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The Lost Cause

The tragedy in Charlottesville and ensuing cacophony has inspired me to offer my perspective of the history involved. The monuments in question, hundreds, even thousands of them, were erected by proponents of The Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War, a series of myths that sought to rationalize Southern suffering. The purpose of the monuments was to say, “We lost the war, but we will win the peace.” These edifices and their inscriptions were the work of local groups like the

Online discourse

I am being charitable in the term discourse. Recently I added a comment to a Youtube file, the audio of fire department radio transmissions following a spectacular gas explosion. I was critical of the commander’s conduct on the air, something I think I can do based on both my professional background and the fact that I am a tax payer in Seattle. I was quickly flamed by anonymous posters who not only disagreed that the commander’s conduct was inadequate, but castigated me for

Complete Sentences

In the cacophony that is the presidential campaign I have not seen any discussion how candidate Trump seems unable to formulate complete sentences and coherent paragraphs. His speeches and now his debate responses are more like a poetry slam than political discourse. It is interesting to transcribe the words and see how disorganized the communications are. Language is a function of thought and I have to conclude that such disorganization is a reflection not just of Mr. Trump’

The American Revolution

We recently observed the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, the ban on slavery. Slavery—involuntary servitude, bonded servitude, etc.—had been the law in the United States and tradition long before that. While a milestone in American History the 13th Amendment should not be seen as a goal or a finish line. The 13th Amendment figures in a wider context of the evolution of human rights since 1776 when the idea of inalienable rights was posed in the Declaration of Independ

Accountability

The continuing and tragedy of questionable police shootings has generated much noise and consumed many hours of cable TV news bandwidth. I have learned to click past the expert-of-the-moment who seems to enjoy the sound of his or her own voice. Things have to change! Fire the rascals! March! Shout! Book another guest! There is something missing from this all, a solution. I would prefer to listen to how the issues of 1) police officer selection, training, and supervision and 2

Monuments

The aftermath of the tragedy in Charleston has triggered a lively and not always civil discussion on the action in South Carolina to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the capitol grounds (which I agree with) has generated calls fore removal of all symbols of the Confederacy. Most of this noise is just noise in my opinion.  When some misanthrope murdered nine people under color of the Confederate Battle Flag, cries went up to destroy everything Confederate. With the Int

Police Killings…

…or media-speak, “officer-involved shootings.” But these don’t include choking, taser, or blunt force trauma deaths. In any event, deaths and serious injuries as the result of law enforcement actions have occupied a huge amount of air time and bandwidth. To be sure, any death involving government officials is concerning, but I have to object to the level and direction of commentary and protest. The harangue is that deadly force used by police is a national and federal governm

Bengazi Thing

Congressman Adam Schiff (D., California) has been named by minority leader Pelosi to participate in the most recent inquiry into the deaths of a U.S. Ambassador and three other State Department men in Bengazi. This seems to be fish guts in the water for the Republicans despite the fact that 1) the ambassador had asked for increased security, 2) early assessments of the attack were wrong, and 3) in a war we take damage. I know Adam Schiff. I worked with him in the late 1980s w

Storm in the Desert

I note with some concern a series of stories about the Nevada rancher locked in a struggle with the U.S. Government over his payments for grazing rights. According to the stories he hasn’t paid rent on the Bureau of Land Management lands on which he has been raising cattle, cattle he sells for a profit. The Government has gotten court orders to seize his cattle and have picked up some 300 head. But the rancher is defiant and – this is the scary part – has attracted militia me

Crimea and Czechoslovakia

The crisis in Ukraine over Crimea has launched news producers into warp drive to find analysts, commenters, commentators, talking heads, and anyone with or without knowledge of events to be interviewed. You know you are wasting your time when the interviewee says, “I only know what I see in the news.” Some of the producers will find historians to find some sort of parallel in the past and the easiest one to pick on is the Sudetenland Crisis of 1938. To recap, in 1938 Adolph H

Twitter

I am experimenting with Twitter. I don’t have a particular need for tweeting, but I felt compelled to learn more after an emergency in the neighborhood on a Sunday night. We wanted to know what was going on and none of the radio stations or their web sites had any coverage. I went to Twitter because I knew that the police department uses tweets. Sure enough there was enough of a blurb to help us understand that there was a robbery/homicide. Very tragic. So I signed up and sta

Gun Debate

I am disappointed at the noise about the role of guns in the recent tragedies in Connecticut, Colorado, and here in Seattle. I am one inclined to support regulation of firearm possession and ownership, but the reality is that there are enough guns in the U.S. to arm every man, woman, and child. I cannot imagine a mechanism to remove half or a quarter or a tenth of these weapons from homes and circulation. All these discussions and all this proposed legislation syphon resource

Justice?

The recent demise of Osama Bin Laden has caused many to declare that justice has been done. Even the president says this. Calling the killing of the terrorist justice is unfortunate because it equates this action with some sort of judicial process. I don’t agree. There was no judicial process so this is not really justice. Back as far as President Bush there were cries to do justice and bring terrorists to justice. A more sensible approach to the killing of terrorists is as a

Silliness Within the Sadness

The recent tragedy in Tucson didn’t bring an end to the silliness that has inspired my posts recently. First the Sheriff of Pima County blamed the shootings on the degradation of political discourse. Apparently he is more politician than law enforcement officer and couldn’t see the event as another deranged person bent on destruction. Predictably the media picked up the scent and went bonkers on the sheriff’s idea. Never mind that there is no evidence to support that. It’s al

Captain – Not

More silliness. Although I will grant the U.S. Navy absolute discretion in who they appoint as captains of their warships I wonder if the recent relief of Captain Owen Honors as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise is either wise as a principle of military leadership or a proper use of taxpayer dollars. Four years ago Honors was the Executive Officer (XO) of the Enterprise and while on deployment made a series of videos to bolster crew morale. Deployments on carriers last six mon

Another video lynching

In the aftermath of the tragic death of Oscar Grant at the hands of a Bay Area Rapid Transit policeman on New Year’s 2009, Officer MarySol Domenici was suspended, then fired for her role during a chaotic situation on a train platform. She was accused of lying to investigators about her actions that night. She appealed her termination and an arbitrator held that the law firm hired by the BART Police to investigate the entire incident presented conclusions that were flawed. Onl

Deficit cutting

What a boring topic amid a week of news about presidential trips abroad, the GOP taking over the House, and, as always, the pundits proving that if you give people enough money they don’t mind making fools of themselves. One item caught my eye and some other notice was the list of suggestions by two members of the deficit commission (not its official name) on how to trim federal spending. The first reaction of readers and viewers is probably “how will this effect me?” and “wi

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