Month: February 2018

Rise and Kill First by Ronen Bergman

Recommended by Tom Haack

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”

The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.

In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman—praised by David Remnick as “arguably [Israel’s] best investigative reporter”—offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.

Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country’s military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world’s most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a “Mossad within the Mossad” that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).

Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.

“A remarkable feat of fearless and responsible reporting . . . important, timely, and informative.”—John le Carré

 

NYT Book Review:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/books/review-rise-and-kill-first-israel-assassinations-ronen-bergman.html 

Hockey Game Bridgeport Sound Tigers Pre-game Buffet, March 10, 2018

May 12, 2018, Saturday – trip to Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Sagamore Hill, (Oyster Bay) and Vanderbilt’s

Save the date.  Tom Brayton

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin

Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City’s streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West.

Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clavin’s Dodge City tells the true story of their friendship, romances, gunfights, and adventures, along with the remarkable cast of characters they encountered along the way (including Wild Bill Hickock, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Theodore Roosevelt) that has gone largely untold―lost in the haze of Hollywood films and western fiction, until now.

Recommended by Tom Haack

Current Affairs: End of Life Care – Issues and Policies, May 17, 2018

Discussion leader: Jim Phillips
Just because we can extend life, should we? The U.S. is expected to spend $2.8 trillion on health care in 2012. Medicare alone will cost taxpayers $590 billion, with over 25% going toward patients in their last year of life. If health care is a scarce resource, limited by its availability and our ability to pay for it, should government step in to ration care, deciding whose life is worth saving? In other words, how much is an extra month of life worth?

For The Motion
The U.S. spends more on health care than any other industrial nation—in 2012 we are expected to spend $2.8 trillion. We cannot afford our health care system and expensive end-of-life care costs are a major contributor to this problem.
Rationing means getting better value for the trillions we spend every year.
Rationing already happens. Medicare decides what it will reimburse, private insurance decides what they will cover, and individuals go without care and medicine every day when they can’t afford it.
We must ration based on cost-effectiveness, not on an individual’s ability to pay.
If we spent less on those who, with or without treatment, have only a few months left to live, we would be better able to help those who may have decades.
Against The Motion
The government should not have the power to determine who lives, who dies, and who gets treatment based on calculations of quality and quantity of life.
Health care costs can be reined in without rationing care.
Targeting “end-of-life” care specifically would result in very little cost savings.
Rationing care will lead us down a moral slippery slope. How many years of life is enough? Who is productive and worthy, and who is not?

https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/ration-end-life-care

In 1994, Oregon voters passed the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Since then, it has become legal in 4 more states, including New Mexico, where the state court ruling that it is constitutional is under appeal. Is it, in the words of the American Medical Association’s code of ethics, “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer”? Will these laws lead to a slippery slope, where the vulnerable are pressured to choose death and human life is devalued? Or do we need to recognize everyone’s basic right to autonomy, the right to end pain and suffering, and the right to choose to die with dignity?

For The Motion
The right to die as one chooses—and to decide when life is no longer worth living—is integral to human freedom, liberty, and personal autonomy. Neither the government, nor religious institutions, should impose their own conceptions of morality upon individuals who are not harming others.
As an option in end-of-life care, aid in dying would allow terminally ill, mentally competent individuals to retain dignity and bodily integrity in the face of insurmountable pain and suffering.
In places where assisted suicide is legal—namely, Oregon and the Netherlands—there is no evidence that the law is being abused, that vulnerable populations are being targeted, or that patients are being coerced by doctors and/or their families to choose death.
If physician-assisted suicide remains illegal, lesser and more dangerous alternatives—shooting oneself, enlisting doctors or family to break the law, DIY suicide—will spread in its place.
Against The Motion
If assisted suicide is legalized, we will be led down a slippery slope towards pervasive medical killing, endangering vulnerable populations—disabled, elderly, minority, or poor—whose lives are seen as a burden on society.
If pain is treated effectively, there is no need to treat the patient as if the patient were the “problem to be eliminated.”
Starting with the Hippocratic Oath, medical professional codes prohibit killing, holding the intrinsic value of human life and dignity above all other ethical principles. Assisted suicide erodes the doctor-patient relationship and has grave potential for misuse and abuse.
Many physicians do not want to have God-like power over others, and they should not be pressured, against their own convictions, to assist in a patient’s suicide.
https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/legalize-assisted-suicide

 

As people approach the end of their lives, they and their families commonly face tasks and decisions that include a broad array of choices ranging from simple to extremely complex. They may be practical, psychosocial, spiritual, legal, existential, or medical in nature.

http://www.apa.org/topics/death/end-of-life.aspx

End-Of-Life Policy Solutions: A Cautionary Note
https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20170710.060992/full/

Ethical Issues Surrounding End-of-Life Care: A Narrative Review
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934577/

How to Curb the High Cost of Caregiving
https://www.barrons.com/articles/how-to-curb-the-high-cost-of-caregiving-1521253021

HOW TO ENROLL IN VETERANS HEALTH INSURANCE (TRICARE)
http://www.dummies.com/personal-finance/veterans-benefits/how-to-enroll-in-veterans-health-insurance-tricare/

How to grow old in your own home
https://www.fidelity.com/insights/retirement/aging-in-place

Paying for Care
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/paying-care

Problems and Solutions in End-of-Life Healthcare
http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/leadership/problems-and-solutions-end-life-healthcare#

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-talk-with-your-dying-loved-one-1523891127

Horse Soldiers : the Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton

Documents the post-September 11 mission during which a small band of Special Forces soldiers captured the strategic Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif as part of an effort to defeat the Taliban, in a dramatic account that includes testimonies by Afghanistan citizens whose lives were changed by the war.

Now a movie “12 Strong”

 

Also, consider Odyssey by Doug Stanton

 

Recommended by Tom Brayton

The Odyssey of Echo Company : the 1968 TET Offensive and the Epic Battle to Survive the Vietnam War by Doug Stanton

I picked up Doug Stanton’s Odessy of Echo Company a couple of days ago and found it to be a very good read on the life on one soldier, especially during the Tet offensive.  Happened to mention it to Tom Brayton (who is an avid reader, more than myself I believe) and he too had read it and felt it to be a great book.  Not a book for the group but a good story about one persons 12 months there and how he coped with PTSD and life afterward.  Don’t see how he survived some of the stuff he went through.

Taylor Strubinger