Irony in Clothing

Irony in Clothing

by john harrison

I have said many times that I wish people knew more about their history. If they did perhaps they would make a fool of themselves less often. Kente Cloth originated in the Ashanti Empire. It was worn only by the rulers. The Ashanti Empire was a pre-colonial West African state that emerged in the 17th century in what is now Ghana. The Ashanti or Asante were an ethnic subgroup of the Akan-speaking people, and were originally composed of small chiefdoms that later morphed into a powerful empire.

“If the early Ashanti Empire economy depended on the gold trade in the 1700s, by the early 1800s it had become a major exporter of enslaved people. The slave trade was originally focused north with captives going to Mande and Hausa traders who exchanged them for goods from North Africa and indirectly from Europe. By 1800, the trade had shifted to the south as the Ashanti sought to meet the growing demand of the British, Dutch, and French for captives. In exchange, the Ashanti received luxury items and some manufactured goods including most importantly firearms.

“The consequence of this trade for the Ashanti and their neighbors was horrendous. From 1790 until 1896, the Ashanti Empire was in a perpetual state of war involving expansion or defense of its domain. Most of these wars afforded the opportunity to acquire more slaves for trade.” (https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/ashanti-empire-asante-kingdom-18th-late-19th-century/)

History can be brutal. Besides being a form of “blackface” as has been pointed out by many, (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/06/09/congresss-kente-cloth-spectacle-was-mess-contradictions/?fbclid=IwAR3bd0if49ebnZZOpwPU4fDrl0286XVDMO0Vev_xPoSINu4zIg6YbbscUHg) there are few historical symbols less appropriate for what the Democratic leadership was trying to say. The Ashanti Empire was a major player in the slave trade and Kente Cloth was originally worn only by the bosses of that trade.

In spite of contrary statements by those who should know better Robert E. Lee probably never personally owned a slave. All of the slaves at Arlington were either owned by his wife, or were attached to the estate itself. On the other hand in the Ashanti Empire it was the slave trade that paid for the Kente Cloth.

 



 

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was in the infantry in Vietnam too. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making it an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.”
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Random Thoughts on the Murder of George Floyd

Random Thoughts on the Murder of George Floyd
by john harrison

About 425,000 people live in Minneapolis, Mn. There are 800 sworn police officers and 300 civilians in the police department for an average of one police officer for every 531 people. This is in line with other American cities of similar size. For example there are 433,000 people living in Oakland, Ca., with 747 sworn police officers, and 323 civilians in their police department for an average of one police officer per 579 people. On the other side of the country there are 474,000 living in Raleigh, NC, with 802 sworn police officers, and 100 civilians in their police department for an average of one police officer per 591 people. So, the department is not understaffed, nor is the violent crime rate particularly high there when compared to other cities of similar size.

The mayor, a young liberal democrat, is responsible for the local police department. He and the Police Chief have been working to improve the department. They have admitted that there are specific problems within the department that they are working on. However, the budget is the real problem and partly because of that training is also a problem. This is Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s first term in office, but he seems to be trying.

A local newspaper said this about the politics of policing there last year:

 “The politics of policing is delicate in Minneapolis, made more so this year after the largest police-misconduct payout in Minnesota history. While downtown groups call for more officers to curb the latest spike in street violence, others say public safety must be addressed through a more holistic approach that incorporates better funding for programs like affordable housing, drug treatment and youth-violence intervention.

“Council President Lisa Bender said on Twitter the city couldn’t afford the cost per officer, nor the “settlements for police violence” that would follow. “I’m concerned that at this point both the mayor and the chief are approaching this from a highly political lens,” she said.

“Council Member Andrew Johnson wrote a blog post questioning whether the department could be more efficient by assigning solo officers rather than pairs to most calls. Council Member Cam Gordon wrote his own critical post, reviving the idea of changing the city charter to give the council more power over the police department.

“Since his campaign, Frey has identified policing as a priority, vowing to change the culture of the department while mending discord between officers and community members.”

Ultimately, according to the article, for the politicians the question is all about the allocation of tax money, public safety needs are clearly secondary. All this played out about a year before George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.

In the meantime, the Minneapolis Police Department has failed to fully adopt changes recommended by federal officials to weed out bad cops. At least two of the officers involved in Floyd’s fatal encounter, including the officer who knelt on his neck, had numerous complaints filed against them in the past.

Some reforms were made though. The department narrowed the circumstances in which Minneapolis officers were authorized to kill. It changed its use of force policy with a focus on the “sanctity of life.” These new rules also required other officers to intervene when a fellow cop became abusive. These changes will become very important in the future cases against the four officers that were involved in the Floyd murder. The revised use-of-force policy explains why the department was able to fire all four arresting officers in Floyd’s case within 24 hours of his death, speed that has been all too rare in previous police-brutality cases.

Another distinguishing feature of this case is the support the protestors have received from both police chiefs, and rank and file police officers from across the nation. Incredibly for some, this support has continued even after violence marred some of the protests. The support itself is a very unusual break in the blue wall. As video footage of George Floyd’s last moments circulated over the internet, many, including police officers, watched in shock and revulsion as the 46-year old black man died, pleading for air, while a white Minneapolis police officer knelt, almost casually, on his neck.

Even so few could share the horrible familiarity the clip would evoke for Valerie Castile, who four years ago watched similar footage while her son, Philando, lay dying after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb. Her son’s killing added fuel to the national conversation about how police use force against people of color. It prompted the most sincere promises from politicians and civic leaders across all of Minnesota to reform policing there, but it still did not result in enough action to save George Floyd from murder by a known rogue cop.

So why, Valerie Castile asked, must she watch another video, of another a black man, in her city, dying at the hands of the police? Why indeed?

There is no question that the Minneapolis Police Department was on notice that it had a problem officer on its hands. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the department, had a dozen complaints from the public, none of which apparently had led to discipline. City records do not show the nature or severity of the complaints. Likewise, city coaching records aren’t public, so it’s unclear if Chauvin was sent to any of the policy training sessions as an alternative to discipline.

However, readily available past news stories show that Chauvin was involved in at least three cases in which a police officer shot a civilian during a six-year period. He was placed on paid leave in 2006 after being present, but not being the shooter, during a fatal confrontation with a man armed with a knife. In 2008, Chauvin shot a 21-year-old who was suspected of hitting a woman. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, police said the man in that incident tried to grab either Chauvin’s or his partner’s gun, prompting Chauvin to open fire. And in 2011, Chauvin was at the scene when a colleague shot a suspected gunman, who witnesses said had his hands up and was trying to surrender.

Tou Thao, another of the officers involved in Floyd’s murder, has had at least six complaints filed against him. Five resulted in no discipline and one is still under investigation. And in 2017, the city paid a $25,000 settlement to Lamar Ferguson, who said Thao knocked out his teeth during an arrest. The department still allows officers to use choke holds barred in other cities.

So, the reputation of the Minneapolis’ police department was clearly in question long before Floyd’s death. In July 2017, Officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a yoga teacher from Australia who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home. Officer Noor, a Somali-American, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting Damond, a white woman. The city of Minneapolis paid $20 million dollars to Damond’s family. Because Officer Noor did not record his encounter with Damond on his body camera, the police department changed at least one policy. It now requires police to activate their body cameras while traveling to a call.

In all the leaders of Minneapolis were repeatedly warned about problems with the police department. They knew they were in trouble. Even State Attorney General Keith Ellison said he is well aware the state has long-standing policing challenges. “The reforms thus far have been halting, inadequate, and just put it on the shelf until we get to the next tragedy,” he said. “Without tragedies to keep propelling it, it gets ignored after a while.”

It was ignored after Castile died. It was ignored after Damond was killed. Will it be ignored again after Floyd’s murder?

Why are the other three officers not yet charged?

The entry of the FBI into the case vastly complicates it. Neither the FBI nor the State can speak for the other As a practical matter what this means is that plea negotiations with the other three officers are infinitely complicated, but both sets of prosecutors want at least one of the officers to flip. Having an officer who was there testify that the actions of the other officers were wrong is very powerful stuff for a jury and in effect allows the jury to find the police defendants guilty. Even so no defense attorney will agree to a deal which does not include the signatures of both federal and state prosecutors. That is never easy to get.

On the other hand federal laws have strict time limitations between charging and trial. There are always jurisdiction issues in such joint cases. For example, a state trial would probably draw from jury pool with far more people of color. This may or may not be an advantage for either side. A federal charge may draw a longer sentence than a supportable state charge, or vice versa. Invariably though, a rush to charge almost always leads to problems later on.

So, wait for it. It will come.

What about the riots?

It seems that white people usually riot when over-paid sports teams, many predominantly composed of people of color, either win or fail to win championships. People of color riot lately when one of them is killed by the police for an otherwise minor infraction, often times in direct violation of police rules and regulations.

On the whole, the people of color have the better reason here.

The lock down frustration is part of the problem.

Some people are short of food for their families, some people could not buy summer clothes for their growing children. Some people, even if they have jobs, cannot go to work because the schools are closed, the play grounds are closed, their children are home and they cannot see an end to it.

If you look at the pictures of the riots, not everybody looting a store is a person of color, not everybody yelling at the police is either. Some of the politicians, both Democrat and Republican remind me of “Bull” Connor of Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s complaining of “outside agitators” taking advantage of the situation as though this is some sort of defense. It’s not. If your city blows up in flame, you failed.

Moreover, like the prior discussions about how to fix the police, it is still only another question of politics for far too many politicians, and the actual public safety be damned.

Lots of police have courageously crossed the line and stepped up to say that what happened to George Floyd is simply unacceptable on any level. It is time that the politicians followed their lead.


 

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was in the infantry in Vietnam too. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making it an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.”
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

If You Asked Me,

If You Asked Me,

by Sergeant Ron Ford

If you asked me, “Are you a hero or a coward?” I would say, “I’m a
coward that’s done a couple of brave things, under duress.”
Ron Ford, 2020.

On the 2nd of February 1968, I remember approaching a large, nice, really an upper class home for a Vietnam hamlet. It had a nice wide porch with pillars, potted plants, and tile. As the 2nd platoon approached the house, the platoon was mingling around in different directions.

Lt. Harrison told Sgt. Raynor check out the house. Raynor took Daniel and Pitts up the steps to the front door as I faced the house. I looked to my left and saw that there was a fruit tree there with shade and ripe fruit.

“OK Adams, let’s set up security over by that tree.” I said.

Trant stayed on the opposite side with Adams and I. Adams and I went to the tree. I pulled a piece of fruit off of the tree. It was some sort of citrus fruit. Then, we were looking for a nice spot in the shade to plop our asses down for a well deserved break. We were both loaded down with full gear, 40 mags of M16 ammo, two frag grenades, 100 rounds M60 ammo, canteens, food etc., etc., my point; not a light load.

My knees were about half bent to sit down when the shit hit the fan, a wall of fucking lead. What we didn’t know at the time was that there was over twenty well camouflaged bunkers in the ground, and Adams and I were in the middle of their killing zone. We probably looked like a couple of well trained race horses coming out of the gate. I never ran that hard, that fast, in my life, and Adams was close by.

We hit the front of the house at the same time Daniel, Raynor, and Pitts all hit the doorway coming out. Daniel went down, all alone on the porch. At that point Adams and I were separated. I went with Trant, but Adams went to my right towards where the Patterson fire team was I think. Adams and I were separated for most of the day. I think Raynor and Pitts were on my side of the house with Trant and I.

I have no idea now what they were doing, but my mission then was to try and get my friend Daniel off of that porch. The incoming fire power was very heavy at that time.

Worse, Trant was having problems with his weapon. It was jammed; I took it and cleared it for him; it jammed again. Fuck, I get it back. I’m working on it again. Trant says it only works on automatic. I throw it back at him.

“Then shoot the fucking thing on automatic.” I was not having a good day.

OK, let’s go get Daniel was all I could think.

Raynor and Pitts were in the ditch with Harrison by then I think. I’m not sure though. I crawled up to the porch where Daniel was with Trant close beside me. The closer we got the more we became targets of opportunity. It’s hard to explain what it means when you’re literally in the cone of death.

As we moved up we watched as Daniel crawls around on the porch; he takes his fucking canteen out like he’s on his porch in New York City, starts drinking water, blood running out of him all over, in total shock, doesn’t respond to our yells, doesn’t even look our way.

At that point I gave up. If we went up on that porch, we were dead for sure. There were bullets going everywhere. Trant and I doubled timed it thru that wall of lead and jumped into the ditch with Harrison. There was a fair amount of the platoon in the ditch with the L-T. Up to this point I was running on pure adrenaline. I was scared and little did I know my fear would be a lot more as the day went on, and for some of us all thru the night as well. In the ditch there’s no time line for me. I couldn’t say how long we were in there, a minute, a hour, ten-seconds, no idea.

Lt. Harrison says we are going to take that house and get Daniel. He wanted Daniel back as bad as me.

“If you give the order L-T, I’ll obey.” I thought, but then my little buddy screams out that there’s a barbed wire fence. We will all be killed.

He’s right. Lt. Harrison thinks for a minute, tells Sgt. Bunn to take four or five men, go thru the back door and kill those fuckers in that house. At least we could travel down the ditch to where there wasn’t a barbed wire fence between us and the big house. Bunn, Raynor, Trant, Styles, Stephenson, and I got to the mud hooch that was close behind the big house.

We were staging in the hooch to take the house thru the rear door. I was fucking ready. I was wired like I was on a drug or something.

“I’m first, Raynor goes behind me, Ford behind Raynor, Trant behind him. OK, let’s go.” Bunn said.

Bunn goes, Raynor waits for Bunn to get ahead, so we don’t bunched up. Then, Bunn goes down. I think Raynor turns around to get back into the hooch. I’m still going. I take off. Trant grabs my collar, yells “No!” and pulls me back. I’m struggling. I see Bunn laying there and you can see his body moving as they put more bullets into him as he lay there.

I guess you could say that was probably the second time that day that my little buddy Trant saved my life. First time when he yelled at Harrison which gave Harrison pause, second time pulling me back into that hooch. We remained in that hooch most of the day. Styles was Bunn’s RTO so at least we had a radio. Stephenson was hanging out the window of that hooch shootings gooks. I got one. He got another and then another. He was doing good.

The shit got real intense when they focused in on that hooch. They were pounding the piss out off it with automatic fire, bullets bouncing all over in that hooch. It was totally amazing that no one was hit in there.

Later in the day Harrison called in an air strike almost on top of ourselves. At this point I was ready to surrender, but there was no one to surrender to. We wanted to make sure we didn’t eat a bomb so we stayed in touch with the spotter plane and kept popping smoke grenades.

Trant and I were laying inside the hooch in this dugout that was about 5 inches deep we were laying nose to nose. I said it was nice knowing you. At this point I thought we were done. Trant said I can’t wait till we’re on Rush Street in Chicago having a beer and laughing about this day. I just nodded. I didn’t see anyway out of this. I was so scared but almost felt a peace come over me, and then I was ok with getting killed.

The jets came, dropped their bombs, rocks, big fucking  rocks, went thru that hooch and fell thru the roof. The ground was shaking. It was something else. It seemed like it went on forever. When that ended we still were getting lots of bullets thru that hooch. Somewhere at this point we exited the hooch to the ditch and Harrison met up with us. It was late in the afternoon and the platoon pulled back to the rest of the battalion a few clicks away, leaving three bodies behind.

As it got towards evening Harrison got the order to pull further back and set up a perimeter a few clicks away. I’m not sure if it was the whole battalion but I know it was at least A Co. and B Co. When we got there everyone was relieved. There’s strength in numbers, and we had been outnumbered all day.

Lt. Harrison is not perfect, but the day could have been a lot worse without his leadership. It was a long hard battle; he did good. Every one was exhausted by the time we set up, but it wasn’t long before Harrison asked for volunteers to go back into the Hell hole we had just left. I don’t blame anyone if they didn’t volunteer. The only reason I did was to get Andy. It was a must-do for me. I had failed to get him when he was still alive. The least I could do was to bring him back so his family had closure. There was a good possibility we would fail, and that none of us would make it back alive. I had always wondered why we had all that hard ass physical training in the states; it was for times like these.

No one knows exactly how many of us went back that night, it’s everyone’s guess that it was around 17. Lt. Harrison was the patrol leader I was the assistant patrol leader. If I’m being honest, I was scared more that something would happen to Harrison than myself. The idea of me having to take over what I considered to be a suicide mission scared the fuck out of me. Especially since we were traveling light and wouldn’t have enough ammo to really engage and protect ourselves.

It was late night, I don’t know the exact time when we left the perimeter. There was some moonlight but not much, about a half moon is my guess. Traveling light, it didn’t take us too long to reach the house, and then we were all back in the ditch again where we had been earlier that day. Harrison sent Adams out on our flank about 50 yards away maybe less, or more, who knows, all by himself as a security post. Joe Klempton, Ray Mayfield and a black trooper that no one can remember who he was went to get one of our men. I wish to Christ I could remember his name.

All of us volunteered to check the bodies for booby traps and to bring them back to the ditch. So far things have went well. We weren’t detected on the way to the house. I’m starting to feel like, maybe I will make it out alive. I can’t tell you how long it took, or which body came back first. It seemed like a long time. The gooks were in the house talking while our guys were retrieving Daniel from the front porch, not a easy task. Finally, we are all back in the ditch with the three bodies. Chris is back from our flank and we’re ready to get the fuck out of Dodge.

Carrying a body is no easy task especially when your in the middle of hostile enemy that want to kill your ass. We proceeded back at a much slower pace than our arrival pace. It wasn’t too long before we started receiving small arms fire but we kept going forward.

Paul Clement and I were carrying Daniel. He had been a big, tall, guy, built like a pro basketball player. Even after all these years I can still smell the coagulated blood that was all over his jungle fatigues.

About half way back we were in a ravine with a high embankment on out right side as we traveled down the ravine. Somehow, we had been spotted and they sent mortars our way which were right on target, except that they were hitting at the top of the embankment on the right. I could see silhouettes of banana trees. We were safe as long as a round didn’t fall short. That wouldn’t be good. You could hear the chunks of steel from the mortars flying thru the air above us. We double timed it, carrying the bodies for a short distance in case they adjusted the mortar fire. As we ran Daniel’s head was bouncing along the ground. I was thinking, I’m so sorry brother.

It was several hours later when we approached our perimeter, my guess is it was about 5:30 am, still dark, but almost day break. I was more than a little nervous that our own guys would light us up as we came in the perimeter. Harrison was on the radio with Captain Gaffney. “Puff” had been flying around and shooting down all around the perimeter while we were gone. They shut Puff down before we came in. We came in on the B Co, side of the perimeter.

At the time I didn’t know who he was, but Platoon Sergeant Joe Jervis (call sign “Pineapple”) from B Company, came out to greet us. He wanted to help carry Daniel in. They had played basketball together at Fort Campbell. I told him, “Don’t fucking touch him.” He knew I meant it, and backed away. I feel bad about it. Now, he is a friend, and a great guy.

Once we got into the perimeter and made it over to A Co I don’t remember anything until later that morning when the choppers came in to pick up the bodies. I helped load Daniel in the chopper and he was gone and the war went on.

Daniel had a large impact on my life, even till this day. I’ve shed many a tear thinking about it. I’m shedding one now.

R I P brother,
SGT Ron Ford

© Ron G. Ford, May 3, 2020


There’s much more, to this story and there are twenty-six more stories like it that can be found in my book,Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive which is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point or another since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer even in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “L-T” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″
“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

The Corona Virus at 5 months

The Corona Virus at 5 months

by john harrison

I wonder if most people understand that the sole purpose of the currant lockdown is to slow down the spread of the corona virus so that medical facilities are not overwhelmed by it. It is not to do anything else. It is just to reduce the number getting sick on a daily basis, not to keep people well. This is because, if the medical facilities are overwhelmed by corona virus patients, then people will die not just from the corona virus but also from many other causes that could have been saved had there been adequate medical treatment available. That is what is reported to be happening even now in several countries in Latin America. The medical facilities there are so overwhelmed that they have in essence shut down completely. They are full and then some.

The sad fact is that in the absence of a vaccine, almost everyone will eventually get the corona virus. Ultimately, at some point this will probably produce what is known as “herd immunity”. Which means that so many people will have already caught the virus, that its transmission through the society will slow significantly. It will not stop though. Perhaps like the flu, it could come back every year, maybe in a mutated form for which many will not be immune to even if they have caught it before. At this point we simply do not know. We do not as yet know enough about the virus to make these judgements.

Moreover, the medical community is not sure yet that everyone who has caught the virus will be thereafter immune to a second infection. There are already some reports from South Korea of people catching it a second time. So, while immunity at least for some time frame after the initial infection is the way that most viruses work, this does not have to be true in the case of the corona virus. If it is not true, if the original infection does not confer immunity, then producing a true vaccine for the corona virus will be next to impossible.

It took years to understand the nature of the AIDS epidemic and to formulate an effective medical protocol of treatment and avoidance. It took even longer to treat polio. At some point the scientists will find an answer. The only question is what will the total cost be in lives, both from the virus and as things go on from the lock down as well. First, we could not get toilet paper, now a meat shortage looms, but gas is dirt cheap. We are in uncharted waters. That is never a comfortable place.


 

John Harrison’s book  Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive is the continuing story of the 101st Airborne Division’s “Band of Brothers” in Vietnam, including the Tet Offensive of 1968. Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. While in Vietnam we met “rock apes”, tigers, elephants, snakes, peacocks and many other animals, great and small, in the wild, often with deadly results for the animals. However, other than snakes, the Army mentioned none of them in training. We trained mostly for combat patrols in the jungle, but fought mostly in pitched battles in cities, towns and villages. This is the story of the bloodiest, most misunderstood, year of the Vietnam War.

My new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells that story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Impeachment is a political, not a judicial process, and so far it is not going well

Impeachment is a political, not a judicial process,
and so far it is not going well

by john harrison

When you push an impeachment out of committee without a single vote from the minority party, it is an entirely partisan effort, not a real impeachment for cause. If you cannot attract a single vote from the other side, and you lose some votes from your own side, you have not made your case. It really doesn’t matter what you think about President Trump, or about what he may have done, it matters only what you can make others agree with. The Democrats have failed to make a case.

If the Democratic case was strong, the Republican House members would be worried about losing the election itself and would vote to impeach. Both Clinton and Nixon had several members of their own party’s vote for their impeachment. Members of the opposing party voted both in committee and on the House floor for impeachment those two cases, and in Nixon’s impeachment hearing this was well before the most damaging evidence came to light.

If you want to blame somebody for the lack of Republican votes so far, a fair choice is either President Trump did not commit a real impeachable offense, or the Democrats did not do a good enough job. They over promised and under delivered as we would say in court.

Politics is all about self interest. Expecting anything else is a pipe dream. That said, I think the Donald probably would not get past a Grand Jury for two reasons: a Grand Jury has a very low level of proof required and no rules of evidence, sort of like the Judiciary Committee, and the old saw is that even a middling prosecutor could talk a Grand Jury into indicting a ham sandwich. I think it was the second point where the democrats failed. A Grand Jury is a closed process that does not have to look fair but in an impeachment you are not going to get the other side to agree with your apocalyptic rhetoric unless you come up with an apocalyptic crime. So far no actual crime, apocalyptic or otherwise, has been charged.

I really think the Democrats really just blew it. It was doable, but they blew it. Just like Senator Feinstein’s mistakes torpedoed them in the Kavanaugh hearing. They shot themselves in the foot in this one as well.

You must have a reason for a subpoena or a judge will not give you one. Even if you are pursuing the Mafia or ISIS, you can’t just go on a fishing expedition with subpoenas. It was pretty clear after a while that the Intelligence Committee was on a fishing expedition. They were looking for reasons to impeach, just like all of the Republican investigations into Benghazi were looking to build a case, not to find out what actually happened.

There is a big difference between building a case and investigating an event. The branches are co-equal. Executive privilege is real. The House committees have a right to call witnesses, but the president has an equal right to run the executive branch. If they had a crime, and no actual crime has been identified, and the president refused to let witnesses, lawyers excepted, testify about a crime then they would have clear impeachable offense, but if it is like the Mueller Investigation where the President impeded what turned out to be an investigation into nothing then that is entirely different. It is hard to say that the President’s actions during the Mueller Investigation were really an “obstruction” of justice since justice was served and only the investigation which found nothing was impeded. At most this is a technical offense and unlikely to be prosecuted by anybody.

Some people have forgotten that Rudy Giuliani is the President’s lawyer. As such he is a special case since he is not a public official. Attorney client privilege applies. If I was the president’s lawyer I would have ignored every subpoena, and if arrested and brought before the committee I would have respectfully refused to answer anything except my name, my profession and my client’s name. That’s it. After that, they can pound sand.

That is the Republican argument and if it is true, it is a good one. I have not followed the committee hearings, blathering, by both sides gets on my nerves so I don’t have an opinion on the process, just the result.

There is one point I overlooked about the subpoenas, for some reason the two Committees never tried to enforce any of them. The route used in Watergate was the courts. That was what precipitated the “Saturday Night Massacre”. If this was a court it would probably rule that the charge of ignoring the subpoenas is not “ripe” for adjudication because the Committee for some reason skipped a necessary step. Therefore, the President did not do anything wrong. Like every citizen he has the right to test the validity of the subpoena, and he did it. That put the ball back to the Committee which thereupon sat on it. It could have used inherent congressional power to enforce the subpoenas or the courts. They chose to do neither.

True holding a contempt hearing in a court would take longer, but that is what they have always done. You don’t get to avoid court just because it is inconvenient. This was not a rush to judgement, it was just a rush. It is literally like a home run where the runner failed to touch 2nd base. He’s out.

If you want Senators McConnell, Graham and the rest of the Republicans to play by the rules then the committee and the House also must play by the rules. They took every shortcut and now that is coming back to haunt them. This is one of the dumbest ideas, poorly executed, that I have ever seen a bunch of talented people do.

Now they are holding up delivering the articles of impeachment to the senate. Why hurt your own candidates by tying them to the senate during their campaign? Yet another not the best idea.

Let’s take the easy one, the refusal to respond to Congressional subpoenas. Neither committee ever moved to enforce any of those subpoenas. There are two ways they could have been enforced. The one used in Watergate against President Nixon was to go to court. You may remember that was how Nixon was ordered to give up the tapes and led to the Saturday Night Massacre as noted above. The other way involves the House sanctioning the person refusing either by fine or by arrest on its own motion. For many reasons including ordering the Sergeant at Arms to arrest someone has proved to be unworkable, this method has not been used since 1935.

Using the same logic that has been used against the President on this same issue, that is that the supposed reason that he does not want them to testify is that they will say things he does not want to hear if they tell the truth, you could say the reason that the Speaker and Committee chairmen have not moved to enforce the subpoenas in court is that they know that they would lose there. The subpoenas may be over broad, or not supported by probative evidence. Since most of the testimony at the hearings was hearsay, the later is very likely.

As a matter of law just about any court would say that the subpoenas are void since no one has ever moved to enforce them. Some will say it would take time to enforce them properly. Well, doing something correctly often takes more time than doing it in a slip shod way. We will never know what they would have said if they had actually been compelled to testify, and the reason we won’t is that Chairmen Schiff and Nadler elected not to do their jobs. President Trump might have resigned like President Nixon chose to do.

This charge will not go anywhere.

Essentially the second charge is “abuse of power” based on a telephone conversation. The gravamen of the charge is that President Trump allegedly requested that the Ukraine open an investigation into Joe Biden’s son for political purposes and tried to use his power as President to coerce the Ukraine into doing that.

An article in the Atlantic sums up the problems the House impeachment managers will have with this charge. The problem in simple terms is that the act itself is not illegal. It only becomes wrong if you can prove that the act was motivated solely by an illegal intent. Intent is one of the hardest things there is to prove in a court of law. Proving it on the senate floor, with or without witnesses, will be even more difficult.

In any event, so far more Democrats have voted against impeachment than Republicans have voted for it, they are in the minority in the Senate already, just like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, all the senatorial candidates for president will recuse themselves from voting so the number of Republican votes they will need to convict is well over 20. Not going to happen. Who knows what would have happened if they had bothered to do it right. A John Dean or an Alexander Butterfield might have appeared. They were the ones that disclosed President Nixon’s secret taping system.

This is an interesting point as well. “In a Bloomberg op-ed, Harvard legal scholar Noah Feldman said Pelosi, D-Calif., can delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but not for an “indefinite” period of time.

“Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial. Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial,” he wrote, going on to say that if the House doesn’t release the articles, Trump could legitimately declare that he was never actually impeached.

“To be sure, if the House just never sends its articles of impeachment to the Senate, there can be no trial there. That’s what the ‘sole power to impeach’ means. But if the House never sends the articles, then Trump could say with strong justification that he was never actually impeached. And that’s probably not the message Congressional Democrats are hoping to send,” Feldman concluded. I think he is right.

They have issued subpoenas, but failed to enforce them. They have voted to impeach, but have failed to complete the process so far. As a matter of Constitutional law it looks like, gleeful newspaper headlines to the contrary notwithstanding, President Trump has not in fact been impeached yet. Is this the gang that couldn’t shoot straight?


 

My new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive: “John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells that story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Vietnam Veteran to High School History Teacher

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 5.56.13 PM
Vietnam Veteran to High School History Teacher

republished from the Purple Heart Foundation
February 8, 2019/0 Comments/in Blog, Veterans and Veteran Services /by akakar

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 5.56.32 PM
We all wonder where life will take us, he never wondered, he knew. John Harrison, then a sophomore student at North Carolina University, wanted to fly helicopters but the only way he was able to, was by joining the Army. Not many would jump at the idea of joining the military in the middle of a war, but he did… just to fly helicopters. Growing up he had a great childhood, a loving family and no regrets. With a clear vision in mind and the love for helicopters in heart, he pressed on with the hopes of making a difference.

It didn’t take long for John to get through Basic Combat Training, pass all qualifications and tests at Ft. Polk, L.A. and confidently begin his service in the United States Army, something he had aspired to do for so long. The transition from civilian to soldier was not an easy one though; it was divided into three parts…

“The RED phase” is the beginning of your training, to prepare you for what’s to come.
“The WHITE phase” is where he got most of the physical and psychological strength.
“The BLUE phase” taught him how to handle weapons.

During the first several months in the military, John really enjoyed his time with fellow soldiers and instructors who only had “Tough love” for him. Since he had prepared well for the Army he was in great shape to withstand just about anything, even though he recalls the weather being really hot. It was so unbearably hot in Vietnam that they would drink 4 to 5 gallons of water, every day when they first arrived.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 5.56.57 PM

Many would be surprised how John expresses his take on joining the army, but this experience changed his life, his points of view, and his whole being. In the military you can train and prepare as much as possible, but nothing is like experiencing the challenges and traumas of combat than real life. John went to Officer Candidate School later, where he became Airborne Rifle Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer not a helicopter pilot.

Not long after, his unit was deployed to Vietnam on a USNS (United States Naval Ship). John joked, that although his accommodations on that ship weren’t great, the food was the best part. Since the ship was old, they had to stop at an island in the Philippines for repairs.  While on the island, many of them stayed late in a club and almost ended up in the Brig! Then, after leaving the island, they came across the end tag of a typhoon and many were having trouble keeping their food down.

Finally, they reached Vietnam. They were told they would be safe because they were being protected by South Korean paratroopers. One of the scariest and most unexpected moments in Vietnam was the first time he got shot at while walking in the mountains with his platoon. John thought to himself that he had been around shooting ranges so it wouldn’t be such a big deal… but as they kept taking on fire, he felt dumbfounded, he didn’t react, he didn’t really know what to do in that moment. The firefights in Vietnam were nothing like they had trained for, nor did he know he would be there for the bloodiest year of the entire war.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 5.57.12 PM

John stayed for almost three years in the Army, and said that it was nothing like he had expected. The military can only train you so much, even so you will never be completely ready to fight when it comes down to it. He was awarded the Purple Heart medal, because he was wounded during his service in Vietnam. He is thankful every day for not ever being captured as a prisoner of war (POW) and for being able to come home to his family. John left the military when his time was up and went back to school to study Law. He became a well-known attorney, businessman and realtor in the Washington-Metropolitan Area. Later he went on to teach at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School in Arlington Virginia  where he said he truly enjoyed his time with his students and  learned a lot from their differing opinions.

Now John enjoys his time traveling, being at home and just enjoying life. He has just published a book on Amazon.com, Steel Rain, the Tea Offensive in which he narrates his fascinating and sometimes hilarious as well as violent, experiences in Vietnam. From one’s first impression of John though, you wouldn’t think he was a veteran or picture him in the dangerous settings he described to me today. One thing is for sure though,  John Harrison is and always will be, “Army Strong”.



My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. It is a Five Star book with 32 American reviews and 4 foreign reviews so far. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Three Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story too.

To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.

Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Tags: 1968, Airborne Rifle Platoon, army, blue, combat, DC, history, history teacher, john harrison, military, phan thiet, Phillippines, Prisoner of War, purple heart, purple heart medal, red, south korea, training, United States, veteran, vietnam, white, wounds

The Modern Face of Segregation

The Modern Face of Segregation

by john harrison

White flight is so old fashioned. Not quite as old fashioned as Jim Crow laws, but give it time. Now what they do is use zoning laws and real estate taxes to drive the working poor and fixed income people from a target neighborhood, or even from a whole city. It looks even handed, even fair perhaps, but ultimately it is racist at its core, and that way they no longer have to move and find a new place in the suburbs. They can stay in the city.

For example, San Francisco is now one of the most segregated places in America, and it was all done legally with economics and real estate taxes. It starts with “gentrification” and repeated real estate tax increases based on “neighborhood improvements” that drive out the working poor and those on fixed incomes. Sometimes they even brag about what they are doing. They call it “urban renewal”, and coat it thick with lip stick for public consumption.

If you wonder how a black man trying to get into his own home could be arrested as then Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. was a few years ago in “liberal” and “tolerant” Boston Massachusetts, then you too have not noticed these changes. The center city is becoming, or in many cities has already become, white again. People of color need not apply unless they are very rich, or very poor and Professor Gates, while very successful and well respected in his field, was neither.

The federal policy of urban renewal, initially established by the Housing Act of 1949 that lasted through the 1950s and early 1960s, had devastating consequences–including displacing more than a million people from their homes. Many whites leaving for the suburbs retained ownership of their properties and rented them. Others bought properties at depressed prices and rented them.

However, in some places, particularly on the West Coast, it turned out that there was no reason for “white flight” at all. They found that they could use the power of the law and of economics to force people of color, and other undesirables, from their homes and businesses, and then they found that they could stay right where they were. This process began long ago, but it has accelerated recently in San Francisco and in other cities like Los Angeles, where today even a very small, 1940s-50s, two bedroom, one bath, bungalow can sell for well over a million dollars.

Better yet, those that stayed behind, or retained ownership of their property when they moved to the burbs, have profited immensely when it was their turn to “downsize”, and they sell their by now very desirable homes to others. While these properties were often a “tear down”, they still sell for a huge profit. Perhaps a profit similar to that made on the sale of a 480-square-foot, stale dirty pink in color, house at 66 Bishop St. in San Francisco, which although one of the smallest in that city, very quickly sold in February of this year. It was also, even with its whopping $600,000 price tag, still one of the cheapest available in San Francisco as the SFGate reported at the time. In fact, last year the average price for a home in San Francisco went up over $200,000. Just that increase in the “average price” in San Francisco, is the “average price” for a home in many, many, jurisdictions. All by itself that should tell you something.

As the poor and the people of color left these cities, all of the public schools were usually improved, and at least one school was usually designated as a “magnet school”, often with great fanfare. Strangely, that magnet school is where all the white kids and the Asian kids will go. Both they and particularly their parents will proudly say that this is not the result of any “racial prejudice”, after all look at all those Asian kids in the classes; rather it is a meritocracy based solely on test scores, not race. They say this with the smug smile of a person able to complement both their children and themselves in the same sentence.

However, that is the defining quality of a true racist: they often really believe that they are not prejudiced; they believe that they are merely being realistic. “How could they be prejudiced?” they ask, since it is all the result of completely impartial tests? They ask it today like others asked in 1860: “How could they be racist if they were merely following God’s plan since slavery was in the Bible.” However, when you show or feel prejudice against people of other races, and particularly if you believe that a particular race, your race, is superior to another, then you are by definition, a racist. It does not matter on what you base your opinion, nor on what tool you use to discriminate against others. If you do it, you are a racist.

It is definitional racism, not merit, that underlies these schools. They have created a new “educational” caste system where the “gifted” only associate with other “gifted”, and they only do this for the greater good of all of us. Now, these new American Brahmins will no longer have to even associate with the modern “untouchables” on their way to and from their Advanced Placement (AP) classes. They will have their own building; their own teachers; their own courses. The untouchables have all been relegated to lesser schools, lesser, usually older buildings, with smaller budgets and lower teacher salaries while the Brahmins will get the best that money can buy, and busing is a suburbs thing they will not have to deal with at all. How could that not be fair?

It is also not surprising that in San Francisco at least, these are often the children of the same people that fly on their private jets to posh places for important international conferences on global warming. Hypocrisy is easy when you have money. It can also be rewarding when you own property.

 



My new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. It is a Five Star book with 32 reviews so far. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Three Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story too.

To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.

Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Not All Reforms Are An Improvement

Not All Reforms Are An Improvement

by john harrison

Some people have repeatedly argued that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to what they call “assault weapons”. Now, some of the same people are arguing that the 1st Amendment does not apply to Google or Facebook for the same kind of reasons that they have previously said that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to certain types of weapons.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recently took aim at the Electoral College, calling it a “scam” and suggested that it disenfranchises minorities. She thinks that it must go because of this.

However, if that is true about the Electoral College then it is even more true of the Senate where one United States senator from Wyoming with a total population of about 572,000, represents only about 286,000 people. While in California with a total population of about 40,000,000 a senator represents about 20,000,000. It is even true in the House of Representatives where a congressman, from Wyoming again, represents 570,000, while a congressman from California represents about 755,000 people. When the new census comes out, it will be worse since California’s population is growing while Wyoming’s is shrinking..

The real danger to all of this is the utter ignorance of most of the people doing most of the talking and equally important a failure to think through the effects of what they are promoting. Consequences do not become unintended because clear warnings are ignored, here are just to list a few of the more recent unintended consequences, all of which were warned:

People wanted “equal justice” so they took away a trial judge’s right to determine sentences for convicted offenders. Now there are strict rules for sentencing in criminal cases. The unintended effect of this was to almost eliminate jury trials because of plea bargaining. The new rules put the prosecutors entirely in charge. Since prosecutors can determine what is charged, they can, simply by looking at the sentencing guidelines, also determine what the sentence will be. Even as a former prosecutor I am not sure that is a good thing.

Some people wanted to end gender discrimination in the military and to open up promotion paths for all. Now women can serve in the combat arms. The unintended effect of this change is that, just like men, women will now be liable for the draft if it is ever reinstated and they will routinely be assigned to the combat arms, also just like men. If you believe in history you also know that a big war is long overdue. So, while the phrase, “Welcome to the Infantry Miss Jones, now drop and give me 20” (pushups) may be a surprise for some that hear it, that will be only because they have not been listening. The only thing that kept women from being drafted before was that they could not be assigned to the combat arms by law. Now they can. Welcome to the Army, Ms Jones.

Many people wanted abortion to be legal, safe and rare. Now, abortion is essentially available on demand in most states so much so that it is at the very least, a leading cause of death in America. People who say it is not a “death”, that it is a “procedure”, should remember that in the very recent past people were criminally prosecuted when they killed a viable fetus, even by accident. According to studies 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive. So, if they are alive at about 6 months, but for the abortion, they would probably have made it. Nine out of ten abortions are elective, i.e. not medically necessary.

 They may well be “procedures”, but they are not medical procedures because they serve no medical purpose.

While we have always known that it is always a good idea to be careful of what we wish for, most of us did not realize that the stakes could be so high, even so, they can’t say they were not warned.

 



My new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. It is a Five Star book with 32 reviews so far. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Three Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story too.

To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.

Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Unintended Consequences Are Consequential

Unintended Consequences Are Consequential

by john harrison

Irony appeals to me. According to recent press reports the people working for the Bernie Sanders campaign are now demanding $15 an hour to work on his campaign. Bernie on the stump is demanding $15 for everyone as a matter of human right, so it comes as no surprise that his own people agree with him. While some may delight in Bernie’s comeuppance, for me this is just another example of the economic law of unintended consequences. That is one of the realities that once earned Economics the nick name of the “Dismal Science”.

While the “law of unintended consequences” is often cited, it is only rarely defined. It actually states that the actions of people, and especially of governments, always have effects that are unanticipated or “unintended”. The concept of unintended consequences is one of the basic building blocks of modern economic theory. The real problem is that these consequences are not only unintended, they are also unanticipated even though so often in hindsight we may wonder how anyone could have been so stupid as to not anticipate them. Like Bernie we are all facing some unintended consequences for the rise in the minimum wage.

In 2017, 80.4 million workers age 16 and older in the United States were paid at hourly rates. This represents 58.3 percent of all wage and salary workers. Among those paid by the hour, 542,000 workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour according to the United States Department of Labor.

The industry with the highest percentage of workers earning hourly wages at or below the federal minimum wage was leisure and hospitality (11 percent). About three-fifths of all workers paid at or below the federal minimum wage were employed in the hospitality industry, almost entirely in restaurants and other food services. However, for many of these workers, tips supplement the hourly wages received

As Forbes recently reported in an article with the nifty title, “Washington DC’s $15 Minimum Wage is coming, but Walmart isn’t”, Harvard’s Economics Professor Jason Furman has demonstrated that Walmart really does save consumers money. There is little dispute that Walmart’s price reductions have benefited the 120 million American workers employed outside of the retail sector. Plausible estimates of the magnitude of their savings from Walmart are enormous –- a total of $263 billion in 2004, or about $2,329 per household.

“Even if you grant that Walmart hurts workers’ pay in the retail sector –- and the evidence 
for this is far from clear –- the magnitude of any potential harm is small in comparison. One study, for example, found that the “Walmart effect” only lowered retail wages by about $4.7 billion in 2000.” That still leave an almost $260 billion dollar positive Walmart effect. So, the economics say that while the rise in minimum wage will put more money in a worker’s pocket, they will also pay far more for the things they buy, or they will buy them outside of Washington, DC just because Walmart is not opening a store here.

There’s been a long campaign to try to get Walmart into Washington DC, especially to help low-income consumers purchase their daily goods. But that seems to be stymied by the politically popular, but economically suspect, minimum wage rise. In the beginning of the year, Walmart said that it almost certainly won’t be expanding its network in DC, and they cited the possible minimum wage rise as a reason why. Forbes



However, as Bernie Sander’s current woes testify it is not just that certain businesses will withdraw from a marketing area (Walmart), or change the way they operate (McDonald’s replacing hourly wage cashiers in many stores with self-service kiosks), costs will go up across the board, but not equally because of the rise in the minimum wage. It is not just the people currently earning below $15 an hour that will want an immediate raise, those earning above $15 an hour today will want their presumably greater contributions to still be recognized so they will demand increases as well.

While salary compression will work for a while, everybody at the bottom will earn about the same, the natural economic order of things has always reasserted itself. That is why in war time governments always try to control wages, prices, and supplies of goods.

Since, in a way an economy is like a ball of jelly, pressure at one point immediately produces corresponding pressure at another, if you do not control all three, wages, prices, and supplies of goods, the ball of jelly will almost immediately return to a ball remarkably like the original ball of jelly. Over time this means that the pressures will equalize right back where they were, or at least they always have. When they do equalize, that $15 an hour then will buy exactly what the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour buys today.

However, the real point is that unfortunately the rise in prices and reduction in actual jobs caused by the rise of the minimum wage will ultimately hit the minimum wage earners the hardest. Take Metro for example. The local governments are already contributing about as much as they can afford to contribute so any increase in costs will be passed along to the riders in the form of increased fairs, or increased taxes.

While Metro was supposed to serve all of the people in the Washington DC metro area, that has turned out to be far from the case. According to a recent Metro survey, Virginians who ride Metro are likely to make more than $75,000 per year at jobs with private companies, a new analysis of Metro survey data suggests. The survey also shows that more Marylanders ride Metro on weekdays than people who live anywhere else, but they too are not minimum wage earners.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission review of a Metro rider survey taken in early 2016, suggests that the 37 percent of Metrorail weekday riders who live in Virginia work for the federal government, and slightly more than half of the Virginia riders live in households earning more than $100,000 per year. That is hardly minimum wage territory.

 Seventy-one percent of Metro’s budget is personnel costs. If the minimum wage is increased these costs will inevitably increase even though Metro employs few if any minimum wage employees.

Since 2016 total ridership on Metro has declined from 321 thousand to 286 thousand a day. What this means as a practical matter is that if fares are raised ridership will probably decline further and total fare income may actually decrease as well, but Metro’s costs will remain. Since the local governments are obligated to fund Metro they will either come up with more money or reduce services. Since reductions in services leads to a self defeating spiral even worse than raising ticket prices, there is a natural limit there as well.

The way local governments come up with money impacts the minimum wage earner far more than it impacts middle income people. They spend far more of their income on items taxed by sales, use and excise taxes and governmental fees, than do middle or upper income people. It is those regressive taxes that are funding the local governments current contributions to Metro. In effect the poor are already subsidizing the middle and upper middle classes’s daily commute to work. However, because of these pesky economic realities, it is still more likely than not that the poor will be hit with more taxes before Metro raises its fares again.

I think the phrase should be, the dismal understanding of economics, rather than call economics the dismal science. That is the real problem here—that and irony.

A Desert Trail of Dry Tears

A Desert Trail of Dry Tears
by john harrison

There have been several recent news stories about self described “humanitarians” being arrested for leaving jugs of water in the in the south east desert of the US. They are actually being charged with various offenses including trespassing and abandoning material in a wilderness area. These humanitarians say they want to help the migrants that are trying to cross the desert, but are dying in droves. They say that without the water many more migrants, even migrant children, will die.

On closer examination this turns out to be a classic case of profoundly ignorant, how ever well intentioned, people confusing feeling-good with doing-good. Actions always have consequences, most times including unintended consequences. For example, the anti-vaxers wanted to “save” their children from autism. However, what they are actually still doing is putting not only their own children, but many others at risk for deadly childhood diseases that had been almost eradicated by those vaccines, and they still get autism at the same rate.

We now have an epidemic of those childhood diseases in America because some ignorant people wanted to feel good, rather than do good.

Unfortunately, the real world is very different from the fantasy world in which the anti-vaxers and others of their ilk, live. Reality snapped back on the anti-vaxers stupid campaign with an epidemic of almost completely preventable diseases and proved once again that being a concerned parent means you have to do more than respond to your feelings, you have to think, or your child may die from your ignorance.

Similarly many self described “humanitarians” are now wringing their hands over those who’ve been arrested for placing water out in the southwest desert for illegal immigrants to drink as they try to cross into the United States. At first glance it seems like a “no-brainer”, water for families making a dangerous journey across a waterless desert.

However, like many things that first impression is deceptive, at least according to the Border Patrol. A big part of the area is a former military impact area meaning that there is unexploded ordinance all over the place. Worse, some of it has been sensitized by other close detonations so that it is now unstable, and it could go off because of as little as a nearby footfall. Walking or driving off-road in the area is dangerous, but that is where the humanitarians must go to deliver their water.

The farmers of France, particularly those near Verdun have dealt with this for years, but now and then even 100 years later they sometimes get blown up by an unexploded bomb in a French field. Only a lunatic would walk in such a place or encourage others to walk in such a place on purpose.

Moreover, even a well trained athlete cannot carry enough water by themself to safely make the trip across this desert. It is too hot, the ground is too rough, and the journey is too long. Regrettably, that does not stop too many people from trying. They look on line and see the self described “humanitarians” boast that they have seeded the desert with water. For example last year, the group “No More Deaths” has posted that it put about 19,444 gallons of water in the desert last year with the help of more than 200 volunteers.

They were each carrying up to six gallons of water at a time up steep, rocky slopes and along dry washes to known migrant trails that can only be reached on foot. However, what you don’t always see on line is that sometimes the humanitarians would find that their last water drop had been vandalized; the water was gone, the empty, slashed plastic gallon containers scattered in the brush.

Even worse, smugglers have been abandoning large groups of Central American migrants in Arizona’s harsh cactus-studded Sonoran desert near the border with Mexico. This has alarmed border patrol officials who say that this trend is putting hundreds of children at risk as well.

Since August of last year, more than 1,400 migrants have been left by smugglers in the broiling desert — or in one case in a drenching thunderstorm — in remote areas by the US-Mexican border. One group of migrants was reportedly about 275 people.

Unlike Texas, where people often turn themselves in on the banks of the Rio Grande, the smugglers in Arizona have been dumping groups of migrant families on a remote dirt road running along the southern limit of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of the Lukeville border crossing with Mexico. Summer temperatures there can soar close to 120F (49C) and there is no place to turn yourself in.

While the migrants are sometimes provided with food and water by the smugglers, this is not always the case, and when they are later found by the Border Patrol they often require medical care for back and ankle injuries or lacerations caused by the rough terrain.

The traffickers have “no regard for the safety and wellbeing of these families”, the Tucson sector chief, Rodolfo Karisch, said in a published report.

Simply stated, people are dying here. Since the 1990s, Border Patrol claims, at least 6,029 human remains have been found in southern Arizona along the US-Mexico border, although the real death count is very likely to be far higher. Many more people have probably disappeared without a trace. It is not solely a Trump Administration problem, people have been dying here for years, but it is getting worse now.

So, what do we do? Does leaving water and food in the desert help or hurt? According to the Border Patrol it hurts. People see that figure of almost 20,000 gallons of water left for them in the desert, they pay money to a “coyote”, or people smuggler, and they think they will be one of the lucky ones to get across.

They don’t think of what will happen when a party of 200 or more migrants comes upon a cache of only 6 or 12 gallons of water in the middle of the desert when it is 120º and everybody is already so very thirsty. Under similar high heat circumstances when I arrived in Vietnam many years ago the Army said that the average soldier just in country drank up to 5 gallons of water a day. Using that as a yard stick 6, 12 , or even a cache of 100 gallons of water is not even a drop in the bucket to a group of even 100 migrants, much less to a group of almost 300—but it is nonetheless very attractive to a person dying of thirst.

In fact, it is an attractive nuisance according to the Border Patrol. It is not enough to actually help more than a very few the luckiest of migrants, but it is too much to stop and it makes the trip seem less dangerous than it is which probably attracts even more migrants. The human bones that already litter the desert give lie to the humanitarian group’s name, “No More Deaths”. The deaths continue in part because people rely on reports of that almost 20,000 gallons of water.

So, the question is, do you want to do good, or do you want to just feel good? Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution? Clearly, putting just small caches of water in the desert is pure feel good. It is not enough to make a difference, but may be enough to exacerbate the problem if the Border Patrol is correct. If you think otherwise, tell me what you would say to the survivors of what is sure to be a viscous fight for that probably fictional 100 gallons of water left in the desert. How has that made anything better?

Some people will weep and moan for the dead. Their loss is palpable and real. Others more removed from the problem will simply complain about enforcement of the law, “blah blah blah” and with a high sense of presumably moral outrage will feel that they have done something useful. But have they? And, does a massive fist fight over water, or worse in the desert really help anyone? How much of the increased flow of migrants today is due to the expectation of “humanitarian” aid in the desert? Nobody really knows.

All we know is that people are dying in the desert in part because they have been led to believe that just getting across the border is their ticket to a better life. They also believe they can make it in part because the internet says that someone has stocked the desert with what seems to be a lot of water for them. However, they are actually going to an almost totally lawless place, and the water, if they find any at all, will go to the strongest, not the thirstiest.

I would like to thank my friend Dr. David Herring for bringing this to my attention.

 

 


My new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. It is a Five Star book with 32 reviews so far. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Three Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story too.

To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.

Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”