RANGER AGAINST WAR: September 2010 <

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nine Inch Nails

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear --
kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor --

with the cry of grave national emergency.

Always there has been some terrible evil at home

or some monstrous foreign power that was going

to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind

it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded.

Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem

never to have happened,

seem never to have been quite real

--Douglas MacArthur

Terrorism is the best political weapon

for nothing drives people harder

than a fear of sudden death

--Adolf Hitler

A thing is not necessarily true

because a man dies for it

The Portrait of Mr. W. H., Oscar Wilde

USA Today
ran the requisite scare photo (later picked up by Military- and Navy Times) of a human skill with a
3-inch-long, threaded steel bolt lodged near the cerebrum, headlined: "Afghan Insurgents Jamming More Objects in Bombs". D'Oh.

"Insurgents are creating more destructive roadside bombs this year by packing them with nails, screws, bolts, metal coils, ball bearings and other materials, according to doctors treating wounded U.S. and coalition troops here.

"The number of casualties suffering multiple wounds from these objects has increased from about a dozen in March to around 100 each month this summer, according to Navy Capt. Michael Mullins, spokesman for the NATO hospital operated by the U.S. Navy outside Kandahar."

Truama specialist U.S. Air Force Maj. Randy Snoots, says the bombs "are getting bigger and bigger and more full of stuff." Of course, they're not quite as big as the stuff in the U.S. inventory, which includes 5,000 pound bunker busters, 155/8" artillery, cruise missiles (that have been employed against individual targets) and Predator missiles, to name a few.

Is this supposed to shock me? We were using IED's before IED's were cool. We were trained to use rocks if we couldn't get steel or scrap iron. While it is beyond regrettable that our soldiers are getting killed by these devices, they are not some space-age innovation, nor is packing them with even more stuff.

Bombs are emotional since they are viewed as indiscriminate and arbitrary. The soldiers who become targets have no ability to protect themselves, and this is fear-producing. While one may not know the exact place and time, it is a go that traveling up and down highways in hostile territory will eventually result in your finding and IED in a way you would have preferred to avoid.

Bombs in the hands of skilled bombers have military value and are a type of force multiplier. U.S. Special Forces soldiers are taught advanced bomb enhancement techniques that have included adding a White Phosphorous grenade to the front of a Claymore to enhance its lethality. In the Vietnam War, SF A-Camps employed 40-pound cratering charges as giant Claymores simply by putting rolls of new barbed or concertina wire in front of the explosive for an extra large fragmentary effect, adding to the blast effect. These were all IED's.

The North Vietnamese Army hung Chinese Claymores, artillery/mortar duds in trees to enhance lethality; the Irish Republican Army added nails to their explosive devices; the Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto used a bomb with metal fragments called the "Matzoh Ball", etc.

So what is newsworthy about the fact that the "insurgents" in Afghanistan are using "bigger and more full of stuff" historical devices to fight the U.S./NATO incursion? The real question is: How have the soldiers killed and wounded by these nail bombs decreased the threat of terrorism to Americans in the continental U.S.?

Further, if this is an insurgency, why are Americans being targeted? Is this insurgency against Americans, or against the Karzai government? Are the two separate entities? By definition, the insurgency must be against the Karzai government, and it is dubious that U.S. involvement is addressing the key issue which is the al-Qaeda threat against the Ole Homeland.

U.S. goals have become so muddled and convoluted that the entire theatre of operations has become a theatre of the absurd. Nail bombs will not build a nation, nor will U.S. involvement in an Afghan insurgency.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Plessy Versus Ferguson II

We hold these truths to be self-evident --

that ALL men are created EQUAL

--U.S. Constitution


"Needs of military take precedence over liberal social engineering" was a recent USA Today op-ed by Marine Corps veteran Tony Perkins arguing against the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT).

Every one of Mr. Perkins' assertions was deserving of refutation, and away we go:

[1] First, his thesis is erroneous.

The military has long been a site of social engineering. Testing -- vocational and psychological -- began in WW I; racial integration of non-segregated combat units began post-WW II. The current Volunteer Army (VOLAR) is also a form of social engineering by virtue of creating a separate military caste (versus the previous draft army.)

Military academies and ROTC are also forms of social engineering, as they professionalize the officer class. The integration of minorities and females into the officer corps of the military has also been a social engineering project. Females serving in deployable units is yet another form of social engineering.

"A soldier must represent his or her country and maintain military discipline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is why sexual behaviors such as adultery and sodomy remain crimes under military law."

This is a non-sequitur, and a faulty comparison, to boot. Sexual behavior does not necessarily impact upon one's ability to represent one's nation or to maintain discipline. (Sloppy sexual behavior would be an exception.) Adultery is a crime, or certainly a breech of contract; sodomy is just a variation on a theme, and not one confined to homosexuals.
It is not a crime (even in Texas.) Why is sodomy a no-no, but fellatio and cunnilingus aren't?

If we are so moral, why are illegitimate offspring of service members now afforded coverage under the Tricare system? Is this sanctioning of fornication any less of an offense to order, discipline and soldierly conduct? To equate adultery to sodomy to unsoldierly conduct is hypocritical.

[3] "To put people with sexual attractions to one another into conditions of forced intimacy — sharing bathrooms, showers and sleeping quarters — runs the risk of increasing sexual tension, harassment and even assault. These are clear threats to good order, morale and unit cohesion."

"people with sexual attractions" are already in proximity -- they are called "men and women". Mr. Perkins is carrying on the libel that homosexuals are predatory and not in control of their libido. His illogic is revealed if one replaces gay male soldiers with female homosexual soldiers, or heterosexuals of either gender.

Is Perkins presuming men are strong enough to be soldiers, but not strong enough to fend off unwanted advances? Or that homosexuals are not regimented enough to curb their libidinous drives? He is condemning them a priori. It is the Mandingo fantasy in its 2010 update.

"There is no constitutional right to serve in the military, and individuals are routinely denied enlistment on the basis of characteristics that would rarely, if ever, be the basis for exclusion from civilian employment. These include height, weight, family responsibilities, or even relatively minor health conditions such as asthma."

Homosexuality is not a pathology. It is a gender orientation which has no bearing on the individual's ability to perform a task. It does not prevent the service member from executing duties faithfully. As an aside,
the first U.S. military service member wounded in the Iraq Occupation was Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Fidelis Alva, who lost his leg to an IED. Staff Sgt. Alva is homosexual. (Alva is quoted on his Wiki page as saying that his name, "Fidelis", means "faithful, and that he has always been faithful to the Corps, as have many previous generations of his family.)

"Polls showing support for homosexuals in the military have been distorted by biased wording."

Opinions are irrespective of the Constitution. We have all become such slaves to the talking heads and the pollsters, but their views or results are irrelevant to the topic. Polls do not trump the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection of all.

[6] "
Only one in eight of the world's countries allow homosexuals in their armed forces. The 10 largest military forces all exclude homosexuals."

Irrelevant. We are our own example, and lead by American exceptionalism. It would be more relevant to look at our NATO allies. Nations like Afghanistan are filled with good family men who keep personal dancing boys for their pleasure. (But they are not gay, you see, because they do not love the boys.)

If you prohibit homosexuals from the military, not only do you indulge in affirmative action bias, you do not remove the scourge of rape and sexual abuse which is rampant among hetero service members.

"The needs of the military must come before the demands of radical social activists."

Au contraire. The needs of the nation precede those of the military. We are not a military dictatorship.

One wonders if Mr. Perkins has ever known or had any interaction with a homosexual. Surely he acknowledges that a percentage of our population is homosexual, and phony arguments cannot change that fact or marginalize these people.

His arguments are lacking in Christian compassion and understanding, qualities which should not go missing in a man who is the leader of the
Family Research Council.

[Cross-posted at MilPub]

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Monday, September 27, 2010


This is not a road
--Louisiana fish kill, Field & Stream (9.23.10)

Cajun food to keep the undead dead,
made with
contaminated gulf seafood

To believe it is to see it

Murdoch? Oh, well, he's gone on

to his great reward.

Yeah... yeah, they say he's in Florida somewhere.

--The Big Kahuna

You won't read much about it in the news (the BP oil spill is so yesterday), but Louisiana has just suffered a major fish kill. Field & Stream asks, "Is Massive Louisiana Fish Kill BP Related?" Naw, it couldn't be -- could it? Unfortunately, these disasters are messy, and lack for a discrete end point. Oil spills are a gift that keeps on giving.

Despite the impossibility of closure, BP's Macando well was officially declared "permanently killed" on 9.18.10 by Adm. Thad Allen "point man" for the incident. The WaPo reported "several clues indicated it had been done successfully."

"Allen said that the relief well lost drilling fluids, which was a sign it had broken through. The drill bit encountered extra resistance, indicating it had pierced the Macondo well's casing. And readings from the Macondo well's new blowout preventer also seemed to agree that something had changed far below the seafloor" (BP's Macondo well to be permanently "killed" by Saturday).

In our impossibly sketchy coverage of this spill, it is always a comfort to know that something has changed. One thing for sure that has changed since the well's kill is the directionality of hundreds of thousands of fish off the Louisiana coast who have decided to go belly up (Louisiana Seeks Cause of Massive Fish Kill.)

Says Parish President Billy Nungesser (R), who asked the state and federal governments to test the waters in the area, "We can't continue to see these fish kills." And Billy speaks more truth than he knows, for it's the seeing that's the damn thing. If the fish had only had the good manners to sink to the bottom, we mightn't have been bothered by this distressing news which does not accord with the sanguine government reports (or media non-reports).

The press reports of Mr. Obama's 27-hour visit to the Gulf in mid-August grated. No photographers or tv video crews were allowed to witness Obama's ballyhooed "swim the Gulf". The official line was that the White House didn't want to make the ladies swoon over photos of the president's thin, heaving, hairless chest.

This is absurd, as most presidents readily o.k. beach photos. It shows they are a man of the people, and none would do so more than a collection of photos of Obama and family frolicking in the polluted waters of the Gulf. After the fact, one solitary photo was released by an official White House photographer of the president up to his neck, with daughter Sasha in an indeterminate body of water.

The London Independent identified the swim as actually occurring at Alligator Point in St. Andrews Bay, well to the East of the spill zone. In any event, the official photo lacked any identifiers, like the name of the boat or shore-side signage. Nothing was evident in this photo aside from water and two people (minus the FLOTUS), which makes me doubt the sincerity of Obama's "personal assurances of (the) Gulf's safety." The AP would not publish the WH's handout photo.

I really can't blame Mr. Obama for not wanting to hang out at the Redneck Riviera, and he and the missus were soon off for their second trip this summer for 10 days in Bar Harbor, Maine. Even sans the oil, the Gulf Coast is not a very chic hangout. But the Apalachicola Bay did produce some of the country's best oysters and shrimp, and those days are gone.

Despite the massive fish kill, "Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, has ordered an emergency reopening of all fishing in 210 square miles of state waters west of Bayou Lafourche previously closed due to the BP oil spill. With today’s action, 95 percent of state waters are opened." Oysters are still verboten. One wonders why the rush to judgment? Methinks the governmental agencies doth protest too much.

Who knows -- maybe the agencies will also discover that the oil dispersant Corexit (whose presence is not being tested for in the fish flesh) is good for what ails you ("Corexit'll Correct It!"), and better living through chemistry will be more than just another fallow promise.

The Gulf fiasco -- "the worst ecological disaster in the nation's history" according to FSU Biological Oceanographer Ian McDonald -- has been dwarfed by other, more visible national dissipations. McDonald is an international expert on oil spills who estimated early on that the amount of oil spilling was at least five times BP estimates.

How much oil was actually spilled and how much remains is anyone's guess. The UK Telegraph reports 4.4 million barrels; the NYT, 4.9 million bbls. Researchers have found a 2-inch slime carpet on the ocean floor, and report, "It's kind of like a slime highway from the surface to the bottom" (Scientists Find Thick Layer of Oil on Seafloor.)

And what of the 22-mile, 3-mile-wide column of oil below the surface, and other such findings? The news stories conflict: Oil Spill Persists, Oil Plume is not Breaking Down Fast, Oil from spill not going away quickly.

But y'know, Halloween's fast approaching, and I've seen Thanksgiving tchotchkes in the stores, so there's plenty else to distract us before Christmas gets here.

[Cross-posted @ BigBrassBlog]

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mobile Service Office

Talk of imminent threat to our national security

through the application of external force is pure nonsense.

Our threat is from the insidious forces

working from within which have already so drastically altered

the character of our free institutions —

those institutions we proudly called the American way of life

--Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Helen, Hell On Wheels,

And They Never Gonna Take Her Away

--Helen Wheels
, Paul McCartney

This is Public Service Announcement for the Mobile Service Office program run by the The Disabled American Veterans (DAV). It is a fully-equipped National Service Office (NSO) on wheels. They will be here in North Florida September 27 - October 2. The national schedule is HERE.

It is called the Harley's Heroes Tour as Harley-Davidson Motorcycles donates $1 million to the project, but the assistance is free and available to anyone, be they Harley-DAV members or not.

"This program is designed to educate disabled veterans and their families on specific veterans’ benefits and services.

"This outreach program generates considerable claims work on behalf of veterans and their families. NSOs, often aided by Department and Chapter Service Officers, travel to communities across the country to counsel and assist veterans with development of evidence, completion of required applications and prosecution of claims for veterans benefits administered under federal, state and local laws.

"A DAV National Service Officer (NSO) is rigorously and professionally schooled in the full range of benefits for military veterans and retirees and will provide you the best counseling and claim filing assistance you can get from any source, anywhere. Like you, this NSO is a Veteran (
Veterans Today)."

If you have any questions regarding your service benefits, The DAV NSO is the gold standard.

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Not Fade Away

Charles Miklaucic

I still remember the refrain of one

of the most popular barrack ballads of that day

which proclaimed most proudly that
"old soldiers never die; they just fade away"
--Gen, Douglas MacArthur

Ranger must travel back to childhood for this not easy entry.

Charles Miklaucic died September 1, 2010. He was a fine example of WW II soldierly conduct, having served as a Combat Infantryman in the European theatre. He was twice wounded, once in the Battle of the Huertgen Forrest and once while attempting to cross the Ludendorf Bridge on the Rhine at Remagen.

He was the father of one of my best friends while growing up in Cleveland, and I found him to be a role model and a positive influence on all of our young lives. Both of his sons later served faithfully in their war, Vietnam.

Mr. Miklaucic was a quiet, sober, gentle man. He was not a professional soldier but he fought as one, and then returned to his domestic life.
Miklaucic was the consummate Citizen Soldier, and the death of these old soldiers marks the passing of an era, both for this country and for a certain mindset of soldier

My condolences to the family.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Winners and Losers

Right now, investors know the price of everything
but the value of nothing

--Value of Investments Clouded

One thing I have learned is that
belief doesn't change reality
--C. Everett Koop (
New Yorker, 3/13/06)

One never knows, do one?

--Fats Waller


When a society (or a person) exchanges illusions or falsehoods for reality or truth, then it is dead or heading for a fall.

Our leaders and the media agree that the surge in Iraq was successful, and that this success is somehow related to General Petraeus. How do we accept such a falsehood? Is it possible that we accept falsehood when the truth is too repellent? Or maybe when the facts don't compute, and we are programmed to tie things up in a neat package.

We also believe that the U.S. has enjoyed an economic recovery -- out of recession since June of '09, they say, yet the facts flying about our heads indicate otherwise. Joblessness, sluggish markets, the death of local businesses and general hopelessness surround us, but we are thrilled when the unemployment rate falls .01%. This is what passes
for Good News and progress.

Our jobs continue to migrate overseas and we suffer an unfavorable trade balance, yet we revel in the concept of internationalism. This is not a partisan issue, yet neither side seems willing to address the situation.

Our states lack tax bases and the Fed survives by printing money like it's going out of style -- not a formula for national survival, nor is cutting government spending a formula for national recovery.

Simply put, we can't have it all. We can't have oil without oil spills; we can't have wars without debt. We can't have winners without losers. Congress has pitched in $38 Billion more for a mini surge in Afghanistan, seeing how well it worked in Iraq. But Iraq was a more tamable country going in, and this is now money that we do not have.

Is the U.S. safer than before we invaded Iraq? Or do we still live in fear and under reactive policies that fail to address the threat? Is Iraq now a threat? Is Iraq actually a country, or is it an uneasy regional/ethnic coalition that is grasping to survive? Despite their showpiece elections and titular leaders, they are unable to form a viable government, which would be the proof of a democracy.

What has been achieved in Iraq that remotely resembles a success? Our Army is still in theatre with no discernible purpose. The Iraqis want us gone yesterday (as it should be). "Failure to lose" and "winning" are not equivalent concepts.

Even if Iraq and Afghanistan became wildly successful democracies, then they are winners, but this is separate and distinct from the U.S. being a winner. How would the U.S. be repaid for their success, were it to occur in the form we envision?

We claim to export democracy but our policy is to trade with undemocratic countries that exploit their citizens, and in return we get cheap underwear. If democracy is our goal, then we should export it through economic policy as well as military efforts.

Have we created an ally in Iraq, or is it another whore performing to rake in our dollars?

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enemies: A Love Story

Hunting Taliban,
Manny Francisco (Manila)

Mothers of river city,
heed the warning before it's too late

watch for the telltale signs of corruption!

--Ya Got Trouble
, Music Man

Limbo lower now

Limbo lower now

How low can you go

--Limbo Rock
, Chubby Checker

In their behavior toward creatures,

all men are Nazis.
Human beings see oppression
when they're the victims.

Otherwise they victimize blindly
and without a thought

--Isaac Bashevis Singer


Nine years into the Phony Wars on Terror
(PWOTs ©), and still the terms we use to define the mission are vague and confused. Ranger is not hopping on a bandwagon here -- we were the bandwagon when everyone else was cheering on the fight against Terrorism.

To the bedrock: "Enemy". While most pundits and politicians believe this to be coincident with "al-Qaeda", al-Qaeda is not an enemy by any standard definition. Al-Qaeda operatives are not covered by the Geneva Conventions (just ask Alberto Gonzales), and are therefore, not combatants.

Al-Qaeda members
are criminals, by any definition of the word. Soldiers kill, but they are not (should not be) murderers, and cannot be held accountable in a court of law for killing other combatants in accordance with the rules of land warfare. In contrast, Al-Qaeda targets and kills soft civilian targets, making them criminals in every civilized nation.

So why do we still read daily that al-Qaeda's terrorists are the enemy? This assertion only adds validity and lends justification to their criminality. The reason for legitimizing the illegitimate is clear: So the U.S. can have an enemy, thereby justifying its campaign in Afghanistan.

In fact, the war is simply a war of oppression being waged against a geographical landmass and its people. Little if any of the fighting is aimed at the tiny organization called al-Qaeda. The bulk of the aggression has been an effort to defeat the Taliban, which is not exactly a terror organization. The Taliban is not listed on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, though Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was just listed in September as a
Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the State Department.

The Taliban has no external agenda beyond the expulsion of U.S./NATO forces from the theatre of operations. Killing Taliban is not a war against terror, but violence designed to force foreign goals upon the Afghan people. This is not a news flash.

Ditto the war in Iraq, which was another imposition of the terror of war upon the Iraqi nation sans benefit to either the U.S. or to them. When Ranger said this in 2005 we were lambasted, but this view is becoming mainstream.

The Phony Wars have achieved no military objectives, yet legal concepts have been compromised and contravened, creating a delegitimization of the United S

It is bizarre that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is still in Gitmo and still hasn't faced swift legal action. KSM is not a prisoner of war and is not on any court docket, leading to the conclusion that the War on Terror (PWOT) violates the concept of criminal culpability.
While this is surely not the only offense wrought by the PWOT, it is a shining example.

-- still undefined, nine years into a global war. It's what's for supper, and it taste's a lot like chicken.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Toast Soldiers

Pride and joy and greed and sex
That's what makes our town the best

Shattered, The Rolling Stones

Once upon there was light in my life

But now there's only love in the dark

Nothing I can say

A total eclipse of the heart

--Total Eclipse of the Heart,

Bonnie Tyler

You know you've got a job and a little bitty chick

Six-pack of beer and a television set

Little bitty world goes around and around

Little bit of silence and little bit of sound

--Itty Bitty
, Alan Jackson

Another metaphor for the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) and all it begets comes to mind: Behold -- the paper shredder.

We have fed the Constitution into the hopper and shredded the concepts intrinsic to our national beliefs.

We have fed soldiers into the military, and shredded its ability to address military threats to our nation by turning them into little strips called "warriors" that cannot be glued back together again.

We have fed our economy into this shredder, destroying hopes of a healthy, viable pre-2001 type of economy. We have also fed the U.S. legal code into the shredder, producing little strips called "military tribunals", which are a perversion of U.S. justice.

The shredder's job is one alone: to take the most damning, revealing
or incidental materials and turn them into homogenous, inoffensive strips. We are taking the finest aspects of our union and converting them into common dross, content to lose those things that identify the best of us.

In exchange we get itty bitty pieces and parts, the simulacra of a once proud nation.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thanks for Coming

Wars are not over when the shooting stops
--Max Cleland


We used to have two classes of medals in the Army:

  1. Thanks for Coming
  2. I Been There

That's the cut, pure and simple, that separates all of us from all of them. So what are people saying when they say, "Thanks for your service"? Do they mean:

  • Thanks for giving up your youth?
  • Thanks for doing what I didn't want to do, couldn't so, or felt best avoiding doing?
  • Thanks for serving since this relieved my son from doing so?
  • Thanks for . . .

What Ranger really desires is for people to stop laying this crap on my ears. It's rather tiresome and feels as unsatisfying as a wet dream. Of course, if that's all you've got . . .


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Draft Notice

Not only Alsace-Lorraine but all France and all Europe
as well as the whole world will belong to us

--Heinrich Heine

What does right matter to me? I have no need of it …

I have the right to do what I have the power to do

--Max Stirner

Must culture build its cathedrals upon hills of corpses,
seas of tears, and the death rattle of the vanquished?

Yes, it must

--Franz Felix Kuhn

Germany is the centre of God’s plans for the World

--Max Lehmann


Germany is considering reducing the Bundeswehr, in addition to eliminating mandatory civil service for conscientious objectors mandatory conscription in general, beginning in mid-2011. While it is unlikely to happen, the consideration is worthy of note (Germany Weighs the Elimination of Conscription).

German Defense Minister Guttenberg's cost savings measure would reduce the current force from
252,000 soldiers to around 165,000. Why would a strategic member of the Western world cut their military, while the U.S, continues to see enemies under every grain of sand? Are the U.S. and Germany occupying two different realities? Why doesn't the U.S. constrict its forces? If Germany can do it, why not the U.S.?

The economic expediency of reducing military spending is evident to the German authorities, but seems to escape the notice of the U.S. administration. For the war apologists, the mantra is that the credit crunch landed us in our current economic straits. While that is certainly a big part of the picture, that does not excuse the current senseless military outlay.
Because the patient is bleeding does not eliminate the need to treat his shock, as well.

As much as the Germans enjoy their militarism, they appreciate a robust economy even more, for now.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Something Doesn't Belong Here

--Gargantua, Gustave Doré

There are no seasons in the American supermarket.

Now there are tomatoes all year round,

grown halfway around the world,

picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas.

Although it looks like a tomato,

it's kind of a notional tomato. I mean,

it's the idea of a tomato

--Food, Inc., Michael Pollan

Leadership appears to be the art

of getting others to want to do something

you are convinced should be done

--Vance Packard

In 1972, the FDA conducted approximately
50,000 food safety inspections.
In 2006, the FDA conducted 9,164

--Food, Inc.,

This is a slumgullion post about things that just aren't right. Just a few arbitrary choices to begin with; the follow-on will deal with lodgings that aren't right in the U.S.A. Today we will begin with adverts, and end with food.

Buick Regal now touts its Teutonic pedigree, saying it is German engineered for performance on the Autobahn. If one wanted German engineering, why not buy a Mercedes, BMW or Porsche
? Why a Buick? Unless one is a Saudi Prince with a motorcade of MB's, for whom a K-Car might be a cool diversion, how would owning a Buick would proclaim to your friends that you have gained a fine European-tuned vehicle?

This ad probably caught our eye because of a strange dining experience recently at a German restaurant in North Carolina which had a continual loop of vertiginous camera angles of roads in Germany, roads and roads -- not especially interesting roads -- punctuated by the very occasional mountain or flower interspersed to give the mind a break from the spiraling ribbons of highway. One could imagine Dieter from Sprockets animatedly narrating the thing.

Next is the advert for Kohl's department stores showing rich, well-appointed models in a tony environment. The problem is Kohl's is not selling tony products -- it is a soundly middle-class venue. The store has latched on to some name designers, but the products are decidedly at the low end of the quality spectrum. The ad is not consonant with the product.

Most advertisers pitching to the average housewife understand that using homey models makes the product more appealing and accessible, so how does the average consumer relate to these models living the elite lifestyle, yet hawking J. C. Penny-level appointments?

And now to the food. We have spoken before of the spiraling costs of food (though our government assures us there is no inflation and no needed cost of living adjustment) -- today, we will address the quality.

The recent outbreak of salmonella from infected eggs produced in facilities with outrageous sanitary and humanity offenses brings this issue to the fore. Untold numbers of citizens were made sick or died from these infected eggs from Wright County Farms, Hillandale, Dutch et. al. The producers had been cited numerous times for offenses over the years.
The mass infection could not have come as a surprise to anyone.

It is the same conduct as Massey Energy showed before the collapse of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia this April. Hundreds of safety violations, mostly ignored until someone puts an eye out, or 29 miners die. Then everyone rushes in for the inquisition and the autopsy. But the losses from lax oversight and cutting corners are predictable, and probably figured into the operational budget.

When Lisa was shopping at Sam's Club recently for her usual veggie-and-fruit tour, she noticed some anomalies in the usually predictable stock.

Strawberries had grown large as bocci balls, a fruit which should be more petite. They are flavorless at that size, ditto the Campari tomatoes, which are supposed to be a premium, smallish on-the-vine variety. They, too, had grown oversized. Same with the blackberries, though the raspberries maintained their normal size (and had "organic" on their label.) Lemons were as large as oranges, and mushrooms had begun sprouting two caps.

While one often feels like being among the Gargantua in that facility normally, now it seems even the food had sprouted to epic proportions. Lest you think I was on a mescaline trip, I assure you not. These looked like Frankenfoods, and it is not surprising considering 70% of our foods have some genetically-modified ingredient. We are now eating GMO salmon -- engineered to eat year-round, hence doubling their size (and behaving like many Americans.)

Profit drives the market, our health be damned. AquAdvantage GMO salmon -- grown to be mini-Hindenbergs -- is likely already on a plate near you. Like the chicken breasts that are now approaching the size of small hens, they will probably be tasteless and chewy flesh which we will go largely unnoticed since we are fond of drowning our foods in salt and sauces.

Also noted was the inferior quality of much of the produce -- most of the pineapples and melons were shriveling or bruised. These should have been counted as loses, and not for public sale.

The same problems are noted among the regular retailers, Like Publix and Winn Dixie. Publix has usually maintained in-date stock, but as a matter of habit now, dairy products are kept on the shelves past due date. At least at Winn Dixie, they will reduce the price of items nearing expiration, thereby acknowledging the fact. At Publix the ruse is stealthier. Most people haven't the time to check labels, and if the milk isn't curdled, they will probably drink it.

Have you noticed any come-down in your food supply lately?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

The Wasteland

A recent NYT piece on the Lumenhaus
encouraged us to ennoble this once lovely abode,

"Wrecked House"

Not a good advert for vinyl siding

Pigeon Home

"Madonna's House"

The Bottoms Up gentleman's club.
Note the Sonitrol of the 'hood: barred doors

We wonder if the Original Glorious Church in Christ
was the convention center He visited

And you thought fish fry's weren't halal?

"Tha Brothahood Barber Shop" --
in case Obama needed a little off the top

..A mile away, nice houses in a small
oasis. "Escape From New York", anyone?

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn.
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.

--The Wasteland
, T.S. Eliot

Ranger and Obama recently shared a holiday treat since we both had the pleasure of visiting Cleveland, Ohio, Ranger's hometown. This former "Best Location in the Nation" is suffering like many other Rust Belt cities, and isn't the best for much, unless you're out to score some drugs or wish to be robbed.

Pleasure indeed! Browse our montage of Ranger's former hunting grounds, deep in the now-wilds of C-Town. None of these photos are exceptional and represent the shit-hole that is the reality of too many United States inner cities. They were all taken within blocks the two homes in which Ranger grew up.

Note the house with the pigeons rooting in the exposed eaves. People were seen drinking out of paper bags at noon on porches with plywood-covered windows. We doubt Mr. Obama's motorcade passed in front of those ghetto homes. Those people are passed by on the roadway of life.

Please realize that Pigeon House or Wrecked House are not anomalies; the detritus follows each street, for endless blocks of downtown. The outliers are the very occasional well-maintained homes, usually inhabited by some equally very old-timer.

One's attentiveness to home maintenance is not rewarded in these now-slums, however -- one house had a For Sale sign of $19,000, and it is highly unlikely they will get their price before the rats devour whatever's left of the wiring.

You read horrified about people in Iraq living with only intermittent electricity?
It is not unknown in your own country -- the U.S. -- for people to live without heat and cooling, and even water, either intermittently or as a lifestyle. We are not talking only squatters, nor are we talking the new Green-elite or the Amish, who engineer a livable existence sans many amenities (but not without water.) Note that most of these houses have satellite dishes and open windows, suggesting occupants. (For those who can afford something, one may be able to live with intermittent utilities, but mustn't go without satellite.)

Our politicians seem to wear blinders to a reality that is a stark as anything in Baghdad. They ignore the plight of a blighted America, functioning under the false belief that the U.S. has the wherewithal to continue its pretensions to world interventions and occupations.

Our leaders are living like it's still 1950, when the Best Location had almost a million citizens and was a thriving hub of manufacturing activity. Today's ghettoized Cleveland has lost almost all of its manufacturing and half of it's citizens.
The factories are razed or shuttered, moldering in decay where they stand in mute testimony to a once-great nation.

The citizens too occupy a 1932 economic time warp, sadly, even they forgoing their own better interests, reacting mainly to meaningless, hot-button drivel topics like who's going to hell for being gay or Muslim. (Our average citizens are probably not much different from average citizens everywhere, but it is leadership and infrastructure that makes the difference.)

We get what we deserve, save for the innocents, like children.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bonfire of the Vanities

All we have to do is send two mujaheddin . . .

to raise a small piece of cloth

on which is written 'al-Qaeda' in order to make

the generals race there, to cause America to suffer

human, economic and political losses

--Osama bin Laden (fr. 2004 video)

'Cause the only reason that you're here.

Is 'cause folks died for you in the past

So maybe now it's your turn

To die kicking some ass

--Freedom Isn't Free, fr. Team America

Its real beauty is that it destroys

responsibility and consequences

--Farenheit 451
, Ray Bradbury

My parents were born in the early 1920's, and the recent death of another old-timer led me to the topic of peace and prosperity in America, something which skiddaddled out the back door at some indeterminate time in recent memory.

In my parent's lifetime the U.S. fought Germany for a second time and Japan in a World War. We then proceeded to Korea, South Vietnam, Gulf War I, Afghanistan and Gulf War II, with sundry other conflicts along the way. This translates to six major wars in one lifetime; in my lifetime, there have been five (approximately one every 12 years.)

The other little wars should not be forgotten, for they add to the scale. They include Haiti, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, the Greek Insurgency, assistance to the French in the IndoChina War, Lebanon (mid-1950's), assistance to the Israelis (1948-present), assistance to Chaing Kai-Shek, CIA sponsorship of the Cuban Invasion, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia concurrent with the Vietnam War, secret war in Angola, armed peacekeeping, Grenada and Panama Invasion, the Contras, and the Bosnian and Balkans interventions, to name a few.
as hot-button issues

It is difficult to tabulate the actual years spent in warfare, since the events overlap. At least one-third of my lifetime has seen a peace-loving nation killing folks, and a large contingent of our society sees this as Christian and equitable. It is quite a sobering topic, when one considers the incessant nature of our warring.

The dog days of summer have given us the Muslim community center flap near Ground Zero and proposed Koran burnings, but Ranger wonders why Americans are not more concerned with the fact that the Constitution has been figuratively burned on a daily basis since the events of 9-11-01, by two administrations?

It might benefit mankind immeasurably if we burned all the Korans and Bibles in one big bonfire, using the resultant fire to immolate everybody, Christian and Islamist, who believe in waging Holy Wars.

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Friday, September 10, 2010


--The Wall, Pink Floyd

A fart is a pleasant thing.

It gives the belly ease...

It warms the bed in winter and suffocates fleas.

A fart can be quiet. A fart can be loud...

Some leave a powerful, poisonous cloud

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker,

Motherfucker, and Tits.

Those are the heavy seven.

Those are the ones that'll infect your soul,

curve your spine and keep the country

from winning the war

—Seven Words You Can Never Say

on Television
, George Carlin

Hey, teacher. leave them kids alone!

--The Wall
, Pink Floyd


My first essay upon return is based upon a conversation at a dinner gathering
while away, specifically, the comments made by 3rd grade teacher Ruth. Since Ranger is told he is weak in emotions and feeling I'll try to alleviate that here.

Ruth explained that she received an ovation from the parents at Welcome Back night when she unveiled her "10 Prohibited Words" list, to be distributed to the hapless recruits on their first day back in prison. Among the words not allowed to pass their lips is "fart", a thing which for Ranger is both a feeling and emotional thing. [Lisa commented that this list would remove half of Ranger's vocabulary.] The implications of the prohibition are profound.

Of course, Ruth has nothing on George Carlin, who assembled a list of 2,443 "Impolite Words". There really are some dooszies here, but fart is nowhere to be found. Lame, it is.

Steven Dowshen, M.D., explains at KidsHealth.org, "All people fart sometimes, whether they live in France, the Fiji islands, or Fresno, California!", and goes on to explain the etiquette of performing the natural act. It seems his less hung-up approach is the more healthy. But what are kids to think when they are told they have freedom of speech here in the Home of the Braves, but they can't say "fart"?

We can't have it both ways. There is no freedom of speech when there are no-say word lists. Skullduggery is sown early, as the biological necessity is fake-obscured by the prohibition of its utterance. Out of mind, out of sight, and the whelps are taught early to muzzle themselves. Things are o.k. if we say they are.

Ah, the insidious lie! One cannot
not fart, but one is told to not utter the word denoting the actuality. Herein lies the seeds of all future deceptions. "I will do it, because I must, or because it feels good" . . . but, I will tell no one. It may or may not be a bad thing I do, but I know it is a bad thing to say it. Maybe, depending upon one's religion, it may be uttered in the darkness of a confessional booth. But never -- NEVER -- must it be said in the light of day. Politicians were probably all taught never to say "fart".

Are we teaching students to be polite, or free, or simply obedient? Maybe a combination. We hear the mantra that the troops are fighting for our freedom, but how can this be if kids can't say fart in a public school? Keep in mind, the parents applauded the list.

Considering the topic itself, what can be more life-affirming than a healthy beer or oyster fart? Farts are an affirmation of life, and one could define death as the absence of farts. Clearly, hedonism is not part of the public school curriculum, but the kids will soon be thrust into the world of Miley Cyrus and Twilight, and have to make sense of it all. And they will have to do so without the word fart in their verbal toolkit.

So what's the problem with farts?

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dancing Boys

A purblind oligarchy that flatly refused to see
that history was condemning it to the dustbin

--Jasper Griffin

ressentiment which is establishing itself is the process of levelling, and while a passionate agestorms ahead setting up new things and tearing down old, razing and demolishing as it goes,
reflective and passionless age does exactly the contrary: it
hinders and stifles all action
Søren Kierkegaard, Two Ages: A Literary Review

The Long Wars are an exercise in futility and signify a lack of moral, legal and religious clarity. The concept is a violation and corruption of the concept of liberalism, rationality and civilization itself.

Today's wars are criminal insanity, and opposition is futile since we as a society accept this corruption of thought and logic, bringing it under the rubric "national security" when the facts say otherwise. This mirror image of reality we call national policy.

The national consensus hangs upon the thread the the U.S. is fighting Islamic extremism and that killing Taliban is an effective countering of the threat as the Taliban provides support for al-Qaeda terrorism. Regardless of the truth of the hypothesis, the resultant wars of aggression and attrition serve no meaningful purpose as they accomplish no relevant objectives associated with the concept of war.

While we have become a nation of warriors, we have relinquished the goal of obtaining anything meaningful from our warring. Logic demands the violence of war produce a meaningful balance to the initial
casus belli, regardless of whether the cause was justified or even legal. War demands an outcome that moves a nation towards a positive goal. Winning must be a positive outcome, a factor missing today.

After spending $750 Billion in Afghanistan and fighting a war sans clearly defined objectives, minus a clearly defined enemy, the U.S. has achieved nothing which could be defined as a positive outcome in theatre. Ditto Iraq. Both have been a dance of death in the theater of absurdity, having no discernable purpose other than as circus events to delude and distract a restive U.S. audience.
Pass the nachos.

War has lost its political relevance, becoming an emotional exercise mimicking gang warfare.

Violence and killing must have a logical objective beyond bog simple violence and killing. Warfare is not assassination programs and secret prisons, and must have more significance than drones dealing death to whomever happens to be the target
du jour. Death is not the objective of war, though that has become our policy.

As a capitalistic consumer society, we should ask what we are getting in return for our outlay on wars and related intelligence. Security dictates a return on our dollars and a profit commensurate with the investment. But this is no quid pro quo.

The wars cannot be justified on any level, yet they prosper and grow in an unjustifiable manner, like a malevolent weed. They make little sense when looking at the realities of our national economic tapestry, which is being rent daily.

The wars are a tragedy or a travesty, depending on how deeply invested you are.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Beau Brummell

Hello Danny. Come and play with us.
Come and play with us, Danny.

Forever... and ever... and ever

--The Shining

Wars are not over when the shooting stops

--Max Cleland

His uniform jacket was old and tight,
He had polished each button, shiny and bright
--It's the Soldier, Charles Province

[Hi everyone -- thanks for checking in. Ranger's back, and will be starting up with some sundry thoughts from the road, ramping up to regular schedule slowly but surely.]

In August, the Army began issuing new uniforms printed with a camouflage pattern called MultiCam -- "designed to blend in better with the varied landscapes of the country's mountainous terrain" (Military Sees It's Time for a Change.)

The change will cost between $200 - $270 million, says Lt. Col. Mike Sloane,
product manager for soldier clothing and individual equipment for Army's Program Executive Office Soldier. "He said the switch to MultiCam was ramped up after soldiers complained that their camouflage uniforms were ineffective in Afghanistan"

Forgive Ranger, but imagine that -- a camo committee called the
Program Executive Officer Soldier! When was the last time an Executive Officer Soldier got his shit blown away? Nonetheless, USA Today begins brightly, "Soon, when soldiers stalk the enemy in Afghanistan, they may be harder to see."

This is a misleading statement, for who is stalking whom in this little game of cat-and-mouse?

The change in pattern strikes Ranger as essentially weird. The Allied Forces (both of them) are fighting an adversary in tennis shoes with rags wrapped around their heads and dressed in Afghan mufti, with a few AK's, machine guns, RPG's and assorted other ammo thrown into the mix. The amount the U.S. is dedicating to a uniform switchover probably exceeds their operational budget for many years. Alas, this argument is academic since the U.S. taxpayer is funding al-Qaeda indirectly through our aid to Pakistan.

"Capt. Joe Corsentino, an aviator, told the
Army Times that the current combat uniform 'stands out like a sore thumb' in Afghanistan." However, since most of our casualties come from IED's it doesn't seem to matter a hill of beans what the troops are wearing.

When your tactics are wrong and strategy weak, uniform pattern is immaterial.
A bullseye sewn on the back would be as sensible in this monumental goat screw we call a war.

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