on the head when he told us, “You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” The frightening thing is that some of the people who are not pleased any of the time appear to be growing in numbers. Until the government stops looking abroad for problems to solve and begins to look inward, USA could, in the near future, stand for the Ununited States of Anarchy, and that would be just too damned bad.

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