Houston We Have a Problem and It could be the Grand Ole Party

Ehud Barak - the Israeli who gloated over the Twin Towers attack. One year before, the National Park Service had almost burned down a US national laboratory.

by Erica P. Wissinger

First published 12 January 2021

As Arnold Schwarzenegger recently said in a media appearance, It starts with “lies, and lies, and intolerance. Trump sought a coup by misleading people with lies.”

He continued with, “We must ask ourselves, do our leaders have a “servant’s heart”? Do they have a “public servant’s heart”?

The people I lived near in L.A. for 25 years were conscientious and dedicated.

They put their nose to the grindstone to meet contractual deliverables, returning to work after a three week long, forced evacuation, after the National Park Service (possibly infiltrated even in 2000 by foreign interests, as it may now be) had started a wildfire in 15 mph winds in the middle of a drought season, with a decision that resulted in a catastrophic fire that threatened the laboratory and burned down over 300 structures on the townsite, making 400 local families homeless.

During the Cerro Grande Fire of Los Alamos – May 2000 – the fire burned so hot that guard rails along the road were melted. Here elk seek refuge in a river against the roaring inferno, with 60-mph winds.

Coming back from this, the division worked night shifts, weekend shifts and over holidays to make up for time lost during the closure, to meet deliverables for our nation’s security.

Cerro Grande Fire, 2000, aftermath. 320 structures burnt. 400 families temporarily homeless.

A few of those very same workers had recently been made homeless from the fire. Yet, no one complained. Everyone pulled together. I write this story because I saw people work together and push through their shock because of their love of their country and loyalty to the laboratory’s missions.

Empire Was Not the Mission

I can not recall anyone ever saying that they wanted any defense product to be used for a nation that conquers or builds empires. Certainly no one ever dreamed of whispering the idiotic words, “Let’s take this Capitol building,” as that would be the opposite of supporting the nation, and indeed the opposite of our mission. Instead, a public servant’s heart might have described their heart, by the definition that Arnold talks about in the video below.

One disaffected person leading a Lush Life

Years later, when I was assigned to a different division, an acquaintance was a retired military man who used to time his lunch breaks so that he could listen to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. He was titillated by Rush’s cocky attitude and insults. One afternoon, during a chat at the grocery store downtown, he said, “You don’t get what’s going on. You and many others are ignorant. But I listen to someone who knows what’s going on, and I know where the country is going, which is towards communism, and this is a bad thing.”

It was the only time I ever heard someone with so many benefits and career opportunities and financial resources express deep dissatisfaction with the larger picture. But here was a brainwashed victim of shock jock radio, a precursor to the virulence of social media gangs, and even someone who if he were alive today might well have joined the MAGAs in DC, at least in spirit.

Scorning Human Compassion – Ayn Rand

After that, there was another odd conversation. One day, out of the blue, a woman dropped by and started passionately quoting Ayn Rand and recommending I read her book.

I listened, and when she cooled down I said, “Thank you for the recommendation. I read Rand for a college course. I think most of her concepts are unsupportable.”

These are two examples of an assault against compassion advertised by the followers of Limbaugh and Rand, who categorize human compassion as a habit of dead-enders. Ironically, despite – or because of – their verbal venom, Rush and Ayn got their lush lives, with lots of money pouring in from fans. Similarly, Fox News owner Murdoch got his lush life.

As Arnold indicated — Drinking from a Fire Hose of Lies could be bad for your long term mental health

It was around the mid 2000s era when my elderly Republican friends started to change from being contented and quirky iconoclasts, as they flirted with Fox News Neoconservative Syndrome.

They slept with their TVs on at low volume, and tuned in only to Fox, pumping up the volume every morning. Easier to “mainline” the content that way. They became fixated on certain narratives and only wanted to hear supporting evidence for their views.

Yes, of course, we still remained friends and enjoyed our beer and burritos together, but I ended up quietly listening to them, more than engaging in constructive dialogue.

GOP went off the rails – No Social safety nets – Survival of the fittest

One forty year old GOP party speaker from an ultra red corner of New Mexico came to our Republican Women’s luncheon (not in Los Alamos, but off The Hill) and spoke about how he and his kindred souls would like to see Social Security go away, or be defunded. The nice gray-haired ladies at my round table just glanced in surprise and consternation at each other and privately vowed to not invite that particular speaker back. It was shocking to hear the speaker strongly object to others having security in old age if it requires any taxation or collective effort.

We remarked to each other, “so this is what it is coming down to – no social services. Throw the people with longer life spans overboard and cut off any life raft.”

Now, the outlook could get even worse as the nation finds itself at a watershed social moment.

Either we revisit and understand the reasons for our forefathers founding “a new nation on this continent,” or we fail to understand the public’s role in the country’s disintegration, and, out of the inevitable backlash against the MAGA insurgency, we may lose the best of our cherished freedoms.

I feel that the insurgents have steered a treasonous ship and should be dealt with accordingly. Their radical goal – the breakup of the nation and the social contract – would signal an irreparable decline in human rights, and would certainly have dramatic implications for the rest of the world.

What objectives prompted the union to be formed? It was for the protection of the people.

“The Federalist Papers is the most important work in political science that has ever been written in the United States. It is, indeed, the one product of the American mind that is rightly counted among the classics of political theory. It is an exposition of certain timeless truths about constitutional government. From the Federalist Papers, Introduction (Signet Classics, 1961)

“Federalist Paper No. 5, John Jay (b. 1745-d. 1829):
The North is generally the region of strength, and many local circumstances render it probable that the most northern of the proposed confederacies would, at a period not very distant, be unquestionably more formidable than any of the others.

“No sooner would this become evident than the Northern Hive would excite the same ideas and sensations in the more southern parts of America which it formerly did in the southern parts of Europe. Nor does it appear to be a rash conjecture that its young swarms might often be tempted to gather honey in the more blooming fields and milder air of their luxurious and more delicate neighbors.

“They who well consider the history of similar divisions and confederacies will find abundant reason to apprehend that those in contemplation would in no other sense be neighbors than as they would be borderers; that they would neither love nor trust one another, but on the contrary would be a prey to discord, jealousy and mutual injuries; in short, that they would place us exactly in the situations in which some nations doubtless wish to see us, viz., formidable only to each other.

“From these considerations it appears that those persons are greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and defensive might be formed between these confederacies, and would produce that combination and union of wills, of arms, and of resources, which would be necessary to put them and keep them in a formidable state of defense against foreign enemies.”

Keeping the Faith in America

Ownership of the torch of freedom has never been relegated to one political party. Despite the actions of a deranged mob last week in the nation’s capital, the pilot light for our republic is not extinguished because it resides in our individual hearts, and in our communities.

We Americans are in a shared boat, and we have to patch the holes in the bottom of the boat, and weather the storm.

Although it seems as if the Mongols have breached the walls, never lose faith in the resonance of community bonds that we have nurtured and which continue to unite neighborhoods in goodwill.

A parting thought. You can also reach out to people through personal meditation. Those airwaves are still free.


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About the author: I am retired from the University of California and received this commemorative jacket patch.

Stationed at Valley Forge, my 6th great grandfather was a private who fought in the 1st Continental Army of General George Washington at Trenton (New Jersey), Brandywine (Pennsylvania) and was wounded in the skirmish at Germantown. My great grandfather was a drummer boy for the Union in the war between the states.

My grandfather trained in ROTC to be a pilot in WW1. In WW2, my father was with the Big Red 1, the “Fighting First” in Regensburg, Germany, and sat in the audience seats during the Nuremburg Trials when he had a few days’ leave.

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