Saturday, July 15, 2017

Acceptance

The current issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about nuclear brinkmanship by Mark Bowden, Can North Korea Be Stopped?  Bowden is the author of the best battle book I've ever read, Blackhawk Down about the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

During the current president's term, the rogue nation North Korea is likely to obtain nuclear missiles it can deliver to the US mainland.  I live in Washington DC, so it's less of a concern for me as the residents of Los Angeles.  It's about 7800 miles from North Korea to DCA, and "only" about 5800 miles to LAX, probably a reachable distance for North Korean nuclear-tipped missile in a few years, or maybe months.  North Korean leader, the semi-god dictator for life Kim Jong-Un, has assured America that he will create a "sea of fire" here, or in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere for transgressions against the sovereignty of North Korea that his fevered mind perceives or conjures up. Apparently it's personal, because the Young One wants to stay in power for life and he intends to do this with a nuclear arsenal and a fevered populace whipped into a frenzy of rhapsodic xenophobia by fiery state-controlled rhetoric.

People of Los Angeles, do you want your personal safety to rest in the palm of President Trump's hand?  Unless you're related to him, do you think he has your best interests in mind?  But it is him who will act upon this threat, or not act. And the issue will be resolved by 2020, I am sure, one way or another.  The likely outcomes to me seem to line up along three main possibilities: a bombastic nuclear North Korea to be dealt with (acquiescence), a nuclear, chemical or biological desert somewhere (the light military option, turning the screws a little more tightly, with unpredictable results), or a vassal state in North Korea controlled by America, South Korea or China, with millions of Asians and thousands of Americans dead with possibly still an ongoing war or world war (the heavy military option).

Bowden lays out four options for the US, based upon the certainty that North Korea, in its current state, will never give up its nuclear program or ambitions because the Young One views this as essential to its, or his, survival.  None of the realistic options are good, as Bowden points out.

Prevention envisions a massive military strike suddenly launched by the US either with or without South Korea that a) would be a surprise to the Hermit Kingdom of the north; b) hopes China would idly stand by; c) involves Seoul, 40 miles south of the DMZ, being subjected to hours or days of massive artillery bombardment with horrendous casualties (not to mention Tokyo being subjected to a missile, or nuclear, attack by the north only about 800 miles away) and d) imagines everything going like clockwork (no fog of war) and that the North Korean army doesn't escape to Manchuria or the mountains of North Korea (or South Korea) to form a formidable guerrilla army.  It is unimaginable that this option would go well, even if the US could sneak a million soldiers into South Korea along with several air fleets and many naval units offshore and the South Koreans would cooperate, even if that meant merely standing by (their people would suffer the most).

Turning the Screws is the military option lite.  It imagines limited but aggressive military responses to provocations like bombing nuclear production sites whenever a test missile is fired or a nuclear device is detonated (tested).  An attempt at altering the north's state of mind and behavior with a firm cause/effect infliction of force.  It's hardly likely that this approach would work and either North Korean behavior probably wouldn't change one whit except to become even more determined or insidious, and it could easily and quickly slide into the scenario outlined above, only without the surprise start.

Decapitation is a third alternative being considered.  Take out the Young One with a pinpoint strike of some sort and hope that a more reasonable leader would assume power who could be pressured or bought off or reasoned with to abandon nukes.  This seems highly unlikely because it's not like we could send a drone over to drop a bomb on the North Korean leader (it would be shot down) and the US doesn't send suicide squads out (this would be more complicated than the ill-fated mission to rescue the Teheran hostages under President Carter, which doomed his presidency).  If such an attempt was made and it failed, the response from North Korea would probably be entirely unpredictable and disproportionate.  This is the stuff of a spy novel thriller, not the real world.  Bowden implies that a better option than trying to kill the Young One is to wait and hope he'll die in the meantime from being so obese so young and the fact that he comes from a family with a history of heart afflictions and strokes.

Acceptance is the last option, and the most likely to occur, if by nothing else, with the passage of time.  It's the inevitable or immutable occurrence, dealing with an armed and bristling North Korea like we deal with a hostile Russia and an inscrutable China, through the time-tested resort to MAD (mutually assured destruction) because we could annihilate North Korea with a nuclear strike and for the foreseeable future, even if the reclusive nation could hurt us, it can't destroy us.  North Korea is a real problem, and could conceivably be the source of ending life as we know it, but Bowden's choice, and I guess mine, seems to be to just deal with it.  Unless we are ready to have millions die due to an action we undertook.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Happy Birthday!

It was a Friday evening, and I was there on the sidewalk outside her (our) house, adhering to the sidewalk rule (if you go onto the porch and knock on the door, the police are likely to come sirening down the street 2 minutes later in response to a specious 9-11 call that you're enraged and breaking down the door), awaiting any action to my call to voicemail announcing that I was here to pick up my children for visitation pursuant to a longstanding court order.  Out of the gloam, their mother, Sharon, came down the cement stairs from the house to the sidewalk, with her date trailing behind, as is customary with her menfolk.

"What are you doing here?"  "I'm here to pick up my children for weekend visitation, because this is my time to be with them pursuant to the court order governing this, and I expect them to be here ready to go with me."

"Well, I made them ready to go with you but they refused to come out so you can leave."  In my opinion, she lied (again) because the house behind her was totally dark.

"Come on," she ordered to the man hanging back behind her, "let's go."  He came down the stairs upon her command and got into the driver's seat of the vehicle at the curb as she climbed into the passenger side while I retreated (in order to not present a "menacing" appearance; if you get divorced, this crap will become standard fare soon enough if the woman plays the female victim card as Sharon fallaciously did, and for long while she got the advance to go card) to the asphalt fifteen feet behind this vehicle.

I practically always carry a camera.  It was out, and charged, ready to snap a picture.

The vehicle came to life; it had twelve or more feet in front of it to put it out into the traffic lane going forward, unobstructed.  I was a State Trooper for seven years and I pay attention to these sort of details.

The back-up lights came on the vehicle and it roared backwards.  I was transfixed in place with fear as the 2-ton metal monster closed the distance to me rapidly.

 Well, the man killing machine didn't back over me, and the frightfully close steel behemoth was thrust back into drive at the last moment and driven away.  Hey birthday boy, what happened in the cab at that moment, if that was you dating this covert narcissist (in my opinion) that night, did you actually choose your own course finally at the last split-second, or did you just chicken out in your (perhaps commanded) aggression?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A boot and a crown

So the Dog Days of Summer arrived.  I'm in a boot now, because of an achilles strain I incurred while running (the doctor said, "If the boot doesn't work, I'll refer you to the surgeon.") so I'm just sitting around getting fat.

I went in to the District once to have lunch with my past and hopefully future running buddy, since I'm currently incapacitated and haven't run in months.  The Fourth of July arrived, and at noon I went to the Lost Dog Cafe for lunch.

Nobody I recognized came in.  But how would I know what my children would look like anyway, since I have never laid eyes on any of them even once when they were of majority age.

After lunch with the empty chair, I strolled around outside while I called a sibling, and a friend.  Then since I was hot, I purchased a refrigerated Snicker's Bar from the drugstore and while chewing on that semi-hard nougat mass, I pulled out a crown, one put in just two years ago.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dad's Day 2017

On the day following the recovery of one of my middle son's little black plastic toy soldiers from the yard, where Johnny had left him behind two decades earlier at the conclusion of some see-saw backyard battle between armies (probably darkness interposed), it was Father's Day so as usual on special days when I am around, I went for lunch at noon at the Lost Dog Cafe in the eternal hope that one of those bad boys of mine would show up so we could get on with the rest of our lives in some form of association with each other, starting that day. You know, reinstate the paternal relationship that was torn away extrajudicially by their mother and her coterie of "professionals," in my opinion, a decade and a half ago during the lengthy divorce when they were vulnerable minors through the imposition of parental alienation syndrome, a form of brainwashing through clever, lengthy and insidious manipulation.

I know this is a broken record, or in today's lingo, a stuck DVD.  But the pain, though lessened after a decade of radio silence from all three, doesn't go away.

In my opinion, my pain would be a delight to their mother and she succeeded in destroying their three childhoods in her enlistment of those vulnerable children in her visceral and beyond-the-bounds-of-decency unrelenting campaign to destroy me.  Divorce in the west!

I was sad that no child of mine showed up to wish me a happy Father's Day, again.  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Frogman

It returned to my world on the day before Father's Day.  A fighting frogman, a black plastic warrior long buried in the mossy gravel of the driveway, hidden away for almost two decades.

My middle son, Johnny, whom I haven't spoken with nor heard from since 2004, used to play with plastic army men in the yard when he was little.  His mother used to say he was the most like me of my 3 sons; I used to play interminably with green (and tan) little plastic army men when I was little.

I ran into his mother, my ex, on a public sidewalk a couple of years ago and asked her if Johnny was alive, well, married, had children, and where he lived, because I don't know the answer to any of those 5 questions.  She stonily refused to answer even a single word, and I walked away having confirmed, in my mind, that she was the destructive covert narcissist I had come to discover her to be, in my opinion.

It's ironic that this soldier returned to the fold on the eve of Father's Day, to be placed on the shelf in Johnny's bedroom with 4 or 5 other toy soldiers who have come home in a similar fashion over the years.  Perhaps someday the prodigal son, his will having been overborne by his mother and her coterie of accomplices during the lengthy divorce when he was a vulnerable minor, in my opinion, will return to the fold also.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Trooper

A friend recently sent me a Red Skelton sketch where he joked about two state patrolmen stopping a very careful driver for a good driver award, only to find out that he was driving so carefully because he was totally inebriated and didn't want to draw attention to himself.  That skit reminded me of one of the most memorable DUI arrests I made when I was a state trooper three decades ago, an arrest that I call my hi-tech bust. 

One night just east of Boulder on the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, Highway 36, I topped the long incline leading out of Boulder and saw the long sweep of congested traffic below me on the long decline flowing towards Broomfield.  Since there was no possibility of catching an opposing speeder because of the median wall separating the two sides, I flipped off my radar unit. Half a mile away on the long decline I saw brake lights go off. 

Intrigued, I flipped the radar unit back on and the brake lights went on again and stayed on.  I flipped the unit off, and the taillights returned to normal. 

I increased my speed and weaved through traffic until I caught up with the car whose driver I had observed driving strangely, dragging his brakes whenever my radar unit was on, and I flipped on the unit again.  The brake lights came on and stayed on, in conformity with my radar unit's operation. 

The driver was hemmed in by the vehicular volume and driving along with the slower flow of traffic.  Since his lengthily dragging his brakes indicated erratic driving, I pulled him over.

I asked for his driver's license and registration and asked if he had a radar detector in his vehicle.  He confirmed that he did.  

Detecting the odor of alcohol on his breath and noting his slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, I asked him to step out into the space between our cars and administered a roadside sobriety exam.  He failed them entirely and I arrested him.

 As I transported him back to the Boulder jail, he demanded to know why I'd stopped him.   I was so proud of my "hi-tech" probable cause stop that I told the 10-55 how it was that i noticed him.

I explained that I had noticed that whenever I energized my radar unit, obviously his radar detector sounded its alarm and he apparently automatically put his foot on his brakes as a reflex action and kept it there until his detector stopped sounding off, at which point he obviously took his foot off his brakes and stopped dragging them.  Never try to explain anything that's even slightly complicated to a drunk, because for the rest of the ride to jail he kept screaming that I'd arrested him for having a radar detector and didn't I know that they were legal in Colorado! 

I did know that radar detectors were perfectly legal in Colorado and I tried to patiently explain that he was under arrest for DUI, not possession of a radar detector.  My attempts at ameliorating his agitation were unsuccessful and I was sorry that I'd broken my usual rule of deflection and answered his question honestly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

I heard the rumble of thunder as thousands of motorcycles approached the capital on Saturday and I knew that it was Memorial Day weekend.  Rolling Thunder was rolling into town from all points west.

Early on Sunday morning I went to an overlook and viewed hundreds of motorcyclists rolling into the District from their overnight perches nearby, preparatory to rolling up and down Pennsylvania Avenue all day in honor of the KIAs in our endless wars and in hope of reclaiming our hundreds of MIAs.  It rolls by the Vietnam Wall which embodies the true cost of our nearly incessant conflicts.

There are members of my family who sacrificed for all of us in some of the wars, my father (the Pacific War), uncle Harry (Pacific War), Uncle Bill (Pacific War), Uncle Bob (Mediterranean War), Grandfather (North Atlantic in WWI) and brother (Beirut).  Fortunately they all returned intact, at least physically.

On Memorial Day at noon I went for lunch at my usual spot.  The food was good, the beer was delicious, and the company was nonexistent.

Maybe Father's Day.  ;-)