Reigniting The Meaning Of Citizenship Through National Service

It’s been a long time since a common rite of passage among our nation’s men was to put on a uniform and defend your nation, community, and family. Yet at a time of increasing hyperpolarization in our country, as well as the deteriorating state of our nation’s youth in mind, body, and soul, national military service may be an idea worth considering once again.

National service has been ever-present in our country’s history. From militias in the Revolutionary War era to the wartime drafts in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to peacetime drafts through various parts of our nation’s past.

The legacy from those eras of conscription still remain in the form of the Selective Service system, which many of us remember being notified that we needed to register for upon reaching age 18.

The Selective Service system also has been the subject of debate in recent years, as many persons have considered whether women should register for it as well – such as during the 2016 Presidential election when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called for such.

Among other republics and democracies in the world national service is relatively common, from the nations of Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Asia to South America. Conscription began falling out of favor since the end of the Cold War, as the general state of worry over military conflict faded.

Yet in recent years conscription has made a comeback. French President Macron has been trying to reintroduce military conscription in order to “foster patriotism and heal social divisions.” Norway recently expanded its military conscription in 2016 to include women, as Sweden has now re-introduced conscription as well.

Perhaps the most noted military conscription program is that of Israel, which requires all men and women to serve about two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with few exceptions. While brought about by military necessity, it has also cultivated an Israeli citizenry that has the character, grit, and sense of duty to keep their nation thriving.

It used to be that way in America, as serving in the military was a relatively common experience. In 1980, veterans totaled 18% of adults in the United States. In contrast, by 2016 that number had fallen to 7%.

At a time when our nation is reeling from divisions along seemingly every line possible, it is worth considering a common and shared experience as national service to reconnect our country together. The benefits are very clear in other nations, as despite often no overt military conflict conscription still provides a variety of security and social benefits to the country.

Undoubtedly the implementation of a conscription program, not seen in our nation for almost half a century, would be difficult initially. Not only have the times and culture changed, but so has the very nature of our armed forces.

Our military nowadays is an extremely high-tech organization and finding how to best utilize the massive manpower from our almost 330 million person nation would require careful delineation.

Furthermore, many of our nation’s youth, estimated currently at 71% of those between the ages of 17 and 24, are grossly unfit for military service. Creating a new conscript category and integrating them usefully into the nation’s military would be challenging, but given how seemingly every other nation is able to do it effectively we undoubtedly can find a way to as well.

The idea of national service would undoubtedly require a significant period of pilot programs and testing. The idea has been proposed frequently in the national discourse throughout the years and particularly during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It is a big, nation-changing policy that certainly, if it gets further traction and consideration, would be a serious national debate.

National service is a very realistic program that could do a lot in solving many of our nation’s otherwise seemingly unsolvable problems, as well as reigniting reflection on the meaning of citizenry in a republic.

I think it is worth considering at our present time, as, although it seems a big change, nonetheless could revive our American spirit and heal our nation in an extraordinary way.

 

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Local Vietnam veterans to be honored at Henderson ceremony

From 10 a.m. to noon Monday, about 75 local veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces between Nov. 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975, are expected to participate in a Vietnam Veterans Pinning and Proclamation Ceremony in Henderson. On Monday, their military service will be publicly acknowledged by Humana in Henderson, at a Vietnam Veterans Pinning and Proclamation Ceremony.

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The accidental president who wore power lightly reminds us that normality isn’t a bad thing

Gerald Ford survived to continue with an 895-day presidency during which the nation regained its equilibrium after Watergate and Vietnam. The only president to have reached the Oval Office without first appearing on a ballot for either vice president or …

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Arizona Governor Meets with McCain

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey quietly met with Sen. John McCain and his wife, Cindy, at the couple’s home outside Sedona, Arizona, The Hill reports. “The meeting, which was not on the governor’s official schedule, comes amid speculation over whom the Republican governor would appoint to fill the Senate seat should the ailing 81-year-old senior lawmaker and Vietnam War hero unexpectedly leave office.

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Spicy Weekend

Friday

A great day. I used to go to Mr Chow constantly, but then I stopped because it was too loud. I didn’t go for years. Then I happened to be slouching by on Thursday and went into the bar for a Diet Coke. The bartender was friendly. The captains were super-friendly. Theo, the dean of waiters, was ultra-friendly and hugged me. So tonight I came back and had one of the tastiest dinners of my life. Spicy. But magnificent. Spicy fried beef. Spicy ribs. Spicy candied walnuts. Spicy chicken with cashews. Or maybe walnuts again.

I was in heaven. It was still fantastically noisy but I was happy. I drove home, which is only a five-minute ride from Mr Chow. At the corner of Rodeo and Carmelita, some drunken jerk ran the stop sign and came within inches of crashing into me. He was in an immense white Lexus.

I swerved and avoided him but that was too close. Thank you God for sparing me once again. When I count the number of times God has spared me, it’s almost infinite. In fact it is infinite. I never had to get shot at like my pal, hero Larry Lissitzyn.

When I got home, wifey and I watched an incredibly creepy and scary noir story about a conspiracy in 1928 Weimar Berlin. Every single person in the story was crazy one way or another. And killers. But the atmosphere was compelling. Lots of shiny wood and people turning to crime to support themselves.

Then popcorn and then sleep. I dreamed I was at dinner with a charming friend who has the most voracious appetite of any person I have ever known. He eating all of my Mr Chow ribs. I was really upset. Then I dreamed I was in an old age home with my brilliant friend, the law scholar Arthur Best. We were both depressed as hell but Arthur was making jokes about it.

He’s a funny guy. We’ve been friends since 1962.

Saturday

Dinner again at Mr Chow. This time with a hilarious friend trying to explain block chains to me. It was as if he were talking about flying saucers. It was better than lunch today though. There I dined with a tall, charming woman whose mother had died 24 hours earlier. She was in shock. It’s too cruel to lose the ones we love.

The food tonight was ultra-spicy. Afterwards, I drove home very carefully. Beverly Hills is a beautiful neighborhood but has the worst drivers in the world. Why? Because they feel too entitled to obey the law. It’s that simple.

Wifey and I watched the end of the endless series about Weimar Berlin. It’s called “Babylon Berlin.” With all my heart, I recommend you not watch it. Too depressing. Too long. The plot is a thousand times too complex. But the people who made the sets should all get Oscars or Emmys or something. Still, don’t waste your time.

Monday

Memorial Day. I swam and thanked God for the brave men and women who were shot out of the sky, who got malaria, who got blown to pieces by mines, who were eaten by sharks, who were worked to death by the Japanese. I thanked God for my Grandfather Dave who fought in the Philippines where capture meant death. For my Silver and Bronze Star father in law, Dale Denman, Jr., hero of Germany and Vietnam. For my uncle Bob Denman, who fought hand to hand at Cho-Sin. For the families of those who died or came home wounded badly or crazed. How many have been in terror so I could swim in my pool every day? How many so I can vote? How many so I can say Kaddish in Hebrew for my parents? How many so that the media can whine and bitch all day and night? What can we ever do to thank them? I’m going to my checkbook to write a check to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. TAPS. That’s what I’m doing. TAPS.ORG.

God bless the families of those who died for us bums back home.

LOVE TO THEM ALL.

 

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The Open Era

You see where the line is between a good tennis player and an Immortal in the first round match between former No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rogerio Dutra-Silva on the Philippe-Chatrier Stade at Paris’s Roland Garros the other day.

The Brazilian, a veteran player ranked in the top 100 won some excellent points and broke the 2016 champion to even the score at 4-4 in the third set, his last chance to make a serious stand in the first round of this year’s Internationaux de France, aka French Open. Djokovic broke right back, then held serve at 15 and that was that, three sets to nought.

It was a fine match, even as seen on TV, but nothing to write home about. Anyway we would not be writing home because due to certain circumstances involving the law firm of Jauvert & Jauvert, TAS can only provide some long-distance analysis this year, but never mind the details. The question here is: is the great Serb ace back?

The question is pertinent because every tennis commentator queried by Tennis, the voice of the American tennis establishment, says defending champion Rafael Nadal will repeat, on the rational theory no one can beat him. A non-scientific survey of the international sporting press offers the same consensus. Djokovic, one of the few able to beat Nadal, has been in a prolonged slump worsened by an elbow injury requiring surgery as the season began.

With the loss in five sets by 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka to a stubborn and solid Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Nadal has last year’s finalist out of the way. He is leading a tough and able Simone Bolelli by two sets when play is adjourned on Chatrier due to rain. The Italian is up 3-0 in the third, but these rain delays usually favor the champ, who uses them to recharge is fierce competitive drive.

And with the defection due to injury of Australia’s bad boy tennis genius Nick Kyrgios, he has one less of the up-and-coming young men to worry over. He has been in fantastic form, taking titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome to prepare his title defense. Like LeBron James on the basketball court, like Mike Trout (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, you know what I mean) on the mound, Rafa Nadal is the King. At least on clay. In tennis, surfaces matter; the maestro, Roger Federer, has only one Coupe des Mousquetaires among his 20 Slam trophies.

Moreover, Federer, the Stan-da-Man of tennis in our era, is following last year’s strategy of sitting out the clay season the fresher to be on grass and during the North American summer hard-courts. (He won at Wimbledon, not at Flushing Meadows.) And Andy Murray is out, recovering from injuries that he hopes will be gone in time for the All-England in early July.

Injuries, age; recovery, youth. The beauty of this sport derives from the way it brings out the basics of life in stark simplicity. An individual sport, in which you are upfront and alone: you step up or you do not and there is no team to back you up — or a single star like LeBron James to bail out the team. It is, pace Andre Agassi’s famous quip, not like boxing; you do have to run and you cannot hide.

It is Nadal’s to lose this year, making it likely he will get an unprecedented 11th trophy in a single major tournament. His lean and hungry challengers have fallen short in the endurance tests that are unique to the Slam circuit, or succumbed under Nadal’s clay power game, designed, and perfected for the conditions produced by this surface (limestone and crushed brick, if you ever wondered).

So, not too much suspense here, though y’never know. American men have not done very well on clay in recent years, but Jared Donaldson won his first round match in five sets, showing good form, while Frances Tiafoe and Sam Querrey both have shots at reaching the second week; unfortunately they square off in the first round so only one will (maybe) do it. (Update: it goes to Querrey in three sets; Isner, before the rain, was up two against Tiafoe’s contemporary, Noah Rubin.)

On the women’s side, Venus Williams went down in the first round and her sister goes into action on Tuesday. They have two doubles titles here, Venus has never won the Coupe Lenglen, but Serena has done it three times. The defending champ, Jelena Ostapenko, lost her first round match on an injured foot. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys easily got through to round two. They are best friends, there was a touching scene when Miss S. beat Miss K. at the final of the U.S. Open last September, real friendship. But still it is a lonely sport.

Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver returned to Roland-Garros 50 years ago, in the inaugural major of the Open era; “Muscles” prevailed over “Rocket” in the finals. He also took the doubles with his compatriot Fred Stolle. Outside the tournament, France was in some turmoil as the cultural revolt known as the May Events continued.

These have been the subject of rather dull retrospectives and remembrances for the past months; for all their charm, you have to admit the French have a predilection for editing their own history rather in the direction of fashion, which is annoying. The fashion is that in the grand scheme of things, the May Events were a Good Thing. As far as I can tell, their main effect was that the French stopped saying “vous” and also gave up on wearing ties and hats. For the past few years, they have been destroying their own grammar, abolishing the gender declensions that charmed (and tortured) students of their language.

The remembrance that came to my mind, perhaps by unconscious association with our Memorial Day weekend when we honor those who gave all for our freedom, was one that no one, to my knowledge, mentions in all the yak-yak. I had in mind a man named Maurice Grimaud. He was the police prefect of Paris, in effect the man responsible for security, and he was heavily handicapped by the fact that his forces were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the thousands of kids who had nothing better to do than skip class, block the entrances to the university so those who wanted to learn could not get in, and instead tear up the cobble stones of the old streets of the Latin Quarter and throw them at the cops, who exercised admirable restraint.

Grimaud, who died ten years ago after a long and distinguished career as a high civil servant, had put out the word that there was to be as little rough stuff as possible, which is why the “revolutionaries” had a field day and for the next half century have been able to compare themselves to the men women and children whom you see in Les Misérables, and who were mowed down by cannon and musket when protesting for actual real reasons, such as having nought to eat. In 1968, the enactors were bourgeois kids, playing at historical drama.

Detachments of CRS and gendarmes (police under military discipline but in this case under Grimaud’s authority) reinforced the Paris uniforms. These were for the most part working class and farm-region boys, young men who had served their country in the last years of the colonial wars and were not exactly impressed with tweed-wearing students who had avoided those bitter wars and had not grown up in the poverty that was still common in those years, yet had the gall to claim they spoke for the wretched of the earth. The young men working overtime to keep the city safe while others spouted verses from Mao and Trotsky must have wondered what future elites the country was going to have, but they kept their cool and, no doubt, had a sense of humor sorely lacking in the feverish brains of bourgeois Stalinists.

In one of the “iconic” photos of the time, the student leader Dany Cohn-Bendit is seen offering a mischievous grin to a stern looking gendarme (who on closer inspection is repressing a sly smile); this has gone down in history as a symbol of the “whole” “liberation” “movement” of the ’60s.

Cohn-Bendit was, in fact, one of the less ridiculous soixante-huitards (in English: hippies, or San Francisco Democrats). He was ferociously anti-communist; the Stalinists and Trotskyists hated him. They piggy-backed the protests he and his anarchist pals started against dorm restrictions on the university campus. But he himself knew he was using sex stuff to kick start the reverse potty training he gleefully wanted to spread all over society. This is why Charles de Gaulle, who was president at the time, referred to the events aschien-lit, dog s….

Dany said they were in it to oppose “imperialism” as well as dorm restrictions, meaning the Vietnam war. What did he know about the Vietnam war? He knew enough to admit, 50 years later, that even then he knew that in Vietnam, he would have ended before a firing squad. Instead, he has a seat in the European Parliament at Strasbourg. It is not clear what they do there, but they get nice perks.

As we know, the year 1968 began with a communist rampage in Vietnam. Known as the Tet offensive, it had as its objectives to shock public opinion in the U.S. and convince our “elites” the war was unwinnable; to hold territory long enough, in such provincial capitals as Hue, to mass-murder civic and intellectual leaders, as well as policemen, who might form the backbone of resistance to their imperialism; and to destroy the Viet Cong cadres in the South, whom the Northern Stalinists did not trust. Although American and South Vietnamese forces, despite taking terrible casualties, threw back the onslaught, these objectives were achieved.

Some commemoration. Better to remember that first Open tournament on the far west side of Paris, on a street named for Gordon Bennett, an American newspaper tycoon and, no doubt, a Yankee imperialist!

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Swalwell Doubles Down on Schiff’s Attack — GOP ‘Worse Than Bums’

Monday on CNN’s “The Lead,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) defended his colleague Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for calling Republicans “bums.” Swalwell said, “Well, I think ranking member Schiff’s point is if they are not willing to have their minds changed about holding the president accountable, their seats have to be changed. You know, we’ve tried to be honest brokers all along in this investigation, particularly the House investigation, and our Republican colleagues put their heads in the sand to look the other way, or they are rowing in the same direction with the president. The American people are exasperated by the lies the president tells about basic accepted truths. I actually think one day you are going ask me to come on air and defend whether the sun really sets in the west because the president woke up one day and tweeted it sets in the east. It’s maddening.” He added, “You’re worse than bums if you are not willing to stand up to a president who is attacking a former FBI director, a patriot who served our country in Vietnam like Bob Mueller. You’re worse than a bum if you are allowing the president to cash in on the oval

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