Email letters, Nov. 30, 2011

Military pilots need a place to train

As I wandered through the editorial pages of the Nov. 27 edition of The Daily Sentinel, I stumbled across Andrew Gulliford’s op-ed essay griping about the Air Force’s proposal to conduct training flights for CV-22 Ospreys in western Colorado. Although Professor Gulliford’s essay was disorganized and incoherent, his arguments seem to boil down to:

—The possibility that the flights might disturb his peaceful slumber;

—The possibility that they might disturb hikers and tourists, and the flocks and herds of Colorado’s grazers;

—That they are to be conducted by the military, and;

—That they are dangerous, and that a crash might cause environmental harm.

So let’s look at this question. First, the Air Force only proposes to conduct 688 missions per year —fewer than two per day — over an area in Colorado of something like 50,000 square miles. This hardly sounds like an oppressive level of impact on any particular area, does it? And with that limited number of flights, spread over that huge area, it is hard to believe that the good professor’s sleep will be disturbed very often, or that tourists, or the sheep and cattle of our ranchers, will be put to any great inconvenience.

As to the fact that these flights might be dangerous ... well, that’s why we need to allow our pilots the opportunity to train, isn’t it? So that they can get better at their jobs and reduce the danger of flying in mountainous terrain. And the speculative cost of any environmental harm is certainly lower than the cost of losing a planeload or two of military personnel due to inadequate pilot training.

I suspect that the principal source of Professor Gulliford’s discomfort is that these flights are for military training, and especially, as he snidely observes, that, “the [real] AFSOC goal is ‘to train to insert, extract, or re-supply Special Forces.’”

Well. Somehow Professor Gulliford seems not to have noticed that we are presently engaged in a war against a transnational, worldwide movement whose stated goal is to destroy liberal western culture and supplant it with a transnational, worldwide theocracy whose fundamental tenets are completely inimical to our way of life.

But then, perhaps Professor Gulliford doesn’t think he has a dog in that fight. But I do; I am the father of a young man in the military. And he serves in one of those units which do much of the fighting in our efforts to defend ourselves against Islamic jihadists.

My son has had to fly in Ospreys on the way to missions, and he hates it — although they are fast and agile, they are also notoriously temperamental, difficult to fly and therefore dangerous. And when my son and his fellow soldiers climb into the belly of an Osprey, they are putting their lives in the hands of its crew ... and thus arises the critical need for rigorous mountain training for those aircrews, a factor Professor Gulliford barely notices in his op-ed piece.

So before whiners, complainers and malcontents start writing letters of objection to the DOD, consider this: When my son and his companions climb into an Osprey, or a Chinook, or a Black Hawk, and fly off into the night on yet another mission, they quite literally do not know whether any of them will still be alive to see the sun rise the next morning. And I humbly submit that anything we can do to make that more likely is worth the cost. A few nights of interrupted sleep, or a frightened sheep, or an irritated hiker, are a modest price to pay for my son’s continued survival, and for his unit’s continued operational success.

Grand Junction

No vaccinating children is irresponsible

I was dismayed to read in the Nov. 29 edition of The Daily Sentinel that more parents are skipping school shots for their children. According to the Associated Press story, “More kids skip school shots in 8 states,” a rising number of parents in more than half the states also are opting out of the required school vaccines.

Many of today’s parents may not remember polio, whooping cough, measles, chickenpox and other disease outbreaks in the United States. But I remember. Two children in my neighborhood died during the nationwide 1950s polio outbreak, and I was very ill with chicken pox, measles, mumps and scarlet fever. This year two of my adult relatives contracted whooping cough and were very ill for several months.

Parents who opt out of vaccines put others at risk: babies, children, people undergoing chemotherapy, pregnant women, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems, and the general public. All adults should check with their doctors and public health departments to be sure their own vaccinations are up to date, and all parents should check with their pediatricians to ensure that their children are properly immunized. It’s irresponsible not to get vaccinated.


Congress needs term limits

The biggest mistake in our Constitution was not placing a restriction on time in office (term limits) for our federal politicians. Congress placed a limit on the presidency in 1947 and it was ratified in 1951, but they will not put the same restrictions on themselves. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be… power?

Nothing gets to the president’s desk for either signature or veto without first being passed by Congress. If you join the “good ole boy” network, you are in for life. If you buck the system, you are on an uphill battle, at best, just to survive.

Career politicians are this country’s biggest problem. They are experts at side stepping issues and never answering the tough questions. They bring “pork” dollars to their districts by being good at playing the game, tell their constituents what they want to hear, and are much more focused on the next election than they are on doing what is right for the country.

So how do you get someone to vote themselves out of a job? Obviously, a rhetorical question because it’s never going to happen. Career politicians have mastered the art of using the media. Everything now is about negative campaigning. It’s not “what I can do to fix our problems,” it’s “how bad it would be if you elect my opponent.”

If candidates don’t have a skeleton in their closet worthy of national news then all the opposition has to do is make one up, find some opportunist (for money or their 15 minutes of fame) to make a public statement and let the candidate try to disprove it. Unlike our judicial system, in the world of politics one is guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. Nowhere else is the burden of proof placed on the individual.

It really is a mess and I guess my only hope is that people soon come to their senses. Are those people willing to pay more for their electricity to save the “spotted winged gnat” really helping the family that is struggling to keep food on their table?

Grand Junction


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