12 April 2006

PowerPoint Ranger

If you watched my "Bob Lives Again" video, you'll notice that I didn't really like working in the BATCON. For those who don't know, BATCON is Armyese for the battalion operations staff and as any staff officer will tell you, your primary mission in life is to MAKE SLIDES!!! Yes, it's sad, but true. So true, in fact, that many current and former staff officers, like my buddy pictured below, have gone so far as to institute (jokingly) a PowerPoint Ranger tab.

For those who really don't konw, the Ranger tab is worn by those elite few who graduate from Ranger School where, among other things, they are taught light-infantry tactics. These are the kind of guys you see in movies like Black Hawk Down. Really hardcore dudes and by simply wearing the tab these guys let it be known that they've -at least- passed some of the most difficult tests that the Army has to offer. So the PowerPoint Ranger tab is jokingly worn to highlight the stark contrast between staff flunkies (we pogues) and the guys who do their work away from a desk and computer (traditional Army types).

In other news, I've been seeing a lot about immigration lately. It's been about a year and a half since I've been in the US so I am somewhat out of touch with current politics. That being said I'd like to avoid the argument that seems to be paramount on this issue, that of granting citizenship to people who have crossed the border illegally. I doubt I have anything to say that hasn't already been said. What I would like to focus on is the affect it's having on the perceptions that I'm having of the US. I spent about 20 years in the US while growing up and consider myself a very patriotic person. Over the past year and a half, I've been able to step back from my perceptions of politics and the US in general and compare them to those of people from other countries. Not only was I able to compare my perceptions to those of people outside the US, but I was able to get a glimpse into what information they're presented with as they form their perceptions of us. Doing this has helpe me to be able to have a more objective and critical view of my native country which is a very good thing. Being able to identify one's own shortcomings makes it possible to remove or improve them.

The perception that I'm getting from the American media is that things are pretty hairy in the States right now, almost to the point of violence in the streets and that, dare I say it, civil war is on the horizon. As my experiences have shown, most perceptions that are constructed on second and third-hand information are drastically inflated only containing the smallest grain of truth. It's my belief that the media is being irresponsible in their reporting of these events, but unlike many people who don't live in the States, I have the benefit of having lived in the country for many years. For those who only know what they see on TV, the situation seems to border on revolution.

You may ask the question, what does it matter what people from other countries think of the US? Potentially more than you would imagine at first glance. Would you be willing to invest in a country that seemed on the path to revolution? (I use the term "invest" loosely here) I haven't done the research, but it seems to me that America's greatest export is our image and culture. Land of the free, home of the brave. If we suddenly become a nation of petty squabblers incapable of presenting a united front we would lose our "big stick" on the world stage.

One thing I've noticed from my dealings with Iraqis is that they percieve Americans (less the military) to be weak and indecisive. Granted that they've lived under the thumb of a brutal dictator for about as long as I've been alive so all that many of them know is swift, hard 'justice', but they make a good point. I spoke with an Iraqi Soldier a few days ago about Saddam's trial and he commented that "Finally, they accuse him of killing many people!" If it were up to this guy, Saddam's head and neck would have gone their seperate ways long ago.

The deeper I dig into the issues in the States, the more and more I end up at the conclusion that the only thing I can do that will allow me to affect positive change is to find a small community of like-minded individuals and wait out the storm. Take note you moderates, your inability to make decisions and lead the way is polarizing the population towards increasingly militancy.

To bring my ramblings back onto target, I heard recently that a town in Southern California is advertising itself as a safehaven to people who cross the border illegally and those that help them. There is a law, and this town is openly defying it. I know what I think should be done about it. Something has to be done, this town either has to be the visionaries that lead the way, or the villians that catered to criminals. I would perfer the second option, but would accept the first before I would accept no action. Doing nothing about this is an unacceptable course of action.


Blogger Justin said...

good thoughts. I'm probably more out of touch in my little college shell than you are across the world, but everything in the northern neck of the woods is normal. no riots/protests/whatever here. Cali can have 'em.

*sigh* wonderful media eh?

Blogger Robert F. Griffing said...

Polls show the following:
1. Most Americans want us to get control of our own borders.
2. Most Americans want to provide a way for those who are here to get legal (bush includes a fine) and get on with doing what most are about--going after the opportunities offered by our country.
I would add: I wish we would call things by name e.g. "illegal aliens" not "undocumented workers." I wish that both parties wouldn't be so gutless.
Also: we are a civilized country; we therefore have great difficulty in stopping a mass migration, which is what we've got. We aren't willing, and shouldn't be willing, to use every theoretically available means to stop the immigration. So let's try to enforce the borders, and integrate the illegals as best we can.
I am worried by the hard left which wants to use this as a way to deconstruct our nation; fortunately most illegals are not of this ilk. I am impressed by a few interviews, where the people say, "We love this country; we just want to stay and provide for our families. No easy solution--we'll probably muddle along.

BTW: The demos were really big...but our national fabric is just fine. Not to worry.

Blogger Papa Ray said...

Well, I'm right in the middle of the Illegals, I see hundreds each day. I see their kids running in the street and their junk cars everywhere.

There is several sides of this issue. One side is that we just have been too greedy and using illegals to make money and to save money and to screw the other workers out of jobs that they won't, can't take because of the low pay and because of the no benifits and such.

But there is the other side, where hard working men and women do contribute, do assimulate and do want to be Americans, NOT Mexicans.

As one Mexican told me the other day, " My father was a Mexican, My mother is a Mexican, I'm determined to be an AMERICAN".

He has filed papers about five years ago and is waiting and waiting and is doing it legal. He hates what is going on but said that it was bound to happen sooner or later. He just hopes it doesn't come to violence.

Here is a website you might be interested in: VDARE

Whatever goes on over here, don't lose your focus on your job.

Continue the Mission.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Blogger Rob said...

I don't pretend to think that I have any special insight or ability to affect any change in the issue. All I can do is my part in the military and run my mouth about what I think oughta be done re: the illegal immigration from Mexico. So...that's what I'll do. =) Will do my best to make this ramble coherent.

Some basic (what are for me nearly inarguable) principles:

1. Citizenship is a privelage that must be earned.
2. God-given human rights transcend nationality.

Seems to me that in all serious debates about this issue, most people agree on these two principles. It's the best way to mesh them that seems to be the source of argument. Let me step back for a second though and clear away some of the arguments that, in my opinion, don't fall into the realm of serious debate.

Politicians: Unfortunately, the people we elect to deal with issues such as this, do not prosper from a serious debate. They prosper when they use an issue, any issue, to gain political influence. Republicans and Democrats both sacrifice far too much in the way of principles, in order to benefit politically from this issue. Very little any of them say can be taken at face value. Bottom line, they're all trying to get reelected - whatever it takes. More immigrants, looser citizenship laws, more voters...you get the idea.

Mexican fools: Have you noticed that we seem to have a type of person around the world who apparently doesn't have anything better to do than protest or riot? Look at France for example. The government caves to the protesters and rescinds the labor bill, so what do the protestors do? Why continue protesting of course. Doesn't matter what the issue is. Iraq war, oil, OJ Simpson, WTO meetings, immigration, etc. Most of the people can't even articulate what they're protesting for. I could go on, but it's getting windy in here. =P

Now down to serious debate. How should we strike a balance between maintaining our national integrity and being decent human beings? Notice, I'm not even venturing into the realm of considering amnesty or non-enforcement. I reject those options offhand. I think I should probably clarify the decent human beings part of this post first.

I think that indisputably most Mexicans come to the U.S. because there are opportunities for a better life that aren't present in Mexico. Pretty obvious, right? After all, isn't a central tenet of President Bush's foreign policy that all people yearn to be free and enjoy the same privelages that we do? And aren't we purportedly in Iraq in part to spread these freedoms? I think a lot of people use their anti-immigration arguments as a veil for their pure and simple dislike for Mexicans. I think that we should encourage and welcome new immigrants into the U.S. The more people that buy into our system the better. Those of you who are grinding your teeth...don't worry, it will get better. Up til now I haven't come across as too much different than Ted Kennedy, I'm sure. Here's where we differ.

I think that people who are in the country illegally now should be found and deported. All of them. One at a time. I think that if we write a law we should have the integrity to enforce that law. That means enforcing the border. If you haven't gone through the proper legal channels, do an about face and start walking. Whether enforcement means a fence, more agents, whatever. Don't write laws and then ignore them. That decreases credibility and that's something we can't do without. Here's the balance:

As they stand our immigration system sucks. When people who try to enter legally and become American citizens are waiting 5+ years, there's something very wrong. As I said earlier, we should be thrilled when people, from any country, think enough of America and the opportunities it presents to want to become a citizen.

On a small side note. A lot of people have pointed out the Mexican flag waving going on. To me this isn't really the issue. The real issue is who is waving the flag. If it's an illegal Mexican immigrant they might as well draw a red downward arrow on the flag with the letters I.N.S. stenciled above it. Put them on a plane and fly them home. If however, the person waving the Mexican flag happens to be a legal American citizen, they have every right to do it. Sure, it'll piss me off, but that goes back to Ben's job and my job.

Longest post of my freakin life. Hopefully bro, it'll give ya some food for thought or more of that perspective ya were talkin about. Take care of yourself.

Blogger PPTRANGER said...



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