RANGER AGAINST WAR: February 2017 <

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rise and Shine

 If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
--If, Rudyard Kipling

If you or anyone you know has been severely wounded or injured in mind or body and are looking for inspiration and direction, I highly recommend the new Audible release of the book Rise and Shine -- one man's path to navigating the healthcare behemoth -- written by my dear friend Simon Lewis and read by actor Kelsey Grammer. (We have mentioned the book previously here, but this is a new and updated version. and accessible to those who cannot read.)

Here is a clip from the Audible book discussing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

In a terrible instant, Simon went from being a rising Hollywood producer, to learning to speak again via Disney children's films. Following many years of excruciating effort and assistance from an eclectic group of resources and against all odds, he regained his former 150 I.Q. and learned to walk again.

Due to the permanent TBI damage, he has sensorimotor and vision deficits. He calls the ever-present now in which he lives, "flat-time".

But Simon's fortitude, wit, erudition and unflagging courage will make a meet traveling companion for those who are treading the same arduous "hidden path", as he calls it. This book will lend you the courage and insight to bear it out against all odds.

Like Simon himself, Mr. Grammer lends dry humor, a sense of irony and gravitas to this dire yet tremendously inspirational story. As the reader writes on the Audible site:

"It reminds me of a line from Prometheus Unbound by Shelley — 'To suffer woes which hope thinks infinite' — surely Simon's story measures up to that description. That he emerged victorious, in the face of such travail, is a testament to his courage ... [and] is an inspiration to all."

Mr. Lewis is a tireless advocate for clients who are often discharged too early from treatment, to expect more. Through unceasing exploration, he asserts that answers can be found. 

"No one will tell you everything," he writes; of course, the corollary is, "No one knows everything" -- not by a long shot.

Bravo, Simon, and to everyone who is fighting a similar battle.

[cross-posted @ Milpub.]

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lt. General Snowden and Iwo Jima

 --General Snowden, before a plaque signed
and presented to him by the last Japanese Emperor
of the Empire of Japan (Hirohito) 

Strangers on this road, we are all
We are not two, we are one 
--Strangers, Golden Smog 

[NOTE: An officer and a gentleman died this week in our town. The date was 18 February 2017, one day before the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima, in which Lt. General Snowden led his men with great honor. We are running this re-post from 26 March 2015 so that his memory may not be in vain.]

We recently had the pleasure of meeting a hometown hero, Lt. General Lawrence "Larry" Snowden (R) who, at 93, is the senior survivor of the protracted and bloody World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, a climatic event of WW II in the Pacific lasting from 19 Feb 1945 to 26 Mar 45.

The General was wounded twice in the battle, leaving the hospital against medical advice and hopping a mail flight in order to get back to the island to command his men. He participated in eleven campaigns over the course of a career in which he saw action in three wars (WWII, Korea and Vietnam).

But Gen. Snowden is neither your typical military man nor retiree in a conservative part of the country.

Mr. Snowden traveled to Iwo Jima again last month, as he has every year for the last 15 years, to lead a "Reunion of Honor" with both his fellow survivors from the U.S. Marines well as the Japanese soldiers whom they fought. His mission is a solemn one of reconciliation with men who were once his mortal enemies but, as the widow of the Japanese commanding general said to him, "Once enemies, now friends."

As Snowden told a local journalist last year, "Those men didn't want to be here any more than we did. They were doing their duty. You don't hate anybody for that" (After 68 Years, the Battle of Iwo Jima Stays Fresh.)

When we asked how he reached this enlightened state, he smiled and gave his mother credit. He recalls being a pugilistic young man engaging in "fisticuffs" with his fellows and going on about "hating" someone. She told him that he didn't "know enough about anyone else to allow [him] to feel hatred," and that he could find another way of dealing with his anger. He got the idea then that the head could rule the emotions.

With recent attention to the concept of "moral injury" amongst soldiers, the idea of recognition, understanding and forgiveness between fighting men seems an essential move towards healing.

Snowden has commanded every level of combat unit from Rifle Company to Regiment. As a General Officer he served as Chief of Staff HQ, USMC. His route to reconciliation began during the Korean War when he worked alongside his former Japanese adversaries while coordinating logistical efforts flowing through Japan destined for the Korean peninsular effort. It was his first recognition that men need not retain hostilities, and that life had an ebb and flow.

He next bumped up against the idea of reconciliation when  he returned to Japan in 1972 as Chief of Staff, U.S. Forces, Japan (a Joint Services Command.) During that three-year posting he liaised with the Japanese government, becoming familiar with and appreciative of Japanese society. He left Japan for Washington D.C. in the final posting of his 37-year military career, serving as Chief of Staff HQ, USMC.

Upon retirement he returned to Japan as a civilian representative for Hughes Aircraft, focusing on production and economic matters while living in Tokyo for the next ten years. He also served as the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

This is the backdrop to the genesis in 1985, the 40th Anniversary of Iwo Jima, of the idea for the Reunion of Honor, and the General has been involved in the annual event since that time. Notice there is nothing about warriorhood or grand patriotic celebration surrounding the event. It is simply a somber recognition of men who did the heavy lifting for their respective nations.

A Buddhist priest who survived the fighting and the widow of the Japanese Commanding General, along with the General's son, deliver a solemn presentation. Following this, Mr. Snowden and his fellow survivors ascend Mount Suribachi; they then come down and the Japanese survivors then go up.

"I make the same speech three times: in Los Angeles, in Honolulu and Guam. I tell everybody there will be no T-shirts, no hollering and victory celebration. From the very beginning we have pledged that we would not ever, ever crow over our victory there. And we've never had any problems with that."

So much for the Toby Kieth brand of patriotism.

 --This painting is a retirement gift commissioned for General Snowden
by one of the riflemen he commanded on Iwo Jima

Ranger asked the General if he had seen the film, "American Sniper". He looked down and said his friends were always after him to see the latest war film, but that he usually demurred. "I have seen everything they could possibly put into one of those films, and I have no desire to see it ever again."

Semper Fi, Lt. Gen. Snowden.

Coda: As we were leaving, Gen. Snowden received a call from the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame; he would be nominated as their newest inductee.

Has has Ranger's Army vote.

[cross-posted @ Milpub.]

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sanctuary Cities

--They've co-opted their leader's invective

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head 
The Beatles

 Sanctuary, it said:
but only the road has meaning there. It leads
into the world's cities like a long fuse laid
Judith Wright 

You don't need a weather man
to know which way the wind blows
--Subterranean Homesick Blues,
Bob Dylan

Subtitle: The Illegal illegal fight.

Mending Fences, Pt. II:

In Iraq the Coalition Forces (i.e., the United States) built walls around cities to keep insurgents out. This implied that walls would lead to victory versus violence.

Street battles, as in Fallujah, were fought to isolate cities from the insurgents (both domestic and foreign). In our current fight against ISIS, the same winning (ahem) formula applies: fight for the cities and when the vermin have been eradicated, everything will be just fine. 

Today, our 2017 Sanctuary City warriors are insurging against their President and federal authority. We (they) are insurgents when they burn images of their President in effigy, and wear shirts proclaiming, "Not My President.

Immigration has become a point of contention in the United States, and the United States' insurgents wish to keep criminal illegals inside the borders, rather than outside. It is a perverse inversion of the military fight abroad.

Alas, since gay marriage was signed into law, the last Civil Rights rampart has fallen, and Liberals are not Liberals unless they have some untermensch behind which to rally (provided they are not Jewish).

Do these sanctuary insurgents comprehend the nonsensical illegality what they are doing? If President Obama -- known as the "Deporter-in-Chief --had the authority to address immigration, then so does President Trump have that same authority. Legality transcends our personal convictions.

Mayors do not have the authority to override Constitutional imperatives. However, it is obvious they are not above sucking up to their constituents, forward-looking as they are to their next election and their meal plate.

Social workers may inhabit the "Every sperm is sacred" zone, fighting for the "rights" of illegals to remain in place. But why are the rest of us so hot to keep in people who are double criminals (i.e., illegals + run-of-the-mill criminals)?

Our country has problems enough ministering to our own citizens and blighted cities. What purpose can the whine du jour of the Democrats have other than being a convenient distraction from the problems of our indigenous?

Ah, but since the myriad of problems that beset our own citizens has proven to be intractable and obdurate, why not just look over there and drill down some illegal Muslims and Mexicans? The illegal fight to retain illegals is a clever bit of legerdemain. 

Since the U.S. has been fighting a 14 year war to protect foreign cities from external threats, what argument can be made to not do the same for our own cities?

In the counterinsurgency (COIN) environment the concept of personnel and resource control (PRC) is that every citizen or legitimate resident must have official identification issued by a legal authority. How else can a government control its territory?

If we will not control our borders then it is obvious that the PWOT © and the War on Drugs have been farcical enterprises conducted by farceurs (i.e., politicians).

Logical endpoint: a restive population maintains perpetual battle against their duly elected leader, who then must do something to restore order.

As the U.S. insurgents glumly and gleefully (a seeming oxymoron, but a Starbuck's espresso amongst the agonistas keeps it bearable and seemingly sensible) construct their insurgent safe zones against the order of law, they begin to feel more ostracized, more convinced that they are being persecuted and that they are on the side of right.

Ensconced in their "safety zones" pitted against the rule of law, they are transmuted into "The Deplorables" -- a term once reserved for the very people they are now opposing. They hunker down and draw to themselves their fellow travelers du jour (their token illegal pets).

What next for these illegals, and the people illegally harboring them?

Why does a nation have borders if they do not intend to enforce immigration law?

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mending Fences

  Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun 
--Mending Wall,
Robert Frost

I'm a bigot, but for the Left
Annie Hall (1977)

 Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on movin' 
--Break My Stride,
Matthew Wilder
A small meditation on The Fence, in two parts:

It seems just yesterday that the Free World celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall -- that the iconic symbol of the Iron Curtain -- and with it, the collapse of the evil empire. Sort of.

Today, the United States contemplates building a wall between itself and Mexico at an estimated cost of $18 billion (which means that it will actually cost $65 billion, with mandatory cost overruns, before it is functional.) Ranger will now consider the fence in simple military terms.

The Fence will be an obstacle. The first rule of employing an obstacle is that it is useless unless covered by fire. This means direct or indirect fire must be implemented in a complete defensive fire plan.

Lacking fire, an obstacle is a waste of effort, time and assets. For the breacher, it is a like a bolus of material, an irritation, to be summited.

The U.S. must be willing to treat U.S. soil as an exclusion zone, and stand ready to implement deadly force to achieve the hoped-for goal of the fence, which would be as an adjutant to enforcing immigration policy.

But a fence is just a fence, an obstacle on the course, unless it is covered by fire. This point is offered for consideration, as it is usually omitted when considering the simple architecture of the thing.

An effective fence implies more than its mere physicality.

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