The Daily Dose/January 21, 2018

The Daily Dose/January 21, 2018
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy

Notes from around the Human Experience…

USA! USA!: The United States Navy has decided to press charges against the commanding officers of the USS Fitzgerald and McCain who were in the saddle when their ships collided with other vessels in 2017. The two collisions resulted in the deaths of 17 US sailors. Both collisions were preventable had both bridges been manned by properly trained, vigilant watchstanders. They were not.

Bravo Zulu: This is good news. All hands in the Navy, past, present and future, are entitled not only to know exactly what happened to cause 17 shipmates to die but to have those responsible held accountable because being held accountable is the fundamental tenet of command. 

Dry, Technical Matter: Commanders Bryce Benson and Alfredo Sanchez have both been charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel. Three others from the Fitzgerald and one other from the McCain have been charged as well and these charges follow administrative punishment, removals and forced retirements already handed out to others.

Please Pass The Dry, Technical Matter: While the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not define negligent homicide, a good definition is:

A person who, through criminal negligence, or without malice, allows another person to die.

It’s the lowest level of criminal homicide and in the service carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

More Dry, Technical Matter: Based on this definition, and our reading of the reports on the incidents, negligent homicide is a reasonable charge. Regular readers of this crap may – or they may not – recall an earlier column on St Louis police officer Jason Stockley who was acquitted of first-degree murder last year after he shot a black man to death. Like you probably did, we read the judge’s opinion and we concluded the officer was not guilty of first-degree murder. Under the circumstance, this was not a particularly reasonable charge and the prosecution did not serve the people of St Louis well by pursuing it. The Navy is serving America well by pursuing negligent homicide charges.

Warm, Personal Remembrance: Regular readers of this crap know we’ve navigated US Navy ships – at sea, no less – so we have some modest street cred in this matter. Our experience was that sailors who were well trained and standing the type of diligent, professional watch that would cause John Paul Jones to achieve and maintain a state of arousal do not run aground or occupy the same place on the ocean as other ships.

The Bottom Line: Whether the captains are found guilty or not, this shows the Navy is serious about holding commanders accountable for their actions. The Navy didn’t have to do this, they could have easily swept it under the rug and allowed Benson and Sanchez to leave the Navy without facing criminal charges. Neither deserves that, and the trials will be good for our country. 

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy: or, The Triumph of Nature, by William Hill Brown, is published in Boston on this date in 1789. It was not-so-loosely based on an affair where Brown’s neighbor seduced his sister-in-law, who became pregnant and later killed herself.

Great Moments In Beheading The King: Louis XVI, arrested and deposed as King of France the previous year, is beheaded on this date in 1793. Louis had been arrested on charges of treason the previous year.

Louis, The French Nation Accuses You…”: There were 33 charges against Louis, who by this time was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet. Like monarchs before him, Louis claimed the charges were invalid because as king he was immune from prosecution. He was found guilty, anyway, with 693 deputies voting yes, zero voting no, though some were absent and some abstained with some of those citing their job was to make laws, not sit in judgement of others.

“He Suddenly Let Go My Arm, And I Saw Him Cross With A Firm Foot…”: Accounts of Louis’ beheading state the former monarch appeared dignified and resigned. He had risen early, taken Mass and communion and, on advice, avoided a final scene with his family. The ride to the scaffold was long. After reiterating his innocence and pardoning those “who are the cause of my death” a general in the National Guard ordered a drum roll, drowning out the rest of his speech.

I Do Solemnly Swear…Or Did Solemnly Swear.: Deciding his loyalty was to his home state and not his country, Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate on this date in 1861. In his memoirs, Davis would state he believed each state was sovereign in and of itself and had the right to secede from any union. He also believed the South did not have the resources to defeat the North in a war, though that did not stop him from becoming president of the Confederacy a few weeks later.

More USA! USA!: The USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear submarine, is launched in Groton, Connecticut on this date in 1954. Nautilus didn’t go far. She remained tied to the pier for further testing and would be commissioned in September and would get underway for the first time the following January. Nautilus would serve America honorably until her decommissioning in 1980, and she is now a museum in Groton, Connecticut.  

Quotebook: I grew fond of her company, and at this time being under no religious restraints, I attempted familiarities (another erratum), which she repulsed with proper resentment. – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Before the passage of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution, presidents and vice presidents were inaugurated on March 4.

Today’s Stumper: Who was Louis XVI’s wife? – Answer next time!

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