Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Ukraine: Engage and Endure?

World War Two is fresh in the minds of my generation. We recall the tension of not knowing whether we would win intense battles in two parts of the world.

We remember the way joy erupted when the war ended favorably to our side, and friends and family came home. Sadly, not all of them.

Now we see another power, Russia, crushing its neighbor Ukraine, headed toward Europe. There is no way to stop this invader without risking nuclear war - if we credit Russian threats. What must today’s generation do?

The modern generation must consider the same kind of choice made by the World War Two generation. You (and we of the prior generation who have lived into the twenty first century) must answer the question, “Can we allow any nation destroy the people of a neighboring nation at will?” Are other people’s lives and freedom worth contending for?

There is no assurance of success if the decision is to contend on behalf of Ukraine and take serious risks in an effort to protect Ukraine and Europe from the same fate they suffered under Nazi Germany. 

Still it is a choice dropped in your younger laps, and to some extent into the laps of us older folks. 

In the twentieth century America chose to join in Europe’s fight against invading and murdering Nazis and Asia’s fight against murdering Japanese militarists. That was before nuclear weapons came along. Do we today have the courage to confront enemies that threaten modern war? 

Americans of the World War Two generation accepted the fight to defeat militarists in Germany and Japan. The militarists of 2022 are no less a threat. Shall we confront them? Will we confront them, and will we endure the finish? 

God knows. God can show us the way. We’d better ask Him.

Douglas Smith, March 15, 2022

Friday, September 24, 2021

Grasp for a handhold, or reach for the strong hand?

When I was young I was bold to climb or descend a steep hillside when hiking in rough country. Perhaps overconfident I would scramble up for a better view of my surroundings, or down to get a close look at a flowering shrub. I often was startled to discover that a stone I grasped to pull myself up came loose and required me to shift quickly to another hoped-for support, or that a ledge I put my foot on crumbled and fell away. I feel that way about the affairs, the culture of our nation today. Things that always seemed firm come loose and leave me scrambling for another handhold or foothold. 

Trust in Jesus Christ, my new-found faith of forty years, keeps me moving with trembling assurance to the high ground where the view is bright and fresh, and the flowering shrubs may be enjoyed in peace and safety. Politics, law, and even reasonable financial security are not leading me to the grand vista and the beautiful life I desire, but gripping the hand of Jesus Christ is bringing the vista and the beauty closer and helping me continue the climb. My prayer is, when my view of the path threatens to be obscured by passions or fears, that Christ will keep my hand in his firm grasp and even squeeze it reassuringly while we move ahead.

Morning, September 24, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

The New Sin of the Day

Our western culture seems increasingly self-righteous. News media, entertainment, and social media seem to have made prosecutors, judges and jurors of us all. 

People regularly invent new “sins.” Others insist we focus on the sins they consider most serious while ignoring others. 

For example, to disagree with a new sexual ideology is a sin some think must be prosecuted aggressively. And one may be excoriated for failing to fight climate change with all consuming devotion.  

In short, by putting ourselves in the place of God we regularly create new causes for conflict and alienation. Not a good way to create a more united America or world. 

Isn’t it worthwhile to pause and try learning whether or not there is a God, and whether he has already spoken on such subjects? Then to seriously consider and act on what he has said?


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stolen Election? The Opinion of an Old Prosecutor

Charges that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from President Trump have inspired reckless anger and violence in America. It is highly improbable that the election was stolen because the President could prove it if proof were available. 

A President has operatives in every federal judicial district of the United States. I mean, he appoints United States Attorneys in every one of the 94 federal judicial districts throughout the United States and territories. They serve at his pleasure. They would have reported any widespread election fraud to him through his Department of Justice. I have not heard of any such reports.

As an Assistant U.S. Attorney many years ago, I learned that among the duties of an assistant was to work late on election nights to receive reports of election misconduct. Reports might come directly to us during the day or night. More often they came to the FBI and the FBI contacted us for the go-ahead to conduct a preliminary inquiry. These resulted in a record being made that was available if a major investigation should be launched. The current Justice Manual of the U.S. Department of Justice reveals that similar procedures remain in place.

In the conflict over the 2020 presidential election results, I have not heard Justice Department records cited in support of widespread election fraud. Every United States Attorney (there are 94 ) would have reported evidence of significant election misconduct to Washington. It's their job. Moreover, all U.S. Attorneys stand to lose their jobs if the incumbent president is defeated. Again, if significant evidence of widespread election fraud existed, the President would know about it and presumably would cite it to bolster his complaint that the election was stolen. 

Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press on December 1, 2020 that the Department of Justice had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election outcome.

I have heard of no United States Attorney reports cited in support of the President's claim so I conclude his claim of a stolen election is unsupported. What about malicious computer software?  I have heard the dramatic allegations that subversive computer software may have altered votes but I have not heard that any authority has substantiated them.

So, what should disappointed Americans do? If one’s candidate lost the election, he or she should focus on putting together a winning slate for next time. 

Douglas Smith, 2-13-2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel

Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge (Nashville, W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2019)


Nerves of Steel is a story about a smart, persistent woman penetrating a man’s world and becoming a Navy fighter pilot and later an airline captain who saved over 140 lives in a catastrophic in-flight explosion. What makes the story interesting is seeing how her upbringing in a happy family led Tammie Jo Bonnelle (later Captain Tammie Jo Shults) to acquire the discipline that shaped important decisions in her eventful life. The story begins in childhood on her family’s ranch and concludes dramatically with her piloting a barely controllable airliner to a safe landing after the explosion of an engine breached the side of her Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet. She shows how challenges and obstacles in her career also blessed her, training her to think and act wisely where prospects for a good outcome looked dim. Key to dealing with seemingly hopeless situations was the Christian faith she acquired as a girl in summer camp. This faith led her to trust God for the outcome and not rely solely on her (considerable) personal and professional skills. 


Note: Military and Aviation Terminology. Having served in the Air Force, I felt comfortable with the author’s occasional use of military and aviation terminology and acronyms. She was thoughtful to provide a “Quick Reference Guide for Military Terminology” in an appendix.  Like any reader, the military terminology guide “put me in the picture” when my military and aviation memory was faded or incomplete. When using specific aviation terms, she typically added a parenthetical explanation in the main text.




Monday, December 14, 2020

Is protest good, in and of itself?

Is protest good, in and of itself? You might think so from news reports in America. In recent months we have seen pictures on tv of protests in the name of just causes where people innocent of the wrongs being protested are unjustly injured or killed and protesters destroy uninvolved homes and businesses. If this is good, we should shudder and retch at the prospect of evil! Come on Americans!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Look! A plane with no propeller!

Look! A plane with no propeller!

It was 1945. World War 2 had just ended. I was 6 years old. My friends and I were airplane nuts, collecting magazines with photos and facts about all kinds of combat airplanes. We had memorized all sorts of information about maximum speeds, service ceiling, rates of climb, and so forth.

We had seen lots of military planes over our neighborhood, making their low approaches to or takeoffs from nearby Dallas’ Love Field.

However, we had never seen an airplane fly without a propeller. Nor one that roared like a volcano.

One afternoon a neighbor across the street shouted something like, “Look! A Jap plane.”

Startled, I looked up and there it was: not a Japanese plane but a jet plane. A jet fighter plane passing low over our neighborhood with no propeller turning.

Investigating later, I learned we had seen the new P-80 “Lightning.”

The same sight would not startle kids today who have seen hundreds of prop-less jet planes pass over.

Still, when the neighbors and I saw our first jet plane we knew immediately we had entered into a new flying age. An exciting age that promised unimaginable new aircraft.

Buck Rogers was no longer just a comic strip!