Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Size Matters

--Gen. Colin Powell and his pictures at UN (2003)

 ~How long do you think this can go on 
before something happens?
~It's circus, isn't it?
--The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Sometimes... believing is all we have
--Team America: World Police (2004)

"I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."
--Colin Powell on his UN speech, before he read it,
as reported by U.S. News and World Report (2003)

We at RAW try an avoid the daily news cycle (the media having proven that it is outrunning the facts). But the North Korean manufactured crisis du jour requires comment.

The question is not, "Does NoKo have a bomb?", but, "Do they have a miniturized bomb that could be delivered via missile?" If we believe United States intelligence, then the answer is, "yes".

If so, the question becomes, "How did NoKo come to build and miniturize a bomb?" Further, "Can it be delivered by means other than missile?"

Beyond that, "Can NoKo's intent to deploy the missile be verified?" If the possession and the intent has been confirmed, then, "Why do we always wait to counter such threats until they become a crisis?"

Of course, this is the same U.S. intel community that assured us that Saddam Hussein had mobile miniature bacterial warfare production facilities, run by a Frau Farbissina ominously dubbed, "Dr. Death". Because we had been so traumatized by the incessant media coverage of the events of 9-11-01, the Greatest Nation on Earth believed laughably cheap artists's renderings on an easel as evidence to strike up a war.

We and our representatives failed to demand photo intel to verify Powell's assertions. We saw the General's stripes and believed that he was telling the truth, and that he and his would protect us. He gave us what we thought we wanted and needed.

It was easy to follow him since false media-promulgated events like "The Sinking of the Maine!" and the Gulf of Tonkin (sans the Teddy Roosevelt spirit) which sparked other wars had predated Powell's presentation of the (not) Death Mobiles.

Beyond the bombastic rhetoric of Kim Jong-Un, an autocratic leader like Saddam who promised the U.S. the "Mother of all wars" in a show of unrealistic strength for the benefit of his countrymen, what have we?

RAW does not trust one bit of data filtered to us through the press, and especially nothing got via supposed government leaks.

We may use Kim's words as a casus belli, much as President George Bush did with Saddam's. Or, we may simply ignore the bravado as the posturing which it most likely is.

Let us hope the U.S. leadership takes the latter position.

Size matters, but so does intent.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Affordable Care Act , 2017

Let me explain to you how this works:
you see, the corporations finance Team America,
and then Team America goes out...
and the corporations sit there in their...
in their corporation buildings, and...
and, and see, they're all corporation-y
... and they make money.
--Team America: World Police (2004)

Oh, you build it up, you wreck it down
Then you burn your mansion to the ground
--Hold On
Tom Waits

Does the legislative branch exist to enact or to destroy legislation? Or is a grand Mobius make-work strip in which everyone is guaranteed a job (either building or destroying)?

Every President wants him some flagship legislation, so we have former President Obama's hobbled Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Almost 7 million people opted-out of the plan last year, incurring a tax penalty in 2017 of $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is higher. For most, this was not an ethical protest, and came down to how to best disburse limited family funds.

Further, just because you can manage to pay for insurance does not ensure that you will be able either pay for or be seen by a doctor. The ACA will never deliver a high level of care. (Lisa's associate Dr. Lickerman actually read most of the 1.500 pages of the abstruse document, and offers a gloss HERE.)

This is the same legislative branch that wants to put sanctions on North Korea and Russia (our sometime ally ... when convenient.)

In a nutshell, they cannot rule the united States, but they are intent to use their same ineptness to dominate foreign powers.

Both parties agree that any ACA-type arrangement must have an individual mandate; otherwise, the effort fails. The healthy must be forced to buy-in, to subsidize the medical care of the grossly unhealthy. Also, in a nutshell.

For some wide-ranging perspective, the U.S. committed a Cold War against the communism of the Soviet Union because, well, collectivism is a bad thing for Capitalists. (This is also why unionism has always been eyed with suspicion, as it is collectivism writ small.) Capitalism is good; socialism and communism, bad. Ranger-simple, at its finest.

Forgetting for the moment the reality that humans are the common denominator making anything either good or bad, let us consider the ACA  and "skinny" clones, for they are socialism in action.

If we were faithful to our capitalist ethos, we would allow people to be uninsured, and not care whether the old or poor die, or anyone else, for that matter. Capitalism is about profits, and not the welfare of the individual. Free choice is its mantra.

With the ACA, we have confused capitalism with socialism and arrived at a gryphon which defies all of our sensibilities. But we can't be seen as being mean, can we? Spin is all -- just watch evening news if you have any doubts.

When the healthy are forced to subsidize the unhealthy, this is the definition of socialism. Insurance is a capitalistic vehicle; forcing it upon unwilling citizens is socialism.

Interesting that neither party calls it for what it is.

(ed. addendum): In keeping with its dour, wet-rag demeanor, The New York Times coverage continues its hope for this administration's failure on this topic in their editorial board position: "Capitol Shocker: Democrats and Republicans Start Working Together on Health Care By THE EDITORIAL BOARD. But Republican leaders could still block their efforts."

Never miss an opportunity to put the kibosh on any sincere deal-making before it has even begun.

Mystical Judaism believes that in every generation there are 36 righteous people. They are the enlightened. Let us hope we have even a couple in our government.

We know the Times is a wash.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Country Club Set

There's a reason for the twenty first century
Not too sure but I know that it's meant to be
--21st Century,
Red Hot Chili Peppers

For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased;

and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted
--Luke 18:14

America is not a happy place. We are disgruntled, disorganized and disputatious, and this is not due to Russian interference in our elective process.

There are two Americas. (Maybe three, if one believes in a "deep government".)

My life has represented the middle class of America. As immigrants, we worked and struggled to integrate into American life. We carried union cards and served capitalism, as required of any citizen.

We bought the myth that any man (if not woman) could become President, and all the other platitudes of citizenship. We saluted the flag and pledged allegiance, and even marched off to war when asked to.

When we returned, it was not to a membership in the country club, which is the place the Others occupied. These are the folks blessed by capitalism, and they are the source of our leadership class.

Nobody in my family visited or were petitioned for membership in a country club. Our elections seldom placed working men in leadership positions. Yet we elect into positions of power people who live in artificial communities, people who live in a foreign land, for us.

The same was true in the military. The men of destiny had played golf, and had not worked, at the country club. This was doubly true in the Reserves. Those blessed by capitalism also excelled at promotion boards

We pretend to be a democracy when in fact we are a class-riven society dominated by and for those favored by capitalism. Even our new religion of Prosperity Gospel supports the idea of success as being a favor of God.

So the power struggle ensuing in the United States now is not for the soul of democracy but for the rights of capitalism to continue predating upon the workers. Strange that for capitalism to work, the people that elect our leaders must vote from among a small stable of the privileged.

The People are played when they buy into the lie that the system is democratic and designed to benefit all.

Seeking external corruption is merely a distraction aimed at keeping us obediently in our places, in thrall to the media scions and the country club set.

The only thing that matters to our power class is that we believe that whatever party they hail from represents the Truth and The Way. That they are public servant saviors giving it up for us, offering the hope of a bit of power and glory in the form of a company COSTCO membership.

The fact is, there is no salvation in any political system. Golf balls and tennis rackets are the basis of capitalism, and life can be devoid of both.

--by Jim

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Thursday, July 20, 2017


And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
--God Bless the U.S.A.,
Lee Greenwood

There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me and we just disagree
--We Just Disagree,
Dave Mason

God help your men.
They'll be torn apart by the wily Pathan.
--How I Won the War (1967)

We ended SITREP I saying that wars were based on objective facts which underlie and precede the action.

In contrast, the War on Terror (WOT) is based primarily upon false assumptions and cruel cynicism. Prior to the initiation of the WOT proper in 2002, we had the Iraqi - Kuwaiti event known as Gulf War I, named as though to lend the WOT a provenance which then-President George H. W. Bush's Most Excellent oil adventure most certainly had not.

Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Kuwait, but it was not a strategic victory for the United States. The U.S. gained nothing beyond a show of power politics. Kuwait was never liberated and will never be a democratic society.

Of course, neither will be Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, but many have yet to see the failure as they do not have the benefit of an end date which would allow a perspective to see the failure that is. (The Marines returned to Helmand Provence this year, and so it goes.)

The U.S. has precision weapons and artillery and mortars with GPS fuses, but we cannot fix the enemy. We cannot even define the enemy. Is he "militant", "insurgent", "terrorist", "militia"? Is he an amorphous and fungible pool of "Bad Guys"?

It is a poor way to conduct a war.

If we cannot define the Bad Guys, then how do we identify the Good Guys? He is a squidgy enemy on a non-linear battlefield.

The U.S. and battle buddies (do we still have them?) can kick the baddies out or kill them, but that does not cut their main supply and support routes which are remote from the battlefield.

Clearly, the battlefield has never been isolated in the WOT. The best that can be achieved is local tactical security. There has been no strategic thought or action in the WOT because this is not a war.

If this was a war, we would have allies that were not disingenuous and duplicitous.

Neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia or any other country in the mix share our values or our goals, either military or political. Our NATO ally Turkey is at odds with our policy regarding the Kurds whom we support, though they have no value to the U.S. as allies.

We have no friends in the region and our actions are at cross-purposes to our interests. There are no moderates in any of the regional equations.

So, if there is no war to be won and no chance of political accommodation, then what is it that we hope to achieve in the region?

Remind me: why are we back in Afghanistan?

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Sunday, July 16, 2017


--Hogwarts Coat of Arms,
the new "E Pluribus Unum"?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
--Stuck in the Middle With You
Stealer's Wheel

Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper
--William Rawley

It's a beautiful mornin'
I think I'll go outside a while,
And just smile.
--Beautiful morning,
The Rascals

America is like Disney World's Magic Kingdom. We have left Frontierland and Liberty Square, now residing squarely in Fantasyland. We live as though Harry Potter is real. We receive our tutelage at Hogworts (aka The Media News).

We believe in entertainment and alternate realities; we are saturated in it. In fact, we are so estranged from the daily requirements of life that we -- to include our leaders -- cannot define what our national health should look like. Much like "the leadership" stood agog before the dipping barometer in advance of 2005's devastating Category 5 storm Katrina, we see the wreckage ... we CREATE the wreckage ... yet the lack the ability to pull up the brakes, or to take another track.

Leaders which are primarily self-serving lack the ability to lead others. Our national policies are largely self-destructive, despite the inclusion of words like "care" and "defense". The rubes in the despised flyover states considered good by the these politicians only for the fodder of their party vote and photo ops have shown that they know the gig is up.

The day of the true Statesman is gone. The People now know that neither the Right nor the Left will improve their lots or protect them from their too-often dismal lives. "Hope" is the provenance of them that has, or at least, those that have access to mentors and tutelage, goods not often seen in the downward cycling hinterlands or the decayed inner cities.

Like almost all revolutions, we forged a nation in fire and blood. Liberal thought and action was played out on the field of battle.

Revolutions are not conservative events; the U.S. Revolution was no exception. All that is great about our nation sprang from liberal concepts. Sadly, for too many today, to be a liberal is an exclusionary thing.

Hypocritically, liberalism has become perverted to denote a creed sanctioning all behaviors, while concomitantly ostracizing those deemed not "liberal" enough. We have betrayed the great competition of ideas we once had between the Madisons and the Jeffersonians.

We use tinny words like "progressive" to describe thought and action which should rightly be called "liberal" but which we know is a term which has passed its "use by" date.

Politics has become an ego project. One is either enveloped in the "aren't we cool" fold of rube-baiting, or one is a rube. (Pick your side of the fence, and you will be facing the Other.)

There is a third group, however, and its members disdain the absurd theatre. It is remotely possible that our salvation may be there.

The military realm should be logical and linear, but that is not serving us well today, for the events that we call war are neither logical nor linear. The old paradigms do not plug into the new chaos.

Since our assumptions are illogical, our tactics and strategies cannot succeed. As said previously (Symbolic Targets), we fail because we insist on calling counter-terrorism "warfare". Nothing done militarily since 2003 has been warfare.

What is HAS been is the use of military might in an attempted suppression of an idea. Ideas are not defeated with either drones or foot soldiers.

Wars are opposing nation-states pitting their armies against one another with realistic military and political goals as their drivers.  Wars are based upon objective facts.


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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Symbolic Targets

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering,
and it's all over too soon
--Woody Allen

[Note:  Ranger will be returning to his military roots this week. While Lisa had a lot of presence in posts over the past several years, she will now pull back to the role of copy editor. Readers may note the lack of gussying up. (But if you liked Rangerette's frilly-Kevlar style, you will still see it in her posts.) The writer will always be identified in the vanishingly-light tagline at the article's end. -- the editrix.]

The key point of terrorist activity is that their targets are soft and symbolic. That is why the craven activity of running down pedestrians with a van should not be surprising.

This clearly indicates that terrorism is NOT warfare because softness and symbolism does not designate legitimate military targets. When applying a military yardstick to terrorism we lull ourselves into a false sense of security, i.e., we will be protected by a powerful military that knows how to fight it.

Simple logic dispels that notion. Ask yourself: "How many al Qaeda No. 2's has the United States killed since starting its Non-War of Terror? Did any of those drone kills produce security here in the States?

If we think symbolic targets are not cricket for the use of terrorists, then why does the U.S. use them? Assassinating Osama bin Laden in his bedroom is a good example.

If OBL had been killed at the Battle of Tora Bora, that would have been legitimate as he would not have been a symbolic target, just another hostile on the battlefield. However, escaping death he moved on to sanctuary in Pakistan. (Good jihadists don't really get 72 virgins, but rather safe haven in Pakistan, the original "Sanctuary City" state.)

In his safe house, the aging OBL was no longer a military threat (if he ever was), but just a man in his jammies. He was a non-combatant symbolic target.

In fact, OBL was largely beyond symbolism at the point of his murder, and the action looked like a paltry act of vengeance. (However, the much-lauded operation sure provided Academy grist for a military film-makin' woman in EOE Hollywood.)

We seem to not know that vengeance is not military. It is Old Testament dogma which does not have any place in liberal humanistic thought.

This is why we will not defeat terrorism. First, it cannot be approached by classic military action. Every time a terrorist is killed, his replacement is close behind. In celebrating that which has failed, we have become emotional and betray the essential logic of war-fighting.

We choose for military myths over our legal codes and traditions.

A War on Terror will not be won by killing people in their bedrooms. If symbolic targets are not legitimate for terrorists, then how can they be legitimate for the U.S.?

Is this what warriors and war-fighting have become?

ed. coda:

Terrorists strike soft targets, unsuspecting and in an inferior posture. When the U.S. military "takes out" soft targets like OBL -- a man well-past his "use-by" date -- it has joined in their project.

The huzzahs which followed his 2011 death were anticlimactic, the cheers sounding like a 45 record being played on 33 1/3. The "hunt" for OBL kept a war project going for a decade, but the resulting mayhem has so far surpassed the man that the outlay of accomplishing his demise has little justification.

Most cultures create a military mythos in the form of an iconography to buoy cultural spirits over an essentially death-dealing project. The new Instamatic or Super 8 is a Smartphone aided and abetted by Facebook or YouTube. It is easy, like taking holiday beach pictures -- anyone can do it.

For Hitler, Leni Reifenstahl filmed it. For Islamic State, the graphic du jour is 9th century beheadings in the desert on Instagram, victims in orange, executioner in black (orange is the new black?)

An eager, desperate, salacious and obedient press gloms on and feeds it back to us in a bright-shiny package. Just like Capt. Renault, we are all shocked.

For the U.S., it is plucky West Virginian Jessica Lynch who went down shooting (not), being sent back from the checkpoint to the hospital to allow for the filming of her heroic four-service rescue. Football hero Pat Tillman was to be interred as the casualty of enemy fire, until his family questioned the plot line.

In a time when we have lost our way, we must make meaning and justification by any means necessary.

Where are we now vis-à-vis Islamic terror?

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Friday, June 02, 2017

Truth or Consequences, II

We are never deceived;
we deceive ourselves

Yes, I'm stuck in the middle with you,
And I'm wondering what it is I should do
--Stuck in the Middle with You,
Stealer's Wheel

The biggest lie is that our election are about freedom and democracy. These are the same lies that we accept as the basis of our wars. Wars are not about anything but power, since democracy and freedom are never achieved with a bayoneted rifle.

Our elections and wars are based upon capitalism, not democracy. This has been the truth since the founding of our nation. Every election walks the fault line between Jeffersonian (agrarian homeland focus) and Hamiltonian (strong armies, banks and foreign policy) thought.

If words have no fixed meaning or are lies, then so, too, are our laws. Words are the only thing that binds us to the world and reveals its meaning. If words are untruthful the the resultant insincerity is the precursor to societal decline.

Our elections are about capitalism and the parties ability to exploit that fact. If they were about freedom and democracy we should have no need for them since we would all agree that freedom and democracy were good things.

Freedom and democracy are words that have no fixed meaning, for we are told the elections in Egypt and Afghanistan provided democracy and freedom to those countries, but should ask, "how?"

Our elections are about two very simple capitalistic thoughts. With one party the top one percent get to exploit what used to be the middle class (which is now the working class) and trickle up the money from the many to the few.

The other party wants to take from the top and distribute to the lower income bracket. At the same time, they pretend to support a middle class democracy.

Neither strategy enhances democracy or freedom. Elections simply decide where the money will flow and which party gets to exploit the middle class. In both scenarios, the middle class takes a beating.

If one accepts this logic on the topic of elections then one must accept the use of lies as party planks, for it unlikely that people will vote to be exploited.

History has proven that all elections have been based upon lies, false suppositions and faulty assumptions or interpretations of facts.

And we the people continue to march as if our voices matter.

That's the lie of democracy.

--by Jim

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Truth or Consequences

They dreamed that Americans would break
the traditional link between the religious impulse,
the impulse to stand in awe of something greater than oneself,
and the in­fantile need for security,
the childish hope of escaping from time and chance.
--Achieving our Country:
Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America,
Richard Rorty

The concept of "truth" frequently pops into my mind and it seems passe and frivolous to discuss the topic. If lies are the basis of our democracy, then obviously, democracy is a lie.

How have we come to such a condition that our politicians and leaders can lie to us and we accept this as the natural course of events? This by the way is a criticism of our way of life as well as our political situation.

Everything in our society is based upon the Big Lie. Read the small print very carefully. It's not that our leaders lie but rather that we expect them to lie.  We are  uncomfortable and disengaged from the truth. Factually, the truth is past the point that we can even recognize it.

We lie to ourselves which is worse than lying to others. Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories are abundant and popular? If we believe the small lies then we'll swallow the big ones.

Propaganda and demagoguery require this crossover. It often crosses my mind that if a person can believe the bible then you can feed them any bit of drivel. The bible is the basis of all conspiracy theories.

We are in the age of insincerity and self-doubt in the centers of democracy. Self doubt is healthy if conducted with the goal of improvement but is destructive if bound over to insincerity.

Machiavelli's work "The Prince" clearly expects the Prince to lie and be deceitful but that was 500 years before we had Constitutions and coded agreements. The Reformation and Enlightenment supposedly ushered in a search for truth and benign leadership.

English common law was based on codes that theoretically protected the citizenry from verbal maneuverings by the "Prince". But now we once again allow and expect the Prince to lie, We have come full circle.

In the age of Machiavelli the world was ruled by fear. We do the same thing now except we electrify the fear and call it "Twitter", and call the lies "fake news".

What have we benefited by the last 500 years if our political thought remains dominated by fear that is based upon lies?

[pt. II tomorrow]

--by Jim

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memory of the Army

Statue inscription:
"Cemetery for the Memory of the Army"
(trans. by Phil Nguyen, Morrow, GA)

{this entry is a re-post from Jan 23 2012.}

This picture of the Vietnamese "Cemetery for the Memory of the Army" was snapped in 1970, and Ranger has never seen the subject in any of the photo histories of the Vietnam War.

This cemetery was the Vietnam equivalent of our Arlington National Cemetery. Note the caretaker squatting at the left of the statue. There was also a religious shrine at the rear of the statue, on a hillock. It was located in Tu Doc on the road to Saigon, South of Long Binh and Bien Hoa. There is a military base to the right and rear of the highway.

Always one of my favorite photos, the cemetery was a scene that few U.S. soldiers saw or appreciated. The South Vietnamese lost many men in the "American War", and this burial place commemorated their losses.
 I passed by often but rarely saw anyone visiting the grave sites.

Ranger has never seen a war memorial which features a sitting soldier. Does this symbolize the exhaustion of a nation which had been fighting for decades at that point? Is it a gesture of reverence?

I won't know, because fellow veterans returning to Vietnam as tourists report the graveyard has been bulldozed, and is now planted with fruit and nut trees. 
The symbol and artifact has been lost to history; the bodies must still be interred there.

There are no bitter memories or hatreds associated with my experience in that foreign land. I have always wanted to share this view of the other side's trauma, which no doubt looked very much like ours when you get to the level of the dirt.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Vision Thing

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
--Macbeth, Shakespeare

I get bored
A wish for a real one
--Bored, The Deftones

Subtitle: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

There is rampant speculation that the Democratic Party needs to develop a vision for the future.

Having thought relentless disdain and opprobrium toward their opponent and a sense of entitlement to the job good ways to sail into the White House (not), some are scabbing today onto that tone-deaf repertoire the thought that it might just be a good idea to mount a vision-quest.

To actually have something to offer the voter which is substantive, believable, forward-thinking, and more appealing than that offered by their opponent. Since the Democrats lost in 2016, it seems fair to say they failed in that mission.

But what they did well was obloquy, and they cut their teeth on their favorite catch dog, Mr. Trump. For those who do not know the "sport" of dog fighting, the catch dog is the designated loser, thrown into the training pit and on which the dogs may hone their fighting skills.

What they failed to see was, too many of We the People have become the catch dogs in the ring of life, and those people saw a vision of themselves in the pit.

None of the arrogant and privileged candidates spoke for them, and they knew it. For them, life continues to constrict, and Democrats have been on station during the devolution of their lives.

Candidate Clinton offered empty words that offered nary a drop of water to the thirsty.

So this "vision" will supposedly energize the system, allowing democracy to flourish and prevail. Great concept, but what about today?

Without a rock solid today, will there even be a tomorrow worth a hill of beans?

The Democrat's mission is a garbled transmission. One may not continue down the path of invective (their entrenched losing strategy), yet also build something credible and positive at the same time.

Speaking on the 2012 Presidential election, Mr. Trump recognized that meanness of spirit was not a winning strategy. Speaking of the Democrat's position on illegal immigrants he said, “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind” (unlike their Republican opponents).

They are no longer kind.

Their continued divided efforts show them to have a tin ear, for the voters they lost already divined that the party's sole goal was a win, and not a desire for a better tomorrow for them.

There is no tomorrow without a today.

--by Lisa and Jim

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Into the Bray

No I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
--I Won't Back Down,
Tom Petty

He goes out at night with his big boots on
None of his friends know right from wrong
--Rehumanize Yourself,
The Police

You can't be twenty on Sugar Mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon
--Sugar Mountain,
Neil Young 

Subtitle: What We Have Lost.

An unsung casualty of the 2016 election season is humor, that great American salve. R.I.P.

In its place, we have gained a robust factory system of bilge and bile production, delivered by rough performers who dance like marionette puppets to a Democratic laugh track.

When did the take-down of American humor happen? Probably, it was not a discrete event, but a slow and inexorable disappearance. One might look to humorist Jon Stewart, for a start.

In a 2009 Time poll, 44% of Americans said Stewart was their most trusted "newsman". Then Stewart admitted his piker status after his chummy interview and later socializing with Paula Broadwell failed to suggest to him her improper relationship with later disgraced General David Petraeus.

In his blind arrogance, Stewart said of his oversight, "I am the worst journalist in the world." Actually, Mr. Stewart is no journalist at all. At his best, he was amusing, and he left the stage last year before things turned ugly for the fake newsters.

And so we now have entertainers-cum-newsmen like Stephen Colbert getting his props for offering dreck that even a site like "Stormfront" would not proffer. Can you imagine him aiming this grotesque twaddle at President Obama or Mrs. Clinton? (Didn't think so.)

Our airwaves are filled with carnival barkers. Like emcees at a Cafe Risque midnight show, they grow increasingly outrageous in an attempt to keep us awake, tuned in and Twitter-fed.

Humor, satire, civility, and even sanity have left the stage. Many of my associates go snow-blind when they simply hear the name "Trump". Fury, anger, disgust ... I am not sure what overtakes them. The voices rise and, predictably comes the response, "I am so TIRED of hearing about Trump!"

And so they are, for they have been blasted from every one of their media outlets with the unfitness of the man and the supposed unreality and illegality of the election results since last year. At the mention of his name they recoil, for they know the drill -- the inevitable onslaught to follow.

Pain is anticipated, so woe be it to the person who attempts any dialog about the new President outside of a Ft. Bragg bunker playing Lili Marlene, for you are now persona non grata amongst your Democratic fellows. Perhaps they think such a person a troublemaker, callow, or naive?

Ire aimed at this President has become a self-licking ice cream cone.This is operant conditioning, and we have been brainwashed, en masse.

Someone who might buy simplistic slogans like "HOPE" and "CHANGE", or "Make America Great Again?" Pshaw! Perish the thought that anyone could be such a rube, eh? That's the domain of folks like, um, factory workers (do they still exist here?)

Yet the Democrats howl on command as the cant grow ever more tragedic, in the face of little or no facts. Meanwhile, in this fetid environment, the insinuations grow ever larger.

When the pattern of media lies was emerging, Lisa thought to take notes. However, it quickly reached pandemic proportions, and keeping track would have been a fool's errand. Bowing out is the only sane move.

However, before leaving, here are three idiosyncratic examples of why:

1.) When a member of peaceful group of Trump supporters was pepper-sprayed in Huntington Beach (CA) late March, the head was, "Riot Breaks Out at Trump Rally". Now, an ingenue might envision a David Duke sort of fervor, and some gentle liberals -- the sort who used to put daisies in National Guard rifle barrels --being bullied for their non-violent witness.

But it was the other way 'round, and the press identified the attacker of the woman at the peaceful gathering as a "counter-protester". But one must have a "protest" in order to have it's opposite, and the celebrants were NOT protesters.

So the press lied, in order to sow confusion in the reader's mind.

How would the press have covered a pepper spray attack upon a jubilant celebration of President Obama's election? Would the press call them, "racist"? Perhaps, "jack-booted Aryan thugs?" Certainly, they would be "protesters", and not "anti-protesters".

In a final filip, as if to justify their slanted coverage, the article's coda mentions that the protester's numbers are legion nationwide, compared to those who support the President. How is this conjecture relevant to the news piece?

2.) In a recent NYT Magazine piece about Facebook's effect upon the electioneven Farhood Manjoo has been forced to sacrifice his reporter's impartiality in service of The Story.

In the piece, Facebook is indicted for the rise of right-wing fanaticism, which is blamed for electing Trump. The election of Trump was the main offense: how Zuck's "news feed" algorithm might have aided conservatives ... that's all.

The story brushed aside the angry democrats who remain so because they are trapped in the bubble of the vanity "news feed".

3.) Michael Moore, erstwhile spokesman for the Little Guy, asks "What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Say About Trump?" He posits that he might cry -- which is laughable, were it not so blind. Moore gives us the horsehair shirt his followers want.

But I suggest Rev. King would say, "Let's reach out to our next President. He is our brother."

He would probably form a wonderful relationship with the new President, and appeal to the nation to cease its hatred and riven-ness; to stop the tomfoolery of an "Us vs. Him" mentality. (Mr. Trump has never shown any racial animus.)

He would forefront the plight of the American black which became inadvertently highlighted by violence in President Obama's term. In his own words, he would say let us stop pretending that it was all skittles and beer under Mr. Obama, or that it would have been so under Mrs. Clinton.

She lost the election. Now get on with it. We have work to do.

THAT'S what he'd say.

Democrats --- historical protectors of those who have been trammeled -- have now become the jackals and hyenas doing the trammeling. They are turning us on each other, so we do not ask, "What is really going on here?"

We are allowed neither solidarity nor peace. We have become Sunnis and Shiites (with the occasional Kurd), because that is all the news will allow for us.

Ironically, the Democratic base which has been animated to expulse the daily rot regarding their President is predominately the low- to center middle class, the very people who have been sold down the river by the glutted and disingenuous Democratic Party, a party which has not spoken for them for many years now.

They feel that mutant freaks like Charles Pierce speak for them as they crank up the band of their not very merry pranksters day by day, running their hamster wheel as fast as they can.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Disunited States of America

--Aesop's Scorpion and Froggy

Oh, I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused
--Red Shoes
Elvis Costello

Change your heart
Look around you
--Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime,

Tell me about your despair, yours,
and I will tell you mine
--"Wild Geese",
Mary Oliver

[A caveat: when I write about the 2016 election, I am usually indicted as being pro-Trump. I did not campaign for any candidate. I have only sought to highlight the willful blindness and the anger and sorrows now rending our nation. The loss of a viable Democratic Party saddens me.

I continue in that vein ...]

Something new and ugly entered our national dialog in 2016 when The Atlantic (an otherwise respectable magazine) began running Charles Pierce's malignant invective masquerading as political commentary.

Pierce became an early organ grinder revving up the anti-Trump bloc, his bottomless black soul fueling his seemingly endless hate-filled diatribes to ever more grotesque lows. Licking his bloody claws, he became an early pied piper of no-holds-barred "false news" set, emboldening the loutish Left to take up residence in that dark Neverland.

As the Republican's Stable of Sixteen began dropping off, a paranoid fear possessed the intelligentsia of the Left. Though they professed a sure knowledge of Hillary Clinton's win (lukewarmly tapped heir-apparent by outgoing President Obama), concomitantly Trump became their sole focus, not of an intellectually rigorous debate, but of a very personal character assassination.

Inverted Willy Horton-esque ads were run by the DNC, one featuring a black girl alone in a room, terrified before an image of Trump. Hillary was re-cast as a stand-by-your-man kind of woman (the Other Hillary was so 1992), beaming at her milquetoast man, Tim Kaine.

Her campaign signs showed the candidate's names in pale blue small font on a mat of navy blue, so innocuous that one need almost squint to make them out. By any means necessary, as Clinton traded in her feminist bona fides in her stoop to conquer.

Of course it didn't work out for her, but the detritus in her wake is punting every which way to slake their fury over their sense of entitlement, derailed. In truth they have nothing to beat their drums about, as the election was an orderly and legal affair (unlike the Supreme Court decision in Gore vs. Bush, 2000.)

But they are so stoked up, they cannot come down. White entitlement rears its ugly head again as the liberal partisans fight on, rending their country in the process. Unlike the righteous anger (if one allows that) of the blacks in a Ferguson, MO scenario, the liberal whites have no cause for their anger against Mr. Trump and their fellow Americans who voted him into office.

It is a sad and pathetic show to witness the whites co-opting black anguish. They haven't a clue as to what real pain is, though they experience their thwarted proxy ambitions thusly.

The liberals are behaving so typically liberal. For the previous eight years of President Obama's administration they have seen black pain and anger ride the front pages. They have seen people upload shootings onto their Facebook, up close and personal. They want in on that, and think to do it in concert with their marginalized fellows.

Perhaps they feel their anger is in the service of some amorphous larger good, maybe something like, "We can't believe our candidate didn't win, because she's all over that human rights thing. (Except, of course, when the brown people might be deemed "bad men" from other countries. Different story there.)

A small analogy: Lisa recently volunteered in a program aimed at helping first-time juvenile offenders avoid a record by attending a "non-violent communications" program. While the program has merit, it is led by by non-'hood white people. The leader broke down in tears one day so flummoxed was she by her high attrition rate and general "lack of presence" (her term).

After an uncomfortable silence during which many left the room, one of the participants said, "My 14 year-old brother in court today tryin' to get custody of his kid; I jes' got slapped with more charges for things I didn't do ..."

What he was saying was, "You live in a different world, lady. You got nothing to cry about."

Much like today's cliquish liberal whiners: You have NO idea, so get over this sullenness and show some dignity for your nation.

Your whines and rants are pathetic, elitist and out of touch. You show solidarity with none so much as your own privileged fellows. As Fargo's fictional Police Chief Marge Gunderson said, "And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it."

Why do the liberals want to tear their country down? Because they can? Because they are guilty they didn't protest when it mattered, when the Phony Wars on Terror were busting out all over?

Because these pasty East- and West-Coasters feel their entitled hatred will gain them an aura of solidarity with their protesting inner-city brothers and sisters? Not likely.

All they can think to do is protest, protest, cry tears in their beer, be pugilistic and alienate friends because they're mad the election didn't go their way. For too many, the behavior has become habitual and psychopathic.

The elegant move for liberals six months nigh would be to strike a conciliatory pose with their fellows. Perhaps, to take some Abilify to amp up their anti-depressant regime. To take a stance to nation-build their own country.

But they behave so demoralized, gutted and enervated, they see no other way than to fight on.

Even notoriously ALT Left writer Tom Englehardt suggests the liberals have been "demobbed" of their will to protest anything that actually matters, like America's unjust wars.

"Why, with the sole exception of President Trump ... is no one ... going after the national security state, even as its wars threaten to create a vast arc of failed states and a hell of terror movements and unmoored populations?" 

Why? Because it's so much easier to stay ensconced amongst one's fellow naysayers, taking the morning cup o' Joe with a side of cyanide. Comfortable ... predictable.

Tap out the characters on your Facebook feed and it feels like you have done something. (And you have, virtually-speaking, on the order of watching your Zippo app -- which amounts to not a hill of beans.)

Our President ran on a platform of correcting some ills in the nation, so why not run with that and exploit that stated intention?

Trump ran for the Office on a platform of letting other nations take care of themselves, of not being President of the world. The sane among us should be pleased that there is an inert thing called United Nations led by men with names like Bhutros-Bhutros Ghali and U Thant whose job it is to convene a committee, to convene another committee, to mete out moral censure (=to wrist-slap) its more murderous members.

That is how Realpolitik is played, for there are lots of "bad men" out there. Some of them even sit on "Security Counsels," in a bit of high irony.

Instead the liberal mouthpiece, The New York Times shamed Mr. Trump for "moral cowardice" in the face of his non-action after some apres-inauguration Syrian attacks, goading this neophyte President into the very non-liberal action of dropping the largest bomb to date, The MOAB, on Afghanistan.

For busting a cap, Trump earned his first praise from that now thoroughly discredited "news" outlet. Pity, and foolish, for you can't gain favor by kow-towing to your brutalizers.

It's Aesop's "Scorpion and the Frog". That's pretty simple.

But it wouldn't do in Neverland for Mr. Trump to prove more liberal and pacifist than Democrats like Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton.

(Wait, there's more ... in a couple of days. Then back to your beloved Ranger fare.)

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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Damn Nation

--The Gleaners,
Jean-Francios Millet

there is enough treachery, hatred
violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply
any given army on any given day
--The Genius Of The Crowd,
Charles Bukowski

A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
and I decline
--The End of the World as We Know It,

The Left Wing is broken
and the Right's insane
--Pretty Pink Rose,
David Bowie

[This will begin a series of dispatches on Lisa's observations of her nation almost six most after the election of a non-party favorite for President.]

I have trodden this earth a few decades, and have never seen such frightening, absurd and pathetic behavior from my erstwhile fellows as I have in the past year plus, the people who once called themselves "liberal".

They have lost that provenance, and it if they are ever able to return to those qualities, they -- and we -- will be forever changed by what we have seen. Their solidarity consists in their mass externalaized hatred.

I have lost friends and acquaintances over this election. They left because the media told them they would leave, that it would be an irreconcilable rupture if Hillary Clinton did not win. The world would be akimbo and out of kilter, and dammit, they would ensure it was it so.

Good people are afraid to speak about this election because of the liberal media's Spectarian Wall of Sound which mewls on about "What went wrong?" But the problem is, nothing "went wrong"; democracy functioned as it ever has.

The wrong to them was, after billions of dollars spent and years genuflecting before their presumptive next President, Mrs. Clinton, the people went their own way. They spoke with their vote and said they were tired of the Left-Right boilerplate (predictable, the same), and wanted some thing new.

President Trump has revealed us to ourselves. Half of the liberals were willing to swallow their disgust at electing a tainted candidate like Hillary Clinton simply because they were obedient and had always toed the party line.

To achieve this tenuous-yet-obvious conclusion, they pulled all stops, and nothing was too low. The New Yorker magazine devoted one issue to "trample Trump" cartoons, no matter how stupid or vile.

As though performing on a canned laugh-track, the cognoscenti all laughed smugly and sent the derision round their web of Facebook followers. Dialog was outre, and wherever I went, a jab at Trump was meant to elicit a complicit guffaw.

When the anger remained and in fact ramped up following Mr. Trump's inaugural, it seemed they had gone mad. These anger-driven partisans had lost their way, lost their grip on the high road, and were now trading in the darkest behavior of those they once derided.

These liberals where the New White Supremacists [more on their agenda in a following piece.] They are bullies, and feel entitled to what they want. They have no shame or fear of threatening those with whom they disagree.

Having been indoctrinated for so long that the White Man was the enemy, they operate under the agenda that the sooner they could superannuate him and make of him a "Dead White Male" (DWM), the sooner a new and preferential order could take his place.

Ironically, predominately white, their horsehair shirts and self-flagellation serve as a source of pride and serve as a self-awarded badge of savviness (Ain't no flyover sorts there, except maybe a contingent from Madison, WI.)

Trump personified The Enemy, and so became the repository for a self-loathing malignancy which had been implanted into liberals for the past 50 years. He became the bullseye of their long-held target (i.e., themselves), and they brought all of their firepower to bear.

The nuevo white supremacists refused to acknowledge that Mrs. Clinton was naught but DWM with a pudenda for a penis. She might have worn Little Red Riding Hood's cape (with that poorly accessorized overly-large bead necklace), but she was in fact, the hound cast as her nemesis.

She had already manned the levers of governmental power, and had shown neither mercy nor remorse. Her card was played, and thus some Democrats turned coat.

That's all, and now some party die-hards would have us believe that those who chose against Clinton are somehow mentally unhinged, raving bigots, or worse.  The only dissidents who are marginally un-hounded are the Uncle Bernie supporters (those who voted for the Other Millionaire.)

Why are these the only ones untramelled, their Hybrid Leafs or 1979 Volvo wagons plastered with "Save the Whales", "Love Your Mother" and "Bernie 2016" safe from vandals?

Two reasons:

Bernie never was a viable candidate. He was only there to make Mrs. Clinton's presumptive win more palatable, as though she were not running on a banana republic ticket. 

And these deluded partisans for the ineluctable Jewish Socialist (only in Vermont) were like the retarded kid in class -- we all know it's not nice to make fun of him in front of his face. So, "You can keep your Bernie, you pathetic losers," was the general position, the presumption being they would have to close ranks once the man was flushed.

Former President Carter now says he voted for Bernie. 

Nuff said.

More later ...


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Republic of Gilead, Redux

Your love keeps liftin’ me higher
Than I’ve ever been lifted before

So keep it up, yeah, quench my desire

And I’ll be at your side forevermore

--Your Love Lifted Me Higher
Auto Adrenaline

I'm looking for a miracle man

That tells me no lies

--Miracle Man
, Ozzy Osbourne

I can really do wonders, I can,

If you've got the misery,

Bring your misery to me,

I'm that Hi-De-Ho Miracle Man!

--The Miracle Man
, Cab Calloway

I am the way, the truth, and the life

--John 14:6


["Republic of Gilead" is a re-post from 28 Feb '08, relevant as ever. We told you Ms. Clinton was not gonna get it eight years ago; said it again, last year. Like the Man in Black sang, "we've got our eyes wide open all the time".

Like de Tocqueville to America or Mead to Papua New Guinea, Lisa will soon commence a series on post-election U.S. Ranger has a few thoughts up his sleeve, too.]

Luuu-ceee! Remember Ricky's plaintively imploring yet reprimanding calls to his wife, Lucy? And how Lucille Ball managed to wend her way into getting whatever it was she wanted anyway, by pumping up Ricky's ego?

Flash-forward 50 years and I find myself lost in any I Love Lucy script. Obama cuts a retro figure, reminiscent of the well-spoken Malcolm X in dress and manner. And the women who flock to him serve in a behind-the-scenes way, which is also very retro, sans the aprons. 

Women have been abandoning Hillary for The Man, but why?

[1] Their desire for romance.
 Edward Kennedy suggests in Obama a recrudescence of Camelot. Forget that Camelot never was really Camelot; that is its beauty. 
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg says he reminds her of her father. Michelle Obama, Oprah, Maria Shiver and Caroline Kennedy "put on the best campaign rally" Andrew Rosenthal has seen "in 20 years of covering presidential politics ("Michelle, Maria, Caroline and Oprah on the Hustings in California.")

Yes We Can campaign for a man.

Three more little ladies advocated for Obama in the 
Wall Street Journal ("The Obama Opportunity") -- "Ms. Napolitano (Governor of Arizona), Ms. Sebelius (Governor of Kansas) and Ms. McCaskill (D-Missouri)." (See how far we've come -- Ms. Steinem's honorific certainly has taken hold, even in a conservative paper.)

The trio say we need to end "political polarization," "divisive politics" and "bitter partisanship." But Hillary is nothing if not a conciliator. So how can their stated desire tap Obama and not Hillary?

 Below romance is just wanting to feel better.

Author/blogger Micki McGee says her book, Self Help, Inc., "looks at the rise of self-improvement culture as Americans have seen their economic circumstances decline." Books about feeling good are good business. If people actually did good and got better, the market would dry up.

When it comes to just feeling better on a Friday night, you are more likely to curl up with an Oprah guru, like Peter Walsh's 
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More than the current issue of The Economist

Before psychotherapy went pop, there were lurid Gothic romances 
fronting the impossible Fabio which secretaries would hide in their desks. This escapism has now gone mainstream via programs like Desperate Housewives and Nip and Tuck. You can escape to a desert island and feel your potentiality spread out before you, and of course, this impulse to escape extends to men, as well.

With Obama, the ticket to escape is your vote. He says follow him, "we will do it; we will change." He is your own personal life coach, to help you work off all the bon-bons you ate while watching the latest installment of Lost.

What's more, he'll tell you what to do so you won't be lost anymore.

[3] The desire for direction, wh
ich is an equal opportunity impulse.

Once coronated by Oprah, Obama had all but won the election. As goes Oprah, so goes the nation. Oprah ministers to all that may befall a human being, and has assured us that we are all o.k. just by virtue of being here. That is some powerful validation, gained just by virtue of sitting in front of the tube.

After Oprah midwifes you in your walk through the fire of your particular dysfunctions and your subsequent shower, Obama is presented as the man to lift you higher. It is all done for you, like those wonderful prewashed, precut veggies Oprah introduced to her audience.

Her acolytes are on a conveyor belt, and happy to be shown the way. As in Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, women are mobilized to serve the Commander.

Obama is their miracle man, mouthing platitudes cribbed from Ghandi, and Krishnamurti, and MLK. Obama is like a good DJ sampling for his mix, but he gives no credit in his mash-ups ("Finding political strength in the power of words.")

It is blatant plagiarism, but I suppose he does it because he knows his demographic so well. They apparently are unfamiliar with the sources of his many platitudes, and this general ignorance saddens me as much as Obama's disingenuousness.

[4] The media has it in for her ("Rendell: The Media Does Not Like the Clintons.")

It is glaringly obvious that any move Clinton makes will be chastised. She can never win. Slate wondered if she'd "Come Undone, 2/13/08". Since then other major outlets have asked why she doesn't concede in a ladylike fashion, even though the candidates are in fact running neck and neck.

Presumably, the only safe stance for her is one of silent deference, in a corner, admitting that she has been bested by a man. It is cyclical American history: black men got the vote before women. A black man will occupy the White House before a woman will.

If a women were to come out with the vacuous platitudes which fire 'em up at Obama rallies, she'd be roundly laughed out of the room as a pollyannaish airhead.

Hillary has been painted as passe, someone who thinks "going viral" means coming down with pneumonia. If she could only play the sax, like Bill -- do something to hook into the national pulse in a visceral way. But that is not a privilege allowed to a woman of a certain age.

I am thinking of a recent ad which showed a fit 50-ish, silver-haired woman in overalls and Doc Martens, smiling. The ad recognized the revolutionary nature of her posture vis-a vis a culture which severely slots women via age. I think the only way the model got away with it was that she was identified as an artist, and we grant them their flakiness.

Hillary has forsaken her younger revolutionary rhetoric, but if you want to hear an actual and authentic challenge to be new, read Hillary's 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley, where she challenges her listeners 
"to practice with all the skill of our being/The art of making possible."

I'm no feminist, but the vitriolic coverage of Clinton vs. the glowing coverage of Obama speaks volumes. The candidate's platforms simply do not differ that much, and where they do, Hillary's bests Obama's.

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

April 7 Marine Reconnaissance Ambush, Pt. II

--Fallujah, June, 2016, after the Iraqis declared victory against ISIS
(looking very much like Fallujah, April 2017, when ISIS launched a
major decapitation mission)

[Pt II of April 7 Marine Reconnaissance Ambush] --

Actions at the objective:

The enemy had RPG's and at least three light machine guns suppressing the friendlies. Marines are taught to dismount attack, which is commendable, but it is not the best course of action.

They must break out of the kill zone and it is better to do so in a hardened vehicle than on foot (as dismounted Infantry.) While the enemy forces were effective, there were holes in their operation.

They did not seal the kill zone, nor did they have a well-conceived exit after the action. The Marine's described this as a near ambush, but the fact that it was not initiated with an explosive device suggests enemy incompetence. Additionally, the enemy's guns were neither dug in nor in hardened bunkers, also demonstrating a questionable level of proficiency.

In short, the enemies were not top-drawer soldiers.

There was nothing stopping the Marine's follow-on vehicles from swinging off the road and rolling the enemy's shoulder. Anything should have been done to break the tempo of the ambush.

Again, a mortar or 40 mm round would have been a literal life-saver: never send a man when you can send a mortar round, instead. The Marines were not carrying grenades, which are most needed when assaulting machine guns.

Now for the hard calls (which is what they pay officers for):

The lead vehicle is in a bad way, but he is still drawing enemy fire, which lessens the fire on the potential maneuver elements. A deep move right and left and a vehicle assault to the middle of the enemy's position would be a possible course of action, and one would expect this to be a normal immediate action call for recon Marines. It was not done, however.

In past battle analyses, we have discussed the need to determine if enemy fire is effective or ineffective, a key combat lesson. If a recon unit lacks air assets to do route recon and clearing, then perhaps the mission should be reconsidered and reconfigured.

That this failed mission was not casts aspersions on the Marine's training and counter-ambush techniques. Remember: if the enemy can see you, then you can see them. If they can hit you, ditto.

Ranger's take is that courage and valor are not substitutes for correct route recons and terrain analysis prior to launching a road-running event. Distance and interval should be enforced between march elements. This rule holds even for elite troops; complacence is not a military virtue.

These prior preparations and adherence to protective postures may seem tedious in the face of Marines willing to dismount and be "kinetic", but such precautions may prevent the grievous injuries and loss of life suffered when they are absent or given short-shrift, as they were on 7 April 2004 outside of Fallujah for an unlucky group of Recon Marines.

Now this is the point where the reader says, "But you weren't there!", which of course is true. But shock action and firepower are linked to keeping your vehicles mobile and to providing effective suppressive fire, and both were deficient on the side of the friendlies in this action.

Had any or all of these offensive-defensive actions been employed, another sad and tragic event in a litany of such events might have either been avoided or at least, ameliorated.

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