Monday, March 30, 2015
Could a 27-year-old co-pilot, as is widely reported, have purposely crashed the Germanwings jetliner killing himself and 149 innocent people? It’s almost incomprehensible. And, if that is actually what occurred, what would motivate a person to do such a thing? Or, how would we classify him: clinically depressed, suicidal, a psychopath, a mass murderer, or a depraved monster?
With some degree of certainty, it could be said that someone, or probably several people and /or medical professionals knew that Andreas Lubitz should not be flying a commercial aircraft; but they failed to report their concerns to the appropriate authorities. In the litigious world we live in, most people keep their suspicions to themselves. Medical professionals are usually required by law or ethical standards to report someone who they consider might be dangerous to themselves or others; but such judgements are subjective in the extreme and open to considerable second guessing.
I’m not a psychologist, but I do have an opinion as to what could have motivated Lubitz. I do not consider him to be a psychopath in the sense of a Ted Bundy. I do not consider him to be a mass murderer like Adam Lanza.
What then? There are instances, of course generally not of this magnitude, where people commit suicide and in the process kill others. It is not necessarily unheard of for a suicidal individual to purposely turn his vehicle and drive head-on into an oncoming car – often killing the other car’s occupants. What is their reasoning? Well, it could be a spur-of-the-moment decision. It could be because the opportunity incidentally presented itself. It even could be planned to simulate an actual accident and to conceal the true motivation – sometimes for the purposes of protecting their family from any resulting shame, sometimes to garner public sympathy, or sometimes for the money that might go to their family in the way of insurance, employment benefits, etc.
Is it not conceivable that Lubitz committed suicide with the thought that he might generate public sympathy, or even be considered a hero – the courageous pilot at the controls when the plane crashed for undetermined reasons?
Some would say that Lubitz knew all about ‘black box recorders’ and their capabilities and that he would be ultimately found out. Maybe, we give him too much credit. Maybe, he thought that an airliner crashing into a mountain at 500 MPH would leave little evidence behind. Is not that possible?
There will be a lengthy investigation and a probable cause determined; but what was in the mind of Lubitz will never be established. His family will receive his insurance and other benefits. Security measures will be tightened.
Will or can these new security measures prevent future comparable incidents? Doubtful. They say that two people in the cabin at all times will prevent a similar occurrence. I don’t think so.
More careful vetting of pilot personnel, on a continuing basis, is the better solution; but even that is not foolproof, or may not even be practical – not to mention a possibly perceived budget-buster for the airlines.
Flying is not without risk. However, you’re more likely to be killed by an impaired or mentally unstable driver of an oncoming car - while on your way to do a little shopping.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Did the US Attorney, the FBI and The Oregonian newspaper play a role in the re-election of now disgraced Governor Kitzhaber?
I found a recent article in the Oregon City News (a local newspaper) very interesting; although, I must say, not particularly surprising: “Richardson Speaks out About Political Scandal.”
Dennis Richardson, a former Republican State Legislator, ran an uphill and subsequently unsuccessful bid to unseat the incumbent Governor John Kitzhaber. Most of you are aware that shortly after Kitzhaber’s re-election he was forced to resign; and he is currently under investigation by the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Richardson had, prior to the election, submitted a detailed letter (October 26th) to the US Attorney in Oregon setting forth very specific allegations against the Governor and his girlfriend, “fiancée,” Cylvia Hayes – citing unethical and possibly criminal conduct on the part of Kitzhaber and Hayes.
Richardson stated in the article: “I hired a key Washington, DC, lawyer who had experience with federal investigations and prosecutions of elected officials to research and write the letter.”
Richardson said that he had no particular inside information, that the charges outlined were widely circulated in the media and through various public testimony.
Interestingly, the US Attorney Amanda Marshall (appointed by President Barrack Obama) and the FBI sat on the information until after the re-election of Kitzhaber. Within a couple of weeks, the public clamor forced Kitzhaber to resign. Immediately, the US Attorney and the FBI (to that point completely silent) jumped into the fray. Furthermore, the charges ultimately set forth by the US Attorney’s Office closely resembled allegations included in Richardson’s October letter.
Yes, folks, everything is political – as we all know or I suppose should know. Just as in this case delaying tactics, by the Feds, may very well have changed an election outcome and insured a Democratic hold the State. Upon Kitzhaber’s resignation, Oregon’s Secretary of State (also a Democrat) ascended to the Governorship.
One other point, The Oregonian (Oregon’s principal daily newspaper), although certainly privy to all of the known information about Kitzhaber, nonetheless had their Editorial Board endorse Kitzhaber for re-election. With the The Oregonian’s help, Kitzhaber won decisively. Richardson was just SOL.
Was the fix in on this one? I don’t know. The Oregonian’s editorial board has since apologized for their misdirected endorsement. However, their apology sounds to me just a bit disingenuous. Based on what they almost certainly knew, they could have just as well withheld any endorsement for Governor. But they didn’t. Ethics, for bigtime newspapers struggling to survive, has become a rather archaic concept. No, I take that back. Ethics is a concept that has rarely held sway in the newspaper business. Those who believe otherwise – well, what can I say?
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