Author: LCpl. Pato Rincon (RET)

An open letter to President Trump after his disastrous Thanksgiving speech to troops

Mr. President or to Whom It May Concern:

We are a nation who finds itself at war on many fronts. How we got into those wars or whether we should even be in them to begin are the subjects of different debates from the beef that this veteran has with the President. Some of those wars were mistakes. But our troops fight there nonetheless, serving our country, serving everyone in the country, without ideological or partisan distinction.

I often disagree with the President, and the President is attacked incessantly—often for good reason, but not always. For one thing, I think the investigation of Mr. Trump is highly politicized. If anyone wants proof, the fact that this entire paragraph makes extremists on both the Left and Right squirm, confirms this.

But now I come to my larger point: Our politics concerning geopolitical/military issues should be on the backburner on a day like Thanksgiving. We eat food indigenous to the North American continent and we engage in football and political debates with our drunk, racist uncle. Why did you decide to be the drunk racist uncle for the entire U.S. military?

Trump, while ensconced in his luxurious clubhouse in South Florida, made a phone call with a U.S. general and soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, in which he praised himself, attacked migrants, railed on the ‘caravan,’ and went so far as to suggest judges who rule against him should not be respected.

“Well, said it better than anybody could have said: ‘Keep them away from our shores.’ And that’s why we’re doing the strong border. As you probably see over the news what’s happening in our southern border and our southern border territory. Large numbers of people, and in many cases, we have no idea who they are. And in many cases, they’re not good people; they’re bad people. But large numbers of people are forming at our border, and I don’t have to even ask you; I know what you want to do. You want to make sure that you know who we’re letting in.  And we’re not letting in anybody essentially because we want to be very, very careful. So, you’re right. You’re doing it over there, we’re doing it over here,” Trump said, equating his highly politicized anti-migrant policy with the U.S. Army’s war against actual terrorists.

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Dining with Gov. Choi at the South Korea vs North Korea soccer game

This week, the DPRK youth soccer team crossed the 38th parallel and entered a province divided in two for a showdown against the Republic of Korea. The Fifth U-15 International Football Games for the Ari Sports Cup, currently taking place in Chuncheon, Gangwon province, are meant to continue the wellspring of good feelings started by the South inviting the North to the 2018 Olympic Games held in Pyeongchang in February.

Bombs + Dollars reporter Patrick Rincon was present for the match and spoke to Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon before the game. As governor of a province divided in two as a result of war, Choi is heavily involved in reconciliation endeavors.

He was instrumental in getting these games going and even in inviting North Korea to the Pyeongchang Games in February. Everyone was initially surprised that they accepted and even more surprised by the Unified Korean hockey team. Moon-soon said that things were looking up in recent trips to Pyeongyang compared to previous trips. He cites the lack of “patriotic” anti-Western propaganda banners (which previously were more numerous than stop lights in Pyeongyang). He noted this as more harmonious outlook on the South and a view that he believes, with some cautious optimism, that Kim Jong-un fancies himself a reformer and a progressive.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex is still defunct, but he sees a real possibility of it coming back on line as there is already cooperation between the two countries—in cosmetics, boxing and golfing. Moon said there were some excellent boxers in the North and he wanted to bring them South to train and even compete against US boxers on the world stage.

As for the game, the North Korean team won, 3 – 1. They scored the first goal and it was clear from the get go that they were the superior team. It was interesting to meet some of them and converse.

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UN’s attack on French burqa ban illustrates absurdity of UNHRC

The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) passed a resolution today condemning France’s burka ban as a violation on human rights, claiming that it is an attack on religious freedom and self-determination of these women. This is strange because last I remember, the UNHRC has Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and China as members.

If we want to improve human rights, we’ve got bigger problems than secular, religious-freedom-promoting France banning the wearing of burqas. Just look to Saudi Arabia, where men are beheaded for loving men, Christians are forced to worship behind 30 foot walls, and anyone with an Israeli stamp on their passport isn’t even allowed to enter. Rape victims are blamed for being raped, and honor killing is allowed. Women are still required to have male “guardians” to do anything for them, and the law actually requires women to wear a niqab or a burka in public.

Compulsion to wear burqas is maintained in many countries and societies not just by laws but also by social pressure. No wonder France took the action it did.

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Rincon: If Rafael “Ted” Cruz is going to attack “Beto” O’Rourke for his name, here’s a response…

We have long strong traditions down in Texas. Our culture is the melding of many cultures-Mexican (which itself is a melding of Spanish and Indigenous), Irish, Czech, Polish, and a slew of African cultures, which due to the cruelty of the white man throughout history, get boiled down to Black. We have a way of co-opting you if you decide to migrate to this country. We’ll take you and put a new name on you.

But if you’ve got a hankering on coming down to the Lone Star State and changing it, you will face opposition. It may be good change they’re trying to bring—like that of the carpetbaggers during Reconstruction, or the Texians led by Sam Houston in the infancy of our short lived Republic—but we ain’t gonna just roll over for anything.

Oddly enough, time and politics have gone full circle. In what was once a bastion of Conservative Democrats (entirely white), fighting off encroaching “Radical Republicans” (mixed ethnicities, but still mostly white) in the 1860s-1870s, but had previously been Mexicanos fighting off encroaching Gringos in the 1830s, the two parties do-si-doed with each other so much that I actually thought there was a slight chance that the GOP could swing to the left of the Democrats with the election of Trump (this was during his campaign for the White House when there was still a sliver of hope that his campaign promises to the working class weren’t all lies).

Now we have a GOP incumbent who has definite Cuban roots, but shuns his Spanish first name running in a state with rapidly changing demographics i.e. going from majority white to majority-minority and then quickly to majority Hispanic. Cruz, following in the footsteps of La Malinche, the Indigenous woman who helped advise and interpret for Cortés as he conquered the Aztec Empire, is one of the leading opponents of immigration reform, the Dream Act and an ally of Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant agenda.

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One month after Hurricane Harvey: Texan Resilience

I’ve been here in Houston for about three weeks now and the atmosphere remains positive in the outer rim of the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area. Granted, I understand that the inner city was hit hard, particularly 3rd Ward and South Houston (which is actually its own separate municipality entirely resulting in FEMA and state oversight), but the fact remains that people were still hit hard out in rural areas. Rich or poor, a flood still takes a painful if not deadly toll.

I did mud and muck removal in hard hit areas of New Caney, Glen Loch in The Woodlands, River Plantation up near Conroe. We trudged through unimaginable filth. Some homeowners had left copious amounts of meat inside the refrigerator before the deluge forced them to evacuate. My time moving furniture and appliances for St. Vincent de Paul lulled me into a complacency of thinking that I was an expert at moving a fridge, but not this kind of fridge. I found out the hard way that fridges are not waterproof (why did I assume they were?). Not only did the floodwater get into the fridge, but when the waters around the fridge receded, somehow the water inside the fridge stayed. We encountered the fridge at about 23 days after the flood—23 days of meat marinating in essentially sewer water.

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Incheon, 1950: Where the freedom of 50 million stood in balance

One of the most daring amphibious military operations in human history took place 57 years ago this month, between 15 and 19 September, with 70,000 UN combatants going into harm’s way that day. Few amphibious operations surpass the Incheon Landing-sure one can point to D-Day on Normandy in Northern France, but that was years in the planning and preparation and at the close of the most costly, bloody, and horrendous war in human history with 160,000 allied troops going to do battle with the Nazis. The Incheon Landing was done on the fly-12 weeks after North Korean forces had pushed South Korean (ROK) forces all the way to the tiny and isolated Pusan Perimeter, encapsulating said city of Pusan (Busan)-we had US boots on the ground giving then leader (ostensibly not yet “eternal”) Kim Il-sung hell served up with all the tenderness, tact and civility that US Marines are world renowned for. 

As a prior service US Marine, I can attest to the importance that the United States Marine Corps places on her history in regards to the Korean Conflict, and the Incheon Landing is definitely a large part of Marine Corps lore. In boot camp, we had these small green binders that a recruit could fit into their cargo pockets (and we DID, mostly out of requirement) called “The Big Green Monster.”  We ran around the recruit depot for three months carrying that thing in our cargo pockets. In it were uniform regulations, advise on how to live in the new culture that we found ourselves in-and Marine Corps history. The Korean Conflict and the Incheon Landing were among those events that made those books thick. 

General Douglass MacArthur was quick thinking in assuming that he could effectively dissect the Korean Peninsula, thereby bringing relief to Pusan Perimeter. One of our most firebrand generals who exhibited his own unique brand of compassion-once calling the Filipinos (Pinoys) his “little brown friends,” he also recommended “strategic nuking” of key cities along the coast of the Peoples’ Republic of China in order to bring about a swift end to the Korean Conflict. Love him or hate him Stateside, it is hard to find a detractor of him on the ROK where people live in freedom thanks to UN actions and MacArthur wit and US optimism. 

There is a huge monument in front of the main gate leading to Suwon AFB about an hour south of Seoul that proudly proclaims, “We defend the freedom of 50 million people!” Had it not been for the Incheon Landing, those 50 million would probably be living under the all-encompassing tyranny of Kim Il-sung’s grandson.

Feature photo of First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez scaling the seawall. Lopez, who would give his life in the Battle of Incheon, was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously. Photo by a fellow Marine, public domain.

The Warped Marxist-Feminist Ideology of the Kurdish YPG

An Exclusive Eyewitness Account of an American who Trained with the Kurdish Syrian Rebels

Getting retired from the United States Marine Corps at age 23 with zero deployments under my belt was a huge blow to what I figured to be my destiny on this planet. That “retirement” came in 2010 after three years on convalescent leave, recovering from a traumatic brain injury sustained stateside. I got my chance to vindicate myself in 2015 by volunteering to fight in Syria with the Kurdish Yeni Parastina Gel (YPG), or the “People’s Protection Units” in Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish language).

The YPG is the military apparatus of the Partiya Yekitiya Democrat (PYD), the Democratic Union Party, and one of the main forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting ISIS and Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While they are a direct ideological descendant of the Soviet Union, their take on Marxism has a much more nationalistic bent than that of their internationalist forebears. At their training camp that I attended, they constantly spoke of their right to a free and autonomous homeland–which I could support. On the other hand, they ludicrously claimed that all surrounding cultures from Arab to Turk to Persian descended from Kurdish culture. One should find this odd, considering that the Kurds have never had such autonomy as that which they struggle for.

All of this puffed up nationalism masquerading as internationalism was easy to see through. The Westerners were treated with respect by the “commanders” (they eschewed proper rank and billet, how bourgeoise!), but the rank and file YPGniks were more interested in what we could do for them and what they could steal from us (luckily, my luggage was still in storage at the Sulaymaniyah International Airport in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq). By “steal from us,” I mean they would walk up to a Westerner/American and grab their cap, glasses, scarf and whatever else they wanted and ask “Hevalti?” which is Kurmanji for “Comraderie?” and if you “agreed” or stalled (a non-verbal agreement) then they would take your gear and clothing. “Do not get your shit hevalti-ed,” the saying went.

Not only was their idea of Marxism fatuous, their version of feminism was even worse.

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