Swickard: Good bomb or bad bomb?

Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber is in in the Smithsonian
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.
            In the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was told by Glinda, "The Munchkins want to know, are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch." Until then Dorothy and the viewing public had thought all witches were bad. But The Wizard of Oz revolves around Good Witches and Bad Witches.
            That lesson might translate to other things in our world. August 6th is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. It followed the July 16, 1945 detonation of a 20 kiloton nuclear device at Trinity Site, New Mexico, and was followed by the detonation of a second atomic bomb over Nagasaki, Japan.
            A few days later Japan unconditionally surrendered. World War Two was over. It remains the most deadly war of all time in our world. About three percent of the world's population died in the conflict and that number might be low. In raw numbers the estimate is sixty million people died.
            And for the most part the dying was over after two atomic bombs forced Japan to surrender. Especially in the last thirty years there has been a fierce debate about those actions. Usually it is an explosive argument when people discuss using two atomic bombs to end World War Two.
            Perhaps we should ask: were they a good bomb or a bad bomb? Like witches we automatically assume all atomic bombs to be bad. Were they, are they?
            Certainly they have the liability of injuring people with radiation long after the war has ended. But the official position of our country and our politicians is that injury by radiation does not matter at all. How do I know that? I am a Downwinder injured by the Trinity explosion which injured thousands of other New Mexicans but our government and politicians are still seventy years later ignoring our injuries.
            The question most people ask: Did the nuclear bombs really end World War Two? The day of surrender Emperor Hirohito broadcast, "The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."
            It was very chaotic in Japan. Some members of the Japanese Military did not want to surrender but they revered the Emperor. Japan was in essence a dictatorship not of the Emperor but the Military. The Emperor was truly a figurehead and General McArthur who ran Japan in the first five years after the war's end understood this and allowed Hirohito to have a post-war figurehead role.
            For several years I lived in Japan and heard several Japanese say that they had been ordered by the military to sharpen broom handles and they were supposed to try to stab invading Americans when they landed. They were grateful the war ended for whatever reason. They did not wish to die needlessly.
            Further, I drink coffee with a man who was on a troop ship to Japan and was going to make the first of two major landings. He says the reason he is still alive and had a career as a high school teacher is that the war ended suddenly. He is a supporter of the use of atomic weapons.
            Seventy years later we can inspect the plans that were in effect for the invasion to end the war. Operation Olympic was to be on the Southern-most Japanese island of Kyushu November 1, 1945 while Operation Coronet the invasion of main island Honshu south of Tokyo was scheduled for four months later.
            The pentagon planning paper was called Operation Downfall. It projected millions of deaths. But we and the Japanese were spared that holocaust of death.
            Can atomic bombs be good? Yes, when they end a dictatorship and allow Japan to become a democracy. I told this to a clerk in a store recently. She said she could not believe atomic bombs to be good. I replied, the use of force, the use of good atomic bombs allows you to reject the truth.


Swickard column: Between the ears safety

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." Jeff Cooper
             As a nation we are collectively being intentionally stupid about the safety of our citizens for political reasons. Places where the military are not allowed a means to protect themselves are in the news, but for the wrong reason. The issue is not if individual military members are armed or not. It is that sign, Gun Free Zone, deliberately telling people of evil intent or mental illness that those people stand no chance against a gunman.
            Gun Free Zone signs say to some people that No One Can Shoot Back. Telling people of evil intent or mental illness that our military and school children have no means of defense is insane. It makes them targets while also not giving them a defense.
            The danger of attack in our society comes from two major groups: people of evil intent and people who are mentally ill. Our society is caught in a dilemma. We have plenty of laws against people taking guns to certain places. But they are just words and not actions. People prohibited from having guns get them anyway.
            We are told if all guns were banned in America there would be no guns on the street. That is beyond stupid. The reason five military servicemen were killed a week ago was they and everyone around them followed the law while the perpetrator did not.
            Remember that we made drugs illegal and yet illegal drugs are easily obtainable in every community. We arrest and incarcerate drug violators all of the time and still the drugs flood our towns. Having laws against guns does not and will not stop their use by criminals and people with mental illnesses.
            The only way to stop a person with a gun and murderous intent is someone else with a gun who will defend the defenseless. George Orwell wrote, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
            We cannot reason with people of evil intent or mental illness, we must respond to force with force. The police cannot ever respond to violent attacks on our population in time to prevent them. They can end the carnage but precious minutes go by as they travel to the area where people are being attacked. The only logical answer is that some of the people be able to respond instantly.
            Now I do not want to see lots of open carry firearms because that means that the person who intends to defend the defenseless is apparent to someone of evil intent. Rather, I like conceal carry and making sure that someone coming to military facilities, public schools or churches does not know who may be packing.
            The defenders of Congress, the Supreme Court and the President of the United States work very hard at not disclosing their strategy for defense. It is multi-layered and robust. The primary defense of these people is between the ears and not in the hands.
            Let me ask you: is the President that much more important than a class of first graders in your local elementary school? Both the President and the innocent children deserve our best defense. But defending children has been hijacked by political operatives who wish to impose gun control on the population as a whole. They unintentionally sponsor domestic terrorism in our public schools by taking away all semblance of defense.
            Yes, the police can come within fifteen minutes and take a report but the need is for people to be armed and ready every second. Most of those armed and ready people will never be called upon because people of evil intent avoid places where those people will shoot back.
            That leaves the mentally ill who have watched hour after hour of coverage when someone shoots up a military facility or a public school. They may attack regardless of if there is a defense. Then the defense need to work and work very effectively.
            Our safety really does rest between the ears of our leaders. Only they can remove the Gun Free Zones and replace them with effective defensives.


Swickard: New Mexico Downwinder justice denied

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. 
"Justice delayed is justice denied." William Gladstone
             A group of New Mexicans have a legitimate suspicion that they were injured by the actions of our government years ago but no one today cares. I am one of them. We are called Downwinders since the suspicion is that our injury is from the downwind residue from the first nuclear explosion.
            That twenty kiloton nuclear explosion was in a remote area of New Mexico seventy years ago this July 16th. The scientists wanted to be sure the device would explode correctly when dropped over a Japanese city.
            The implosion-design plutonium device at Trinity Site was similar to the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan August 9, 1945. In the seventy years since that nuclear test our world has changed dramatically and yet some of that 1945 world perhaps stays with us Downwinders.
            We suspect we are survivors of invisible pollutants from that nuclear explosion leading to our health problems. For me it was an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. Around Chernobyl it is called Radiation Induced Thyroid Cancer.
            The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident injured many people downwind of the area, however, there are robust efforts underway to identify and help those injured by the radiation. In our country our government has no interest in the radiation injury to New Mexico Downwinders. Does anyone doubt that the atomic explosion polluted New Mexico?
            Years ago one politician stated, "We beat the Japanese, what do you want?" He seemed mad that I was bringing up stuff from years ago. Politicians and journalists alike are not interested. I have written these issues in columns several times to the yawns of our leaders.
            Worse, we Downwinders are dying out. Our movement is like the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) founded in 1868 with their membership limited to Union military in the Civil War. Five US Presidents were GAR members. Then Albert Woolson, age 109, died in 1956 and then there were no longer any GAR members.
            The same will happen to the New Mexico Downwinders. One of us will be the last one alive and then the movement will end. Will we Downwinders find justice in our lifetime?
            The problem is we do not know for sure. Suspicion is not proof, but we have a right to be suspicious. Our government has not done what was done in Europe after Chernobyl where they studied carefully the people who thought they might have been sickened by the release of radiation.
            I appreciate that U. S. Senator Tom Udall held a meeting a couple weeks ago in Tularosa and New Mexico Representative Steve Pearce and I have spoken several times. But another day goes by, another week, another month, another year, and some more of us Downwinders have died.
            Why do I think it was the radiation release from the Trinity explosion that caused my cancer? Research is compelling around Chernobyl that a very aggressive form of thyroid cancer is tied to the radiation. I had that very aggressive form and was lucky that I noticed the tumor early and it was removed within ten days of diagnosis or perhaps I would not be here today.
            Again, suspicion is not proof but my government has not done anything to help Downwinders find out if our health maladies are tied to Trinity Site. These maladies are not cheap. We are out lots of money and there are quality of life issues.
            Our government is quick to throw money at other countries and other maladies in our country, why not this? Or even come up with the cost of looking at this issue. Because there is no political advantage and our people in government must always gain a political advantage.
            This issue will go away if politicians and government leaders can ignore us long enough. There is only one group who can bring justice to us if they will work at getting to the truth of the radiation.
            Journalists can continue to ignore us or they can put it on the front page until our government comes to its senses and acts responsibly. That is the role of the media in a perfect world. Justice delayed is justice denied.


Environmentalists and energy advocates agree: Ethanol reform now

Commentary by Marita Noon - We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines—fail to pay a ticket on time, and you may find a warrant out for your arrest. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can apparently miss deadlines with impunity.
      For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation’s motor fuels.
      In November 2013, the EPA attempted to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels, which by then came months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA surprised and pleased RFS opponents when it utilized its authority by taking market conditions into consideration to adjust levels. The agency set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013’s, even though the law requires increasing amounts. Ethanol producers, expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.
      Then, on November 21, the EPA announced it would make a decision next year on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline this year. Yet, if refiners don’t meet the unknown requirement, they get fined. That’s akin to handing out the class syllabus after the students have failed the final exam.
      With the goal of reducing foreign oil imports, Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007—which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption. No doubt Congress believed it was saving American consumers from their addiction to oil.
      Then the world changed. The U.S. economy plunged into a terrible recession, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply. Meanwhile, advanced drilling technologies, including the long-used hydraulic fracturing and newer horizontal drilling, began producing oil and natural gas from U.S. shale formations—previously uneconomic to develop—leading to America’s 21st-century energy boom.
      Today the U.S. stands as the world’s largest natural-gas producer, projected to pass Saudi Arabia as the number-one oil producer. With crude-oil supplies flooding the market, prices have been cut in half. Although fears over foreign-oil dependence have abated, the U.S. remains stuck with an outdated, unworkable, and even harmful—to vehicles, engines, and the environment—ethanol mandate. Read full Marita Noon column on Breitbart.com

Swickard: Being superstitious about rain in New Mexico

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Christmas time is magical with the Christmas superstitious advice, "You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why..." It is a belief in goodness and the hope Santa can see goodness in each of us. The main point of the season in my family is the birth of Jesus. But we also enjoy Santa.
      As a child I understood the birth of Jesus, but to me the Santa story had to be taken entirely on faith. As a child I started my lifelong superstition that I somehow had control over things that were beyond control.
      This fall I have a dilemma. My windshield wipers are just barely working but I have a good reason to not change them. No, I am not cheap, this is more important. It has to do with the bountiful rain we are receiving this fall.
      It seems there are two types of people: those who confess to being superstitious and those who won't admit it. I identify with a scene in the movie, Bull Durham when the character played by Kevin Costner says, "I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak... You know why? Because they don't happen very often."
      Like everyone I have good days and challenging days. When I have two good days in a row I am on a streak and I try to remember how I got on the streak. So my windshield wipers are really worn out. I still see to drive in the rain but normally I would change them in a heartbeat. But months ago I noticed they were marginal because, surprise, it rained.
      The superstitious part of me noticed when it rained two days in a row. I knew I should go put on a new set of wipers but gosh that rain was sure nice. So for all of these months the windshield wipers have languished. But the rain is wonderful.
      I might get help from Superstitious Anonymous, but it is still raining. When the rains stops as we know it will, then I will have new wipers. I park when it rains now. No Santa, don't bring me wipers, we are on a streak. Merry Christmas. Read the full column


State senator wants to help students pay loans

Senator Jacob Candalaria
From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —New Mexico students default on their college loans more than students in any other state. Now, a state senator wants to help combat that problem this legislative session.
      Jacob Candalaria is a state senator from Albuquerque. He said this is a difficult problem to tackle in the Land of Enchantment. “We actually see a lower percentage of students in New Mexico borrowing money than the rest of the country,” Candalaria said. “The problem is once they do borrow money, they’re more likely to be unable to pay it back.”
      Candalaria is the youngest state senator in New Mexico. He’s a second-year law student at the University of New Mexico. As a student himself, Candalaria said he listens to his peers worry about student loans.
      National numbers reveal New Mexico has the highest percentage of student loan default rates. The national average is 13.7 percent. New Mexico sits close to 21 percent. So the senator is proposing a state-based tax credit for students. It would offset some of the costs of paying back student loans after college.
     The Department of Education released the national default rates in September. The study looks at the rates from 2010. More

Forest Service: Decorating national forest trees could be harmful to wildlife

From KOB-TV.com - It's become a holiday tradition in some New Mexico national forests, but now the U.S. Forest service say it needs to stop.
      The Forest service says for years, trees in the national forest have been decorated with tinsel, garland and edible decorations, but decorations are being left as trash and could be dangerous to wildlife.
      While it may look festive, the forest service says none of it is good for wildfire and the edible treats aren't part of their natural diet, which could be harmful.
      There are prohibitions against littering. Individuals could face a fine of $150 or more for leaving litter on the National Forest. More

Swickard: Come now to the aid of our oil patch

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Now is the time for all New Mexicans to come to the aid of our oil patch. The New Mexico oil patch has sustained us in New Mexico for decades both in products we use and as the prime financial support of our public education system. Unfortunately, with the global drop in prices our oil patch is going into a hard time.
      New Mexico has been politically pushed to fund green energy projects which do not have the generation density to be cost-effective and useful. Our oil patch has long funded the public schools, the green energy projects fund the politicians. We need public schools more than we need politicians. We will eventually abandon all of the green projects when we run out of money we wish to spend on politics.
      However, the oil patch is the real deal for New Mexico. Therefore in this price drop we New Mexicans need to recognize the opportunities an oil price war provides our state. When the New Mexico oil patch prospers, so do all New Mexicans.
       This war for market share has happened before. And therein is a lesson: Congressman Steve Pearce had a company in the oil patch when oil prices declined to the point the oil patch essentially shut down. That is where we are headed so we need to take a page from Pearce's playbook.
      Steve Pearce and wife Cynthia had a well service business with dozens of employees when an oil price fluctuation stalled production in New Mexico and West Texas. They went against conventional wisdom and keep all of their employees on the payroll unlike other companies who quickly trimmed their workforce because there was no work.
      Those workers who were let go went on unemployment and then drifted into other lines of work. Steve and Cynthia's workers kept busy working in the company. They based their extraordinary risk on their personal faith and their sense of the value of their workers.
      Early on they decided to go to the very ends of their savings. It was close. Within a couple months of when they would have to shutter the company the oil patch suddenly lurched to life because prices shot up. Their crew was ready and able to work the first day those services were needed. For that giant bet on the future, there was quite a reward for Steve and Cynthia as the only company ready the first day the oil patch revived.
        The future of our public schools and much of our state's economy hangs in the balance. For the public schools there is nowhere else to make this money. Come now to the aid of our oil patch and we all will prosper together. Read full column


Sources: DA anticipates charging APD officers in Boyd shooting

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s office anticipates pursuing open counts of murder against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills on March 16, KRQE News 13 has learned. 
      It is a preliminary decision, made several weeks ago, based on multiple reviews of more than 1,000 pages of evidence and nine DVDs containing recordings from APD’s investigation of the shooting, which police turned over to prosecutors in early October, multiple sources have told KRQE News 13.
     Brandenburg has said she expects to make a final decision in the spring on whether to pursue charges against the two officers — Keith Sandy, who has since retired from APD, and Dominique Perez of the SWAT team — in one of the most controversial in a long string of police shootings in New Mexico’s largest city.
     Prosecutors have a somewhat unorthodox plan for the Boyd case, the sources said. Rather than using a grand jury session, which is conducted in secret, they anticipate presenting the charges during a preliminary hearing in open court, where a judge would decide whether there is probable cause to go on to trial.
     By presenting open counts of murder, prosecutors would give jurors in a trial a range of charges to choose from, all of which are predicated on the theory that the officers killed Boyd intentionally. The stiffest of those charges is first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of six years in prison.
     Pursuing charges against police officers in a shooting would mark a significant departure for Brandenburg. In 14 years as DA, she has declined to prosecute each of the roughly 100 police shooting cases that have landed on her desk. More


Lawmakers to consider state children’s song

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico has an official state tie, the bolo tie. There’s the state question, red or green? The state even has its own song. But what about an official state children’s song?
      It’s one of the bills lawmakers could make into law next month. Mesilla Elementary music teacher, Melanie Williams wrote the song three years ago for a third grade program on food.
        “There wasn’t really anything out there about green chile. I thought that was a shame, so I wrote a song for my students to sing,” Williams said.
        Now her song could become a part of New Mexico history. A student’s mother talked to Dona Ana County State Representative Bill McCamley who wants to make it the state’s official children’s song.
       Both houses would have to approve McCamley’s bill in the upcoming session. Representative McCamley hopes its one bill lawmakers can agree on. “We’re celebrating who we are as people. Celebrating our food, celebrating our culture, celebrating our children,” McCamley said.
      Williams no longer teaches but says she’s honored her song will even be considered. More