RANGER AGAINST WAR: September 2008 <

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Regimental motto:
Sua Sponte

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world
--Mother Teresa

Well, that's all right, Mama

That's all right with you

Yeah, that's all right now, Mama

Just anyway you do

--That's All Right Mama
, Elvis Presley

Diane Schroer,
a Ranger-qualified Special Forces officer who began transitioning from male to female shortly after retiring as a Colonel after 25 years of distinguished service in the Army recently won her Title VII sex discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress.

Schroer was awarded a job as a terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress, but the offer was rescinded after the former David Schroer informed her supervisor-to-be that he would "start becoming Diane before beginning the new job."

The Boson Globe reported last week, "Schroer said that in the Army she was director of the classified group that tracked and targeted terrorists, and she briefed high-level officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney. After retiring from the military, David Schroer interviewed for the Congressional Research Service job at the Library of Congress and got an offer in December 2004 (Transsexual Wins Bias Lawsuit.)" The only reason she was terminated prior to service was her impending gender transition.

We wonder how sympathetic the
Shadowspear or SOCNET communities are to their fellow Ranger's plight. We are sure they would quibble over the Colonel's "schoolhouse Ranger" status, somehow finding a way to shun her from a community of potential brotherhood and support. Ranger imagines they will be in a real bind having to recognize that a woman is actually a Special Forces - Ranger type with bigger balls than most of them possess.

Even if they were to recognize Schroer as one of their own, she would then have to contend with their Neanderthal views of women in general. Probably a less savory scenario for Schroer than the SOCNET members.

We as a nation have a long way to go if we wish to claim inclusivity and full membership in the 21st Century.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Bonfire of the Vanities

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say

I don’t need your war machines

I don’t need your ghetto scenes

--American Woman
, The Guess Who

Sometimes I think its a sin
When I feel like

I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again

, Gordon Lightfoot

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done

--Oh! The Places You'll Go
, Dr. Seuss

Ranger Observation of the Day:
Indicator that the U.S. has not won the wars--

There is no George W. Bush Avenue

anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan


Sarah Palin, despite being a singularly unriveting woman, continues to rivet the nation. Since John McCain was a life-long military officer, her selection makes sense, militarily-speaking. In any unit, in any situation, one of the following two power dynamics apply:

  • Strong commander + a weak executive officer
  • Vice versa

There is never strong-strong or weak-weak. This is necessitated by the need for one commander and one voice within an organization. This applies in the political arena, as well.

For example, in 1944 the U.S. had a strong Franklin Delano Roosevelt teamed with a weak Harry Truman. Probably no Vice President could have been stronger than FDR. The same dynamic applied to Clinton-Gore.

The Kennedy-Johnson pairing showed a President weaker than the VP, with Johnson being the political heavyweight of that equation. The same power reversal is true of the current Bush-Cheney dynamic.

On the other hand, Eisenhower had a weaker VP in Richard Nixon, as did
Johnson in Hubert Humphrey, Nixon in Spiro Agnew, Ronald Reagan in George H.W. Bush, and H.W. Bush in Danforth Quayle.

Nixon became strong when he adopted law-and-order as an election issue. Humphrey failed to gain the presidency against him, as he did not successfully transition into a figure of power, as had Nixon. In addition, he was another example of a weak-weak pairing in his choice of running mate --Edmund Muskie. H.W. Bush won against another weak-weak combo -- Michael Dukakis and Geraldine Ferraro, but he failed to gain re-election because he did not grasp that it was the economy, stupid.

The same is true of Reagan and Bush. Bush 43 lists Reagan as his ideological father vs. his own biological father. Even he recognized the power disparity. Listing Reagan as his ideological father is a stretch, however, as it is doubtful that Bush has the ability to be inspired by anything other than sports figures and analogies.

Imagine the consequences had either Quayle or Agnew ascended to the presidency. The country can ill-afford such mediocrity.

The Obama-Biden ticket seems an attempt to infuse adult wisdom to the untried upstart, much as Cheney ostensibly did for Bush. However, age and years in does not equate with strength. While Biden may be the experiential heavyweight, the Obama-Biden ticket still fails the strength-weak test. Much as with the Bush-Cheney ticket, neither candidates brings a preponderance of strength. Both are weak-weak pairs. Bluster and bravado does not substitute for strength.

The weak Bush-Cheney pairing won due to the Rove machine which shut down the weak opposition of Kerry-Lieberman. BushCheney won its second term on fear and war alone.

For better or worse, McCain is temperamentally unable to accept a running mate that would outshine him in any area other than conservative/Christian brilliance. Like LBJ, Palin balances the ticket, proving an unrepentant champion of everything far-right. She is the antidote to any questions of McCain's maverick leaping the fence

If McCain is to be castrated, it must be by the lovely Sarah, who will keep him in the fundamentalist pasture. The apparatchiks must be assured of no more of his youthful flirtations with liberal ideology. She imparts a virility, with a femininity more robust than his masculinity.
Palin has become the dominant member of the McCain-Palin ticket, despite lacking all depth.

She seems the stronger member, yet she is weakness personified. Per our paradigm, this weak-weak matchup would seem to be a losing hand. if this ticket flies, this would be the first case in American politics of pigs having wings.

In their rush to mediocrity, the republicans are exploiting and contending for the heart of a degraded nation.
They fail to address the real issues which will dog this nation for generations to come, causing a reification of what it means to live a "good life."

Palin may have knocked Obama off the front page, but she is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

O Captain! My Captain!

January 20, 2009:

The End of an Error

--Bumper sticker

Well I told you once and I told you twice

That someone will have to pay the price

--The Last Time
, The Rolling Stones

This love affair is over

Gone, gone, gone

--Gone, Gone, Gone
, Madonna


Ranger Question of the Day:

Is this just a diversionary attack,

with the main thrust of the enemy's efforts

yet to strike another vulnerable sector?


President Bush suggested in his recent speech that Wall Street is on the verge of imminent collapse, lest Congress do as The Divider, er, Decider decrees. And of course, Congress after the requisite hemming and hawing, will acquiesce, albeit under protest and with panache. Rubber stamping is the order of the day.

It may be instructive to view the fiscal emergency threatening the total well-being of our society through the eyes of a soldier, since his fans are so fond of seeing President Bush in his Commander in Chief hat.

Viewed as a military operation, America is dug in a non-mobile defense. The President and Congress have ignored the threat for so long that the perimeter is about to be penetrated and overrun.

What the President and Congress will not tell us is that this is not a local penetration that can be contained by maneuvering assets to neutralize the threat. This is a decisive engagement; the U.S. will win or lose with the forces that are engaged. Our entire financial force structure is employed forward and has no reserve elements in place to affect the action.

Further, the local penetrations that that neither the President nor Congress can blunt are only the first phase of the operation. We don't even know at this time if this is the main attack, or merely a diversionary one; possibly, it is only a probing attack.

After this penetration is blunted there will be other breaches that can lead to the entire front crumbling.
How can a C in C wait until the entire front, or any sector of the front, is in danger of collapse before he even recognizes the problem, let alone reacts to it?

It is time to relieve this Commander for total incompetence before we are all thrown into total panic and disorder.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Corporate Welfare

Rainer Hachfeld, Neues Deutschland

[T]o crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed
which dare already to challenge our government
to a trial of strength,
and bid defiance to the laws of our country
--Thomas Jefferson

[T]he sheer power of corporate capital . . .

makes it difficult to even imagine what

a free and democratic society would look like

(or how it would operate) if there were publicly

accountable mechanisms that alleviated

the vast disparities in resources, wealth, and income

owing in part to the vast influence of big business

on the U.S. government and its legal institutions

--The Role of Law in Progressive Politics
Cornell West

Roughly speaking, I think it's accurate to say

that a corporate elite of managers and owners governs

the economy and the political system as well,

at least in very large measure.

The people, so-called, do exercise an occasional choice

among those who Marx once called

"the rival factions and adventurers of the ruling class"
--"Government in the Future,"
Noam Chomsky

Freedom and Unity

--Vermont State Motto


Some perspective, from the Burlington Free Press (9/23/08).

Before Congress approves the $700 Billion bailout for the nation's profligate and exploitive financial institutions, "leaving the firms, its shareholders and executives free to reap the benefits of public assistance," we should consider other national needs.

"The price tag for the bailout is stunning considering the wrangling Vermont's congressional delegation had to go through to get $2.5 million in federal heating assistance for the state that was already authorized. What other programs that serve ordinary Vermonters and other everyday Americans must be sacrificed in order for Washington to come up with the $700 billion?"

The Monday Free Press reported a Republican filibuster blocked passage of the "Warm in Winer and Cool in Summer" Act (Sanders, Welch Push for Heat Aid.)

"The bill would help poor Americans across the country by nearly doubling federal funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program from about e$1.3 billion a year to more than $2.5 billion a year. In addition to helping families heat their homes in cold states such as Vermont, it would help people cool their homes in states with extremely hot summers.

"Current federal funding for the program is down 23 percent from just two years ago, the Vermont lawmakers said.

"Heating oil prices are up 35 percent from last year, while applications for help from the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, are up 25 percent."

In Florida, eligible residents may apply for assistance one time per year for a one month credit, with the maximum fixed amount allowed being $135. So each eligible household may receive a maximum of only $135 per year energy credit. Funds for the LIHEAP program are usually depleted before the end of the year.

Another program aimed at reducing the burden on the needly, the Section 8 housing program, which provides funds to assist eligible households reduce their monthly rent payments is now working on the 2003 rolls. So Section 8 in Tallahassee, Florida, is a mere 5 years in arrears. They are not taking any more applicants.

They open their books for registration a couple of times per year on an unannounced schedule. If one is fortunate to make it onto the list during the brief and unscheduled sign up days, one can be assured of waiting several years before one's application will see the light of a bureaucrat's day. It seems attrition is the order of the day for the common man.

For them that has, Mr. Bernanke is advocating for expediency.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bull Market

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Iran's President Ahmadinejad is addressing the United Nations this morning. Same-same President Bush.

Before either commence their bloviations, let's be clear that the words of neither will pull the U.S. bacon out of the self-immolating fire. And Ahmadinejad certainly couldn't put our bacon in the fire. We are not implying that Iran is a client terrorist state, but rather, that our crumbling economy far outstrips terrorism as a threat to the stability of the United States.

Ahmadinejad will not have to talk about the dismal state of the Iranian economy. All he has to do is talk. He doesn't have to destroy the Great Satan.

The Great Satan is doing a "heck of a job" self imploding.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Smooth Operator

What's the use in tryin'?
All you get is pain.

When I needed sunshine I got rain

--I'm a Believer
, The Monkees

There would be no society if living together

depended upon understanding each other

--Eric Hoffer

Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs

--Isaiah Berlin

You can take the boy out of Cleveland,

but you can't take Cleveland out of the boy



A small observation on a moment in the life of your eponymous blogger.

Upon finding him outside of a public toilet in a coastal resort area interacting with the attendant who was gesticulating wildly, I approached cautiously. The attendant appeared to be in his 70's, though still robust, and sported a Combat Infantry Badge on his cap. Clearly, he was not amused.

Smiling, Ranger says, "He said he was gonna kick my ass!" This is not the sort of interchange one expects in an upmarket vacation area. They were approaching and separating, like bantam cocks. "Get outta heah! Commie, pinko bastid!" says the attendant, in (possibly) mock anger. Says I, "What's wrong?"

Apparently, Ranger had thought it funny to ask the attendant if he was on the lookout for any untoward Republican trysts; however, the attendant was a die-hard Republican. He is oblivious to Rule #1: Know your enemy.

Practically at fisticuffs, Ranger continued to sink his boat by attempting to engage the man on the futility of the current wars. The
coup de grâce was handing the man his Ranger Against War card.

I shook my head violently, but the gesture had already been made. Of course the man's hands flew up and back, as if the card were saturated with
anthrax. Gamely I interjected that the two loved their country, and probably agreed on 80% of what needed to be done to get it back on track. But the attendant was having none of it.

"Did he make you walk all the way down that hill? Why this. . . ," disgustedly gesturing at the confounded card-holder. My new hero.

The zeal of a true believer is a thing to behold.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

From Oklahoma! to Oh! Calcutta!

I know you're in there
You're just out of sight

Oh, time passages

--Time Passages
, Al Stewart

Your echo comes back out of tune

Now you can quite get used to it

Reverb is just a room

, Jack Johnson

Vanity of vanities; all
is vanity


Ranger is waxing philosophic.

He read in Saturday's Boston Globe that Barbara D. Metras, 99, had died.
Ms. Metras was the first woman in the Armed Services to retire after 20 years of service. She attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer in 1945. He also learned that the rock formation "The Old Man of the Mountain" had fallen off Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains years before his recent arrival there (in 2003, actually).

He will be attending his 40th college reunion next month, and will be part of a group which will address ROTC cadets from the class of 2008/09. This set him to thinking how it would have been for him had the commensurate occasion occurred upon his graduation in 1968. Those men would have been class of 1928! Practically geezers. How might their experiences have comported with those of the psychedelic love children?

Then he thought about how hip people in his generation still imagine themselves to be: "We introduced yoga, transcendental meditation, Esalen." They listened to The Beatles, and Rolling Stones and The Doors and "Hair" and "Oh! Calcutta" . . . But what if -- just what if -- the things they ushered in were not societal positives. What if the Class of 1928 held better values and mores?

After all, before them was Moon River and Frank Sinatra and "Oklahoma!" and "The Music Man". After them was Johnny Rotten, Biggie Smalls "All That Jazz" and "Rent" (in no particular order.)

Ranger has outlived a geologic formation. He muses he will appear positively neolithic to these young cadets. Perhaps he will become, after many eons of compaction, fuel for some future H2.

A sobering thought.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bail Out

The only difference between what the Fed did
and what Hugo Chávez is doing in Venezuela

is Chávez doesn't put taxpayer dollars at risk

when he takes over companies.

He just takes them

--Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)

[The U.S. is becoming]
"The United Socialist State Republic of America

--Nouriel Roubini

Recent and projected bailouts have the Fed talking hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars to bail out arrogant, high-living affluent Republican denizens of the business world. This will be effected with tax dollars extracted from everyday working American taxpayers. You might call it the "trickle up effect."

Yet for as long as Ranger can recall, Congress agonizes over the Department of Veterans Affairs budget annually. It is always a hot potato issue, and they habitually delay funding and go into emergency situations. This ploy is used to keep the budget appearing as minimal as possible while seeming to cover all the bases.

Bush is negotiating a $700 billion government bailout for wayward financial vehicles. Compare that to the $92 billion for the DVA budget for 2009, $2 billion more than 2008. So the bailout would cover roughly seven years of VA funding, presuming needs remain at current levels.

Contrast that with the "emergency funds" which are always at the ready for the Iraq engagement, monies which always exceed the entire DVA annual budget. Now the same applies to the Wall Street bailout money. Somehow, the green always magically appears without any weeping or gnashing of the teeth. Well, at least we're not in a recession; at least that.

The money is always there, save when it is required for the average American who actually fights these stupid ass wars. The U.S. veteran: low man on the totem pole when it comes to the federal feed trough.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

Somebody Broke Your Wings,
Little Bird -- You Can't Fly.

Somebody Broke Your Wings --

Beat 'Em Down, Beat 'Em Down,

--Broken Wings
, John Mayall

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

, The Beatles

I'm like a bird, I'll only fly away
I don't know where my soul is
I don't know where my home is
--I'm like a Bird, Nelly Furtado


A story carried in the Portland Press Herald (Maine) a few days ago did not get MSM coverage, but it is tragic and indicative of the insoluble madness that is the current U.S. wars. That some well-meaning people take this as a good thing is also sad. There is nothing good about this story.

Noora Afif Abdulhameed, 6, whose skull was "shattered by a U.S. sniper's bullet" in October 2006, will soon be undergoing gratis neurosurgery in Portland. Her father was also shot in the jaw while the family was driving together in Heet, Iraq.

Ranger was bothered by the story since it is hard to shoot a little girl in the head after lining her up in the crosshairs of a 9 power sniper scope and not notice that it was a little girl.

Democracy is messy, but not so much as a bullet into a little girl's brain housing group. Yes, we must fight them there as we certainly don't want our dear offspring being shot on the street by terrorists here. Forget the fact that this has never occurred. Maybe to be a "terrorist" is defined by what side of the scope you are on.

After Noora's skull was rent by a high-velocity round, she has made it to Portland with the help of the non-profit group No More Victims that brings war-injured Iraqi children to the United States for medical treatment. Treatment that will never return her to normal, and for what?

Group founder Cole Miller said, "It's a sweet moment, huh?" when Noora arrived in July (Noora's Journey). But does anybody really believe this is a feel-good story? Do we expect her family will be grateful for the medical treatment?

In a generous gesture, "Madison Hurley, 5, of Portland gave Noora a bouquet of balloons -- one of which looked like a U.S. flag -- tied with colorful ribbons." Not to utterly dismiss the efforts of these good-minded people, but does anyone see the absurdity here?

Several southern Maine communities held fund-raising events for Noora, and Miller said "such community-based efforts could help combat terrorism by showing the world that ordinary Americans care about what's going on in other countries." Huh? The only terrorism exhibited here is that wrought upon the Iraqi populace by an uninvited occupier.

It is an irresponsible act to place U.S. combat soldiers as traffic cops when the soldiers are improperly trained and temperamentally ill-suited for the mission. Ranger can not blame a scared young man for being trigger-happy, but he can question the occupation of a nation that never aggressed upon our Homeland.

Yes, Noora's head needs to be repaired, and it is fortunate for her that a group of small-town Americans has banded together to sell spaghetti dinners and sell grocery bags to get her here. But the real story every time is the insanity of the war.

People focus on the small things because it is something they can do. But the small things they do, like sending ditty bags to soldiers and knitting quilts, too often ends up being a glorification and a de facto furtherance of the wars. Groups such as No More Victims and Doctors Without Borders do a just work, but their stock in trade is the brutality of war.

That much conviction must be applied to effecting the cessation of the violence, as is applied to treating the victims and the fighters.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From Bumpkin to Loon

Shake it up is all that we know
Using the bodies up as we go
--Out of Touch
, Hall and Oates

Standing well outside the Bush compound in Kennebunkport the other day, we can report the dialog was far from happy.

Even those pilgrims whose bloated SUV's sported "McCain" stickers were not in jovial moods. Most faces were drawn into pensive stares, and the scene had something of a Bastille feel about it. But instead of a quickening, there was a sense of dejected dissolution from among the spectators.

The only amusing point was a glance at the map: the neighboring Island to the compound on Walkers Point is
"Bumpkin Island." One must ask: How did they know to issue that name, generations en avance of Mr. George W. Bush? Just brilliant topography.

Addendum: I just learned we are one mile away from Loon Mountain, where the Highland Games will be held this weekend. As far as situations in the country right now, I feel like we are in the place to be.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Total War

The death of William Tecumseh Sherman. . .
is an event that will
bring sorrow to the heart
of every patriotic citizen.
No living American was so loved and venerated as he

--Benjamin Harrison

I kick arse for the lord

--Dead Alive (1992)

Regarding Harrison: everyone is entitled to his opinion.

Still reflecting upon the Civil War, the concept of Total War introduced by Grant, Sheridan and Sherman has been in Ranger's mind. Prior to those men, combat operations were generally conventional in nature.

Their new idea, total war, implies the application of technology and the aiming of destructive forces at the enemy's citizenry, extending the fight beyond the confines of the battlefield. It took war from the artificial construction of fighting over plots of ground, and made it personal and societal in scope.
Sherman and Grant destroyed a civilian infrastructure to separate the conventional Army from civilian support, as well as to destroy both the military's and the civilian's will to fight.

This concept of total war that evolved is offered by way of example to show that COIN is actually a distorted innovation of the method, which is now aimed totally at the civilian population's will to fight, after their army has been militarily crushed. Unlike previous conventional wars, the U.S. death toll in current hostilities indicates that the civilian population has not lost their will to fight. It is like putting the cart before the horse, except there is no horse, and we are fighting the cart.

uring the conventional phase, Shock and Awe was aimed at both the civilian population as well as the military structure. However, even that full-on attack did not achieve its objective. Though it achieved the military end (sort of), it did not destroy the civilian will to resist.

Today, the U.S. military conducts nation-building and COIN operations that target purely civilian populations. What the U.S. calls COIN actually consists of battling elements of foreign civilian populations hostile to our occupation. This is a form of Total War, sans war.

In Iraq and Afghanistan there are no enemy armies, there is no enemy country, and yet we fight.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

She's Like Me!

Americans want someone who is like me, or worse

--Rob Riggle, explaining the Sarah Palin phenomenon

on 9/11 Jon Stewart show

I can rub & scrub this old house
'til it's shinin like a dime

Feed the baby, grease the car,
and powder my face at the same time

--I'm A Woman
, Peggy Lee

So-uh, are you experienced?

Have you ever been experienced?

--Are you experienced?, Jimi Hendrix

Ranger Observation:
Every time Palin and McCain are photographed together,
body language suggest Palin is the alpha

Sarah Palin is everywhere. She was in Barney's Cafe in Mt. Airy, N.C.; she was in New York, Vermont and Maine, too. She is all over the Deep South.

All of these everyday women look so very much like her, and drive the same SUV's I imagine Ms. Palin to drive. Their prime concern is their backyard, and they don't know too much about the news cycle. They don't need to.

With Sarah Palin's VP nomination, we see the great leveling impulse in America reaching for the highest office of the land. Sarah Palin is us, or at least, a large portion of us. She is the Obama antivenin.

Why? Because he is too slick, too cool, too modern. We are not there yet, aside from some privileged East and West Coasters. We are potato and corn eaters, and when we vacation, a hunting trip and a little venison might be a big treat.

JFK spoke in his 1961 inaugural speech of a "new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war. . . proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."

Today's generations do not know their history, and they stand mute witness to the slow undoing of their own civil rights, and the violation of others human rights around the world. They are prey to the dictates of the media. They imagine they are free, because they do not know from absolute servitude.

Talk about your Equal Rights: Sarah Palin, can shoot, field dress AND cook the moose. She is both 1808 and 2008 for much of America. Forget the bits about rolling back reproductive rights and all the rest. Palin is a palliative, a sop to Americans for whom America is moving too fast.

She is not slick with that Midwestern nasal accent, but she is a bulldog. We have never had a Winston Churchill, but she will suffice. Basketball player/beauty queen contestant, every schoolboy's high school dream. And life gets so complicated after high school, so Palin is a happy throwback. She is the John Mellencamp nee Cougar of the political scene. She is "Jack and Diane," and sometimes girls get knocked up when they dribble off their Bobbie Brooks without using a prophylactic.

But the "sin" is turned into God's will, transmuted into a miracle which thereby obliterates the stain. When you give humans dominion over the earth, dismiss evolution and subjugate the reality of the biological imperative to procreate in everything from amoebas to yaks, it is easy to do.

What if Trig, Palin's Down Syndrome baby of questionable parentage, were not seen as a gift from God, but rather a curse? It has been speculated that Trig is actually Palin's daughter's illegitimate child. In any event, Trig, and every other difficult offspring of such unions may just be God's punishment to the offenders of his law. Just a thought.

And what if Trig were not born into the family of the lady governor. What if he were the spawn of a crack whore, a child that ends up in the state orphanage system. Is he still a "gift"? If so, who is gifted? Trig works well as a prop to buoy up the rhetoric of the "beliefs" of a conservative fundamentalist politician. But all is perspective.

Palin is the champion of every woman who conceives out of wedlock, especially those hypocrites who claim to be religious adherents, condemning fornication.
She symbolizes shotgun weddings, both hers and her daughter's.
Obama declaims that the press mayn't probe into Ms. Palin's family secrets, much as he told the press his own family was off limits. But Obama's perorations are off-base.

Candidate Obama was supposed to bridge the gap, bringing black and white worlds together, co-opting the ministerial oratory of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Rev. Martin Luther King. Raise us up to another level. The problem is, most Americans like who they are, just like most people in general. They resent uppity Michelle Obama telling them her husband will take them to a new place, from which they will never be able to go back. We are Green Mountain Boys, not Red Octobrists.

Outdoing Obama on the in-the-hood street cred comes white bread Ms. Palin, daughter preggers at sixteen or seventeen by another high schooler.
Palin thrives precisely because she is lacking. Her rhetoric and stated ideals are not consistent with the messy realities of her and her family member's lives. With every new revelation, every attempt to skewer, comes a greater sympathy, because "She is like me."

For many black Americans, the Huxtables of the Cosby show are not their reality.
It takes a village because there is a daddy dearth. Obama and family present a tidy image, but the dream is not the reality.

The dream of Camelot may have flown in JFK's day, and Jacqueline Kennedy was an image of refinement to which many aspired, but today, we have the apotheosis of "Lost" team members and reality shows whose members are admired for their thick carapaces and willingness to eat grasshoppers.

Madison Avenue has known this little secret for ages. The women in your household ads must not be too glamorous, for the consumer must relate to your product, and even feel a little better than the actor, if possible. All of this is written in full understanding that politics should concern itself with matters of state, but in full sorrowful realization that it is in fact a beauty contest.

Ergo, Sarah Palin, American candidate extraordinaire. Karl Rove would be proud.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Democratic Radicalism

Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dying's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with an honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free
--American Soldier, Toby Kieth

For, I could not love thee, Dear, so much,

Loved I not honour more

--Tell Me Not, Sweet
, Richard Lovelace

The main goal of the future is to stop violence.
The world is addicted to it

--Bill Cosby

Ranger Question of the Day:
Why do we need singers and songwriters who never

served in the military defining patriotism for us?


Ranger recently saw Toby Kieth on t.v. crooning his "American Soldier" to a unit deploying to war zones and their families. This visual prompted thoughts on the similarities between the people we call radical Islamists and the radicals bouncing around in the borders of the U.S.A. Toby Keith is the examplar of America's mass hysteria and self-hypnosis.

The camera showed the tears streaming down the faces, and one soldier actually rendered a reflexive salute to that non-serving, exploitive fat fuck Keith as he wailed, "freedom isn't free" with the unctuous conviction of a televangelist.
Keith returned the salute, outdoing Elmer Gantry in his delivery. (It is one thing when someone like Leonard Cohen mucks about with all the mock-bravado he can summon; to watch him perform is to understand the game. Keith, on the other hand, is playing it to a crowd who believes him.)

Yet these wars have nothing to do with freedom. The freedom of the U.S. was secured in our Revolution. It is understandable that Keith sings this pap in the embrace of the phony partisanship that now passes as patriotism; this commercial exploitation is the American Way. But it was sickening to see the soldiers rendering a hand salute to showman Keith. A mini Nuremberg moment it was.

In place of a skinny Goebbels we have fat-assed Toby Keith. Both escort their acolytes down fascistic, aggressive, chauvanistic exploitive undertakings. Democracy has become radical.

"They want to destroy our way of life," is the mantra that has led the U.S. into two enervating, devastating wars; it is a song with the coda, mushroom clouds over America. Both presidential candidates now vow to continue one or both wars indicating they believe our very existence is threatened, for there is no other reason to fight a war.

But the mantra is uttered before invading their countries in order to destroy
their way of life. To wit, U.S. policy is implementing the same policies that we claim we fear from others. Make no mistake: regime change = destroying their way of life.

Does Toby Kieth ever think about that on his way to the bank?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Grounded

--Peray, Thailand

Diplomacy: the patriotic act

of lying for one's country

--Devils' Dictionary
, Ambrose Bierce

We Americans have no commission

from God to police the world

--Benjamin Harrison


After reviewing the battles at Antietam and Harpers Ferry, Ranger noticed the pamphlet put out by the National Park Service which said, "The U.S. Army held the ground following the battle."

In the Civil War the conventional wisdom was, the Army that held the ground after the battle was the winner. That was an erroneous perception then, and it still is today. McClellan's Union Army held the ground, yet Lee's bloodied Army escaped to fight another day. This behavior applied to all the major battles of the Civil War, up to the Battles of the Wilderness.

The destruction of Lee's maneuver forces was the goal of all the combat in these battles, but the Union Generals failed to grasp this concept. Lee's Army was never pursued after any of his major battles, until Grant came along. The Union commanders prior to Grant did not exploit their successes.

Fast-forward to 2008, and we are still fighting wars to secure terrain and frivolously believing that we are successful because we take a meaningless hill somewhere in Afghanistan.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ranger is Blog of the Day

Blue skies smilin' at me

Nothin' but blue skies do I see

Bluebirds singin' a song

Nothin' but bluebirds all day long

--Blue Skies, Irving Berlin

Looking for something, finding something else,
and realizing that what you've found is more suited
to your needs than what you thought you were looking for

--Lawrence Block

Bill Wilson at Blog of the Day just awarded Ranger a Serendipity Sunday Blog of the Day Award. We're pretty chuffed.

Being a Serendipity choice means we are a happy happenstance. You don't think you need us, but as Bill suggests, you really do. In a sense, we understand how Sarah Palin might have felt as runner-up in her beauty contest, somewhat. Mind you, we won the day of September 8, albeit in a circuitous way.

We'll graciously take it anyway. Thanks, Bill.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lies II

Recession in Rural Areas, Jiho

Ah, well, it's no use prevaricating about the bush

--Wallace and Gromit,

The Wrong Trousers

Some lie in words and speeches

With every living breath

, Elton John

There is nothing more frightening

than active ignorance

-- Goethe

Truth is beautiful, without doubt;

so are lies

--Ralph Waldo Emerson


The above graphic demonstrates what we've seen along the 81 corridor in Pennsylvania in Southern New York. A whole lot of dilapidated towns.

More lies from the national treasure chest (follow-on to "Doubting Thomas"):

  • We won the Cold War, and its corollary, Communism is an implacable enemy.
Without doubt, the USSR disintegrated, so obviously we won one theatre of operation.

But if the Cold War was so important as be a multi-generational military project, shouldn't the same focus be aimed at the evil that is Chinese communism? Cuban communism is treated as a cancer, yet Chinese communists are awarded most-favored trading partner status.

Either communism is a threat, or it is not. Communists are either excellent trade partners, or communist nations are bad. This national inconsistency is an example of American schizophrenia. The same comments regarding China also apply to communist Vietnam.

If the communists in Vietnam were bad then, when and how did they morph into being "good" now? A bit of expeditious political legerdemain? If they are good, why did 58,000 men die fighting them?

  • The U.S. is fighting a global war on radical Islamic terrorism.
In truth, the U.S. is aligned with radical Islam. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is proof of this, as is our relationship with Pakistan, whose intelligence agencies are allied with al-Qaeda.

We are not fighting radical Islam on a world scale, but splinter groups which are radicalized.
By claiming for a Global War on Terror versus radical Islam, we elevate the minimal threat of the splinter groups to an unrealistic and overblown level.

All al-Qaeda members in Iraq Afghanistan and Pakistan are local, Level I threats which can not project their hostility to the U.S. Homeland ™. The only threat al-Qaeda poses to the U.S. comes from the educated, technologically-proficient, English-speaking, clean-shaven, lap-dancing aficionados. These westernized elements and their Western sympathizers and converts are the threat.

Al-Qaeda Taliban riflemen in Waziristan are simply that. Such a person can be no more than he is. He can not go James Bond with his basic Taliban infantry training. His effectiveness is geographically bound by his regional area of operations.

  • Some day Iraq and Afghanistan will be good friends and allies to the U.S.
You have got to be drinking the special Kool Aid if you buy this one.

Allies are a plus in international relations, but neither of these countries can add anything positive to American foreign policy. Ditto the Caucasus region of Georgia. These are not future gas stations for the U.S., but merely money sumps, hastening the end of our empire.

To be continued. . .

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Monday, September 08, 2008


But oh, did you see all the dead of Manassas
All the bellies and the bones and the bile

--Yankee Bayonet
, The Decemberists

And pile them high at Gettysburg. . .
I am the grass
Let me work
, Carl Sandburg

[Faust] shows how thoroughly the work of mourning
became the business of capitalism,
mechanized throughout a society
--Adam Gopnik, on
The Republic of Suffering

Today we saw the Antietam Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War, with over 22,000 casualties. It is today a beautiful, lush cornfield and rolling green hills, eerily dissonant to the reality of September 17, 1862.

One of our readers sent The Decembrists' lyrics, so it seemed fitting to mention today's visit. An exhibit about the work of photournalist Alexander Gardner, who documented the battlefield two days later,
mentioned the importance of his images which were the first photos of war showing dead bodies. Gardner's images of the carnage were met with revulsion -- what else?

I am reminded of our photojournalist friend Zoriah who was recently disembedded from a Marine unit as a result of his photos showing the carnage following the detonation of an IED in Iraq. These are not pretty photos. But perhaps if we saw them, rather than those of immaculate honor guards, Toby Kieth might be less appealing.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Doubting Thomas

The only difference between the two parties is marketing.

Electing Democrats to end the war

is like drinking light beer to lose weight

--Adam Jung, at Rage Against the Machine

anti-political party rally

You can't win an occupation
--Placard at Republican rally held by
Adam Kokesh,
Iraq Veterans Against the War


Here are some falsehoods that we live by in the U.S.:

  • All men are brothers. This basic tenet of Christianity is false, both in presumption and practice, leading to erroneous practices. This includes the belief that everybody is one of Jesus's sheep rather than Bush's wolves.
  • The U.S. defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is, however, a truth that the Taliban were officially ostensibly ousted from the government. Now their participation is more subtle and democratic. The same idiots or their flunkies are elected, but in different guises.
Though clearly driven underground, the Taliban were never defeated. The Taliban and Afghanistan are inextricably interwoven; U.S. and NATO actions will not alter this fact. The Taliban can not be "defeated," only suppressed. And at what cost? And why is this a NATO/U.S. concern?
  • "Tax and Spend" Liberals. At least the liberals tax before they spend. This seems more honest than their republican counterparts, who might be called, "No Tax and Spend." It is more responsible to ingather funds before spending them than to embark upon illusory deficit spending.

At least George H.W. had the good sense to go back on his word when he welshed on his "Read My Lips" foolishness. Unfortunately, George W. Bush just spends recklessly, even when his piggy bank is empty. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac repos yesterday are the latest repercussions.

  • The U.S is the world's sole superpower. The U.S. is not a superpower if viewed in the light of confronting formidable challengers like Russia, China or any combination thereof without recourse to employing nuclear strikes. Or is the ability to nuke the world the definition of a superpower?

If the latter is the case, then the U.S. has relinquished its claim to being humanistic and Christian.

We were a superpower when our image was the envy of the world, for the admiration of the world is a more powerful weapon than a nuclear arsenal.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

You Have Our Condolences


Getting accurate body counts from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is such a tricky thing.

Two weeks ago, a U.S. airstrike was first reported to have killed 80-90 Afghan civilians (
Afghan Leader Assails Airstrike that he Says Killed 95); the number was later downgraded by the Pentagon to maybe five, contradicting the initial United Nations and Afghan reports.

In a crude effort to get a ballpark figure on the number of killed civilians in Iraq, Ranger looked at the Commander's Emergency Response Program
(CERP), a military initiative which has so far spent at least $2.8 billion in U.S. funds over the past five years. In its regulating field manual -- Money as a Weapon System -- a portion of the funds are to be used to compensate families who have lost members, or amputees. $500 is paid for the loss of a leg or an arm; "up to" $2,500 for a death (Money As a Weapon.)

New York Times reported, "So far, nearly $50 million in condolence payments has gone to the families of killed and injured Iraqis." Now, even using the full $2,500, dividing that into the $50 Million disbursed thus far gives a figure of 20,000 dead Iraqi civilians. (This seems a reasonable figure, allowing for the amputee payments, as well as the deaths which did not earn the full $2,500 payout.)

Since the U.S. won't publish the figures of Iraqis killed by U.S. forces, then let us just use the 20,000 figure. If we paid for them, they must be dead. And since this is Saturday, we must be in Baghdad.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

The Road to Nowhere

And we won the war, lost the battle
Lost the war, won the battle

--Humdrum and Humble
Tears for Fears

It's too much to expect,

but it's not too much to ask

--Not Too Much to Ask
Mary Chapin Carpenter


Traveling today from Asheville to Boone N.C., we found the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed in two places, and has been so for the past year. These blocks required travelers to take large detours.

The Parkway is a major tourist destination and it is a few weeks from leaf-turning season, yet significant portions remain closed. One of the area's biggest tourist draws has blocked portions due to previous rock slides yet to be stabilized.

Of course roads are not the only untended infrastructure stateside. As New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says, the U.S. has
a "third-world [energy] grid.” While the federal government that takes "a back seat on everything except drilling and fossil fuels," the grid needs a projected $60 Billion to be upgraded to modern standards (The Energy Challenge.)

The U.S. is building roads in Afghanistan and Iraq with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, small sections of a Historic Scenic U.S. Highway stay blocked due to rock slides.

Strange days indeed.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008


Harley Davidson "Screw It" ad (9/4/08)

Why do we do this?

You've gotta do something. Don't you?

--Rebel Without a Cause

I mean, it's real hard to be free

when you're bought and sold in the marketplace

--Easy Rider

Harley Davidson ran their full page "Screw It" ad on the back of the "Money" Section of USA Today. Taking a cue from George Bush's "Bring it On" challenge, Harley exhorts its customers,


Ranger can guarantee you the days of gas costing 6 red cents won't be returning in a Blue Moon.

Mitt Romney said yesterday at the Republican convention:

"Is a Congress liberal or conservative
that stops nuclear power plants and offshore drilling,
making us more and more dependent
Middle East tyrants?"

Would those be the same Middle East Tyrants that our own president George Bush fawns over, bestowing hugs and kisses upon? The ones who have paid his daddy George H. W. dearly for delivering speeches in their kingdom? Those Middle East tyrants?

It is all so very Valhalla wanna-be. . . so, lemming-like. So Rebel Without a Cause. So asinine.

American Soldiers are fighting and dying in wars for oil, and these hogs think it is all a joke.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

on the road

--Bathing at La Grenouillere (1869),
Claude Monet

We were all delighted, we all realized we were
leaving confusion and nonsense behind
and performing our one noble function of the time,
--On the Road
, Jack Kerouac

Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

--Auntie Mame

Good mornin', good mornin'!

It's great to stay up late,
Good mornin', good mornin' to you

--Good Morning
, Singing in the Rain

And I left for a life of my own.

I left for a life on the road.

--A Life on the Road, The Kinks


We realize this may be gauche, but decided to take the risk anyway. Ranger's etiquette cannot be enlisted in such matters and Ms. Post has not addressed this particular blogosphere issue just yet. Generally it is not in good taste to invite yourself to meet people, and it violates OPSEC, but Ranger has been trained to fight his way out of ambushes.

Ranger is taking it to the street. For the next month, we will be on the road, up the East Coast on an inland route basically up the 81 corridor with a goal of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. No special destination, just meandering.

It is an earnest effort to avoid "death by blogging" and it is also a discovery mission. The route will go through Asheville, Charlottesville, Pennsylvania, western New York, through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Maybe a bit of Canada, too. Then back to Bowling Green, Ohio, down the 75 corridor to Florida. Circuitous. We'll still write along the way.

First day out, we've met old First Sergeant Lowell Jergens, a retired Command Sergeant Major, and old friend Paul Longgrear of Lang Vei fame. We will write more on Paul later.

Each half of the dynamic duo is searching for something, and I have every faith that we will find it. As for why the holiday didn't occur in the thick of a mucky Florida Summer, that is another story, and quite nonessential.

The point is, it would be fun to meet some of our correspondents, so if you think we might be going near your neck of the woods and you would like to meet, drop us a line.

To the chaps who invited Ranger to their bunker outside of Ft. Bragg last year to sing Lili Marlene: thanks, no. All visits will be above ground, in public spots.

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