American Sniper

I watched American Sniper, and found it gripping. Let’s just say that at the end I was glad the credit roll lasted long enough for the tears in my eyes to dry. As we left the theatr, the audience clapped…a muted clap because, of course, the hero died. Moist hands do not clap well.

A tragic end, for certain. Kyle had a rare combination of skill and judgement. He was a true American Hero and one of the few about whom we know, because of the movie.

This was the first movie I attended in an actual theatr for decades, and I found the new sound systems to be the most impressive thing — and the cost of popcorn!

My first takeaway from the film is that the nation continues to breed patriots, particularly from Texas and the Southern states. I was born in Alabama and raised in Texas, and I can attest that in that axis, men — and it is men in particular, men talk of America with tears in their eyes, and it breeds in them a drive to serve. I joined the Junior Yanks of America and drilled with wooden rifles before I was 10 years old, spent more than six years in military school, then two years as an Enlisted Man in the Navy, went to and graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent 20 years as an officer — primarily in submarines.

Going into the military was preordained by the culture in which I was raised. The Star Spangled Banner still brings tears to my eyes. Texans from small towns are indeed patriotic.

The second takeaway was the price that families pay for our service. It is often unrecognized by those in the services because the intensity of our work, and our interest in doing it well — because always other depend upon our actions ( in Submarines, one mistake can easily cost the lives of all, because Submarines do not fail in just one compartment), and we live in our own bubble. Our wives tell us that the hot water heater failed the day after we deployed, or of children’s sickness, but it does not register as much as when we are home.

So I got two messages from the film — and neither was any glorification of war. War is not glorious — victory is indeed glorious., but war is endless and victories are followed by long periods of more war.

I am certain that the American Sniper movies’ success galls many liberals. With Obama in the White House for six years and counting, conservatives must appreciate small victories when they can.

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Quick Hits

The California Superior Judge who ruled against tenure will have to live a lng time to see tenure die! Tenure was not an option at my private San Diego university. I never heard any full-time or part-time professor complain about not having tenure. Everyone accepted that they were at-will employees, and had to perform at a high level or be replaced. There were always replacements available, and we knew that.

In computer science in San Diego, we had to be retrained every day — particularly when many of our students were working for high-tech companies, often in R&D.

I can understand why K-12 teachers want tenure — actually “permanent employment” — it takes much of the pressure off daily performance, but that is not a good thing…and possibly why our students rank 46th (on average) in the US Department of Education “National Report Card.”

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Governor Brown is pushing the State Legislature to pass a bill that will offer some unspecified quick benefits to get the Tesla Gigafactory to locate in California.

You will recall that Elon Musk has proposed a huge factory ($5 Billion construction and 6,500 jobs) to several states, including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Musk also said California was still in the running but a long-shot.

The question is, what is it about Tesla that is so different from all the other companies that California is losing without a whimper?

I suggest that Tesla is either one too many, or perhaps too visible to lose. I doubt that Brown would go against the environmental movement. Perhaps he is just cherry-picking.

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The border problem in Texas, with floods of children as young as 5 years old crossing unaccompanied, is an unexpected problem that tugs on heart-strings in a way that workers do not.

What do we do now? Many arrive with a note of where their parents are for being joined with those parents — who themselves may be “illegal.”

It’s a mess. A growing mess. It is not easily solved and it is a result of our ambivalent policy. While everyone debates the subject, the very lengthy Texas border is almost unguarded. Yes, the announced policy is that only those children who were here pre-2008, but that nuance has been lost in Central American media.

Here, on the San Diego area we don’t have that problem, because we have at least two and sometimes three fences, with sand in between.

Texas has the Rio Grande River, which is little more than a mud hole. Their Border Patrol is overwhelmed.

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This is written Saturday night — I can only hope that by morning a heavy air strike will send the well-mechanized assault on the government of Iraq will be out in the open. Many of their troop transports are seized from the Iraqi troops who have thrown down their weapons and fled.

The ISIS troops coming over the borders from Syria are moving quickly. Only boots on the ground can stop the ISIS but air strikes can slow their progress, and with air cover PERHAPS the Iraqi Army can regroup sufficiently to counterattack.

The loss of Syria, because we didn’t react quickly enough, is coming back to haunt us. Failing to react quickly in many areas is coming back to haunt us.

Incompetence, and incompetence compounded.

The president is enjoying his perks — golf, vacations, flights…lots of flights. He is disengaged.

No one is minding the store!