RANGER AGAINST WAR: October 2008 <

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Seine Net

Welcome to the jungle it gets worse here everyday
Ya learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play

--Welcome to the Jungle,
Guns 'N Roses

[This raid was] "cowboy politics."

--Walid al-Moallem, Syria's Foreign Minister


So the Good Guys killed a cell leader linked to al-Qaeda in Syria this week (Raid on Syria Killed Cell Leader.) Problem is, this Special Forces not-so-surgical strike also killed eight other people, including four children.

"Sunday's operation in Sukkariyeh, about five miles from the Iraqi border, came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq called the Syrian border an 'uncontrolled' gateway for fighters into Iraq and said efforts were being stepped up to secure it."

If the borders are unsecured, then
the country we fictitiously call Iraq is unsecured. If it IS a nation, then let it control its friendly side of the border. Even if this means legitimately killing every person illegally crossing into their territory.

In the wake of Syrian protests, the AP reports U.S. officials are now calling the target of the raid "a top al-Qaeda figure," in contrast to earlier official statements calling al-Mazidah
a "cell leader" who was"linked" to al-Qaeda. His status morphs as the U.S. seeks to legitimize its actions. Syria contends the raid killed only eight civilians, and challenged Washington to prove otherwise (Syrians Hold Massive Protest Against U.S.)

Here's a keen Counterintelligence operations insight: Control the population and borders of the host nation and forget about militarizing and attacking contiguous nations. Consolidate.
The problem of suspected or actual insurgents or terrorists in Syria is a political rather than a military concern.

What a fine mess. Aggressively launching cross-border operations (in violation of international law) and expanding wars that are totally out of manageable control
. The motto seems to be: We can't win in Afghanistan and Iraq, so let us widen the theatre of operations. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut, now and again.

It looks like the monkeys are minding the zoo.

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Mr. Popeil, I'm in trouble.
Need your assistance on the double.

Oh no! Now how am I gonna make

My old vinyl car top look like new?

Mr. Popeil!

Tell me, what am I s'posed to do?

--Mr. Popeil
, Weird Al Yankovic

National Public Radio aired an interview with Ron Popeil Wednesday concerning Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial. Mr. Popeil is known as the King of Infomercials, successfully selling on-air millions of his company Ronco's Veg-o-matic and Chop-o-matics, smokeless ashtrays, and Showtime Rotisseries in the 70's, items which still may be occupying some dusty corner of your or your parent's cabinet space.

Mr. Popeil offered that if Mr. Obama's product was good enough, the informercial might be to his advantage. (Ross Perot did well with his own in 1992, and perhaps that demographic was Obama's target.) Amazingly, there is still a sizable "undecided" cohort of voters. If you split down racial lines, Obama has the black vote in the bag. So his campaign managers are probably wondering how they might dispel any lingering fear or apprehension the undecided white voter might have.

The answer: market Mr. Obama like a Ginsu knife. White people buy those sorts of things, right? They do things like buying more candles than they can possibly use, at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It is not that we as group are a nation of Valentino's in need of soft bedroom lighting; it is that we read Martha Stewart Living and Yoga magazines, and think that certain combinations of scents and colors will bring us bliss.

Obama's informercial immediately conjured the idea of catering to the apprehensive white base, just that broadly. It reminded me of the blog
Stuff White People Like, which is devoted to such ephemera. It tends to be spot-on, if slightly tongue-in-cheek. Simply put, the racial divide remains a problem, and we put little Band-aids on a festering undercurrent of discomfort.

Hot Ghetto Mess is another blog by Jam Donaldson, a 36-year-old black lawyer in D.C. showcasing what she calls "the dysfunctional elements of our black community." She pulls no punches, and got a BET program off of it. Her message to the black community is, "We've got to do better." We have all got to do better.

Bravo to Ms. Donaldson for sparking a debate. We have passed the knee jerk condemnation of Bill Cosby for even suggesting there might be a problem years ago. But we also need dialog between communities. Comedian Chris Rock can say, "Everything that white people don't like about black people, black people
really don't like about black people," and we can laugh, but what do we do about it?

Roger Cohen's writes elegaically in Wednesday's NYT that Obama's very name is likened to a lullabye.
"He is the providential mestizo whose name — O-Ba-Ma — has the three-syllable universality of some child’s lullaby." Huh? These are things white people say.

A-weem-a-way, a-weem-a-way, Kum-Ba-Yah, and all that.

[I'll write about some of the real modern fractures between the races no one talks about, Sunday.]

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guns of November

Is there a role for politics in our judicial system?

None whatever.
The absolute worst violation of the judge's oath

is to decide a case based on a partisan

political or philosophical basis, rather than what the law requires

--Associate Justice Antonin Scalia

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking

Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
--Everybody Knows, Leonard Cohen

Ranger Question of the Day:
Which President signed an executive order banning
import and sale of assault weapons?
Hint : the order was signed in 1989

"Why Gun Owners Must Vote for McCain," by James H. Warner, was the featured editorial in the October '08 Dillon Blue Press. Of course one can expect emotionalism there, but the argument neglects any considerations for the good of the country. It is as narrow a rationale as can be imagined.

You know what kind of a ride you are in for when you see the minstrel caricature of Obama. The visual alone is offensive, and it gets worse from there. (And everyone knows blacks use TEC-9's, not regular pistols.)

Warner trots out the usual image of McCain as a man tested by fire, and he brings the testimonial authority of one who spent time in Hoa Lo prison, the infamous
Hanoi Hilton, with McCain. There is no question that experience is a trial beyond that of the ordinary man, but it is not necessarily the forge in which presidents are formed.

Beyond his apparent vouchsafing of McCain's integrity, Warner concludes, "Regardless of any other differences you may have with McCain, you must help elect him
so we can keep our guns." That is it. Not so your country will prosper, or become more humane or functional -- simply: You can keep your guns.

His argument for McCain is reduced to one: we need to pack the Supreme Court with men the likes of Justice Alito.
Warner is delighted the court recently ruled in favor of individual gun rights, but that same court also allowed secret FISA courts, FBI warrantless investigation, suspension of habeas corpus for U.S. citizens, torture, secret prisons, endless incarceration of non-citizen terror suspects and financial malfeasance of epic proportions.

O.K. gun owners, play with your pistols until your dick is so hard the end splits, but how does this promote democracy? If the economy tanks, will your handgun be a democratic tool?

Sales of weapons have risen 8-10% prior to the upcoming elections
(Gun Sales Thriving in Uncertain Times.), just as they did prior to Bush 41's signing of the assault weapons ban in 1989 (National Institute of Justice Brief.) Though the National Rifle Association questions McCain's position on gun ownership, they are said to feel much more comfortable with running mate Palin on this issue.

Why do the gun advocacy groups feel that a handgun is the key to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Will a warm gun guarantee social security, a stable stock market or mortgage payment? Will a handgun insure a successful retirement program? Protect one from a federal SWAT team with tanks and attack helicopters?

Well, will they, punk?

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The Silent Minority

Seen from a small Vermont roadside, late September

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Praesis ut Prosis ne ut imperes
"Lead in order to serve, not in order to rule"

The nation is in a death struggle.

It must either become one vast slaveocracy

of petty tyrants,

or wholly the land of the free
--Angelina Grimke

Ranger Question of the Day:

George Bush ignored legal precedent in 2003,

so why is it relevant now? History has already

judged him, so why fudge the report?


The impending Iraq Status of Forces Agreement is characterized by the indeterminate pall in which this administration has swathed so many of its legal agreements.

What is a SOFA? A treaty? A non-binding agreement? This particular SOFA, along with many recent SOFA's, seems poised to slide through the system without congressional approval. The argument against requiring congressional approval says that these are military, therefore falling under the purview of the Commander in Chief.

However, this argument ignores the Constitutional requirements and the balance of powers. SOFA's are supposedly treaties; if so, they necessitate congressional approval.
The NATO treaty mandates the SOFA with those affected nations. The SOFA's were not congressionally approved sulum because the foundation treaty was approved. It is a naive and false proposition that a SOFA with Iraq is only a military security arrangement. The SOFA in NATO requires:
  • Host Nation (HN) law enforcement have the legal authority to assume control of any criminal event on a U.S./NATO post. This includes terrorist incidents that are simply criminal acts.
  • U.S./NATO members are subject to HN laws and regulations
  • U.S. military or MP's can neither arrest HN personnel nor try or imprison them. In fact, they can not even question them. This would be a HN function.
Then why is the U.S. trying to railroad Iraq into a SOFA that expresses exactly the opposite of U.S./NATO requirements? SOFA's based on normal international law and standards of conduct should be similar across the board, as mandated by the concept of nationhood, sovereignty and the rule of law.

If U.S. forces and contractors are not subject to Iraqi law and if Iraqis can be arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by U.S. military forces, then the concept of Iraqi sovereignty and nationhood is a fiction.
Since it is a phony war, why not just admit Iraq is a phony nation?

Ranger wonders why the Bush administration is concerned with the idea of constructing a U.S./Iraqi treaty that they are calling a SOFA. When the UN mandate authorizing the continued U.S. occupation expires in December, what will be the big deal? The U.S. violated international law by invading in an aggressive, preemptive war --
why sweat the small stuff, now?

Contrary to Mike Mullen's line in the sand, if President Bush says we are staying, we will. Unless Congress cuts off war funding, who is gonna kick us out?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Mathematics

He told me,
Red means run, son,
numbers add up to nothin'

, Neil Young

We are in a tragedy

--Lt. Gen. James Gavin (1967)


"(T)he size of the force we deploy has little effect on the rate of attrition of enemy forces." The determining factor was not battlefield superiority, which usually went to the Americans, but the choice of battles. In a vast majority of cases, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese controlled whether they would stand and fight. And when they did, according to the study, it was usually because they had initiated the battle.

. . .even though the U.S. forces had vastly superior kill ratios on the battlefield, the enemy, at almost any time, could limit losses -- and frustrate Westmoreland's attrition strategy -- by simply refusing to stand and fight.
--They Marched into Sunlight, Maraniss (p.219)

"They Marched into Sunlight" is David Maraniss's sobering account of the Battle of Ong Thanh in Vietnam, 1967. But more sobering than the sad facts of that engagement is the sad fact that the mistakes of 1967 are the same ones the U.S. Army is making 40 years later.

In a nutshell,
the Viet Cong forces facing the 1st Division in October '67 outsoldiered their U.S. counterparts and due to a ground commander's tactical blunders, two U.S. Companies were decimated. Among the errors:

  • Technology hindered U.S. battlefield tactics and efficiency because the U.S. forces placed undue reliance on air strikes, which in this battle did not give U.S. forces an advantage.
  • Poor tactical air planning. In fact, tac air may have given enemy forces a window of opportunity to maneuver and exploit their initial initiative. Air, artillery and heloes did not tip the scale.
  • Company and Battalion mortars were not employed in this fight, although they were set up and registered and within supporting ranges.
  • Weapons malfunctions played a company-level role. M-16's, M-60's and M-79's actually had battlefield shutdowns which were instrumental in this unit's destruction. No follow-up investigations were conducted, except concerning the M-16 and its ammunition problems.
  • Faulty intel. Sending an Infantry Battalion Minus versus an NVA Regiment. Poor Fire Support Plan and coordination of fires.
  • No attached assets; no aerial rocket artillery laid on.
  • Poor Fire Support Plan and coordination of fires.
  • No reserve forces in position.
  • Weapons obviously not test-fired prior to mission.
  • No automatic emergency resupply evident.
  • No Medevac support on call.
  • No LAWs available to the Infantry.
  • No unity of command; poor prior planning; no concept of operation or logical commander's guidance.
  • Units not mutually supporting.
  • Units were depleted and not combat ready.

Is this all blood on the risers, only of interest to old-timers and history buffs? Not when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are also reporting malfunction M-249's, over-reliance on tactical air, and ditto everything else listed above.

41 years later and we are still dealing cards from the bottom of the same deck.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

George's Halloween Costume

Sunday, October 26, 2008



So who do you think said this:

"It is not right, my fellow-countrymen, you who know very well all the crimes committed in our name, it’s not at all right that you do not breathe a word about them to anyone, not even to your own soul, for fear of having to stand in judgment on yourself.

I am willing to believe that at the beginning you did not realize what was happening; later, you doubted whether such things could be true; but now you know, and still you hold your tongues. Eight years of silence; what degradation!

And your silence is all of no avail; today, the blinding sun of torture is at its zenith; it lights up the whole country. Under that merciless glare, there is not a laugh that does not ring false, not a face that is not painted to hide fear or anger, not a single action that does hot betray our disgust, and our complicity.

It is enough today for two French people to meet together for there to be a dead man between them. One dead man did I say? In other days France was the name of a country. We should take care that in 1961 it does not become the name of a nervous disease. Will we recover? Yes. For violence, like Achilles’ lance, can heal the wounds that it has inflicted. Today, we are bound hand and foot, humiliated and sick with fear; we cannot fall lower...

Thus the day of magicians and fetishes will end; you will have to fight, or rot in concentration camps. This is the end of the dialectic; you condemn this war but do not yet dare to declare yourselves to be on the side of the Algerian fighters; never fear, you can count on the settlers and the hired soldiers; they’ll make you take the plunge.

Then, perhaps, when your back is to the wall, you will let loose at last that new violence which is raised up in you by old, oft-repeated crimes. But, as they say, that’s another story: the history of mankind. The time is drawing near, I am sure, when we will join the ranks of those who make it.

[--Jean-Paul Sartre, preface to "The Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon, 1961]

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Lost and Unfound

She would rather be a riddle

But she keeps challenging the future

With a profound lack of history

--Knight Moves
, Suzanne Vega

Living out a total misconception,

Reality, a false perception.

--Cliches of the World (B Movie)
, The Kinks

Everyday in the morning when you get up
and you crawl out of bed
If you look in the mirror it's your father's face
And the thin grin, the thin grin, the thin grin

--Jack Gets Up
, Leo Kottke

He's as blind as he can be,

Just sees what he wants to see,

Nowhere man can you see me at all?

--Nowhere Man
, The Beatles


(This is all Jim, no Lisa.)

This is dedicated to all the lost souls out there. You know who you are and so do I.

It dawned on me that I am a lot like Joan of Arc. This doesn't mean that I wear iron pants and need a sex change; it means that the voices guide me. Rock and Roll lyrics often serve as inspiration for the thoughts you read here. Their voices guide me.

I write as Ranger because it is easy to objectify my feelings. Because I look at reality and I often don't feel real. I am disconnected and don't care that I am. I understand desperation and fear and there is nothing that I can do about it.
What started this? The Kinks kicked me off with their "reality of false perceptions." That says it all.

We live our lives in cliches --
patriotism, religion, wars, marriage, political campaigns, ad infinitum. We feel that we are living our lives and being free, but like Suzanne Vega sings, we are living a false wisdom.

I accept these things. We live, we love, we die and it was all an illusion.

I'm a lost fucker, but that's what separates me from most of the others. I accept it.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Blind Alley

Loyalty is a fine quality,
but in excess it fills political graveyards
--Neil Kinnock

My Honor is my loyalty

--Heinrich Himmler

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing
--Edmund Burke

Yuppies don't have loyalty.

They have useful relationships and meaningful encounters

--William Kristol


Ranger's thinking loyalty today.

Consider what loyalty has purchased in politics. Aberrant things like Robert McNamara's loyalty to President Johnson, which allowed him to continue in his capacity as Secretary of Defense to defend the war in Vietnam as winnable, despite his knowledge to the contrary. Or Colin Powell's loyalty to President Bush which caused him to lie before the United Nations regarding Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities, allowing an unjustified invasion to occur.

The run-up to Iraq rested squarely on his integrity and soldierly honesty. Colin Powell alone could have put the kibosh on George Bush's war plans IF he had gone public with his objections. Instead, Powell failed in his oath the U.S. and in his loyalty to the American people. His catastrophic failure was his loyalty to a false prophet. As a result, he is fully shamed.

The first bloc of instruction at Basic and Advanced Officer Infantry Courses was leadership, which emphasized the usual Boy Scout attributes of honesty, integrity and loyalty. But loyalty led the list as the most important leadership trait.

In the military, loyalty is said to go both up and down the chain of command. But of course, the loyalty that is sacrosanct is that rendered in a religious zeal to one's boss. Whistleblowers are hacks who end up cashiered or dead. The saying is, "You work for your boss's boss."

This means everything you do or fail to do affects your boss's Officer Efficiency Reports, directly impacting upon his career. So, loyalty will also benefit your OER, which is your bread and butter. If the boss is happy, everyone is happy. Loyalty has become a form of servitude, and obscures truth-telling. This sort of loyalty, which is actually fealty to one's lord, is screwing the nation.

In governmental institutions, loyalty should not be conferred solely upon in an individual. Unfortunately, because advancement is the name of the game, most officers act as bondmen to their lords. This muzzles effective dialog.

Loyalty is not an absolute good. One can be positively loyal to bankrupt policies, disreputable individuals and false memories. How does one decide these things? Memory can be an impostor and individuals can lie through a smile. Because you are a good nationalist, you may fail to swerve from corrupt behavior in the service of your state. "Mom, apple pie and Ford trucks"? What if mom's a bootlegger, your apples are covered in Alar and Ford stocks go belly up? What then?

The hard answer is that loyalty to an individual should never be absolute. Behavior and policies should be checked against the best facts available, and loyalty may be suspended if the facts bear that action out. The concept of loyalty is perverted when the Secretary of Defense is loyal to a flawed president implementing flawed policy.

The Secretary of Defense works for the American people, and his loyalty is to the tenets of the Constitution and the national well-being.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Not a Comfy SOFA

"We Do Bad Things to Bad People"
--T-shirt for the "Bush Hogs,"
3 Bn 20th Special Forces Group (Abn.)

Democracy and capitalism are the two great pillars

of the American idea.

To have rocked one of those pillars

may be regarded as a misfortune.

To have damaged the reputation of both, at home and abroad,

is a pretty stunning achievement for an American president

--Boris Johnson,
U.K. Telegraph

There's been a load of compromisin'
On the road to my horizon
But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me

--Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell

In "Bush Team Pushes Hard for Iraq Security Deal" we read,

The Bush administration has launched a top-level lobbying campaign to persuade skeptical U.S. lawmakers and disapproving Iraqi politicians to support a security agreement governing the continued presence of American troops in Iraq.

congressional approval is not legally required U.S. lawmakers' support is considered crucial for an agreement to go forward. In Iraq, where the deal must pass through several complex layers of approval, the going is considered even tougher.

If Congressional approval is not needed to ratify this Status of Forces of treaty, then is the U.S. still a constitutional democracy?

Is Iraq a country? The U.S.? Is an agreement between countries not a "treaty"? Are treaties not to be ratified by Congress?

Slate's "Bush's Final Illusion -- the President's Agreement with Iraq Bypasses Congress. Again," writers Ackerman and Hathaway accuse Bush of making an unconstitutional claim to the unilateral right to commit the U.S. to his agreement. Why are members of this Congress behaving like they are presidential lapdogs? Do they get special rhinestone collars for this?

General Ray Odierno accused Iran of bribing Iraqi parliamentary members to reject the SOFA pact when it comes up for a vote
(A Critical Stage in Iraq.) How does one decide the difference in degrees of criminality when one takes the hubristic stance of accusing another of criminal malfeasance? Surely bribing a parliament is bad.

But how about bypassing their authority entirely?

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Wings of a Dove

"Everything's connected," Rebus insisted.
In a world where a few powerful men
determined the fate of nations,

"it wasn't so much the underworld
you had to fear as the overworld."

--Exit Music
, Ian Rankin

I'm trying to go around the minefield these days

and not blunder into them.

But I do think you have to talk to enemies

--Gen. David Petraeus, on Afghanistan and the Taliban

The conventional view serves to protect one

from the painful job of thinking

--John Kenneth Galbraith


Aside from feathering his bed for future promotion to chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff in an Obama administration, one must ask what Gen. Petraeus means when he says we must "talk to [our] enemies"? What would the U.S. say to the Taliban?

If the reason for the war was to destroy Taliban support for al Qaeda, that mission has been accomplished. The Taliban has received the message that support for al Qaeda is no longer a good thing, as Ms. Stewart would say. This was accomplished without discussion, so what's to say?

Whatever the U.S. would talk about would reveals the lie at the heart of COIN policy.
That lie is that the U.S. wanted to free the Iraqi people from dictatorship when, in fact, the U.S. wants to externally impose its value system upon another country. The Taliban remains a threat to the U.S.-backed government of Hamid Karzai, but the Taliban is not a threat to the U.S.,
per se.

The weakness of COIN lies in its presumptions. You cannot impose internal security upon any country from an external footing, especially is they do not want your presence. The U.S. go
als are not the goals of Afghanistan. Maybe Petraeus realizes that, contrary to FM 3-24, the U.S. and NATO cannot kill every Taliban opposing the occupation.

Ostensibly our efforts are aimed at shoring up and institutionalizing the Afghan government. However, if one believes the false premise that the Afghan government has sovereignty, then the U.S. should
NOT negotiate with the Taliban. Such negotiations should be within the purview of the Afghan government, as it is their war and their country.

The official U.S. line is that Taliban is a terror organization that supported terror organizations like al Qaeda. We then invaded helter-skelter following 9-11 to destroy and deny safe haven to these nasty people. Then the U.S. establishes a token government supposedly the counterpoint to terrorism. At least, that is what FOX news tells me. The problem for the U.S. is, we do not know what victory smells like in Afghanistan.

Are Afghanistan and Iraq to function as U.S. possessions, falling under our protective umbrella?
Does this mean we will soon be sending them tinned cling peaches in heavy syrup from the USDA, and will they soon be battling obesity as a result of our largesse, like the Samoans? Is it o.k. to negotiate in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba?

There is a further legalistic problem:
The Taliban has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, therefore, the U.S. may not negotiate with them. The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists, period. So what is a newly sympathetic General, or even presidential contender, to do?

Here is a novel idea: why not negotiate before you start shooting? We reckon General Petraeus now wants to negotiate because there are no more stars to squeeze out of this war.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


St. Michael, patron saint of
airborne, grocers, paratroopers

(but not "airborne grocers")

Get thee to a nunnery.

Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?

(III, i)

Sister Green came to me for my love recipe,

Said she'd heard about my miracle plan,

Sister Green is now okay,

Takes a treatment everyday,

From the Hi-De-Ho Miracle Man!

--Miracle Man
, Cab Calloway


I searched for a patron st. of marriage, and could only find one for "unhappy marriages" (St. Rita of Cascia). That says all you need to know about the church's position on joy.

While the world falls down around our ears,
some brilliant Floridians are thinking hard and voting on the issue of just what constitutes "marriage". Wisely, they decided not to let Governor Charlie Christ decide the matter for them. Seems fair enough of a question, as Ranger has struggled with the topic on more than one occasion.

In Catholicism, nuns are wedded to Jesus. They even wear gold rings to symbolize their holy vows. Marriage is, after all, a consecration. Well, if one man + one woman = a marriage,
the Catholic church is in violation of this dogma big time.

Or maybe Jesus is a Mormon?

It gets even more complicated, as Ranger saw a Catholic priest today wearing a wedding ring. This is the other coast, mind you. Really more like a swamp. So WWJD?

Let us not even contemplate the Immaculate Conception, which would allow a pass to girls like Ms. Palin's daughter. Maybe
that is the true lesson here, to wit: it is o.k. to be promiscuous, as long as it is with a deity.

You can see why Ranger had trouble with catechism.

--Jim and Lisa

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Warrior Nation

I ain't no rough guy, ain't no tough guy
Don't get out much, and don't dress up fly

A pawn in the game that's all I am

Givin' all my duckets to Uncle Sam, fuck it

--Wasting My Time
, Kid Rock

Well, Kid -- now you'll get some of those duckets [sic] back.

The Army National Guard has hired scumbag Kid Rock to serenade one of their hi-tech advertisements, along with the group Three Doors Down which offers a free downloadable version of their song, "Citizen Soldier."

In the advert, we see uniformed N.G. members rocking to Kid Rock's tune, "Warrior" (So Don't Tell Me Who's Wrong And Right / When Liberty Starts Slipping Away /And If You Ain't Gonna Fight Get Out Of The Away." Really sickening coming out of this putz's mouth. He should go back to
"Eatin' shrooms, drinkin' Boone's" and looking for his "bag of weed."

But y'know, everyone's hopping on this gravy train called warrior, and Kid's a businessman, too. Everyone's looking for the angle, except the Guard members themselves. Ranger saw this ad leading in to the film "W"
, which he had hoped would provide fodder for commentary. Sadly, it was Stone on a flight of fancy. Should have been expected, as his raw subject matter was not that exalted. But the ad was almost worth the price of admission.

Just when you think you have hit the height of absurdity and gross materialism, the screen flashes to the National Guard-sponsored
NASCAR, which drives victoriously through several crash scenes, the new redneck cavalry. We can guess where the N.G. is mining for new bodies.

The victory rounds on the NASCAR track are then interwoven with combat glory scenes AND stateside humanitarian missions. Now we know why the
Guard has funnelled $30 million to NASCAR this year.

When did the N.G. become a "warrior society"? What does this say about the U.S. ethos, and
should any country trust a nation of "warriors"? Soldiers are not warriors; warriors are not soldiers. Warriors take glee at the chance for combat. This is not Ranger's conception of democracy. In a democracy, soldiers are reluctant to fight except as a last resort.

The U.S. was founded upon the fear and distrust of large standing armies. All of our wars up to and including Korea were fought with conscription-based Armies, and militia, N.G and Reserves expansion of the regular Army. The regular Army was always a small cadre of professionals that would enable the expansion to war-time requirements.

How did we get here to Warrior Time, and how do we find our way back? Jesus H. Christ in a Corvair, as our friend Spiider might say.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

He Could've Been a Contender. . .

I'm not reading this. This is bullshit
--Colin Powell on Pentagon briefing report,
before giving his United Nations speech

Colin Powell has thrown his weight behind candidate Obama, saying we need a "transformational figure" (Powell Endorses Obama).

Well, you would know from transformational change, Mr. Powell, you who, as Secretary of State, lied before the United Nations in February 2003 shilling for your master George Bush in his trumped up end run to war.
You helped effect the most devastating transformational change our society has suffered in recent memory.

Powell said he thought either Senator was qualified, but that Obama would be better able to "handle the nation's
economic problems and help improve its world standing," two issues now problems due in no small part to Powell's prevarications before the world community.

There is no need to go into the litany of horrors which Powell's shilling wrought. His own words are testimony enough -- he was embarrassed, and confessed it was
"a blot" on his record. His argument for war consisted of comic book renderings of white vans -- "mobile WMD labs" -- which he explained cruised the desert. We've all seen Road Warrior, so for the moment, we were willing to believe the General.

I would not think the endorsement of a war criminal would do much for one's credibility. Of course, this has nothing to do with race, but Obama already has 95% of the black Democratic vote in the bag.

I'm sure Powell won't make much of a difference.

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Thank you, Sir, May I Have Another?

Ranger's Sunday Homily:

Domestic Economic Terrorism
"Mr. Bush's Last War"

The People have a right to the Truth as they have a right
to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

--Frank Norris

Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity

--The Greatest Salesman in the World,

Og Mandino

I’m a dirt farmer. Why do we have one week to determine

that $700 billion has to be appropriated

or this country’s financial system goes down the pipes?

--Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)


Go Senator Tester. President Bush has dropped the bomb in the final campaign of his administration. However, the opening salvo of Bush's last attack was fired not on the streets of Tehran but Wall Street.

Ranger predicted an attack upon Iran prior to George Bush's passing the baton. He did not for see that the attack would occur domestically rather than against a foreign adversary, against our own private banking institutions.

Since 9-11 we have been rushed into two Phony Wars upon spurious justifications, lest we be immediately delivered of an atomic mushroom cloud, according to Secretary of State Rice. Fear shoved reason out the door, and we The People gladly acquiesced, so accustomed to being herded cradle-to-grave are we.

The undemocratic, preposterously named Patriot Act was pushed through as a necessary safety net against The Terrorists, something to get us on even keel. But after seven years, the Phony War on terror (PWOT ©) is still being sold and funded as an Emergency Funding situation. Once again, fear is its greatest salesman. Fear is a miracle worker for appropriations increases in the Department of Defense and Homeland Security budgets.

In this welter of fear the economic attack has begun upon the U.S.'s own financial institutions (U.S. Forces Nine Major Banks to Accept Partial Nationalization.) Rather than go the long way around the barn to foment further panic from without, it has handily occurred in the guise of the financial meltdown due to unregulated greed at home.

So it is
back to Shock and Awe. If not a very innovative play book, at least this administration is predictable. Fear is one emotion so indwelling in humans, so threatening to existence, that every time the card is played it elicits the same shocked reaction. Dostoevsky was right -- happiness looks the same, but unhappiness has a myriad of faces. We never grow inured to fear, at least those of us who are not psychopaths.

The partial nationalization of the banking system occurred after a ricky-ticky slicky boy campaign and Congress quickly enacted what Mr. Bush gave them. And the American people swallowed the fear complete.

What has this round of fear produced? A massive redistribution of wealth up the food chain with nary a peep from the middle and lower economic classes. We are getting screwed and we are thankful; we do not even wince for the lack of lubrication. We are taking it in the ass and calling it an act of governmental love.

The first thing one learns in life is --and I presume not just in Cleveland -- the faster the sales pitch, the worse the product. In fact, we are not only taking it in the rear, we are are being triple penetrated by some seriously perverted ass fuckers.

Thus endeth the day's sermon.

(For an excellent overview of the economic situation, please see economist Dark Wraith's last few postings.)

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Splinter Groups

He was spurred on by the conviction
that the world needed his immediate presence
--Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

The most commonly mouthed platitude regarding the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is that it, and hence George Bush, has warded off any further 9-11 type attack on the U.S. However, few have addressed the old but valid concept of the splinter group -- more specifically, terrorist splinter groups. If a splinter group executed the 9-11 operation, that fact would further de-legitimize the Iraq invasion.

In the past, all terror groups had splinter groups or elements. These split off factions conducted the violent, nasty operations that even the Terrorist groups eschewed (at least on paper.) For example, the assaults on school houses (
Ma'alot-type) and unannounced department store bombings (amidst shoppers in Harrods.)

Splinter groups offered plausible denial to the main terrorist group if public opinion turned against the splinter elements. The key point is, splinter elements are operational and separate in most terrorist groups.

There have been no 9-11 level attacks versus The Homeland ™ because it is probable that
the al Qaeda main elements were not responsible for the 9-11 attacks.
These attacks were possibly conducted by an offshoot/splinter group, and this group expended its operational assets, to include operatives, in this major attack scenario.

Ranger posits that al Qaeda is focused on other issues, such as Middle East hegemony, recruitment and financing for the mission of achieving these goals and group survival.

However, with secret prisons, secret courts, public wiretapping and everything else about this phony war being steeped in secrecy, there is no way to realistically assess the situation.
Why is all of the information about al Qaeda such a secret? America has the right to know the realities of this group. Secrecy only amplifies the fears of the general public.


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Robbing Peter

In the Carboniferous Epoch
we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter
to pay for collective Pau
Rudyard Kipling

and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,

and from every crime bullets are born

which will one day find

the bull's eye of your hearts

--I'm Explaining a Few Things
, Pablo Neruda

This week Ranger met a young former Marine with two combat tours and now attending university, poring over his textbooks at a local coffee shop. "Mark" is two years out of service, and his grades and academic standards in that time are notable; he will have achieved his baccalaureate in only three years. Problem is, he has orders to report to Kansas City, Missouri, for his recall to active duty in three weeks.

This fine young man also has a 70% Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability rating, to include wounds to his hand with nerve damage, PTSD at 30%, migraines, headaches, head wounds and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The head wounds and hand wounds are clearly visible.

Why Kansas City? Why not somewhere in Florida? Why recall him at all? He has done his duty in spades. The orders specified that he was required for the Global War on Terror. What tripe!

What is happening here? Don't the DVA and Department of Defense computers talk? Is the USMC so desperate for fresh meat that they must prey upon discharged personnel? Not to mention discharged, seriously wounded combat veterans who have already paid the price?

Mark is planning to report for this induction. Ranger advised him to ignore the orders. Would any court possibly hold him in violation of the law?

Ranger is humbled talking to such fine young men. Older veterans can sometimes forget the trials and tribulations of our newest members (Veterans, Alone Together, Share Stories They can't Tell You), which is something none of us should ever do. As Andrew Exum wrote in the NYT (For Some Soldiers, The War Never Ends), these soldiers are being conscripted, contrary to the claims of an all-volunteer Army -- they should not be treated as "election-year fodder."

We should be working very hard to stop the cruel scenario in which Mark and countless others find themselves. That is our duty.

Follow-on: Saw Mark briefly at the VA OPC Friday and he said his father, a Vietnam veteran like yours truly, also suggested he appeal the orders. We will see.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sick Call

--U.S. Soldiers at Home,
Paresh Nath, National Herald (India)


Ranger went on sick call yesterday at the Tallahassee VA Outpatient Clinic, and what is new at the center?

All the televisions were tuned in to FOX news.
This is the worst case yet of Republican propaganda infiltrating a public space.

Is this official Department of Veterans Affairs policy, or just par for t.v. viewing in this neck of the woods?

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Buffer Zones

Alexandr Zudin,
St. Petersburg, Russia

Both presidential candidates are advocating for a Georgia and Ukraine NATO membership, but what does this bode for the U.S.?

As Fareed Zakaria writes, "We cannot deploy missile interceptors along Russia's borders, draw Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, and still expect Russian cooperation on Iran's nuclear program. . . . We cannot keep preaching about democracy and capitalism with our own house so wildly out of order."

Russia has an extreme national need for security from invasion, created by buffer states on their borders. Now NATO -- meaning the U.S. and Germany -- are pushing the forces of freedom right up to the Russian borders. (the same U.S. policy pursued with Iran.) So the buffer zones between Western Europe and Russian Europe are being eliminated via NATO expansion. One can't help but wonder if the Germans see this push as unfinished business.

It is an unwise move, as it benefits both Eastern and Western Europe to have these buffers separating the potential adversaries. As well, the buffers states enjoy neutrality. The Russians are surely aware that a two-pronged NATO airstrike/missile strike from Georgia or the Ukraine would be devastating.

Would the U.S. allow such activity? Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? Why do U.S. policy planners deny to Russia the same considerations? Will NATO really fight a major war for Georgia or the Ukraine? If "yes," then history has taught us nothing about the dangers of entangling alliances.

U.S. banks are now nationalizing, but where is the bailout that is needed in our bankrupt foreign policy arena?
U.S. policies are ignorant and not even self-serving. Self-serving is understandable, but self-destruction is national insanity.

Ukraine and Georgia NATO membership is a failed strategy, before it even becomes policy.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Freedom's Just Another Word. . .

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose,
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but its free

--Me & Bobby McGee, Kris Kristofferson

The more one is absorbed in fighting evil,

the less one is tempted to place the good in question

--Jean-Paul Sartre


John McCain said recently that when he looks into Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's eyes all he sees is KGB. He should have extended the concept of the truth-seeking gaze.

When one looks into George W. Bush's eyes, all one sees is absence, confusion and ignorance, with a
soupçon of brutish brio which diminishes weekly. McCain further fails to mention that when one looks into George H. W. Bush's and Robert Gate's eyes, all one sees is CIA.

What is the difference between the latter two and Putin? Why is the CIA good and the KGB evil? Both are nasty dogs that should be kept on tight chains, but this seems to be the case in neither situation. For the U.S. conservatives having a former CIA director as President is good, but when Russia utilizes their KGB types they wave the danger flag. Smacks of hypocrisy.

Oh, that's right -- we are the Good Guys. We only invade countries for democracy; Russia does it out of despotism. Freedom is so messy.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

How dreadful!" cried Lord Henry.

"I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable.

There is something unfair about its use.

It is hitting below the intellect."

--The Picture of Dorian Gray
, Oscar Wilde

Well, it seems we have come to the apotheosis of Mr. Bush's ownership society in the government's takeover of the banks (Bailout Becomes Buy-In as Feds Move Into Banking.)

Just as likely, we ain't seen nothin' yet. It is odd to have a group called the republicans who claim to champion small government acting so blatantly against their stated position (Signaling a Shift to Europe's Path.) FOX news economists reassure their legions that Paulson and Bernanke are free market economists, yet they fully support the bailouts and nationalizations. Either one is or it isn't; one can't be both.

How can the
small government republicans, responsible for the largest budget deficits and largest expansions of government via the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) and the recent bailouts, still say with a straight face they support limited government and will slash our taxes? How can they look at themselves in the mirror each morning?

All of this is saying, "Vote democrat." The question is, "Why is that?" There is no division between the democrats and the republicans, other than their rhetoric, and their words are lies. And the lie is, we are still a democracy.

While most see this latest move as socialism, economist blogger Dark Wraith says it has moved beyond that, into
"definitional 'fascism': the fusion of corporate and state sovereignty into a governing coalition."

It all feels like the people are being given a bum rush to judgment.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

But He's a Terrific Dancer. . .


The U.S. has removed formerly “Evil” North Korea from its terrorism blacklist this past weekend after it “relented on nuclear inspection demands" (North Korea Removed From "Axis of Evil".) “Bush approved the action on Friday and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice followed suit Saturday.”

Isn’t this backwards? Shouldn’t Secretary of State Rice propose, with President Bush then approving? Or is this another Palin-McCain moment? Rice can not follow suit; she must implement a national policy.

The article continues, “The terrorism designation - now shared only by Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan - carries severe penalties.” This got Ranger thinking, and not one instance of Cuban state-sponsored terrorism came to mind in recent memory.

On Cuban-related terrorism, one might consider early airplane hijackings originating in Havana and terminating in Miami. Of course, this was not considered Terrorism as the Cuban hijackers were freedom fighters, or so we were told.

There are no other recent examples of Cuban terrorism; they have not invaded any countries, killed civilians in bunkers, tortured people on their island or conducted any extraordinary renditions.

Connecting Cuba to terrorism hangs on a thin thread. Cuba is said to offer safe haven to terrorists, as Basque and Columbian rebels have been granted political asylum there. However, are Basque (ETA) guerrillas or insurgents actually “terrorists”? Ditto their Columbian counterparts. Does insurgent = terrorist? How about a guerrilla?

Moreover, if Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism, then so, too, is our little democratic brother Iraq. The Kurdish separatists (PKK) that operate against Turkey using terror tactics are far more blatant than Cuba in any of its actions. Yet neither the Iraqi government its U.S. handlers move to control or eliminate this pocket of terrorism. Let us put Iraq on the list, too, if fairness matters (and FOX tells us it does.)

Even accepting the Cuban-protected actors as terrorists, is it not a U.S. principle to allow political asylum to people that would be executed if they returned to their homeland? Certainly the members of the EU will not allow extradition or repatriation if a person can reasonably expect to be tortured upon return.

Since this is a humanitarian policy, why is the U.S. busting Cuba’s hump? When these people are in Cuba they are not operational and are not a danger to the world.

If one has a large enough memory, the U.S. once sponsored various groups such as Alpha 66 which conducted terror operations in Cuba. Further, Cuba is one of the few nations that can boast of U.S.-sponsored efforts to assassinate their leader. When the U.S. tries to kill your leader, then that seems like terrorism to this Ranger.

Cuba should be removed from the Terror hit list and reintegrated into the world community. Isolating a country serves no useful purpose. Partisan politics is not a substitute for realistic foreign policy.

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