RANGER AGAINST WAR: Democratic Radicalism <

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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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

probably on account of the guys like hemmingway, cummings, sasson, graves, sledge, manchester, and the rest of the guys that really did serve, really did see the elephant wrote stuff that was disturbing.

guys like sherman who wrote to his wife:

there is no god in battle.

or chamberlin telling the southern woman

it's all well and good for you to stay at home and sing rousing choruses of "the bonny blue flag" while your men are all up north killing and dying by the thousands to do what they think pleases you. yet, here you are with your reproving looks and your reproaches because the yankees stole your chickens. call your men home, i'll be well pleased to go home to my own.

toby keith writes ad copy for warmongers who haven't been to war either.

those who have been write only sad songs.

unless, of course, they are from ireland, where the wars are happy and the love songs are heartbreaking.

i've been thinking more of chamberlin and his command style. i would imagine in his study of classics he became well acquainted with xenophon, who served as an elected general, with the consent and by the approval of the troops he led. also, epaminandas, who was deposed as a general after his destruction of the spartan army and state. epaminandas merely picked up his spear and his shield, took his place in the line with the other troops. he died the death of a regular at mantea.

i'm also sure he read about gaius marius, marcus aurelius, and the many other ancients who all felt that the general's place was in the center of the front line.

i really do believe that we have lost something critical by relying on our "professional" army. citizen soldiers are a rare and beautiful thing to watch. all they want to do is get this crap over with so that they can go home and go back to living a real life.

our founders were highly suspicious of a large standing army and the creation of a class of professional soldiers. they designed the process for committing american troops to battle to be a tedious and clumsy process that would take a long time. as madison conceived it in the federalist papers, the whole "commander in chief" role was one that was supposed to be in its expression as a limit on any power of the military. civilian command and control of the armed forces was considered one of the highest conceptions and first line guards against tyrannies.

i would rather that a mustering of forces took months, even years because during that long buildup, any prospective enemy would see the gathering of might, technology and power ready to rise up, stomp the dogshit out of them and then go home.

so far, the conflicts that have been conducted outside the strict parameters of the constitution have been some of our biggest clusterfucks.

it might just be time to go back to the old ideas.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 11:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Mad Dog said...

"In times of war, give rise in yourself to the mind of compassion,
helping living beings
abandon the will to fight." (First of the five Theravadin precepts)

"Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone.
This is the ancient law." (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

A Vietnam veteran was overheard rebuking the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, about his unswerving dedication to non-violence.

"You're a fool," said the veteran - "what if someone had wiped out all the Buddhists in the world and you were the last one left. Would you not try to kill the person who was trying to kill you, and in doing so save Buddhism?!"

Thich Nhat Hanh answered patiently "It would be better to let him kill me. If there is any truth to Buddhism and the Dharma it will not disappear from the face of the earth, but will reappear when seekers of truth are ready to rediscover it.

"In killing I would be betraying and abandoning the very teachings I would be seeking to preserve. So it would be better to let him kill me and remain true to the spirit of the Dharma."

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 1:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

"In place of a skinny Goebbels we have fat-assed Toby Keith."

Goebbels is the doppelganger.
Keith is the gobbledonger.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 6:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

yes, better put than i ever could, all of you. right on!

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 9:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toby Keith's good buddy Ted Nugent - "birds of a feather flock together"

High Times interview Ted Nugent, October, 1977

High Times:
How did you get out of the draft?

Ted was a young boy, appearing to be a hippie but quite opposite in fact, working hard and playing hard, playing rock and roll like a deviant. People would question my sanity, I played so much. So I got my notice to be in the draft. Do you think I was gonna lay down my guitar and go play army? Give me a break! I was busy doin’ it to it. I had a career Jack. If I was walkin’ around, hippying down, getting’ loaded and pickin’ my ass like your common curs, I’d say “Hey yeah, go in the army. Beats the shit out of scuffin’ around in the gutters.” But I wasn’t a gutter dog. I was a hard workin’, motherfuckin’ rock and roll musician.
I got my physical notice 30 days prior to. Well, on that day I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer-stuff I never touched-buttered shit, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup, I was this side of death, Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. Shit, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.
See, I approached the whole thing like, Ted Nugent, cool hard-workin’ dude, is gonna wreak havoc on these imbeciles in the armed forces. I’m gonna play their own game, and I’m gonna destroy ‘em. Now my whole body is crusted in shit and piss. I was ill. And three or four days before, I started stayin’ awake. I was close to death, but I was in control. I was extremely antidrug as I’ve always been, but I snorted some crystal methedrine. Talk about one wounded mother fucker. A guy put up four lines, and it was for all four of us, but I didn’t know and I’m vacuuming that shit right up. I was a walking, talking hunk of human shit. I was six-foot-three of sin. So the guys took me down to the physical, and my nerves, my emotions were distraught. I was not a good person. I was wounded. But as painful and nauseous as it was – ‘cause I was really into bein’ clean and on the ball – I made gutter swine hippies look like football players. I was deviano.
So I went in, and those guys in uniform couldn’t believe the smell. They were ridiculin’ me and pushin’ me around and I was cryin’, but all the time I was laughin’ to myself. When they stuck the needle in my arm for the blood test I passed out, and when I came to they were kicking me into the wall. Then they made everybody take off their pants, and I did, and this sergeant says, “Oh my God, put those back on! You fuckin’ swine you!” Then they had a urine test and I couldn’t piss, But my shit was just like ooze, man, so I shit in the cup and put it on the counter. I had shit on my hand and my arm. The guy almost puked. I was so proud. I knew I had these chumps beat. The last thing I remember was wakin’ up in the ear test booth and they were sweepin’ up. So I went home and cleaned up.
They took a putty knife to me. I got the street rats out of my hair, ate some good steaks, beans, potatoes, cottage cheese, milk. A couple of days and I was ready to kick ass. And in the mail I got this big juicy 4-F. They’d call dead people before they’d call my ass. But you know the funny thing about it? I’d make an incredible army man. I’d be a colonel before you knew what hit you, and I’d have the baddest bunch of motherfuckin’ killers you’d ever seen in my platoon. But I just wasn’t into it. I was too busy doin’ my own thing, you know?

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 9:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


What a fine and elegant sky view of the current fiasco.

Your observations on Chamberlain indicate military education must go beyond the CGSC/War College classroom for a complete military education.

We also must remember that Chamberlain was actually friends with many of his soldiers, and spoke to enlisted men as peers. In today's career Army, this comraderie is usually absent. For me, I still consider some of my former NCO's as friends.

Career military organizations find wars to be beneficial to their careers and status. As you point out, reserve soldiers do not have this entrenched lust for war; they want to finish the job and get home. I think non-career officers are more reluctant to expend lives frivolously. It is hard to apply the reserve-citizen soldier concept to a war marketed as the Long War, or a war without end.

Our society, including governors as heads of the NG and our citizenry acceot the fact that the Guard has become ipso facto, sub rosa active Army units. They are active in everything but name, destroying the reserve officer concept.

Years ago when a student at CGSC, I complained bitterly that the "historical" novel we had to write an essay upon was "Killer Angels," a fictional historical novel. We did not read one of the many classics you list; we were assigned fiction. Does this make any sense to you?

FWIW: I got an "F" on my essay as I expressed my disdain for their selection. (My mandatory re-write received a "B".) I can suck up when I need to.

It is obvious the the concept of a civilian C in C has been subverted into an imperial presidency and imperial Army, far afield of the original intent of the Constitution. The Constitution is only as pure as the intent of the President and the Congress.

All change must not be forward; some must take us back to original principles from which we've strayed.


"those who have been write only sad songs.

"unless, of course, they are from ireland, where the wars are happy and the love songs are heartbreaking."

--Too true.

The eloquent testimonials of the men who were actually there are so profound and moving--far beyond any simplistic, treacly stuff that a Toby Kieth can pound out. It is heart-wrenched that those in the audience don't see their manipulation at the hands of the showman.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 9:57:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Ted Nugent is/was so anti-drug, why on earth would he do such a damning interview with High Times? I've never been a fan of his....but something is weird here. Sounds more like something Johnny Rotten would have done, and his pic WAS on an October cover in 1977.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 12:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it was the draft, the actual presence of a threat to our nation and our lifestyle that made guys like dick winters, and many other folks heed the call of service.

i argued mightily against the push to remove ROTC from the curriculum at ASU in the seventies while i was there. i told them over and over that officers with real world educations, degrees in history, poli sci, psych, education, and such would be the only thing that stood between us and the spartanization of our military.

liberal education majors from colleges not solely devoted to the study of arms are what can keep a military from becoming like the prussian mindset that sent their nation from disasterous war to disasterous war, turning it from a world force and the dominant empire of europe into a nation and culture that has only begun to regain its identity in the last 20 years.

steven ambrose (writer of band of brothers and many other excellent history works) said over and over that the unifying, life saving force within easy company was the noncoms. as a proud noncom myself (i got to E7), i know that the officers who consulted and listened to us, even while reserving the right of ultimate decision, were the ones we would give that little extra for. come time for fitness reports any louie with his sergeants foursquare behind him will look better than a petty autocrat.

the team were much more elegatarian than the fleet. our separations and lines were far more blurred. fraternization was not much of an issue. it was a rule.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 5:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Birds of a feather, indeed. Funny how the arch conservatives are always ready to spout gung-ho homilies, but let others do the heavy lifting.

The interview by Nugent is a classic- they should have taken his sorry ass to the nearest hospital for the criminally insane.
I put Springsteen up there since he actively avoided the draft but sings-Born in the USA.


Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 5:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


It seems he did give the interview in High Times in '77. Later in a Guardian interview 5/06 he went on to dance around that previous interview, denying the truth of great deal of it.

The fact does remain: he gave the interview as printed. He grooms an image of being squeaky clean, but clearly he is another war-hawk chicken.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 5:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I'd venture to opine that the Toby Kieths and Ted Nugents get by BECAUSE we have no draft and a professional armed force.

One of the first things "warriors" (and by that I mean people who lie to fight instead of fighting to live, as citizen-soldiers must) do is to romanticize and glorify themselves and the nature of war itself. Draftees have no such need - and no illusions about what they're doing and why. It is times like today, when the citizenry is insulated from the costs of the grief we inflict that we can indulge in this silly sentimentality and lying to ourselves.

Look at the periods in history such as medieval Europe when the fighting man was king. Popular culture of the day was full of 12th Century Toby (I almost wrote "Toady" in a fit of freudian typing) Kieths such as Bertrand de Born. In order to justify an entire life dedicated to something as pernicious and wasteful as destroying the lives and homes of others you almost HAVE to pretend that you are a selfless hero fighting for Truth and Justice and Freedom. And if you try you can succeed. Read some of the apalling claptrap written about nasty little wars like the Spanish-American War, the Mexican War and the various antinationalist thuggeries in Latin America in the early 1900s.

I read those "Land of the Free Because of the Brave" and think, no, jackass, it's free because of the Founders, and the lawyers, and the ACLU, and the freedom riders, and, yes, the soldiers, too. But the soldiers, a Jim points out, from 1781 and 1865 and 1941, not from 1991 and 2003. We needed to bitchslap Iraqis to guarantee our freedoms like a fish needs a bicycle.

This canned ham Kieth and his ilk are just the latest version of "let's you and him fight" that's been going on since the first caveman slapped his buddy on the shoulder and grunted "You can take him, buddy, I've got yer back..."

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 6:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

+...and by that I mean people who live to fight instead of fighting to live, as citizen-soldiers must...

Damn typos. Sorry.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 6:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Not only do the soldiers romanticize themselves and their project, but also so do their enablers, who we call "civilian leadership." What you describe with the aggrandizement of destruction in the name of the state is a fairly good definition of fascism.

Too large of a standing Army engenders discretionary wars, and a draft ensures not only equitable distribution of service, but the protection of the intention of a National Guard and Reserve, rather than their cruel and unjustifiable exploitation as we see today.

Toady Keith is just mouthing the platitudes which sustain the multitudes as their lives become more and more constricted due to economic and social failed policies, or lack thereof.

These wars have nothing to with freedom, as you say. The PWOT has a lot of fish riding bicycles. Somehow I think Ms. Steinem would agree.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 7:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


It is interesting that Petraeus was one of the first WP classes with liberal arts degrees, and the idea is that this breadth gave him the ability to construct a liberal COIN program. I think the WP liberal arts program may lack substance as it is primarily administrated by regular Army who are conservative in outlook.

ROTC, OTOH, did not have this restriction. As a matter of fact, one of my classes was a poly sci course taught by the adviser to the SDS. I didn't much care for the class, but cadets are exposed to even extreme left-wing thinking, broadening their experience.

In today's Army, a liberal arts education might even be a detriment, as that breadth of thinking would be a negative in a professional military environment.
In your words, the fleet doesn't need or want that.

It would be interesting to do a study to see who gets the PhD's funded by the Army while on active duty. I'll bet the majority of Army PhD's are WP graduates selected via their conservative ideals.

One of the styles of leadership the Army identifies is the "rebel" style. I doubt those get the promotions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 8:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Lisa..I finally found refs to his actual admission of doing the article; but then, in true GOP fashion, he later danced about it and flip-flopped like a beached fish. Said he didn't do those things to avoid draft...but that he is no coward, since he spent a weekend in

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 9:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Right-on, labrys. If that individual spent time in Fallujah, it was a shameless photo op for his favorite conservative candidate, with the side benny of album sales.

Republicans do nothing that is not for the good of all (themselves + their friends).

Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 11:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing about the AVF is that it is self-selecting, and only people who WANT to go to these discretionary wars need apply. Except, sadly, for the poor suckers who think joining the army is no different from applying for any other job. The sap crying in formation while listening to Keith's drivel makes me weak in the knees. It's almost too Fu^%ed up to be believed. At least the German's had martial-sounding songs that made a guy want to goose-step and break shit.

I thought it was bad enough being forced to stand at attention while some nozzle insisted on playing "Proud to be an American" for the formation.

These so-called "conservatives" are truly a thing to behold.

Monday, September 15, 2008 at 1:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...

I heard someone who had been there tellme that he had seen Ted N. go onstage and rail against drugs then step of stage and snort a big ol' line. All I know for sure about him is that he used to call up a radio station in Abilene, TX and carry on like a crazy man and the dj's wouldjust eat it up. We would listen on the way to work and just be beyond belief.
Toby Keith just makes me want to barf.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 3:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

7th Sister,

Toby Kieth is barf.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 7:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No cynics, Ranger. Cynics need not apply. Only true believers are welcome in the ranks.

It's really weird. You and I, both career RA officers, yet always cynical. And I don't think we're unusual at all in our generation of officers, with the possible exception of very senior ones (but I do know some generals that were never true believers).

Maybe it was the leavening influence of the draft. Maybe the dishonesty of Vietnam. Maybe having parents who lived through the Great Depression and suffered through WW2. And maybe it was because we were the best-educated generation in history, back in those halcyon days when the vast majority of HS grads could actually read, write and think. Probably all of these.

All I know is I don't identify with today's Army at all. I wouldn't stay in it. And I would never go for the thousand bucks or whatever that they offer if I entice some youngster into joining.

Yep, the AVF was a mistake. It's not consistent with the principles we once held dear. Blame Johnson and Nixon for prolonging the agony that was Vietnam and ensuring that the draft fell only on the most defenseless young men. And you can blame the "Greatest Generation" for letting them do it. Had some heated discussions with elder family members back in the day. Used words such as "betrayal." Never regretted it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 12:53:00 AM GMT-5  

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