Do you have hope for the future of America? Or have all the stories of doom and gloom gotten you down? Well, one week gave me a boost of confidence in our nation and our children, its future. You may have already seen two of them but missed the real story behind the scenes. The third is a very personal experience, one in which I escorted three WWII Veterans to a high school to meet the students who wanted to pay their respects and learn their history. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did
War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.
— Carl von Clausewitz
It’s easy to get lost these days. There are at least three wars raging in America simultaneously. We are being attacked from within and without while at the same time we are immersed in the Revolution that has never fully quit since the founding of the nation.
My father was a Nazi. I don’t know if he actually belonged to the American branch of the Nazi party. I have grounds to suspect he did. In any case, he was a fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler and all that he did. I grew up listening to my father extol Hitler’s dreams. Fortunately, I learned at an early age that my father was bat guano crazy and to ignore him.
Now, before you judge him harshly (that’s my prerogative) remember that many greatly admired Americans shared his beliefs. Charles Lindbergh for one. Joe Kennedy, the father of the famous brothers including President John F. Kennedy, for another. Why not? Der Fuhrer pulled Germany out of the Great Depression and who really cared what he did with the Jews? Everybody hated them.
Thus, I look with more than passing interest on the shenanigans of today’s Nazis. I wonder. How do they compare to Hitler’s minions?
“A tantrum or temper tantrum is an emotional outbreak, usually associated with children or those in emotional distress, typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification and, in some cases, hitting.” – Wikipedia
Recognize this behavior? A large segment of the American population seems to be having a tantrum ever since Donald Trump was elected President. Of course they feel justified. But what is their justification? Well, at first blush it was the unfairness of the Electoral College. That excuse didn't last long because few people actually understand the Electoral College. Then came the Russians.
Now it's the Nazis. What will be next?
Meanwhile, the nation survives. Flourishes, actually. Unemployment down, way down. Stock market up, way up. Consumer confidence high. Federal deficit spending low.
What, then, is the best way to deal with a tantrum? Just ask any competent parent. Don't reward it. Don't even acknowledge it. God help you if you do. You will teach your child (or emotionally distressed adult) that it's a successful tactic and they'll use it again and again.
Most experts tend to agree that they are made-up terms. So? All terms are made up, aren't they? Every word of every language was made up, crafted to express an idea, name a thing, or denote an action. If alt-Right and alt-Left are made up, does that make them any less valid?
The challenge is to understand what they are. Inasmuch as they haven't yet appeared in any dictionary, it's a great challenge. The simple fact that they are being used as pejoratives, used to express contempt for the opposition, I suspect that both are describing strawmen.
What then is a strawman? Fortunately that term has arrived in the dictionary: An intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.
Thus, when you hear these terms, beware. You have stumbled upon propaganda. The Strawman Argument is a classic technique of propaganda. The propagandist is attempting to convince you of the correctness of their position or opinion by contrasting it with the obvious weakness or falseness of that of their opponent's (that they have crafted for them).
America's success is the sum total of the successes of millions of individuals free to pursue their dreams according to their own abilities and ambition. Free market capitalism allowed many to build great businesses such as Henry Ford.
The Progressive Left vilifies the most successful among us arguing that only they should be allowed to be the captains of American industry. Well, let's see how well that's worked out in Detroit, the natal home of Ford Motor Company, where the Progressive Left have captained one of the world's great cities for more than 50 years.
These are the same people who have been captains in Washington. They are The Swamp. Now, why are we trying to tear down the one person who was sent to Washington to "drain The Swamp"?
Imagine my surprise when, early in my sixth decade, I discovered that I had an aunt and twelve cousins of whom I had never even heard. A few years later I was speaking with an aged aunt, my father's sister. “Speaking with” does not quite describe it. Conversations with Anna were more like being spoken to. Sometime during the telephone call she mentioned that she had been talking to her sister's daughter. It took me about fifteen minutes to stop her and guide her back to that point.
“Your sister's daughter? I didn't know you had a sister.”
“Of course,” she explained, obviously perplexed that I didn't know. “Your Aunt Mary.”
I had never heard of Mary.
Have you ever discovered that your family had a skeleton in the closet? A black sheep? How would you feel to learn that the "black sheep" may have had a golden fleece? This is the story that I had to tell.
We may well-imagine sound arguments being made for several wars or the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being worthy of the trophy as the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History. However, all of these are merely the symptoms of other mistakes, aren't they? Finding the root cause depends upon how far back you're willing to look for it..
Ultimately, it may be argued that We the People are accountable for all of the decisions made by our representatives in government, state and federal. Yes, We pay the price, don't we? We pay the taxes. We shed the blood. But the responsibility for those bad decisions vests in our elected representatives.
How does responsibility differ from accountability? Simple. Those who make the decisions are responsible in that they were elected for that purpose: They are responsible for making decisions or executing them. They may even take the blame for making bad ones. However, they never really pay the price for those decisions. They never actually suffer the consequences of them. More often than not, they are reelected so they can return to their seats of power and continue making bad decisions. Whose fault is that?
That being said, We the People electing poor representation to government is not a very satisfactory answer to the question: What is the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History? Ultimately, it is too broad. It means that We are both responsible and accountable for all mistakes. To determine which is the greatest or most costly mistake, We must narrow our vision to one specific mistake.
It's true. The highest ranking general will snap to attention and salute the lowest ranking enlisted man wearing a Medal of Honor. Why do you suppose that is? Are they honoring the man, the medal, or the act of valor that it represents?
Hero-worship is as natural as breathing. Most of us join the military fresh from childhood reverence of sports heroes. Thus, we didn't invent the practice but we certainly elevated it. I more so than most. As Chief of Awards and Decorations for the 9th Infantry Division during a portion of my tour of duty in Vietnam, I investigated many acts of valor and sat with senior officers who evaluated my recommendations including four that rose to garner the Medal of Honor.
Everyone who has ever worshiped a hero ultimately has been disappointed because every hero falters. Go ahead. Study the record of history. Even mythology tells the same tale. In retrospect, it seems that the West Point statue of Benedict Arnold's boot, commemorating his contribution to the Continental Army's victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga before he “turned coat”, is the most rational memorial to heroism to be found. [Note: Arnold was wounded in the foot during the Battle of Quebec.]
To be fair, I've never had bad hospital food. I've never even seen it, that is not until I visited the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California.
In the interests of complete disclosure I have eaten plenty of hospital food, but never in a VA hospital. I've eaten it while a patient in civilian hospitals as well as military hospitals. I was stationed for a time at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii where I was a patient for a week with my second bout of malaria. My first hospital stay with malaria was in an Army field hospital in Vietnam where I contracted it, and the food wasn't too bad even there.
I can't speak to the food served at other VA hospitals, but my expectations aren't very high. The food being served at the Long Beach VA Hospital is prepared at the one in West Los Angeles and trucked to Long Beach. The kitchens at the Long Beach VA hospital are closed for lack of sufficient funds in the federal budget. Congress could allocate more or the President could rearrange his priorities, but they have more important matters on their minds.
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