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A View From the Edge - Peter Riva

Walking ideological paths in these very political times

There is, in America and increasingly around the world, a propensity for people to choose sides. They idealize their dreams and hopes into ideology and serve it up both as a barrier to any open-minded discussion as well as the very essence of who they are. And like any strongly held belief, their newfound faith in that ideology causes them to overlook what would otherwise be commonsense warning signs.

Din of saber rattling

There was a time, for those either well educated in world history or old enough to remember, that no Republican ever got us into a foreign war after the Spanish-American War (five months in 1898) when William McKinley was at the helm. 

World War One? Woodrow Wilson. World War Two? Roosevelt. The Cold War and Korea? Truman. Vietnam? Kennedy/Johnson.

Holiday recreation

America is full of people wanting to do something. People come from all around the world to experience our outdoors, our culture and rub shoulders with our pioneering spirit. Our land is full of natural wonders, vistas that take your breath away. Cultures ancient and new are open, waiting, to be explored. New England, coasts, mountains, plains, desert Southwest, Alaskan forests and glaciers, hills and valleys, historic rivers — all these are our playground, and Americans know how to play.

A death toll impossible to overlook

Sometimes it takes a number to shock us into reality. 

For decades we’ve read about El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord, and his nefarious dealings. We’ve seen solid movies like “Sicario” (brilliant), “No Country for Old Men” (brilliant), “Maria Full of Grace” (a look at personal corruption), and “Traffic” (a good conversation starter). And then sometimes we get silly movies like “The Last Stand” or “Once Upon A Time in Mexico.” 

Judging by the aftermath

The difficulty we are all facing is, as usual, that no one is sure how things will end up. And because no one can be sure how matters will conclude, often we, as timid humans, decide to wait and see — delaying the decision to do anything until matters become inevitable and we are force to respond.

Vietnam? Only when those images streamed on the evening news did the public come to understand the cost in human tragedy — ours and the Vietnamese. Only then did people begin to judge and vehemently oppose the war. That was too late for thousands. 

The real reason behind the F-35

Too many times we’re hearing — from this column as well as media resources — that the F-35 5th generation fighter is overpriced, a waste of money and generally not needed. 

Even the incumbent in the White House has asked Boeing to consider ramping up the F-18’s capability so that the expensive F-35 can be scrapped. Of course, there’s a twist there, as Boeing lost the competition to make the F-35 and would love to stick it to Lockheed and co.

Looking at regulations that ARE unnecessary

Some years ago, the airlines were pleading poverty (again) and negotiated with the airline pilots’ unions to allow the major airlines to fly “cheaper, smaller” feeder airplanes into hubs like Atlanta, La Guardia, Chicago and so on. The deal was called the Scope Regulations. And these feeder airplanes did not have to have union wages for the pilots. After all, smaller airplanes are not as complex or responsibility-laden as the major, larger aircraft, right?

Bullies, stalkers: the internet quandry

Most of us could call ourselves digital converts. We socialize online, we shop online, we tweet, post, email, search and generally rely on our online connections. It is who we are these days. Streaming music? Downloading movies? Clicking on shows on YouTube? Every hour, every second you do these activities each day identifies you as a digital convert or, perhaps, addict.

On the other hand, some of us have been trolled or bullied, have accidentally opened an infected email attachment, or had our account hacked and become internet exiles, if only for a while.

Not-so-hidden worries in Defense

The last administration was told by Congress to slash the budget. There was the sequester and the shutdown in 2013 made to tie the then-administration’s hands. And these budget cuts are still looming, always. Back in 2012, the word went out to several agencies to find ways to cut budgets to maintain essential services.

New inventions?

People have this idea that nature has nothing more to teach us. We’ll circle around to the nay-sayers on the subjects of the environment and depletion of habitat later on, but for a moment, let’s make an assumption: we know all about nature. And, of course, anyone reading this paper will know that is nonsense. 

What may surprise some of you is that the most technologically advanced in America happen to agree — nature still holds more secrets than we have so far uncovered.