Politics is really Science Fiction

A popular fiction theme repeated many times in film and on television is an apocalyptic vision of the future. And in the last decade or so,  a political view of a fascist state,  where the trains always run on time,  there are flying cars and aircraft,  militarized police and armored vehicles patrolling the territories.

Why an occupying force?  Because the people are enslaved.  (Think of the Hunger Games, Divergent,  Judge Dredd, The Maze Runner, Resident Evil franchises.)  Political movies of an intrusive State (Enemy of the State),  or a anti-nationalist, Obama-like Administration, (White House Down), contain various plots about internal rogues in spy agencies, computer hackers, and terrorists.  When it is not due to a plague or a nuclear war, the facilitator of the collapse of democracy is often an “inside man”.  Even the Jason Bourne series has this theme.   Once upon a time these themes were Soviet sleeper agents and North Korean/ Chinese intelligence agents bent on corrupting America, but now it seems Americans are the enemy.

From my perspective,  given that the worldview of  the filmmakers, writers, actors, and sponsors has been consistently dominated by those who make speeches and preen themselves as “inclusive”,  pro-islamist,  ” climate change”-rs, “borderless” and anti-nationalist,  the bleak future depicted of masters and an enslaved people – even the Planet of the Apes franchise comes to mind-  the apocalypse has come about by capitalist, nationalistic, bigoted, whites who use any means necessary to keep control.

Yet what I find troubling to this thinking are the rebels.   The rebels hunt game, illegally,  trade or barter goods and services with each other,  are fairly well-educated,  are open to new ideas,  demonstrate good interpersonal relationships, and have a good judge of character.  This seems to be the qualities that the current crop of  news media, “Never Trump”-ers,  environmentalists,  campus anarchists, and disgruntled billionaires despise in the population!   The oppressors, on the other hand, value forests, parks,  mass transit, extravagant homes,  prevent the  general ownership of weapons,  control weather,  make flowery speeches, and keep among their “own kind”.   This certainly seems to depict the “Liberal” or erstwhile “Democrat” world view of the 21st Century?

Fascinating?  Troubling?  Or  ambivalent?    My two cents for today.

the cradle of uncivil-ization

Opening this week’s edition of TIME magazine (June 26, 2017), my eye caught a pictorial article on the environmental battle that was waged last year in Iraq when ISIS set fire to oil fields to hinder the advance of the Iraqi and coalition force pushing them out from the territory they terrorized for years.

Joint Forces Battle To Retake Iraqi City Of Mosul From ISISIt is quite instructive that the world has become well-versed in the environmental  and human toll of oil spills and fires.  In that region, decades of poisoned water, poisoned wildlife,  and landscapes as a result of months of exposure to deliberate acts of evil men,   toxic fumes, oil -laden smoke and chemicals have been largely overlooked by the European and American “globalists”.   Twenty-five years ago,  while one American political party blamed another party,  the apolitical Government bureaucracy was ignoring the toll on forces of the first Gulf War;  I remember the “Gulf War Syndrome”  where U.S. veterans had to fight through the courts to obtain needed care and Government acknowledgement of responsibility for their ailments.

qayarrah_iraq_joey_l_photographer_11_resizingThe TIME article and other sources make the point that the Iraqi firefighting forces – petroleum engineers specialized in fighting these – have been doing so for years.   With ongoing battles against terrorists’  IEDs, bullets at the same time as fires hot enough to incinerate men and equipment,  Iraqi forces extinguished the fires the terrorists set along their retreat.   The Iraqi people who lived through a “scorched -earth” mandate from Saddam Hussein to his forces in 1991, are the same people who suffered again from an extremist army who once again set fires, IEDs, and booby-traps;  from the oil fires damage caused in the aftermath of the Gulf War,  those exposed suffer from cancer, skin diseases, birth defects,  mental issues and myriad other life-shortening illness.  And that terrorists set their world ablaze again, the effects will continue to plague people.   It is no wonder that the poor have risked dying in the attempt to flee to other countries.

While we wonder whether carbon dioxide in the air over the U.S. is a harmful pollutant,  perhaps the same “climate change” advocates can travel to Iraq to advise them that ending America’s reliance on hydrocarbons will end their suffering.

Further reading:

Civilians say the darndest things

Men do not make conversation of the sort that women tend toward.  Outside of the walls of a Chiefs Mess, or among men in my church small group,  men do not normally express emotion.  And in those settings, it mainly has to do with frustration or some mis-steps in leadership situations that an  older or more experienced Navy leader (or church leader, given the situation) can provide counsel.    But in the normal daily venues that men gather, in a workplace, at a football game, or in a social setting, I have never heard men discuss emotionally about relationships, weight gain or loss, or the onset of  ‘life changes’.     Continue reading

the Navy remains in good hands

Commuting home on a Monday, I knew that the traffic on the second leg of my drive would be better if I stopped by the cigar lounge for a little while.  Watching basketball (Golden State won the championship!) this evening at my favorite den of man-dom, it was also a chance meeting for this old Senior Chief to swap sea-stories with a 9th-year Sailor currently on training orders to San Diego.

Though he is an Operations Specialist (OS) on the USS STENNIS now in Washington state, and I was an Cryptologic Technician,  any Sailor I know would relate to the conversation; it was observations, opinions and swagger that a solidly capable, mentoring-focused, take-no-b***t career Sailor and I enjoyed that evening.  Even though I haven’t set foot, in uniform, on a ship or installation in eight years,  the conversation about current events,  deployment, camaraderie, and the social and political changes the Navy has undergone, invigorated me.  There’s something about watching the NBA Finals with a bunch of guys – some veterans, some civilians, and like this fellow, currently serving, that made a Monday great hangout time.  dont-tread-300

heroes aren’t like in the movies, part 2

File created with CoreGraphicsRest in Peace, Adam West

The heroes of my childhood were black and white.   Well, they were.  We did not get a color TV in my home until I was in 7th or 8th Grade.   As a child of the 1960s, I watched Batman and Robin, with Adam West and Burt Ward.  It was a campy good versus evil, solving the crisis that befell Gotham in thirty minutes or less Continue reading

On the anniversary of D-Day

bravery and sacrifice

Seventy three years ago on June 6th, 1944  several hundred thousand men dared to assault the beaches and countryside of Normandy, France.   Not very many are still living from those days to remind the world of the valor, honor, and determination of people to defeat an enemy that threatened the entire world.  And those born since the end of the Vietnam war are particularly ignorant of the history that determined the world they inherited.

family tradition

My paternal grandfather came to the United States through Poland in the 1920s.  Any Jewish family that remained behind in Europe were likely murdered by the Nazis;   only a few extended family who emigrated before the invasion of Poland in 1939 are known to my elderly relations.   My grandfather worked in the Brooklyn Shipyard during the war, and my father was an aerospace engineering student during Korea and worked on developing  submarine missiles during the 1950s and 1960s.   My maternal grandmother’s American cousin served in the Merchant Marine and was decorated for heroism during the Battle for Malta.   My maternal cousin served in the Marines in the Iraq War.  My son serves in the Army today.

if the meaning gets lost

The anniversary of D-Day, Operation Overlord, has meaning for that generation now averaging 90 years old as the beginning of the end for a bloodthirsty ideology that began, for Americans, with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.    Without the resolve of these young men (and women who served in the factories and supporting industries to keep the military moving), very likely America and Europe would be a different place.  The Nazis would have eliminated diversity.  There would be no Jew, no black, no homosexual, no physically or mentally challenged people.  Death by starvation, street-corner execution, or work-camps would have been the norm.  College protests?  Executions would prevent those.  Black Lives Matter –  there would be none due to Nazi genocide.   The No boundaries/ no borders/no illegal-immigrant lobbyists?   The Nazi control of borders and transportation would stop that.   Question the government?  Surveillance, arrest, imprisonment, and torture.    And short of genocide, many of these same controls were in place in the Soviet bloc for decades.

history doesn’t have to be kind, only truthful

As with any culture in the historical past,  there are any number of evils perpetrated on one group by another.  No county is without failings, suppression of civil liberties and freedoms, and some reprehensible behavior in its past.  But in light of all the current death and suffering perpetrated almost daily in the Middle East and now occurring nearly as frequently in Europe,  many of my countrymen today ignore responsibility, integrity,  work ethic and the blessings that becoming “an American” represented in the years after WWII.  They only see a shameful past that must be rectified with ‘fairness” and “coexistence”.    As a student of history, as one who served his country with honor,  and as a disciple of Jesus,  I do not take freedom and the blessings that living in America has afforded me lightly.  Freedom of religion affords me practice of my faith; opponents still seek to diminish it in the American culture.  They have done so in many parts of Europe.   Perhaps these opponents do not see Islam as a religion?   How many failings of men are attributed to christianity as a whole in the culture compared with the barbarism that seems widespread in the Islamic world, yet constantly referenced by state agents as the violence of a few extremists?

Do not use freedom to deny it to others

We should strive to hold each individual accountable for their deeds or misdeeds.  We can have respect for people and cultures around the world.  But the freedoms that were gained by those who sacrificed and served in the Armed Forces in our nation’s conflicts  are now used by members of the latest generations to abuse others in the name of “freedom”.

In memoriam

Their feet rush into sin;
    they are swift to shed innocent blood.
They pursue evil schemes;
    acts of violence mark their ways. Isaiah 59:7

Prayers go out tonight to the victims of yet another terror attack in London.  Mayhem and murder committed by corrupt men.   In London, Manchester, Kabul or Manila the violent seem to strike randomly.

What these acts of terror have generated however is a resolve among the population to oppose evil.  While many, myself included want to take up arms to defend against these monsters,  those who prowl around looking to shed blood (1 Peter 5: 8) are ultimately opposed by love.  When children no longer are taught to hate from remote corners of the world, then terror will have no power here.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

-1 Corinthians 13: 4 -7

 

May memories

A lot changes in forty years. In  May, 1977,  prior to my departure for Boot Camp at Naval Training Center, San Diego in October,  I was graduating high school.   Jimmy Carter was President, a fact that I thought, being a former naval submariner officer, would make him an excellent leader.   People didn’t want Gerald Ford as he had pardoned ‘criminal’ Richard Nixon, but I remember him for sending in Marines to retrieve the Mayaguez, which had been seized by the Khmer Rouge a month after the last battle involving U.S. troops of the Vietnam War.

In those last two years of the Seventies,  the Zumwalt-era of loosened grooming standards – longer hair, mustaches and beards worn by Sailors were okay.  Dungarees (bell-bottom style) and dixie cups, were the working uniform.   Pot was a problem on military bases including San Diego.   A community that now is marked by the upwardly-mobile, well-heeled beach crowd, Ocean Beach, was then a place where druggies and ex-military,  tattoo parlors and bars were less restrictive than up the coast near the UCSD campus.

A visit over the Coronado Bridge to the Naval Station Coronado, where carriers were berthed was my first view of a ship – the USS Recruit was a wood and metal reproduction on the Recruit Training Command, to introduce us to naming convention, etc – so did not count.  The ‘aroma’ of the interior of the USS Kitty Hawk was the first ‘knock out’ that I will never forget.  Jet fuel, grease, human sweat, urinals and generally,  the stink of at times, 3500 men (no women then) wafted fresh new sailors who had more recently been accustomed to PINE SOL clean scent.

At the time, I was a student learning to work on complex electronics and mechanical maintenance of teletypes.  Where I now cannot see without at least one or two orders of magnitude, I was able then to discern two from three centimeters adjustments.  The instructor was quite ADAMANT about that ability before graduation.   We had Iranian military students – this was prior to the Iranian Revolution – and when they were recalled by their government,  we were relieved.   Suffice it to say that American and Iranian hygiene were on different tracks.

In May of 1982,  with several of my fellow Russian Language students and the professor – I was able to travel  to Russia – prior to the end of the USSR (1989) – visiting cities – St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Tbilisi.  If only for all but one – a socialist-  the trip was very informative and probably saved them and their future families from the ‘snowflake’ sensibilities, the mantra of “coexistence” and “socialism’s great”.  The people may have been interesting and interested, but the economy was a shambles. Ambition was reserved for the underground economy — some of whom are today’s Russian millionaires and billionaires.

In May of 1984,  I had been out of the Navy four years, attending the university in Tucson, Arizona.  Four three of those four years I had been actively involved in the Veteran students organization on campus,  and while peers were pursuing commissioning programs,  I was looking toward a government job after graduation.  Strangely,  in my second year after graduation,  when my graduate school plans went unfunded – I re-enlisted in the Navy -Reserve – that is.  The entreaties of one of my friends finally had me join his unit, only to see him quit!

After petitioning to resume an Active Duty career in 1987,  the next major May milestone I recall was May of 1997 when I was transferred from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California.    1970 Dodge Chargers, if you could find one in decent shape were then ten thousand dollars or more,  homes which had been an unheard of, eighty thousand dollars – for an ocean view, were nearly eight hundred thousand,  and NTC was closed but for a few administrative medical functions.

And in the twenty years since that time,  friends and mentors went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq,  the Soviets became Russian trade partners, the Chinese became the world’s second-most powerful economy, the Islamic world tried to separate the economic need for the non-Islamic world – from the ideology that wants to reduce infidels to ashes,  and we are again at some form of odds over military preparedness against the adversaries that were no longer adversaries?

 

 

Patton can’t wallop away “fatigue”

An article I read online about veterans who are suing the military to upgrade their discharges, indicates an ignored mitigating factor was their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It was a stigma for soldiers in many conflicts to suffer ‘combat fatigue’ and the military did not have any mental health programs to help their suffering.  World War II’s most infamous case of a leader who abused soldiers suffering what we know today as PTSD, was General Patton.

I do know what it is like to live with someone who suffered with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Thirty years ago, I was in a relationship with a woman whom I came to learn was not schizophrenic but rather suffering from PTSD.  In the course of dealing with her middle of the night terror attacks, suspicious looks, angry stares, horrible accusations and anorexia,  I was not trained, nor was I sufficiently mature enough, emotionally, to help.   At the time I was in the Navy, stationed at an installation outside Washington, D.C.   Over a period of several weeks everything came into the light.   My job performance started to suffer badly.  I was exhausted;  one Monday,  I failed to go to work at all.   And then,  banging on my door, my supervisor, a Chief Petty Officer in whom I confided my struggles,  had come to check on us.

Instead of being brought before NJP – nonjudicial punishment,  my supervisor verbally reprimanded me, and took charge- giving me direction about how I should lead my household.   In the late 1980s,  mental health, counseling – family or marital, and the host of ills that military members succumb to in combat  was still in its infancy.  And if PTSD was hardly recognized in the civilian population, how much less so for our veterans.   I found resources for us to attend counseling.  I would love to say that everything turned around and became goodness and light.  It did not.  Less than ten years later, I learned that she had succumbed to her health problems.   For those suffering mental health issues,  it is always continuing steps in recovery.  But the sufferer has to be as engaged in getting healthy as those around him or her remain committed to helping.  It is time for the military – and the VA – to make every effort to alleviate the mental health issues that were aggravated or incurred as a result of military service.   It is only right to help warriors with tools and understanding who are suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for serving, now move along

Yesterday I posted an article I read from the Voice of San Diego to Facebook. Following up an earlier expose on the rejection of a housing project in Poway for low-income veterans,  it irritates me to think how my neighbors to the north look on themselves as a privileged class.   I think posting the original article is very instructive on the social biases of affluent people who often want the Government to do something to help people but NIMBY (Not In My BackYard).  Poway is home to large businesses, Defense contractors, and expensive homes.   Sadly, many of these residents depend on the military residents who pay taxes, shop in their businesses, send their children to local schools and attend their churches.  With land that is mandated for low-income residential use — home ownership and not a transient rental population is overlooked because of mistrust, ignorance and fear.   Is this just an unwilling city to put money where its mouth is?  When houses in the county average a half-million and condos $300K, what exactly does low-income veteran housing look like?

We Do Not Owe Them a House in Poway’
Posted By Maya Srikrishnan On December 29, 2016

After the Poway City Council denied a low-income veterans housing project in November, residents opposed to the project rejected suggestions that they were “anti-veteran.”

They are right. The opposition to the Habitat for Humanity veterans project had nothing to do with veterans.

Continue reading