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THE MANY COSTS OF VOLUNTEERING 22 Oct. 2016 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

THE MANY COSTS OF VOLUNTEERING

 

22 Oct. 2016

 

Dear Friends and Patriots,

 

          No, I didn’t fall off the planet, nor have I given up.  I’ve had a lot to do these past few weeks and have suffered a bit of a brain drain.  

There’s been a lot in the news, but little that actually engaged me.  We still don’t know much about that Las Vegas incident.  Hillary is still trying to answer What Happened and might have had that answered for her if she’d only thought to use a question mark in the title of her dumb, ghost-written book.  The Obamacare subsidy thing is sort of interesting, but only because it’s revealed how pitifully little people understand about how such things are supposed to be done.   ISIS seems to be on the ropes at last.  That was going to happen sooner or later.  Sooner is good!  Hurricane relief is in full swing.  Congress seems to slowly be getting the message that the people of the country are fed up with them.  You’d think their ratings would have told them long ago.  Guess not!  I’ve already covered that ignorant NFL thing;  there’s no gain in spending more time on it.  Let it be what it will.

I guess I’ve been tired.  With all the fodder about you’d think something would have grabbed my attention, but none of those things did.  What finally did was the dumb flap that occurred when President Trump made a phone call to express his regret over the death of US Army Green Beret Sergeant LaDavid Johnson.  By now you all know what’s been reported in the media about the phone call and the aftermath. 

You may be like me and have a sense that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson used the call as a pretext to grab headlines for herself and to smear President Trump.  That is what happened.  Sergeant Johnson’s widow wouldn’t have picked up on the phrase in President Trump’s comments, that “ . . . he knew what he signed up for . . .” without some prompting.  If the Congresswoman hadn’t been there it’s unlikely Mrs. Johnson would have felt anything other than the grief she already felt and possibly a bit of amazement the President called her. 

But, Mrs. Johnson might have also been quite filled with anger.  Her 25 year old husband is dead now, and she doesn’t know why.  Those in the military may understand their risks, but for those back at home the danger isn’t immediate.  They know there is danger, and they know there is danger of death.  But, it happens to other people’s children and spouses.  Until it happens to one of their own they acknowledge the danger in an intellectual sense, but not its reality.

In a way this is a fake news story.  I’m quite certain many people have told other Presidents to “stick it” when they called to offer condolences.  I’m convinced many grieving and angry parents and spouses have launched into bitter tirades.  I’m equally convinced past Presidents have had to deal with their own torn emotions after such an exchange.  It has to be an incredibly difficult thing to make one of those calls; even more difficult when the conversation goes badly.

This morning I listened to retired General Jack Keane discuss this issue.  He opined that the President was only telling truth; possibly a truth someone didn’t want to hear at the moment, but still the truth.  General John Kelly said he suggested those exact words to the President.  Is it true the words and intent were misunderstood?  Did the President mean to insult, or was this a case of provocation by a third party?

I have my own thoughts about it.  This is what I put up on Facebook:

 

 

" . . . he knew what he signed up for . . ." Yes, that phrase means something to me and the rest of the 1%ers. It may not have at first, though. I admit I joined the Navy as my way of avoiding the draft. I had no love for the idea of going to Vietnam. But, I didn't want to go to Canada or create some phony reason to get a deferment. I volunteered for six years. Six vs two. I thought that was a fair trade for the chance of not being shot. Then I volunteered for submarines. After my first time underway I came to a stark realization - those things don't have much of a chance if something happens that puts them on the bottom. But, I volunteered for the Navy, and I volunteered for submarine duty. I knew after that first underway what I signed up for. Anyone can volunteer and do the minimum. These days the minimum could mean a tour or two in a very unpleasant place, where people try to kill you. These days everyone knows that. These days everyone knows what they sign up for. It's what the deal is. In exchange for your signature you get the potential of facing someone who thinks of you as an enemy; someone who might try to kill you and all those with you. No one wants to die. No one wants to get maimed. Those who volunteer do so for their own individual reasons, but even if their reason is only to have regular pay and decent meals, very soon they realize what they really sign up for. People who then go on and volunteer for Special Forces units . . . those guys not only know what they sign up for, they embrace it. That's what makes them heroes. They're the firemen and cops of the military, always rushing toward the flames and sound of gunfire. The President wasn't being dismissive of a soldier's death. He was acknowledging his courage. But, for those who never served, that point may be too abstract.

 

I need say no more about this specific incident.

The problem the President faces should be obvious.  Every moment of every day everything he says, every place he goes, every action he takes will not just be scrutinized, but will be examined to see if any political gain can be had from it.  It doesn’t matter what he says, someone is bound to be offended.  He could always have said something in a better way, or said something else entirely.  If he goes to one place, he should have gone to another.  If he takes an action, it will be criticized from many directions, even if the action he took repeats something done by the past five Presidents without raising an eyebrow.  This is political warfare, 21st century style.  This is more evidence of the slow coup underway.

Congresswoman Wilson is just one actor in this long and disgraceful play.  Most in the Democratic Party are playing a role.  Some are bit-players, while others appear to be vying for some kind of award.  It’s a sorry game.  The biggest losers aren’t the people in Congress, but the people they’re supposed to represent.  It’s bad enough that real things need to be done and Congress can’t agree on the time of day.   It’s worse because those in Congress who are leading the coup are not doing the things they were elected to do.  They’re grandstanding and telling their constituents they’re standing up to a tyrannical regime, headed by an orange-haired lunatic.  What they don’t admit is they’re just a bunch of lazy, overpaid louts who would see the entire nation grind to a halt rather than practice good governance.

Samuel Clemens knew Congress well.  He considered it the biggest organized crime family in the country.  He was right back in the 1880s when he made his observations, and if he were alive today, he’d be even more right.

It’s a pity, really.  Now a President can’t call a grieving widow or parent and offer sympathy without worrying about some ideologically motivated Congressman or Congresswoman sitting on the receiving end feigning outrage.  If this happens again, would you blame President Trump if he stopped making those calls?  Of course, you know if he quit making them it would only confirm his callous nature to those very same people.  He’s totally damned if he does, and totally damned if he doesn’t.  But, then, he knew what he signed up for.  If he didn’t at first, he certainly does by now.

How would you like that job?

 

MAGA, Baby!

 

In Liberty,
Steve
After my first time underway I came to a stark realization - these things don't have much of a chance if something happens that puts them on the bottom. But, I volunteered for the Navy, and I volunteered for submarine duty. I knew after that first underway what I signed up for. Anyone can volunteer and do the minimum. These days the minimum could mean a tour or two in a very unpleasant place, where people try to kill you. These days EVERYONE knows that. These days EVERYONE knows what they sign up for. It's what the deal is. In exchange for your signature you get the potential of facing someone who thinks of you as an enemy; someone who might try to kill you and all those with you. No one wants to die. No one wants to get maimed. Those who volunteer do so for their own individual reasons, but even if their reason is only to have regular pay and decent meals, very soon they realize what they really sign up for. People who then go on and volunteer for special forces units . . . those guys not only know what they sign up for, they embrace it. That's what makes them heroes. They're the firemen and cops of the military, always rushing toward the flames and sound of gunfire. The President wasn't being dismissive of a soldier's death. He was acknowledging his courage. But, for those who never served, that point may be too abstract.