If you are one of those rarified Americans who still believe, as this space fervently does, that natural rights are bequeathed to us by our creator, rather than granted to us by government masters, you will perhaps appreciate the gift of Robert Francis O’Rourke.
Staff Sgt. Michael Mantenuto, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), took his own life on April 24, 2017.
The break-out star of the 2004 blockbuster Disney film “Miracle,” who became a Green Beret in 2013, had for years endured and fought against deeply entrenched behavioral health and substance dependency issues. Hospitalized for 28 days in 2015, Mantenuto returned to Fort Lewis, Washington, with great hope and a desire to help others like those he’d met over the previous month.
South of Adel, Oregon, beyond the diminished headquarters of the MC Ranch, Twentymile Road offers a sharp eastward turnoff onto County Road 3–15. You take it, hitting the turn signal for no reason at all, pushing through irrigated pastures in the valley bottoms where the humidity is suddenly tropical and the smell of lush orchard grass, alfalfa, and timothy pours in through the open windows of the truck. You think: a rainforest sprinkled with dust.
We rolled off Highway 31 into Paisley, Oregon, early on a Tuesday morning. It was late July and the sun was promising a fine day in the reddish hues of nautical twilight to the east. Paisley, population 200 or so, was just beginning to yawn and stretch and mostly quiet in the long morning shadows, although someone was driving through town on a muddy four-wheeler with a border collie standing up on the cargo rack, a fine-looking dog leaning over the driver’s shoulder with his nose into the wind.
The common denominator in school killings isn’t what you think it is. It isn’t guns, and it isn’t mental illness. The only common denominator in mass school killings is long-term, dissasociative exposure to violent media.
Whether its violence in films, violent lyrics, violent television shows, violent novels, violence depicted across social media, or the endless flood of violent imagery in first-person shooter video games, those countless hours steeped in images of interpersonal violence are damaging the minds of our nation’s children.
On February 26, 1911, in a winter so cold across northern Nevada that temperatures dropped to ‑40°, four men rode quietly into the frozen maw of Little High Rock Canyon to investigate the carcasses of cattle recently killed and left in the snow. Little High Rock Canyon, in 1911, was as it remains today: a long way from anywhere. Closest to Eagleville, California, LHR is situated in the sagebrush, alkali, and basalt country of northwest Nevada. It is home to bighorn sheep, many species of raptors, deer, pronghorn, rattlesnakes, chukar, quail, coyotes, horned toads, and wild horses. Summers are blazing hot, and winters are unremitting.
The new American penchant for tribalism isn’t doing us any favors. That was on full display at the most recent Democrat presidential debates, where candidates pandered vigorously to their various tribes by promising virtually anything they could think of – from health care to college educations – for free. The idea that Bernie Sanders, who is still combing his hair with a balloon, and whose pandering is delivered in language taken directly from the All Soviet Congress of 1917, is even on the dais as a candidate should probably cause every thinking American to cringe.
The campaign to retake Mosul from ISIS was one of total war. The enemy had no intention of either surrendering or retreating, nor of leaving a single building standing or civilian unharmed as ISIS literally fought to the death. This was the environment, the “battle space” in military terms, that Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7, under the command of Lieutenant Jacob “Jake” Portier found itself. The platoon was fighting alongside the Iraqi Emergency Response Division, a unique security force primarily trained by U.S. Special Forces and commanded by Major General Abbas.
“You aren’t going to quit.” It was not the reaction I wanted from my father. As we drove to little league baseball practice, he looked straight ahead without emotion as I sat tearfully next to him. The practice would bring more torture for me. The year before I was a strong contributor to a solid, developing team, now I wanted out and to be free from the hostile environment.
Maj. Natividad de Jesús Cáceres Cabrera, second in command of the Atlacatl Immediate Reaction Battalion, was frustrated. He’d just ordered the men under his command to begin killing the children of El Mozote. They’d shown little hesitation in the killing of adult and elderly men in the village, and no hesitation at all in leading away the young girls, most between 12–to–15, whom they gang-raped, then butchered.
Last week I took some time off from working the colt, writing, and fixing the myriad things around the Figure 8 that broke in the last big snowstorm. I put all that away for a three-day fishing trip down the Lower Deschutes. I went with my friend, neighbor, and legendary guide Steve Erickson, and an old cop colleague who has spent much of his adult life working violent crimes – a grueling career that has left his armor severely dented by the sword and axe-blows of human behavior.
If there is one principle I am steadfast to uphold, it’s that a man’s waist size should always be smaller than his inseam. If your inseam is 36, and you wake up to find your waist is a 38, you have crossed the bridge into a contrary life.