Friday, May 29, 2009

California Dreamin'

So friend Gordon posed the question via email: Are you going to write your impressions of California?

Some quickies a la de Tocqueville, understanding your property taxes are huge and your state is soon to be bankrupt, and some of your municipal services are already closing on Fridays.

Still . . .

"Humans and animals singing in safety and joy. . ." Maybe a little nuts, but to be nuts for compassion may not be so bad. This was the poster for an animal benefit outside of the Pinecone Restaurant in Sebastopol tonight. That says "California" to me.

The Pinecone was chosen because it had a homely neon sign that said "Pinecone" and "Good Food," and the presumption was this would be a down-home diner serving American cuisine, such as it is. But no, it was Indian cuisine, and served an excellent curry alongside a fanstastic Irish trio of an upright bassist, accordion/flautist and bodhran player. It is that comfortable melange that seems to characterize these areas.

The trip has been solely Northern California, and the pleasures are as follows:

  • Good food
  • No blaring rap music
  • Microclimates (in Florida, you must travel 10 hours before the climate begins an almost imperceptable shift.)
  • No mosquitoes or fleas
  • Microbreweries and wineries
  • Newspaper editors who meet regularly at coffee shops with local citizens to discuss issues
  • Beautiful coast
  • $1,000 littering fees
  • And something more ephemeral. . .

The Mendocino Bulletin advertised for the Caspar Community Center Flea Market and 4th Sunday Breakfast: "Bacon and potato frittata, Mexican egg bake, banana pancakes, a gluten-free frittata and rhubrab coffee cake." Pancake breakfasts do not have to be Dixie Lily white flour + Karo corn syrup affairs.

One could say simply, "It is not the East Coast," but how to capture that vibe? "Less petty," perhaps. There is a languor and perverseness in the Southeast. Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor capture it well. People seem to work out here -- to do things. They wear fleece and move about. The weather shifts, and they adapt. In the SE, they shiver.

One cannot witness a whole truth in a couple of weeks, but it seems there is a helpfulness and cheeriness, even in the working class areas. An acceptance of multiplicities. We haven't been in any real gritty areas, but the people we have met are generally helpful and upbeat.

A little more optimism and curiosity, perhaps. Even in these difficult times.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Friends


A few days ago, Ranger and Lisa had the pleasure of meeting fellow blogger Gordon, of Alternate Brain. Gordon has been an online friend for a couple of years, so it was an absolute pleasure to finally make his acquaintance, along with that of his wife.

That is part of the joy of expression, forging new connections along with engaging in provocative thinking. Though the online community allows for an amazing breadth of connectivity, still one wonders what certain special members might be like one-on-one. Gordon and his wife were every bit as pleasant as I imagined they might be.

One small incident exemplified the difference between the Army and Marines quite well, I thought.

As we were to take our photos, Jim suggested the group move so as to present even lighting. Without batting an eye, Gordon stood up and ever so slightly moved the umbrella, so as to create the needed amount of light.

That is why I love the Marines. Semper Fi!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Park the Car

It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right
--Good Riddance
, Green day
Who is this guy? Speaking about terrorist suspects "seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan,

"[A] senior American military official said, “They’re both bad dudes. The issue is: where do they get parked so they stay parked? (U.S. Relies More on Aid of Allies in Terror Cases.)

The U.S. does not "park" people without charging them and trying them in a court of law.
The question is not whether torture works, as former VP Dick Cheney asserts. The allies extracted sensitive data in WW II from some very bad dudes using methods other than torture (Ft. Hunt's 'Quiet Men' Break Silence on WW II).

The detainee issue boils down to one question:
Is the U.S. willing to indefinitely imprison anyone who has not been convicted of a crime?

Torture is now branded "patriotic".
If one demurs on torture, one is weak -- soft on terror; worse, a traitor.
If one is against torture, one is de facto adjudicated pro-terrorist.
Ranger is not a weak-kneed liberal. If a federal court legally convicts and sentences a terrorist to death, he would volunteer to administer the sentence.

The only question is, does torture comport with our legal system.

The answer is, "No".

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Full of fear, ever clear.
I'll be here, fighting forever.

Curious, venomous,

You'll find me climbing to heaven

Never mind, turn back time.

You'll be fine - I will get left behind

--Unknown Soldier
, Breaking Benjamin

Here is a photo of Ranger's Training Unit from SFOC 3-70, JFK Special Warfare Center, Ft. Bragg. In those days, one was either coming from or going to Vietnam, and our group was no different.

Front center, kneeling: Major Suomuly (Inf.)

Front row, left to right:

Unknown (psyops?); 2LT Rob Valentine (Inf.); 2LT James (Jay) Goolsby (Inf.); 2 LT Frank F. Pruitt; 2 LT Larry Smith; 1 LT James M. Hruska (Inf.); Maj. Joe Vittoria (UK).

Rear, left to right:
2LT Robert G. Hepler (Inf.); Cmdr. Bill Robinson, USN SEAL team; 2 LT P. E. Harkness (Inf.); 2 LT Tommy L. Scott (Inf.); 1 LT Bob Arheit (12th SF Group, Inf.).

Robinson, Suomuly and Vittoria were seasoned, combat-experienced officers attending the course as required by their specific branches. All the 2 LT's were recently commissioned through OCS, except Valentine and Hruska.

Suomuly went to 10th SF Group. Valentine to 8th Group, enroute to 46th SF Company (Thailand). He was a friend, and died in 1998.

Arheit returned to his reserve assignment in Ohio. Vittoria served as allied liaison officer at Ft. Bragg. Pruitt went to 5th Group as a Signal Officer. Robinson returned to the Atlantic SEAL team as Commander.

The rest of us were assigned 5th SF Group, to the best of my knowledge. Goolsby was KIA several months later, while serving with MACVSOG.

This photo proves my memory that all were exceptional men exuding self-confidence and capability. This phot was taken just before we jumped into the "Gobbler Woods" exercise, which culminated our training.

The equipment hanging from our bodies is not the sum total that we carried into the exercise. Ranger wonders why we even carried sleeping bags since we never seemed to use them. One of the many old Special Forces mottos was, "Travel light -- freeze at night." We did both, and within weeks most of us were in 100+ degree environs.

Presented as a little slice in a day in the life of a few soldiers 39 years ago. Ranger was proud to train and serve with these men.

For those who no longer answer roll call, Ranger salutes your memory.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Twit of Twitters

Ranger Neologism of the Day:

[a] An American tourist wandering abroad
[b] Materialist members of the "Me Generation"

"A Twit of twitters
A Miscellany of Modern Words,
Schott's Vocab

[Ranger's on the road for the next couple of weeks, so posts will be brief!]

Ranger disagrees with military analyst Loren Thompson's bleak assessment of former U.S. military performance of duty in today's USAToday:

Compared with troops in draft-era wars, today's all-volunteer force is "more disciplined, more restrained than any other military in the world," Thompson says. "When you consider the stress ... the American military has comported itself in Iraq better than in Vietnam, Korea" or the world wars (Ex-Soldier Gets Life for Iraqi Murders).

This statement is totally unfounded. The Army of WWII, Korea and RVN was every bit as disciplined and self-policing as anything we see in today's military forces.

If anything, they are less likely to question "gray area" orders since they have a career to protect. Draft era soldiers were moral by choice, not necessity.

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Don't Trouble Your Head


Seems strange that Congress won't appropriate funds for Gitmo's closing without a plan.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who sponsored the amendment that blocked the funds, said it was "not a referendum on closing Guantanamo (Obama Seeks to Quell Detainee Issue Trouble).

Just last week they passed yet another "emergency funding" of $90+ Billion to continue a war that has no plan for success. These appropriations keep coming, like thoroughly discredited FU's (Friedman Units), with nary a peep about vague plans thus far.

Fighting over $80 Million is politics, and has nothing to do with fiscal planning or management.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good News Week

It's good news week,
someone's dropped a bomb somewhere
--Good News Week,
Hedgehoppers Anonymous


This is what passes as Good News for the U.S. today:

"Pakistani troops killed 80 militants and drove the Taliban from a major urban stronghold on Wednesday, the army said, as U.S. military planes brought aid for refugees fleeing fierce fighting across the northwest.

"One soldier was killed and nine seriously wounded as troops battled insurgents still holding several other towns in the neighboring Swat Valley, a military spokesman said (Pakistan Army Wrests Town From the Taliban.)".

An impressive kill ratio for the Paki Army, 80:1. It suggests a new strategy in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) : subcontracting the war out to the crackerjack Paki Army. It would be cheaper and more effective than U.S. troops stomping around trying to scare up trouble.

This story seems a stretch. If the vaunted U.S. Army can't achieve an 80:1 kill ratio, how can the Paki's do it? How many of the killed were women and children?

"As part of that effort, two American military planes touched down on Wednesday at an
air base near Islamabad laden with supplies including air-conditioned tents and
120,000 pre-packed meals, the U.S. Embassy said."

80 bad guys dead and only 1.5 million refugees as a result of the action. And only $110 million in the immediate humanitarian aid; a bargain at double the price. Humanitarian aid = helping them after an army we support has destabilized them, removing any opportunity to carry on with their miserable lives.
The math: The U.S. delivers 120,000 meals to 1.5 million refugees. That means 1 of every ten gets one meal for one day. Now 1.5 million more people grasp the magnanimity of U.S. actions.
Reality: Even if the 80 dead were hardcore al-Qaeda elements, this does not justify the creation of 1.5 million refugees.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


You know, that might be the answer:
to act boastfully about something

we ought to be ashamed of.

That's a trick that never seems to fail.

, Joseph Heller

T.V. news and cameras
There's choppers in the sky

Marines, police, reporters

Ask the where, for and why

--How Bizarre

Let's try some Ranger logic:

  • The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is called a war.
  • The detainees in this Phony War are not Prisoners of War.
  • The detainees were tortured
  • The torture victims cannot have the photographs testifying to their torture released by the U.S. Department of Defense because this would violate the Geneva Conventions, under which they are not protected, because they are not POW's.

This argument from the Obama administration is as dishonest and insincere as any of the effluent which flowed out of the Bush White House. The argument further goes that release of the photos will radicalize the Muslim world, putting our soldiers at risk. Really?
And just when it was all going so well.

True that, on the risk part. So why didn't somebody think about this prior to starting down this slippery slope?
A Private E-3 could figure this one out, even without recourse to a Helpline.

So, they are not POW's, but releasing their photos would violate their POW rights under the Geneva Convention, a document under which they do not fall.
Yossarian understood.

It is not the photos which will incite hatred, but the torture and abuse which the photos document. The photos are mere artifacts, the abuse is the unassailable reality.
The people who underwent that treatment do not need any photos to remind them.

We love to play with words, a lawyer's game. But outside of the Beltway, in some very dire environments, word games don't hold much truck.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Other Pirates

A perspectival view, from Kurt Vonnegut:

"Teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492.

The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them."

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Dear Ranger

Gray skies are gonna clear up,

Put on a happy face;

Brush off the clouds and cheer up,

Put on a happy face

--Put on a Happy Face
, Bye, Bye Birdie

Ranger recently
received a lengthy letter from a serviceman in response to recent Wanat articles, mostly echoing the institutional party line, while agreeing with Ranger on a point or two. In the name of anonymity, we will call him "Paul".

Paul specifically agreed with Ranger that he did not care about
Iraq or Afghanistan, and yet he felt it was imperative that the U.S. "win the war" and go whole hog with counterinsurgency (CI).

Unfortunately, this misses the entire point of CI: You cannot say you want to win a COIN operation, because the only people who would win would be the indigenous, and you have stated you do not care about them. You then come around to my position: The war is a lie. It is not about COIN, it is about

The two possible missions are non-parallel -- there is the "Win" mission (for oil, or whatever it is we win), or the COIN mission. It is disingenuous to claim for both.

Though Paul seemed upset that Ranger was engaging in "armchair quarterbacking," four typed pages of letter belied his same concerns.
He wrote --

"Security is high on the hierarchy of needs. These Combat Outposts (COPs) are typically co-located with local national COPs and are eventually turned over to local forces when an area is deemed secure enough. Loyalty to the government, local, provincial, or otherwise, is complex at times because of tribal and religious affiliations, but generally occurs when an area is secure enough for the government to meet and function effectively. This was proven in the “restive” Diyala Province, Iraq. "Prior to Feb 2008, no legislation could be passed because there was no quorum in the Provincial Counsel (Baqubah, the former capital of the “Islamic State of Iraq,” was not safe for the Counsel members. Since then, the counsel has executed about ½ of 3 annual budgets and they did it inside of a 9 month period. At this point, it’s probably all been committed and work, real capacity building work that improves people’s lives, is now underway. It is worth noting that we, in the US, struggle with executing 1 year’s worth of budget most years… without the threat of car bombs and assassination."

Only time will tell if this is true. Even if it does play out, what benefit has accrued to the U.S. taxpayer who shouldered this burden? Improving lives in Baghdad is not purpose or reason for the existence of the U.S. Army. This is an Iraqi concern.

If improving lives is a U.S. military mission, then let them work their magic in Cleveland or Detroit.

He said, "While the locals are no doubt not happy with a US presence in their neighborhood, they’re likely no more or less thrilled with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, either,"
but where is the proof of an al-Qaeda presence in Wanat?

"TOWs would be attached to deal with VBIEDs, as insurgents have been known to “Up Armor” them, dump trucks in particular, and then drive at speed into friendly formations causing a lot of damage and casualties. 50 CALs have failed to stop a fair number of these in the past. Further, many of the areas that what we would formerly have called “the Mujahedeen” occupied in the mountains during their late unpleasantness with the Soviets were fortified with concrete and construction equipment provided by none other than Osama Bin Laden and his family’s construction company (…this was a major contribution of his to the war effort…). That reason, coupled with tasks such as clearing caves, are two more possible reasons for having this capability along."

What was the maximum range for the TOW employment at Wanat? Would AT4's served defensively for this position? Couldn't the engineers crater the road for protection, if necessary? Since no overlays or topo maps are available, what were the high-speed avenues of approach into the village?

Since the mission was initially defensive, it is doubtful that the Combat Outpost would be attacked by a cave. This leaves up-armored VBIED's, which aren't exactly tactical vehicles. If a .50 cal with Ap and API will not stop them, then why not employ AT4's?

Also, what about mortars to stop vehicles? This is a standard mortar technique. Where were these vehicles parked, and were they arrayed tactically?

He mentions the 24 attached Afghan troops: Was the Afghan element under the command and control of the Platoon leader, or were they in a separate chain of command? What was the rank of the two USMC advisers, and
why have we not heard any comments from these individuals?

Of the 24 Afghan paratroopers he says,

"I’d suggest one likely possibility is that they didn’t patrol. I think that this may be a function of uneasiness with their situation in terms of force protection, as you seem to indicate, but also because of a desire to keep their combat power massed together. This would have allowed them to finish their work on the foothold they were clearly seeking to establish in relative security, with operations beginning in earnest after the site was completed. I’m not saying this is what happened, I’m saying this is a possibility based on the fact that counterinsurgency is a slow growth enterprise and that leadership was probably taking a longer view of their operation… for better or for worse."

This indicates that Brigade and Battalion did not have a thorough, well thought out plan. If they did, more assets would have been assigned during the key period of establishing a perimeter defense. He is confusing COIN with conventional Platoon in the defense doctrine; the two are not the same.

Finally, Paul says
, "[Y]ou seem as though you’re treating the men and women who actually fight this war like they are idiots… they are most certainly not that." Ranger thinks all the fights he has commented on were idiotic. Any Platoon Leader executing suicidal orders and losing nine men KIA is not a brain surgeon.

The upshot is, the U.S. will abandon the Aghanis and Iraqis that have fought on our side now as readily as we did our Vietnamese Montagnard allies in the Vietnam war. Though you say, "America practically invented modern insurgency/counterinsurgency warfare," we left their hearts and minds behind when we hooked up.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009


Peray, Thailand

A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse
--Caleb Williams, William Godwin

A contractor who killed an Afghan man for dousing his colleague with gasoline and setting her afire was exonerated in U.S. federal court last week.
The lenient decision could be read as giving contractors a license to kill (No Jail Time in Retribution Killing Overseas).

"Amid a mundane conversation about fuel prices, Abdul Salam doused an American anthropologist with gasoline and lit her on fire, an attack in a small Afghan village last year that was as ferocious as it was unexpected. When Don M. Ayala learned what had happened to his colleague moments after subduing and handcuffing Salam, he placed his 9mm pistol against Salam's head and pulled the trigger, killing the detainee instantly.

"Ayala, a former Army Ranger who was working on Afghanistan's battlefields as a contractor, admitted his crime and later entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter in what U.S. federal prosecutors called an "execution." Yesterday, in an Alexandria federal courtroom, although prosecutors urged Judge Claude M. Hilton to impose a jail sentence of at least six years, Hilton spared Ayala jail time because of the horrific and emotional circumstances that preceded the slaying."

Is it correct to say Mr. Ayala was "working on the battlefield"? Has the battlefield been defined? Is it the entire country of Afghanistan? Ms. Loyd was an anthropologist, whose assignments are not combat assignments.

This is an atrocious situation in which a U.S. type does a field adjudication on an Afghan national. The message is that Americans are killers, just like the Talibs. And a Ranger, no less -- a title synonymous with honor, integrity and duty. What has happened to Federal sentencing guidelines, or is there an exception permitting kneeling a hadji in the ditch and slapping a 9 mm to his head?

"Although prosecutors said Salam deserves no sympathy, they also argued that Ayala exacted illegal revenge on a then-incapacitated detainee. Salam's motive and potential terrorist co-conspirators will never be known because he was slain."

This presumes an unproven terror linkage to Salam. Killing an American woman may have simply been a statement of hatred for America, and does not necessarily indicate an association with al-Qaeda. There are plenty of unaffiliated Afghans who would be willing to kill an American when the opportunity arises.

This action highlights the inconsistency of U.S. Counterinsurgency policy and the entire Phony War on Terror
(PWOT ©). Mr. Ayala was a contractor, yet he apprehended and handcuffed an Afghan suspect. Contractors are not police, and do not have arrest powers.

If COIN is real, then only the Afghan police could arrest a suspected evil-doer. If real, then Mr. Ayala would have been arrested on the spot by Afghan officials for his summary execution. That it didn't happen that way shows there are two yardsticks for adjudication of suspects.

To those who would say Mr. Ayala was within his rights, taking that argument to its logical end, the Afghan police would have been within their rights to then shoot Mr. Ayala for his actions.

Mr. Salam had an unknown number of extended family members and tribal affiliates and now, with one 9 mm round, has created an unknown number of insurgents.
Revenge is like a virus that replicates stealthily within a society.

It seems there is a racial aspect to prosecutions in the PWOT. Muslims go to U.S. prison, while white guys walk, even if the offense is proportional. There are those who will cheer Mr. Ayala's retribution,
but if we say we are there to democratize them, we must offer a viable alternative. If we do not, we have removed their ideological options. When justice is a joke, so too is democracy. The two are correlates.

It would be interesting to know the source of funds for Mr. Ayala's defense.
It is possible that an unstated mission of contractors is to keep the war going?

Don't kill the Golden Goose.

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I Feel Pretty

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

--My Favorite Things
, the Sound of Music

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and gay!

--I Feel Pretty
, West Side Story

Last week it was a quiz to see if your husband was really gay. Today's Google ad is for
"Bows So Sweet -- Cute and affordable hairbows".

The ads are supposed to be matched to the site content. Just because Ranger bitches about not getting his proper citation on nice paper doesn't mean he wears hair bows. Somebody's having it on with Ranger, but it is funny, n'est ce pas?

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Friday, May 15, 2009

MACVSOG PUC, Redux: Respect

I'm about to give you all of my money

And all I'm askin' in return, honey

Is to give me my propers

When you get home

, Aretha Franklin

My blood runs cold

My memory has just been sold

, J. Geils Band

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields were glory does not stay

And early though
the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose

--To An Athlete dying Young
A. E. Housman


This may seem a tempest in a teapot to those who have never been in military bureaucracy, but if they cannot get even this small citation issue right, that seems indicative of slippages in more consequential areas.

To recapitulate: Ranger finally received his Presidential Unit Citation in February after petitioning and being rejected by the Army's Awards and Decorations branch. It was only through intervention by Ranger's Congressman Allen Boyd, and his veterans assistant Michael Bishop, that the citation, awarded to the unit in 2001, was finally issued to Ranger. Although the letter of authorization and DD215 were finally sent, no certificate was sent.

Instead, what you see here is what he got: no heavy paper, no embossed seal --
just a plain Kinko's 3 ¢ copy on cheap paper.

The citation exists -- Ranger's father has his own PUC certificate earned in World War II with his name indicated on the document, and the MACVSOG PUC certificate has been posted online by its various recipients.
It is on parchment, with blue embossing, and bears the official seal. (A Google search turned up a copy online posted by Ranger's associate Fred "Lightening" Wunderlich here.)

The HQ Department of the Army, Chief of the Military Awards branch, actually wrote my senator a letter saying the citation cannot be given to an individual recipient (me).
If not to us, the recipients, then to whom? Maybe it just doesn't go to Special Forces officers who are audacious enough to write against the current wars.

What about,
"We Support the Troops"? The Kinko's copy of my cert is a finger in my eye, and not a meet tribute from a grateful nation. To Ranger, this is a denigration of his service, and is indicative of the value placed upon his service. Soldiers are not given xerox copies of their awards.

The wording of the citation is even incorrect: twice it is given correctly as "Studies and Observations Group" (SOG); however, six times SOG is called "Special Operations Group" -- a unit that never existed! So 75% of the references to the awarded unit are incorrect. One would think that a document authorized by the President and signed by the Secretary of the Army would be technically correct.

Ranger is torqued that such a simple administrative process has morphed into a typical military run-around. As an aside, he has received his share of "Howdy, fellow snake eater letters" which are invariably from SOCNET sorts seeking to "blow his cover". They usually come back, tail between legs, touting their great contacts on the inside, and how they've vetted Ranger.

Well, if any of you patriots has a contact in awards and decorations, please help me find out why another patriot can't get his PUC certificate. If all else fails, maybe Ebay will come through for me -- they are selling MACVSOG unit citations here. The surrealism of this reality almost trumps Vietnam.

Thanks for your service, boys and girls -- now get lost.

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Neither Rain, Nor Sleet. . .

--I've had it with these jackbooted thugs!"
--Pottery Barn?
--I got three Pottery Barn catalogs in one day.
That makes eight this month

--The Junk Mail episode
, Seinfeld (1997)


Fellow blogger jurassicpork recently wrote on the exorbitant benefits which continue to accrue to the estates of deceased executives ("Die. Sit. Stay. Good Boy"). This dovetailed nicely with a recent observation on dead mail deliveries.

While slogging through the bureaucratic quagmire of the United States Postal Service online, attempting to remove a mail hold sans confirmation number (an impossibility), Lisa came across the following option:

If you are receiving mail addressed to a person who is deceased, you can
redirect delivery of a deceased person’s mail by following these steps.

U.S. Postal Service® will continue to deliver mail addressed to a deceased person until we are notified of a change in delivery preference.
If you would like the deceased’s mail to be forwarded to a different address, simply file the request at your local Post Office™.

My only question is, how would you know where the dearly departed ended up, and if they'd still like to receive those Pottery Barn catalogs?

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Footloose and Fancy Free

Rainer Hachfeld,
Neues Deutschland

Why won't Baptists screw standing up?
Someone might think they're dancing

You know, we love to move around.

And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore

--Kurt Vonnegut

You can fly if you'd only cut

Loose, footloose

Kick off your Sunday shoes

Oowee, Marie

Shake it, shake it for me

, Kenny Loggins

Findley, Ohio, senior Tyler Frost was suspended from his Christian school after attending last Friday's prom at the secular school of his unfortunately-named girfriend, Rebecca Smooty (Ohio Teen Suspended for Going to Girlfriend's Prom).

We will not discuss the legality of the school's action (Frost had signed an agreement at the start of the year to abide by the school's policies) but rather, that there are schools and sects that believe dancing and girl's showing bared shoulders are the devil's handmaidens.

What is the difference between the Taliban and the policies of American Christian educational institutions like Oral Roberts U or Bob Jones? It seems just a matter of degree.

Why would God be opposed to dancing? This is probably one of the oldest forms of human social behavior, probably predating screwing standing up (though Ranger has no liturgical data.) Was the Christian's idea to distance themselves from the revelrous Pagans, when displacing their gods with the
One True God ©, this God of stern mien who meant serious business? Stuff like tithing 10% and not using condoms. (The Ten Commandments was just prelude.)

In the beginning was The Word, and it was:
No Dancing! (with echo effect.) He wants us to know, this will not be fun.

As Minstrel Boy might say, fuck me running.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor. . .

Fuck this planet!

--Red Planet


USA Today reports the Pentagon will "speed up efforts" to destroy its aging chemical weapons in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention of 29 April 1997 (Chemical Weapons Disposal on Fast Track.) However, they are still nine years behind schedule for completion of the project, and have only destroyed 60%, leaving more than 12,000 tons remaining in the U.S.'s arsenal.

"Despite the acceleration, the Pentagon doesn't expect to eliminate all of its chemical weapons until 2021, well past the 2012 deadline set by the international Chemical Weapons Convention. To date, the military has destroyed 60% of the stockpile, which includes VX, GB and mustard gas produced before the weapons program was ended

U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) is the agency charged with the materiel destruction. Their motto is Commune Bonum (for the good of the community), and they've teamed with FEMA in these efforts, which should give us all peace of mind.

Remember when Colin Powell got his shorts in a wad over Dr. Death's
traveling laundry vans purportedly full of chemical weapons roving the Iraqi desert?

This would be a joke in an alternate universe.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Willy Pete

It was after the catastrophe,
when they shot the president and machine-gunned
the Congress and the army declared
a state of emergency.
They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time
—The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

(A quote for Sheerahkahn.)

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission is concerned that the U.S. used white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in violation of international agreements outlawing the use of chemical weapons.

The charge arose after suspect burns were sustained in the already contentious battle last Monday in Farah province, fighting which may have caused the largest number of Afghan civilian deaths since the 2001 U.S. invasion that ousted the Taliban.

"The American military denied using [White Phosphorus] in the battle in Farah province — which
President Hamid Karzai has said killed 125 to 130 civilians — but left open the possibility that Taliban militants did" (Concerns White Phosphorus Used in Afghan Battle).

It would be very easy to deny this charge by simply releasing the Artillery Log Books, which would show what rounds were fired and when. This is SOP for firing units

"Col. Greg Julian, the top U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said the U.S. did not use white phosphorus as a weapon in last week's battle. The U.S. does use white phosphorous to illuminate the night sky, he said."

There is a little duplicity here. Illumination and White Phosphorus are two different types of munitions. WP is SQ (super quick fuse), and illumination is set with timers on the fuse and has parachute carriers for the illumination.
WP does not illuminate a night sky.

Despite the protest of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has consistently decried civilian casualties and called for an end to airstrikes, U.S. N
ational Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (ret'd.) refused to rule out any action because "we can't fight with one hand tied behind our back.'"

But counterinsurgency
is about fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Since Afghanistan is supposed to be a COIN operation, not a conventional battle, Ranger is confused as to the U.S.'s objectives. Either we are there to win their hearts and minds or we are there to kill them, but we cannot do both. Either it is COIN or it is not. If NSA Jones feels that two-handed fighting is the key to success, we have some muddled thinking in our national command authority.

"Afghan officials say up to 147 people may have died in the battle in Farah, though
the U.S. says that number is exaggerated. " As usual, U.S. official response is rather blase about indigenous deaths. The U.S. historically accuses our enemies of not valuing human life, but statements like this discount the value of the lives, regardless of the exact number lost.

Kabul on Sunday, hundreds of people marched near Kabul University to protest the U.S. military's role in the deaths. Protesters carried signs denouncing the U.S. and chanted anti-American slogans."

Demonstrations in Kabul, but none in the U.S.

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Inside the Box

That of our lyues and endynge shewes

How transytory we be all daye.

This mater is wonders precyous;

But the entent of it is more gracyous

(16th cen.)

--Bring out your dead! Ninepence

--I'm not dead!

--Nothing. Here's your ninepence
--Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Ranger stumbled upon this ad in the highly entertaining publication, "2009 Guide to Homeland Security Grants."

The "Everybody Coffin ™" is just what the doctor ordered. It'll lend you
"dignity in the midst of disaster." The Everybody Coffin is a flat box, pop-up, stackable coffin, when you haven't the time for the very best. It has a certain cool Scandanavian-IKEA aesthetic.

Ranger wanted to share his curiosity with the Homeland Security Industry, which is taking the place of real industry here in the Homeland. Lisa shared recently that one very bored employee at the pre-screening area of the airport told her as she fingered the plastic baggies on the counter --
"Go ahead, take as many as you want. They're the good ones with the slider -- your tax dollars at work." That's a good chap who understands the circumference of his job.

If the ad goes viral, we'd like to nominate Toby Kieth as jingle writer. One can never err on the side of being too patriotic.

Witness the Everybody by DQE:
"Ready now, for what's next," even when you're not.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Don't Spend It All at Once

Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence
-- those are the three pillars of Western prosperity
--Aldous Huxley


Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, and to all the people who have helped a child and to anyone who has helped midwife anyone -- yer all mums to me.

Tangentially related is the above coupon for a
free meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Note the caveat: "Not valid on Mother's Day." Please keep this in mind as you consider taking your mother out, and marry that to this week's news that the economy's looking up (despite the fact that least one of every ten people you meet is out of work.)

Think about those folks who might've thought to take their mom to KFC to celebrate her day. Only they won't be able to use their coupons for awhile anyway, as so many people tried to cash in on their free meal that
KFC corporate was forced to rescind the free meal program.

There were hour-plus waiting lines at several KFC's nationwide this week, and police had to set up a cordon in
Greensville, S.C. Coupon holders now must go through some arcane application process to gain a second voucher, but hey -- this time with a free Pepsi, too.

We all know the routine: Make the process arduous enough, and you will force an attrition rate. It is much like the food stamp program. The application process is so prohibitive for many without cars and petrol that they just scrap the whole idea, either relying on the kindness of family and friends, food banks, or just going hungry.

Voila! The states declare a great victory as they saw ever-decreasing food stamp rolls.

Today's Wall Street Journal gave notice on their front page to the statistic that "17% of children under 5 may go hungry." I don't know about those over five, but I do not think it magically gets better for them.
The New York Times' Bob Herbert sets the figure at a round 20% (Far From Over). So one in five kids you pass probably has a rumbly tummy.

Sorry I haven't more chummy mum's day news, but that's not what we're here for. We'll gladly report the happy when we see it.

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Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

--Bringing in the Sheaves

Render therefore unto Caesar
the things which are Caesar's;
and unto God the things that are God's
--Matthew 22:

I'm going to Graceland,
For reasons I cannot explain

There's some part of me wants to see Graceland

, Paul Simon

Ranger has been mulling over ways to pump money into this economy that will not hurt the little people. Obama's latest round of spending cuts won't put much of a dent in the deficit.

Since we levy a heavy
Sin Tax, why not a "Grace Tax," as well. Since the Lord wishes to prosper his faithful, they might even be better poised to kick in a little extra to the national coffers. Surely, since God is such a patriot, he would be happy to have his brethren shoulder a civic burden in His name.

The Grace Tax would come in the form of the church paying property taxes on its not-immodest real estate holdings.
We must put aside eternity for this moment, and live in the here and now. Ur-messiah Eckhart Tolle can shepherd us on this earthly plane, and we would then have the Oprah acolytes on our side.

God owns a lot of primo real estate. Tax Him like any other good citizen and see that deficit dwindle.

Hallelujah! Can I get an "A-men!"?

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