RANGER AGAINST WAR: December 2009 <

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just How Stupid Are We?

--Stupid Decade, Pat Bagley

Stupid is as stupid does

--Forrest Gump


File under: You Can't be a Great Nation Like This.

The Food and Drug Administration's warnings are mailed to my Inbox, and today's from our local Publix market caught my eye:

Publix Issues Allergy Alert on Pecans in Publix Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie

Company Contact:

Maria Brous

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 29, 2009 – Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for Publix Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie, because it was mislabeled and may contain undeclared pecans. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to pecans run the risk of allergic reaction if they consume this product. Product was prepared at Publix stores for retail sale between November and December 2009. The recalled product has a UPC number of: 002- 95118-20399-7 and is packaged in a 30 ounce plastic container. The name of the product describes the product as "Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie. . .

"As part of our commitment to food safety and in cooperation with the FDA, we are issuing this voluntarily recall," said Maria Brous, Publix director of media and community relations. "Since customers may still have these pies in their homes, we wanted to take every precaution to make them aware of the pecan as an ingredient."

What are these "undeclared pecans"? Have they snuck over the border? Are they Mexican?

"... every precaution to make them aware of the pecan as an ingredient."
So, if listing "pecan" in the label "Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie" is not adequate, I am at a loss. How much further can one go to aid the clueless? Should the pie makers put a mini Bozo the Clown pop-up on each box, trumpeting the demon pecan?


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Tell Them Valdez is Coming

I can't escape the uneasy feeling that
we're fighting, and escalating, the last war

-- while the enemy fights the next one

--Eugene Robinson,
Bigger System Failure

Endeavor to persevere

--Outlaw Josey Wales


Ranger recently commented to some disdain at blog MilPub that the U.S. has already lost the next real war that we will have to fight.

Counterinsurgency has taught us how to lose wars while rationalizing these losses as victories.
The U.S. has embraced fighting phony wars that can be lost with impunity to such an extent that we have forgotten how to win real wars. Today: Yemen, anyone? (How to Fight al-Qaeda's Offshoot in Yemen; Lawmakers Focus on Yemen.)

The following is a COIN Leadership exercise -- a mirror and a Class A uniform are required. This is self-administered and can be conducted at any pace. for the young soldiers reading this text.

[1] Dress up in Class A uniform with all applicable awards, tabs and decorations.

[2] Stand in front of mirror. Be at ease.

[3] Breathe deeply while placing one hand on the Soldier's Creed and one over the Ranger's Creed.

[4] Look earnestly in the mirror and reflect upon your glory while reciting:

"I am a soldier of the United States of America."

"I am a member of an Army that hasn't lost a battle since 1950, but hasn't won a war since 1945."

"None of these fine awards will change that fact."

Now you are dismissed and may proceed to the nearest bar to have a patriotic American buy you a free drink.

**Warning: If this procedural is conducted with Dress Blues, caution is advised in the case of erections lasting more than four hours. Proceed directly to the nearest emergency room in the case of this unfortunate eventuality.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Born to Run

--2010, Peray (Thailand)

Baby this town rips the bones from your back

It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap

We gotta get out while were young

--Born to Run
, Bruce Springsteen

[interviewer]: You haven't been to Vietnam yourself?
[Springsteen]: No, I did the draft-dodger rag

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch

You're the king of sinful sots

--How the Grinch Stole Christmas


"Born to Run." Man, if that don't say it all.

Draft-dodger Bruce Springsteen, who has spent a lifetime morphing himself into the perfect representation of Americana (or what Americans fancy themselves as), was seated next to our also never-served president Obama at last night's nationally-televised Kennedy Center awards ceremony in Springsteen's honor. The mutual admiration was treacly.

Grandiosely, Obama allowed, "I'm the president, but he's The Boss!" But the boss of what? Sham shows of patriotism?

Ranger was not Born to Run, but he sure did hug the earth and low crawl through some nasty shit. We weren't running when we dug foxholes and fighting positions, but it sure had that desperate feeling that Springsteen imputes to stateside life among the "hemi-powered drones."

Ranger sees hypocrisy when he sees the adulation of Obama for Springsteen. He has a difficult time recognizing reality, and knowing that reality is not real.

Bruce Springsteen phonied his induction physical to beat the system. He was Born in the USA, but his sorry ass didn't want to serve in the Armed Forces of that nation. He wasn't alone! Names like Cheney, Muhammed Ali, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ted Nugent come to mind.
And while all of these hometown heroes managed to exempt themselves from service, none had much trouble wrapping themselves in the flag on the way to their Glory Days.

The rest of us did our duties and lived small American dreams in our little pink houses. We are the Real Americans. No, Mr. Obama, Mr. Springsteen is not the boss, though he had the chance to be. Men like my old First Sergeant Jergens are The Boss.

We can debate the fairness of the draft or the inequality of the Volunteer Military, but none of us was born to run. We were born to serve, and those that honor the draft dodgers can kiss my rosy red Ranger's ass.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Fifth Day

Michael Kountouris (Greece)

The Grinch hated Christmas -
the whole Christmas season.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
Or it could be that his head wasn't screwed on just right
--How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five golden rings

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,
in a state of civilization,
it expects what never was and never will be
--Thomas Jefferson

The mind wanders in times of joy and holiday spirit. The wonder is, where is my ration of these goodies? And Ranger knows he is not alone in these feelings.

Just look around and absorb the tenor of the nation. We are in a grim time, and sweet government words will not change the reality. America is suffering on so many levels, yet we continue the march and pretend that our leadership has The Answers and is working in our in Our Best Interest. Bah Humbug.

Many Americans no longer believe in our government's ability to preserve our way of life. They are the depressed who have been out of work for months (
Poll Reveals Trauma of Jobless); the Medicare recipients who will not receive a cost of living adjustment for at least the next two years; those who have lost their retirement investments due to the greed of some -- their numbers are many. Yet we continue to allow Congress and the Executive branch to forcibly impose our grand system on sandbox nations wanting nothing to do with it.

Face it:
There are people that do not believe in Santa Claus.
Even if they did, the Jolly Fat Man would avoid their street for fear of IED's.

This Christmas season Ranger salutes the memory of Doug Bohlenbacher, old friend and former Marine who popped his own balloon Christmas Day '08. He was a Marine who also had the good sense to become a paratrooper.

Merry Christmas to all the Doug's out there. We hope you take a different route.

Every day you stay alive is another day of testimony and screwing the bastards.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Thought

Ranger Question of the Day:
Where does Obama's Peace Prize money go?

Shouldn't this money be the property
of the U.S. Government?


My thoughts roam to the dead and mangled bodies that we euphemistically call our
"Fallen Warriors".

We now have a Nobel Peace Prize for War president who crisply salutes returning flag-draped coffins, visits Arlington Cemetery to channel leadership, and rubs shoulders with
wounded warriors in the Bethesda area. All well and good for a Commander-in-Chief who lacks the slightest idea what the word "soldier" actually means.

Here is an idea for both Obama and all the flag-waving junkies in the Homeland: Do not photograph the returning Coffins with Metal Handles (old term for the Congressional Medal of Honor). Rather, open them, and have a viewing of the once-vital bodies now torn asunder by our devotion to the illusion of democracy.

More appropriate for this viewing would be the pose Obama struck with Japanese Emperor Akihito last month -- a low bow and hung head, to indicate his subservience to a war machine which he feels, by his pledging allegiance to it, will imbue him with a currently absent

It will not.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Last Martyr

--The Martrydom of Saint Sebastian,
Hans Holbein the Elder

I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind

You just kinda wasted my precious time

--Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
, Bob Dylan

We’re gonna jump down turn around

pick a bale of cotton,

jump down turn around pick a bale a day

--Pick a Bale of Cotton
, Leadbelly

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,

And you think you're so clever and classless and free,

But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see,

A working class hero is something to be
--Working Class Hero, John Lennon

Blogger Disaffected and it Feels So Good sardonically observed on his Christmas Day post that it was bankers that drove the Prince of Peace to violence. If He didn't trust the moneychangers, why should we?

A humorless Christian calling himself, modestly, "TRUTH" protested , "Jesus forgave the people that crucified him. I think forgiveness is a much better message for Christians to be spreading than Jesus is mad and will smite everyone that reads Disaffected and it Feels So Good ..."

Maybe, TRUTH, but He did not choose to forgive the moneychangers. An inconvenient truth, perhaps, but one not difficult to reconcile. He may have been trying to introduce a New Way, but recognized the perfidy of those about him. People are wicked, and will not always accord the proper respect -- in those instances, outrage and banishment may be the proper response.

Thanks, TRUTH, but speaking for myself, were I to be crucified unjustly, I would not forgive those doing the nailing. While there's something to be said for accepting one's circumstances (pinned to a cross, there's not all that much else to do), there is also a good in righteous condemnation and rejection of abuse.

I am only human, and that is my preference. Let Jesus be the last martyr. It hasn't done much good in progressing humans, far as I can see.
Right, we all feel a twinge of guilt and sadness when he see Him hanging there dolefully on the cross, then given the opportunity, pull a Tiger Woods ("15th hole, anyone?" )

If JC's martyrdom hasn't shepherded in a Better Man, surely my personal martyrdom will do little to forestall anyone's impulse to villainy. Nope, I personally am done with martyrdom. Possible sainthood after flaying is not my cup o' tea.

Martyrdom -- it's what's not for dinner, if you want any respect.

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog]

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

No Whinin'

Has Anyone Checked Here?

They [cable pundits] should come to Rustamiyah,'

more than one soldier said. . . .

Then maybe they could go back on TV and scream

about how bewildering all of this really was.

At least then they would be screaming the truth

--The Good Soldiers, David Finkel

There is neither Jew nor Greek,

there is neither bond nor free,

there is neither male nor female:

for ye are all one in Christ Jesus

--Galatians 3:28


Just in time for the holidays, the BBC reports,
Jesus-era' burial shroud found.

Unlike the controversial Shroud of Turin -- said to date to the Middle Ages and so unlikely to be Jesus's burial cloth -- this simple two-way woven cloth is dated to the 1st century Jerusalem.
Interestingly, the images borne in the cloth are remarkable similar in appearance.

Just sayin' ...

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Friday, December 25, 2009


Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

--Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me

--Let There be Peace on Earth

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
--Desiderata, Max Ehrmann

Driving home this morning, I was greeted by a dramatic sight: two very large black birds which I cannot identify flew up and apart in a perfect formation from the road in front me. Just then, the ominous gray cumulo-stratus clouds parted enough to allow a ray of sunshine through. The stark beauty penetrated my contemplation, and seemed to portend possibilities.

A simple and sincere Merry Christmas wish to all or our good friends and readers. We are honored you take some time out of your busy lives to share here. The kindnesses we have been met with are truly humbling. Such brilliance, directness, generosity and heartfelt expression we would never have imagined.

To me, being able to feel deep gratitude for all that is given is the true meaning of the holidays. I hope you are warm and finding your own reasons for appreciation. My cup runneth over.

Thanks again.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

To Kill For

There's too many of them.
I can't kill the world

--Night of the Hunter (1955)


Which is more pure? To kill for love, or for hate? Or not to kill at all?

Since Ranger's Chaplin's chit hasn't been signed in a while, he won't explore the option of conscientious objection. We will go with the American view of Jesus, a savior who sanctions killing infidels who snarl in our direction. We go after them with our God-sanctioned Just War fighters.
Their purpose is to kill whatever rings our bells at the moment

As a society, we thrill at the successes and the entertainment value of the killing. Where the reality show and the killing intersect is a place called the Pentagon -- the Hollywood of War ©.

When we kill for love we call it
patriotism, loyalty and dedication to country. Our oath to kill is seen as a holy imperative, sanctioned by churches, communities and the Constitution. We are sworn to uphold democracy by imposing our wills and violence upon other men.

Ranger thinks Montesquieu, Rousseau and other Enlightenment thinkers would have a hard time reconciling the concept of acceptable state-sponsored violence being the tool to defeat non-acceptable state-sponsored violence. Whether death is dealt by the State or terrorists, one is still dead, and Thou Shalt Not Kill. This is not a Good Thing, as Martha Stewart might say. Violence, regardless of the source, is not legitimate.

The U.S. kills Taliban because they violate and ignore human rights, without realizing that this response is in itself a violation of human rights.
Such response threatens the integrity of all human-based social systems. All law is based upon the presumption that killing is not legally sanctioned, save in the most dire situations. Certainly, killing should not be a spectator sport or a rallying point. Discretionary wars should not be fought.

When our soldiers kill Taliban this is not a virtue, even is the target was an "evil person". Good never flows from violence, and if we believe it does, then we are not a liberal democarcy. When our policies kill a person, this is a failure of our social contract.

Though adrift, we still cling to the notion that the U.S. is a peace-loving nation. Unfortunately, evidence proves the contrary. Until we as a society recognize the difference between peace and violence, and fully accept our own violence, then we are not centered.

Until then, we live a disingenuous schizophrenic national existence.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Watch Out

advert in Popular Mechanics (Nov. 09)

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(Bang bang you're dead)
I love a man in a uniform

--I Love a Man in a Uniform
Gang of Four


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Great for picking ups chicks in bars, too.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Dark Side of Rudolph

I'd like to buy the world a home
and furnish it with love

Grow apple trees, and honey bees,

and snow white turtle doves

--I'd Like to buy the World a Coke


All of the other reindeer

used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph

join in any reindeer games
--Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
Gene Autry

All through my school life I was appalled

by the fact that masters and senior boys

were allowed quite literally to wound other boys,

and sometimes very severely

--Roald Dahl


File this under, "We promote diversity, not."

So I'm singing a rather jaunty version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, when suddenly, like the proverbial needle scratching across the record (remember those?), I was stopped in my tracks. Under this spirited and earnest tune lies a brooding indictment of our non-acceptance of Otherness. Does anyone else think about this stuff?

Rudolph seems like an entirely innocuous Christmas tune, one beloved by kids everywhere. Burl Ives sang it, for God's sake -- what could be more wholesome? And yet -- the lyrics. They just hit me like a thunderbolt. Has anyone ever really listened to them?

"All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names", presumably not nice ones. Until, that is, Santa finds a use for his anomaly: To be lead reindeer in pulling his sled. So now that Rudolph has been personally tagged by the head honcho to front the slaving part of the operation, everyone's his pal.

Then how the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in his-to-ry." O.K., so the moral is, if you are an outlier -- but can make yourself useful -- you, too, may join in the reindeer games and stop the torment suffered at the hands of your fellows. Who wants such fair-weather friends?

Rudolph: The ultimate capitalistic morality tale. Because you really have to be a brown-noser to get by.

[cross-posted at Big Brass Blog]


Monday, December 21, 2009

Goat Ropin'

What the fuck is there for us in Afghanistan
except goats and the men who love them?

--Gordon, at
Alternate Brain

Mares eat oats and does eat oats,

and little lambs eat ivy;

a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?

--Mairzy Dotes
, Drake/Hoffman/Livingston

The new bill of goods being sold to the U.S. taxpaying bots is the Strategy Change in this, the United States of the Phony War on Terror (USPWOT ©).

Yes, we know it's morphed from a GWOT, TWOT or a WOT. However, the strategies underpinning the continued wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to be based upon GWOT strategic thinking, or what passes for strategic thinking (see seydlitz89's deconstruction of Gian Gentile's position paper on this matter at MilPub)
, so the outcome will not be different.

The reasoning supporting the PWOT © is faulty and violates the Principles of War. The new strategy, like the old, is doomed to military, political and economic failure because it ignores the basic principles.
Simply: Any military or political endeavor that expends precious U.S. assets must pay off with a quantifiable dividend for our nation (not theirs). One does not fight for emotional, feel-good slogans.

Warfare is based upon rules and reality. The reality is survival, dominance, and the subjection of rivals. Even the Bible supports this approach.
Fighting has a social and military aspect. Military operations affect social development, so what are we doing in Afghanistan? We don't want to steal their women, and it's not for the goats.

The principles of war evolved from primitive intelligence and are as applicable today as they were at the time of their development. Forget 4GW and asymmetrical warfare and all the other cute new terms.
War has always been asymmetrical and the principles remain the same, whether one's goal is to steal women, goats, horses or countries. Wars are not fought to destroy countries, but rather to convert assets to your benefit.

Two of the main principles the U.S. is violating -- whether one views the wars as counterinsurgency or conventional warfare -- are failing to define the MISSION and OBJECTIVE. What are the benefits
to us in our current theatres? Furthermore, what is the validity and purpose of our worldwide troop deployments?

It is clear that NATO is OBE, and that the European Union has no viable external enemies which threaten them on any level. It is laughable to claim the Taliban as a threat to NATO; ditto, Iran.

The U.S. is not the world's savior. Let's accept this comedown from our messiah complex, and allow other nations the luxury of expending their own money to protect their interests,
a job not in the prospectus of the U.S. taxpayer.

Let Europe, Japan and Korea carry their own weight by expending their resources and getting out from under the U.S. funding/troop umbrella. While this approach may have been valid in 1950, it is no longer realistic or palatable in 2009.

It is hypocritical to ask Russia, North Korea and Iran to pull in their horns when we are unwilling to do the same.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
And checks.

Sign your 'X' on the line,

Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

--Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

So I put my hands up

They’re playing my song,

And the butterflies fly away

Noddin’ my head like yeah

Moving my hips like yeah

--Party in the USA
, Miley Cyrus


A bit of nostalgia, prompted by a witty New York Times Op-Ed, "My Half-Baked Bubble" by Joshuah Bearman.

In it, Mr. Bearman recounts his middle school efforts at leveraging slices of a fantastical imaginary cake to be baked by his mother at the year's end in exchange for trivialities among daily lunchroom fare. His business acumen was developed in reaction to the spartan lunches his father packed; after all, this was the age of Snack Packs, Pop Rocks and all manner of unnatural, space program-inspired gooey confections.

His small experiment conveys well the insanity of those who partook in our latest financial and real estate bubbles, while bringing to mind the Trapper notebooks, fruit roll-ups and cups o' pudding of my youth. Wonderful nostalgia of what I would tag the genesis of our current
Society of Immediate Vacuity.

This mindset permeates all niches of society, though it is beyond the purview of this piece. Think Britney, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus. It goes on and on, and it's far too awful to contemplate.

At least frozen dinners resembled food. But as the 70's wore on, no longer did we cook pudding, or even wait for an hour while the instant form gelled. There were pre-made cups of it. And tubes of radioactively colored jellylike goo, if one were venturesome enough.
All pretense to civilized dining was fast evaporating.

Moms were being superannuated. Blenders, mixing spoons, kitchens and ovens -- all, superfluous. One could exist on prefabricated food alone. Sunbeam Mixmasters with their pink and lime green bowls were being relegated to the rubbish heap of "vintage", one day to be hauled out and sold on eBay, their destiny to stand avuncularly in the corner of some countertop, as if to proclaim, "This is a place where food was once made and eaten."

It's all coming back: the Thermoses with apple juice, which were soon transplanted by Capri Suns with straws stuck on the side. But never soda. Oh, and the individual bags of Doritos which the lucky kids got -- what a valued commodity! How hard to recall those tiny measured portions in this, the day of Super-sizing. Each chip was savored; if you inhaled a fistful, you'd emptied the bag. Sometimes, if you were abstemious enough, you could exit the lunchroom with a folded bag of a few chips to eat between classes.

After his ruse is blown, his father says,“Stick with the sardines. Cheap sweets are empty promises.”
Nice moral.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

We Were Soldiers Once and Young

What you need
Do you know I got it?

All I'm askin'

Is for a little respect when you come home

--Respect, Aretha Franklin

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

, Alfred Lord Tennyson

A continuation of the post, "Pain in the Neck":

After months of hassle, the Department of Veterans Affairs has authorized half of the original authorized treatment for service-connected, parachute-related cervical spine injuries. Mighty magnanimous this authorization, which costs the VA no more than $70 monthly outlay. So chiropractic is approved; massage, pending.

Vets must fight to get their treatment
-- this isn't right at any level.
Service-connected vets must first fight to get our disability ratings, often waiting years for adjudication, then must continually battle to insure that authorized care keeps coming his way.

The hullabaloo started when my primary VA healthcare provider claimed that directives disallowed her authorization of outside treatment. The director of the Tallahassee VA Outpatient Clinic seconded this, but disallowed Ranger from reviewing the referenced documents. Why? -- National Security issues? A
t no time was Ranger provided with or allowed to see the documents from HQ DVA that my local authorities kept blaming for the denial of my treatment.

How many people will maintain an aggressive posture and fight for their rightful treatment? Many won't, or can't. The system precisely sucks when we must agitate -- even to the level of elected representatives -- to settle these mundane issues. Everything is a fight in this adversarial system.
This is not the way to treat people in need of palliative care.

The system is corrupt. If it were confined to my sorry ass, I'd laugh it off and move out, but it is not. The problem is systemic, and presumably based on saving a buck on the back of a vet denied a needed procedure or assistance.

It is an unfortunate dilemma that most DVA personnel seem caring and want to do the right thing, however, the bureaucratic shuffle dwarfs the human dimension. The system will continue to degenerate as everything seems to be on an
ad hoc basis, and it does not look like budgets have projected the onslaught to come. This is a national shame.

We carry the history of the U.S. Army in our bodies, yet this is our reward. We who earned battle streamers carried on today's colors, have become an inconvenience
in our age. Cheers go to the photogenic young rucked up bucks, but not the ailing ones, the reminders of our failures, then and now. We were soldiers then; now, we are
old men. McCarthy was right -- this is no country for old men.

Until our veterans receive the level of care administered to the ruling elite of Congress and the Executive branch, the concept of honorable treatment for vets is nothing but a sham.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


The normal denizen of the Western world ...
I think it is fair to say,

doesn’t know who he is, what he believes, or what he is doing

--Diagnosing the Modern Malaise
, Walker Percy

There are lies and there are lies. Both categories added together form U.S. Counterinsurgency policy.

The latest Big Lie is Stan the Man McChrystal will utilize the surge additions to his command to secure the major cities and important population centers. That is the plan, anyway. So why do the majority of the pictures emerging from theatre show our troops in god forsaken environments far from major population centers; technically, in Bumfuck Egypt?

We are being told one thing, while General McChrystal is doing another. At least Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday
she will no longer wheedle resistant representatives to vote for more troops for our outstandingly unjustifiable continuing COIN efforts. At least that.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
--Sixteen Tons, Tennessee Ernie Ford

The union has made me wise
To the lies of the company spies
And I don't get fooled by the factory rules
'cause I always read between the lines
--Part of the Union, Strawbs

Call Ranger weak-minded, but he can't resolve an issue which issued from yesterday's post documenting the gallantry of the Marines during the breakout to Haguru-ri ("Fox News").

While the same praise must be extended to our soldiers fighting, suffering and dying in Afghanistan (there is no absence of valor and dedication in either scenario), we are told that the fighting in whichever war was and is necessary to defend freedom and our way of life. But
is it really so?

In December 1950 young Ranger lived in a coal company house, and his father and grandfather worked the mines to provide a subsistence-level existence. Ranger's father mined until the recessions killed the industry. More correctly -- until the Japanese and Germans killed the steel industry (another story.)

All the while, good men were fighting and dying, but it wasn't for America's freedom and prosperity. Those goods passed his house on its road march to the better neighborhoods of America; his family was free to be poor. Coal miners in '50 and '51 were struggling for unionized living wages, but the fighting Marines didn't do a thing to improve their lives.

Americans allow their corporations to bond together (see the insurance and petroleum oligarchies) but are against union organization, against their better interests.
Still, they are never against war, as that would be unpatriotic. How did any American benefit from the sacrifices of those Marines in Korea?

What is different in 2009? Our soldiers follow orders, yet what does this have to do with our daily freedom and security?
We think John Lennon said it best in his classic interview with Dick Cavett: The media works hard to distract us from the un-necessity of war with a multitude of red herrings. As a result of our easy distraction, we are becoming a nation of Granfalloons, missing the import of the vital issues, failing to make the connections.

Contrary to what Obama or any leader says, there is no correlation between the battlefield and freedom. All freedoms are won or lost in our backyards. The Civil War oversaw the emancipation of slaves, but
it was politics, not war, that made the former slaves and miners free men.

The unions helped, too.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fox News

Marines sleep where they fell after
Battle of Fox Hill, 1950

We are at war against tyranny and aggression.
We do not lose our wars.

--Lyndon B, Johnson, fr.
The Fog of War

The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of Marines in Combat by Drury is a chilling reminder of the cost of ground combat, whether in a conventional or guerrilla /unconventional war environment.

Fox Co. was an
ad hoc defensive group securing Toktong Pass. Their mission was keeping a key section of the main supply route open in order to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. forces, which was to occur under extreme enemy and environmental pressure.

The best weather was -15 degrees, a brutal fact in itself, let alone endured while engaging in armed combat with limited rations, ammunition and lacking medical evacuation resources. The wounded languished for up to a week before receiving anything resembling adequate medical attention; their survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Tactically, the "F' Co. was employed in a masterful fashion due to the experience level of their Company grade officers and NCO's and the personal nature of their leadership. Their tactical and technical proficiency was as deep, factors contributing to their success albeit at a terrible cost.

The lieutenants were exceptional combat soldiers and the Marines, legendary. Their stand was equivalent to that of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg, to the fifth power.

In comparing this battle to today's at places like Wanat and Waygul, the omissions are glaring. The Fox Co. Marines employed organic 105 mm from a range of seven miles, and unit mortars in an exemplary and professional manner. Even the relief forces packed in two 81 mm mortar tubes, with each man carrying rounds in their packs.

They used their indirect fire to break up assembly areas, attack positions and avenues of approach in a classic employment of assets. Fox Co. is estimated to have killed 3,500 Chicom soldiers.
Outfits today are not doing what they did to allow them such success in dire conditions.

The use of Tacair and supporting air assets to air-drop
needed supplies was textbook. The Tacair was as much a morale booster as it was beneficial to the ground commander's integrated fire planning.

Fox Co.'s battle should be studied today by Company and Battalion level leaders as an example of how to fight a defensive operation, and is recommended for anyone who needs to understand the Rifle Company in the defensive.
Current military leaders need to understand and employ present assets as professionally as did the Marines in December 1950. The principles are as relevant today as they were 69 years ago.

The rifle platoon and company lives when they properly employ their indirect fire assets, and die when they ignore these assets.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Pain in the Neck

Annie you've never been good for me

But I still wanna be wrong

And Annie you've never been true to me

But I still buy your lies

--I Hear Goodnight
, Ingram Hill

I'm a-gonna tell you how it's gonna be

you're gonna give your love to me

a love to last a-more than one day

a love that's love - not fade away

--Not Fade Away
, Buddy Holly

Precious and fragile things

Need special handling

My God what have we done to You?

, Depeche Mode

Ranger admits up front he is cranky and self-absorbed, and accepts any criticism (if not graciously.)

My back and neck injuries are service-connected and parachute-related, therefore, combat-related by U.S. law. Still, I'm reluctant to complain as these injuries were not wound-related nor are they as significant and debilitating as those incurred by many veterans.

Ranger will complain anyway, as it is his right to do so.

About three years ago the Department of Veterans Affairs authorized chiropractic and massage therapy on a fee basis, thereby authorizing treatment outside the VA system. This treatment was beneficial and supposed to be long-term. However, December 2009 finds Ranger finding the DVA not supporting this troop.

Our injuries are legitimate, but the VA's response is not. The VA claims it will no longer fund my treatment, although my spine injuries didn't get the message that they are no longer valid problems. My spine injuries will only continue to deteriorate as a result of againg and Ranger's general nasty attitude.

This little vignette gives the lie to the rhetoric that the DVA is a crackerjack health care system. Nuts! If the little things are not STRAC, how can the big things be?

Interestingly, Tricare will not pay for chiropractic or massage, either. Medicare will provide services, but with a co-pay. Some readers will say, "Fair enough!", but is it? Army service injuries should be treated at no cost to me, the veteran; that was the deal. I held up my end of the bargain.

Remember America, you claim you support the troops, and that means even those who aren't bright-shiny-new. Yet too often, older vets are too proud to complain when the system fails them. Many feel that others with more severe injuries deserve the treatment more, but by law, all of us should be treated equally.

Bear in mind this is the same VA which is funded at the discretion of Congress, and the same DVA that claims service-connected amputees will receive $250,000 prosthetic devices for the rest of their lives. That's the promise, anyway.

Ranger doesn't have a crystal ball, but he can see the future. Sometime after he is long dead there will be a paratrooper in the year 2050 writing this very same thing. Assuming there will still be a U.S.A. in 2050.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Evil Talk

The first step to controlling your world
is to control your culture.
To model and demonstrate the kind of world
you demand to live in.

--Chuck Palahniuk

Dr. Evil: Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?

--Austin Powers
, International Man of Mystery (1997)

Truth, justice and the American Way

--Superman's creed


An NPR commentator displayed a stupendous lack of awareness yesterday in a discussion of Obama's Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech. He explained that Obama used the rhetoric of combatting evil -- the rhetoric of his predecessor -- in response to Europeans who see America as an interloper in world affairs.

As Europe is generally far more secular than the U.S., Obama's explanation of combating a
questionable intangible must grate (see Religious America, Secular Europe?, Peter Berger et. al.) The idea of a nation embarked on a crusade against evildoers can only fan their fears. Who is Obama kidding?

To a non-fundamentalist, talk of fighting evil is crazy talk.
This may go over well from Rev. Wright's bully pulpit, but it does not play well to rational thinkers.

Foreign policy should not be based upon good versus evil.
We have not come a long way in eight years, baby.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Combat Peace Prize

I am anticipating the day when the possession
of Tibet and Afghanistan will be represented
as vitally necessary to the security of Kansas and Nebraska.
There is no logical end to this elastic conception of 'security'
short of the conquest of the whole world
William Henry Chamberlin, Dec 1940

We compromise ourselves when we lose
the very ideals we are fighting for
--Barack Obama (12.10.09)

[Combing the Desert]:

We ain’t found shit!


Obama spoke of the concept of "just war" at his Nobel Peace prize acceptance, but failed to explain that meant, "Just War, All the Time."

In explaining why war is an essential element of foreign policy, he resorted to the bogeyman
EVIL. Poor Obama -- still pandering to the never-to-be-won Republican base. And while Obama said evil must be fought, the reality is just the opposite. What we need is protection from the overreaching intentions of good men.

Evil is predictable and easily countered;
good is the loose canon in the equation. Doing violence can never protect a nation from violence. An entity cannot be both x and not x.

This understanding is the basis of peace, if not a peace prize.


I Want It!

This was brought to my attention today, and as it is in keeping with the holiday spirit and an interesting juxtaposition to yesterday's post on food insufficiency, I was compelled to share it

Behold, the American Express Daily Wish site -- where various discretionary goodies are presented for your perusal, and if you like, you may hit the "I Want It" button to grab the treat for yourself.

I want it
-- the mantra of so many of our our countrymen; not, I need. Doesn't this strike people as even the teeniest bit distasteful? It reminded me of the "Me Meter" at the now-defunct site where a West Coast friend wrote, MyPrimeTime. Even at the height of the dot.com bubble, he found the solipsism a bit wrenching.

Deal: Daily Wish from American Express

Get exclusive access to handsome offers on everything (electronics, fashion, one-of-a-kind experiences, more) with Daily Wish from American Express. Just sign up with any American Express® card, wait for stupendous offers to go up Tue/Wed/Thur, and click "I Want It" the second the sale starts; if you're among the first, the product can be yours. Today's action: mobile communication devices; find out more at dailywish.amex.com

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grits Ain't Groceries, Redux

When rich speculators prosper

While farmers lose their land;

when government officials spend money

on weapons instead of cures;

when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible

while the poor have nowhere to turn-

all this is robbery and chaos.

It is not in keeping with the Tao

--Tao Te Ching
, Stephen Mitchell

There's nothing to hope for in politics,

I don't think

--Nick Hornby


Some spam mail brought my entry from two years ago to my attention (Grits Ain't Groceries). Predictably since then, the situation of "food insecurity" (= "hunger") in the U.S. has degenerated (even though I read the economy's going fairly swell, with a Dow over 10,000 again.)

"[T]he number of Americans who lack enough food [is at] the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat" (America's economic pain brings hunger pangs ). The Guardian UK notes that the statistics are probably more dire this year as the economy has degenerated (Number of Americans Going Hungry Increases.) Statistics like those make the Superpower sound like a Banana Republic.

Unless you're Al Gore or Rudolf Guiliani, you have probably noticed your grocery tab rising sharply over the past couple of years. Though the press attributes the steep rise in hunger to the unemployment rate, there is the concomitant problem of skyrocketing food costs.

In "Grits," milk was $3.50/gallon; it is now over $3.50 per half gallon -- double the cost. Other staples like eggs, coffee and meat have also risen precipitously. I remember grandma telling me 30 years ago, "Mark my words: You will see the price of a loaf of bread hit one dollar in your lifetime!" Now, it is at over 400% of her prognostication, and rising.

While an article on food stamp usage notes they help feed 36,000,000 Americans -- one in eight adults, one in four children, the personal allotment has not risen from an average of $110/month (Food Stamp Use Soars.) Can you imagine eating on $110 per month?

The NYT's Bob Herbert is one of the few columnist who routinely exposes how the sorry state of our economy affects its least fortunate members. From his Stacking the Deck Against Kids:

"We still have a hideously dysfunctional public education system, one that has mastered the art of manufacturing dropouts and functional illiterates. We have not even begun to turn that around.

"We still keep fighting tragic, futile, stupid wars, squandering lives and resources and creative energies that could be put to use right here at home, where the need for nation-building is beyond critical.

"The U.S. should be a paradise for young people. We need big changes in this country, approaches that are constructive, creative and fundamentally new, if we’re going to give those smiling kids I saw on Thanksgiving Day the kind of society they deserve"

There's not much else to say.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Sphinx

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes.
Instantly the whole previous picture vanished.

I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam.

Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny

at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches

of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun.

--Reflections in a Toolshed, C. S. Lewis

Think from outside the box;

collapse the box and take a fucking knife to it


His richly philosophical intellect was not

at any time affected by unrealities.

To the substances of terror he was sufficiently alive,

but of its shadows he had no apprehension

--The Sphinx
, Edgar Allen Poe

Reader Terrible recently brought the Edgar Allen Poe story The Sphinx to my attention as an analog to the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©). In that this 165 year old story succeeds so well it should be noted.

Much as the pre-Socratic Heraclitus reckoned the sun must measure about the size of his foot, as he reckoned the latter spanned its circumference, so the spooked protagonist in The Sphinx apprehends a terrible menace (not this Terrible) through his window. It is only when his rational house mate explains to him the source of his fright that he is able to release his fixation and see the apparition for the benign thing it is.

So Islam is now an idee fixe for those who would support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over lunch I met with an otherwise well-educated friend, a college instructor. Realizing of course that this is the Deep South and he is a Christian, but this Navy veteran is convinced -- on the basis of "testimony" he has heard from "recovering" Muslims -- that Islam is the devil's creed, and that all Islamic people are bent on killing Americans.

He confuses their dogma and prayers with their potentiality,
and sees their doctrine as a pathological thing to be exterminated, a la Spengler.
"They want to kill YOU -- they pray 5 times a day to kill you!
" he told me in all sincerity. "That's fine," said I, "as long as they must then go about their day herding their goats, making their yogurt and so on." I asked him if he thought his country willing to go door-to-door and kill every heathen Muslim. He agreed that is what it would take.

He has been made so fearful -- so repelled -- by this group of people, that
he and his fellows see that as a reasonable objective. As with the protagonist in Poe's story, he is possessed of an "abnormal gloom" and fixation on "omens" (the Book of Revelations being one of their guides.)

Of course, if they were true students of the Good Book, they would understand the proscriptions against the hastening of the End Times.
Instead, their loyalty goes to the false prophets who look like them on FOX news.

They are prey to the age-old xenophobic fear of The Other, The Infidel. They do not realize that they are also The Other.

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