An uncomfortable parallel with the USSR.

Near the end of his opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee on November 19, 2019, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman said:

In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions. And offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.

I’m grateful to my father’s — for my father’s brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free and — free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.

Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals — talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.

On Friday, February 7, 2020, Vindman was removed from his position.  His life may not be in danger, but he was wrong to say that he would be fine for telling the truth.  

If the United States of America wants to pride itself for its record on freedom and justice, such actions are unacceptable.  If the United States wants to maintain its Constitution, such political retaliation against honest public servants is unacceptable.  

The number of people willing to condone such behavior—especially among those who identify as Republicans—represents a gross disregard for the ideals set forth by the United States.

The US has not always lived up to its highest ideals, but at least it paid lip service to them.  This act, and many others condoned and approved by GOP voters in the last few years, abandons any pretense of the values preached by previous generations of Republicans. Where is the shining city on a hill that was a Reagan era rallying cry?  Where is the principle of honesty? The notion of putting service above self? 

Vindman told the truth. There is no indication that his testimony was in any way false. How can an honest person stand to see him punished for telling the truth?

Protecting Children from Feral Hogs

A man in Arkansas recently entered the gun control debate with a viral tweet asking “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” Protecting your children, of course, is an aim that cannot be criticized. Feral hogs are a significant problem in the U.S. for many reasons, and their population is growing. His concern, therefore, cannot be dismissed lightly.

But…

Can you imagine that actual scenario? Imagine it as a movie scene: children playing in bucolic yard. Suddenly, the pigs trample in, straight for the children. Happily, dad has his gun handy with a loaded large-capacity magazine.

“Get out of the way kids,” he yells, as he takes careful aim. (We assume, of course, that his kids never come under his arc of fire.) And then he lets loose with his semi-automatic, accurately pouring bullets into the crowd of hogs. Within seconds there are 30 to 50 dead or dying hogs on his property.

Children successfully protected! And, of course, watching 30 to 50 large animals get blown apart won’t cause those children the least distress.

And then he has 30 to 50 animal carcasses to deal with—perhaps somewhere in the vicinity of 8,000 pounds of dead hog.

A great way to protect your children from feral hogs, and to also provide the whole family with plenty of pork to eat! Because, of course, that gun is always handy, unlocked, and with fully loaded high-capacity magazines ready to slaughter that herd of hogs.

Perhaps it reveals my city-dweller’s ignorance to wonder why the hogs need to be killed to protect the children. A fence wouldn’t kill the hogs, but wouldn’t it be a more effective solution to protecting the kids? That fence will be on duty 24/7, and won’t take a break to go to the bathroom. It won’t get taken by surprise. It won’t need to get and load a weapon. What do you think? Is an assault rifle a good way to protect your kids from feral hogs? And does protecting your kids necessitate killing the hogs?

As I conclude, I wonder, was that tweeter just asking a hypothetical question, or has he actually already lived out this scenario, where he killed the hogs threatening his playing children?