Nuclear Bullsh*t

Not long ago, as reported by ABC News, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized his opponent, president Barack Obama, for not doing enough to stop the Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

“If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon…and I’m not willing to allow your generation to have to worry about a threat from Iran or anyone else that nuclear material be used against Americans,” Romney said.

I’ve written previously about the hypocrisy of much political campaign talk about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the ability of this (or any) American president to influence its eventual (and inevitable) outcome. I’ll say it again: short of bombing it to the Stone Age (which no one can seriously advocate), the American president can do nothing to prevent any other highly-motivated and highly-resourced country from developing nuclear weapons. The science is known, the materials and technology are available, the expertise exists. Sanctions (economic, trade, or otherwise), diplomatic action, even targeted military action will not prevent anything. These steps can only make nuclear weapon development take longer and be more costly, so, at best, temporarily forestall the inevitable.

So, Romney can say he won’t “allow” Iran to have nuclear weapons all he wants; it’s merely campaign ‘sound and fury.’ And it’s mighty telling that, when pressed, Romney hasn’t been able to articulate a concrete path toward the stance he suggests Obama can’t deliver. Know why? The path doesn’t, in fact, exist.

In this election season, can’t you at least be honest about that one little thing, Mitt?

Death? No, thank you.

Here’s the list, the complete list: Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tonga, United States, Vietnam.

These are the world’s countries that still employ the savage practice of capital punishment. Proud of being part of that club?

In California, we have our own long and disgusting history of killing people, which started in 1778 when four native Americans were shot for conspiracy to commit murder after conviction by an all-white jury.

When shooting proved too unreliable and expensive, California adopted the gas chamber.

When gas also proved to be too unreliable and expensive, California adopted lethal injection as our tool of choice for state-sanctioned murder.

Nice. Clean. Clinical.

Albert Pierrepoint was the most famous of England’s official hangmen in the 20th century. During his active career as an executioner, which ran from 1931 to 1956, Pierrepoint was thought to have executed somewhere about 450 people and, later in his life, became quite philosophical about his line of work. In his 1974 autobiography, Pierrepoint wrote:

“I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people.”

In California, we have the opportunity to say no, to say enough, to say we want to join the other global club, the one of civilized countries who decline to use execution as a tool of control. An initiative to ban the use of the death penalty has qualified for the November ballot.

Here’s our chance to re-join civilized people everywhere. Or we can, you know, just continue on in the direction we’re already headed.

Top Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear Your Pilot Say

[Courtesy of Captain Clayton Osbon, JetBlue.]

5. ‘Let me in! Let me in!’ while pounding on the other side of the cockpit door.

4. ‘They’re going to take us down! They’re taking us down! They’re going to take us down!’

3. ‘Say the Lord’s prayer! Say the Lord’s prayer!’

2. ‘I’m not responsible for this plane crashing.’

1. Anything to do with al-Qaeda, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or bombs.

Nukes for Iran

[Please also see my subsequent posting: https://sanfranciscoba.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/nuclear-bullsht/]

 

The atomic bomb was conceived and created 60-something years ago in the minds of men and the high desert of New Mexico.

Almost immediately, the very men who made it had second thoughts. Some tried to talk the president, first Roosevelt, then Truman, out of its deployment, or even disclosure.  It was reported that as nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer watched the detonation of the first atomic bomb during a test, he recalled words from the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’

The bomb was, of course, deployed to devastating and horrific result. And, in the contrary nature of humankind, people were both repulsed and irresistibly attracted by the blinding light. The United States had it and everyone else wanted it. We tried our best to hold the secrets safe but, in the end, it was a fool’s errand.

The Soviet Union got it. Others got it too. Science works that way.

The sad truth is, any country on earth able and willing to devote adequate resources can have a nuclear weapon. No president, no political party, no economic sanctions, no alliance of nations, no army can prevent it. That is a stone-cold fact. Pretending otherwise is either (1) whistling past the graveyard or (2) ugly pandering for votes.

We have let the nuclear genie out of the bottle and, armies and sanctions be damned, he will not be returned. The prescient writings have been fulfilled, Dr. Oppenheimer.

‘Now, I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’

Worth a Tear or Two

Do you know who this is? Her name was Marie Colvin. The eyepatch is no Halloween get-up; she lost the eye while covering a war. She was a journalist and she died this week trying to tell the world what’s happening right now in Syria.

She was a journalist, like Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid, some others. She didn’t just go to government press briefings. She went out and got the story. Then she told it.

She was a journalist who put her life in peril to do her job the way it ought to be done, the way all serious journalists used to do it, the way some (very few) do it still. She thought the people of the world ought to know what’s happening. She believed, perhaps naively, that once knowing, we would care enough to do something.

These days, many of those appropriating the title “journalist” for themselves are either bald-assed propagandists…

trivia-seeking entertainers…

or do-nothing armchair pundits.

But that wasn’t Marie Colvin. She was a journalist. She died bringing us the story.

And her death, if not her story, might have gotten more attention but, hey, there are so many other things demanding our attention at this critical moment in history. For starters, it’s Oscar week and there are red-carpet looks to be presented and discussed.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Major League Baseball’s Spring Training.

And a newly adopted cat saved its new owner’s life.

No time now for serious stories about death and revolution.

But sometime down the road, if we’re at war with, say, Iran and the men and women in our armed forces are dying, don’t you dare bitch that the government lied to you, or that some conspiracy withheld information, or that you weren’t told. You were told, alright. You just couldn’t be bothered to pay attention – even when the person telling you died to bring you the story.