Tuesday, June 30, 2009

That'll be the Day

I didn't come here to America
To give up the ghost and die

--Five Points
, Black 47

Purple Heart Magazine published Ranger's Anti-Warrior stance last month, he is going to push the envelope with a new challenge:

Dear Ed,
It is my contention that the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) should be dedicated to the principal that there should not be any more Purple Hearts (PH's) being awarded in our current meaningless and endless hostilities in Iraq and AFPAK. This means advocating for ending the wars.
In the past, PH's purchased freedom and liberty, eventually leading to victory and success. The last Victory Medal awarded was 1945. Since then, the volume of PH's have not bought the American taxpayer anything except political compromise and open-ended conflicts. The MOPH should not glorify such actions, and should do everything possible to end the misery and suffering caused by combat wounds that benefit naught.

It is clear that DVA policies are broken and will continue to provide marginal care to the returning wounded and disabled. In the face of the inadequacy of the DVA -- with a current backlog of almost a million disability cases -- how can fraternal organization like the MOPH continue to glorify and support the current wars, in which victory is undefinable and therefore unattainable?

Our efforts need to be reassessed and realigned to protect those that need not be needlessly sacrificed to a false concept of freedom or liberty.
What a revolutionary move it would be if the MOPH adopted a posture opposing continued U.S. involvement in the current phony wars on terror. This is the leadership required of old soldiers in the face of degenerate national policy.

These are harsh words to speak to fellow patriots, but as Justice Brandeis said, sunshine is an excellent disinfectant.


Jim Hruska

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Dancin' at the Zombie Zoo

Boys who spent their weekends
making banana nut muffins did not,
as a rule, excel in the art of hand-to-hand combat
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,
David Sedaris

[Lisa will be an occasional contributor at other blogs, and will note her contributions at Ranger. The piece below can be read in its entirety today at Big Brass Blog.]

I am sorry to hear of Michael Jackson's too-young death. He was a great pop icon, whose music and early power and attitude left an indelible mark on the music industry (Police Focus on Medical Treatment in Jackson Death.)

But more than that, Mr. Jackson elicits a pathetic response when one thinks of the odd reclusive man he became, befriending chimps and children, ensconcing himself in his
Neverland Ranch -- replete with amusement park rides and a petting zoo -- as he embarked on a quest of self-abnegation: to become a white woman, or at least, Diana Ross. But aside from the issue of wanting to eradicate his negroid features is the issue of his arrested psyche.

To me, Michael Jackson embodies the
puer aeternus archetype, the perpetual child. Examples of this type of boy-man abound, yet there is little discussion of the phenomenon. While Jackson is an extreme and cartoonish example, let's discuss it in general.

Read more
here . . .

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rick Astley, Where Are You?

Ebony and ivory live together
in perfect harmony

Side by side on my piano keyboard,

oh lord why don't we?

--Ebony and Ivory, Paul McCartney


Any of you who have ever been Rick rolled might find this amusing, a small tidbit to follow Krishnamurti's lofty thinking on the unity of being.

I had a funny real life experience today in line with the clever
"Stuff White People Like" (SWPL) site. A group of black guys and a girl joshing around with every cool (you think) thing you do, as a white person, and making it all seem rather . . . uptight

They were singing a reasonable facsimile of James Taylor's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" -- heartfelt tune, right? except, when one of them jumped in with some scat or a soulful wail. Sweet Baby James didn't seem so soulful after that. Michel Buble? Yeah -- uptight, man.

The guys would punctuate their riffs with "My bad" in a very
white boy-cool way, and I just had to laugh.

A great lesson that no matter how down you think you are, you don't know me.

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Queer as Folk

Michael Jackson got married.
There are shows like “I Want to Marry a Millionaire.”

How sacred can it be?

--David Sedaris on gay marriage

Hans Moleman: Lesbian?!
This isn't my army reunion

Gay man in army clothes:
You're coming home with me

Hans Moleman: Yes, Colonel
--The Simpsons

[I]f God had thought homosexuality is a sin,

he would not have created gay people

--Howard Dean


Word, Howard. Too bad your masculine yawp has relegated you to the dustbin of history. There is simply no room for unrepentant male exuberance in politics today, as our president, the King of Cool, has demonstrated.

Ranger has some thoughts on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. Since he entered active duty in 1968, it has been evident to him that bull diker types inhabit the U.S. Army in prodigious numbers and a freely accepted manner. Many of these women compete avidly with the men, and exercise so strenuously that they cease to have menstrual cycles. They are buff, hard and masculine.

These women do not threaten the male command structure and are therefore accepted. In fact, they reinforce the manly nature of the institution in their desire to compete on a man's playing field

At Ft. McClellan in the 1980's there was a Major General called "Mother Mary". She lived openly with a female Lieutenant Colonel an all knew her homosexual orientation, yet she was a Post Commander. Fellow writer FDChief speaks of his service in Panama, which was known as "Clam City" for its rampant lesbian activity among the ranks.

Compare this with the shelving of Air Force gayviator LTC Victor Fehrenbach. A decorated pilot, he will be discharged after 18 years of meritorious service because someone outed him as a gay man. Though Major Margaret Witt is fighting her discharge at the same time, the number of gay men discharged under DADT far exceeds the number of discharged lesbians. Why?

Gay men threaten to disrupt the masculine military ethos of the military. As friend Sheerahkahn wrote today: "thus the issue for the heterosexual men is that they feel like women around homosexual men."
Het men feel feminized and thus vulnerable around gay men. Word, Sheerahkahn.

Those who say overturning DADT would disrupt discipline due to proximity in close quarters do not have a strong argument. In peacetime, we no longer have squad bay living; there are no gang showers or toilets.
Officers have always lived in private or semi-private quarters.

Of course, neither applies in combat situations, but in Iraq and Afghanistan many troops live in modern billets. The fear of crazed homosexual overtures in the bunkers simply doesn't hold water.

That President Obama will be commemorating the Stonewall Riots Monday at the White House seems the height of hypocrisy to us.
(The 1969 Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City when patrons of a city gay bar fought back against police brutality and harassment.) Obama could, with the flourish of a pen, roll back Clinton's DADT.

Whether viewed from a moral, military, legal or financial perspective, DADT makes no sense.

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Do We Know What They Want?

All war must be just the killing of strangers
against whom you feel no personal animosity;

strangers whom, in other circumstances,

you would help if you found them in trouble

--Mark Twain


Sunday homily: Are we helping in Iraq and AFPAK?

"Between a man of peace and a soldier, can there be any relationship of help?

They belong to different levels of thought, to different levels of society; they may meet in the marketplace but they have different friends, a different language. The man of peace may understand the soldier and want to help him, but only to urge him come out of his world of violence.

The soldier will accept such help only when he himself is convinced of the folly of violence; otherwise, he will wish to lock up the man of peace as a danger to society.
Similarly, if you want to reform society, you must be sure that that is what it wants. Otherwise, your help and enthusiasm will be used for its own ends. The collective end is not dissimilar to the individual end.

If you want to help me,
you must find out what I am seeking. Otherwise, in what way are you helping me? If you and I agree, then we will help and not hinder one another. But if you do not know what I want and still try to help me, either you are acting out of conceit -- which imposes a limit on understanding -- or you are being carried away by your own activity.

To truly help another is impossible if there is the conceit of knowledge, or experience, of authority, of any pretension. Nor is it possible if you are escaping into activity in the form of social service. To help me, you must know yourself. Otherwise, your ignorance will strengthen my ignorance.

--J. Krishnamurti,
unpublished interview, ca. 1950, #6

Don't you wish you got this kind of straight dope from the pulpit? That's why you've got Ranger -- your one-stop moral shopping playground. The words are 60 years old, but as fresh and relevant as if spoken today.

Talk amongst yourselves.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

FWG, or, Flying While Gay

(h/t to Deep Confusion)

I'm homosexual . . . How and why are idle questions.
It's a little like wanting to know why my eyes are green
--Jean Genet

The homosexual subculture based on brief,
barren assignations is, in part,
a dark mirror of the sex-obsessed majority culture
--George F. Will

Ain't I a woman?
--Harriet Tubman

Hateful to me as the gates of Hades
is that man who hides one thing in his heart
and speaks another

Two recent cases have highlighted the military's hypocritical "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT) regarding the right of homosexuals to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Hypocritical because gays have long served honorably in the military; hypocritical because it presumes serviceman must live a closeted life if they are to be allowed to execute their job.

Hypocritical because 2-10% of the animal kingdom is homosexual, and a civil nation cannot force someone to switch their sexual orientation, any more than they can require they bleach their skin or hew to a state religion.
These are not things a democracy forces upon its citizens. DADT gives the lie to the idea of a nation where All Men are Created Equal.

The Army should have one standard for retention, that being performance of duty.

The Supreme Court denied former Army Captain James Pietrangelo II the right to contest his discharge under DADT on June 8. However, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is allowing former Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, a decorated flight nurse,
to pursue her lawsuit over her dismissal.

The 9th Circuit Court got it right when they said the AF must prove that discharging Witt advanced its goals of
readiness and unit cohesion.

Also in the news is Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, discharged after a distinguished 18-year career after being outed by an acquaintance.

He is being kicked to the curb just shy of retirement for
Flying While Gay (FWG). As with the prejudicial view towards those ensnared DWB (Driving While Black), so it goes with FWG . What possible impact does this officer's sexual orientation have on his ability to fly his aircraft?

"The winner of nine air medals for distinguished service in flight, including one for heroism the night U.S. forces captured Baghdad International Airport in 2003, Fehrenbach is in the process of getting kicked out of the military a year after an acquaintance told his bosses he was gay (Aviator Hopes Gay Ban Will End Soon Enough for Him)."

In the case of both officers there is no indication their dismissal had anything to do with military logic. The military traditionally eliminates/discharges personnel via one of two methods: qualitative or quantitative review. Neither Witt nor Fehrenbach fit either mold, as both are producing qualitatively and there in no Reduction in Force in place requiring quantitative limning down.

It is both cruel and unusual to eliminate people like Witt and Fehrenbach after honorably serving their country and having reached field grade officer status. If heterosexuals can serve and still have sexual liaisons without harassment, the same respect is due homosexuals. Why should one community have to essentially neuter themselves to remain acceptable?

Your boss may be a Yankees fan, but that doesn't mean you can't root for the Mets without fearing your dismissal. Freedom of choice.

That's the American way.

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Seven Ways 'Til Sunday

Paresh Nath
The National Herald (India)

Men are apt to be much more influenced
by words than by the actual facts
of the surrounding reality
--Ivan Pavlov

Happy is he who could

perceive the causes of things

But it ain't me, babe,

No, no, no, it ain't me, babe,

It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe

--It Ain't Me, Babe
, Bob Dylan

Old Army buddy Rob Valentine used to joke that being a proctologist was the best job in the world -- there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. That joke is not feeling so funny now.

New York Times fronted last Sunday's edition with the horrific story of a "rogue cancer unit" at Philadelphia's Veterans Administration Hospital, where 92 of 116 prostate procedures were "botched" (At V.A. Hospital, a Rogue Cancer Unit). Prostate cancer is a presumptive service-connected condition for Vietnam veterans, so this is of special concern to those exposed to Agent Orange. First we are sprayed, then spayed.

For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off.

Most of the seeds, 40 in all, landed in the patient’s healthy bladder, not the prostate.

It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated. But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear.

He simply rewrote his surgical plan to match the number of seeds in the prostate, investigators said.

The revision may have made Dr. Kao look better, but it did nothing for the patient, who had to undergo a second implant. It failed, too, resulting in an unintended dose to the rectum. Regulators knew nothing of this second mistake because no one reported it.

Two years later, in 2005, Dr. Kao rewrote another surgical plan after putting half the seeds in the wrong organ. Once again, regulators did not object.

Had the government responded more aggressively, it might have uncovered a rogue cancer unit at the hospital, one that operated with virtually no outside scrutiny and botched 92 of 116 cancer treatments over a span of more than six years — and then kept quiet about it, according to interviews with investigators, government officials and public records.

The team continued implants for a year even though the equipment that measured whether patients received the proper radiation dose was broken. The radiation safety committee at the Veterans Affairs hospital knew of this problem but took no action, records show.

A clerical error revealed the "substandard implants." The investigating Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that, "over all, the
implant program lacked a 'safety culture'." This is sounding a familiar note in the V.A. medical culture.

In addition, "seeds were implanted in the wrong places. As more cases were examined, more mistakes were found." Why was lead surgeon Dr. Kao not charged with criminal negligence?

"The V.A. put too much trust in the contractors, said Darrell G. Wiedeman, a senior health physicist for the nuclear commission. 'They claim they hired experts, the best that money could buy from the local university, so therefore they didn’t require a lot of training and oversight,' Mr. Wiedeman said at a recent meeting of the nuclear commission’s advisory board."

The problems at the V.A. are consistent, systemic and often covered-up, hidden like the too-weak radioactive seeds stuck in inappropriate regions (see Scope Alert). For all the talk of shock and reform, here we are seven years into meaningless wars and the infrastructure to care for those returning human assets remains SUSFU.

Not only are the V.A. Clinics and hospitals -- once the poster boys of health care efficiency for Congress because of their limned down expenses -- endangering patients' lives, many can't even get in through those dangerous doors anyway.
Almost a million disability claims sit unprocessed at this reading.

"Citing a fast-growing backlog of unresolved disability claims, veterans groups and members of Congress are calling for an overhaul of Department of Veterans Affairs procedures for handling cases.

"The number of unprocessed disability claims has grown by nearly 100,000 since the beginning of the year and totaled 916,625 as of Saturday, a rise driven in part by increasing numbers of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

" Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), who last week chaired a House Veterans' Affairs subcommittee meeting titled 'Can VA Manage One Million Claims?,' said the department needs 'a cultural and management sea change'" (Groups Urge VA to Reform Disability Claims Procedure.)

Talk of national health care seems fallow if we can't even get the V.A. system functioning, a sort of "socialized medicine" plan that the U.S. has had decades to tinker with.

The V.A. medical program will not be fixed until the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches are forced to used DVA facilities as their personal medical provider. Then watch the feathers fly.

The problem is not remedied because they got theirs and we got ours. SRDH, and the veterans inhabit the lowlands.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Scope Alert

Afghanistan is Vietnam for Slow Learners
-Gwynne Dyer (via tw)

Ranger Question of the Day:
Why would anyone serve in the military
if VA health care is so poor, and
health care becomes nationalized?

Now this is hitting close to home, as Ranger has had both colon and esophageal endoscopies at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in both Lake City and Gainesville, FL within the last few years. Water under the bridge, but end of July he has another one scheduled at the Lake City DVA.

"House lawmakers blasted Veterans Affairs officials on Tuesday after hearing testimony that the agency still wasn't following procedures for handling endoscopes, months after discovering that the improperly cleaned instruments may have exposed veterans to hepatitis and HIV.

"I'm outraged that any of our nation's heroes were potentially infected or that they even have to worry about the possibility," said Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., who is chairman of the House's Veterans' Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations" (Testimony: VA medical Gear Still Being Mishandled).

As one of the purest examples of giving veterans the Royal Shaft, witness the Maimi VA Clinic, where "tube[s] that was supposed to be cleaned after each colonoscopy [were] instead cleaned at the end of each day, affecting patients between May 2004 and March 2009." A mere five years of shoving fecally-contaminated scopes up vets' asses. What's the big deal?

The VA Health Care System is often cited as an efficient, lean machine. The model for any limned-down National Health Service which may come to pass in this great nation. Before Congress tries to fix or create the nation's health care system, we should see that the one in place can meet even the basic leve
l of the concept, "health care". Ranger has medical care options; many do not.

"Investigators with the inspector general's office at the VA testified Tuesday that fewer than half of the VA facilities using endoscopes had posted proper cleaning guidelines for the equipment as well as documents showing that the staff is trained in such procedures

"That finding was based on surprise inspections of 42 VA facilities in May

"The investigation came after the VA discovered in December 2008 and January of this year that endoscopes at VA facilities in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Miami; and Augusta, Ga., were not maintained properly, possibly exposing veterans to the fluids of other patients."

The news release says the veterans who attended clinics
may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV. Then again, maybe they have such thick endothelial linings that the body fluids of others never penetrated their systems.

Not being a Marine, the question is:
Whatdya do now, Ranger?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finding Your Azimuth

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day

, Paul Simon

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken

--Sonnet 116, Shakespeare

He goes out at night with his big boots on

None of his friends know right from wrong

--Re-Humanize Yourself
, The Police

While Ranging through South Georgia on the way to Ft. Benning, and old friend popped up out of nowhere -- the Cusseta radio towers. There are two of them now. In 1968 there was only one.

All infantrymen know these towers because they are generally in the SE corner of Ft. Benning. Most of our training was to the west Jamestown Road, a dirt road in those days. The instructors always told us to
look for the towers if we got mis-oriented, shoot an azimuth on them, and go to the Jamestown Road where somebody would be there to pick us up.

It was always very simple, and no one got left behind.

In addition to the joys of training, Ranger also enjoyed shooting pictures. They always told the truth, didn't they? This week, we hear Kodachrome is become a relic, banished to the dustbin of photographic history. Will our true colors ever be the same?

Once we left Ft. Benning, things were never that easy again.

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Lolita in Tehran

Petar Pismestrovic
Kleine Zeitung

Update: Due to shakeups in the respective Ranger households,
posting schedule at
Ranger Against War will change as follows:

Three morning posts a week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday)
+ a weekend edition on Saturday.
If the spirit moves, there will also be the occasional Sunday homily.
Like Ms. Stewart says, it's a good thing.


Watching the rioting in Tehran following disputed Presidential election results, Ranger is struck by one question: Why were there no riots or major street demonstrations in the U.S. following our own disputed 2000 presidential election, when the recount was shuttered by a Supreme Court per curiam decision (Bush v. Gore)?

In both
cases the elections were stolen, yet only the Iranians react with a posture of outrage, befitting a culture not yet fascist.

Which country needs to define democracy?

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Really Going Dark

We can do the innuendo

We can dance and sing

When it's said and done
We haven't told you a thing
--Dirty Laundry
, Don Henley

Olivia de Havilland: You speak treason!
Errol Flynn: Fluently

--Robin Hood

O.k. -- I lied. Just a quickie from the WaPo today about the recent Holocaust Museum shooting:

"Which is why one hopes nothing changes at the Holocaust Museum. The defense against terrorism isn't just physical, and it isn't just about violence. It's about the decision not to be terrorized ("The Built-In Response to Terrifying Moments").

This is erroneous commingling of crime with terrorism. The Holocaust Museum shooter was a bigoted whack job who committed a craven crime.
A white supremacist who figured he'd go hunting over a baited field, and ended up killing a black security guard. Not the sharpest pencils in the box, those supremacists.

I resent the news media using every instance of "scary crime" as being in the same ballpark as
terrorism. The media exploited the recent killing of an abortion doctor in the same way.

Instead of using these discrete examples of criminal behavior as teaching points to highlight the difference between what is homegrown crime versus terrorism, they shamelessly elided the two into one muddy ball of wax. Fear is the product, all the time.

They could have said, "a terrorist aims to reach an audience beyond the actual target. This crazed racist just wanted to kill him some Jewish people." But that would be to put the blame where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of the racist and bigoted society and subculture which spawned such a murderer.

It is the intersection in the media of two impulses, neither good: Feeding a no-responsibility culture, and a need to whip up fear and frenzy among the populace, to keep them on the straight and narrow path their government has laid out for them. The press is colluding with the government.

It is lax thinking and reportage.

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Ranger Goes Black

Dear Ranger Readers: Due to personal issues, I will be offline for the next several days.

Please check back Wednesday to see what's next,

Thank you for your forbearance,



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Scotts Valley SWAT

Where wild flowers spring and the wee birdies sing
On the steep steep side of Ben Lomond

But the broken heart it kens nae second spring

Though resigned we may be while we're greetin

--Loch Lomand


This photo fronted May's Scotts Valley Times. Swat Valley it ain't, but Scotts Valley may just be the newest municipality with its very own badass SWAT vehicle, er, "tank".

SV Times services the lovely hamlets of Ben Lomand (pop.2,364), Boulder Creek (4,015), Felton (976) and the biggie, Scotts Valley itself (11,159), for a grand total of 18, 514 proud citizens off the slightly traveled Highway 9 in Northern California.

The SV nine-person SWAT team previously unceremoniously
"rode to high-risk situations in a minivan and unmarked police cruisers." No more: "The . . . armored truck weighs more tha 24,000 lbs. (12 tons), is impervious to bullets, the doors can acts as shields when open and has gun ports on all sides." Not too shabby.

I wonder if the Afghan police in the Swat valley have their own SWAT Swat Team? That would be pretty cool. I can see a starring role for Denzel somewhere in the cast.

I also wonder -- with a population under 12,000, what is the worst that might befall this lovely valley, accessed only via a tortuous road through big redwoods? Perhaps a rogue Mexican leaf blower from outside Carmel (because Carmel is wise enough to have city noise ordinances which prohibit such abominations) comes into the Valley and drinks one too may Dos Eqquis at Alice's Restaurant, challenging some Harley Riders on perfectly polished bikes to a dust up?

Very unlikely some really bad Surenos would make the 1,000 mile trek for a gang bang in Ben Lomand.

Swat has a very nice community library with a computer and a $5 membership fee. Might the SWAT money not have been better spent making their library free, and adding a few computers to the bank?

Should Scotts Valley have the bad black SWAT vehicle? Wants vs. Needs. FAO Schwarz meets every wealthy child's most extravagant toy desires. Hammacher Schlemmer does the same for adults.
Do you need a $15,000 Breitling when a $40 Timex will do the same job?

Thorstein Veblen's conspicuous consumption is alive and well, and for those who can afford to chose, every choice up or down makes a statement.

What does Scotts Valley's new armored SWAT vehicle say?

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I Been Robbed!

Pondering the GM bailouts, Ranger realized that, with 300 million citizens and a $70 Billion bailout, everybody is paying $233.00 for that clunker (Our Car Company.)

What did GM ever do for me?

I want my money back.


In His Defense

Should former Vice President Cheney ever be brought to task for the crimes committed under his watch, Ranger predicts the following defense:

As the VP is not the Vice Commander in Chief, he has no command authority over the armed forces. He cannot issue an order or directive to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He cannot even give a direct order to a Private First Class.

The VP is not in the chain of command (nor should we want him to be). And thus will go the exoneration of one of the
architects of evil, [Vice] Vice President Cheney.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Anti American Extremist Seeds

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

--Do Not Go Gentle Into the Good Night,

Dylan Thomas


Reading Mangold's and Penycate's "The Tunnels of Cu Chi" (1985) is like deju vu all over again.

The parallels to today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unmistakable and illustrative of a
military organization lacking institutional memory and operational adaptability.

The following quotes on actions 40+ years old could just as readily be applied to the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©) today:

"The Americans' concern for their dead and wounded remained a source of bewilderment and relief to the Communist soldiers. Anything that delayed the battle inevitably favored the weaker side and allowed reloading, regrouping and rethinking."

"The Americans came, as they always seemed to, shortly after eight in the morning."

"In fact, the explosions destroyed only some seventy feet of the tunnel complex, and the system was usable again within a few weeks."

"Everything he had learned about fighting seemed to have no relevance to what he had been doing today. . . . [W]hat did any of this have to do with an enemy you never saw alive, who existed in holes in the ground, and against whom only a man's brute strength and luck seemed to prevail?"

"Aircraft, bombs, artillery, and chemicals obliged the Viet Cong to live and fight underground."

"The tunnels evolved as the natural response of a poorly equipped and mainly local guerrilla army to mid-twentieth-century technological warfare.

"Professional soldiers, including the legendary Foreign Legion, had been defeated by an Asian guerrilla army -- a lesson for the future that few Americans heeded."

the peasants did not in the main have to be terrorized into acquiescence by such tactics. The Viet Cong were themselves villagers, or their sons an daughters, and operated most of the time with the consent and assistance of the people among whom they lived."

"Guerrillas hold the military initiative; the Viet Cong could choose the time and place of battle."
"For a guerrilla army, stalemate -- pinning down a larger force in its huge bases -- is equivalent to winning."

"But for the guerrillas there were often blood-debts to settle -- home villages bombed, relative killed, or arrested and tortured, by a government funded and armed by the U.S."

"Not only were they [the U.S.] easy targets for our snipers, but I realized the best way to kill them was with more booby traps."

"Throughout the war,booby traps were responsible for 11 % of all American deaths, and 17% of all wounds."

"The war occurred wherever opposing forces made contact."

"Large parts of South Vietnam could not be, and never were, secured."

"The Hamlet Evaluation System [HES] relied on suspect intelligence supplied by often corrupt ARVN local officials, who tended to portray the running of their areas of responsibility in the most flattering light."

"Twenty years earlier. Ho Chi Minh himself had warned the French, 'You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.'"

"Most of the Cu Chi district was under ARVN or American control by day, but the Viet Cong dominated it by night."

"Westmoreland remembered the advice given him in 1964 by [MacArthur]" To defeat the guerrilla, "you may have to resort to a scorched-earth policy."

"As usual in Vietnam, the brightest possible picture was painted in the after-action reports."
"[T]he army's sweeping through an area for a short time, only to allow the Viet Cong to move back in and resume their activities [was futile]."

"Even before the ground war in Vietnam had begun to settle down into one of grinding attrition -- a strategy that is proof of a lack of strategy -- the Americans had already begun to rely heavily on their overwhelming superiority in weapons technology."

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sheikh Your Money Maker

There are over 550 million firearms in
worldwide circulation.

That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet.

The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?

--Lord of War

Shake your money maker

Like somebody 'boutta pay ya

--Shake Your Money Maker
, Ludacris

Obama's speech in Cairo mixed fact with fiction (the better to fool you with, my pretties.) Yet in the midst of this he stressed a need for honesty with the Arab world.

Why not try a little honesty with the American taxpayers? Here's some honesty:

The U.S. rewards the hostility, violence and corruption of the area. The largest recipients of U.S. aid are the region's destabilizers. Saudi Arabia is run by corrupt playboy princes just as corrupt and undemocratic as was the Shah's U.S.-supported dictatorship in Iran. Neither S.A. nor Iran are any less radical than the Taliban, but they are/were "allies".

U.S. military aid keeps the area well-armed and fully militarized, and not for external protection. (Only the Israeli military is a true defense force.) The other armies of the region are arrayed to suppress their own populations, and to maintain the power of the ruling elites from overthrow by the masses. Egypt, S.A., Iraq and Afghanistan all fit the bill.
U.S. tax dollars pay to destabilize the region.

Here's more:

  • Obama was elected on an antiwar platform, yet both wars are still being footed by us.
  • The Middle East's problem with radical Islam resulted from Western European colonial expansion, conducted with U.S. complicity. U.S. policy was and is exploitation of oil assets and collusion with corrupt and despotic sovereigns.
  • The Palestinians, the Pakistanis, the Afghans or the Iraqis have no product to sell to the U.S. other than holding us over the barrel of their oil reserves.
  • The Palestinians produce nothing but violence, yet the U.S. and U.N. give them money in prodigious amounts. It is the psychological phenomenon of acting out in order to gain attention. It profits them. If there were no threat of violence from their corner of the world, what would they earn?
  • The Afghan war has morphed into AFPAK, and we fear radical Islamists will get their hands on a Paki weapon. Channeling Mr. Kinison: Hello -- radical islamists already have their hands on nukes, and will use them without qualms if invaded by India.

Nukes getting into non-state actors hands is a problem, but the development of those nukes came about via U.S. involvement, either implicit or complicit. Iran was one of the first during the Nixon-Ford administrations, with nary a peep from the U.S. since the Shah was our ally.

Pakistan was a key ally when Russia invaded Afghansitan, and the dollars flowed to train Islamic extremists to fight the Russians. These are the progenitors of the majuhadeens walking the same trails today, almost 30 years on.

Honesty: Pakistan developed their nukes with U.S knowledge, but was not confronted due to their importance as an anti-Communist ally. In truth, they were only self-serving opportunists who sell their nuclear technology to N. Korea, Iran, Libya and anyone else willing to pony up the cash.

U.S. Mid East policy has been myopic and self-defeating, destabilizing and militarizing the region.
The U.S. is not a part of the solution, but a part of the problem. For similar reasons, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo has argued the U.S. should cease its African intervention. (Not likely on the military front, with AFRICOM looming on the horizon.)

The region will never be stabilized because there is too much money to be made by remaining unstable.
The radical Islamists should thank the U.S. every day for elevating them to the postion of world players.

Honesty: Assalamu Alaikum.

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Words and Meanings

Net-net, my value proposition is based
on maximizing synergies and being first

to market with a leveraged, value-added deliverable.

That's the opportunity space on a

level playing field.

SPELL (March/April)

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!
--America the Beautiful

The two pillars of political correctness are:
a) willful ignorance
b) a steadfast refusal to face the truth
--George MacDonald


In today's mail was my grammar newsletter, a real estate magazine and some poverty statistics. Words and meanings jumped out rather readily.

Real Estate Forum came non-performing assets (= "duds') and high net-worth individuals (= "rich"), but an editorial assured us that prosperity is just around the corner for those poised to exploit this economic breather.

Next was the statistic that $14,600 is the official poverty line for a single person household in Florida, and 16% of children in Florida are "poor", defined as living in families earning below 100% of the federal poverty level
(National Center for Children in Poverty.) About 12% of the state is poor, running neck-and-neck with President Obama's state of Illinois, and my county, Leon, is 25% poor. (Leon also includes the state's capital.)

Almost one in five kids lacks health insurance in the state
(18.8 by the last pre-recession figures.) Barabara Ehrenreich wrote about the Nouveau Poor in a recent NYT essay, "Too Poor to make the News." She writes, "In good times and grim ones, the misery at the bottom just keeps piling up, like a bad debt that will eventually come due."

When one is not in the "high net-worth" category, one tends to get looked over.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


(L to R) Ranger, Lisa and Charly

One day he'll walk from out of this place.
You'll see a quiet determination on his face.
He'll toe no lines. Suffer no fools.

--Man of Principle, Jethro Tull


Through a stroke of serendipitous timing we had the good fortune to meet blog friend Charles Gittings while in California. We had already passed his home on the coast, but as luck would have it, we were all around Santa Rosa at the same time.

Charly is a true Californian, who demonstrates the can-do attitude we saw so often. Chess master, bridge master, computer programmer extraordinaire, humanitarian -- Charly is a little bit of all of it. His current project of the last several years is to bring civil rights to the U.S. detainees. He has recently partnered with attorneys who have volunteered to work in the project, and you can read about the project here: Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions. Of his own accord, he managed to bring an amicus brief before the Supreme Court, and is currently working on another.

But Charlie is also a raconteur, and my favorite story concerned his 11 -year-old "Aha" moment. It occurred after witnessing a child's lifetime of adult drudgery and general grubbiness, while sitting on railroad tracks and watching a spectacular sunset. He determined that he would never be as mean, petty and nasty as the adults to whom he had been entrusted.

As I had a similar moment at a similar age, this ethical refusal resonated with me.

Alas, we had to be off on a goal of reaching Petaluma at night, with no room booked, and the visit was over too soon.

I wish you peace and success all of your days, Charly. Thank you for being open to making the connection with another cat loving, freedom seeker.

[p.s. -- remember the delightfully inebriated bubble girl Angel from the next table, who would not be pleased until I looked like I was in a Bud Light commercial? :)]

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Peace is Our Product

(L to R) Harrison Jack, Lisa and Ranger

You like attention

it's proof to you you're alive

stop parading your angles


you'll know when you're ripe

, Deftones

West Point is maintained for the army,
not the army for West Point
Brigadier General Jay L. Benedict

The Army is maintained for West Point



Caveat: Ranger will admit up front he is hostile to service academy graduates and the culture that permeates these institutions.

Ranger recently had the pleasure of visiting a long-time and respected friend, Harrison Jack, West Point Class of '68. Harrison is a real person (despite being a native Californian and a WP grad.) While musing over my negative approach to other WP grads, I thought about the irony of the institutions' very existence.

America was founded as a nation fearful and apprehensive of a large standing army.
So what is the first thing this young nation does? Open service academies for the Army and Navy which afforded free education in a country where schooling was otherwise pay as you go.

Then as now, the government saw fit to educate military personnel at the taxpayer's expense. Strange, since there are no equivalent free colleges for, say, State Department employees or any of the peaceful vocations. Only the military gets a free ride (acknowledging the service requirement post graduation.)

Does this make sense in a country that calls itself "peace-loving"?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Price of Loyalty

M.Y.T.H. is…
Belief in the game controls
that keeps us in a box of fear

We never listen

, Pearl Jam

So don't be afraid to let them show

your true colors

true colors are beautiful

like a rainbow

--True Colors,
Cyndi Lauper

Is the price of loyalty also the price of liberty? Or is it the other way around? Are you not free if your loyalty is for sale?

Ranger recently went mano a mano with a retired military man who disagreed with Ranger's contention that the U.S. military is more dangerous than the terror threat facing America. More dangerous because, once the military is applied to any equation, people will start dying in rather violent fashion and fancy information officers will apologize and explain how regretful yet necessary the deaths were, since it is all in the name of fighting terrorism.

The U.S. war machine has made great strides since the Vietnam War. In that war, we just killed 'em, counted 'em, stacked 'em and moved on. No need for apologies since they were
better dead than red.

Friend Dark Wraith summed up what the U.S. military delivers with eloquence:

"As we endow the arena of our enemies with confusion, we deliver to them a battlefield of chaos over which they have no control, for which they have no training, upon which they have no hope of domination. They are just unwelcome visitors to our home, temporary intruders in our world. We are not the instrument of chaos; we are chaos.

"And as we are chaos, we are more than just the owners of the battlefield: we are the battlefield (I Am Become Battle)."

But this man would have none of it. His opposition to Ranger was that he should shut his trap because he receives monies from Uncle Sam as a result of his military service. What this man was saying is, his loyalty was for sale.

For him to have not toed the party line would be akin to a prostitute taking the money and not fellating the john.
For him, to strike an oppositional stance would be akin to bad faith, and he had his standards.

This is the armamentarium of the 30 percenters (as Fixer at Alternate Brain refers to them) -- those who will gallop (figuratively, if not literally) into the maws of death behind the war hawks. Be grateful for what you have; you are an ingrate if you dare to question your handlers. It especially grates when the questioning comes from one who should still be marching in lockstep behind his C in C (not).

But that game is corrosive. Liberty will die when loyalties are for sale. Then, the highest bidder will rule the roost.

Written on the 41st anniversary of his commission in the U.S. Army as a RA, 2 LT, INF., serving as grateful (ingrate?) nation. Well, grateful, as long as he keeps his trap shut.

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Prison Planet

Trainers, with Dolly and Max

A week ago Ranger and Lisa attended the graduation of the most recent class of our local Paws in Prison (PIP) program at the Wakulla Correctional Institution, and its one-year celebration. This program partners shelter animals -- most "last chance dogs" -- with inmates who obedience train the animals under the tutelage of trainer Jay King.

We've written about the program before because we think it is completely worthy ("What If"). This is a totally volunteer program (run on donations), and every 8 weeks a new pack cycles through. The inmates spoke with visitors after the celebration. One told me that they grow very attached, and would not emotionally be able to do it if they did not immediately move on to a new animal. But, he said, "We still talk about our dogs."

56 dogs have been graduated in five classes thus far, and have been placed in homes throughout the country. About 60 inmates have participated, and the program has an almost 100% successful placement rate.

A slide show featured many of the dogs in their new placements, aboard sailboats and generally having a good time. It was obvious watching the dogs with their trainers that they were well-adjusted and playful animals.

One of the speakers read from a letter received by an inmate participant (many of whom have been with the program for the entire year): "Most people figure we're bad if we're in here. We don't have much chance to prove we're any good, but this program and being able to put the dogs in good homes is a way to prove that."

I spoke briefly with Mr. King, who explained his belief that each good someone puts into the world helps counter a wrong. There's no reason not to not believe such a positive equation.

King's mission is "to enhance the relationship between the inmate and the dog through education, communication and companionship, thus promoting rehabilitation for both parties." He explained the central tenet of training is "trust and respect." Training will not occur until the handler has learned self-discipline, and can then elicit those responses from the dogs.

We are not naive, but we are tired of America's prison planet mentality which seeks only the incarceration and punitive model of deterrence. We must do something to address our huge incarceration rates
lest prisons and prisoners become our new "produce nothing" product. According to the NYT, "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners" (U.S. Prison Population Dwarfs That of Other Nations).

One can almost imagine an America whose main industries are prisons, hospitals, Big Pharma and PepsiCo snack factories, to keep the whole shebang running like a well-oiled machine.
The stuff of some horrific dystopian sci-fi novel.

Many institutions throughout the country feature similar programs ("Paws for Patriots").
If you have one in your area, you might consider participating in some capacity.

Most inmates will return to society at some point. Why not foster their humanity, as well?

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Power Versus Force

The soldier can be trained so that

he pulls the trigger without thinking,

"decreasing the time between acquiring

and engaging the target," the study says
--Study Urges Using Neuroscience
To Improve Soldiers' Performance
, WaPo

Rob the Taxi Driver and Vietnam Vet and local coffee shop denizen engaged Ranger in a discussion yesterday in the power versus force dynamic at play in current Counterinsurgency operations.

It was Rob's contention that COIN fails as an ideology, tactic and strategy because its practitioners fail to leverage the distinction between power and force (P/F). The Department of Defense is filled to the gills with force. U.S. Army Infantry and Armor divisions define the word force, which is as it should be.

We force the enemy to our will by the application of death and destruction. Yet force is not the factor correctly employed in a COIN environment. Ranger will discuss COIN, even though he doubts the validity of any U.S. insurgency intervention, unless it's in the homeland.

In contrast to force is Power. Power is the product of any democracy that is healthy, growing and vibrant; power is positive and constructive.

The application of power should precede force, and force is not the necessary end game of a power engagement.

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Well, We Didn't Really Mean "Everybody"

--See you later, Comrade

--You're a communist?

--No. But I can still have comrades

--Army of Shadows

In his recent Cairo speech, President Obama declared it is a human right to have "the freedom to live as you choose." However, this belies his administration's reluctance to overturn the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy regarding homosexuals in the military.

Why don't homosexuals in the U.S. have the same rights our Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) and democracy advocates pitch for Middle Easterners?

"To find common ground . . . and to respect the dignity of all human beings."


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

He Talks Pretty

Those are my principles,

and if you don't like them... well, I have others

--Groucho Marx


From Seymour Hersh's "Chain of Command" (2004)":

"Referring to the war in Afghanistan, which was then underway, [Joe] Biden asked rhetorically, "How much longer does the bombing continue? Because we're going to pay an escalating price in the Muslim world. We're going to pay an escalating price in the region. And that, in fact, is going to make the the aftermath of our 'victory' more difficult . . . I hope to God it ends sooner rather than later."

"Biden also had these words for the Musharraf regime: "We have to make clear to the Pakistanis that, notwithstanding the fact that we need you very much right now . . . if you are going to continue to foment the terror that does exist in Kashmir, then you are operating against your own near-term interests, because that very viper can turn on you."

"Biden came as close as Democrat had come sine September 11th to straightforward criticism of President Bush's war aims. . . . (290)."

What a difference a day makes. What has happened to old Talkin' Joe? In 2001 he was against Bush's war policies in Afghanistan, but in 2009 he is foursquare behind the efforts being continued by his new boss.

At least Bush was honest in his blinkering of the American public. He blindly but audaciously led the country into a war without end. But how do We the People reconcile the fact that our new administration -- elected amidst anti-war sentiment -- has not changed course?

Why do we even bother to vote?

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