a tale of three citizens

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” Abraham Lincoln


As you sip a latte at Starbucks, feeling outraged by a President who apparently does not share your social conscience, you wonder how the country has become so brazenly racist and homophobic. While you have not seen any negative impact to your paycheck nor fewer clients to your business, the economy is horribly worse because others are earning significantly more. You did not vote in the Presidential election, though you like what you hear about the new Congress: a Muslim woman and a Green social media-savvy gadfly. When not supporting gender-equality pastry shops, you purchase organic, locally-grown produce at Trader Joe’s. You buy Emerging Markets coffee beans online from a group that supports Guatemalan children. And you truly believe your Tesla, Prius, or Audi lessens your carbon footprint.


As an immigrant who saved up the required fees, filed for the visas and immigration forms, and emigrated to her new country according to the laws and practices of each nation, you are diligently working to learn the language, customs and history of your new home. You know your ethnic community in the area you have settled have members – family and extended family perhaps- who live in violation of the law. Some overstayed their student visas, and other came across hiding in a van or in leaky boats that beached one moonless night. You are working two jobs to pay for your daughter to attend community college. She will become the first college-educated member of your family. Your son is learning to be a mechanic after school. When the television, newspapers and the Internet declare that you support wholeheartedly the new ‘migrants’ and see them being pandered to by politicians and journalists, you are conflicted, upset, or angry. And your family are not “hyphen” Americans. You are American.


As an Iraq War veteran, you do not understand people who hate you sharing your opinions, and do not financially support veteran suicide-prevention projects but pay to hear activists demean America at college campuses. You are irritated by people who do not remember what happened on 9/11 or tell you how the current Administration is working with the Russians. Like your father before you, you are teaching your son or daughter firearm safety and how to hunt for deer, elk, or boar. You may not be religious, yet you assert your rights as parents to approve what they are taught as curriculum. You know when you are being played by b.s. artists in government, the media and education – that was one of the skills learned from military service and especially from time in a war zone. You don’t trust politicians or bureaucrats. Not from any party.

Politics and personal loyalties based on ideology fluctuate over time. Human nature is flawed and subject to the same weaknesses. Politicians acquire power from citizens, and get more corrupt as the citizens get more aloof. Without unity, a house divided cannot stand. And observing all the past civilizations collapsed in the dust of history, the lack of unity of a people accelerate the incoming tide.

Thanks Pepsi, I’ll still drink Dr. Pepper

Coke: Nobody opposed singing  

One of the bloggers I follow posted on the recent Pepsi ad that features Jenner and scenes that bring up all the controversial issues in the USA today.  I appreciate reason and tolerance.   Some people are ‘offended’ by everything from colors to messages.  As a retired Navy Chief,  happily heterosexual man, a disciple of Jesus, and a California-born, social conservative, I probably offend some who have never met me.   Though educated by world -travel, technical and university scholarship, and nearly six decades of examining human behavior,  I lament the end to civility, tolerance, and nationalism.

The rub is to tolerate differing opinion – without shutting down the one who differs. That’s the real underlying message of the media and school programs which seek uniformity of thought along the guidelines they establish.  Pepsi and other companies, will test the wind and see that ‘inclusion’ is the marketing tool of today.

May I use pitbull dogs as a metaphor for the messages in that ad?   Some will hate that breed regardless of evidence.  If there are a million dogs that have some Staffordshire Terrier in whole or part, perhaps ten thousand have been exposed to dog-fighting abuse. Some people will examine each animal  individually, to see what they were exposed to and whether they can be placed with children or other pets.  Some want to exploit fear and doubt of the breed for power.   Some will see dogs abused to kill and maim as misunderstood.   Some will adopt pitties and then neglect them.   And if a community legally forces everyone to adapt by banning ‘pitbull’ ownership; by fining disobedience and by teaching that anyone who believes differently is maladjusted, can we still sing of “land of the free, and home of the brave”?

And so corporations – Pepsi, NCAA, NBA, and socialist governments- especially, the California legislature —  do not try to force my thinking or my life into your determination of ‘inclusion’.   While I will render to Caesar what is Caesars, I will not spend discretionary money on you.  I will follow Thoreau and Civil Disobedience.   I will join like-minded voters and oppose policies by the process we initiated in 1789 and worked well for 230 years.


When Al Qaeda terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001,  I was a 42 year old reservist; I was absolutely willing to go if called up.  One of my mentors while I was on Commander, Third Fleet staff (1997-99),  had been killed when the Pentagon was attacked.   While my unit’s signals analysts were mobilized,  as an electronics maintenance supervisor, I was not.   As the war continued, members of our larger community went into harm’s way and some died in combat.

While many young Americans today have been conditioned to think we are aggressors in many places,  they have no firsthand experience with people or places outside North America.   My peers and I have firsthand experience of the difficult, dirty, dangerous and often violent world people live in.  Twenty years ago, I had conversations and developed acquaintances while traveling around the Mediterranean, Bulgaria, Russia, Turkey,  Egypt, Israel,  Central America,  South America, and Asia.  Most of these relationships may have lapsed but people I know who still travel to those places know that the same struggles continue.   Every week we are witness to violence that occurs in the name of a religion or a faction that Westerners want to blame on secular causes.  Military members have been often marginalized by critics including academics and journalists for behavior or biases that may be exacerbated by tours in those regions.  I trust military service members understand  better than noisy college protesters and  Facebook ranters who complain from the comfort of the United States.

I’m first to admit that I don’t have boots on the ground exposure to the war in Afghanistan or Iraq.   My service in the operational theater aboard a Spruance -class destroyer occurred over 20 years ago following the combat phase of the Gulf War.  I was there when we launched 15 Tomahawks to destroy Saddam’s Intel center; it was retaliation for plotting to kill former President G.H.W. Bush.   But every IED, every homicide attacker against our troops and against civilians since the 1990s has been funded and armed, directly or through proxies, by the Iranians.  Some terrorists have used US arms we stupidly provided to extremists because the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  Today we are rejuvenating a relationship with the one democracy there – Israel.  Those politicians will not admit that just about every Islamic group we have given arms to in the past 40 years has at one time or another been used against civilians or against us.  When the terrorists were not Sunnis killing Shia or Shia killing Sunnis, they were blowing up soldiers, sailors, contractors, police and aid workers.  Only through constant training and force was any semblance of peace being fostered there.  And today, while we consider adding to the presence in that region, the entire Western European and Arab worlds are succumbing to a misguided and poorly implemented influx of refugees.   In the 1990s, we named the breakdown into factions and groups unwilling to assimilate into the culture of the host countries “Balkanization”.  This has certainly been seen to exist in many nations where the influx of Islamists have not assimilated.

Combat veterans have a unique position to support, refute, or respond to policies of the United States that engage us in conflict; however,   I think all veterans have a moral duty to protest when policies or bureaucrats fail to support those who returned from a conflict.   For more than thirty years, my friendship with a Vietnam combat veteran and scholar, whose acerbic commentary on all things involving politicians,  military affairs & particularly anything that can be ascribed to failures of the Republican Party – has continued as I respect someone who has been at the “pointy end of the spear”.   Another veteran, a retired USMC Colonel also has acerbic commentary, but would likely be diametrically in opposition to the other combat veteran.  This continues to keep me mentally sharp to engage in debate.

I hope to add my voice and watchful eyes to call the Government to account for many shabby incidents of treatment for honorably serving veterans.    I am hopeful that a website for combat veterans,  The War Horse,  started by a combat veteran of this most recent conflict will help veterans.   I have a son serving in the Army today and know that the culture in the military often puts the military family at odds with young people who have not experienced military service.    I am also leery of the biases and motivations of journalists and academics who generally have been critical on all things American, who now promote a combat veteran’s experience toward journalism and academics.    Yet I will add this to my reading list on conflict, coping with the aftermath, and the promises kept and broken by the nation that sent them to war.



40, 7 and 2: lucky numbers

I moved my first attempt at blogging from Blogger to WordPress today.  My other blog  are observations of daily life mostly reflected in adventures and sometimes misadventures of my two dogs.   This blog,  Truths, Half-truths and Sea Stories,   I hope you will find entertaining and thought-provoking.    It is my second blog hosted on WordPress, and expresses more salty insight into daily events.

I retired in April 2010 ( 7 years ago),  after combined Active, Retired, and Inactive service of more than 32 years in the United States Navy.   I took my initial ASVAB aptitude test while the Vietnam War was all but ended ( 1975), entered bootcamp when Jimmy Carter was President (1977), and then re-enlisted into Active Duty after George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan as President.  Since I retired as a Reservist,  I am eligible to claim a pension starting at age 60 ( 2 years from now).