I had just figured out, using calculus, the rate in radians per second necessary for a camera to follow an ascending rocket.  The student was thrilled, and I was frankly amazed.  I hadn’t done a problem like that in 50 years, and I walked out of the community college math lab that afternoon satisfied after 5 hours of helping several dozen students.

The day soon worsened.

The first was a post on Facebook that my brother sent me.  It was a Christmas card from a Nevada Assemblywoman with her family: babies, kids, other adults, all dressed with red shirts, and all packing.  The weapons I think were listed in the card, but the print was small and my eyes aren’t very good.  A young boy was holding a semi-automatic.  All the others showed their weapons.

This is scary and incredibly tasteless, boorish, and during a holiday season, completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus, in whom I am sure these people believe.  It is child endangerment, for guns in the hands of children or near children are dangerous, and data support that.  I wrote my brother:  “Too many guns, too many kids, and too much red.”   It was appalling.

Then the evening news nailed me.  Mr. Trump was promoting a ban on all Muslims coming to the country; Mr. Cruz was saying the he would carpet bomb ISIS were he elected, wondering what color the sand would look like.  Red, Ted. From the blood of babies and women, too.

Fear sells.  And Americans have become a bunch of ‘fraidy cats.  Yep.  Land of the free, home of the ‘fraidy cat.  Did I mention the Assemblywoman was a good friend of Cliven Bundy, who bilked the federal government out of a few million in grazing fees and got away with it?  That’s my land, too, as much as it is his.  The feds caved, because it would have been a bad scene with many on both sides dead, the rebels martyrs.

Fear wins elections.

That is why Bush gained seats in Congress in 2002, re-elected in 2004.  Fear sells. Gun sales are high, and one of the most common ones bought now is an assault weapon.  There were 185,000 background checks on Black Friday, a record, to go along with 100 million mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Bill of 1993, which began checks in 1998.  Americans are afraid of everything.  Shows like “24” played to this, The Weather Channel’s “It could happen tomorrow” also did, and there is a pervasive notion that seconds, literally seconds count for life and death.  All of us are a heartbeat away from disaster were it not for the “heroes” who surround us and will save us.  It isn’t true, and as a neurologist, I saw plenty of emergencies.

Sure, I’m afraid there will be a campus shooter, but I still volunteer, 70 miles from Umpqua.  I think it is more likely a car driven by a drunk driver will cross the center line and kill me.  One cut a car in half on Highway 34 a few days ago and killed a young woman.  That’s scary, but it doesn’t make the evening news.  Three young men died when their truck went off a Forest Service Road earlier this year.  I thought about them when I drove back from the Coast, near that road.  They were dead, I was alive.  I wondered how their family felt, first Christmas without them.  Wonder how the family feels of the two men killed, 4 miles apart, by a wacko kid who killed his parents, set the house ablaze, and drove wildly through Springfield and Eugene  One had just retired; the other was Christmas shopping.  No reason.  Dead.

I’m afraid of mountain lions when I hike solo in the woods.  But I am more afraid I will stumble upon a survivalist, a marijuana grower, or just a bunch of rednecks with some guns and an attitude.  That scares me, and it has nothing to do with ISIS.  Whatever else, the jihadists don’t know wilderness.  The rednecks do, although I could do without many trashing it everywhere they go.  I keep my eyes and ears open when I’m in the woods.  A friend told me how he was followed very, very closely by one of them in NorCal, causing him to turn around and quickly leave.  I would have, too.  One hiker down there, my age, was killed, his companion left for dead in the same place.  Guy in his cabin killed by a robber on the lam. Wrong place, wrong time.  Nothing to do with ISIS or Muslims.

Trump is playing the fear card, and Cruz will gain traction by his carpet bombing statement.  He didn’t say who was going to pay for this, because wars cost money.  The last one was promised to be $1.7 billion, but it turned out to be that every week for several years.  Maybe Mr. Cruz has that kind of money, but I don’t.  And unless somebody asks him, Mr. Cruz isn’t likely to say where is he is going to find the money. So I will ask:

Mr. Cruz, where are you going to get the money to carpet bomb ISIS?

The last war set the stage for ISIS, but our radicals don’t ever discuss  who invaded Iraq.  Bombing means planes get shot down, pilots captured or killed, their pictures filling the news media, everybody’s posting the picture of one of “our boys” and an outpouring of national ribbons and demands for prisoner release.  Next question:

Mr. Cruz, how many of our own men and women are you willing to sacrifice in order to do this?

Remember that not only do our troops die, but they get wounded, receive sub-optimal care in many instances, and are mustered out of the service, often becoming homeless.  Heroes fade fast.

And next:

Mr. Cruz, when you are president, will you allow the news media to cover the returning of our slain troops to Dover, unlike Mr. Bush?  By the way, do you know what state Dover is in?  That’s for the reader, too.  If you don’t, and you are American, look it up and do me a favor—be a little embarrassed if you didn’t know which state.  I grew up near there. Americans should know their country.

Since lack of an end strategy has hurt this country in both Vietnam and Iraq, I will ask another:

Mr. Cruz, how are we going to decide when to leave?

Because most people don’t like those who bomb them, I think the following needs also to be asked:

Mr. Cruz, do you think radicalization of young men and women might have something to do with the way we have conducted the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and other places in the Middle East?  Put another way, Senator, do you think we might cause the radicalization we want to destroy?

It had been a long day in the math lab, and I had answered a lot of questions politely and accurately.  I think it is now time for me to ask a few and to ask for the same treatment, because I doubt the press will.

They won’t even focus on the fact that Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen as I happen to define the term.


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