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About Robert Patrick Lewis

  • Member Since: October 16, 2014

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Robert Patrick Lewis is a former Green Beret combat veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa turned author. His book "Love Me When I'm Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war" is currently available, with his next book scheduled to hit the shelves in January 2015. He currently lives in Santa Clarita and works as an Investment Advisor Representative for TransAmerica Financial Advisors.

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Special Forces in Niger

| Opinion | October 26, 2017

Commentary from a former Green Beret who helped start the mission a decade ago

I’ve been watching the news with clenched teeth and a heavy heart for the past few weeks, hearing all of the nonsense regarding the tragedy in Niger and understanding just how juvenile both the “journalists” reporting on the subject and politicians discussing it are. I say this because as a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic (18D) I was attached to one of the first ODAs into Niger a decade ago, and wrote about that experience in my book, “Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War,” published in 2012.

I actually took the time to go through the Pentagon’s Office of Security Review and receive clearance for that book, meaning, not only is the fact that Special Forces have been there for over a decade completely open-source, but also cleared me to discuss the following specifics.

An article on CNN, “Deploying U.S. Armed Forces in Niger is Unlawful,” by Jimmy Gurule does what the children at CNN are best at, using the breadth of it to talk about how awful President Trump is for deploying U.S. soldiers to the African nation of Niger. He even goes so far to ask if Congress provided “specific authorization for President Trump to introduce American armed forces into hostilities in Niger.”

The problem, Jimmy, is that Trump didn’t originally deploy them. I went to Niger under President George W. Bush. The number of Green Berets in Niger increased under Obama. And now Trump is merely continuing a mission that’s been going on for over a decade.

What bothers me even more than spineless politicians like Lindsey Graham and journalists pretending they didn’t know we had troops there (what does that say about the bang-up job journalists have been doing) is the fact that we lost soldiers in Niger while I was assigned to that unit, and a friend I went through the Special Forces Qualification Course with died there many years ago. And yet, the clueless continue this narrative to make it seem like this is a new thing under President Trump, and somehow try to pin this tragedy on him.

MRE’s on the arifield in north Africa en route to Niger

So why are Special Forces in Niger?

In the grand scheme of things, what America wants as a defense strategy is simple: stability.

You see, Americans tend to forget that the rest of the world isn’t quite like us. In America, if you do something bad or Big Brother wants to find you, it’s pretty simple … we have traffic cameras all over the place and you need to show a photo ID to enact a large number of daily transactions in this country.

But Africa, particularly Trans-Sahel (below the Sahara Desert) Africa is a different story. On the DoD list of nations, Niger was the poorest of the poor nations on this planet in the year I went. And in that part of the world (Trans-Sahel Africa), a person who wants to go unseen can easily do so … there is a lot of open terrain.

Let’s add a simple formula to this equation: the formula for breeding terrorists. There is a well-known formula for the factors which, if present, will most likely lead a portion of the population into extremism and possibly terrorism: poverty, heat, illiteracy and Islam. Let’s add ease-of-access from the Middle East directly into Africa via several routes (Yemen to Djibouti, Saudi Arabia/Jordan to Egypt and Spain/Portugal to Morocco) and you have what some may refer to as a “rat line” for terrorists who either need to get out of the Middle East or would-be terrorists who want to travel from Europe to go on the Jihad.

Take all of these factors together, and you have a hotbed of future activity. Because of the U.S. and NATO presence in the Middle East they can’t exactly set up terrorist training camps in Afghanistan like pre-9/11 days, so where is a terrorist to go if he wants to set up shop and train others? Africa.

One of the benefits of being on the most corrupt continent on the planet is that it isn’t too hard to pay the local officials to stay away from a certain part of the desert or outskirts of their village. On top of potential want-to-be terrorists, Niger is one of the places on this planet that has substantial uranium deposits, so again, falling back to the stability argument this is something that, unless we want the craziest of crazies to become nuclear powers, we need to keep a lid on.

And finally, add to the equation that the Chinese are all over Niger (and the rest of Africa). We are locked in the midst of a low-intensity cold war, of sorts, with China, desperately grasping for resources wherever they can be found. And many of them can be found in Africa.
Given that Green Berets are the masters of Unconventional Warfare, our main purpose down there, as in many other nations, is to link up with local forces and befriend, train and equip them as partners in our mission of Foreign Internal Defense to help our partner African nations defend against foreign invaders, coups or militant forces attempting to enforce a caliphate in their backyards.

As a medic, I spent much of my time treating patients in impromptu clinics in the farthest reaches of the nation. We would proceed to see (and feed) every single person that we could, from sunup to sundown. We met scores of people who had never seen a real medic or doctor, and many more who had never seen white people before. We met locals who had been told that Americans were evil and would eat their children, but after showing them that we truly were there to help, they would go home to tell their friends that we were good. We’d have triple the patient load the next morning.

Our morning crown when the populace began to understand that we were there to help

If you want more detail you can pick up my book (which I will reiterate was cleared by the Pentagon OSR in 2012) and read about the specifics of our trip (and my other deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan).

Please see through the political grandstanding and nonsense for what it is. Operation Flintlock is a non-classified operation that has been bringing Special Forces to Trans-Sahel Africa for over a decade, so this is nothing new. It’s not Trump’s fault these heroes met their end in the African desert, nor was it his decision to be there in the first place. And no, my friends and brothers dying there a decade ago was not his fault either.

U.S. Special Operations were deployed across 138 countries in 2016, and many of my brothers are among those numbers bedding down tonight in the furthest reaches of the globe. We thrive in these environments, and the men who volunteer several times over know exactly what they have signed up for. And they love it. General Kelly and President Trump were 100 percent correct in their comments that those men were with exactly who they wanted to be, doing exactly what they wanted to do and that our nation owes them a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.

The motto of Special Forces is “De Oppresso Liber: To Free the Oppressed.” I’ve had many a discussion with fellow Green Beret veterans about the difference it would make if every American could visit Africa just once to see what oppression and poverty truly look like.

So the next time you hear a journalist or politician trying to blame this on Trump, know in the back of your mind that this has been going on for over a decade, and they are doing what journalists and politicians do and bending the truth. Significantly. And the sooner the journalists and politicians get out of the way, the sooner my Special Forces brethren can get back to freeing the oppressed.

De Oppresso Liber and God Bless America.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of The Pact and Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

The Difficulty of Calling Off the Dogs

| Opinion | September 28, 2017

What is the world coming to when the queen of liberal insanity, Nancy Pelosi, is shouted down by DACA-enraged protesters at a press conference held entirely to help those very same people who were refusing to let it go on?

It means, as many of us have been fearing, that the level of anger and insanity have reached far more dangerous levels than anticipated (and hopefully) expected. Of course, there are those nefarious characters who, as Batman’s butler Alfred likes to say, “just want to watch the world burn” who are likely lurking in the shadows somewhere very close by.

The reason that this act was so alarming is that it shows that the foot soldiers of the left seem to have abandoned all hopes of ever using common sense again, and have instead opted to take all of their information from the knowingly insightful, untruthful and defamatory statements of the political commentators on the left.

The piece of information that would be most valuable at this point, which none of the articles reporting on the event seem to cover, is what hype they were given by whoever organized these protests. For those who don’t believe that people would massively mislead a group on purpose in order to rile them up and drive them to protesting, looting and outright mayhem haven’t been paying very close attention.

But how did we get to this point, and is there any turning back?

I read a very interesting article last year on the evolution of our current political divide and how it came to be, and the explanation was so alarmingly simple and ridiculous that I am absolutely convinced it must be the truth.

The article reasoned that it all started with James “The Ragin’ Cajun” Carville and his wife Mary Matalin. James, the rabid dog of the left, and Mary, a top strategist for the GOP, used to be the perfect epitome of “behind the scenes” politics that the rest of us peasants didn’t understand, although a little bit of light was shone on the life behind the curtain at Nancy Reagan’s funeral.

Photos surfaced last year of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton sharing a semi-loving embrace at the funeral, and many Americans were left awestruck, not understanding how those two weren’t clawing each other’s eyes out anytime they were within striking distance.

But for those paying attention, it was just further proof that politics are nothing more than a delicately built facade, adorning the front of a teetering house of cards.

You see, more than sharing a loving embrace at a funeral, James Carville and Mary Matalin were actually husband and wife, although the only image the American voter had of them was full of disagreement and contention. But after the lights were off and the debates were over, at the end of the day James and Mary went home to the same bed, have had two daughters and have been together for more than 20 years.

For them, their handlers and the rest of the political-industrial complex, it was all just a game. They understood that to give people a high-conviction to vote for and side with any one candidate, there had to be a fierce opposition and division of sides. As we saw in the last Los Angeles mayoral race, if there are two candidates who are extremely similar, the result is a lackluster debate, race and most importantly, fundraising cycle.

But while the political establishment knew this was all a farce, the people didn’t. James and Mary could go home and laugh about the low blows they had thrown at each other, but the American people began to truly embrace that vitriol and division. They didn’t brush it off as part of the job, they took it to heart.

And somewhere along the way, unscrupulous characters began to understand what a successful business model political rage and the victimization of one side over another can be if properly orchestrated.

Now here we are, many political races and several generations beyond the days of James and Mary’s significance, but their effects live on in the division that is tearing our country apart. Anyone who attempts to shine a light on this dirty secret is lambasted as a tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist, or even worse, labeled a fascist for disagreeing with the ultra-left that this division is a self-induced political by-product rather than reality.

But the reality is much more sinister than even the most graphic of ANTIFA protesters’ signs would have you believe. The truth is just further evidence that we are nothing more than pawns in the chess game of our political establishment, and they are more than happy to sacrifice us for their political gain.

Shakespeare famously wrote in a monologue for his play “As You Like it” that “all the world’s a stage,” referring to the world as a stage and life like a play. But like many quotes and beliefs from antiquity, this needs a little updating. The cold, hard reality is that our world has been transformed into a chessboard, and we are the unwilling pawns in someone else’s game.

The difference between we and those tiny black and white pieces, however, is that we have a choice. Once you’ve seen behind the curtain, you can’t unsee the reality that we are being played against each other and divided for someone else’s enrichment. And if you’re wise enough to understand that, you’re smart enough to do something about it.

But the best part about this issue is that the only thing you have to do in order to overcome this adversity is to merely not buy into the game.

As we are working to teach our 13-year-old, anyone who attempts to force the opinion or political belief on you is not to be trusted, and you should keep your distance. Now if only we can find a way to get that message to the rest of the population…

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of The Pact and Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

 

Never Underestimate the Strength of a Street Fighter

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

I’m not the smartest guy in the world, so I try to make up for it by being as widely read and plugged into as many sources of information as possible. I have at least one non-fiction book with me at all times (currently reading “Commentaries on the Gallic War” by Julius Caesar and “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius) and watch at least one documentary a week, along with waking up to the Wall Street Journal every morning.

I find that “standing on the shoulders of giants” by staying plugged in to what intelligent and accomplished people of our time and throughout history have done goes a long way towards not only having great conversations with smart people, but also helping you see patterns shaping in our current sphere that have been played out before in history.

Over the weekend I had a special treat in watching both “Get Me Roger Stone,” the documentary on one of the architects of our current dirty, street-fighting political climate (he essentially created Political Action Groups and is/was a close advisor to Trump over the past few decades), as well as the “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Bannon.

Every once in awhile the universe puts certain things in your lap at the same time that come together like a masterpiece, and reading books by some of the, arguably, greatest leaders in human history and listening to the generals of Trump’s campaign strategy today help to see things that I’d argue most of the public seems either too uninformed, tuned out or just apathetic to notice.

The political left loves to lecture others on how progressive and enlightened they are and how others should view the world and act as if they want to be as enlightened and righteous as they are. I have to say it was more than a little disheartening to see a “journalist” as respected as Charlie Rose spend Steve Bannon’s only recorded television interview lecturing rather than interviewing, and giving his own opinion more than actually pressing for Bannon’s. But such is the modus operandi for the left and mainstream media these days, so when in Rome…

One of the greatest lessons you can learn from ancient generals such as Julius Caesar is that sometimes the upper hand isn’t really where it’s initially thought to be, and a truly great general/leader can use whatever resources they’ve got to turn the tide of an otherwise losing battle. There are numerous examples of Caesar going into battle without the advantage of numbers, strength or having the “home court advantage,” but using what he had to lead his army to victory he seemed to always turn the tide to a win.

Much like Caesar in the Gallic wars (his expedition from Rome into what is now Germany, Belgium and Western Europe), the Trump administration is deep within enemy territory, beset on all sides by enemies with their swords drawn and even have quite a few of their own Brutuses in the Republican Party, seemingly prepared to stab them in the back.

After watching Bannon and Stone give their philosophy on politics, history of what has been going on behind the scenes since the campaign and after the election, I see reminiscences of ancient warfare and the need to sometimes send a general off in a different direction, whether it be a feint to hide your true numbers or strategy to attack the enemy’s flank when they least expect it.

The left and mainstream media, in all of their egotistical and “holier than thou” thinking seem to be taking the bait hook, line and sinker. One of the things I most admire about Trump and his campaign to date is his exquisite ability to set a brilliant trap, step back and be patient as the left and media gobble it up and don’t even realize they’ve been caught until they are being reeled in for slaughter.

Even Charlie Rose continued to follow the same false-narrative as the left and MSM that Trump didn’t disavow racism or David Duke immediately, but thanks to video evidence and social media, most of the people have seen the countless times he did, and can immediately see the lies being blatantly perpetrated against him.

The traps that have been set so far have been baited mostly for the MSM and leftist politicians, but I smell one being set for the other side of the swamp with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Politicians tend to forget that their power is extremely limited by public opinion, and while the establishment loves to criticize Trump for his use of Twitter, he and his base fully understand that its purpose is to allow him a direct line of communication to the people, free of media editing and misdirection.

I’ve got my popcorn cooking and am preparing my spot on the couch to watch the show. This is going to get interesting.

 

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of The Pact and Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

2.1: The Number of Nations

| Opinion | September 7, 2017

Western civilization as we know it is dying. No, that’s not pejorative and it’s not clickbait, but rather a cold, hard fact. And if you’ve ever wondered why immigration has become such a big issue of late, you need to understand the most important number today for western society: 2.1.

This number, 2.1, is what we call the “replacement rate,” or the rate at which women must have children in order to keep a population stable. To break it down, a woman must have one child to replace her, one child to replace her mate and 0.1 to replace the infant mortality rate in the population.

So why is this important to us? Because at its current state, the only parts of the world that are currently above the replacement rate in terms of new births are Oceania and Africa. Studies have shown that much of this is due to education becoming readily available to women around the world, and that once a woman reaches at least a 2nd grade education the number of children she births reduces exponentially.

Putting on our macroeconomic thinking cap, can you imagine what this means for the greater economy? We typically think of supply & demand in terms of milk and bread and widgets, but what about people? Labor is just as important a factor in the supply & demand curve, and it has a much greater impact than what we would think about on a daily basis.

The way our social security system was set up requires workers to work for a large portion of their lives, have a small amount taken out of each paycheck to go to social security and then provide them with income assistance when they reach retirement age. When the Greatest Generation came back from the war and gave birth to the Baby Boomers, we had an excess supply of labor. We had so many people that new industries were developed to give people jobs.

This also meant that for every person retiring, we had a rather large number of people whose monthly deductions supported that person’s social security. And while I would love to blame the entirety of our impending social security shortfall on inept and greedy politicians, that number, 2.1, is actually more to blame.

The Baby Boomers put more workers in the American economy than ever before in history, but as the birth rate began to dwindle with their generation, the tides changed and we no longer have dozens of people supporting a single retiree. So now, with the largest population group in U.S. history preparing to retire, we have a drastically lower number of people in the workforce prepared to support that retirement.

So, if it’s too late for Baby Boomers to put more workers in the marketplace to support their retirement, where oh where are we going to get workers to fill our labor shortage?

Immigration.

Going back to our supply and demand curve, we see that the U.S. has a highly increased demand for labor, and thankfully there are other countries with an excess of labor that is ready, willing and able to fill that gap in India, China, Africa and, you guessed it, Mexico.

But there’s a problem with that: Five years ago Mexico also fell below that magic number of 2.1 births averaged across their population, and based on statistical forecasting, that means we only have about 15 years left in excess capacity of human labor to export to the United States.

I’m a big fan of President Trump and his pro-business policies, especially the ones that have been allowing my investment portfolio to skyrocket. But we have a huge issue very near on our horizon that not only isn’t being discussed much, but it’s not even being discussed in the correct fashion.

I agree that we do need to have a cap on immigration and we need to ensure that we aren’t allowing the wrong people into our borders, but I do not agree that we should be reducing what that cap is, as is being currently discussed.

A large number of Fortune 500 CEOs have been pleading with Trump to increase these numbers rather than decrease. Sure it would be nice to only bring in PhDs from India and China with zero criminal records who can come here (or have already been educated here) prepared to fill the vacancies needed in high-tech jobs.

But as my dad used to say, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” And right now we need a lot of everything.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that we’d rather “kick the can down the road” until it’s too late. But failing to address this issue right now, in the correct way, with the correct numbers in mind (2.1) means that we are setting the stage for our parents to retire and literally break the safety net that has been put in place.

But breaking the safety net isn’t the only problem. There are many pundits who like to claim that immigrants are stealing jobs from Americans. And while the “they took our jobs” rallying cry is a main part of my favorite “South Park” episode (Season 8, episode 7 “Goobacks from the Future” which is very timely right now), it’s not quite reality.

“Vice” did an excellent episode on the fallout (“Sweet Home Alabama”) on what actually happens when immigration policies that are too strict are enacted in a place that needs those people to do certain types of labor.

After Alabama enacted their new immigration policies they found that farmers just could not harvest their crops without immigrants. They tried bringing in Americans from unemployment offices, but they were just too lazy to do the back breaking work required. They tried prisons next in a throwback to the chain gang days and, surprise, surprise, they also were just too darned lazy. So the Alabama farming community basically lost an entire year’s harvest for lack of people to pick them.

All politics aside, we need immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, but more importantly, we are a nation built on our economy, which needs more people than we are currently producing.

If you can take all political factors out of the equation, this problem boils down to simple economics, which any good Republican or Conservative should be able to comprehend. We have an excess of labor demand and shortage of labor supply. Other countries have (for now) an excess of labor supply and a shortage of demand for that same labor.

We need to allow the free market to work and allow the demand to be met by the supply available. Because if we don’t, the capitalism experiment that has been The United States of America may become nothing more than a future lesson in history and economics textbooks.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of The Pact and Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Want to Find Out How New Racists are Made? Watch the Media

| Opinion | August 24, 2017

It has become a statement of fact that a large part of Donald Trump’s success against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election was due to disenfranchised white people across the country. While the vocal leftist minority and much of their youth were out in the streets, getting in people’s faces and harassing supporters at Trump rallies or vandalizing Trump bumper stickers and yard signs, the silent majority watched and quickly slipped away from their prior support for the center-left.

Fox News is by far the most watched news program in our nation because of a simple statement of fact: The majority of Americans are at least right-leaning in their ideology. Being from a country that was founded in a war against unjust taxation (you should take a lesson from history, California) by a ruler without our best interests in mind, conservative values are built into the very fabric of our Republic. And when center or slightly left-leaning voters watched CNN and MSNBC go from center-left to extreme left, along with the candidates those networks viciously supported, they realized just how far the left had skewed from that center and these voters’ own beliefs and ideologies.

Americans don’t like a heavy-handed ruler who doesn’t have their best interests in mind, don’t like being told what to do or what to believe, and don’t like opinions they don’t agree with being forced down their throats. Most Americans are still center-leaning and don’t subscribe to extremes on either side.

But instead of taking this learning opportunity from the 2016 election results and the knowledge that the large majority of Americans don’t cater to the extreme left, those same news networks chose to double-down on the extreme left philosophy, rather than move back to the center where their base had been. Instead of backing away from extremists on the left, they chose to enhance their efforts to portray ANTIFA, anarchists and petulant children who scream down any conservative viewpoints as crusaders of their cause.

And I believe they are largely responsible for the resurgence in racists and extreme groups that we are seeing today. They call them alt-right, even though Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao and every other murderous dictator and their policies come from the extreme left.

Just like in the election, more Americans are becoming completely disenfranchised from the left when they see black mask-wearing punks scream down anyone with a dissenting opinion from theirs, toppling historic statues without using our democratic systems and acting like criminals. The majority of Americans who welcome open and honest discussion, knowing that’s the only way to move past real issues, are horrified when even mildly conservative speakers are barred from speaking or are attacked at events.

One of the most fundamental parts of our animal brains (people try to forget this, but deep down we’re still just scared animals) is the need to have a “tribe,” our herd that we fall back to when we are scared or hurt. (Read “What Makes Us Tick” for more on the subject). The herd mentality is still strong in humans, and when someone begins to fall further on the spectrum to one side and they see their “tribe” being physically attacked, they feel as if they are being attacked. This is why people become so enraged when politicians they’ve never met are attacked or skewered in the media; you are attacking both them and their “tribe.” The more their tribe is attacked, the stronger they identify against the enemy and join the herd to prepare for war. A large part of the herd will congregate for safety, but a smaller section will go on the offense to defend the rest of the herd.

Every time a person in the center or right-leaning sees something especially egregious, like CNN refusing to air all of Donald Trump’s first speech disavowing all racism, and claiming he didn’t make that statement immediately, it draws more people from the center to the herd on the right, and more from the herd on the right to that small section preparing for offensive maneuvers.

People remember seeing the pictures of Trump being honored by the NAACP before he got into politics and many have seen the numerous videos circulating on social media showing his constant disavowing of racism of any sort over the years. And they’re smart enough to smell the BS when CNN and MSNBC pretend it never happened and stick to the same narrative, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Every time a person with a basic understanding of biology hears that we’re no longer allowed to use one of the most fundamental aspects of human physiology (boys have a penis, girls have a vagina) as a fact of life, it draws them further. Especially the parents who really care about nothing more than protecting their children and — politics aside — just don’t want someone with a penis inside bathrooms with their little girls.

With their constant barrage of browbeating, refusal to acknowledge fundamental parts of our society and honoring of criminals, the mainstream media has pushed those from the center further right, and more people from the safety of the herd to prepare for offensive maneuvers.

If you’ve ever wondered how racists and racist groups are born, you are watching it happen before your very eyes. Some people are born into and raised with racist fundamentals, sure, but many are pushed into it. And at this very moment CNN and MSNBC are pushing as hard as they possibly can.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of The Pact and Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Freedom of Speech in the Silicon Valley and Game Theory Redux

| Opinion | August 17, 2017

Freedom of Speech in Silicon Valley

If you haven’t seen the movie “The Circle” yet, let me save you some time: It’s Google. And this week’s development about an engineer posting an internal article that caused a firestorm in the company and went viral once it left their internal network goes to show just how similar the company is to the movie.

There aren’t any parts of the nation much more left-leaning than San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and watching what happens there (or visiting, which I’ll be doing later this month) just goes to show the exquisite hypocrisy that is the left.

And while the news reports — or at least the articles that are showing in Google searches for Google — state that Google is saying an engineer was fired for writing an incendiary and misogynistic article, that isn’t quite the truth.

The political left and Google show their true colors when their philosophy of “freedom for all people to do and say what they want” is put to the test with something they don’t agree with, and they never disappoint in their reaction. The thing that bothers me the most about this action and reaction is that it shows a microcosm of what our country has become through its widespread push toward progressivism: that neither science nor freedom of speech are allowed when they don’t abide by the left’s ideals.

More than a few people in Big Army have called Special Forces a racist unit because, although the vast majority of Green Berets are white or Hispanic, there aren’t many African Americans. In my selection class of 400 people (the month-long school where you are put through strenuous tests to see if you have what it takes to move on and train for Special Forces), there were only four African Americans.

But with our current push for diversity above all else, people have refused to use basic statistics to understand why our workplaces, business leaders, military units and newscasters aren’t a perfect 25 percent composition of each race or 50 percent of each sex. If only 1/10th of the population from a certain race or sex apply for a certain position or choose a certain field of study, then only a fraction of that fraction will end up in those positions or leadership roles. It’s basic statistics, and while the left loves to tout their ranks of academics and intelligentsia, you’re not allowed to use facts or science if it doesn’t go their way.

And this is the basic premise of the Google engineer’s letter. He penned what some bloggers referred to as a manifesto, but really it was just a statement of that fact. I will admit that he went a little far in his descriptive beliefs of why women aren’t cut out for leadership roles and certain positions in the tech sector, but his basic premise was right on the money: If less than 50 percent of applicants for certain technology positions are female, why do we push for a 50 percent female workforce in that sector?

He also spoke of conservatives having no voice at Google, and while I applaud him for voicing that position, it’s a little like saying that you’re upset the rain is making you wet. If you move to San Francisco and take a position in the technology sector, you are behind enemy lines as a conservative and need to understand that from the beginning.

Game Theory Redux

Speaking of people who refuse to allow basic statistics and facts to influence their thinking if it doesn’t go their way, we’re back to playing a little bit of Game Theory with the chubby dictator on the Korean peninsula. I’ve written several articles for the Gazette on Game Theory, what it is and how it can be used to understand our political dealings with North Korea for the past few decades, so if you need a refresher please go look those up and have another read.

But one of the main premises of using Game Theory and the idea of mutually-assured destruction is that both parties fully understand their role as players in the game. Seeing the latest rounds of missile tests coming out of North Korea and their further sabre rattling and all out verbal confrontations with the West, it’s given me pause to consider whether they truly are aware of where they fit in this game.

You see, much like Google and the left, tyrannical dictators are not known for being inclined to welcome information that goes against their beliefs or desires. Many have been known throughout history to execute those who brought them bad news, and have actually “shot the messenger,” as North Korea did to many of its military brass recently.
So if Game Theory and the promise of mutually-assured destruction are the fabric that keep nuclear deterrence as a political tool to prevent the likes of the USA, Russia and other nuclear powers from annihilating each other (and the rest of the world), what if one of those nuclear powers doesn’t actually believe they will be destroyed if they poke the lion?

It recently became public knowledge that North Korea has mobile ICBM launching capabilities provided by their friends in China, and while a large number of our nuclear ICBMs are sitting in the ground in the center of our nation, North Korea has created a massive network of tunnels dug into mountains that they use to ferry around these mobile ICBM launchers.

So, if the chubby child dictator is being advised by his generals that these tunnels will keep their capabilities safe from a U.S. preemptive attack, and obviously doesn’t care if his people are wiped out, does he really understand the consequences of nuclear war with the U.S.?

This is where Game Theory and nuclear deterrence via mutually-assured destruction falls apart. If one side doesn’t fully grasp or care that we can turn their entire country into a radioactive parking lot, what is left to stop him from hitting the red button and laying waste to the entire planet?

Having spent my time as a Green Beret and knowing who’s likely on the ground in South Korea preparing for any eventuality, I understand what our capabilities are and what we could do. I know that the first Special Operations missions into Desert Storm were centered around hunting SCUD missile launchers and rendering them inoperable, but nuclear ICBMs are a different game altogether.

If a few SCUDs are left operational, our bombers and fighters still have savvy pilots, Chaff and other technologies that can defend against them. But with nuclear ICBMs, it only takes a few to level an entire American city, and that’s where the game has changed entirely.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

What We Can Learn From Venezuela

| Opinion | August 4, 2017

The terms “socialist” and “fascist” have seen a wide resurgence in use leading up to and since the last presidential election. And in concert with the current trajectory of our society, in many cases the usage was absolutely wrong. I saw a video on Facebook with someone claiming that the definition of fascist was recently changed in dictionaries to include the term “extreme right wing,” but a simple check online proved that to be fake news.

Socialism, however, is a very scary principle that many of our nation and her youth don’t have an accurate grasp of, but of late they have been easily misguided by wolves in sheep’s clothing to extol the virtues of a social and political philosophy they know little of.

Like many issues of politics or economics, socialism looks great on paper, and teenagers who have read about it in academia but never seen it in practice can fall for it pretty easily. But of the same respect, communism looks pretty good on paper until you look at Russia, North Korea or China to see how the plan truly plays out.

We had a democratic primary candidate in this last election who railed against capitalism and the 1 percent, sweeping the nation’s youth and impoverished with his message that the 1 percent was evil and stealing money from their pockets. But, of course, he ended up being a prime example for why socialism never works when he was photographed driving around in an Audi R8 supercar (MSRP $163,000) and reportedly purchasing a new vacation home for $600k after the election.

You see, the problem with socialism or communism comes down to one simple fact: humans are greedy. Especially humans with a desire for power.

While those attempting a coup of the government to instill socialism or communism plea to the common person and talk about how everyone would be equal under their new system of governance, they never include themselves or their friends. Socialism and communism are nothing more than a transfer of wealth and power to an elite few while the public suffers in poverty together.

And aside from Uncle Bernie, we have another excellent example taking place in Venezuela at the moment. While the mainstream media has been focused 24/7 on Russia, Venezuela is in an all out civil war between the people and the government. The people have been starving to death for quite some time and many civilians have been murdered by police and government actors for speaking up against the socialist/fascist regime.

President Maduro (President of Venezuela) recently “won” an election giving him pretty much unlimited power to hand-pick an assembly to rewrite their constitution. This week two of his major opposition leaders were jailed for claiming electoral fraud immediately after Maduro made a speech saying that his enemies would be jailed.

The basis of their claims of fraud, however, seems pretty simple: Maduro claims to have won by 8 million votes, but most counts put the entire votes cast at around 3 million. And to believe that the same public who are cheering IED’s killing Venezuelan police in the streets, who are slowly starving to death and being murdered for protesting, would vote for the sitting administration is basically insane.

In retaliation we’ve sanctioned Venezuela and frozen Maduro’s assets. But, as a member of OPEC and an oil-producing nation, they’ll find a way around the sanctions just like Iran, Iraq and any other oil-producer who’s had those sanctions has done.

Maduro and Venezuela are precisely what happens when the plague of socialism takes root, and unfortunately, there are more than a few actors in our own nation attempting to bring this disease here. Capitalism may not be perfect, but it doesn’t murder its own people for speaking out against tyrants.

So, the next time you hear a Starbucks barista, a professor who’s never worked outside of academia, a political candidate, or an MSNBC or CNN host talking about the glorious virtues of socialism or socialist policies, just remember what’s actually happening in Venezuela.

There are many dangerous people and ideas in this world, but the most dangerous ones always arrive as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And just like the big bad wolf, once you let them in it’s too late.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pack” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @ RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

 

The Effectiveness of ‘You’re Fired’

| Opinion | July 28, 2017

Anyone who has spent time at any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility, large military unit or governmental office knows the greatest weakness of government: the near impossibility of firing sub-par workers. It is finally one of the issues being brought up in an attempt to overhaul the VA, but most other governmental agencies have yet to follow suit.

I want to add here that I’m not saying ALL government employees, VA personnel or DoD civilian contractors are sub-par workers. I have met quite a few whose tireless dedication to their job and the people they support is a beacon of hope for the rest of the organization. But the other ones drag them down like a rock shackled to your ankle by the mafia before you’re thrown into a lake.

They’re easy to see, and they’re everywhere — civilian employees in military or government whose objectives seem only to do just enough to not get fired. Unfortunately, they’ve usually been there for quite some time, are extremely jaded and act as if the people they are paid to serve are nothing more than a nuisance. It happens in all forms and levels of government, and these people put a black eye on both the performance of and respect for government.

These people are able to stick around until (a very cushy) retirement for two main reasons: Firstly, because of the way government agencies are structured, they are next to impossible to fire unless a manager is willing to spend an inordinate amount of time documenting their issues. Secondly, in conjunction with the first, most government leaders don’t care because their paycheck comes from Other People’s Money (OPM). Governmental leaders have no real incentive to drive efficiencies in their spending, so they don’t put very much effort into it.

Now let’s take the private sector. I’ve learned in the last three business law classes of a top MBA program focusing on hiring & firing practices how to keep yourself out of trouble as a business leader. Even though millions and millions of dollars are awarded in wrongful termination and unfair hiring practices suits against the private sector every year, it’s still much easier to prune an organization of employees who just aren’t a good fit for the firm and to create policies to keep out those who won’t drive your business forward.

Businesses have spent a lot of time working on these practices because, opposite from government, it is their money that is being spent on every paycheck, and leaders of any good organization are highly incentivized to ensure the operation is running efficiently.

We finally have a commander-in-chief who views the American people’s money with the reverence that it deserves, rather than the flippant, careless and reckless spending we’ve seen over the past eight years.

And along with that reverence for our hard-earned money comes the same frame of thought from the public sector regarding it: If a person is drawing a paycheck in the Trump organization, but isn’t a good fit, they are promptly shown the door. Conservatives understand this, as Conservatives seem to understand and have a greater reverence for business and efficiencies than our colleagues on the left. But, of course, the only thing they and the mainstream media put focus on is the shakeup going on in the current administration.

Jeff Sessions is a wise and experienced man, but he just wasn’t a good fit. That doesn’t mean that he is sub-par, by any means. It just means that he wasn’t a good fit for the direction that the current CEO (president) saw for the company (country) moving forward. This is standard practice in business, but once again the left has shown they have absolutely no understanding of efficient business practices.

For the first time in a long time our country is moving towards efficiency and has a president who cares about where our money goes. Don’t let the media fool you into thinking these shake ups in the administration are a sign of weakness. Rather, understand they are a sign of strength, leadership and understanding of efficient practices.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Disruption Machine Goes to Washington

| Opinion | July 21, 2017

“Drain the swamp” was, of all of Donald Trump’s rallying cries over his campaign, by far my favorite. I think I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about politicians, lobbyists, special interests and what our political system has become, and this cry was just what I was waiting for.

I’ve seen several articles since Trump’s inauguration claiming that his promise was a lie, given that he’s been in office a whole seven months and hasn’t completely changed the Washington status quo yet. And while I understand that to expect that kind of change to happen so rapidly is insane and misguided, I have to admit that a part of me wished he would have taken out the trash on day one.

Given the meteoric rise of Netflix stock this week after their earnings report (up $21.90 a share on Tuesday alone) I got to thinking. In the new century we’ve seen a relatively new type of company take the business world by storm: the disruptors.

Apple disrupted the way we view cell phones, Google disrupted the way we gather information, Netflix disrupted the way we view our entertainment, Amazon disrupted the way we shop, Uber disrupted the way we view transportation, AirBnB disrupted the way we view lodging, and now Trump is disrupting the way we view politics, the political elite, the establishment and our right to voice that we “deplorables” don’t see the world through the same politically correct and ultra-liberal lens that the left has been forcing us to use.

And each of these disruptors have had the same response from the greater public, media and status quo from the first day that they announced their intentions. Every industry, country, class and company has its “old guard” or established elite that has made a lot of money by doing things in the old way. And they will fight tooth and nail to hold on to their inefficient ways as long as possible.

Apple has been hit with lawsuits from every angle and is keeping an estimated $200 billion overseas to protect it from the harsh corporate taxation policies of the U.S. Google is currently being sued by the EU for being too good at harnessing and using big data, because its competitors still haven’t figured it out. Amazon has been sued by antitrust regulators for their market domination by way of cutting unnecessary excess. Uber has been sued by both cities and unions because people are sick of rude taxi drivers and they finally offered the paying public an alternative. AirBnB has also been sued by cities and hotel-backed special interest groups for offering an alternative to inflated hotel pricing and giving people with extra room an additional revenue stream.

Trump, being a disruptor in his own sense, is, of course, subject to the same fate. Everyone who is still crying that the exquisitely corrupt epitome of dirty politicians, Hillary Clinton, lost to Trump is jumping on the train to file a lawsuit, write a blog or article or protest his disruption of our terribly broken political system. If you have stopped to wonder at any time over the last few months why so many are fighting so absolutely hard to stop any progress he can make or jump on the blame train anytime he has a minor setback, all you have to do is look at his colleagues in disruption to understand why they are grasping so desperately at straws to stop his momentum.

The old guard is afraid. The writing of their fate is on the wall, and the word is finally out that America is sick of their nonsense. Disruption is painful, it is ugly, but it is also the only way that we make progress from the old to the new, from inefficient and broken systems to a better alternative.

Disruption is the epicenter where business, technology, economics, life, and now politics, all converge. The world is changing under the left’s feet and they are afraid, as they very well should be. The days of lifetime politicians forming dynasties and becoming wealthy through public service with the ability to hide their corrupt ways are coming to an end.

The plug has been opened, and the swamp is beginning to drain. Like any of the other disruptors, the beginning is painful and slower than many wish it to be. But once the drain is opened and the disruption has started, there is no going back to the old ways.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**.

 

Et Tu, Financial Media?

| Opinion | July 15, 2017

I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on my portfolio and the greater investing environment lately. Some say that it’s a bull market, some say that it’s a bear market rally, but whoever is correct it is a good time to make some money if you’re paying attention.

Although I’m normally pretty cheap (a product of being raised by multiple generations of military men who literally bled for their money), financial advice is one place that I don’t skimp. I buy advice from several pay-to-play analysts, but also subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (only because I get a student discount while working on my MBA) and read that along with Yahoo Finance every morning before the market opens.

I also listen to NPR on the way to the gym, as I am what is called a macro investor; I take in information from all sectors around the globe to help me form my perspective about where the market is going, and what ripples throughout the world will have certain effects on investments that I can capitalize on. Long story short, I spend a lot of time with my nose in all sorts of financial news outlets.

What has really surprised me is that, even though you would imagine their demographic to skew much more conservative (as we love and work hard for our money, while Democrats only see it as a tool of the oppressor), the financial media is just as anti-Trump as the rest of them. And I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed watching them put their feet in their mouth on a pretty constant basis.

Unlike the rest of them, the financial media (pre-Trump) strayed away from the “race to be first” in the reporting game. Pre-Trump, they seemed to understand that when people use your advice to invest their life savings, you should probably focus more on being right than being first.

But post-Trump, they have abandoned that philosophy and decided that the moment any negative news comes out regarding Trump that can be correlated with a drop in the market, no matter how loosely, they have to jump on it. And if you’ve paid much attention to the markets since his election, you know they’ve been wrong every time so far. Every single time.

It’s to the point now where I’ve begun counting down the minutes until they have to print a retraction, as it always has to come within the same day. I get alerts to my phone from both the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance, and an example alert from this week was “stocks fall after Trump Jr. release of Russia emails regarding Clinton info.” Of course, the headline by the end of the day was “stocks rebound after Trump Jr. emails,” as the market ended up in a rally at the end of the day.

On Wednesday, Yahoo Finance had an article titled “They voted for Trump and regret it.” Guess what, Yahoo Finance? I regret that I came to your site looking for financial information and found this. It’s no wonder your company went up for fire sale if you can’t even remember which page you’re publishing content for.

The market is its own living, breathing organism that has been scrutinized by some of the smartest people on the planet since its inception. While politics do have effects on the market, this rush to blame any drop on Trump is not only ridiculous, but also showing just how hard the media, in all its forms, is still trying to tie anything negative to him that it can.

Trading and investing are about numbers and metrics, not emotions. As Warren Buffett says, “You may have emotions about a stock, but the stock has zero feelings for you.” Stop trying to bring your bias and anti-Trump whining into finance.

The people who voted for and support Trump are those who worked for and care about their money, and he’s doing a bang-up job taking care of our money so far by reducing government and a stock market that’s off the charts. Leave the anti-Trump guesses and ramblings to the op-ed pages where they belong, not in the finance section.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Tragedy of Green-on-Blue Casualties of War

| Opinion | June 24, 2017

The term “green-on-blue casualties” has been brought up an unfortunate number of times lately.  If you’ve heard this term but don’t understand what it means, read on.

 

It is meant to describe an Afghan policeman or soldier attacking a coalition soldier. In 2012 there were 44 of these attacks, and although the numbers have largely subsided due to increased security precautions and troop drawdown, there was even a major general (Harold Greene) who was killed in a green-on-blue incident in 2014.

 

And over the weekend seven U.S. military members were wounded in an insider “green-on-blue” attack at Camp Shaheen in Northern Afghanistan. As a former Green Beret this strikes close to home, as one of the primary missions of Special Forces is to train and assist local forces to give them the ability to take back their own country.

 

The three Green Berets killed in another green-on-blue attack in Jordan highlights this, as the soldiers from 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were ambushed as they were entering the base at which they were training Jordanians. Green Berets account for over 60 percent of the Special Operations forces killed in action in our current wars, and a large part of that increased percentage is on account of this very mission.

 

Green Berets were once known for their longer hair and beards than the conventional military, largely because of the “train and advise” mission. Green Berets are selected largely for an ability to not only think on their feet and outside of the box, but also for an enhanced natural ability to assimilate to their surroundings and gain the trust of the local groups they are fighting with, which is why Special Forces has grown beards & long hair to “fit in” with the local cultures.

 

Rather than living like most conventional forces on the large city-bases which inhabit warzones the U.S. has a presence in, Special Forces live “outside the wire,” giving them the ability to live, eat, train and fight with their local forces rather than only showing when it’s time for work. We pride ourselves on an ability to create strong rapport due to our gregarious personalities, aptitude and willingness to pick up another language and our cultural sensitivity.

 

And, of course, our enemies know this fact very well. It is common for the Taliban, ISIS or any local rebel groups trying to deliver a blow to our forces to attempt either “turning” one of the troops being trained by Special Forces or to even attempt to get one of their fighters to pose as an Afghan soldier or policeman to give them placement and know our movements. And even to kill some of us.

 

When I was on my first Afghanistan deployment we had stringent vetting practices, but that isn’t always possible. When you have a few handfuls of fighters that you’re responsible for, it’s much easier to employ intelligence procedures to weed out any bad elements; but when you begin matching a 12-man Special Forces team with hundreds of soldiers it becomes more difficult.

 

And sometimes it’s a risk you just have to take in order to accomplish your mission. We had several soldiers in our first group of commandos in Afghanistan that came completely clean with us, admitting that they used to be Taliban, but we (the U.S.) paid better. It’s amazing what you can do once you find a person’s motivations!

 

And every time we have a green-on-blue incident like this, it sets the mission back substantially. Special Forces are known as “force multipliers” because you can take a small team of us and train, equip and fight alongside large groups of soldiers over the span of a deployment. As we liked to say, our purpose was to “work ourselves out of a job” by creating a fighting force that could do everything from running intelligence operations to kicking down doors and killing bad guys without our assistance.

 

But the most important variable for this to happen successfully is trust. The first few weeks of a training mission are almost exclusively dedicated to establishing rapport, or trust, between the local soldiers and us. We spend a lot of time drinking chai (tea), sharing stories, and yes, even walking around base holding hands with our guys (as a show of respect to the local culture in which that shows friendship).

 

Any loss of rapport begins to crumble the foundation upon which our entire mission in Afghanistan is built. But, unfortunately, the mission must go on, and we know as soldiers that war is hell and this is a byproduct of it.

 

To be killed by an enemy combatant in a firefight is something that can be respected as two warriors fighting, as has been done since time immemorial. But to be killed by someone who you think you can trust is a travesty, and nothing more than cowardly on their part.

 

But, unfortunately, this is a part of war, and seems as if it will continue. Even long after all conventional troops are out of Afghanistan, the Special Forces soldiers will remain, off the grid and away from the protection of our fellow Americans.

 

So, please say a prayer and keep these soldiers in your hearts. Even though the media coverage of the war has been winding down for some time and it’s come off the radar of most Americans, there is still a very large number of our troops in harm’s way every day, needing your support now as much as ever.

 

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

 

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

 

Elected Children in $5,000 Suits

| Opinion | June 16, 2017

I love being a dad. A father is something that most post-pubescent males are biologically equipped to become with minimal effort, and unfortunately, sometimes minimal post-activity upkeep. But being a dad takes work, and of all the things I’ve done, it is the most revered title I’ve ever earned.

Being a good dad means teaching your little ones life lessons, and as I tell my kids, my job is to “teach them the lessons to help them grow up to be good humans.” But every day that I watch the news it seems we have several hundred people in Washington, elected by a public that doesn’t appear to be paying much attention, whose parents dropped the ball entirely when teaching those lessons.

I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the current healthcare debacle, with Conservatives attempting to deconstruct the plan known as Obamacare, which was sold as a way to put America on track with the rest of the world, in terms of healthcare for everyone, but fell drastically short and became more of a vehicle to fleece small businesses and make insurance companies (and their highly paid lobbyists) a lot of money. I’ve been watching the back and forth between some politicians who have vowed for years to dismantle Obamacare at all costs and others who deliberately misinformed the public to get it passed in the first place. It has a lot of similarities to the lessons I’ve been working to teach my kids, and makes me worry about the future of our great nation if these squabbling children can’t play nice.

Nancy “you have to pass it to see what’s in it” Pelosi has sent a shot across the bow to the GOP by saying their rush to get it passed shows that Republicans are “terrified about its potential effects.”

“They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar that they will carry,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference. She was counting on her voting base to forget her childish actions in pushing the original Obamacare, or at the very least, not be paying attention to the garbage coming out of her mouth.

I’m not saying that Conservatives are squeaky clean in this either. To establish a directive to dismantle the hallmark plan of a previous administration at all costs rather than try to fix it isn’t quite exemplary behavior in itself, and is akin to a child with a broken toy insisting their sibling’s toy be broken as well to “make it fair.” But to get upset and publicly discredit someone for pulling the same, exact, childish antics you pulled in the not-so-distant past is a clear example of behavior I’m trying to discourage in my children.

And the squabbling has spread beyond the children in Washington to their media representatives, as well. Listening to a segment with NPR host Warren Olny yesterday with guests from The Center for American Progress, The Kaiser Foundation, Politico and The Washington Examiner sounded alarmingly similar to arguments I hear between my seven- and four-year-olds.

Name calling, he-said-she-said, “but you said” and a plethora of childish activities have erupted in our political landscape, where it’s no longer popular to be civil, listen to what the other side has to say and form your response based on their point of view in civil discourse. Listening to politicians and the media argue over semantics and devolve to name-calling has, unfortunately, become a part of reality in our great nation, and I hope that my children can grow up to be better than that.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

 **The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a Stiff Upper Lip Doesn’t Cut It

| Opinion | June 9, 2017

By now we’ve all heard of the latest tragedy in the war against terrorism and cowardly, lone wolf Jihadis who attack Western populaces at random in a feeble attempt to disrupt our way of life.

There are a lot of talking points crowding the mainstream news airwaves, radio and social media, but I feel there is one extremely important point that isn’t being made enough: A stiff upper lip doesn’t cut it.

We had a wave of shootings here at home over the last few years and it seemed like the left and mainstream media had an “in case of tragedy break glass” scenario to turn Newton, Columbine, San Bernardino and Orlando into an anti-second amendment conference. But for those of us who believe that the greatest defense is a good offense, it falls on deaf ears.

Liberals around the world would have you believe that since we have law enforcement in all of the civilized societies, personal security and being armed isn’t necessary. And they believe that in any emergency situation the police will appear immediately on site before you or your loved ones are harmed and will save the day.

There are a lot of memes on social media that point out the lunacy of this situation with another: Even though every municipality has a fire department, we all keep a fire extinguisher close at hand in case of emergency.

The London attack has shown the absolute necessity of applying that logic to the very real threat of a crazy wannabe Jihadi rampaging a place that we work, eat, congregate or go have a pint. And hearing the reports of unarmed London police running AWAY from the attackers just solidifies the real need of citizens to act like adults and not leave the safety of their families to those who are more concerned with going home to their own families than protecting yours.

The media is making heroes out of people who threw chairs or pint glasses at the attackers, yet remain remarkably silent when armed robbers try to hold up a bank or grocery store and an armed civilian takes them out before they can do any damage. The media and the left would have you believe that “criminals are people too” and that it’s not our right or our job to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, especially if it means killing someone who is trying to harm or kill them.

I have to say that is the one argument that I unequivocally disagree with more than any other idea on the planet. I’m open to suggestions on just about any other point — political, environmental, fiscal or anything else — but this is one point I cannot put even the least amount of credit to.

As a father, I believe it is my job to keep my children safe from harm, whenever I can. As a veteran, I believe it is my duty to keep my country safe from harm, whenever I can. And as a citizen of the United States of America I feel that it is my duty to keep my countrymen safe, whenever I can.

While the stiff upper lip may be enough for our British brethren across the pond to deal with these type of situations, nothing short of cold, hard lead and American tenacity will suffice for me.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Highly Regular Process of Sharing Classified Intelligence

| Opinion | May 25, 2017

Being taken out of the fight and moved to administrative work in the unit’s offices or sent back to Ft. Bragg to train new Green Berets is one of the most de-motivating things that can happen to a Special Forces soldier. All Special Operations follow this same process, as the best way to teach the new guys is to use the direct experience that the old guys have gained in the field.

I had to do my admin time on the tail end of my first Afghanistan deployment. Although I was miserable, as a man who had joined the military post-September 11th and gone to Special Forces just for the Afghan War, it was time well spent.

After earning my Purple Heart (or what some Green Berets call the “Taliban Marksmanship Badge”) in a firefight in Afghanistan, I was sidelined to go to the “B-team,” which is the admin unit within a Special Forces company who helps teams coordinate logistics, get teams what they need and ensure all are working towards the same ultimate objective by viewing all of their intelligence gathering and operations from a macro level.

During my time in Kabul I learned a lifetime worth of intelligence techniques and reporting, not only from our soldiers but also from many of our allies. And while this may seem highly controversial to someone without that experience or to a dim-witted journalist looking for any reason to cry about Trump, it’s actually a very regular occurrence that happens between nations fighting a common enemy (like ISIS).

As a Green Beret Staff Sergeant, I was allowed to sit in and listen to representatives from each of the “Five Eyes” nations, which were close NATO allies in the fight against terrorism. Our focus was on the battlefield and came from the understanding that “a rising tide lifts all ships” and that by helping each other and sharing intelligence it would ultimately help all of us defeat our common enemies, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

I’m not going to cover what we discussed, but will say that a few dozen people would meet weekly to go over any intelligence they may have gained that would help in defeating the enemy. This is a regular occurrence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and other battlefields around the globe.

The sharing of information and techniques is so prevalent amongst intelligence organizations and Special Operations that Special Forces units would routinely travel to, and live with, other nations for weeks at a time to learn each other’s techniques. And while the media would love you to fall for their bait and believe that we’ve been hardened enemies with Russia since the Cold War, my former unit had an exchange with mother Russia and their Special Forces units.

There is a bit of “honor among thieves” in between the respective nations’ intelligence agencies, and all but a few, like Iran and North Korea, share intelligence when they have a common enemy. Of course, things are compartmentalized and there is a level of things which are not shared, but there is a significant amount of sharing the media currently doesn’t want you to know exists.

To make such a big deal from a regular occurrence, while yet again citing “unnamed sources” is just another instance of the Left and the mainstream media trying desperately to fan the flames of a fire that doesn’t exist.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Why Are Special Operators Dying in Africa?

| Opinion | May 11, 2017

I fielded this question a lot after my first book was published (“Love Me When I’m Gone”), but the death of a Navy SEAL in Somalia on May 4 has brought that question back into the conversation. Most Americans don’t realize that all major wars have led to Africa, and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) hasn’t been any different (although the reasons for it are).

While many Leftists and Progressives today automatically think of America when they hear the word slavery, many forgot that the major European nations (Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Portugal) had been involved in slavery for quite a long time, taking turns colonizing Africa and fighting over the control of her people and resources. Many of these African colonies were not well defended (as it was never their intention to be combat positions) and, thus, became excellent targets of opportunity for the warring nations in World War I. The European influence was so strong on the continent, in fact, that the Army taught me French before going to Africa, as many parts of the continent still speak the language.

The Axis-owned colonies were a bit more robust during WWII, and their choice of the African continent as a battlefield led to many textbook-inspiring battles between German commander Erwin Rommel (known as “The Desert Fox”) and the inspiration for what I consider the greatest movie of all time, “Casablanca.” Of all the gin joints in all the world…

So, if Western nations aren’t openly colonizing Africa anymore (but those of us with open eyes, and we who have spent time in Africa know that slavery is very much still alive in many parts of the continent), why are there American troops engaged in combat operations within her borders?

In fact, there has been a 1,600 percent increase in U.S. troops with boots on the ground in Africa between 2005 and 2016. I’ve been there on orders as a Green Beret, have lost several military friends there and a Navy SEAL died in Somalia this month. And it all boils down to three things in my mind: open territory, religious zealots and poverty.

Many Americans have a hard time understanding just how different the world is outside of our borders; did you know that if you make over $32,400 as of 2016 you’re in the top 1 percent of income earners globally? If those smelly ANTIFA idiots had to chant that after drinking their pre-protest iced mocha Frappuccinos (paid for by their parents’ credit cards, of course) they may not have so many followers.

Aside from our creature comforts, most of America and Americans are “on the grid.” This means that if you run errands throughout the day, you’ve most likely been caught on camera numerous times by Big Brother. You’ve probably used your credit or debit card. And there’s a high chance you’ve had to show someone your driver’s license or ID (yet, it’s racist when needed to vote?).

This means that if Big Brother needed to find you, they could. If you were to commit a major crime or were suspected of plotting something they could most likely find you and emplace surveillance to see what you were up to and who you were commiserating with.

But not in Africa.

The grid may exist in some of the more advanced areas on the continent, say Johannesburg, Morocco and possibly a few others; but 99.99 percent of that continent is completely off the grid. And not only is it off the grid, but as one of the most corrupt regions on the planet (I wouldn’t put Washington, D.C. too far behind) any local police or security that needs to be asked to “look the other way” will often do so for a very low price.

This means that if you were someone who needed to hide out, say a terrorist leader or arms dealer, you could probably find a good place to do it there. And what if you needed to set up a terrorist training camp to teach people how to shoot, make explosives and become deadly in the fight against the infidels? There’s quite a bit of prime-time, off the grid desert property in which you could do that.

Its ease of access to the Middle East makes it a prime location for terrorists, and with the large amounts of money the Saudis give to setup Wahhabbi mosques (the most violent and terrorist-grooming sect of Islam), it’s a breeding ground for extremism. Add in the two final ingredients, heat and poverty, and you have a recipe for terrorism.

Sure, Boko Haram stealing schoolgirls made Oprah upset & Joseph Kony and his child soldiers are enough of a reason to send my former unit on a hunting mission in the jungles of the Central African Republic, but not enough to warrant a 1,600 percent increase in U.S. military presence.

If you ever find yourself questioning why the U.S., State Department and DoD make some of the very strange-seeming decisions that they do to fund nations that call us evil and send troops to the middle of nowhere, it all boils down to one word: stability.

Stable, rich and prosperous nations don’t allow terrorists to come into their countries. They don’t allow the populace to live “off the grid” so that anyone can hide their evil deeds there. And they don’t bring Green Berets with our guns & beards to hunt evil within their borders.

The Enemy of My Enemy’s Enemy Is …

| Opinion | May 4, 2017

Last week I wrote briefly about the society-changing vote in Turkey which gave Erdogan, the president, the power to fire the Prime Minister and, essentially, wield power that hasn’t been seen since the days of the Sultans. We also discussed North Korea, and guess what — today we have the same stuff, but different day, with the crazy fat kid. He’s launching more failed attempts at missiles almost directly into the ocean, and Trump seems to be getting all of the big kids on the block together to teach this bully a lesson.

Some of you may have seen a story this week regarding U.S. troops patrolling the border between Syria and Turkey, and the reason and the timing given strike me as a little odd. So, let’s step into the “wayback” machine for a moment to understand the recent history between the U.S., Turkey and another ally in the region that hits pretty home to me, being an alumnus from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

As discussed in last week’s article, Turkey is essentially the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, and to wage war in the Middle East it is a very useful ally to have in order to transport massive amounts of things like tanks, weapons and food via the ground rather than putting everything on expensive and logistically limiting planes.

If you’ve read deeply into the Iraq War and Special Operations role in it, you’ve most likely heard of the method of infiltration for many of the initial ground troops and equipment: on the ground through Turkey and into Northern Iraq. Turkey quite famously denied our movement through their country for the initial invasion, so Green Berets from 10th SFG(A) loaded up 18-wheelers with everything needed to wage war and drove through Turkey surreptitiously.

One thing that isn’t widely known is that some of them were caught, and actually held as prisoners of war in Turkey for about a week with the Turkish government ransoming the people and equipment to the US government. But that’s a story for another time.

The important part here is the importance of a few groups located in Turkey and Northern Iraq: The YPG (People’s Protective Units) and the Kurds. These groups are solely responsible for the U.S. Special Forces ability to secure airfields in Northern Iraq prior to the invasion, which are the only way we got conventional troops into the country. To say they did us a favor would be a massive understatement.

Despite the Kurds risking their lives to help American soldiers on many occasions, our government essentially sold them out on several occasions to the Turkish and Iraqi governments, which labels them terrorists when they want money or oil (Kurdistan is in Northern Iraq but considers itself its own governed entity, and is oil rich). But as we say in Special Forces, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

But now that the Kurds are useful again in the battle against ISIS, we’re playing nice and telling the Turkish government, which bombed and killed an estimated 25 of their fighters, to stay away from our friends.

So much so that we’ve moved troops to the border to de-escalate the situation, sort of like a friend at a party standing between the drunk bully and his target of the night. But, not being one to believe in coincidence, I find it extremely odd at the proximity of timing to the recent vote making Erdogan a dictator.

The US government has a habit of turning allies into disposable heroes, whether it be the Filipinos of the Spanish-American war, Montagnards of Vietnam, Kurds in Northern Iraq or PPK. As always, this change of status to bring the Kurds back in as friends & close allies, to the point of telling Turkey to back off (which we never did for the PPK, who also helped us in the Iraq invasion) gives reason to at least pause and ponder. Are we making friends with rebel groups in the regions again perhaps to prepare for an eventual showdown with Erdogan?

Whatever the reason, I’m moving some money back into defense stocks. Stay alert out there.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The European Apocalypse

| Opinion | April 28, 2017

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past year wondering just how Europe was able to achieve such a low rate of terrorism lately, given the widespread influx of refugees they’ve obtained from war-torn, ISIS-controlled and violent countries. We’ve all seen the reports that Sweden is now the rape capital of the world and a new video of Paris on fire from ungrateful and non-assimilating refugees surfaces every few weeks. But those things should have been expected by leaders who opened the floodgates, as well as the supporters who welcomed them with open arms.

What I’m talking about is full-scale terrorism, complete with extremists blowing themselves up in busy population centers like grocery stores or train stations. Part of me thought I was just a doom-and-gloom type, focusing only on the worst parts of society and expecting catastrophe, when the reality was all sunshine and rainbows.

But last week I spoke with a friend who recently spent some time in Germany and said that is exactly what’s been happening, the world news just isn’t reporting it.

This friend and her family had been looking into taking their children to study abroad in Germany in order to widen their horizons and give them the benefit of getting to know cultures outside of America, especially their German heritage. But after a few months in Europe they were so terrified of the daily bombings and terrorist acts, they packed up the kids and came back to the safety of the United States.

Even scarier than the terrorism itself is the fact that it’s being kept out of our media. There are still major factions in this country pushing the agenda to get refugees into our country and shaming those of us who call it a terrible idea. They are purposely keeping events that I was told were occurring daily off our radar, pushing the agenda, regardless of the proof, that it’s a dangerous game to play. It makes you realize they do not care about the consequences. Or us.

We’ve seen a wave of anti-globalism and what is being called racist & populist anger around the world in response to actions like this, yet for some reason the status quo and our “leaders” continue to push what the people of the world are very loudly saying we do not want.

The Trump election, Brexit vote, and now the French elections have shown that while some people, even in extreme left-leaning European countries, may philosophically support those policies, when the rubber hits the road they see how disastrous it truly is. There’s a reason Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other prosperous Middle Eastern countries are not allowing these people in.

I can’t tell you why there are politicians and people in this country pushing the refugee agenda despite its disastrous effects where it has been implemented, but I can tell you the proof has been shown that it’s a dangerous game. We know from the Left’s actions, which are far different than their words, that they don’t have an issue with policies that will harm our country, as long as it pushes their agenda. But, it’s when their policies harm Americans directly and potentially endanger my children that I get upset.

My friend’s description of daily terrorist attacks, even in small European towns outside of the major cities, shows a much larger issue. We’ve heard of the bigger attacks in areas that it would be nearly impossible to keep off the global radar, but the fact that even conservative outlets aren’t covering the increasing level of attacks is alarming, and just goes to show that neither side is really on our side.

Thankfully, in this country we have the right to arm and defend ourselves, which is a luxury the Europeans do not have. Until they take that right away from us, stay alert and stay armed.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Building a Bridge to the East, While Burning One to the West

| Opinion | April 20, 2017

There are two major geopolitical events going on at the moment that deserve attention: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a vote Sunday to eliminate the role of prime minister and give himself powers not seen since the Sultans of the Ottoman empire, and North Korea is back to acting like, well, North Korea.

So, why does Turkey matter and why isn’t North Korea a radioactive parking lot yet? It’s complicated.

Turkey is seen by many as a “bridge to the West” for Islamic countries around the world, and while many westerners couldn’t point Turkey out on a map if given several dozen tries, it is significant for both geopolitical and strategic reasons. Strategically, Turkish air bases are currently being used to launch airstrikes against ISIS and in Syria. My grandfather, having been a spy hunter with the Army Security Service, was stationed in Turkey for a few years, and our nations work together on key strategic issues, such as fighting ISIS.

To get supplies to our troops in Iraq via ground it is required to either pass through Turkey or Russia, as it is literally the bridge from Europe to the Middle East (now can you point it out?).

Politically, the populace of Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim, but the current government follows a secular structure not often seen in Muslim countries. Turkey is a member of the UN, with a military that has staged coups any time the rulers have tried moving away from their secular values (in 1960, 1971 and 1980) as the military are “guardians of the nation’s republican values” set in Turkey’s founding constitution.

But that may all change very soon. This vote has established new powers for Erdogan that, while not going into action for a few years, would essentially give him the power to do whatever he wants. They will eliminate term limits, give him complete control of the military (so it cannot stage another coup if he gets out of line), gives him complete power to appoint judges, and he’s reinstating the death penalty. I’m all for the death penalty, but the EU isn’t, and as their petition for EU membership has been ongoing since 2005, this may kill those efforts.

And as the bridge between Islam and the West, both geographically and politically, their stepping away from western culture, politics and alliances could lead to what we call in Special Forces a “catastrophic loss of rapport.”

So now, onto the crazy, fat kid and his hermit kingdom. For decades North Korea has been playing a game with the U.S. and western nations and it’s worked for him. Some may take offense to my calling it a game, but it is quite literally deterrence theory, which is a branch of game theory developed by Thomas Schelling and John von Neumann (von Neumann is the person after whom Stanley Kubrick developed the “Dr. Strangelove” character in his movie of the same name, for which he consulted Schelling).

Schelling won the 2005 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (shared with Robert Aumann) for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis” and it has been used, many believe, to avert more than a few events which could have led to full-scale nuclear war.

North Korea has used it to their advantage, following this basic principle of game theory: Without ever actually launching a nuclear weapon, they can hold much of the world hostage by letting it be known they have nukes and making us believe that they are just crazy enough to actually launch them.

This is crazy, because it would result in what we call “mutually assured destruction,” a concept upon which the movie Dr. Strangelove is based. But it’s not so crazy, because it’s worked out pretty well so far. When they need sanctions relaxed, loans from the West or humanitarian aid, they rattle their sabers and perform a “missile test.” And every time, so far, the West responds by giving this petulant child exactly what it demands.

Fortunately, President Trump has taken an approach many would never have imagined in solving this problem. Rather than launching an all-out attack against North Korea for their antics, he’s tapped an unlikely ally to tell them he’s not playing games anymore: China.

China prefers money to military power (although many believe it is their strategy to win both in the long run), and so war between the US and North Korea is not in their best interest (it would likely send millions of North Korean refugees into China). Chinese President Xi Jinping has been acting as an intermediary, telling Trump to hold off any offensive actions and telling North Korea to “chillax.”

So, all in all, this is shaping up to be an interesting week. We have an ally in Turkey which may be moving away from our alliance and a long-time frenemy in China that seems to be getting closer. Hopefully, we have an entirely new set of problems for me to write about next week, rather than one of these blowing over to start WWIII!
Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

 

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Digging Deeper: The Syrian Gas Attack and Cruise Missile Party

| Opinion, Uncategorized | April 14, 2017

by Robert Patrick Lewis

It’s been quite awhile since most of you have heard from me and there may be some new readers who aren’t familiar with my work, so let me start with a disclaimer: I am a Special Forces combat veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but I’m not one of those “vets against the war.” I believe, probably more strongly than most, that at a certain point war is the end-all be-all when politicians and diplomacy have failed.

I sit on both sides of the potential outcomes for last week’s events in which a town in Syria was gassed, killing dozens of civilians, and our response with Tomahawk cruise missiles. If we go into all-out war with Russia copies of my book, “The Pact,” will surely fly off the shelves, as Russia is a main aggressor in that series of books (and with number two in the works, it would be a great PR opportunity as well).

On the other hand, as a former Green Beret, with many friends still in service, as well as a father to children who I would do anything in the world to save from growing up in a warzone, I believe war should only be the option when there are no others left. But, it’s always an option.

That is why I’m paying such close attention to the events of last week, and am imploring you to dig a little deeper. From my vantage point and experience, I see some glaring contradictions in the stories going around, and that terrifies me.

Let’s take a moment to run down the possible scenarios which led to the events, and why some of them may not be the whole truth:

1. Assad did it. While this is possible, it doesn’t seem plausible, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Syrian military was on the offensive (as they have been for a number of years) and had the rebels surrounded. Any general or advisor would see the use of chemical weapons at that point counterproductive, at best. With UN watchdogs in Syria, this would be known to tip the international community’s hand to action. Some will argue that Obama set a precedent, which led them to believe this wasn’t a likely scenario, but I don’t give that too much credibility now that he’s gone. And let’s not forget that Obama, Clinton & Kerry assured us that Syria had no chemical weapons left at all.

2. Russia did it. The same reasons above make this highly unlikely, coupled with the fact that Putin isn’t beating the war drums or retaliating to the US strike. Furthermore, Russia had air defense systems employed in the area, and with the 90-minute advance warning we gave to Russia, they would have likely employed them if this were setting the stage for war. We decimated approximately 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force with the strike, not something he would want to see happen to his comrades if his plans were war with the U.S.

3. Rebels did it to draw us in to fight. While this may be labeled as conspiracy talk, it follows many war doctrines, especially if you follow the ancient Eastern teachings of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” or “The Thirty-Six Stratagems.”

4. American or Western intelligence did it as a false-flag to draw us into war. Another conspiracy theory, but if you pay attention to certain defense stocks immediately following this event you would have seen a significant bump in share prices.

5. It was meant to send a message to North Korea and the world. Much like 9/11 was used as part of the reason to take us into Iraq, this story has the feel of being attached, although not directly connected. The idea that this was used to send a signal to Pyongyang instead of the carrier strike group we currently have heading for the West Pacific Ocean has some merit, but the timing and connection give reason for pause.

This article isn’t meant to paint a narrative or send you to any one conclusion, but rather to open your eyes to forces at play and numerous possibilities besides the ones we’re hearing in conjecture from talking heads with no military experience. A few glaring errors have served as red flags in my mind, namely that many publications, even the New York Times, have misquoted that President Trump authorized a 59 missile salvo, when in fact 60 were authorized, one misfired and one fell into the ocean leading to 59 hitting the target.

Also, the “proof” of a Russian frigate heading to a regular port (but reported as heading directly to the U.S. ships which launched the attack) and a U.S. strike group heading to North Korea (again, regular procedure for them) seem to indicate a narrative is being built to sell media rather than report the truth.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Brexit, Coastal Thinking and Immigration

| Opinion | July 1, 2016

If you’ve been anywhere but under a rock or hiding in cave this week, you must have heard about the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, cleverly tagged as “Brexit.” Aside from pundits and talking heads making wild assumption after wild assumption about an issue with so many variables and unknowns that nobody can make an honest, informed prediction at this point, what scares me the most is the misinformation, misdirection and positioning already taking place. But it’s quite easy to see why it’s happening.

I attribute this to what I’ve heard as “coastal thinking,” which I’m sure in the UK should be called “Londoner thinking.” If you have a look at the voting demographic maps (which is, interestingly enough, color-coded blue vs. red) you’ll see what I’m talking about immediately, as is evident in any political election here in the U.S.

When asked his opinion of the financial fallout from this vote, Danilo Onorino, portfolio manager at Dogma Capital SA in Switzerland, said, “Polls ahead of the referendum misled investors, because they were analyzing the wrong sample of population. … The polls were made mainly in London, Manchester and the big cities. The polls were ignoring the peripheries.”

And that’s precisely what “coastal thinking” is. Here in the U.S., much like London for the UK, the vast majority of our news, entertainment, advertising, finance, politics and celebrity gossip emanate from either New York City or Los Angeles (the east and west coasts).

Many involved in these industries have a tendency to “breathe their own air,” or spend all of their time only in circles with other “coastal thinkers” in their own little bubble of existence. Because all of their time is spent in this bubble of thinking, breathing the recycled air of liberal ideas and leftists policies, they quickly forget that the vast majority of the country (either the U.S. or UK) don’t see things from their point of view. And those “flyover states” may not be as densely populated, but make up a large portion of the population (and landowners) of both the U.S. and UK.

Because this vote counted people rather than using the ridiculous practice of electoral college, the power of numbers was greatly shifted from those areas of “coastal thinking” to the majority of the UK outside of London and Manchester, who make up most of the population.

Ireland and Scotland seem to be reported as almost 100 percent in the “stay” camp, which seems counterintuitive, given that both have fought to be separate from the UK for generations. Scotland recently held a referendum to leave the UK (which they are threatening to do again now), but I don’t want to digress too far from my main point.

This “coastal thinking” is a large part of why the market rallied Thursday, as the financiers in London went “all in” on the thought that the “stay” camp had a lock on the vote, and the rest of the world followed. When they realized they had forgotten about the vast numbers outside of London who didn’t share their thinking, it was too late. After-hours trading, futures and currency valuations tanked immediately.

But one thing bothers me more than the inability of people in coastal locales to see the greater discontent outside of their own bubbles: the incorrect framing and repositioning of the reason behind this vote. I’ve been paying attention to the polling and reporting on this issue since it began. I’ve seen that every article I’ve read or talking head I’ve heard brings up the issue of immigration as either a footnote, or they incorrectly label it as xenophobia, or Britons being afraid that immigrants are stealing their jobs.

With an employment rate of around 72 percent in the UK prior to the vote, this would obviously be an incorrect assumption, which is proven if you listen to the responses of actual people of the UK (outside of London).

In “coastal thinking” circles, it’s much easier to just label someone a racist, sexist or xenophobe when they don’t follow your ideology, but that will never truly move an issue forward if you refuse an attempt to get to the root cause of the issue. Throwing blanket labels and insults stops the conversation dead in its tracks and kills any hope of progress beyond that point.

So, while London, New York City and Los Angeles-based news networks were claiming bigots and xenophobes were worried about immigrants stealing their jobs, actual Britons were giving an entirely different reason: the preservation of British culture.

London, much like New York City or Los Angeles, has been a melting pot of cultures for much longer than you or I have been around. But there is a key difference between how it existed in those bygone decades and how it exists today in a way that is alarming to many Britons by birth.

Contrary to current U.S. military policy, when the British empire was in the process of colonizing the world, the first thing they did was enact British cultural norms. The locals were taught the British way of doings things in everything – from the military and business to speaking and culture.

This may make you a bit upset to hear, thinking “how dare they invade a country and force their own culture upon the populace?” But this is precisely what Britons feel is being done to their country right now.

Their opposition to immigration is not one of xenophobia, but rather an attempt to maintain their British way of life. Much like the U.S., Britain is a nation of many cultures brought together in a single place and celebrated. But lately, many of those cultures refuse to assimilate to the “British way,” and it’s changed the balance dramatically.

Nobody really knows where the chips will fall on this, and I’d suggest being wary of anyone who claims they do (especially in investments). This will be a long, involved process, and may take years to fully re-write the rules and agreements between the UK and EU.

But it does go a long way to explaining similar sentiments currently held by many in this country. Our country is also one built by a nation of immigrants, but also has its own very unique culture. The Donald Trump protesters are only fueling the fire of that sentiment by waving Mexican flags at protests on U.S. soil and burning American flags outside of his rallies.

The coastal news agencies quickly flock to label Trump and his supporters as racists and xenophobes, when in reality they are just proud Americans who don’t like seeing America stretch her arms to people who come to this country and refuse to adopt our culture.

Coastal thinking labels it as hate for another culture, when in reality it’s nothing more than a profound love of your own culture.

The Pot, the Kettle and the RINOs

| Opinion | May 12, 2016

Much like a season of my favorite shows, “Game of Thrones” or “House of Cards,” this election cycle has already seen a multitude of ups, downs, surprises and cliffhangers. And we’re still quite far from the actual election.

And like any good writer of drama knows, whether it be television, movies, books or political theatre, there has to be drama and conflict to keep the story interesting. But for a story to be truly great, there has to be more than just the good vs, evil drama; you need side stories with their own conflicts, an underdog’s triumphant victory, a love interest, an interesting backstory and, of course, a twist.

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that most of those prerequisites have been met for this season of “The Tragedy of U.S. Elections,” but there is one story line that keeps surprising me: The once-great victor who made an error, yet refuses to correct his ways and find redemption.

The RNC – this character that was once a wise and mighty bastion of freedom from government oppression, intrusion into the lives of her citizens, and vast amounts of economic waste in an ever increasing government – chose not to listen to its constituents in the end of the W presidency and leading up to the 2008 campaign.

Instead of listening to a populace who screamed from the rafters that they were tired of war (civilians and soldiers alike) and scared of the ever increasing debt from it, they chose to put forth a symbol of the military industrial complex. He may have served his country well during his time, but has since been one of the leading forces to create, fund and arm ISIS in a glorious misunderstanding (and choosing not to listen to advisors) of the modern war and environment he was in.

In that campaign, the public had become so tired of what was going on in the country that they elected a young senator with little national political experience who spent all of his time in office campaigning for the presidency. But the people didn’t care. The only thing they truly cared about was doing away with the status quo.

They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, and from Karl Rove’s multiple failures in college, it seems obvious the RNC didn’t do well in their history lessons. It’s proven every time I hear a Fox commentator or establishment RINO claim they just can’t believe Trump is going to be the nominee.

The RNC chose not to learn from their mistakes in 2008, and instead repeated them again, almost verbatim, in 2012. They had a chance to put Dr. Ron Paul on the ticket, which current support for Bernie Sanders shows may have been a very wise idea to pull a substantial amount of support from left-leaning independents. But they wanted their establishment and lobbyists to be happy, which Dr. Paul was definitely not going to do. So they chose to lose.

And now every time I hear of another Republican politician, talking head or mouthpiece decrying Trump and doing everything they can to bad mouth him despite the results from the primaries, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief that they still haven’t learned their lesson.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this movie having a happy ending where the main character finally sees the error of his ways and repents. I see the RNC as Apollo Creed in “Rocky 2,” who is going to keep trying the same thing until he’s finally beaten to death.

And yes, I did use that reference on purpose, because in this case as well, we have a sizable Russian on the other side of the rope laughing as we fall to the mat.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war” and the host of “The Green Beret MBA” on  iTunes.

PINO (Patriot In Name Only)

| Opinion | April 30, 2016

As reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, a recent Gallup poll found that 57 percent of Americans believed their personal federal income tax bills are too high. This would make sense, in that nobody in their right mind should enjoy paying taxes, until you drill down a bit further.

One of the most glaring complications for this study is a simple fact that the majority of Americans don’t know, but should: only 55 percent of Americans actually pay taxes.

This should serve to prove a few things right off the bat: First, not even the Democrats and Socialists who love passing legislation to take money away from hardworking Americans enjoy being bilked by the government against their will to pay for things they don’t agree with. And second, no poll is perfect, and quite often the samples don’t accurately reflect the greater population.

The idea behind the story reminded me of an interview that I saw on Bill Maher with the daughter of Nancy Pelosi (I continued watching because I firmly believe in the importance of “knowing your enemy”) where they were discussing a documentary she had just finished making.

The documentary covered politics in this country, and in making it, Pelosi (Jr) spoke to people on both ends of the political spectrum. Anyway, by that I don’t just mean Republicans and Democrats, I mean that she spoke with some of the most fiercely conservative and liberal people on the fringes of both parties that she could find.

What really popped out for me was that she said many of the people she spoke to who were the most fiercely conservative and opposed to liberal policies, like entitlements and welfare, were themselves recipients of welfare and entitlements.

And so the political term RINO (Republican In Name Only) came to mind, representing those politicians who run on the Republican ticket and raise money through the RNC and Republican banner, but don’t actually espouse any of the party values aside from raising money.

I’ve seen the “don’t tread on me” banner showing up all over the place for the past few years, and right along with the resurgence of bacon, masculinity and beards, has been the speed with which people refer to themselves or their groups as patriots. And just like most other noms de jour, it seems to be used quite frequently out of context.

Should driving a truck automatically make you a patriot? Not really. How about voting republican? Well, not if the person you voted for doesn’t espouse patriotic values (which much of the Republican Party and its endorsed candidates do not). Listening to country music, flying a flag or going shooting a lot? Not so much.

Wikipedia defines a patriot as “someone who feels a strong support for their country,” but I think it should go further than that. Much like a RINO, anybody can claim themselves a patriot if they think it benefits them, makes them look better, helps them fit in with a crowd or feel better about themselves.

But the true marker for a patriot, in my mind, should be doing something to actually make the country a better place.

So, the next time you hear someone referring to themselves as a patriot, I’d caution you to pause for a second and ask yourself what they’re really doing to leave this country better than they found it. Because if they’re not working towards that end goal, all they’re really doing is making noise.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

When a Tie is Considered a Win

| Opinion | April 21, 2016

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia sent reverberations and worry through the halls of justice in the United States and immediately sent many scrambling. Some scrambled to find a replacement, while others scrambled to take advantage of a deck that may now be stacked in their favor.

If you don’t know much about the SCOTUS or why this is important, there is one fact that makes the replacement of Justice Scalia and cases currently under review so important: once a Justice is elected and accepts a position on the Supreme Court, the position is for life (with no mandatory retirement age).

Statute dictates the Supreme Court have nine justices (although this hasn’t always been true), which normally leaves the ninth justice open for a “tie-breaker” if a case is split down the middle ideologically. And while these justices are charged with putting the law and moral authority before their own ideological leanings, there are people who bet their career on being able to predict the outcome of a case based on the personal views held by certain justices.

And such is the latest case of teachers vs. the teachers unions, this time being fought in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. The argument this time around is that forcing teachers to pay union dues against their will is a violation of First Amendment rights, given that the CTA knowingly spends a huge part of those dues to support Democratic candidates.

Essentially, teachers are being forced to fund Democratic campaigns against their will, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they reside. And, true to form, the union was quick to use misdirection to mislead people about what the case and its merits truly entail.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union stated that “we know the wealthy extremists who pushed this case want to limit the ability for workers to have a voice, curb voting rights and restrict opportunities for women and immigrants.”

Essentially, Mary wants you to believe that teachers who don’t want to pay for a political campaign they don’t support are wealthy extremists. Interesting. Furthermore, this case wouldn’t stop the union’s ability to operate or collect dues, but would rather give people the option of whether they wanted to pay for it or not.

Funny enough, when the mafia forces people to pay for things they don’t want, it’s called racketeering. But apparently, if you give a large part of that money to the Democratic National Committee, it becomes perfectly legal.

There’s a wonderful meme that’s been going around social media for the past few years which sums up this case (and the union/DNC fight against it) very well. It was created in regards to Obamacare, but the same spirit holds true here.

If something is as good as they say it is … why do they have to force people to pay for it?

What If…

| Opinion | April 7, 2016

I’ve been back in Southern California this week and have noticed some things that it seems I may have forgotten about during my time out of the state over the past year. If you took my advice and read “The Hundred Year Marathon” a few months ago, you’ll get exactly where I’m going with this. If you didn’t, you should.

As a preface to what I’ll propose here, please take a few things into consideration. Firstly, my life and military experience taught me to always think several steps ahead in terms of multiple possible outcomes and consequences, both intentional and unintentional. Secondly, my ex-wife is Taiwanese and children are both fluent Mandarin speakers, so I have a better understanding of the culture and how the East thinks than the average white boy from Texas. Lastly, my wild experiences in life have taught me not to trust anyone.

On that note, as I’ve driven around Southern California for the past few days and remembered just how heavy the Chinese influence is here, the factors above got my brain going and started to bring up quite a few “what if” scenarios.

Please understand that I’m not posing any of these as a “this is happening” scenario, but there are questions that someone with my background begins to contemplate.

So, what if a country were smart enough to use our own systems against us, both political and economic? One of my favorite movies of late was “The Big Short,” detailing the events which led to the 2008 real estate (and economic) crash. And, of course, there’s no better time than a U.S. presidential election campaign to point out just how broken our political system is.

In “The Hundred Year Marathon” the idea is laid out that China prefers to use what it calls “the assassin’s mace” by following a stratagem from a famous text titled “The 36 Stratagems.” It calls for allowing an enemy to spend all of their riches on arms and defense, but then using a simple, but efficient, tool to destroy the fruits of their massive spending.

In putting those two together, I wonder … how difficult would it be for a country to create another housing crisis in the United States, seeing just how badly the 2008 debacle hurt us and ushering in another when we still weren’t fully recovered, knowing it would bring us to our knees.

Would a few billion dollars worth of down payments for homes, knowing our banking system would offer loans to most anyone with 20 percent down and good credit, be enough to cause another crisis?

Knowing that our banking system would greedily take that money and artificially create more out of thin air using fractional reserve banking to create more loans (completely legally, using our current system), several billion dollars in down payments for American homes would pump an awful lot of phony money into our system. But would it be enough so that, when all of those people stopped paying their mortgages at the same time, it would throw our system back into chaos? Regardless, it would be a pretty cheap weapon, considering the trillions we spend on defense.

Looking to the second example, there are so many diabolical ways an enemy could use our broken political machines against us that I’ll just focus on one. As we saw recently in Sweden, any country that allows a specific population to migrate en masse without the slightest hint of attempts at assimilation is asking for trouble.

So, what if an enemy were to mass operatives slowly, over decades, in strategically planned areas so as not to be noticed? Instead of storming the beaches of Normandy, an enemy could use our own open door policy to bring as many troops in as they wanted, as long as it was all done “above board” through normal immigration policies.

But instead of coming in uniforms and attempting a violent takeover, what if this enemy were smart enough to know our own systems of government better than most natural born Americans (not a difficult proposition these days)? How difficult would it be to amass their numbers so significantly in certain areas as to take over all key government positions?

More importantly, what if they were strategic and endurance-minded enough to use those positions to make changes so small the average person (or media) never noticed until the day it was too late, and they had formed and tightened the noose so well that there was no way out of it?

Now, I’m by no means trying to incite any form of xenophobia or insinuate that this is all actually happening … but what if?

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

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