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Rockets Red Glare

7:24 pm in Uncategorized by Daveparts

Rockets Red Glare
By David Glenn Cox

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It would seem we are a nation stumbling from tragedy to bloody tragedy; we are a nation of hurts. How can these things keep happening like this? Some of us shout about gun control, while others argue for more mental health treatment. Strangely, few point the finger at a third actor upon the stage.

There was a time when drunken nit wits would barge out on the field during a baseball game, to show their penis or their ass. Broadcasters decided not to show the nit wit dancing out on to the field and you know what, it stopped happening.

No telling, if even now, some mental case, some ersatz Travis Bickle isn’t trying on body armor in some cheap room. His heart filled with a lifetime of sorrow and hurt, his head formulating a plot to go out in a blaze of bloody glory. Each gunman dreaming of prime time gore and instant fame, as each, plots an even deeper outrage.

This is after all America; we love our violence, and can’t ever seem to get enough gore. Murder, death and violence becomes us, with the invasion of Iraq the cable news network ratings soared. It’s fun to watch people die on a high resolution big screen TV. It’s so interesting watching ghoulish reporters shoving a microphone into the face of a grieving relative asking, “How does it feel?”

CBS, Sunday “Revenge” a woman seeks revenge against the people who framed her father for a crime he didn’t commit. Fox Monday, “Bones” soon to air for its eight season centers around Temperance “Bones” Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who attempts to solve gory crimes through forensic anthropology. Monday ABC’s “Castle” pairs a best – selling mystery novelist, and NYPD detective Kate Beckett centering on the unsolved homicide of Beckett’s mother. CBS Monday, “Hawaii Five O” an elite police crime unit, fights evil doers in beautiful Hawaii.

Then there is this charmer from NBC, “Revolution.” A post- apocalyptic dystopian action- adventure series, “We lived in an electric world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out. Everything stopped working. We weren’t prepared. Fear and confusion led to panic. The lucky ones made it out of the cities. The government collapsed. Militias took over, controlling the food supply and stockpiling weapons.” Lovely, simply lovely, Americans just have to have their violence quotient; it makes me proud not to own a television.

NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Body of Proof, Person of Interest, Criminal Minds, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order – Special Victims Unit, Chicago Fire, CSI: New York and “Grimm” because fantasy violence is fun and desensitizing. For the weekend, there is what is called by the industry insiders, “Crime Time Saturday” ninety minutes of America’s favorites, CSI and Criminal Minds in reruns.

Then there are the programs like Cops, Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes which disguised as investigative journalism, promote a point of view based on slanted and biased interviews designed to tug at our emotional heart strings. This programming along with all the others focus on crime, murder and mayhem and it doesn’t cause our problems or these bloody events but it is, our reflection, it is our alter ego as Americans. This is what we enjoy; this is what many Americans consider entertainment.

The Lancet is one of the oldest peer- reviewed medical journals in the world. In 2004, The Lancet released its first study concerning the estimated number of excess deaths in Iraq. The first study estimated 98,000 excess Iraqi deaths with a 95% level of certainty. A second study, released in 2006, raised that number to 654,965 or 2.5% of the population. From the Lancet report, “Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths.”

This is us, we in the United States of America allowed this massacre to happen. These fatalities didn’t bother us in the slightest and for many Americans it doesn’t bother us still. They asked for it, good guys and bad guys, cops and robbers. Saddam had weapons of mass destruction – no, he didn’t, but what he did have was lots and lots of oil, which hungry and unscrupulous men wanted. They turned on a propaganda machine as the opening act of the war machine.

On May 15th of 2003, President Bush made his famous “Bring them on” remark, with the message being that war is so good, we can’t get enough murder and mayhem and want more. On October 11, 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was informed of Muammar Gaddafi’s death in Libya, Clinton smiled and rubbed her hands together in satisfaction and remarked, “We came, we saw and he died.” Ain’t it great? Ain’t we special?

Operation Neptune Spear was carried out last May in what was described as a Central Intelligence led operation including Navy seals and the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment and CIA operatives. Excuse me, but when did the CIA become a branch of the US military?

Daily Mail, May 2, 2012 – “President Obama has revealed that he felt a ‘deep-seated satisfaction’ when he saw a photo of Osama bin Laden’s dead body for the first time.

The President said that the sight of the bullet ridden corpse made him think of the families of those who died on 9/11 – but denied that he did a high five in his mind.”

Strange the President should think such a thing, especially since Osama Bin Laden was never charged in connection with the events of 9/11. Bin Laden was charged in connection with a series of US embassy attacks in 1998 in North Africa. We the American public were never allowed to see those photos or the DNA evidence proving that it was, in fact, Osama Bin Laden.

An unnamed U.S. senior defense official stated that only one of the five people killed in the attack were armed. The interior of the house was pitch dark, because CIA operatives had cut the power to the neighborhood. Matt Bissonnette, who participated in the raid, described it this way, “when bin Laden peered out at the Americans advancing on his third-floor room, the SEAL who fired upon him hit him on the right side of the head. Bin Laden stumbled into his bedroom, where the SEALs found him crumpled and twitching on the floor in a pool of body matter, with two women crying over his body. The other SEALs allegedly grabbed the women, moved them away and shot bin Laden repeatedly in the chest until he was dead.”

“So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: justice has been done.” ~ Barack Obama

Indeed, “We will be true to the values that make us who we are.” We will kill the wounded and the unarmed, we will violate accepted codes of international behavior and then when asked to provide proof of what they’ve done will answer, that’s none of your business. On April 26, 2012 in response to Freedom of Information requests from the news media, Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the defense department was not required to release any of the evidence to the public.

This is who we are; this country of ours coolly operates concentration camps beyond our shores. We hold people indefinitely, without any charges of wrong doing. These prisoners have been as young as age 15 years of age and have been tortured, beaten and abused for years on end, before receiving long sentences at the hands of military tribunals.

Since 2004, the US military has been launching unmanned aerial drone missile attacks against the people of Pakistan. In 2008, Pakistan’s interior minister said, “A few militants are killed, but the majority of the victims are innocent citizens” A 2009, article by David Byman of the Brookings Institution reported, “drone strikes may have killed “10 or so civilians” for every “mid- and high-ranking [al Qaeda and Taliban] leader.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that between 391 to 780 civilians had been killed in these attacks and of that number 160 of the victims were children. It was also reported that since President Obama took office, at least 50 civilians were killed in follow up attacks when neighbors had gone to the aid of the victims. On June 12th of this year, Navi Pillay the UN high commissioner for human rights called for an investigation of the drone missile attacks repeatedly referring to the attacks as “indiscriminate.” Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, called on the Obama administration to justify its use of targeted assassinations rather than attempting to capture al Qaeda or Taliban suspects.

But wait – we are not at war with the people of Pakistan, we don’t have the right to launch even one missile, not one. Those murdered are not members of any government. At worst, they are aledged to be members of a criminal organization. At worst they are criminals, while at best, we ourselves are the criminals.

We live in a nation with a perverse and pervasive preoccupation with violence, then we act so surprised when we must face violence ourselves. Especially violence against the innocents, which can neither be justified nor put away in any case. We are a monster factory, and while taking away guns might seem like the obvious solution, especially since that program has worked so wonderfully with drugs and alcohol. The problem is much deeper than that “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

It is a slippery slope and we have already lost our footing,

Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 3, 2012 – 13 Cleveland police officers who fired 137 rounds into car, killing 2, expected to be interviewed by investigators today.

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) Updated, November 27, 2012 – Andrew Lopez was lying on his back, wounded and unarmed when an Albuquerque police officer delivered the shot that killed him early one February morning in 2009. Alan Gomez was carrying a plastic spoon and reportedly walking away from officers when he was killed by police earlier this month. And an unarmed Christopher Torres was shot in the back three times at point blank range in April after police say he tried to grab his gun.

What These Things Cost

1:26 pm in Uncategorized by Daveparts

What These Things Cost
By David Glenn Cox

Whenever we attempt to evaluate things, there is price and then there is cost. The price of an item or adventure is simply the dollar amount. The cost is something greater and deeper than money alone. Students today, go into hock up to their eyeballs to obtain a college degree. They are, in effect, wagering their futures and paying the price, while the cost is paid by society as a whole if they don’t succeed.

Schoolteachers, engineers, doctors, researchers and scientists don’t just fall from the sky. These people are investing in their own futures, unsure of their own success or potential yet they are willing to accept the challenge. Each generation makes that commitment and knowledge is multiplied.

In 1903, two brothers from Ohio flew the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft and sixty-six years later men landed on the moon. That is an impressive time line, from traveling 120 feet down a beach to 238,837 miles to the lunar surface. Think of all the jobs and employment that opened up in those sixty-six years, from Orville and Wilbur Wright to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and millions of others. It was the fearless investment in the future that made it all possible.

During the Great Depression, the WPA built runways and landing fields. They set up navigational aids and made the airline industry possible. The airline industry fueled the need for larger and more powerful aircraft, which in turn created a need for more mechanics and pilots and air traffic controllers. From DC-3s to 747s in thirty-five years, from hundreds employed to tens of thousands employed. There was no guarantee the government money spent would return dividends, only the hopes that it would help in the future. It wasn’t money procured by special interest pressure groups. The railroads felt safe and secure, fly off in a rickety airplane versus a nice comfortable Pullman sleeping car? Don’t make me laugh!

President Kennedy made a speech in 1961 after only one American had flown in a sub-orbital space flight. The program he was proposing was incredibly expensive, $24 billion over ten years to put a man on the moon.

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too… Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” John Kennedy

Certainly, it was an appendage of the Cold War but it was also an appendage of the technology war and the science war. At its zenith the lunar program employed four hundred thousand Americans with twenty thousand contracts and research grants to businesses and universities. In the back room behind the cameras NASA had their experts and trouble shooters, the best and the brightest and most of them still in their twenties. Mathematicians, flight systems specialists, life scientists, computer experts, all making the impossible look easy.

It all culminated in July of 1969, with the first landing on the moon. Even Jules Verne hadn’t predicted that a world audience would watch it on television live. For that one day, for 24 hours, the people back on planet Earth sat back and said, “Wow, men on the moon.” Neil and Buzz figured their landing data on a computer that weighed less than twenty pounds. They filmed their actions inside the spacecraft on a miniature video camera. Then they downloaded it to a microwave signal and sent it back to NASA from a spacecraft moving 15,000 miles per hour.

On the surface they used a miniature television camera and they attached things inside the capsule with a new device called Velcro. Their electricity on board was generated by a fuel cell and later missions even carried along an electric car. The car was equipped with its own microwave relay that beamed the signals to the lunar module and back to Earth making the lunar module a cell phone tower.

That $24 billion investment was the crucible where our modern world was created. There were no guarantees of product spin offs; no one at the time had even the slightest inkling of the computer revolution that was about to change everything. It was a blind investment into the future and a blind investment in a goal that many thought was impossible to achieve in the ten-year time line.

The payback was incalculable. The computer industry, the communications industry, the technology is everywhere and touches every life and has created millions of jobs for Americans. It created whole new industries out of thin air, so when people try to tell me that big government programs and government investment don’t work, I roll my eyes and laugh. Remember that next time you’re standing in the airport talking on your cell phone or loading your video camera or closing the Velcro strips on your lap top computer bag. The price to create these things was $24 billion but the cost was almost free.

We gained all of this; we went to the moon and we have learned a hundred times more about the universe in the last fifty years than in the previous one thousand years. We have a telescope in space placed there by a big government program that can see almost to the edge of the universe and plans are on the drawing board for a new telescope ten to twenty times more powerful, if we have the courage and wisdom to build it and launch it.

We achieved the highest technological pinnacle of human achievement and friend and foe alike marveled at our abilities. We did all of this without a gun or a bomb, without fighter planes or bombers, without threats or soldiers, without invading anyone’s territory or deploying troops.

We did these things like a farmer does, by planting seeds and trusting for a bountiful future. We have many problems today just as we had many problems in 1961. Many of our problems today are related to our energy needs. Our energy needs spill over into our environmental concerns; toxic spills and coal fires spill over into global warming. Imagine a one trillion-dollar investment over ten years for safe, clean, renewable energy. Imagine the new products undreamed of today. Imagine the jobs created and imagine the falling deficit when we no longer need to buy foreign oil.

Imagine the smaller defense budget, when we no longer need to defend the obsolete oil fields around the globe. Imagine, a thousand wind turbines where the deep-water oil drilling rigs stand today in the Gulf. Imagine cargo ships loaded with these products as exports bound for the rest of the world. Imagine a goal of energy self-sufficiency in ten years. Then imagine where we will be in the world if we don’t do these things.

The cost of the Vietnam War: $173 billion with the loss of 58,000 American lives and 350,000 casualties.

The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: $1,366,181,762,648 allocated with no end in sight.

Killed in Iraq, 4,801; wounded, 30,182
Killed in Afghanistan, 3,156; wounded, 5,735

This is what these things cost.