Thursday, August 30, 2007

Droning On

We ought always to deal justly, not only with those who
are just to us,

but likewise to those who endeavor to injure us;
and this, for fear lest by rendering them evil for evil,
we should fall into the same vice
--Hierocles of Alexandria, ca. 430

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap
--Bible, Galatians 6:7


A few examples of the war on terminology being fed to the general public. This is from an article on the Reaper drones in USA Today (Faster, Deadlier Pilotless Plane Bound for Afghanistan):

"Air Force officials cite the June 2006 killing of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was tracked by a Predator but ultimately killed by bombs dropped by an F-16. The Reaper
'is ideal for that type of target' . . ."

Adversary Al-Zarqawi is now become "an ideal target." If this were true, wouldn't he be a more appropriate target for an Infantry or Iraqi Police operation designed to capture him so that he could face justice on the world market?

If he resisted, then he becomes a target and the benefactor of an assault team.
The U.S. military has the bulk of U.S. ground combat power in Iraq, yet they must resort to using millions of dollars worth of razzle dazzle to kill one individual?

Seems like a big waste of assets to this Ranger.


"This is the future," said Chad Miner, chief of weapons and tactics at Creech [AFB], a Predator trainer and an F-16 pilot. "I would love to … jump in an F-16 and go. But I'm a more valuable asset to the military doing this. It's not the sexiest answer, but it's true."

Killing people in any way, shape or form is not sexy. It is destruction, the antithesis of any life-affirming activity which might be termed sexy.

Maybe Air Force types have the benefit of thousands of meters of separation from their targets. But when sex is associated with the project of killing, one has crossed into deviant thinking.

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Behaving Badly

I was raised the old-fashioned way, with a stern set of moral

Never lie, cheat, steal or knowingly spread a venereal disease.
Never speed up to hit a pedestrian or, or course, stop to kick
a pedestrian who has already been hit.
From which it followed, of course,
that one would never ever -- on pain of deletion from dozens of
Christmas card lists across the country -- vote Republican
--Barabara Ehrenreich

Stripped of ethical rationalizations and philosophical pretensions,
a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit

--Freda Adler


USA Today writer Jonathan Turley speculated yesterday on the "Bush J.D. Curse" (The Bush J.D. Curse: Be very afraid.)

Turley says "bad things happen to attorneys who go to work for this administration," but maybe bad things happen to them because they do bad things.

Like previous Attorney General Ashcroft, Gonzales "gamed the system:
misleading or lying to Congress, continually changing positions in the courts, [and] moving around detainees and defendants to avoid judicial review." He says, "I have been thinking about the curse and how a lawyer can both serve and survive the Bush administration." But one cannot serve both God and Mammon.

"Gonzales promoted aides such as Goodling who lacked any substantive credential beyond a type of Baathist Party-like loyalty. Experienced U.S. attorneys were replaced by political cronies with little experience, such as Tim Griffin, an aide to Karl Rove."

Interesting point. Taking the analogy literally, it is possible that GWB was so violently opposed to Saddam because he was jealous of his effective control of his country. Though he has effected his own Stalin-esque purges, neither the country, nor the Republican party nor the Congress are under Bush's control now. That is how it goes grafting totalitarianism onto a true democracy. It is an ugly beast.

Turley suggests the way to avoid the curse is to stop being a crony or a sycophant. Of this behavior he gives the example of former acting A.G. James Comey, a man of integrity who refused to sign off on the
on the unconstitutional domestic surveillance program and later testified before Congress.

On the basis of his decency and honesty, Comey is an American hero. Why not consider him for the AG post?

Ranger disagrees with Turley's weak approval of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, (He "showed a modicum of independence in his brief stint as a federal judge.")
Chertoff deserves no approval -- he is as much a toady as any of them.

head of the Justice Department's criminal division overseeing the department's terrorism prosecutions following 9-11, he coerced John Walker Lindh ("The American Taliban") into signing a statement swearing he had "not been intentionally mistreated" by his US captors and waiving any future right to claim mistreatment or torture.

"Further, Chertoff attached a
'special administrative measure,' essentially a gag order, barring Lindh from talking about his experience for the duration of his sentence (Chertoff and Torture)," effectively silencing exposure of early Defense Department forays into the policy of torture of Afghan and Iraqi captures held at Bagram Air Base.

This Department of Justice representative railroaded a U.S. citizen into prison, sans the niceties of a federal court trial. Lindh was tortured, never properly Miranda'd, and there was little proof of any of his actions. Does this sound like the actions of a viable nominee for the post of Attorney General?

Ranger reckons in today's corrupt corporate culture, this will be a bragging point.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You're a Problem If We Say You Are

I think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because
his views
are different from the views of the President
and others of his kind.

Differences of opinion should be tolerated,
but not when they're too different.

Then he becomes a subversive mother.

Fielding Mellish: You cannot bash in the head of an American citizen
without written permission from the State Department.

--Bananas (1971), Woody Allen

Recent Pentagon reports say more than 22,000 troops have been discharged from the military since 2001 due to personality disorders. Many veterans believe that such diagnoses are often made to avoid making disability payments to troops who are actually suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

From the September VFW magazine:

"'If you have a combat tour and you are getting labeled as a personality disorder, there is something wrong.' said Jeff Peskoff, a 10-year Army vet who recently quit his job 'in disgust' as a civilian employee at Ft. Carson in Colorado. 'It's a quick way to get rid of that body and bring in another body. And it's a quick way to save money.'

"Peskoff told ABC News that over several months he processed hundreds of personality disorder discharges of combat vets who he believed were suffering from PTSD."

"A letter from 31 senators to Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for an investigation" (22,000 Troops Discharged with "Personality Disorders.)

Many soldiers severed from service by a "Chapter 5-13" — "separation because of personality disorder" — are not informed that they will lose medical benefits, and may have to pay back enlistment bonuses, as well. The Army defines Ch. 5-13 as a preexisting "maladaptive pattern of behavior of long duration" that interferes with the soldier's ability to perform his duties.

"In practical terms, this diagnosis means the personality disorder existed before military service, and therefore medical care and disability payments are not the military's responsibility. But some veterans and veterans' advocates have been vocal in their belief that personality disorder is being misdiagnosed in combat veterans "(Questionable Treatment for Some Iraq Heroes.)

This gambit is a serious breech of trust on the part of the Army bureaucracy. It is entirely unfair to prey upon combat veterans by diagnosing preexisting personality disorders after the completion of a combat tour. Adequate psychological testing prior to enlistment would filter a great percentage of unfit personnel.

These soldiers deserve an even-handed approach to both service connected PTSD and preexisting disorders. Psychologists are not personnel management tools.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So why don't you stay for the night? Or maybe a bite?
I could show you my favorite obsession.

I've been making a man with blond hair and a tan

And he's good for relieving my tension

Sweet Transvestite, Rocky Horror Picture Show

This is getting tijious, to use the southern phonological [tedious].

"Senator Larry E. Craig (R-ID) pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men's restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a court spokeswoman and the senator's office said yesterday
(GOP Senator Pleaded Guilty After Restroom Arrest .)"

Apparently, the news just trickled down to the Senate. The Singin' Senator recently paid $500 in fines to Hennepin County and was placed on one year's probation beginning August 8, 2007.

Three-term Senator, Craig, 62, was a member of the Singing Senators barbershop quartet, which broke up when member John Ashcroft became the singin' Attorney General, and ran unsuccessfully in 2002 to become the
GOP whip. A pity, that.

"While he was being interviewed about the bathroom incident, Craig gave police a business card showing that he is a U.S. senator.
'What do you think about that?' Craig asked the officer." Yawn. Just another hypocritical, anti-gay rights, pretty face from the Republican roll call.

If Craig doesn't run again, (former Governor Jim)
"Risch has said he is interested in Craig's seat."

One has to be careful about the wording of these things.


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Rooked from the Rookery

Mole, unpacking lunch, by Charles van Sandwyk

Mr. Toad, Ratty and Mole are the leads in Kenneth Grahame's wonderful tale, Wind in the Willows. I believe Gonzo is Mole, though he is a toady, too. In the above illustration, he is supplicating to Rat.

Musing upon the shuffle off to Buffalo of Attorney General Gonzales yesterday, I was brought again to the great victory of the Padilla trial, which was really nothing but a pipe dream.

Ranger agrees that the federal court system is the proper venue for dealing with terrorists, as they are criminals, and must be addressed as such.

The problem with Padilla was that it only demonstrated that the federal court system will prostitute itself to the dictates of the head pimp, GWB. Gonzales was merely a proxy pimp.

But he "was instrumental in decisions to detain U.S. citizens and non-citizens for indefinite periods without charging them, supported the use of military tribunals, rather than civilian courts, to try foreign suspects for alleged war crimes, and helped draft the now-infamous administration memo that supported harsh interrogation tactics of terrorism suspects" (Gonzales Out; Big Challenges Ahead.)"

Like another Bush appointee, Condoleeza Rice, it has been said that Gonzales
was in over his head. Cronyism, yes, but also indicative of the devastating effects of the leveling phenomenon.

It is the middling benchmark for which GWB's signature program, No Child Left Behind aims. It is why new studies say you might get fat if you hang around fat friends. Behaviors are contagious, and can be institutionalized.
This administration is marked by the institutionalization of mediocrity, and worse.

The most basic abuses hurled upon Padilla were suspension of habeas corpus and the right to remain silent. Somewhere in the right to remain silent is the implied right not to be drugged and tortured by inquisitors.

Regarding the now-convicted Big Bad Wolf Padilla himself -- how many people did he kill? In round numbers: ZERO.

The only thing confirmed by this trial was the rot that has become federal law enforcement and the courts, thanks to the winning trifecta of GWB, Gonzales and Congress. This Jai-Alai has only brought higher lies. Justice is no longer blind; she is a coercive dominatrix.

If the court is so effective, as all are hailing, why aren't terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in open court? If KSM is the alleged puppet master behind 9-11, then his kill record is +/- 3,000. Now that would be a meaningful conviction.

What about the other dozen or so high yield prisoners now rat-holed in Gitmo? Try a real terrorist and not mind criminals.

Let's have a reality check here. The U.S. legal system which prosecutes these people is screwed from the get-go (the Git-mo?) The government can't kidnap, transfer to secret prisons and torture people, and then tell us that justice is being done.

The U.S. response to terrorism has made a joke out of our legal system. One of the rotted bars of this scaffolding has now fallen off.

Let's hope his replacement is not such a shameless toady.

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East is East, and West is West

Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet

Till Earth and Sky stand presently
at God's great Judgment Seat

--The Ballad of East and West, Rudyard Kipling

Peggy Noonan wrote a fuzzy, feel-good piece on fighting men this weekend, but her conclusion is pie in the sky (To Old Times.)

The hub of the piece is her experience in 1991 in Normandy when, following an unexpected hot air balloon landing in an old farmer's field, she and her party were toasted by the old man who brought out an old bottle of Calvados he had waiting for just such an occasion. He said he had not seen Americans since the Invasion, and was toasting "To old times."

She rightly muses about the "kindness and generosity" demonstrated by American troops, and contrasts that with a Red Army statue in Vienna, which had the local nickname of "The Unknown Rapist." She chalks the bad behavior of the Russian soldiers to being born into a world of communism and atheism, among other nasty influences.

In her pollyannaish conclusion, she
"hope(s) some day they [our soldiers] get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

But perhaps, he'll go back into his abode, tote out an AK, and say, "This is for what you did to my cousin/mother/brother/wife." I would not want to make a bet on that one.

Like Jakes Barnes said, it's pretty to think so. If your own country doesn't thank you (Noonan admits the "soldiers are used to being used"), perhaps the other side will. However, the glaring fault of her analogy is that we are not fighting for the Iraqis, but rather, against them.

I seriously doubt a bottle of Calvados is in the offing.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Just a Bit Odd. . .

I am a firm believer in the people.
If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.
The great point is to bring them the real facts

--Abraham Lincoln

August's Real Estate Forum leads with news on terrorism insurance.

The Editor's Page feature touts "welcome news" in the first days of August as the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Barney Frank (D-MA), approved a 15-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, originally a three-year temporary program instituted in 2002 and extended once in 2005.

It will require insurers to offer "nuclear, biological, chemical and radioactive coverage by January 2009, and eliminat(e) the program's current distinction between foreign and domestic acts of terrorism."

"Real estate futurist" Christopher Lee (could it be any more apropos?) says terrorism will stick around for at least another 20 years. (I didn't know it had a shelf-life.) "By 2030, there will be at least five to 10 more 9-11-type attacks, he predicted."

The insurance will kick in at the $50 million trigger mark. I take it the insurance companies providing these big ticket policies won't be viewing these anticipated Islamic fundamentalist attacks as "acts of God."

It is all in keeping with insane rules that offer continued insurance to people (the wealthy) who choose to live on sandbars (="barrier islands") and other coastal areas.

Meanwhile, those living in FEMA trailers in New Orleans got the unfortunate news that cancer-causing levels of formaldehyde exist in their living structures (FEMA Knew of Toxic Gas in Trailers.) FEMA found it prudent to suppress this information for over a year. Meanwhile people were becoming ill from exposure to these unhealthy levels of a carcinogen, levels for which governmental safety protocol requires breathing masks.

"According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers should use respirators if they have to spend most of their working day in formaldehyde levels above 0.016 parts per million - the inspected trailer had a level of 1.2 parts per million, seventy-five times higher" (FEMA Slow to Investigate Formaldehyde Levels.)

The solution: keep your doors and windows open. No duct taping. I wonder if that is part of the recommendations in the insurance package given to the multi-million dollar home sandbar dwellers.

One thing is certain: any health damages suffered by FEMA trailer dwelling down-and-outers will not be covered by terrorism insurance, even though they have suffered a form of state-sponsored terrorism. But they don't really matter anyway, as they are trailer trash.

Wouldn't want to cause a market panic.

--Jim and Lisa

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Trying to Please Everyone

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation,
whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion,
and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose
to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose
-- and you allow him to make war at pleasure

America will never be destroyed from the outside.

If we falter and lose our freedoms,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have

--Abraham Lincoln


Last Sunday, a group of seven E-4's through E-6's wrote a clear-headed assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq, contrasting that with the "surreal" political debate in Washington. Their duty assignments weren't given, but I assume they are company-level soldiers.

I would like to revisit this piece, which, though eloquent, offers a troubling and dissonant conclusion. Before further comment, a summary of the piece.

They described the welter of actors who fill the stage, including the "Janus-faced"
Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, "which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense," who often "escort the triggermen and help plant" bombs. "Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric."

These soldiers "operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear."

The "vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side."

"The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run."

"Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence."

"In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal."

They then suggest we retreat to the margins. "This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities."

So far so good, but their last sentence falters: "As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through." It is too reminiscent of the last messages received from elements of the German Sixth Army isolated in Stalingrad.

The message of the entire piece is "let's get the hell out" before we do turn into that cordoned Army. Yet they end on a chipper "Get 'er done" statement -- right out of the GWB play book.

It misses as protest, when they say morale is high, and they will keep on keepin' on. Why even bother writing, if you will not protest your continued participation in a futile and corrupt undertaking?

It earns a "D" for dissonant conclusion, as it does not correlate with the intent of the article.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Destry Rides Again

Tom Destry: Well, you will fool 'em, Wash. We'll fool
'em together.

Washington Dimsdale:
The only way to do that is fill
'em full of lead.

Tom Destry:
No, no, no, what for? You shoot it out with
'em and
for some reason or other, I don't know why,
they get to look like heroes. But you put 'em behind bars
and they look little and cheap, the way they oughta look.

Destry Rides Again (1939)

Ranger's not all that interested in the recently released CIA inspector general's report. That we knew Osama was a threat back in Clinton's term is old news, as is the fact former CIA chief George Tenet is another yipping sycophant.

But I was interested in one passage from the NYT's Op-Ed coverage of the release:

"Mr. Tenet later helped hype the “slam dunk” intelligence that Mr. Bush used to justify diverting the military from the
war of necessity against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to the war of choice in Iraq (The C.I.A. Report.)"

Why does everyone take it on faith that Afghanistan was a "war of necessity"? Surely, or perhaps not so surely, the Taliban offered safe haven to al Qaida, and al Qaida is the international criminal/terror organization that attacks U.S. interests worldwide. But al Qaida is a stateless group of terrorists.

Like O.J. Simpson's friend Cato Kaelin, they may hole up here and there, but the decision to attack their hosts in this case -- the Taliban -- was not strategically sound. The Taliban was not the threat (save for allowing safe haven.) Attacking Afghanistan and destroying the Taliban did not neutralize the threat posed by al Qaida.

Ranger is truly sick of hearing from a large cohort of his fellows in North Florida: They want to destroy our way of life. Who are they, and how many are there?

Why not invade Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as they left a bigger fingerprint on 9-11. (As Jon Stewart recently quipped on his program, a full 20% of the 9-11 attackers were not from Saudi Arabia.)

International cooperation, embargoes, incentives and negotiations are always the path to follow before entering into a war.

Mr. Reagan's questions knocks again: Are you any better off (safer) today after two voluntary wars, than you were before?

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The Vietnam Card

If ignorance is bliss, George W must be ecstatic
--Jim Hightower


Desperation is in the air when GWB must play the Vietnam card as a positive example of why we must perdure in Iraq. GWB's thinking appears flawed regarding this historical, geopolitical issue (Ranger struggles not to make any potshots over the bow).

Let's consider the U.S.'s entrance into the Republic of Vietnam, rather than its ending.

Let's also use a rifle as a mechanical analogy for the structure of all historical events. Like a rifle, all wars consist of three basic parts -- the front, the back and the middle. For the rifle to function, it must be assembled properly. The same for building a correct historical analogy.

GWB's understanding of history is as flawed as his interpretation of current national and international affairs. To be understood, Vietnam must be viewed within a proper historical context.

Presidents from Wilson through GWB have been touched in one way or another by Vietnam. All presidents from FDR through RMN were actively engaged on the issue.

The U.S. involvement with RVN started with OSS support of Escape and Evasion networks sponsored by Ho Chi Minh. U.S. fingerprints and support of French policy in Indochina were present throughout the First Indochina War. In short, the VN experience was a long-term association that was not based upon the views of a few radical unelected elements within the defense establishment.

The U.S. involvement with Southeast Asia was based upon a long-term bipartisan program called containment, which had the larger mandate to prevent the spread of communism worldwide. S.E.A. was just another brick in the wall.

When U.S. forces were committed, it was to support that larger project; the idea of a democratic R.V.N. was a secondary issue. The war in VN was, from the American side, a clearly justifiable foreign policy tool.

In fact, the earliest justifications for U.S. involvement revolved around the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Throughout the war Thai, Korean and Australian forces (albeit in limited numbers) served in active combat in theatre.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, real or fabricated, was simply a justification to expand a war that was already being fought through policy action and military means.

In short, the elected leadership of America was dedicated to a global strategy to contain an ideological threat. And of course, when the U.S. disengaged disingenuously, there were ripples in the pond that can still be seen today. One example is a draft-dodging president visiting the old battleground (Ranger lied--it would affect his GERD negatively not to offer even one dig.)

Throughout the entire VN venture, the security of America was the real world issue. But there are no larger geopolitical issues being played out in Iraq. The entire venture is a fool's dream -- one of profit, and of arrogant imposition of an ideological structure -- which is destabilizing the entire region and is destructive to U.S. interests both in terms of its position is the world, as well as its domestic safety.

GWB refuses to acknowledge that Nixon's ending the war was a reflection of the will of the American electorate. Similarly today, the majority of American's favor a withdrawal from Iraq, but George stands fast. Karl Rove has promised him that his legacy will be favorable, somewhere down the road. Of course,
he was not elected to ensure his legend for posterity, but rather, to do right by the American people and their nation.

The front, back and the middle of the Iraq enterprise is all a muddle. Lies and spin cannot change this. Let the Iraqi leaders deal with Iraq. GWB should deal with America.

As we say in the South, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

A Primer

A must-see

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Fay Plays Fey

Tell her they may soon be leaving us. Leaving us for a long,
long journey.How is it that Shakespeare says?
"From which no traveler returns." Great poet

--Peter Lorre, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)


Man, what is it with America? Our great and glorious court system won't extend any legal considerations to PWOT detainees and "suspected" terrorists, but just look at its somersaults on behalf of Lieutenant Colonel Jordan, the highest-ranking officer charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal ("Two Charges Dropped.")

Major General George Fay, who interviewed Jordan in 2004 regarding the scandal, just did an about-face regarding that legality of said interview, thereby nullifying the lies that Jordan had spoken, and considerably reducing the sentence the latter will face if convicted.

MG Fay recently had an astounding experience of recollection, and "contacted prosecutors Sunday to say that he 'misspoke' during a March 12 pretrial hearing in which he testified under oath that he had advised Jordan of his rights during an interview in 2004." In his new, updated memory, he failed to read Jordan his rights.

This is strictly a put-up job and a lie. It is almost 100% assured that investigator Fay lied or omitted reading Jordan his rights as a way to short-circuit the investigation. CID agents are trained as a matter of course to read subjects their rights; this is what they do for a living. He is incorrectly hiding behind the dignity of an Army uniform.

The CID Command is a Military Police command, and Jordan, as Military Intelligence
liaison officer to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, worked hand-in-hand on a daily basis with the MPs. Every fine point of the law is followed to protect officer shitbags like Jordan.

U.S. personnel, both officer and enlisted men, have illegally detained foreign nationals and tortured and/or abused them in a myriad of ways in this cruel hoax that is the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©). Some have even died of their injuries following their harsh, torturous questioning, but that's o.k. -- they're evil.

LTC Jordan's trial had the fix-in from the highest levels. Just like Scooter Libby, both knew too much for the administration to screw them. Their foul collusion with the administration was their rip-cord.
Jordan's case seems proof that the C in C issued the war crimes orders which directed the atmosphere at Abu Ghraib.

How can one support the troops as a patriotic American, when war crimes are the order of the day? Didn't we just fight against such things a couple of wars back?

What a difference 50 years can make.

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World Power

For him, to bend is to break
(Stubborn weakness he calls strength)
He's got it made, make no mistake
(Hide the rust beneath new paint)
His smile is his most sinister feature
Profit proves his point of view
(Talks so loud it must be true)
--Paper Tiger, All

If the U.S. is the most powerful nation on earth, then why are simple weapons like IEDs controlling the tempo of operations in Iraq?

If the U.S. military can't handle or neutralize this threat, then how would they handle nuclear issues caused by, say, the disintegration of Musharrif's Pakistan?

While we throw precious resources away on GWB's pipe dream, the U.S. stands unprepared to handle a larger threat. U.S. leaders are pushing the American public down a primrose path.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bait and Switch

"The question now before us comes down to this:
Will today’s generation of Americans resist the deceptive allure of retreat
and do in the Middle East what veterans in this room did in Asia?"

--GWB, speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars


What a vile and disgusting bait from an absolutely reprobate individual. My bile rises.

Yesterday, GWB addressed a Veterans of Foreign War audience, and scolded with the above statement. As though their feelings of failure are not etched deeply enough. And they applauded, in the Pavlovian fashion such patriotic groups are wont to do.

How dare he confront the men who did what he did not have the stomach nor inclination to do in Vietnam, and now accuse them of somehow cutting and running? The "deceptive allure of retreat"? You would know, Mr. Bush.

And GWB did not heed the seductive call and himself retreat to the ranch?
Dressing up some 36 years on in a flight suit and proclaiming "Mission accomplished" doesn't legitimate a lie. How can he utter these words before these men, and not become physically ill?

This is a new height of abuse. I am rendered speechless and horrified before the gall.


From this month's Jim Hightower report:

Bush's excuse for keeping them in Iraq's civil war is that if we leave, chaos will follow.

Hello! Iraq is chaos! It's not worth the life of another U.S. soldier to try and fix what Iraq's so-called "leaders" clearly feel no urgency to fix for themselves. Besides, the same "chaos" excuse was used to prolong the Vietnam War.

We left, and what happened? Not chaos but -- golf! Yes, seven golf resorts are now strung along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. . .And Americans are invited to play.


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If they ever cut your throat,
write a note

It's friendship, friendship,

Just a perfect blendship,
When other friendships have ceased to jell
Ours will still be swell!

Friendship, Cole Porter

So Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tells a carping U.S., Iraq "can find friends elsewhere" (Whose Iraq is It, Anyway?) With friends like these, Mr. al-Maliki, you don't need enemies.

We are not friends.
We invaded the ostensible country you now ostensibly lead, and broke and twisted it beyond recognition. How can you call this friendship?

From his side, he is double- and triple-dealing us with Syria and Iran, which is a far piece from friendship, as Ranger understands the term. Playing both ends against the middle, he is.

Our national interests are not the same. His: To consolidate Shiite power in Iraq. The U.S.'s:

undecipherable to this Ranger.

Just because he wears a suit and tie doesn't mean he is the same as us, even if he does walk hand-in-hand with GWB through the Rose Garden. (Though as far as the skill of double-dealing goes, those two fit like hand in glove.)

Nouri al-Maliki is not our friend. He may be a whore sleeping with us, but that doesn't mean he loves us. The key question regarding his fidelity is: Will he let us kiss him?

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Day and Night Shift Positions Available

"He was all noblesse, no oblige"
--Garry Trudeau on GWB, when they were attending Yale


Ranger would like to know how long Padilla was in Afghanistan and Pakistan while he was supposedly training as an al Qaida bad guy. This time frame would be instructive since extended training would be required to produce a useful asset. World-class terrorists are not trained overnight.

Padilla's fingerprints were on a document supposedly captured in Afghanistan. Since there was no chain of evidence, it is not fantastical to assume that prints could have been obtained while Padilla was in a drug-induced blackout while in the brig.

Several reports indicate that injections were used on Padilla while he was questioned. Since GWB had to win this one, planting evidence is just another "walk on the dark side." This is, after all, the same Department of Justice and FBI that recently had to pay a convicted person in Boston due to prosecutorial malfeasance. If the government will frame a gangster, then why not a terrorist?

But here is the key: Let us assume that Padilla was in fact an al-Qaida asset. If this is so, then the Padilla capture is good news. Look at how easily he was caught. They didn't even bother to scrub his passport or to have him alternate his itinerary to arrive in the U.S. from a less obvious country.

For example, his return flight could have terminated, say, in Toronto and trans ship to his final U.S. destination. This would have raised less flags.

If al-Qaida is so amateurish as to have enlistment forms in the first place that can be captured -- and especially so for an indigenous U.S. asset -- then they really are amateur hour- types. This should not be like applying for a job with Burger King, the sort of job which Mr. Padilla had held prior to his miraculous ascendancy in mental acuity. Further, no terrorist group is going to admit new members without extensive bona fides.

The entire Padilla scenario is a joke, or a hoax.

Take your pick.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Justice Defiled

"You can't believe Padilla when he says we tortured him because
he's crazy from all the things we did to him."
--Jack Balkin, Balkinization

"If Padilla was abused, then it was for a righteous purpose--to reveal the truth"

--Capt. Bryce Lefever, Navy psychologist and former SERE school instructor

America has mutated its criminal justice system by executive fiat. It is now officially o.k. to torture suspects to arrive at the truth. That is a long way from Miranda and Escobedo.

I wonder how it works now. Do you read the Miranda rights to a suspect before or after they are tortured? Or are Miranda rights not required in our brave new post-GWB world?
Brilliant: The U.S. sacrificed greatly to defeat Nazis, Fascists and Communists, only to have U.S. agents co-opt their totalitarian legacy.

The Padilla case is heralded from both the right and the left as a great triumph of democracy, but
we can not share in the gleeful end to this inconsequential and bungled case. One of the biggest apostasies little focused upon was the testimony delivered incognito by a CIA operative.

First, are we to believe that a sleazy, slimy CIA operative who tortures prisoners and holds them in secret prisons is a credible witness dedicated to truth and justice?

Second, the documents were not kept in any "chain of evidence" sequence and as such are questionable. This is not reliable evidence as the authenticity is in question.

Third, the alleged agent was allowed to testify wearing a disguise and using a cover name. That is an absolute travesty of justice. How can anyone believe beyond a reasonable doubt anything to which such a person would testify?

Department of Defense spokesman Navy Commander J. D. Gordon said, "there is no direct evidence presented that Padilla was tortured." However, he was held in sensory deprivation-like solitary confinement for years.

Further, Padilla was denied reading material, including the Koran, slept on a metal bed without mattress or pillows and the light in his cell never turned off. For three years, seven months, he never saw another person except his tormentors.
Padilla was so confused by the time of his trial, he actually offered to help the President. Stockholm Syndrome, anyone? What is your definition of torture?

The corruption of morals and legality evident in this case is so egregious that it cannot in any way be tied to the concept justice.

Aside from the dismissal of our constitutional system, the expense of this wild goose chase hardly seems justifiable. Padilla was not a mover and a shaker in the world of terrorism. By all accounts, not the sharpest pin in the cushion, even before we blunted him.

It is reminiscent of the gargantuan, futile waste surrounding the five year detention of recently repatriated German national, Munat Kurnaz. The Washington Spectator opens its survey of that debacle as follows:

"FIFTEEN AMERICAN SOLDIERS WATCHED over a man, shackled to a seat in the cargo bay of a C-17 Globemaster the Air Force workhorse that usually moves Abrams tanks, Chinook helicopters or infantry vehicles. Wearing goggles that shut out all light, a soundproof headset and a mask that covered his mouth so he could not speak, spit or bite, the prisoner arrived at Ramstein Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, under the tightest security. The plane had burned through 36,000 gallons of jet fuel and had refueled in flight. During the seventeen-hour ride, the prisoner was provided with neither food nor water. Nor was he allowed to stretch his legs or relieve himself."

"This was how what had been the world's greatest democracy when George W. Bush took the presidential oath in 2001 repatriated an innocent man who'd never represented a security threat to the United States. . ."

We are great showmen, but this fanfare is poised to gain us little in the project of protecting America from terrorist attacks.
We at Ranger can not share in the gleeful end to this inconsequential and bungled case.

As Tim Grieve at Salon (via Norwegianity, 8/16/07) wrote:

"That Padilla was finally tried in a court of law is hardly a cause of celebration. After all, the only reason why, after almost four years, the administration finally charged Padilla with crimes was because it wanted to avoid a looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether the President has the power to imprison U.S. citizens without charges.

"By finally indicting him, the administration was able to argue, successfully, that the Court should refuse to rule on that question on the ground that the claims were now "moot" by virtue of the indictment. As a result, a ruling by a very right-wing appellate panel in the Fourth Circuit, which held that the President does have these imprisonment powers, still remains valid law, and the administration still claims the authority to imprison U.S. citizens with no charges. "

No one emerged as a victor in the Padilla trial. The conviction of Padilla was the indictment of a system. The President, Congress, the military and the judicial branch all behaved in a reprehensible matter.

Padilla may be pond scum, but our system of justice must rise above the miasma. The treatment of Padilla from start to end vindicates the propaganda of our adversaries.

This Ranger is shamed by official actions. Fear-mongerers and rabble-rousers are not leaders worthy of the title. These leaders are criminals and patriot poseurs.

Someday, Ranger hopes that a real court will address U.S. actions in this Phony War on Terror.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Cut and Paste

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
--Que Sera, Sera, Livingston and Evans

Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it
--George Santayana

What's past is prologue
--The Tempest (II, i), Shakespeare

Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
--Wouldn't It Be Nice, Beach Boys

Part the third of Ranger's nostalgia series:

Let's pretend for the purposes of argument that the U.S. and allied powers Britain and France actually intended to implement the Atlantic Charter, thereby eliminating and ending colonialism in the post WW II world. Let's pretend, because that didn't happen, though it sure sounded good.

Let us pretend that British troops did not enter French Indochina immediately after their surrender. Let's pretend the French weren't given control of the Indochina region immediately after WW II ended. But that didn't happen.

Let's pretend that after the French were expelled from the area, that America did not enter into the mix. This means that we must further pretend that nationalists, Buddhists, armed criminal gangs, monarchists, religious armies, government forces and the Communists would have to resolve their situation internally within their borders, and in a manner politically acceptable to their society at large.

Then we must further pretend that U.S. forces didn't enter the picture and help the government (SVN) to defeat and neutralize all the groups that were a counterbalance to the Vietnamese Communists. This is hard to pretend, since it didn't happen.

Let's further pretend that the U.S. military did not kill, maim or wound 20% of the VN population in an effort to show them the glories of Capitalism and Democracy. Again, hard to pretend, since it did happen.

If we pretend the U.S. didn't enter the fray, and the various elements of Vietnamese society had to resolve their own political future, perhaps they could have done so with all of the elements we destroyed with our intervention still intact. Perhaps they could have countered the communist threat. But of course, that didn't happen, as the intervention of our war machine destroyed the balance of their society.

Let's pretend that 58,000 Americans didn't die trying to defend a country in which our policies defeated the nationalists, criminal gangs, religious armies, Buddhists, landowners and monarchists.

Let's further pretend that one of the 58,000 would live to be a president. This is hard to pretend since it didn't happen.

This article can be re-written substituting Iraq or Afghanistan for the RVN. This is up to the reader, since Rangers have difficulty with complex concepts.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weary Nostalgia

He showed up all wet
On the rainy front step

Wearing shrapnel in his skin

And the war he saw

Lives inside him still

I Don't Want to Wait, Paula Cole

Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me, so far
--Life's Been Good to Me So Far, Joe Walsh

We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression

Another installment in Ranger's Nostalgia Weekend:

Writing an anti-war blog, Ranger is drawn to reminisce about the days when tabs and badges adorned his uniform.

Earning a Ranger tab was a purely physical feat requiring mind over matter. They didn't mind, and we didn't matter. Simply putting one boot in front of the other was a mark of success. Lack of sleep, food. . .no sweat: WETSU.

It was a game of sorts, but it was deadly serious, too. Still in training, Ranger Buddy Perry Holloway, after breaking his hip in a fall, was carried off a freezing mountain on our backs; all involved were stressed to the max. The casualties of Rangers started before we even graduated.

That was when Ranger tabs were proudly worn on our uniforms, and everything needed fit in a rucksack or hung from our bodies. The later propaganda campaign, "An Army of One," grew from this notion of solo competency born of rigorous training and single-mindedness of purpose.

Now I'm an older man, unable and unwilling to run across the street. My rucksack is in my head, and it's a heavier load than ever was carried on my back. I'm older now, and questionably more mature, but those tabs and badges still cling to my soul.

The point to my ramble is, there comes a time when intelligence trumps brute physical force. After much head-butting, one realizes there might be another, less destructive way to accomplish similar ends.

If Ranger understands this on the personal level, then why is this realization so elusive for our wise national leaders? Even those voters skeptical of GWB hoped for security with the hoary Cheney -- the voice of age, and most venal of all.

As his recently publicized tape of 1994 indicates, he knew that "taking out Saddam" wasn't worth the American lives such an undertaking might cost. For some reason, after doing a cost-benefit analysis probably involving stock portfolios vs. the health of the nation, he chose to suppress that assessment this time 'round.

Kicking ass is not a foreign policy -- it is a form of insanity. Somewhere, sometime, somehow our leaders must stop to think.

America doesn't need to be stronger -- it needs to be smarter.
If an old Ranger can see this, why can't our learned leaders?


Saturday, August 18, 2007

From Camelot to Camel Lot

Ranger question of the day:
Why are Executive Orders not subject to judicial review?
Secret sites and torture should be subjects
worthy of court attention.

Is the best of the free life behind us now?

Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?

With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell

--Are The Good Times Really Over For Good? Merle Haggard


Mr. Merle "Love it or leave it - Fightin' Side of Me - Oakie from Muskogee" Haggard, one-time con pardoned by the venerated then Governor Ronald Reagan -- Merle is now questioning the sagacity of the War. Times are dark indeed.

Further thoughts on the "Black Sites" run by the U.S. military, with the Chief Executive's blessing (The Black Sites):

What is the legal foundation that allows the Central Intelligence Agency, led by an active four-banger, to actually run a secret prison system that incarcerates suspects without the quaint legal point of a trial which fits within civilized standards. Torture need not be discussed, since it could not happen unless the secret prisons held the victims in place.

Intelligence agencies are not police forces nor are they prison masters. This is not their function, nor should it ever be.

Intelligence personnel should be concerned with intelligence. However, Mayer's article suggests otherwise, and makes one cringe at the realities of executing the U.S. Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

Imagine a country that allows its agents to focus on anal intrusions to help break down a prisoner's will to resist; it is not comfortable knowledge linking that behavior with America. It does not sqaure with "family values" and all the rest of the rhetoric.

Imagine the existence of secret prisons about which even members of Congress cannot gain information. They are so secret that even asking about them is a security violation. (I hear the Star-Spangled Banner rising faintly in the background.)

The key point is that GWB has issued an executive order that allows the CIA to hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black prison sites without family or legal notification, or offering access to legal counsel. Why, and based upon which evidence?

Why does America permit war criminals and planners and executors of aggressive wars to occupy the highest offices of our land?
Additionally, why is the term "War Criminal" applied to Saddam, but never to GWB? Both electively and unilaterally invaded foreign countries. If one is a war criminal, then so must be the other.

One thing Nuremberg established as international case law: Planners and executors of aggressive war should hang from the neck until dead.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Secret Suffering

"That explains it, then," Sam said disgustedly. "That's what
you were doing in Vietnam. That explains what the whole
country was doing over there.
The least little threat and America's got to put on its cowboy
boots and stomp around and show somebody a thing or two."

--In Country, Bobbie Ann Mason

Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now

--Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers
in politics as well as morals

--William Penn


The marginalized character Emmett says of himself, "There's something wrong with me. I'm damaged. It's like something in the center of my heart is gone and I can't get it back." This dumbstruck sense of loss and damage is a feeling shared by many in our country now.

There are layers of misery this Ranger has witnessed, as everyone has, and one of them was the Republic of Vietnam. As a participant my perspective was much too personal and immature to fully realize the lie that was the war.

Ranger's life was dedicated to that lie, as that is what professional soldiers do. They ignore the lies and focus on words like duty, honor, sacrifice, country, and courage.

But nowhere in the Vietnam lie were there secret prisons, U.S. government-sponsored torture, murdered prisoners and secret dark sites in far-flung places.

Jane Mayer's piece in this week's New Yorker magazine, "The Black Sites," is a must-read. It won't make you happy, but it will make you informed. Not necessarily one and the same in this America.

Vietnam was still a lie and a circle of misery for the people of Vietnam, and of course, the wounded and killed on both sides bore that misery.
But my Army and my war did not embrace such antithetical practices. It is all just part of a new lie.

But where is the protest? I remember protest. Where is the moral indignation? Where are our leaders? Why do we as a supposed beacon of freedom accept that our taxes support "secret sites" and presidentially-sanctioned torture at these sites?

Sending a dozen lowly enlisted men to prison on torture charges does not staunch the bleeding from the gaping wound that has been inflicted these six years on America's democratic principles, nor does it change the fact that American "democracy" is now a cruelly perpetrated hoax and a joke to all who have served and suffered in previous wars.

America never was lily pure, but only the fringes were questionable; now the center is corrupt and the fringes are silent.

Ranger's America is fast-disappearing -- like a mirage. America is not, was not and shall not be synonymous with words like "walking the dark side," secret sites, prisons and aggressive questioning.

Why is America silent? This is how it always starts.

This silence is another level of misery. Like Emmett, America's heart is damaged and the center is gone.

We must get it back, or America is a thing of the past.

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It's a Mad, Mad World

We bring you the high and the low at Ranger.

Here is Mort Drucker's wry deconstruction of the cliches, just so you know.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watch It, Kiddo


Ranger Question of the Day:

How could calling GWB a lying drunk driver who abused cocaine and marijuana, and who is engaged in a world domination tour, be construed as political speech? Isn't it the truth?

In line with the previous post, several airlines passengers in recent weeks have been kept from boarding their flights due to their wearing incendiary, anti-Bush T-shirts which "upset" some fellow passengers. This behavior is the very thing that makes Section 1076 so necessary.

I will include the following Supreme Court ruling from late June '07, which no doubt gives further justification:

"The Court rejected a school district's appeal of a ruling that it violated a student's rights by censoring his anti-Bush T-shirt.

"A seventh-grader from Vermont was suspended for wearing a shirt that bore images of cocaine and a martini glass—but also had messages calling President Bush a lying drunk driver who abused cocaine and marijuana, and the 'chicken-hawk-in-chief' who was engaged in a 'world domination tour.'

"After his suspension, Zachary Guiles returned to school with duct tape covering the offending images.

"Williamstown Middle School Principal Kathleen Morris-Kortz said the images violated the school dress code, which prohibits clothing that promotes the use of drugs or alcohol. (?)

"An appeals court said the school had no right to censor any part of the shirt.

"On Monday, the court said schools could regulate student expression if it advocated illegal drug use. Justice Samuel Alito cautioned that schools could not censor political speech.

"The case is Marineau v. Guiles, 06-757" (Court Allows Student's Anti-Bush T-Shirt.)

This kid is coming dangerously close to being the cause of an invocation of a 1076. Can't you see -- his T-shirt would have promoted a glut of drinking and carousing, so enamored is GWB's student base of all things presidential. Thank god for duct tape; even the first HSS Czar Ridge sagely recognized its many uses for keeping the Homeland safe.

America is coming perilously close to slipping its gears when a Supreme Court decision is needed in order for citizens to express basic truths in a manner reflecting constitutionally protected rights.

The military is required under pain of legal bludgeoning not to say anything derogatory about the Commander in Chief. But is it derogatory if it is the truth?

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Slouching Toward a Police State: Section 1076

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied
--Epitaphs of the War, 1914-1918, Rudyard Kipling

The Defense Appropriation Act of 2007 has a disturbing provision, Section 1076, set to take effect October 2007, which allows the president broad powers to employ the armed forces, including the National Guard, to:
  1. Restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States..., where the President determines that,...domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order;
  2. Suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy...”

Note: I could not access the bill through the government records, which were "unavailable" online. An informed discussion arose in the dialog section at Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Note also this was passed by a Democratically controlled Congress, over some opposition that the bill nullified the
Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act. It gives the president the legal authority to define the conditions for declaring martial law.

Why would such a provision be needed when the two aforementioned acts already address the issue of martial law? Our military is fighting phony wars overseas, while the real war is political, and addresses the issue of balance of powers within the U.S. Constitution and traditional operational techniques.

The real war is being fought over the body of our foundation documents, and it is unclear whether they will emerge as recognizable once this fear-mongering group of scoundrels leave office.

Laws should address valid and emerging concerns, and there are none evident here. What is the problem being addressed, and why is Section 1076 the solution?

Addressing martial law within the U.S. homeland implies that the U.S. population is the problem. When would our state constituted authorities be incapable of maintaining public order?

Section 1076 is a diminution of State's rights and the governors' constitutional right to properly lead their states during a state of emergency. Since the Governors supposedly control the state's National Guards, then what are their options when these assets are federalized?

Will the country be well-served by bypassing the states?

The issue of martial law is the logical conclusion of a march to a presidential militarization of U.S. society. Once martial law is declared, what are our guarantees that it will ever be lifted?

Why is Section 1076 required? America has prospered for over 240 years without it. Why now?

Section 1076 is yet another preemptive strike in the presidential pocket, should the domestic rabble become too agitated for comfort.

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