Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oblique March

You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

Slip Slidin' Away, Paul Simon

Government is not the solution to the problem.

is the problem
--Ronald Reagan


With all the self-congratulatory focus on health care reform, Ranger would like to do an oblique march and look at the big picture

Nine years and six months later and we are still wrapped up in a fetal defensive position. What have we accomplished during this period? Does it even matter?

  • Iraq has tenuous elections; same, Afghanistan. Neither country is functioning as a nation-state. There is a lack of political consensus, but that is true here, too.
  • The Turkish government had drifted towards Islamic fundamentalism and is increasingly allied with Iran, a direct result of U.S. actions empowering Kurdish separatists in the region.
  • The entire region has been destabilized by empowering and removing the traditional counterbalances to Shia dominance.
  • Saudi Arabia is drifting slowly away from U.S. influence.
  • Nuclear proliferation in the region in being subtly supported by U.S. agreements with India, and now the same considerations may be extended to Pakistan. These policies are based upon mistaken beliefs that Pakistan is a regional ally.
  • The U.S. has alienated our traditional "Old Europe" allies.
  • Secret prisons and rendition may be still be operational. There has been no definite denial of their continued existence. The CIA may not use water boarding and torture, but the Joint Special Operations Command suffers no such prohibitions.
  • Warrantless wiretaps in the U.S. continue under presidential fiat.
  • We are still clueless regarding what to do with the hostages being detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison holding facility. We are their prisoners, as they are ours.
  • We have gotten 4,000+ U.S. military personnel killed, 35,000 wounded, and 4,000+ messed up beyond return to a functional private life.
  • We have killed and wounded unaccountable numbers of Iraqi and Afghani citizens.
  • The actions of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) have enabled Iran to directly challenge Saudi Arabia in region, thereby decreasing the chance of a successful Mideast peace process.

Bottom Line: We are the saboteurs to the much-vaunted Middle East Peace process which we would claim we wish to help broker.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tunnel of Love

Susan Finkelstein and husband.
His coffee cup is very small.

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions
where other women dared not tread.

Shame, Despair, Solitude!

--Scarlett Letter
, Nathaniel Hawthorne

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That's the end, little girl

--Run for Your Life
, The Beatles

My dear...

The end

Comes near...

--The End
, Pearl Jam

Another entry in Ranger's continuing effort to uncover misogyny in these freedom loving times.

To wit, the case of Susan Finkelstein arrested last October for solicitation after she placed an ad in Craigslist for World series tickets: "DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX."

Alert officer Michael Brady
of Pennsylvania's Bensalem Township Police Department"Bob" was trolling the site for prostitution when he typed in the word "blonde" and found Mrs. Finkelstein's urgent request (What else would one type in when looking for bimbos?) After she emailed him three photos of her breasts, they met a local mall.

Bob told the court that Finkelstein was willing to trade anal sex and threesomes in exchange for his tickets. "When Finkelstein, 44, learned of another ticket that Bob's "brother' had, she said the siblings could 'DP' her, Brady said. 'DP' is short for 'double penetration,' he explained," according to the Philadelphia Daily News (Blonde in sex-for-tix case offered 3-way, cop says.)

Before the case went to trial last week, the charges had been demoted from prostitution (a second degree offense) to misdemeanors of the third degree (carrying a possible sentence of up to a year in jail.) Her attorney, William Brennan, was delighted at the reduction, reasoning,
"You can be a slut." And so it goes, and charges against Mrs. Finkelstein were dropped this week.

After WW II, "DP" stood for "displaced person". In the 70's, DP stood for
Diversified Products of Opelika, Alabama, a company owned by former Alabama Governor Fob James. Times have changed.

It seems that the Pittsburgh police are even more anal than Ms. Finkelstein in their pursuit of victimless crimes such as this. It is a false concern. Law enforcement should focus on hate crimes, not love crimes -- or what passes for love in Pittsburgh. The love of the game, love for a reliably mediocre team. The love that surpasseth all understanding.

(Ranger does wonder what this enterprising woman would have done for five tickets? What if they were in the end zone?

Do the police have nothing better to do with their investigative unit than to catch a broad trying to bag some tickets? It is salacious and misogynistic to bust women for plying their side of a trade
a deux. As a post on the Support Susan Finkelstein Facebook page read:

"Sex is used by both, women and men, for advancement and never punishable. Sex has been used to further relationships, by those seeking new cars, engagement rings, jewelry, etc. therefore there is NO REASON this woman should be maliciously prosecuted as she is being done so now."

Why do we play these games? John Edwards' bimbo gets a gig in GC magazine this month, and was bought off during Edwards campaign by high rolling supporters, yet we damn this poor "slut" for working-for-tickets.

Charges against Finkelstein were dismissed this week.

But the case demonstrates hypocrisy of the first degree.

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Monday, March 29, 2010


Most of the greatest evils that man
has inflicted upon man have come through people

feeling quite certain about things that were in fact false

--Bertrand Russell

Today Ranger went to Capital Eurocars in Tallahassee to look at Porsche Boxters with the idea of buying a little relief from a mid-life/old man syndrome (or as it's more pointedly known, crisis.)

Mike L. --
client-advisor -- was a likable enough young guy, up to a point, which was when asked, "What is the gas mileage?" Note the question did not pertain to price, only fuel efficiency.

Client-advisor Mike promptly replied, as if on cue, "If you have to ask, then you can't afford this vehicle." Ranger is a grown man, and that is not the sort of patronizing answer which floats his boat. It is not an answer at all, it is an obnoxious judgment.

I pay cash for everything -- land, houses or cars. Wasn't I the guy without a debt and free to do as I choose, and Mike the guy hustling for his commission?
I was looking at a car, not looking to join some arrogant imaginary club which excluded the hoi polloi who actually are concerned about depleting resources.

Anyway, Mike was right. I can't afford the car. Though the price is within grasp, the bullshit and snobbiness is not in my budget. That's not a club Ranger needs to belong to.

I'll stick with my Mini. It is paid for, and the salesmen were more than happy to talk fuel economy, because they know that just because you can afford to squander resources does not mean you should.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy Cow

Never loved you enough to trust you,
We just met and I just fucked you,

, Eminem

You give me fever, when you kiss me

Fever when you hold me tight

Fever in the morning

Fever all through the night

, Peggy Lee

Well aren't you Miss America

Don't you Miss America

Won't you Miss America

Our love

--Miss America
, Styx

There she is, Miss America

There she is, your ideal

The dreams of a million girls

Who are more than pretty

--There She Is, Miss America,

Wayne Bernie

She’s a very kinky girl,

the kind you don’t take home to mother.

She will never let your spirits down,

once you get her off the street

, Rick James

I'm a slave for you. I cannot hold it;

I cannot control it. I'm a slave for you.

I won't deny it; I'm not trying to hide it.

--I'm a slave 4 U
, Britney Spears

Sunday homily: Redemption and penance

This is the part II of debunking the myth of parity for women, or "Why We're NOT in Afghanistan" [Everyday Housewife was Pt. I.]

Allow me to re-visit the arc of last year's improbable diva, Susan Boyle. I feel it encapsulates nicely why we are not the ones to show the world the way to treat our distaff side.

For those who say, "
WTF does this have to do with war?" -- I beg your indulgence. It has to do with societal lies and willing suspension of disbelief, the behaviors which allow for your current wars.

Homely and hirsute, 47-year old "never-kissed" songbird Boyle encapsulates every trope used when we think of women (and underdogs, in general). Boyle, slow-witted and frowsy, harrumphed onto"Britain's Got Talent" stage and won acclaim for staying on-note singing wistful tunes of a life that might have been
(I Dreamed a Dream, Memories) and audiences swooned on key.

Ms. Boyle prostrated her shapeless self before a reality-show audience, only to be met with the predictable howls of execration when she wagged her over-sized female bits in an attempt at sauciness. Before the first strains began, she was pilloried, and the circus delighted in her pro forma humiliation.

Moments later came redemption for Boyle as she stayed on key and did not provide the expected embarrassment of matching a homely voice to her homely exterior.
The erstwhile executioners sought insta-penance via their leader, judge Simon Colwell, who allowed, "You are one special lady, I have to say, you really are." Why special? Because you're such a loser, and you took our ridicule, and you actually did what you came to do, despite all the rotten fruit we threw at you. You beat the odds. Brava!

Brave because when you are a women past your gravidity and have sprouted a moustache, you should remain safely ensconced behind your council house door with
your cats and clean the chancery in quiet, when others have left and need not be exposed to your doughty self. And that is what it is to be a Susan Boyle: One stays in her hermitage or risks diminution every day of her life.

If you're a train wreck and sing a melancholy self-deprecating tune while we heckle you, we might throw you some fish. It was
modern minstrelsy, so apt was face to tune. We will accept you because you are operating within your metier, and are the perfect exemplar of what our society will allow for women of your station.

In the ultimate and yet predictable deliverance and penitence, Ms. Boyle's Christmas album became the best-selling debut for a female artist of all time
[Boyle: 4th Week #1 (Guardian), Susan Boyle, Top Seller, Shakes Up U.S. CD Trends (NYT)]. The heavily Photoshopped cover says it all, really, for who would wish to open a box and see the actual frowzy Susan staring at them?

Packaging sells, and so the face we see is divested of its double chins, facial hair
and Don King hairdo. The non-real Susan looks a bit coquettish, even minx-like!

This is what we like from our women. Showered with a little positive
regard, the once-hulking, androgynous Susan has blossomed, such is the mythology of the collective ego we enjoin. All a woman needs is a bit of love, and the glow of being transformed into a member of the group of -- as a male associate once crudely put it -- "well-laid women" will show in the blush on her cheeks.

But Ms. Boyle's glow was created by retouching, and her adulation was shallow, as it hung or fell on the Next Big Performance. When she showed herself a bit
addled on a You Tube (Foiled by You Tube), the mediocre Regis Philbin, himself the champion of mediocrity, was quick to gambol about in a Halloween costume crucifixtion of the underling's one-time darling.

We loved her for what we perceived as her facing down of our relentless condemnation of an ugly woman who dared to make us listen.
We are intrigued when our perceived lessers attempt to transcend their societally-constructed bounds, as we anticipate their tragic fall.

The news saturation was complete, from the Wall Street Journal to the entertainment rags.
Every major news outlet gushed with admiration at the heroic march (Desperately Seeking Susan (NYT); Dream Over: Boyle Finishes Second in Talent Contest (abc); Improbable Star Falls Just Shy of Apex (WaPo); "Susan Stuns Again with 'Memory'" (Reuters) ...)

Reader "Cheron" left the following late-night comment on HuffPo's, "The Untold Susan Boyle Story":

"It's 2am here in Saskatoon Canada and I happened upon this video....feelin g all down and freaken sad because its my 59th birthday this day I heard Susan Boyles audition and I smiled the hugest smile....life has hope again because one lady out of nowhere had a dream come true!!" [sic]

Sorry, Cheron -- but your life will be no better just because Ms. Boyle stayed on key. You are still 59 and alone on your birthday in Saskatoon -- Susan Boyle will
not save you from your facticity.

Society will not be any kinder to you when you develop your double chin and turkey skin neck (see Ephron's, I Feel Bad
About My Neck). You will have lost your value in the marketplace of appletinis.

Susan is a joke, but we feel magnanimously toward her. We are implicated in the misogyny which is the subtext of her accolades.
"Wow -- a dowdy sow like that can sing?" What an amazing surprise.

I resent the pretense of our adulation, because Ms. Boyle is really NOT fine as she is; she could be better. Susan is, what the mountain people might call, a bit "quare". Deprived of oxygen upon birth, she is a "slow learner" according to her brother. And this may be the reason she presses on in the face of otherwise insurmountable odds and humiliation.

If Ms. Boyle were instead some pneumatic and tanned Malibu surfer, we might say, "Eh, nice voice." But stupendous, rock-my-world outstanding? Meh. As Simon
would say, "Next." Because no one believes that her better days are behind her, whereas everyone believes that Ms. Boyle has seen better days; probably never even had them. And we share a conspiratorial collective guilt in her marginalization. Our hypocrisy and our schadenfreude roars. She was good, but not that good.

Susan's flip-side is no less the object of derision -- the Baby-Boomer Cougar, whose every plastic need is catered to by a booming cosmetics industry. But you know what
you are: An old broad who can afford the nips and tucks, and who is no better than your sugar daddy contemporary.

In fact, you have it worse, 'cause you need to
get the wrinkles between your augmented breasts ironed out every four months. We all know how he gets the arm candy, and you, too. Did you think Trump got Ms. Maples because of his boundless good looks and coiffure? Not.

Oh, and war.

Well, marketing is king. We are told Afghanistan is about liberating women being trampled upon. Meanwhile, over 1,000 women are
murdered in domestic violence scenarios annually in the U.S., and over 200,000 are raped (according to latest NOW statistics).

In the Army itself, 3,000 female troops were raped last year by their fellows. From Time this month:

"The Pentagon's latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25%. When you look at the entire universe of female veterans, close to a third say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving — twice the rate in the civilian population (Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers: Don't Ask, Don't Tell.)

The WaPo's opinion writer Parker exemplifies our hypocrisy. In
A Revolution Named Zahra, Parker writes, "[I]n Iran as elsewhere in the Muslim world, violence against women -- as well as against homosexuals and others considered inferior according to the mullahs' masculinist standards -- isn't only permitted but justified with religious doctrine." Our patriarchy doesn't do much better.

We are not being honest with ourselves. See Susan on the street, you would think, poor broad -- chunky, doughty -- not gonna find a man. Sturdy, a
good charwoman, perhaps. We don't believe that humans are equal. We would not have jeered and then guiltily bent over backwards singing her praises if we did.

Christianity implies equality and brotherly love. But if anyone believed it,
bias and hatred and violence would go out the window. Because a God who understands the essential equality of living beings could not countenance such foolishness on any grounds.

I'm not saying ugly women get stoned, but they do get marginalized, ridiculed and abused.
Even the pretty ones meet with abuse, so it is the fact of being female that allows for the abuses of paternalism.

We are the second sex still, and though there are some wonderfully evolved people in every society, I do not buy that we in the U.S. have the moral cachet to
export a healthy acceptance of women to any society.

Nope -- our passion for liberating women is not justification for our presence in Afghanistan, despite the claims of many members of the military.

[Cross-posted at Milpub.]

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Greek

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied

Everybody got this broken feeling

Like their father or their dog just died

--Everybody Knows
, Leonard Cohen

No more fooling around, not in this place.

We'll pull our pants up and make a pile of money

--Zorba the Greek

And, little town, thy streets for evermore

Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return

--Ode on a Grecian Urn
, John Keats

Congress has passed the mother of all bureaucratic behemoths in the shape of the Health Care Reform Bill 2010. What else should we expect of bureaucrats?

One thing we do not expect of them is that they should live under the same health care standards imposed upon us, the plebes. We allow them to have the Cadillac of all health care systems and Cadillac retirement plans that the most fortunate among us non-politicos will never experience.

From Bloomberg.com yesterday:

President Barack Obama faces a fight over the health-care overhaul from states that sued today because the legislation’s expansion of Medicaid imposes a fiscal strain on their cash-strapped budgets. Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania are among 14 states that filed suit after the president signed the bill over the constitutionality of the burden imposed by the legislation. The health-care overhaul will make as many as 15 million more Americans eligible for Medicaid nationwide starting in 2014 and will cost the states billions to administer (States Sue Over Overhaul that Will Bust State Budgets).

We are looking a lot like Greece, yet our leaders don’t seem to care.

Why do we accept their moral authority to dictate the policies from which they themselves are exempt? Their actions may possess legality, but that does not necessarily equate to moral authority. There is a disconnect when our leaders enjoy the comforts of nobility, while their constituents -- the people they serve -- struggle for meaningful lives.

Their leadership often looks like parasitism.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unions and Health Care

Free at last, free at last

I thank God I'm free at last

--American Negro Songs
, J. W. Work

It will be of little avail to the people

that the laws are made by men of their own choice

if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read,

or so incoherent that they cannot be understood

--James Madison

My choice early in life was either

to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician.

And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference

--Harry S. Truman


Ranger is a former union member, and the new health care bureaucracy seems a dagger aimed at the heart of organized labor.

A primary historical focus of unions has been their fight to achieve member health care. Now, this is no longer a negotiable contract clause since the government has preempted this union function.

In place of unions will be another complete federal bureaucracy necessitated as a result of this bill. Rep. John Dingell [D-MI], Dean of the House of Representatives said on a
Detroit radio program yesterday (the Paul W. Smith Show) that it will be a lengthy process implementing the "necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people." Slip of the tongue, or intentional vantage point?

Wage negotiation is the other major union function, but it, too, has been overcome by events. Most workers today are happy just to be employed.

Who said democrats favor unions?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Desert Rose

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand

I wake in vain

I dream of love as time runs through my hand

--Desert Rose
, Sting

Oh the song of the future has been sung

All the battles have been won

On the mountain tops we stand

All the world at our command

-Canadian Railroad Trilogy,
Gordon Lightfoot

Good things do not last
Bad things do not end
--Game Shows Touch Our Lives
The Mountain Goats


The cover of the The Week magazine (3.19.10) illustrates the illusory nature of the war in Iraq.

The assumption is that elections equate with a democracy. Actually, the nature of the election matters, and not all elections signal a democracy.

The illustration implies that the Iraqi people are building a nation, a la Joe Rosenthal's iconic WW II photograph. In fact, we are reconstructing a nation after our democracy destroyed their nation. The U.S. did not vote before destroying Iraq; President Bush simply used the military as a bulldozer.
"Yes we broke all the china, but we have owned the china shop long enough now. It's time to give it back to the original Iraq owners," says a Boston Globe editorial. How nice.

And now we delude ourselves into believing that the Iraqis love this democracy that rent their own so much that they are re-building in our image. However, if Iraq were in fact a sovereign democratic state, why does the U.S. president decide whether our troops stay or leave? Isn't this a decision to be made by the people of Iraq?

If they do not or cannot make this determination, then all the purple thumbs in all the elections don't a democracy make. Iraq is not a democracy until the U.S. no longer occupies Iraqi territory.

Of course, Iraq's vaunted democracy is not a done deal even after we may leave, as the cost to be borne by their society as the result of U.S. destruction has yet to be tabulated.

And if flags means anything to the nation they represent, the words on the Iraqi flag --
Allahu Akbar -- proclaim "God is greater" (the text added only after the initial U.S. invasion in 1991.) Democracies do not dedicate their flags to God; theocracies do.

Iraq is not exactly a rose blooming in the desert.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blue Dog's in the House

Indigenous Tea Party members, at I-75
in Lake City, FL

I support the left,

though I'm leaning to the right.

But I'm just not there
when it's coming to a fight

, Cream

Tiny splinters are in your soul

And they remain there

Darkest lite in the deepest hole

You’ll sit and pray there

All the guilt from the things you've done

You wouldn’t know what for

What you thought was so much fun

You'll have to pay for

, Korn

The photo above was snapped about 150 miles east of Tallahassee, and shows a local contingent of the Tea Party movement.

The one hand-held sign states: "NO GOV Health Care." Most members sport a liberal avoirdupois, and my thought was, should any of these poor zhlubs find themselves out of a job they would need health care, as they are the sorts to load up on several cases of orange Faygo at Costco, "Just in case." However, they feel it is only the nasty immigrants and minorities who will be sucking up health care, so their bigotry trumps their self-interest.

As I sat in the lobby of my Representative Boyd's office last week, I was privy to hearing three constituents voice their displeasure with the upcoming health care bill. Each threatened to pull his vote from the good Rep. should he back the bill, and each was reassured by the Rep's rep that he hated the bill, and would go no where near it.

And in the end, Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd of Monticello helped vote the bill into law.

It may be that his liaison with the public was ill-informed, but surely those people who took the time to walk into the office will be checking the voting record, and making good on their franchise threats. Mr. Boyd may have signed his professional death warrant in this conservative neck of the state.

We would like to thank Rep. Boyd for being an exemplary civil servant. He and his representatives have provided invaluable assistance to Ranger over the years. But politics is a dirty business.

Ranger suggests that the Representative (who has white hair) ready himself for his next position by using a bit of Grecian formula, as ageism is a unkind reality. However, upon re-consideration, he realized that the representative's younger constituents are not doing that much better.

As Mr. Boyd is Vietnam veteran, if worse came to worst, he could always join his fellows somewhere along I-10, as those holding the "Veteran will work for food" signs seem to be engaged in a growth industry.

[The NYT also did a piece on Boyd: "Casting Vote, and Now trying to Sell It Back Home". I predict it will be a hard sell. The article mentions 22% of his constituency is black, and the interviews took place in Quincy, which is 65% black.

The implication is that those residents will now go for the black candidate, who was previously the underdog. With this vote, Boyd will have lost his conservative Democratic base.]

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Rovian Revisionism

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file
has already earned my contempt.

He has been given a large brain by mistake,

since for him the spinal cord would suffice

--Albert Einstein

That's food for thought!

--The Brain


Senior Bush advisor Karl Rove recently said he was proud of waterboarding suspected terrorists:

In a BBC interview, Karl Rove, who was known as "Bush's brain", said he "was proud we used techniques that broke the will of these terrorists". He said waterboarding, which simulates drowning, should not be considered torture.

* * *

"Yes, I'm proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They're appropriate, they're in conformity with our international requirements and with US law (Rove "Proud" of Waterboarding US Terror Suspects)."

Ranger wishes to clarify terms. Waterboarding is not simulated drowning -- it IS drowning, which is regulated by the interrogators who stop the drowning before asphyxiation, allowing the victim to recover. The fact that the interrogated person is drowning is what makes the technique effective. Drowning someone is torture.

Aside from being torture, it is an ineffective method of extracting data. there is no evidence that waterboarding broke the will of any terrorist. The fact that they spoke does not equate to breaking their will. Even if it did break their will this is irrelevant, as waterboarding cannot be proven to be an effective deterrent for future terrorist activity.

The utmost case of the U.S. use of waterboarding would be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded beyond any intelligent purpose (183 times), clearly as sport for the interrogators at the behest of a misled president. Surely a dangerous man, KSM never broke, and his case ironically brought sympathy for the criminal due to the outlandish nature of his treatment.

How does that result make the U.S. safer?

If waterboarding is in accordance with U.S. law, then why do we Miranda criminals and have the 5th Amendment? Why don't we routinely waterboard suspects after we read them their rights?

We do not do this because -- it is ILLEGAL, which means that is against the law, gainsaying Mr. Rove's assertions. We do not have two sets of laws in the U.S., one for criminals and one for terrorists. (We do, however, have a bifurcation along wealth lines, but that is a different issue.)

The ignorance of Mr. Rove is palpable. How appropriate he was chosen as Mr. Bush's "brain".

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Monday, March 22, 2010

How Now Brown Cow?

What if I can't stay
What if you can't stay

What if I can't leave

What if you can't leave

--What Do We Do Now?
John Hiatt

With people running round and round,

bringing one another down

People running round and round,

bringing one another down

--Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush
Steve Winwood


On yesterday's 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney suggested that middle managers -- a group among those hardest hit by today's job losses -- reeducate themselves to become plumbers or other trades craftsmen.

Well, it sounds like a ginger peachy, can-do populist idea, except if all the middle managers do so, they will still be out of a job.

National Public Radio did an in-depth feature on "Retraining and Long-term Unemployment," in which craftsmen themselves were retraining for Information Technology positions, and not enjoying a particularly favorable placement rate. So perhaps Mr. Rooney should have presumed the transition of these hapless middle managers into tradesmen, and then taken them into their next possible incarnation and beyond, until some future imagined period when they might gain security.

The building industry cannot support the tradesmen it presently has. Also, has Mr. Rooney considered the impact of his suggestion upon all the illegal Mexican tradesmen so diligently plying their trade who would be displaced by the earnest middle managers who would be now vying for their jobs?

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Health Care Bennies

Now interaction can make you sick sometimes.
Just hearing certain voices can make me want to throw up,

and we may need clinics for obsessive watchers

[or cross-watchers] of Fox or CNBC

Digital Nation (2.2.10)

If 50 people tell you that you're dead, lay down
--Southern saying

Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow

--Lord Byron


Now that the vaunted Health Care Reform behemoth has slouched its way into law, will it be a New Day for America? Does this cryptic 1,000+ page document usher a new democratic reality for the citizens whose lives it claims to enhance?

We at ranger ask the simple question, "What does health care reform NOT mean?":

  • Do the troops come home from two elective wars?
  • Do disabled vets get better treatment and benefits?
  • Will the unemployed find employment?
  • Will the national debt decrease?
  • Will energy dependence be lessened?
  • Will industry return to America?
  • Will the will of the people ever be translated into law?
  • Will illegal immigration be solved?
  • Will the rate of home foreclosures be staunched?
  • Will bankers be regulated more closely?

You can tune in tomorrow for the answers to the Days of Our Lives, but we bet that you will meet with the same "no" you did the day before health care passed.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

A Theory of Relativity


When U.S. pilots were held in North Vietnamese prisons and called war criminals for bombing civilian targets, we celebrated them as heroes. But we corral and detain Taliban goat herders fighting the U.S. incursion as "illegal enemies," depicting them as the personification of evil.

In WW II, the U.S. Army Air Corps utilized terror bombing of civilian targets in Japan and Germany, and we feted our air crews as heroes. The civilian deaths caused were not the result of collateral damage, but rather direct targeting.

Vilifying goat herders for picking up a rifle and defending their mud huts, versus praising U.S. bombing of civilians, then and now. There is a disparity here.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Head Yenta

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me

I wanna feel what love is

I know you can show me

--I Want to Know What Love Is,



The U.S. is fiddle-farting around slap dab in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian flap for the thousandth time, and to what avail?

The only outcome of any meaning that can realistically be expected is for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to get a lifetime achievement Peace Prize for U.S. Meddling. The chances of the U.S. brokering a peace deal = the chances of the U.S. winning a COIN scenario:
it will not happen in this time-space dimension.

Counterinsurgency, like the Israeli question, presents an insoluble dilemma. U.S. foreign policy presumes a democratic Israel (or Iraq or Afghanistan) will be a beacon to the Arab world, serving as liberalizing example for all regional players. The same thinking infects our slavering over Pakistan, Somalia,
et. al. But this presumption is based upon a faulty construction of democracy and human behavior.

Democracy is an impulse that emerges at the grassroots, moving upwards. It does not trickle down. It is spontaneous and supported by an educated, healthy and wealthy middle class with a liberal philosophy.

As with a brick wall or skyscraper, there must be a firm foundation on which it can reside, or the structure will crumble, like Ozymandius's statue. The fact that Israel is a liberal democracy is meaningless. The state was created by outsiders, and will always lack Arab legitimacy.

The fact that Iraq has elections does not make it democratic, as they were imposed by exterior powers. An election does not imply right or legitimacy, especially not when the state is violating other democratic values. Elections are not the basis of a democracy, which is a thing contingent upon a cohesive liberal national philosophy.

Democracy is not a universal goal, and for the U.S. to declare otherwise is the basis of the problem. Maintaining a democracy within U.S. borders is the sworn duty of our leaders, but this is not a worldwide commitment. Moreover, the assumption that achieving democracy in the Middle East or anywhere else will benefit The U.S. is unfounded, even if it were achievable.

It is a faulty construction to think America should democratize the world. This is a longer shot than winning the Florida Lottery.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To Die For

--Damon Winter/The New York Times
(fr. obamamessiah)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.

--Matthew 6:13, KJV

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man
to enter into the kingdom of God
--Matthew 19:24


As the health care vote awaits, and Easter approaches, we felt it was time to revisit the Greatest Story Ever Told (As Health Vote Awaits, Future of a Presidency Waits, Too.) This is an update of the Bible, modern, American-style.

In our New Rapacious American Version [NRAV], Jesus does not drive the money changers from the temple, but instead institutes a Divinely-Ordained Stimulus Package to enhance their ability to become more profitable, thereby ensuring their unquestioned devotion to God.
The seeds of omertà were sown in this act.

The new Ranger-approved hermeneutics reveals the money changers to be the actual inheritors of the Kingdom, as Mammon once again regains his rightful position at the top of the worshipful pyramid. The money changers' stimulus includes generous bailouts and bonuses, which make them so profitable that they later go offshore and set up shop in Rome.

Jesus himself receives a large monetary bonus -- a peace dividend -- and He will therefore no longer be required to die for our sins. Like the money changers, He has become Too Big To Fail. This is meet, as none of our sins are original enough to die for.

The 2010 NRAV will, however, have Jesus ultimately dying for Universal Health Care. God will sacrifice His only begotten for the benefit of insurance companies and the Greater Welfare of Man. A few hours on the Cross are worth good health care, especially if it's free. This was prognosticated in Time magazine and other outlets, which showed a gold halo effect around Barack Obama's head during the presidential elections.

On a sad note, mankind will be no more enlightened for the sacrifice, and Pringles Cheeseburger and Onion Blossom Restaurant Cravers, Wendy's Baconator Triple and Doritoes X-Flavor Chips will top their list of preferred food items by 2015. All the usual sinning and mayhem will also continue unabated.

Forgive our heresy, but Ranger finds it hard to believe in a God that thinks man is worth any sacrifice. He should have kept his Son for better projects.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hostage Takers

What does conservatism today stand for?
It stands for war. It stands for power.

It stands for spying, jailing without trial,

torture, counterfeiting without limit,

and lying from morning to night.

There comes a time in the life of every believer

in freedom when he must declare,

without any hesitation,

to have no attachment to the idea of conservatism.

--Rally for the Republic
, Lew Rockwell

Many argue that it was a mistake to announce Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's scheduled appearance in U.S. Federal Court in New York City.

Wall Street Journal editorial says, "Given [Attorney General] Holder's misguided decisions to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a Manhattan civilian court, and to limit interrogation of the Detroit Christmas bomber to 50 minutes, the quality of his counsel is a major concern. (The "al Qaeda Seven")," But what is at issue goes far beyond the logistics of the trial.

The editorial goes on to praise the substance (if not the presentation) of Liz Cheney's "Keep America Safe" ad, which questions Justice Department lawyer Daskal who
"argued that detainees who have not been charged with a crime should be set free, even though 'some of these men may cross the border and join the battlefield to fight U.S. soldiers and our allies.'"

It seems clear to an old Ranger without benefit of a legal education that here is the crux of the issue: If a Gitmo detainee cannot be charged as a criminal due to tainted or inadequate evidence, or because they are not a terrorist, then it follows they should be released back into the wild. A Federal Catch-n-Release program.

Allowing that many of the released prisoners would return to the battlefield (as the opponents of release claim), then it follows:

[1] The detained are military types and NOT terrorists; at the very worst, they are members of the military wing of al-Qaeda. If either case is so, then they were captured on the battlefield and will return there. This is not a legal consideration.

If the U.S. fears the repatriation of less than 200 battlefield enemies, then we are surely a paper tiger.

[2] The Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©) has been a dismal failure on all levels.

Legally, the U.S. Congress can pass laws that criminalize material support for terror groups and for associations with al-Qaeda and attendance in al-Qaeda training camps. This simply blocks U.S. citizens from participation, as U.S. jurisdiction does not extend to the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But it does not address the basic problem of terrorism, as citizens of other nations are not bound by our laws.

Anybody outside U.S. borders may join any organization they desire and will not meet with our laws unless they enter our jurisdiction or conspire to attack U.S. targets. The Gitmo prisoners do not fit the bill, as they were largely captured on the battlefield largely within the borders of their own country, and had no intent or capability of projecting their violence onto our shores.

The combatant detainees are fashioned as aggressors, although most were fighting defensively against an attack by the sole world superpower. In our aggression we have created a legal and military morass. We claim to be at war, yet our adversaries are not Prisoners of War -- how is this? The detained are then denied legal access and treated like Michael Vicks dogs, yet we accept this desecration of international law as another day at the office.

The logical conclusion is that these people kept in endless detention in an endless non-war are HOSTAGES.
No other legal or military definition is as apt. The national keeping of hostages is in violation of the Hague Convention.

A hostage-taking nation cannot expect to maintain respectability. We are judged not by what the terrorists are or do, but by our own actions. The perpetrators of this miscarriage of justice may never be held to account, but their violence to our reputation may be irreparable.

How do our leaders fail to see the untenability of the situation? Reality, unlike U.S. law, has a universal jurisdiction.

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Monday, March 15, 2010


--Iraqi Oscar, Hajo de Riejger

This way of waging war seems

to me as stupid as it is cruel.

It can only be found in the head

of a coarse and brutal soldier.

Indeed , it is pointless to replace the Turks

only to reproduce what the world rightly found

so hateful in them ... the Turks will always outdo us

because they are Muslim barbarians

--Alexis de Tocqueville (1841)


Ranger walked out of the film "Green Zone" after 15 minutes. Ditto "The Kingdom" and "The Hurt Locker".

All three movies made him physically ill, stomach churning and mind unable to focus
on the jumping, jittery screen. We understand the desire for verisimilitude, but trying to achieve that via the relentless hyper-movement of the camera felt as immature as the efforts of the Blair Witch Project. The subject matter is disconcerting enough, and if the tale is well-presented, the amatuerish jiggly screen is gratuitous; more than gratuitous, a distraction.

A commenter at the
The New York Times review of The Green Zone had it right:

"Chaos A+, clarity D-. There is nothing admirable about the creation of this film unless one is thrilled by ear shattering volume, crashes, helicopters, weaponry noise, throbbing, banging music, the shouts and words of American soldiers that we can't even hear in the din. ... And camera work that repeats the excruciating tempo by its trembling and shaking. Maybe this IS the war movie to end them all unless someone can make a war film where the movie screen explodes and kills a few of the audience. Then of course there would need to be a movie about that ..."(A Search for the Casualty, Truth).

This American effort at
cinéma vérité fails because like so much of what we produce, it is overkill, Supersized. The chaos is an overload to the system, and too much for the average neurological system to bear.

We wear earplugs in all films today, and still the noise levels offend. The result is a kind of freeze reaction in the viewer, the inducement of a mild trauma. This is neither pleasant nor conducive to a thoughtful film experience.

Movies like Black Hawk Down and Band of Brothers were palatable as they gave the viewer a followable story, integrating special effects only as they would enhance the progress of the story. They offered both historical documentation and entertainment. Is it possible that my senses will not accept the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©) as having any entertainment value?

In all three movies, 15 minutes of exposure caused Ranger to lie down and rest, until his mind became calm and habitable again. No more PWOT movies for Ranger.

Movies should be either provocative or a form of escapism, or both -- not an emetic.

[NOTE: The NYT's Ross Douthat wrote a good analysis on the film,
"Hollywood's Political Fictions". --Lisa]

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

When I'm 64: Lessons

He'd like to have a gun just to keep him warm
Because violence here is a social norm

You've got to humanize yourself

--Rehumanize Yourself
, The Police

I wanna talk about me

Wanna talk about I

Wanna talk about number one

--I Wanna Talk About Me
, Toby Kieth

Honesty is such a lonely word

Everyone is so untrue

, Billy Joel

So what have I learned after 64 years of living? Here are my lessons:

  • Never trust a thin-lipped woman
  • Always plan your escape route
  • Always have a gun within reasonable distance
  • Never pick up women in a bar. Coffee shops are permissable, if a waiver is granted
  • Always wear your poncho
  • Avoid giving advice on emotional topics. Stick to facts
  • Listen to the sub-text rather than the words
  • You can start rumors, but never listen to them
  • Never lie (unless it helps your career.)
  • Never bad-mouth associates (unless it helps your career)
  • Most of what you hear is self-serving at best; lies, at worst
  • Never eat in a restaurant called "Mom's"
  • Never eat in a restaurant with pictures on the menu
  • Never eat in a restaurant that was once a gas station
  • Do not trust unreasonable people
  • Do not trust reasonable people
  • Never commit all of your assets; always maintain a reserve
  • Maintain the chain of command (except when it's necessary to ignore the chain of command)
  • Cut the sears on all your weapons for a clean, crisp break
  • Keep a good stock weld on your rifle
  • Breathe and relax before you fire
  • Never use violence, unless you have to
  • Always leave a crummy movie, regardless of the reviews
  • Remain silent
  • Never buy a car from a guy named "Preacher"
  • Don't tell people what to do -- tell them what you are going to do
  • Don't over-supervise
  • Don't mistake movement for progress

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Friday, March 12, 2010


Give me your answer, fill in a form

Mine for evermore

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I'm sixty-four?

--When I'm Sixty-Four
, the Beatles

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair

--The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T. S. Eliot

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day

--Morituri Salutamus
, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I would give the world to see

How I used to be

When I had no axe to grind

Except for Chopping Wood

--Gold Fever
, Clint Eastwood

You told me again you preferred handsome men

but for me you would make an exception

--Chelsea Hotel No. 2
, Leonard Cohen

Today is my birthday.

I am long past the point of being considered handsome, or even pretty. My lip has been ripped in two and repaired, my neck bears a surgical scar and cervical spine carries the pain of successive parachute accidents. My spine is crooked and legs and hands numb. My left nut has been surgically repaired thrice, and it is doubtful the right one is marching his post in a military or any other matter.

I do not fear death because I have lived 40 years longer than I ever expected to such air through my lungs.

How do you define a man? Samuel Beckett in his book Murphy devoted a chapter to describing the "seedy solipsist" -- every possible measurement of his being is given. However, at the end of the tally, one realizes they are no closer to knowing the man.

In our culture, the first question is, "What do you do?" Gotta establish credibility. If one is retired, what then? Is one vitiated? Then it becomes stuff collected, or hobbies. As for me, I no longer value conversation, and disdain small talk, and don't particularly value most people.
Perhaps this is what Kundera meant by the Unbearable Lightness of Being -- no one matters all that much.

Am I an Asperger's? Have I simply consorted with those types for long enough that I have subsumed some of their traits? Who is to say, but talking does not provide a savored sweetness, and written dialog has replaced chats.

I draw my perimeter in close. Did seeing combat cause this behavior? There is no way to undo it, so who is to know? Perhaps I have always had a predilection for isolation and melancholy. Perhaps it was just one of many instigating factors which drew out and ramped up the essential indifference. I have found an excellent antidepressant regime which allows me pleasure in my possessions, but not much else. I have often used SERE training points to get through the day.

When looking up the name for such a person on WikiAnswers, I smiled at the following response: "A person who lives alone by choice has, most likely, a low tolerance for total dickheads." Not having enjoyed much success in the endeavor, this may offer part of the answer. In Greek, I am literally a
solophicead (desirous of living alone.)

Women and friend's wives shun my presence. They know it is in their interests to keep their husbands clear of my attitudes. My attitudes are easily felt, but often inveighing.

This week a stray German Shepherd took refuge on my property, and I just couldn't shoot it, yet there are people I still regret not killing. It is a strange mental terrain to occupy. Eventually I'll probably have to kill the dog since people continue to dump their unwanted pets out here in the country, and when I do, it will be with sadness.

It is usual to say old age beats the alternative, but how do we know this is true? For all my scars, I am in fairly good health, and should have gratitude, but I don't particularly feel it.
I recognize my blessings, as they are called. I do not live in need; I can buy most things I want. Objects are safe, people are not.

I lack an effusive spirit, but am glad to share in this forum, and am appreciative for you, my readers.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Fog of Peace

--Emotional Dialog, Peray (Thailand)

I can't go on like this

That's what you think

--The Unnamable
, Samuel Beckett

We have guided missiles
and misguided men
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

The sun'll come out


Bet your bottom dollar

That tomorrow

There'll be sun!

, Annie

The concepts of War and Peace are usually considered distinct events, but when utilized by the state, they are actually the same, separated by a small increment.

A state will apply violence and kill members of another state or group, or even its own subjects, to achieve its goal. The goal may be reining in control, fomenting discontent or a number of other puposes. Peace and violence exist on a continuum circumscribed by and exploited by the state.

These events are designated as serving the National Interests. Something as irreversible as state violence should be commenced only upon cold, hard facts, but this is seldom the case. We can build technological marvels like Cruise Missiles, but the use of these death-dealing devices is based in emotional, subjective assumptions dressed up as the National Interest.

What we term "knowledge" is often just rational-sounding assumptions posing as facts. There are so many assumptions we live by. We presume there will always be a tomorrow, when we know that there will in fact be an end. Contra-factual presumptions like these are necessary to going on every day.

For the Christians, God may simply choose to flood the world again, like a big toilet bowl (since that's how we are treating it.) If he did it once, why not again?
At some point, the sun will quit shining. All of what we believe may be true or partially true. Though it may be factually true, that not necessarily a basis for reality.
The world is contingent.

Truth and policy must be consistent, predictable and rational. This is when our perceptions cross reality and National Interest emerges. But this still does not imply correctness. Our precarious fiscal bailout policy is as fanciful as our phony wars, yet both pose as the best decisions available. However, they are both based upon faulty assumptions. Our lives hang from assumptions we think are facts.

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) cannot make the attacks of 9-11-01 un-happen, just as it cannot prevent future attacks.
Opposing cultures meet over rifle sights because it has always been tit-for-tat, but not because it is the most expedient means of conflict resolution.

The first thing taught to young soldiers is,
do NOT assume anything, yet the rest of their careers are based upon assumptions made by their leaders. Soldiers die for assumptions that are seldom true, and civilians suffer the consequences of ill-considered National Policies. Military strength is no guarantor of security, as it just forges counter-alliances.

Nothing says National Interest equals the public good, and the bedrock of our thinking is often quicksand, when fully explored.

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