Traveling in the time of Covid

We are in the very early stages of our long-anticipated return to Aruba. As many of you know, we love to travel. We love to go to new places and experience the diversity of culture and people throughout the world.

But we also indulge in a bit of comfortable familiarity by returning to the island of Aruba. It used to be an almost annual trip—we’ve been coming here since long before my daughter was born (we came here when my wife was pregnant with Kelsey who has now achieved the position of being a mother on her own and the ancient age of …I’ll just leave that there)—and it has been more than 18 months since we’ve been here.

It was the last international destination we reached before the time of Covid.

Caribbean Photo of the Week: The Colors of Sunset in Aruba

What I wanted to point out was the reality of travel in the strange new world we face. I love to travel, and I have never been one to worry about anything outside my control, but the reality is boarding a plane—something I’ve done so often I hardly even think of it any more than getting in a car—is now different, almost a bit intimidating. But I am here to tell you the process was almost flawless.

In the airport, everyone complied with the face mask requirement. The security lines were empty. The move through security a breeze. It was on the plane that the first unsettling aspect of relying on people to act mature and responsible reared its ugly head.

There were about 5 or 6 people who failed basic mask wearing. Since the plane originated in the US and from what I saw everyone carried a US passport, it was Americans who could not grasp the concept of covering your mouth and nose. Wearing the mask below the nose-which, since they had to comply with the testing requirements to enter Aruba, they would know is the primary source of spreading the virus—is self-defeating.

I find it troubling that people with the basic skills to purchase a ticket, pack bags, find their way to the airport, and board a plane lack the basic consideration for not only their fellow travelers but for the country which they choose to visit.

It shouldn’t fall on flight attendants to be the eyes in the sky for our country. They made sufficient announcements to remind people of their responsibilities. Nor should it rise to a childish confrontation between passengers. Perhaps, what the airline should do is document the passengers who fail to comply and let the FAA issue a travel ban.

I bet if we leave a few people behind with no recourse but a slow boat from China full of Amazon orders as their only way home it would make an impression.. Videos would garner millions of hits with stranded airline mask deviants puking over the railing in rolling seas on their 30-day journey home from Aruba.

Wear the damn mask, I do and so did most of the responsible passengers on board the flight.

If there is one downside to this trip, it is one of timing. Since we are here in September, and the weather at home is still pleasant, my usual level of schadenfreude is lowered. I normally can take particular delight walking on a Caribbean beach knowing my friends at home are shivering in wind-chills and trudging through snow…but I shall bear the disappointment as best I can.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Un-Conscientious Objections

The wisdom of President Biden’s push to encourage/demand vaccinations for Americans will be debated in the media for weeks, but they likely will miss the point. Instead of confronting the real threat to the health and well-being of the nation, they will focus on the zero-sum nature of the politics rather than the critical need for firm action. I, for one, think the President has seized a historical moment and implemented a policy he believes necessary despite the political risks. A decision which future historians will see as both necessary and courageous.

Such courage and commitment are refreshing. Something that has been sorely lacking in both the office of the Presidency and the halls of Congress, on both sides of the aisle.

Why have we reached this point? Selfishness and lack of empathetic reciprocity.

With the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are reminded of how we came together as a nation to confront the crisis. Yet, on further analysis, it was just 1% of the population and their families who bore the burden for the rest of us. Even then-President Bush told Americans to go shopping. We were a nation at war, but it was something we watched on TV. No one was planting victory gardens or saving cans for the war effort.

And so the situation in which we find ourselves in the pandemic crisis should come as no surprise.

When the burden of facing the issue affects all Americans, suddenly, it is too much to ask for a significant number of us. It is easy to wave flags, sing God Bless America, and send someone else’s son or daughter off to war. Then crack open a beer and toast the video of some JDAM bomb explosion in a cave in a country many couldn’t find on a map. But it is entirely different when we face the outrageous demand to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

How dare the government take away my rights to be selfish.

The country faces a crisis. In many ways, it is a crisis of our own making. For years, we have reduced the emphasis on basic science literacy at the expense of our overall well-being. By releasing into society high school graduates with minimal understanding of science and the efficacy of standard medical treatments such as vaccines and the method in which communicable diseases spread, we’ve sown the seeds of our own demise.

When one has little fundamental understanding of science, one is vulnerable to the myths and agenda-driven nonsense such as the anti-vax movement.

When you combine scientific ignorance with the widespread selfishness permeating society in the guise of demand for rights, we would inevitably be the vehicle of our own demise. Then you have those who abuse the necessary, but rare, exemptions such as medical conditions and religious objections, and we have a recipe for disaster.

In a recent hearing on a bill to remove Massachusetts’ religious exemption, a witness said that she used the religious exemption,

“Not because it goes against my religion, but because I do not believe that it is necessary to put additional chemicals into my child’s body for an illness that she would fully recover from. You are proposing to take away my right as a parent, and for what? To protect other people?” https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2021/07/12/standardizing-mass-school-vaccine-rules-triggers-vocal-opposition

None of the major religions have doctrinal objections to vaccinations. Almost all acknowledge the benefit to society of such medical practices. Yet, the abuse continues, placing society at risk.

If a religious organization demanded the separation of students in public education by sex, no one would take such a demand seriously. So why would we allow objections which place others at risk?

If you choose not to be vaccinated, you accept that you may be banned from public transportation, gatherings, or any other place where the public gathers. Although you may have the right to place yourself and your family at risk, you do not have the right to do that to others.

There is a well-articulated study of the abuse of religious exemptions well worth the read.

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain: Use and Abuse of Religious Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements, 65 Hastings L.J. 1551 (2014).
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_law_journal/vol65/iss6/5

What can we do about false claims of religious objections? Not much. But it reflects the increasingly selfish nature of many in our society where rights trump responsibilities, and what may hurt others doesn’t matter as long as an individual’s claim to a right to create the risk is preserved.

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US suffered 7,036 killed in action. In World War II, the US suffered 407,300 killed in action with the same number of families paying the ultimate price.

So far, Covid has killed 677,988 Americans. 677,988 dead from a condition we can now control and prevent with a high degree of success. Almost as many Amerians have died from Covid as have died in all the wars we fought for our freedoms. Somehow, I don’t think all those who died in battle did so so Americans could commit suicide. What we have in this country is a collection of UN-Conscientious Objectors refusing to join the battle.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the level of selfishness overrunning society and the descent into willful ignorance. Thus, while we have a reasonable expectation of being free from the onerous demands of the government, that expectation must be measured against the overall risk to society.

It’s time we come together once again to face this burden, not shirk it out of selfishness.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

The Retreat from Enlightenment

The folly of the abandonment of our once enlightened society continues unabated. With the recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision allowing the Draconian Texas Abortion Statute to take effect—which, if we keep with the supporters claim to be pro-life, then they also must be characterized as pro-rape and pro-incest—it is another nail in the coffin of a humane, moral, and ethical society.

In an unsigned ruling backed by a narrow 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law banning all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect. The court heard no oral argument and dealt with the matter in a mere three days.

While the decision doesn’t address the law’s constitutionality—something that will surely come later—it is an omen of things to come.

The court said,

 “In reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”

While this language offers a glimmer of hope, it is a weak and faltering one. The conservative agenda to overturn Roe V Wade is well established. The addition of the three conservative justices nominated by President Trump were the deciding votes.

The whole basis of the anti-abortion movement is a claim to moral superiority. The overwhelming basis of this position is religious, which is an anathema to effective secular public policy. This interjection of a religion-based morality is a danger to our society. When one segment, holding a slim majority in critical institutions like the Supreme Court, dictates restrictions over a woman’s right to control her own body based on primarily religious tenets, it is a slippery slope toward a theocracy.

There is little if anything about abortion in the Bible, the primary authority for the evangelicals and religious conservatives, but there are many guidelines on taking and keeping slaves and smiting one’s enemies, sacrificial offerings, and the seminal output of donkeys, but not too much about abortions.

There is this gem from Numbers 27,

” If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”

This, of course, is directed only at women with no similar verse about men, which, of course, is in keeping with the whole male-dominated orientation of almost every religion.

But there is a glaring inconsistency in the conservative claim to a duty to protect all lives. Their concern stops at birth. As philosopher George Carlin put it, “pre-born you’re precious, post-birth you’re f$%$ed.” Nor does this concern extend to God’s children from south of the border or pretty much anywhere else where the language, skin tone, or (most importantly) religious affiliation is in contrast to the conservative concept of the ideal.

The same cabal that argues they have the moral obligation to take choice away from women also demands that the government stay out of their choice to be vaccinated or wear a mask. This despite the clear and irrefutable evidence that vaccines and masks save lives and reduce the spread of the disease.

I would argue this. We can present overwhelming scientific evidence of the efficacy and benefit to society of vaccines and masks. Those who oppose abortion and foster these restrictions on women argue they are answering to a higher power. Yet they cannot present one scintilla of evidence of the actual existence of this power. They claim their morality comes from a god.

This invisible being has inspired more death than any other cause in the history of the world.

If one wants to rely on moral authority, one should, at a minimum, be able to offer evidence of the reality of the authority; faith is not evidence no matter how sincere. Unfortunately, many of the same people celebrating the Texas Abortion statute are the very same people arguing against government-mandated vaccinations and mask requirements.

Disingenuous doesn’t even come close.

One of the most cited authorities on the Christian religion—for this is a primarily Evangelical Christian driven cause—is Thomas Aquinas, the author of Summa Theologica. Aquinas essentially argues that man is incapable of crafting anything superior to the moral dictates of God. Thus the title, Summa Theologica, Highest Theology.

Another titan of the Church, Saint Augustine, testifies in his own Summa Theologica,

“… if reason is turned against the authority of sacred Scripture, no matter how specious it may seem, it errs in the likeness of truth; for true it cannot be.”

Such imposition of surrender to faith, despite rational discoveries to the contrary, was reinforced and demanded under penalty of death for heresy. Augustine also argued,

“A wise man, therefore, would not accuse faith and look upon it as opposed to reason and natural truths, but would rather offer heartfelt thanks to God, and sincerely rejoice that, in the density of ignorance and in the flood-tide of error, holy faith, like a friendly star, shines down upon his path and points out to him the fair gate of truth beyond all danger of wandering.”

“If triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.”

Montesquieu

Thus, the basis of reliance on Biblical authority rests on the premise that man is incapable of creating anything superior to that contained in the faith as described in the inerrant word of God in the Bible.

And yet, over the centuries when the Church would perform exorcisms over epileptics, accuse those with deformities as being the product of consorting with devils, or contend that certain members of society were more worthy of salvation than others as evidence by a host of debilitating conditions, science and rationality made medical breakthroughs in treating such conditions.

Thus, I would argue, accepting that secular humans are incapable of determining a moral course for themselves based on what has clearly been a false premise is not only dangerous but despicable.

Man is not only capable of reason, he is also compelled by it. It is the only thing that stands between us and mythical nonsense.

In a 1784 essay, Immanuel Kant answered that reason comprises,

 “humankind’s emergence from its self-incurred immaturity,” its “lazy and cowardly,” submission to the “dogmas and formulas” of religious or political authority.

Humans created religions to explain what they did not understand. The most educated person in 17th century England would tell you that storms at sea were caused by sea witches. Belief absent proof is merely an analgesic for ignorance. The enlightenment would dispel such nonsense and set us on a more rational, and I would suggest a more moral course.

Montesquieu wrote,

“If triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.”

Thus, man created the gods in his own image and endowed them with the wisdom to control the things man could not understand. At best, God is like  Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive until we observe him. Something that some contend only happened in Israel before the advent of mass communication.

Another of the arguments for a return to a more “moral” society when abortions were outlawed is the false nostalgia for the past.

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.” Franklin Pierce Adams

Stephanie Coontz, a debunker of 1950s nostalgia, puts some numbers to the depictions: A full 25 percent of Americans, 40 to 50 million people, were poor in the mid-1950s, and in the absence of food stamps and housing programs, this poverty was searing. Even at the end of the 1950s, a third of American children were poor.

Sixty percent of Americans over sixty-five had incomes below $1,000 in 1958, considerably below the $3,000 to $10,000 level considered to represent middle-class status. A majority of elders also lacked medical insurance. Only half the population had savings in 1959; one-quarter of the population had no liquid assets at all. Even when we consider only native-born, white families, one-third could not get by on the income of the household head. (https://www.stephaniecoontz.com/)

While the good ole days may have created good memories, it also whitewashed the downside. During those same times, racial and gender inequality was a reality for more than half of Americans. Abortions, while illegal under almost all circumstances, were always available to the wealthy; the poor were forced into the back alleys.

We are in grave danger of recreating the reality of those times with laws such as the Texas abortion statute. It was because of such conditions that Roe v Wade came to be. The court recognized the availability of abortions, and the need for it to be within the woman’s sole discretion, was essential and constitutional. Any attempts to reimpose such conditions will lead to infinitely more moral bankruptcy, not less.

Those who support the Texas statute and overturning Roe v Wade have no moral standing or superiority in the matter. Instead, the motivation is driven by their religious beliefs and the need to have those beliefs not just embraced by the state but openly supported by it.

I would suggest that a close examination of the arguments against abortion falls into this narrow religious claim to determine morality. Religion has no exclusive command of morality. Secular, rational humanistic morality is more than equal to any such faith-based pronouncements.

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt said it best.

“From the point of view of morality, it is not important everyone should have the same. What is morally important is that each should have enough.” Harry Frankfurt.

I know moral behavior and laws such as the Texas statute are not moral; they are Draconian control over women. Every woman should have the absolute right to decide with no interference from the government. We have no need for religion to provide moral guidance or be the basis of secular law. As a matter of morality, we should openly oppose it.

What Price Victory?

America has not won a war since World War II. We have also not lost a war since then, which is all the more troubling.

Beginning with Korea, America entered the war on sound principle to repel the unprovoked North Korean invasion. Then, the first inkling of our tendency toward mission creep began. On reaching the 38th parallel, US/UN forces crossed the border and became an army of invasion rather than defense.

MacArthur saw a chance to push on into China, although officially it was a mopping-up operation of the North Korean Army. However, the Chinese had other ideas and began flooding North Korea with several hundred thousand Chinese soldiers.

MacArthur ignored intelligence reports about Chinese intervention, leading to one of the most horrific engagements in modern warfare, the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. The 1st Marine Division, vastly outnumbered and surrounded, fought their way out with all their dead and wounded. The level of American courage and determination was unmatched. The heroism was astounding.

But was it necessary?

The Korean War is technically still going on under an Armistice without finality.

Just three short years after active combat in Korea ended, the first casualties of Vietnam occurred. Then, in 1965, Johnson escalated the war based on what was almost certainly a false report of an attack by North Vietnamese gunboats on the USS Maddox, a Navy destroyer operating in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The premise was to support the people of South Vietnam. The reality was to create a buffer against communist expansion into Southeast Asia. There was no clear path to victory. No definable goal. And no recognition that many of the Viet Cong fighters were embedded within the very people we claimed to be supporting.

57000 dead and hundreds of thousands of wounded Americans later—not to mention the millions of Vietnamese casualties—we left with no meaningful achievements to show for it.

Once again, the bravery, heroism, and fighting ability of the American military in Vietnam was unmatched. But, we’d spent nineteen years there and no one can define what we achieved.

Then came the first Gulf War. Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the US-led UN coalition pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait in a masterfully executed battle plan. They entered Iraq and destroyed the Iraqi military. When it became clear that the battle had changed into a massacre of Iraqi troops, we stopped.

In this war, President George H. W. Bush, a veteran of World War II, had set a goal, accomplished the plan, and achieved victory. It would be the closest thing to finality in American combat history for more than thirty years.

Unfortunately, it would be a lesson his son, George W. Bush, would fail to heed.

On September 11, 2001, a non-state force harbored in Afghanistan by the Taliban government perpetrated an act of war against the United States of America. President George W. Bush ordered the military to war, rightfully so.

We attacked Afghanistan and obliterated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, forcing Osama Bin Laden into hiding. Then, for some inexplicable reason, when we knew with a high degree of certainty that Bin Laden was in Tora Bora, we choose not to put troops on the ground and finish him off. One of the main reasons we entered Afghanistan was to capture or kill Bin Laden, and we failed to do so.

It would take the rest of Bush’s time in office and into the Obama Presidency before we accomplished this stated purpose for invading Afghanistan.

But more troubling than that, while still engaged in combat in Afghanistan, we invaded Iraq based on flawed or fraudulent intelligence and started a whole new era of warfare.

And this is where the wheels came off American policy on fighting wars. It is why we find ourselves, twenty years after we first invaded Afghanistan, just now ending our involvement. It is why we still have several thousand troops in Iraq. Troops and personnel are hunkered down in the American compound in Iraq because it is too dangerous to travel throughout most of the country.

It is why we cannot know the price of victory when we cannot even define it.

President Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan was the right decision. There is little justification for remaining that bears any resemblance to our initial reason for being there. If we believe we have both the obligation and capability to use the military to change the many areas of the world where human rights abuses occur, we will need a much larger military.

And when faced with the reality of the very victims of human rights abuses at our own southern border, we choose to build walls and lock them in cages. The disingenuous nature of such behavior is appalling.

The execution of the plan to evacuate Afghanistan was rife with problems. But one must keep in mind the chaos that ensued on the streets of Kabul was inevitable. Once the first Afghan began leaving the country, chaos would inevitably arise.

Biden will have to answer for his handling of the withdrawal, and for the deaths of the thirteen Americans, but at least he won’t have to answer for any more needless deaths in Afghanistan. Doing the right thing poorly is better than perpetuating an error perfectly. Until we can define the goals of military intervention, we must be judicious in our willingness to deploy our troops in harm’s way.

America has not won a war since World War II. America has not lost a war since World War II. We keep substituting Pyrrhic victories for genuine success. In every war we’ve fought since World War II, the United States military has never been defeated on the battlefield. Yet this matters little if we cannot define victory.

We cannot continue to win every battle, yet lose precious American lives in ill-defined wars. If a never ending armistice in Korea, nineteen years in Vietnam, and twenty years in Afghanistan isn’t proof enough our policy needs to change, we are doomed to repeat our own foolish, and deadly, mistakes.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

The Untold Story

Everyone has a story to tell. By some estimates, almost 80% of Americans have considered writing a book. Most never take the first step—putting pen to paper or hands to the keyboard—and write.

Yet the stories are still there, yearning to be told.

Everyone has a story, let us help you share yours with the world.

The world of publishing has changed. There was never a more opportune moment for new authors to break into the world of publishing. But the best opportunities are not through “traditional” publishing, nor is it in self-publishing (although sites like Amazon have made it remarkably simple.)

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

Socrates

The best opportunity for new authors is with a hybrid publishing company like JEBWizard Publishing.  Many of the hottest authors on the NY Times bestseller list began with this hybrid approach. Some of the traditional publishers use those who publish this way as a “hunting ground” for new talent.

It is a different world with books today, and this offers both opportunity and peril. The downside to this brave new world is the proliferation of ninety-nine cent eBooks that quite frankly are overpriced. If ever the expression “you get what you pay for” was apropos, it is with the avalanche of poorly written, unedited trash the floods the market.

Readers—by their very nature intuitive and perceptive—have learned how to tell the quality of a book by breaking the rule of “not judging a book by its cover.” An amateurish cover is the first warning of a book not worth buying or reading.

Even if the cover doesn’t discourage them and they look inside, lousy writing, poor formatting, and grammatical errors soon unmask the inferior quality of the book.

The upside is where JEBWizard Publishing’s hybrid approach comes in, offering the highest quality production standards resulting in a book readers will want to buy.

With hybrid publishing, the author keeps full creative control over the book, a higher percentage of sales, and benefits from the same professional level design, editing, and distribution chains of traditional publishing.

If you have ever dreamed of writing a book or have written one and would like to get it published, JEBWizard Publishing is a great choice. We will help you bring the book to market with the same quality one would expect from traditional publishing houses.

Click here to read about our latest author releases.


A Miracle at Dachau by Laurin Haupt


Forbidden Emotions: The Key to Healing by Marti Murphy







JEBWizard Publishing is actively seeking manuscripts, book proposals, or cooperative book projects.

Contact us today for manuscript submission guidelines or to discuss your story ideas.

JEBWizard Publishing
info@jebwizardpublishing.com
Joe.Broadmeadow@JEBWizardpublishing.com
www.jebwizardpublishing.com

Everyone has a story, let us help you share yours with the world.

Not Another Vietnam

Afghanistan is not Vietnam. There are similarities, but major differences.

Vietnam had a thousand-year-long history as a country, at various times invaded by China, Korea, and Japan. But the Vietnamese were always one people with historical traditions, rich cultural heritage, and a primarily common language.

Afghanistan is a remnant of British colonialism and first arose as a modern nation in the late 18th century. The country was used as a buffer between British India and the Russian Empire, with the Durand Line formed in 1893. This artificial border, not recognized by any Afghan government, was a source of conflict with Pakistan once that country achieved independence.

One more battle in a long line of battles in Afghansistan

The most telling difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam is the motivation for us being there in the first place.

We started inserting military advisers into Vietnam in 1956 to assist the government installed by the allies after WWII to rule South Vietnam while North Vietnam—once again an artificial border set by outside forces at the 17th parallel—was supported and ruled by Communists.

Vietnam was a result of the cold war intended to stop the spread of communism. Our entry into Afghanistan was in response to a direct attack by forces harbored within the country. Herein lies one significant difference. One war resulted from the idea that communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and continue to other areas. The other, from an unprovoked attack against the United States.

There is another similarity between the two wars—no clearly articulated goal. In Vietnam, as in Afghanistan, the enemy never won any major battle against US forces. The 1968 TET offensive in Vietnam—which many are using to compare the situation in Afghanistan—was a strategic disaster on the battlefield for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. But it was a political victory in the media because of the outlandish predictions of the MAC-V (Military Assistance Command-Vietnam) about the military ability of the Viet Cong.

The most significant similarity lies in the on-field performance of the Afghan military and the similar performance of the South Vietnamese military once the bulk of American combat forces were withdrawn.

Absent American leadership and resources—primarily air support and logistics—both military forces collapsed. Within these organizations, many courageous soldiers, marines, and airmen fought for their country. Still, individual courage is no substitute for a sense of national identity worth defending. Command collapse always leads to battlefield failure, no matter the level of personal resiliency.

In the running up  of troop levels in Viet Nam, President Johnson—who privately was reluctant to escalate the war—once said, “If Vietnamese boys aren’t willing to die for their country, why should I send American boys to die for them?” Tragic that Johnson didn’t have the courage of his convictions and refuse to escalate the war. Perhaps it would have set a more meaningful and utilitarian precedent.

The war in Afghanistan stopped being justified the moment after we achieved some level of success twenty years ago. Unfortunately, since then, Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump failed to recognize the hopelessness of the situation.

Now it falls on Biden to make the hard choice. None of his options are good ones; getting American forces and civilians out of Afghanistan is the least worse. The images of American helicopters extracting personnel from the rooftops in Kabul are eerily similar to Saigon in 1975. Still, the geopolitical reality could not be more different.

Almost 3000 US service personnel died in the war in Afghanistan. We spent trillions of dollars trying to create a stable country. Our military dominance was never seriously challenged, but our political and nation-building track record over twenty years and four Presidential administrations is a disaster.

In Vietnam, we fought a war with an artificial line of demarcation called the DMZ behind which the enemy enjoyed full protection from American ground troops. In Afghanistan, while the US and Afghan forces controlled the major cities, the Taliban controlled the predominately rural rest of the country mostly immune from significant threats.

Neither situation is the way one wins a war, it is the way one maintains a stalemate. And, like in chess, when one resigns the other achieves a measure of victory without ever capturing the King.

A war without a clear measure of success is doomed to failure.

Unless Afghanistan once again poses a direct threat to the US, let those in Afghanistan fight for their own freedom. If we want to keep troops everywhere in the world that poses a potential threat to us, we’re going to need a much bigger military.

There is a reason Afghanistan is called the “Graveyard of Empires.”

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

To Honor, Love, and Cherish…All the Days of Our Lives

Within every family there are those who are the foundation. In the Moreau and Broadmeadow families, Theresa (Broadmeadow) and Ray Moreau—to paraphrase from another story—were the rock upon which the family was built.

They were both born in 1928—although Ray is much younger because Theresa robbed the cradle— and have been married for seventy-one years.  Think about that for a moment…seventy-one years. Some people don’t live that long, let alone stay married to the same person.

But in their case, there was never any doubt it would turn out this way.

The Broadmeadow clan—Edward, Catherine (Szpila), Theresa, Rosemond (Alves), and Joe (my father and namesake)— were a prolific bunch with a plethora of off-spring. There were myriad cousins of all age levels. Whenever there was a holiday, special occasion, or just a nice afternoon, we always seemed to find our way to Bellmore Dr. in Pawtucket or Redgate Rd. in Cumberland once the Moreaus moved there.

Christmas was almost always at the Moreau’s. There’d be someone dressed as Santa handing out gifts for everyone.

Every year we would also have a family picnic.  I recall one incident which reflects the sense of humor Theresa embraced.  This particular year the party was at our house on Harriet Lane in Cumberland.

My father and I were getting things ready in the backyard just as Theresa and Ray arrived.  As we were walking out to meet them, my father sunk knee deep into the apparently overfilled septic system. He struggled to extract himself, with me doing what I could to help—which wasn’t much.

Theresa happened to walk around the corner at that exact moment. I could see by the look in her eyes she recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran back toward the front of the house, I assumed to get Ray and my cousins, Bobby and Dave, to help.

Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Which she did.

But before she actually let them help, she whipped out her camera and took a bunch of pictures. She was laughing the entire time we hosed my father off.

But it was during those difficult moments every family experiences that the true nature of Theresa and Ray shone through. Whatever the issue, health matters, divorce, unplanned pregnancies, death, they were there as a source of support and comfort.

They shared their own difficulties, surviving the passing of their two boys, Bobby and Dave. Yet even in their sons too short lives, they were remarkable parents and took much pride in their boys. And they experienced the joys of becoming grandparents.

Yet it is their enduring relationship of more than seven decades that is the most awe inspiring.

Back in the 60s and 70s cars came standard with front bench seats. Girls would often sit in the middle seat, near their boyfriend driver, as a sort of symbol of young love.

We all did it when we got that magic driver’s license.

So did Theresa and Ray. They only stopped when they bought a car that didn’t have a front bench seat.

Even the bizarre tradition of the padiddle (perhaps it was a local Cumberland or Rhode Island custom of unknown origin) of the two front seat lovebirds, close together on the bench seat, kissing each other when a car with one headlight out approached.

Theresa and Ray did that as well.

Words are incapable of showing the enduring love of Ray and Theresa Moreau. Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Now that they are in the twilight of their days, these images say it all.

We could all learn a lesson from these two special people. With people like Theresa and Ray Moreau gracing this planet, there is hope for humanity.

Apparently It Is Fun as an Illegal Alien

Now for the record, I have a great deal of empathy for people forced to seek refuge in the United States. However, the politicization of the humanitarian catastrophe at the border is a sad reflection on the once welcoming spirit of America.

Some think this migrant caravan is like a Summer Camp nature hike. They seem to forget that people are risking their lives and the lives of their children, in some cases sending their children on alone just for the chance at surviving when there is little chance in their own country.

 Only the most desperate—not the greedy or lazy— would do that.  From Guatemala to the U.S. border is 1,603 miles.  I dare say few Americans have ever faced walking that far to save their children. Most of them won’t even walk them to the bus stop; they drive 300 feet.

Sadly, it’s not the first time we turned away desperate people from our borders or argued they were dangerous and demonized them. Before WWII, we turned away the S.S. St. Louis, a ship carrying 937 Jewish refugees, including women and children, from Nazi Germany. (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ss-st-louis-jewish-refugees-turned-away-holocaust)

So we should consider our actions with deliberation lest history once again shows our decision to be calloused and fatal to innocent people.

Yet a story in the August 9, 2021, The New Yorker (Transplant Dept. Homesick Restaurant by Fergus McIntosh) illustrates how warped immigration policies contribute to the problem.

The story is about a man named Ivan Garcia. The story starts out with a pleasant tale of his cooking skills at his restaurant. Then, it describes the various Mexican dishes he prepares, which remind him of his Mexican heritage. There is now a movie about Mr. Garcia and his life in America.

The article reveals details that spark a bit of mixed emotions on my part.

You see, Mr. Garcia is undocumented. Undocumented—as the late brilliant comic George Carlin once said — is one of those words we’ve invented to make unpleasant things sound better. I prefer the more straightforward and understandable “illegal alien.”

Now, as I said in the beginning, I have a great deal of empathy for those forced to find a way into the U.S. to survive. So I think it is an issue we need to manage with a blend of enforcement and empathy. But in Mr. Garcia’s case, the story talks of how much he misses his family and how sad it is that he cannot go home. He hasn’t seen his son, who is now twenty-eight, since the boy was six years old except on Facetime and video chats.

The fact is he cannot go home because he just might not be able to get back in.

The story goes on to bemoan the fact that when the restaurant business was suffering during the pandemic, he and his workers were unable to collect unemployment because of a lack of a social security number even though he pays taxes.

While I may have empathy for the desperate and downtrodden, the teeming masses yearning to be free, Mr. Garcia is none of that. He may be a hard worker. Ivan Garcia may be a very nice man who does much for his community. But the reality is he is taking advantage of America’s kind spirit.

Nowhere in the article does it mention any effort Mr. Garcia made to become a citizen. Nowhere does it say how much he would like to become a citizen. All it says is how sad it is that he cannot travel home to Mexico without risking his life here.

At the risk of sounding callous and uncaring, I suggest to Mr. Garcia he be grateful for the time he’s had here in America. Luck and fortunate circumstances have let him send money back to his family. Money he was able to earn here while breaking our laws.

I suggest to Mr. Garcia that it is time for him to return to Mexico and, if he so desires, to start the legal process to return. By leaving, he opens a space for those less fortunate than him who are dying to get in.

There is one concept we should keep in mind. The crisis at the border will come when people no longer try to come here or see us as a beacon of hope, or worse, are trying to get out. Then we will face a real crisis.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Shortwave Radios and Russian Spies in Cumberland, RI

Growing up in Cumberland, RI, I lived in a wonderful neighborhood. I have written about Broadview Acres before, but a memory spark brought back another story. While this is not specifically about the neighborhood—more about the fanciful flights of a young boy’s imagination—it never would have happened with the efforts of a kind and generous Cumberland neighbor.

At the risk of massacring his name, a gentleman by the name of Donat Fregeole lived directly across the street from me on Harriet Lane. I cut his grass—a push mower and hand clippers to start later upgraded to a power mower, but still the hand clippers for trimming—for the princely sum of $5.00 per week.

Mr. Fregeole, who seemed ancient to me (likely 45 or 50 years old), was one of those guys who could build anything. In his backyard, he had an antenna hooked up to a shortwave radio. I’d never heard it turned on, but I would admire it when putting away the yard tools.

One day, he called me over to his house and gave me a shortwave radio he had built from scratch. To me, this was one fantastic gift.

I ran home, bounded up to my second-floor bedroom, hung precariously (and away from my mother’s line of sight) out the window to attach one part of the wire antenna, ran back down to drag the wire to a nearby tree (without a grounding wire, of course) and then back up to my room to fire up the radio.

I would listen for hours to what was most likely the static screeches and transmissions of all sorts of radio transmitters and imagine them to be alien transmissions from elsewhere in the galaxy.

Occasionally, I would tune into voices. Foreign-sounding languages communicating messages I had no hope of understanding. Using all the logic that a nine-year-old could muster, I concluded they must have been Russian spies.

And, being unfamiliar with radio wave propagation, and since this was a “short” wave radio, I knew they must be close by.

During the entire time I kept the Russians under surveillance, there was not once successful attack on American soil.

Joe Broadmeadow

It couldn’t be Mr. Fregeole. Why would he give me a radio capable of intercepting spies if he was the spy? But several other neighbors came under immediate suspicion, and I would look for any signs of Russian connections whenever I walked by the houses.

Why there would be Russian spies in Cumberland, Rhode Island, in 1965-1966 never entered my mind. This was the middle of the cold war, and of course, they were here.

On another occasion, while scanning the waves for other enemies of the United States of America, I found the frequency of a local TV station. For some reason or other, this thrilled me beyond belief. Listening to a TV station! This was magical beyond comprehension. That I could go downstairs and watch the same TV station never occurred to me.

I could listen to TV stations, Russian spies, and alien civilizations in my room on my shortwave radio, and nothing would ever beat that.

I wonder if Mr. Fregeole ever realized that his simple act of giving a young boy a shortwave radio would spark amazing adventures in my mind far beyond Cumberland, RI . Or how I would remember fondly such an act of generosity almost sixty years later.

Thanks, Mr. Fregeole; I hope you are wandering all through that galaxy you brought into my room all those years ago. And there is one other important point. During the entire time I kept the Russians under surveillance, there was not once successful attack on American soil.

Refusing to Look through Galileo’s Telescope

The issue of anti-vaxx disinformation is not a purely Republican or Democratic issue. It is not southern verse northern issue, Those who willfully embrace ignorance cross all political spectrums. My issue is not with those who have genuine concerns, my issue is with the politicians on both sides of the aisle who foster unreasonable fear for political gain and with those who choose willful ignorance.

That many American do not understand the actual risk/benefit of vaccinations and wearing masks is a failure by the government and the CDC to properly educate and inform. Those who purposely distort the data, thus reinforcing the ignorance of the most vulnerable for political gains, engage in the lowest form of behavior. Failure to make an effort to educate oneself borders on abandonment of civic duty to your fellow humans.

Humans have a history of ignoring facts in favor of faith and misplaced beliefs.

On April 12, 1633, chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculani da Firenzuola, appointed by Pope Urban VIII, begins the inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei for holding and spreading the belief that the earth revolves around the sun.

Such a belief was deemed a heresy by the Catholic Church. After his trial, the Church handed down this decision.

We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo… have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world.

We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”

Trial of Galileo Galilei

Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

During his trial, Galileo offered the opportunity for the Inquisitor to look through the telescope himself and see what Galileo himself had seen. The Inquisitor refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

Such behavior is comparable to those who willfully ignore the overwhelming benefit of the COVID-19 vaccination and the effective preventive measures of mask wearing in public. By “refusing to look through the telescope” of the scientific literature, the information readily available from the CDC, from prestigious medical associations, and from myriad universities, those who argue against the vaccine adhere to a “belief” founded on rumor and misinformation and refuse to seek a more thorough and balanced measure of the risk.

In a recent incident on Cape Cod, much was made of the fact that 74% of those infected were fully vaccinated. What was conveniently absent from the media frenzy was of those vaccinated individuals who contracted the virus only a few were hospitalized, none in ICU, and none of the infected vaccinated individuals died. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm?s_cid=mm7031e2_whttps://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm?s_cid=mm7031e2_w)

The reality is the vaccine worked in mitigating the severity of the highly contagious Delta variant, which was responsible for the outbreak. While the media insinuated this was an argument against the efficacy of vaccination, the reality is it was proof of it’s viability.

It also—much to the chagrin of those who “refuse to look through Galileo’s telescope”— lends credence to the need for wearing of masks in public to minimize the spread. I despise wearing the mask. I enjoyed the brief shining moments when the regulations were relaxed. But I also have a young grandchild who cannot receive the vaccine and I will be damned if I, or anybody else, would willingly put him and all the other children at risk.

Viral mutation is a continuous evolutionary process. The more successful a variant is the more it will spread, and the greater the potential for even more deadly variations to develop.

The Biden Administration needs to act decisively and mandate masks for all public locations. if the President can get the consensus of governors to support the effort, great. If he can’t, then the issue demands he take the action with or without their support. Some states have always resisted federal government actions. In almost every case, the actions of the federal government proved themselves absolutely necessary.

Twenty-five years from now, today’s youngest—those twelve years old and younger who could not receive the vaccine—will be the scholars, the historians, the medical professionals, the elected officials who will evaluate the actions we all took.

They will have the benefit, and perhaps the tragic reality, of the data regarding the spread and ultimate death toll from Covid-19 and the variants. They will be the judge of the efficacy of our actions and whether we did everything we could to mitigate the effects of the virus.

I for one hope their analysis shows we acted reasonably, rationally, and effectively, but I fear many will spend perhaps decades trying to understand how, in the face of a controllable plague, we descended into political bickering and fatal inaction.

Wear a mask. Encourage others to wear the mask and get vaccinated.

Seems such a contradiction that we so quickly rally around the flag to send troops against our perceived enemies yet when the enemy is domestic ignorance we suddenly become rabid civil libertarians about our individual choices. Too bad we weren’t so rabid about doing everything we can to save lives as opposed to taking them when we perceive a threat.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.