Billy Mitchell, at the court martial he wanted…
Why I didn’t think to include the tale of General Billy Mitchell in the Ethics Alarms posts regarding Captain Brett Crozier, the former commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who forfeited his job by going around the chain of command to protect his crew, I really don’t know. But it’s normal for people to forget about Mitchell, and I don’t understand that, either. He, like Crozier, was an unconventional Ethics Hero, and a crucial one. And he may well have saved the world.
Do you not know the story of William Lendrum Mitchell, born December 29, 1879, died February 19, 1936? You should. Every American should.
He grew up in Milwaukee., Wisconsin. At age 18 he enlisted as a private in the army, and by the age of 23 he had become the youngest captain in the U.S. Army. It was a pattern; being a prodigy and trailblazer in the military came naturally to Mitchell. In 1913, at the age of 32, he became the youngest officer ever assigned to the General Staff of the War Department in Washington. At a time when most in the military considered the airplane a novelty, “a risky contraption” of little or no value in combat, Mitchell immediately saw the potential of air power, and believed that planes represented the future of warfare.
The United States had only fifty-four air-worthy planes when it entered World War I in 1917, and only thirty-five air-worthy officers, including Mitchell, to lead them. Again he was a first, this time the first American officer to fly over enemy lines. He organized the first all-American Air Squadron; one of his recruits, Eddie V. Rickenbacker, became a legend as Mitchell moved his American air units to counter Manfried von Richthofen, the “Red-Baron.” When Germans planned to unleash a major ground offensive and the Allied commanders were desperate to learn where it was being mounted, Mitchell volunteered to fly low over the enemy’s lines, and his daring mission discovered thousands of Germans concentrating close to the Marne River. Armed with Mitchell’s intelligence, the Allies launched a surprise attack on the German flank and scored a major victory. Mitchell’s solo reconnaissance flight was hailed as one of the most important aerial exploits of the war. Continue reading →
Bear with me—this story has a point, and besides, it’s funny.
George S. Kaufman had the right idea.
Playwright George S. Kaufman (“The Man Who Came To Dinner”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, and many more) was a panelist on the long-forgotten early TV program, “This is Show Business.” One of its features was to have a celebrity consult the panel members about a personal problem. On one show, singer Eddie Fisher ( father of Carrie) complained to the panel that some women refused to go out with him because of his youth. Kaufman replied with this immortal expression of complete disinterest:
“Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope. The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.
“Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.”
This is how I feel about the controversy over the removal of a reference to God on an Air Force unit’s patch, and it is how, I believe, everyone should feel, from the atheists who agitated for the patch to be changed, to the ridiculous Republican House members who are opposing the change. Continue reading →
Why does the Air Force want to recruit these people?
Raw Story reports that a United States Central Command spokesman recently confirmed that the US Air Force had solicited private sector vendors for something called “persona management software.” The technology would allow an individual to “command” virtual armies of fake, digital personas across multiple social media portals.
The “personas” would have detailed, fictionalized backgrounds to make them undetectable as fake to outside observers, and there would be sophisticated identity protection to support the deception, preventing suspicious readers from uncovering the real person behind the account. The program would also fool geolocating services, so these “personas” could be virtually inserted anywhere in the world, providing ostensibly live commentary on real events, even while the operator was not present.
Hmmmm. Continue reading →