I have a pre-requisite for today's blog. Everyone is requested and required to review Saturday's offering, "When a line is crossed
Now contemplate that Stolen Valor and measure that against the fact that everything Mr. Trump touches, he destroys. Ordinarily, I would never question the awarding of a Medal of Honour, but given how far our values and virtues have sunk over the past few years, everything is now suspect
President Donald Trump on Monday awarded the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, a Secret Service agent who is now fighting a battle with cancer.
"Today is a truly proud and special day for those of us here in the White House because Ron works right here alongside of us on the Secret Service counter-assault team; these are incredible people," Trump told a crowded room filled with Shurer's family, fellow soldiers and Army senior leaders.
Trump then told the story of Shurer's bravery as a Green Beret on a daring April 6, 2008, mission in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan to "hunt down a deadly terrorist, a leader in that world â€¦ [who] was in a remote mountain village."
"Ron was among two dozen Special Forces soldiers and 100 Afghan commandos who dropped off by helicopter into Shok Valley, a rocky barren valley, far away from reinforcements," Trump said.
The assault force encountered no enemy activity during the 1,000-foot climb to their objective, but as the lead element approached the target village, "roughly 200 well-trained and well-armed terrorists ambushed the American and Afghan forces," he said.
Shurer, the mission's only medic, immediately began treating wounded. He then sprinted and climbed through enemy fire to reach several of his teammates who were pinned down on a cliff above.
"There was blood all over the place," Trump said. "It was a tough, tough situation to be in. Immediately, Ron climbed the rocky mountain, all the while fighting back against the enemy and dodging gun fire left and right. Rockets were shot at him, everything was shot at him."
After treating and stabilizing two more soldiers, Shurer was struck in the helmet by a bullet that had passed through another soldier's arm. He was stunned by the blow but quickly bandaged the soldier's arm.
"He continued to brave withering enemy fire to get to [another] soldier's location to treat his lower leg, which had been almost completely severed by a high-caliber sniper round," according to the award citation.
Shurer then helped evacuate the wounded down the mountainside so they could be loaded aboard helicopters.
He rejoined his commando squad and "continued to lead his troops and emplace security elements" until it was time to leave the area, the citation states.
"For more than six hours, Ron bravely faced down the enemy; not a single American died in that brutal battle thanks in great measure to Ron's heroic actions," Trump said.
I'm sure it sounds legitimate. Men and women who have been in combat have seen and done things that we in the civilian community can only have nightmares about. I will admit it was the headline that set me off on this; perhaps it could have been worded better, but it does make me wonder.
But switching gears now, let's think about China. We remember the Cold War. It seems to me that the focus has shifted, and increasingly now our enemy seems to the the Dragon
instead of the Bear.
But of course, everything is actually hunky-dory, yes?
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- A Chinese destroyer veered within 45 yards of a U.S. Navy ship Sunday in "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver" in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Navy said.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur was conducting a routine freedom-of-navigation patrol about 8:30 a.m. near Gaven Reefs when the People's Republic of China destroyer Luyang approached the ship.
"The PRC destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for [the] Decatur to depart the area," Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gordon, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement. "The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of [the] Decatur's bow, after which [the] Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision."
In a 2016 ruling, the tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration -- an intergovernmental organization that resolves international disputes including territorial and maritime boundaries -- concluded Gaven Reefs did not possess significant land features and thus lacked an exclusive economic zone, as China had claimed.
Nevertheless, China expanded some land features in the reefs through sand dredging in 2014 and 2015 and then militarized the reefs with anti-aircraft and naval guns and radars.
China frequently challenges U.S. ships and aircraft passing through parts of the South China Sea, sometimes with radio warnings, but at other times by using harassing maneuvers.
"U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea," Gordon said. "As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."
Military tensions between the U.S. and China have ratcheted up in recent weeks for a number of reasons.
Nobody told me there'd be days like these
PARIS â€” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday that he doesn't see the U.S. relationship with China worsening after a series of setbacks that officials said include canceling the Pentagon chief's planned visit to Beijing this month.
Mattis said the U.S. has to learn how to manage its relationship with the communist nation.
"There's tension points in the relationship, but based on discussions coming out of New York last week and other things that we have coming up, we do not see it getting worse," Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Paris. "We'll sort this out."
U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press on Monday that Mattis had dropped plans to visit China amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.
Although the trip was never publicly announced, Mattis had planned to visit Beijing in October for two-plus-two security talks with his Chinese counterpart as well as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pompeo's Chinese counterpart.
The Pentagon has made no public statement about Mattis' change of plans.
Relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated, as escalating trade disputes and tariff hikes have been exacerbated by a newly announced U.S. military equipment sale to Taiwan and some recent military operations. In past years, military ties have been somewhat stable, but a series of events this year have roiled the waters.
At stake is President Donald Trump's effort to enlist China's help in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. China is North Korea's longtime ally and has tended to insulate the North from American pressure to disarm.
Just last week Beijing canceled a Washington visit by the head of its navy and denied a request for a U.S. Navy ship to make a port visit next month at Hong Kong.
Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama