Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Khan Game

--Political Dead Letter Box;
Gatis Sluka (Latvia)

This is what he truly envies of these people,
the luxury of terror as a talking point
 --Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk,
 Ben Fountain


Since Persia fell at Marathon,
The yellow years have gathered fast:
Long centuries have come and gone.

And yet (they say) the place will don
A phantom fury of the past,
Since Persia fell at Marathon
 --Villanelle Of Change,
Edwin Arlington Robinson

There is nothing fair in this world
There is nothing safe in this world
And there's nothing sure in this world
And there's nothing pure in this world
--White Wedding,
Billy Idol


Subtitles: "Khan Men"; "The Greatest Khan of All", and "Pro or Khan". [Sometimes it is hard to choose correctly.]

This past weekend Ranger attended his local Military Order of the Purple Heart [MOPH] banquet (August 7 is Florida's official Florida Purple Heart Day.) Gold Star families were also in attendance as special guests.

Gold Star families have lost a family member in an overseas conflict. They were invited to show sensitivity to the harsh sacrifice which they have also rendered our nation. It is a quiet and somber recognition the nation renders them, and these families are never to be exploited.

But while the privacy of these parents is sacrosanct, this rule was superseded the moment Hillary Clinton and the Khan family gathered on the stage and politicized the death of their son, parlaying their loss into a campaign coup. They fired the first salvo and no one should be surprised that they received return fire. While Mr.Trump may have been ill-advised to have shot back, he was well within the rules of engagement. 

While my sympathy abounds, the family voluntarily surrendered their attack-exempt status when they stepped up to the microphone.

The Khan's son died for their country, not for Mrs. Clinton's aggrandizement or gain, or to provoke Mr. Trump's reaction. Captain Khan did not die to be used in the partisan political arena.

To have done so was gauche, gross and a disrespect of the dead soldier. Mrs. Clinton showed herself to be as tone deaf as fictional senator Ray Wheatus in the series "BrainDead", when he propped up a dying soldier in his hospital bed for some publicity photos.

The Khan's were portrayed as raw and grieving parents, but their son was in fact killed in 2004 (12 years ago.) If one were cynical, one might imagine this was the only Gold Star family willing to shill for Mrs.Clinton.

Even death has a shelf life.

It is especially difficult to understand the cynical nature of putting Gold Star parents on a political convention podium as attack dogs when candidate Clinton has never attended an MOPH or Gold Star event in her entire political career.

We veterans and surviving families are not set pieces to be trotted out to entertain the nation in political elections. If this is how Mrs Clinton views the purpose of dead soldiers,, how will she treat live soldiers if elected?

It is a sad politician that would exploit a soldier's death as blatantly as did the Democrats in Philadelphia.

[cross-posted @Milpub.]

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Anonymous David said...

You raise a very good point in my opinion. One could interpret the trotting out of the Khans as a sort of political equivalent of human shields. There was a transparently self-serving aspect of the idea that Clinton could use the Khans for political gain but not Trump.

If you're looking at it from a cost-benefit balance, Trump probably still would have come off better by saying nothing about it, but I say that in terms of political tactics, not in terms of ethics.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 12:21:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thoughtful, spot on piece.

Clinton is SP cynical. I knew that. But I felt a certain level of disgust for the Khan's as well. Then his business/political association with the Clinton's/Ds came to light and all remaining sympathy evaporated. A couple of camel stereotypical traders and nothing more.

What is it with Muslims and the Left these days? Have they become the progressive pet du jour? Why was the Orlando night club killer's father in attendance at a recent Clinton rally; with a VIP seat nonetheless? What message is that supposed to convey?


Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 8:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


What message, indeed. "Left unto death" -- and why?

The Left's often holier-than-thou stance strikes me like the passage below in the 1928 novel "The Well of Loneliness" by lesbian author Radclyffe Hall. It seems to encapsulate this idealistic posture the Left takes today of true love for any and all that strikes me as so Young Werther-like, so naive.

In addition, so ecclesiastical -- presuming their brand of liberalism is the One True Church. It works if you're gonna be a martyr, but adherance to party shouldn't require your martyrdom.

Further, so mercenary when at hand of a politician.

"Our love may be faithful even unto death and beyond-yet the world will call it unclean. We may harm no living creature by our love; we may grow more perfect in understanding and in charity because of our loving ..."

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 9:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, Ugghh. My comment was garbled in spots because I was writing while pretending to pay attention during a boring and largely irrelevant (to me) meeting. Which got me thinking....

....I spent a couple years frequently being a belligerent drunk. I didn't like myself that way. I only drink in moderation now and not every day. Much sharper, much happier, etc. - but I am starting to find myself slipping back into belligerence. Being sober, I can catch it and stop it before it gets out of control. And I can analyze the cause at the intersection of the external world and the internal. That is good. But it can be a veritable battle these days what with all of the outrageous behavior on the part of people that want to lead us and/ or tell us how to think (e.g. media).

A friend tells me to stop paying attention. It's all bullshit, says he. I just can't agree with him. It matters. Who these people are and what they will do impacts each and everyone of us, personally - perhaps the entire world. How to fight back without falling into the angry/outrage trap? That is the challenge.


Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 10:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh and, per your comment, "Left unto Death" - Yes. They are taking it to the point of schizophrenic suicide. I have listened to progressives rant for years about the right wing religious "nutjobs" in this country - even here at RAW and RAW's sister site, Milpub. Now they [progressives] want to import a gazillion religious fundamentalists that make our home grown versions look like a bunch of Alan Aldas.

It doesn't end well.

A lot of progressives need to be stopped before they hurt themselves and others.


Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 10:34:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

maybe i'm splitting hairs, but i remain hostile, but try not to be angry.
anger diffuses your energy and is counter productive.if angry the external is controlling you.
hostility can aid your focus. this is internal and more powerful.
do snipers get angry?
didn't they teach us to be agile, mobile and hostile?
jim hruska

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 10:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

avedis - People deciding not to pay attention because it's all BS anyways is exactly the kind of apathy that has left America saddled with two of the least fit candidates in living memory.

On the left-wing point -- a lot people on the left like Muslims because they imagine that they share some sort of anti-imperialist solidarity. If they didn't have foreign policy grievances to hang their hat on, I have to think they would see most of those very same people as the far-right fundamentalists that they really are. I can only speculate that the mild religious fundamentalism that is directly in front of you seems more threatening than the severe religious fundamentalism that primarily occurs 5000 miles away.

(I believe in ophthalmology this is a diagnosable condition called near-sightedness.)

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 10:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree 100% re; apathy. I just cannot accept that it is the right attitude for citizens of a democracy.

Seeing Muslims as some sort of anti-imperialists is a new perspective to me. I had assumed (always risky) that the affiliation was born of a desire to demonstrate moral superiority, as in "See, we are not bigots, We are open and accepting (even if it kills us)" - which ties into the globalist/one worlder view point; we are all the same, everywhere, John Lennon "Imagine", etc, etc. which makes people useful tools of the super sonic jet setting international business set that would seel out country for more money and power (personal gain).

I do not believe we are all the same or want the same things and I don't want to be sold down the river. So I find Clinton and her ilk particularly despicable. I have certain spiritual beliefs about souls being attracted to certain times and places - perhaps even being in part a creation of those variables - because they are different. You could chalk it up to genetics though if you want to stay on the proven science end of things; that and culture.

I am not a robot, damnit.

Jim, Not splitting hairs. A sound distinction, IMO.


Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 12:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

avedis -- Don't take it the wrong way. I think you're absolutely right about moral superiority, etc, although no group has a monopoly on that.

Especially after 9/11 and then Iraq, though, I did get the definite sense that a lot of people thought American foreign policy was the real problem and that Islamists opposed American foreign policy and therefore that there was some sort of common ground there, and never mind what the actual political agenda of these groups might be.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 3:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I see what you're saying. I had forgotten about all that. I read a book that was popular at the time following 9/11 (why do they hate us period?) written by an ex-CIA guy called, "Imperial Hubris". It basically postulated that US policy causes people like Bin Laden to do the things they do (did). Bin Laden himself blamed US policy. Honestly, I kind of bought into a bit myself. I should have known better.

I grew up with my grand parents living near by and then, after Tatiks (grandma) died, my grandfather came to live with us. They had lived in the MENA and were survivors of the Turkish genocides (GF was from what is now central Turkey and GM was from a little town on the Syrian/Turkish border). They drilled into my head what life was like for Christians under a non-secular Muslim rule. Not good. I had studied Muslim expansionism as a youth.

But being half yankee doodle and living in the safe modern secular US all of that kind of left me for a long time. I am now back to thinking that Muslims have always had a violent expansionist attitude and that they would cause trouble regardless of US policy. US policy in the MENA, being quite stupid under Bush2 and Clinton's State Dept removed the checks on that attitude and we are back to the future.

Total tangent. Grandpa looked kind of part Turkish to me and Grandma had a nose that was quite unmistakably Semitic. Dad was dark and swarthy but with an Armenian head shape and nose. He always told me the Armenians did not interbreed with other local people. I always doubted what he said based on what I could see within my own family. I never voiced that b/c it was heresy. Anyhow, being able to afford friviolities these days I had a test done. It turns out that I carry a genetic marker that is only known in some Armenians, Semitic Arabs and Ashkenazi Jews - As I suspected.



Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 5:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Not to be flip, but to borrow from Mr. Clinton, I do feel your pain. I also appreciate your sharing of your metaphysical soul beliefs, which I have often pondered.

Your friend is right in that it's mostly b.s., BUT, we also can't stop paying attention. I firmly believe the verbal violence we are witnessing matters, and I will have a bit more to say on the matter. Agreed: "Who these people are and what they will do impacts each and everyone of us, personally - perhaps the entire world."

In keeping w/ RAW's ethos, I'll use a Madonna song (I'm not a fan) to explain my contradictory perspective on the matter: "Nothing Really Matters / And everything I do to you I do to me." The video features Butoh dance, such as it is, which arose out of the chaos of WWII and formed as reaction to apparent and imposed order.

I can't say I'm a fan, but it sure mimics the disarrayed yet robotic movements of so many people yelling in the public sphere today. ISTM, at least.


The people have not checked out, but they "pay attention" in the wrong way: fast and furious re-tweets of postings from their echo-chabers, all the while feeling they have accomplished something.

NO -- they have created nothing new. The amount of words my social networking friends consume in a day from their pet sites astounds me. How they can stay sane is a mystery.

Well-said on noting the conflation of anti-imperialism with failure to note concomitant savage far-right fundamentalism of their supposed comrades.

Where can we get these empathetic folks their corrective lense, tho' ?!?

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 5:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous D said...

avedis -- That's my impression only, don't take it to the bank, but I think there was a lot of that. It's the exact opposite of the oversimplicities in the media -- we don't like American foreign policy, they don't like American foreign policy, so I guess we must be friends.

I'm at a complete loss what should be done about political Islam, but I'm prepared to admit that, at least. I think it's silly to think that ISIS and Al Qaeda are unrelated to the history of Western meddling in the Middle East, but that's how history works: everything is related. I think it's probably oversimplistic to assume that all Muslims are naturally violently expansionist, too. But I don't really have an alternative to offer you. Historically most civilizations are violent and expansionist at some point or another, including ours.

The issue basically is how do you depoliticize Islam. 300 years ago your country said there would be no established church, ever. That was a new idea as far as constitutions go, even in the Christian world. How do you create a movement in Islam that says government and religion have to be permanently unlinked? Absolutely no idea. Should we even bother trying? Again, absolutely no idea, but since nobody seems to know how to do it, the sane thing is probably not to try until you do. Nobody has ever imposed that kind of rapid political shift from outside -- in Christendom it grew up from within.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 6:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Lisa --

The advent of "protest by Twitter," Internet petitions, etc., etc., is comical and a perfect example, yes. And yet apparently it is powerful -- if the limits of your vision are to force some poor twit who said something stupid to get fired as CEO or something, anyways. As far as deep changes to society or government, yeah, it's pretty much a wash. But I guess if you're too nearsighted to care, then it's "change" of a kind, right?

No idea how to fix that. I look at students I've taught at college whose knowledge base is a world across now but 6 inches deep in the deep end. The Internet gave people two things: the ability to access more information than ever before, but also the ability to access more information --that they already agreed with-- than ever before.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 6:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


A follow-on to your feelings:

Anytime I have the misfortune today to be in the vicinity of the nattering heads on media parading as serious news people, I smile ruefully knowing that every 5-10 words, I can poke a hole wide enough for a semi through their assertions.

It is by turns, both painful and ludicrous. These people are being paid to disseminate bilge, and people believe it. I rarely listen to the drama, for like our friend Mr. Lennon wrote after he bowed out of the rat-a-tat-tat, "I just had to let it go" (fr. "Watching the Wheels".)

I can write what I see and think and attempt to find disinterested sources, and it is often to the beat of one drum I speak, mine alone. Sometimes I reach someone, which is gratifying, but the exercise of reason and craft of expression is its own satisfaction.

To paraphrase the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "writing is my aeroplane." I know you have your own, but please make them healthy ones ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 7:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


The interactions online are such a bully echo chamber, and people's egos have grown so large.

They live like inhabitants of Plato's cave, for all their tech-savvy.

Not much more to say, really.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 7:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Who fired the 1st salvo? Who historically has always used the bodies and families of dead servicemmebers to proclaim only they can defend the Nation? Yet, when HRC does it.... Aaaaaaah, that is a Bridge too Far. She doesn't have the right. She's never had the right. She'll never have the right. It's only certain people who can exploit and cram the words of honor and sacrifice onto the lips of the dead...

Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 7:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i value your viewpoint.
could you explain further.
i think i'm missing your point.
your friend,

Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 12:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Ranger, one side of the political aisle has consistently used the military as a sword and shield to advance their political agenda.

When Nixon and his ratfvckers claimed George McGovern was a lilly-livered peacenik despite McGovern's WW2 flying career who fired that salvo?

When Karl Rove and W handed out purple heart band-aids to mock John Kerry, while any number of Republicans who never served a day in the military attended CPAC to rah rah the Phony GWoT, that was a salvo.

When Legions of right-wing chicken hawks equated being in New York City was the same front line soldiers in theater. When young conservatives were given thousands of hours of airtime to defend a war in which they or their families would never serve and belittle any anti-war sentiment, that was a salvo.

Throughout the War on Terror, the refrain was disagreeing with the President was hating the Troops. Disagreeing with the War "Stratgey" was hating the Troops. Criticizing Dick Cheney was hating the Troops. Service Members were constantly employed by W as props to deflect any and all criticism, that was a salvo.

When Cindy Sheehan was derided for not accepting her son's death and told by any number of right-wing commentators her son would be ashamed of her, that was a salvo.

When Pat Tillman's death was used by warmongers to flog the War until his views on Iraq became public (to which Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity stated they didn't believe it) and the actual circumstances around his death had to be dragged out of the DoD, those were salvos.

But, uh oh Hitlery Clinton and the DNC had gold star parents of the Muslim faith to critcize Donald Trump, well that's unseemly, that's shameful, that's untoward!

I disagree. Even now, Trump's defenders are still going after this family, Carl Paladino, "I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion."

No one deserves the title of Gold Star parent. What a disgraceful thing to say, but it's what I expect from conservatives.

Jim, I read your blog because I respect your service and I value your insightful and accurate posts on tactics (small unit to strategic) but, I'm old enough now where I don't feel I'll bite my tongue. I'm apologize if I'm not as outraged at Khan or Killary Clinton or the Democrats but, I give ZERO leeway to right-wing arguments. They've lost all benefit of the doubt from me.

Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 4:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

we're both old enuf.
i support neither candidate or party.
your position is well stated.
i hate to be a ass, but one could argue that the wot was a result of clintons blow jobs.
when we needed real response to terrorism the best that we got was hundreds of cruise missiles fired down range destroying prehistoric mud huts rebuilt in a few weeks.
i put a lot of this mess on the clintons.
both of them.
jim hruska

Monday, August 15, 2016 at 10:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...


You're not an ass, nor did I seek to imply it. And if you have antipathy for the Clintons okay, I won't dispute it. But, I will posit a counterpoint: that Reagan's creation of Al Qaeda and his cowardly cut-and-run from terrorists in Lebanon after putting Marines out to dry as sitting ducks and his illegal arms deals with Iran after his secret negotiations with Iran to delay the hostage release created the mess we have in the Middle East today.

But, I don't wish to end on a sour note! Take care all the best to you.

Monday, August 15, 2016 at 6:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Arguing about who started it at this point is kind of pointless. I suppose you could track it all back to at least FDR if you were creative enough. Here's the point that I think Jim was making, Gene, about Clinton: the Democrats brought the Khans to the rally to profit politically from the loss of their son. That might be crass, but there it is: they brought in a speaker who would have credibility because his child died in the war. Now, without meaning any disrespect to fallen soldiers or their families, it does seem to me that the moment you voluntarily agree to help one political campaign, you open yourself to criticism from other political campaigns.

There is the broader question about the origins of the war on terror, but all I will note there is that the bumbling inadequacies of Reagan and Bill Clinton would presumably be seen as strategic mastery by the standards of today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 11:14:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Gene and David,
back to the Khans. the larger point , and my really major concern is that many soldiers died in the pwot,and for what.
at least trump questions this.
as i say- i am in favor of neither,and both parties are flip sides of the same coin.
why did a lot of soldiers die for naught?
this is my question?
it should be a Khan inquiry also.
Gene-we are ok. the purpose of this patrol base that we call a blog is to accept all points of view that are reasoned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 3:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Electing Clinton would give you more of the same you've already got from Obama and Bush. I certainly don't question that. Even Clinton doesn't question that. To the contrary, she makes that mediocrity and warmongering a key feature of her campaign.

Trump's comments on foreign policy, from his absurdly vague plan to defeat ISIS to his reported questioning of the lack of actual use of nuclear weapons, do not lead me to think he will do anything to right the ship foreign policy-wise, however. As I have said before, my real concern is that a lot of people who have legitimate grievances with the Bush-Clinton-Obama consensus are now hitching their wagons to a wealthy celebrity who quite plainly has neither the competence nor the intention to give them anything in return.

Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 4:59:00 PM GMT-5  

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