Archive for November, 2017

Nuclear War Made Personal

This happened and it points out quite candidly how small the world is and how nuclear weapons would destroy so much of a world we cherish and places we don’t even know about. I believe this also clearly illustrates how we affect those world, the worlds we don’t know about. At bottom, this short story is about our shared humanity and how the past catches up with us in unexpected ways.

I have mentioned before that I worked in Poland for five years beginning almost immediately after the fall of Communism. I worked as a management consultant to Westernize and computerize a large Polish enterprise that had been bought by a group of American investors. (Which is itself another story for another time.)

< n.b. > I graduated in mathematics from Alliance College in 1960 from which I entered the United States Air Force. Alliance College was a school underwritten by the Polish National Alliance. I took the Polish as my language requirement and I grew up in a community where Polish was spoken by my Mother and in many places and circumstances. In the Air Force, I was assigned to the Strategic Air Command and served as a Launch Control Officer operating an Atlas F – ICBM silo near Salina, Kansas.

On my first trip, I arrived in Warsaw very late and was met at the airport by a driver from the company who spoke no English. My Polish language skills had languished quite a bit but I was able to have a simple conversation as we drove from Warsaw to Torun the site of the factory. I was taken to a hotel and after checking in went to my room, opened the window, and fell into bed having been mostly awake since leaving New Mexico. As I was falling asleep I heard the unmistakable sound of heavy artillery. Looking out the window and to the West, I could see that each “boom” was accompanied by a flash. I eventually fell asleep.

Room service woke me in time for breakfast (sniadanie) in the hotel’s dining room where I was met by a great gentleman, a professor at The University of Torun and a former fellow at the Brookings Institute. After breakfast, we were taken by a company driver along the historic Vistula River to the factory. As we were driving, I asked the Professor why the cannon fire during the night. He explained this is a now Polish military base having formerly been a Soviet medium-range missile facility.

I didn’t say another word because there was only one Soviet medium-range missile facility in Poland, it was in the North West, and this was then, at one time, one of my targets. This beautiful medieval city would not be here had we launched against that Soviet base. It was a chilling experience. I never mentioned this to my hosts, of course, but the thought was always with me – nuclear war made concrete and personal.

My post – 11/13/17 at the New York Times today:

Emanuele Corso

Penasco, New Mexico 46 minutes ago

I was amazed and, frankly, disgusted by Mr. Sessions smirking and killing the clock. He “tried” and apparently failed to answer the questions posed. This level of arrogance is simply an expression disrespect. Of course, Issa is part of the team and played the game. Issa’s questioning was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team as he and Session passed the ball back and forth from behind their backs and around their waists.

My post at the NYT 11/13/17

Emanuele Corso

Penasco, New Mexico 1 hour ago

It seems our country has fallen into a state in which loyalty to the US has faded. And, sad to say, there hasn’t been a national dialog about this mainly because our so-called leaders are so busy doing well for themselves and their backers. Our long-standing American social contract has been under attack mostly by politicians of a certain party, by bad behavior in elected office from the president on down, by politicians being bought and paid for to create and pass legislation favorable to various interest groups at the expense of the common folk, by a president who openly trusts Putin more than his own countrymen, all of this and more have eroded and undermined any sense of unity, purpose, and loyalty to the country. Everything has consequences people, and the good old US of A is not and probably never will be the exception. We are living in a different time, a time that makes many of us older folks sad with dismay. What has gone missing obviously is the understanding that patriotism and loyalty must be earned, it must be mutual.

My comment at Politico today: It never fails to amaze and amuse when bible thumpers use the bible to exonerate one of theirs. Right now they are claiming that since Mary was 14 and Joe was 32, or thereabouts, this horny judge, Moore, is good to go. The Thumpers conveniently overlook the teaching that says Baby Jesus was God’s son, not Joe’s. Consequently, if they have an argument it’s with their God, not Joe. Also, since there are teachings that this was an “immaculate” conception even Good Ole God is off the hook for getting the young mother to be, Mary, as it says, “with child”. Think on that brethren.

Porcupines And The Social Contract

Porcupines and the Social Contract

Sometime back there was an image on the internet of a snake that had swallowed a porcupine. I didn’t click on the image to see the video of the event as the photo was sufficiently vivid. That image came back to me after seeing photos online of Trump and members of Congress beaming into the camera having reached a happy compromise over the debt limit in order to facilitate hurricane aid to the affected states. The Republican Speaker of the House did his best to make it seem like a good time was being had by all. The Republican party, I think, swallowed a porcupine when they climbed onto the Trump bandwagon and they know it. The daily damage and destruction inflicted on the American social contract by the Trump administration has revealed a number of people who are now realizing they too have swallowed a porcupine.

Not long after hurricanes struck Puerto Rico, the President explained that Puerto Rico is an island way out in the ocean, thus making aid difficult. Despite begging from elected officials, prevarication characterized the presidential response to the emergency and attendant tragedy. Puerto Rico was still engaged in an ongoing humanitarian emergency weeks later as well as a verbal duel with the president, who visited the island and demonstrated his concern for the people by throwing packages of paper towels to them. Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the government and its partners were providing only 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. As if the Puerto Rico tragedy were not enough, just a week or so later a gunman, firing from a hotel room 39 floors above street level in Las Vegas, shot and killed 59 people and injured more than 500 who were attending an outdoor concert. The President’s response?  It’s “premature” to discuss guns.

In some respects the porcupine seems to be going down easily. The President is eagerly joined by Congressional Republicans on certain issues. Speaker Paul Ryan in discussing the Republican sponsored tax cuts, explained that the middle class would somehow benefit from those cuts that were mainly for the wealthy. Middle class people would pay more to fund the cuts. Oh, yes, of course. So far the proposal has been stalled and new, sweeter proposals offered. This is the same Paul Ryan who led the Republican assault on Social Security and public education which should also give people a clue to just how destructive his party and this President are intending to be to American society and our limping democracy. The assault on public education, by the way, is the same strategy employed by demagogues and dictators throughout history; control education to control the minds of children and young adults so they become easier to manipulate as a general public. Control information with falsehood or distortion to control the public in general. And, let’s privatize public education to make a profit while we are at it.

  

What we have here is an untethered reality, a president who believes whatever he says is real and true. It is true, of course, that people can believe and not believe the same thing simultaneously. It’s a form of solipsism, the idea that anything outside your own mind doesn’t exist so you can inhabit your own reality simultaneously with inhabiting the outside social world shared with others. This self-defined world is fueled by what is sometimes referred to as “existential fatigue” which has been defined as a personal search for meaning and purpose in a world increasingly bankrupt of both. It isn’t a complicated matter for the people who voted for Trump who know his  background of financial cheating, child molestation, self-admitted sexual assault complete with comments on how to approach that. Yes, good church-going, self-defined “Christians” remain supportive of the President and his agenda. What to make of this? A remarkable fluidity of perception, loose commitment to a social contract, and a fungible belief system. Now, while the porcupine is getting a lot of attention it’s the snakes facilitating the porcupine that we have to watch out for. And the snakes had better understand that once swallowed, the Porcupine has only one path out.

My comment at the NYT today: 11/6/17

Emanuele Corso

Penasco, New Mexico 1 hour ago

“If something is more profoundly wrong with public polling than weighting by education alone can address, it’s hard to see how many public polling firms will be able to do anything about it.”
I think this concluding sentence says it all. I have always been opposed to public polling as it can and most likely does influence low information voters who want to go along with the majority. There is no protection from this real and obvious threat. The term “informed voter” becomes meaningless when people follow what they believe is the majority. The more influential “weight” it seems to me would be informed interest. The survival of a democracy rests on informed voting by people who understand and care about the outcomes.

Mycomment at the NYT today – 11/1/17

Emanuele Corso

Penasco, New Mexico 21 minutes ago

I think it telling that Congressional Republicans are expressing more concern about children being in the US illegally than whether or not there was collusion with the Russians to corrupt our past election. Apparently these Republicans place little value in the Democratic process and the sanctity of elections. Their values are actually frightening considering the oaths of office they take and seem now to not honor. Since they seem to have no principals to uphold, their only defense is to conduct one distraction after another distracting us with a three-ring circus of meaningless hearings. And, never forget that hearings are not legislating and we, the American taxpayers, are footing the bill for this disgraceful deception.


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