Ponderings


Hawaii is a very unique and interesting place. It’s the only place I have ever been that while it was raining, the sun was shining brilliantly.

My first view of the island paradise was less impressive than I had pictured it in my head. As I popped my head out of the hatch, all I saw was the Pacific Ocean. “Seems a little disappointing, ” I said, somewhat in jest. “Turn around,” replied Mitch.” I did, and there, off the port side was the island of Oahu, Diamond Head in the distance, in brilliant sunlight, waiting for us to arrive.

We were dressed in our summer whites, which is pretty much the year year round uniform in Pearl Harbor, as we made our way up the channel and to the right of Ford Island. Our course would take us around to the north of the Island and end up at Fox pier, the berth located just ahead of the wreck of the USS Utah. In those days, there was no bridge from Ford Island to the main island.

Pearl Harbor is both shallow and surprisingly lackadaisical – at least to us. The mud was being kicked up in our wake as we moved slowly, accompanied by a single tug, not the three to which we were accustomed. Then, as we straightened up in the channel, there she was – the wreck of the USS Arizona, with her white memorial stretching across her shattered hull.

When you enter Pearl Harbor for the first time on a patrol, Naval tradition is that we render honors to the great ship and her gallant crew. Coming to attention, we stood in a line and saluted her as we passed. Here was a moment to consider the past and the future. Lying before us was the grave of over 1,100 men who died, almost before they even knew that the war had started. What lessons were there here, what things should we never forget? Were there things, like animosities, that we should forget?

A few days later, we were able to get over to her memorial and see the ship up close, read the names on the wall, hear the lapping of the water against the hull, see the tear-like drops of oil still seeping from her smashed hull. There was anger in me, sadness, and the realization that so many of these men were so young. Even younger than I, having just turned 21 years old just two days before. So much of life was ahead of them, and yet, here they have laid since that morning in 1941.

It was years later that I learned that the Japanese pilots had believed (been told?) that their attack was not a “sneak attack,” that the US had been informed that war had been declared. Many of the pilots who survived the war would express great shame over that little piece of diplomatic confusion. It was just another lesson in the way governments wage war, and expect the soldiers and sailors to simply follow orders.

I would go back to Pearl Harbor a year later, in 1985, but it’s hard to compare it to those first moments. That first view, that first moment of silence as we passed the wreck holding our salute. Making my way to the USS Utah Memorial and seeing that wreck from my own ship each time I went topside. It is a lasting impression of both the nature of war and of its wastefulness. Young men lie here who might have gone on to accomplish so many things.

Instead, they are entombed here, waiting whatever judgment G-d and history brings to them. All for the mistaken and misguided ideas of a few who ruled over many.

In a short discussion yesterday, a friend of mine expressed the thought that he believed that Japan could have gotten her goals for materials and become allied with the US by declaring war on Germany in 1941 instead of attacking the US. It’s an interesting idea that I need to consider and think about.

Speaking of War, a Democrat in Congress has introduced a bill to repeal the War Powers Act, passed in 1973 over the Veto of then President Nixon. To be clear, I agree with Nixon that the WPA is un-Constitutional, and poorly considered legislation that essentially allowed Congress to set aside one of it Constitutionally mandated duties and allow a President to have virtually a free hand in committing the US to war. There are some problems with his bill and his attitude, which was fine and dandy with President Obama dropping bombs and troops into places around the globe, but he doesn’t want Trump also doing this. I actually agree, but I don’t want any President, D or R, doing it without Congress debating and declaring it to be a war. Frankly, the reason why Korea, Vietnam Gulf I and II and the GWOT have gone they way they have is that we haven’t steeled ourselves and said, “This is a war, and we are going to fight to win.” Instead we half-ass things with “Authorizations for the Use of Military Force,” which isn’t the same thing as a war, is it?

And then we sit back and wonder why things don’t work out the way we think that they should.

As an aside, I am reading a fantastic book by one of my favorite authors, Thomas Fleming, titled “The Illusion of Victory, America in World War I.” The first chapter of the book is dedicated to Wilson’s speech to Congress in April of 1917, calling on Congress to declare war on Germany. We could learn a lot about that process today. When Congress debates going to war, instead of President simply deciding to go to war, interesting things can happen, like the public getting involved and informing their Representatives what they think should be done. There some down side as well, but we are not a democracy, we are a representative republic. While there will always be some name calling and finger pointing, you cannot say that America went to Europe in 1917 on a the whim of President who never had to convince Congress to go along with him.

A few years back, the State of Arizona passed a law that was supposed to allow them to deal with the immigration issue in their State as they saw fit. The claim was that the 10th Amendment and the failure of the Federal Government to act gave the State the authority to take action it deemed necessary. As you will no doubt recall, Arizona was bitch slapped by the President, Congress and the Courts, all of declared “”This is our area of control,” and the law was struck down by the Courts. Fast forward to 2016 and the opening of the California Legislative session. Now the State of California, which you could argue lost the Presidential election, has decided that it does not like the presumed policies of the incoming President and so has introduced State Bills to establish ITS own immigration policy and law. Part of one of the “barrage” of bills includes refusing to allow the Federal Government to build a wall along an international border without a vote of the People of the State of California. The Democratic Super-majority in the State house has expressed its position as a “check” against the incoming admistration when his polices conflict with those adopted by the State.

So once again, as with the #Calexit people, we have a giant case of hypocrisy and churlishness. What Arizona did was “bad.” But California wants to do the same thing. When Arizona acted, it was because “racism,” but now California wants to be a “check.” Apparently a check against the Constitution and the rule of law.

Here’s one on those oddities I like to talk about when it comes to evolution and mans place in it. My basic premise is that if man is a product of evolution (and I accept that he is), then he got to where he is because of all of the life forms on Earth he is most able to create (the image of G-d – Maimonides) his world around him to suit his needs both immediate and long term. Hence the fact that man has evolved to be able to adapt and change not just himself but his environment is if act, a product of evolution. So when women stop dying during childbirth because we are doing more and more C-sections, some claim that we are “monkeying” with evolution, but we really aren’t, are we? I mean that we are, but again, we evolved to be able to do that, so we really aren’t. Which leads me to my favorite maxim, “Why are those who most loudly insist that we all accept evolution, the least willing to accept its consequences?”

In Oakland yesterday, the man who holds the lease on the warehouse where at least 36 people were derick-ion-almena-4killed in a fire showed himself to be something of an odd ball and a scary example of the people in the world who want to take advantage of others. As more and more comes out about him and his wife it is more and more clear that this was a disaster waiting to happen. We send our children out into the world, and we know that there are parasites like this guy waiting to take advantage of them and take from them their innocence and youth, repaying them with disaster and even death. All we can do is raise them with our values and morals and hope and pray that they absorb enough of it to enable them to avoid the kind of people that this “artist” is. I like to think that there are more good people than bad in the world. But sometimes this kind of thing makes me wonder about it…

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About Dave

Talk Show host, lifelong Baseball and Star Trek fan, US Navy Submariner and Fire Control Technician (Ballistic Missile) 1st Class Petty Officer (Submarine Qualified), Dave is married with four daughters, one son, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren plus one on the way. He resides quietly in Manteca, CA, where he records his podcast, Plausibly Live, three days a week. He also writes for several other blogs and as a "Stay at home Dad" plays a lot of games with his son. Dave loves books, history and is learning to weld and drive a forklift. Just for fun. Dave is also a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and a Member of the US Submarine Veterans.

Posted on December 7, 2016, in 10th Amendment, 14th Amendment, American, Article I, Books & Authors, CA State Legislature, Congress, Constitution, Federalism, History, Immigration, It's Science!, Submarines, US Navy, War Powers Act, WWI, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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