RANGER AGAINST WAR: November 2010 <

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Homeward Bound

We would rather be ruined than changed;

We would rathe
r die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
--W.H. Auden

I wish I was,

Homeward bound,

Home where my thought's escaping,

Home where my music's playing,

Home where my love lies waiting

Silently for me
--Homeward Bound
, Simon and Garfunkel

It is curious that physical courage should be
so common in the world and moral courage so rare
--Mark Twain


The Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st Airborne Division is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of the U.S. Army. When this patch is worn on the right sleeve of a uniform, this indicates combat service with the unit.

The body of 101st medic Specialist Shannon Chihuahua passed through Tallahassee en route to its final resting place 11.21.10. He was KIA serving the unit that patch represents.

At the same time this soldier's body was homeward bound, the West Point football team was being trounced by Notre Dame. Why does the West Point team wear the Screaming Eagle on their right sleeves? They have not earned the right, as Spec. Chihuahua had. What kind of sacrilege is this misuse of a combat-earned right?

These cadets do not posses the right to wear this patch unless they served with the unit in combat. This usage is a denigration of the symbol dedicated to the memory of generations of faithful paratroopers. Why do the war hawks -- who love them some football -- do not decry this blasphemy (though they are quick to call "stolen valor" when they see an opponent of the war wear his decorations)?

What gives West Point the right to frivolously use this noble and hard-won patch on a crummy football jersey? Despite the hyperbole of the announcers, football is not battle, it is a game. Since when are patches authorized on civilian attire?

An announcer, in a feeble attempt to recognize the courage inherent in that little piece of cloth, noted, "the Infantry is the backbone of the Army." Wrong. The Infantry IS the Army; t
he Army exists to support the Infantry.

We wrote in April about 101st Airborne troops in the Atlanta airport on their way to R & R, and how they were forbidden to wear combat patches and badges on their uniforms though authorized to do so by regulations. Why can W.P. football uniforms display this patch, while real, live soldiers in the unit are forbidden to do so?

It is amazing how insults like this just slip under the radar. Bastogne is a long way from Yankee Stadium.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Laughing Stock

I want a world where Frank junior and all the Frank juniors

can sit under a shady tree, breathe the air, swim in the ocean,
and go into a 7-11 without an interpreter

--The Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear

If we don't

(fill in the blank with your choice of suspended civil rights),

the terrorists have won

--The Right's best excuse for abdicating our rights

Can you fly this plane, and land it?


Ranger Question of the Day
If the T.S.A. did not exist,
what would the
real unemployment rate be?

[R.I.P. Leslie Nielson. You only thought you were doing parody.]

Contrary to the ipsedixitism of airport supervisor Philip Burdette --
“I get paid to be paranoid" -- The Transportation Security Administration's job is NOT paranoia. It IS to follow reasoned and responsible, proactive measures to address a real threat in a judicious manner (T.S.A. Finds Itself on the Defensive.)

Airport security is a tactical measure, reflective of a larger strategic posture. All significant terror successes, or near successes, have been a result of strategic U.S. blunders. The intelligence community in the outer perimeter of defense was found lacking.

The events of 9-11-01 did not occur because of tactical negligence at airport terminals. The 9-11 operatives did not violate any existing protocols and boarded their flights legally. Instead, the failure occurred at the strategic level.

The crotch and shoe bombers paraded as successful infiltrators did NOT originate on U.S. flights, and their success was the failure of intelligence and not physical security. The weakness of the screening system is NOT poor security, but faulty intelligence and strategic threat analysis.

Screening domestic fliers is closing the barn door after the horse is out; it does not address any real threat. Airport security does not stand alone -- it is simply the last, visible layer of defense. If a threat is stupid enough to smuggle anything at this final checkpoint, then it is realistic to say that action is intentional to keep the U.S. response at an artificially high level.

If a device of any sort is discovered at a boarding gate, then this is not a success of security but rather a failure of strategic intel gathering and analysis. The T.S.A. can X-ray and grope to the pace of frenzied sexual predators, but that will not increase our security. Layers of security must be neutralized before the terrorists could penetrate any airport security. To date, there are no credible reports that the al-Qaeda threat has the assets to expend on such high-risk operations.

Paranoia is not a strategy, but the failure of one. It is diffuse fear of something that should not be feared. By extension, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is a fallow exercise in paranoia. If we honestly believe that our airports are being targeted, it is apparent that George W. Bush's PWOT is a dud. Every time we frisk a U.S. citizen in an airport we are admitting that, although we are still fighting them over there, we are not sure they ain't over here.

If we have perimeters in our airports, then we are fighting them over here (or at least, pretending we are.)

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

TSA Busy Work

Don't Tread on Me!

--USNavy Jack (1775)

Don't Taze me, bro!

--U.S. citizen to police

Don't touch my junk!

--U.S. citizen to TSA employee


There is much emotion and little logic being applied to the topic of T.S.A., or the "Department of Fear". To be rational we must ask, what is the mission and objective of TSA security -- the "Whys" as well as the "What".

In "The Real Threat to America", NYT columnist Richard Cohen gets it right:

What form of group madness is it that forsakes judgment and discernment for process run amok?

I don’t doubt the patriotism of the Americans involved in keeping the country safe, nor do I discount the threat, but I am sure of this: The unfettered growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the T.S.A. represent a greater long-term threat to the prosperity, character and wellbeing of the United States than a few madmen in the valleys of Waziristan or the voids of Yemen.

America is a nation of openness, boldness and risk-taking. Close this nation, cow it, constrict it and you unravel its magic.

Before discussing Why and How, we must realistically define the range markers of commercial passenger air travel. What is achievable, and what are we doing. A
realistic threat analysis is necessary, something which is in short supply these days. What are we achieving with our security measures, and what are we paying for the dubious returns?

Paranoia and overreaction is not the basis for security. There is no such thing as a 100% security posture, but TSA officials indicate that without their efforts we will be open to future attacks. Maybe, maybe not, but
sans realistic threat analyses and knowledge of threat capabilities, we cannot know.

Pro forma
, this data is hidden from the public. We are expected to accept the security measures without knowing the facts, or even the lack of facts. Airport security is like religion: We are asked to have faith and belief without observable proof that our faith is anything but illusion.

The best security is RANDOM and UNPREDICTABLE, exactly the opposite of the present TSA approach. Even in an ideal security environment we lack the time or assets to screen every traveler. especially when there is no immanent threat.

The U.S. is a nation that spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on intelligence functions which serve as a major level of security.
Airport security is an inner level of security based upon real-time outer level security. The inner level cannot operate at 100% if the outer security is not commensurate.

Today's TSA policies are frantic efforts having the fe
el of meaningless yet invasive busy work. If the efforts were real, none of us would complain or criticize, but that does not seem to be the case.

Ranger news flash:
If a bomb gets aboard a domestic U.S. flight, it will NOT get aboard through boarding gates, and if it does, it will not be a device sufficient to bring down a commercial aircraft. The shoe and crotch bombs did not infiltrate through U.S. boarding gates, so it is questionable to react to a threat that cannot be shown to actually exist. TSA policy lacks initiative, having surrendered it to a nebulous terror threat.

Here is another news flash:
Except for Jihad Jane -- another sorry little loser -- the U.S. citizenry is NOT the threat, although TSA policy considers us as such. We are reacting to a murky threat. If our government does not trust its citizens, then the citizens should not trust the government!

The final shame of the TSA
farceurs is that this first line of defense lacks the training and supervision to spot a terrorist if one were chewing on their ass. What does a terrorist look like? What does a sophisticated professional explosive device look like?

Laptops and cell phones are more dangerous and adaptable than are little bottles of liquid or crummy little nail clippers. Nail clippers can't detonate a device, but a modified cell phone or laptop sure could. Ranger also wonders why sniffer dogs and devices have been eclipsed by invasive and questionable X-ray searches?
Wired magazine reports bomb sniffing dogs are over 50% more capable than the best devices for detecting the presence of a bomb (80% to 50%).

A U.S. security posture which does not provide security at an ex
orbitant and unjustifiable cost is in question. The irony of TSA security is that the citizens being protected are also treated as the threat. We no longer honor the concept of legal search or even legal seizure. When nail clippers are confiscated, how can this be viewed as anything but a travesty?
By what authority do federal employees confiscate our property, even so small and insignificant one as a clipper? What happened to the concept of due cause to search?

If government has the right to encumber its citizens with invasive searches, then we have ceased to be a democracy. This is no longer BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE, but what government can do TO THE PEOPLE. Again, if the exchange were equable and we were more secure as a result, we would capitulate, but that is unprovable equation.

We relinquish our rights and freedoms, receiving nothing in return, and laughably, we have to pay for the loss. Kafka is surely enjoying this turn of events.

Is this another case of, as author James Brady says, "the minutiae of tactics at the expense of overall strategy"

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Friday, November 26, 2010


--Marshall Arisman

What are we fighting for,
We fellows who go to war?
Fighting for "hearth and home,"
Who haven't an inch of loam?
--Enemy Conscript, Robert Service

The things that are done in the name
of the shareholder are, to me,
as terrifying as the things that are done
dare I say it—in the name of God
--John le Carré, novelist and former MI6

Old time muzzle loading riflemen carried a bag for their rifle paraphernalia called a possibles bag. The bag carried everything one would possibly need to operate his rifle.

What is in the possibles bag for a politician? First let's define politics -- the art of the possible -- before deciding upon the tools of the trade. All politics must be realistically achievable. If it is not realistic or achievable then it is not possible, and should not be the concern of political effort.

Since war is the extension of politics by other, more violent, means, war would probably be in the bag. But war goals, too, must be achievable. Fighting a war with unachievable objectives is either callow or insane, yet the history of politics is filled with examples of wars of idiocy.

The Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©)) is just such an example. In his essay, Worse than Vietnam, Richard Wright labeled that failed intervention only a medium-sized blunder compared to the PWOT, which is "creating [jihadists] faster than we’re killing them". The U.S. did not envision or even desire a political solution before deciding to launch into war in two countries simultaneously.

The military cannot fight a strategic or even tactical level war that lacks political sanity, without it devolving into a barroom brawl devoid of any military objectives or meaning.

Whatever else is in the possibles bag cannot correct a wrongly embarked upon belligerence.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blood Wings

Young 2Lt. Hruska

Cause I'm a million miles away
And at the same time
I'm right here in your picture frame

--Voodoo Chile
, Jimi Hendrix

Between the idea

And the reality
Between the motion
And the act

Falls the Shadow

--The Hollow Men
, T. S. Eliot

[Dedicated to 2LT Ranger Perry "Buddy" Holloway, injured in the mountain training phase of Ranger Cl 7-69, whose injury eliminated him from active Infantry service.

Also, 2LT Ranger Gene Holder, a fine and strong soldier. Both Buddy and Gene served in the 101st Abn, Div in RVN 70-71. The last time I saw Ranger Gene was in country.]

I recently retrieved a studio portrait of myself as a 2nd Lieutenant, one each taken December 68. Here is a smiling young troop who was at that time already a veteran though never having left CONUS.

My mother viewed this picture every day of her life until she passed the point of comprehending life, but to her, the photo was a memory of an illusion. The memory is what was important, not the truth, which remained unknown to her. The photos made her proud, but she never understood or questioned what lay below the surface.

The crossed rifles were unbloodied, but she never asked or cared to know about the reality of these symbols. The novice jump wings were a ticket to the future, delineated as
soldier or veteran. Ahead was the promise; now is the memory.

So what is memory? Old and new soldiers have different memories and emotions. Mine are those of an Infantry officer, and most are of non-combat service, but it is the former that defines the parameters. My peaceful combat-oriented memories

Heat or cold. Both so debilitating as to produce paralysis on a soul. Of the two, the cold is more vivid. Canteens frozen so hard that the only way to get a drink was to de-ice them under one's armpit. Sleeping on frozen ground without blankets, exhausted to the point of collapse.

Fear. Even in training, death was always possible and injury a sure-fire thing is one wavered even slightly. Before actual deployment we saw many good men injured and permanently disabled, disqualified from future service. Only a fool would ignore this fear, and it is not even yet a combat environment.

Hunger and Exhaustion.
While in training and as a member of a line division in Europe, I remember hunger. Always hungry, always cold. I remember exhaustion to the point of hallucinations and disorientation. I remember stopping and falling to the ground asleep, my rucksack still on my back.

I remember Ranger Buddy on a frozen mountainside, lying there like a wounded animal, which he was; an animal broken beyond normal exhaustion, never to walk normally again. I remember the whimper of this strong, brave friend. This whimper defines my memory of my Ranger training, nine weeks distilled into the single whimper from a broken body.

That was the day affect fled my body and misery and pain overcame any thoughts beyond my next footsteps in a long march. This is not a whine, just a statement of my experience. Rangers did what we do.

We rucked up and moved out, perfecting the skills of leaving broken bodies behind while looking for bodies to break in the execution of our profession. We were soldiers first, and distant from empathy, our rifles not chambered for sympathy.

If I had been wiser and more mature, it would have been evident that we were disposable, interchangeable and of little consequence to anybody but ourselves. But our photos remained on the walls for our mothers to view, standing in silent protest to this fact.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Larry & Me, II

What we have found in this country,

and maybe we're more aware of it now,

is one problem that we've had,

even in the best of times,

and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates,

the homeless, you might say, by choice

--Ronald Reagan


This is a follow-up on Larry, the homeless veteran.

I took up the issue with Steve Waite, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic (OPC) in Tallahassee. Although Steve does not supervise the Homeless Coordinator and this program works out of a different facility, Steve still checked to see if Larry was getting due consideration from the system.

One third of homeless men in the U.S. are veterans, and Larry appears to be a member of that statistic. What it boils down to is that Larry does not want any help from the DVA, and is content living his life on the street, out of a satchel. This is a case where the system did its job, at least at this point in Larry's life.

This is to thank Steve for his concern and to close the loop on Larry's story.

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Ignorant and prejudiced people like to be deceived.
Why confuse them with the truth?

He who takes the wrong road,

makes the journey twice
--Paladin, Have Gun - Will Travel


There was a time when Ranger wore a Trojan horse on his left shoulder unit patch.

There was also a time when the old 77th Special Forces Group and the 10th Group used this iconic image of the Trojan horse for their unit crests. My old 5th Group friend Zach Watson had a silver Trojan horse inlaid in the grips of his 2 1/2 inch, round butt model 19.

Those were the old days when deception and stealth were hallmarks of the Special Forces, the days before the "O" was added and the thing became the Special Operations Forces (SOF). Before SOF was born and brought us into the sunlight, we were called "sneaky Petes" and "snake eaters".

Snakes are no longer on the menu, and it is difficult to be sneaky when ensconced in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP), or even a Ground Mobility Vehicle. Just imagine, a Hummer is now a GMV, as though a wheeled vehicle is anything but "ground".

After years of watching SF, Rangers and Airborne troops cruising the lunar landscape of the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©), Ranger has developed a deception plan that will hearken back to the Trojan horse of yore:

Why not paint the vehicles with the logo and the colors of Pizza Hut, using them to deliver pizzas to the insurgents?
Then, once they get used to the concept, the U.S. forces could sneak in an unexpected assault or attack. The only challenge would be delivering the pizzas before they get cold (but we are certain nanotechnology can help patch this one.)

This would cross-train soldiers for civilian careers as pizza delivery boys in high risk U.S. city environments where the rules of engagement are more relaxed. Why we would have a place for them right in our own hometown --
The Florida A & M University (FAMU) campus, a battle space deemed too dangerous several years ago for pizza delivery men (true).

[Dave -- this is dedicated to you. This is as close as Ranger can come to humor.]

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Radical Clerics


Ranger has written on the illegality and meaninglessness of Anwar al-Awlaki -- U.S. citizen and Muslim cleric in Yemen, being placed on the U.S. president's "kill list" (U.S. of Assassination, 11.09.10).

Al-Awlaki is a basic, one each radical cleric who preaches death to Americans. Serves him right, you say.
But an 11.20.10 editorial in the NYT backs Ranger up -- "A False Target in Yemen":

"[N]o one should remain under the mistaken assumption that killing Mr.Awlaki will somehow make us safer.

"Mr. Awlaki isn’t the group’s top religious scholar (Adil al-Abab), its chief of military operations (Qassim al-Raymi), its bomb maker (Ibrahim Hassan Asiri) or even its leading ideologue (Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaysh).

"Rather, he is a midlevel religious functionary who happens to have American citizenship and speak English. This makes him a propaganda threat, but not one whose elimination would do anything to limit the reach of the Qaeda branch.

"He’s not even particularly good at what he does: Mr. Awlaki is a decidedly unoriginal thinker in Arabic and isn’t that well known in Yemen. ..."

If a Muslim cleric is radical, we slap a death sentence on him -- but what about the radical Christian clerics, to include military chaplains who are cheerleaders of the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT©) and five-by behind our invasions of sand box nations (the sort Ranger wrote about in "The Chaplain")? Why can radical Christian clerics do the same thing we condemn their clerics to death for doing?

For not only do the worst of the Christian clerics pump up their flocks behind killing the Islamic Infidel, they also call fatwas on abortion providers.

A Tallahassee abortion provide,
Dr. John Britton, was shot and killed by a shotgun round to the head from Reverend Paul Jennings in Pensacola, Florida in 1994. Hill also killed Britton's bodyguard, retired Air Force lieutenant James Barrett, and wounded Barrett's wife June, a retired nurse. Hill could be called an "anti-abortion terrorist", for his goal and that of his fellows is to intimidate any future doctors from performing the procedure. (Hill was inspired by the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn.)

This is a perfect double-standard as they support killing certain people deemed un-Christian in their support of the "pre-born", but we expect that from the religious realm.

This is a national hypocrisy and shame when it becomes institutionalized.

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Bunk Mates

Martin Sutovec (Slovakia)

Because I could not stop for Death

He kindly stopped for me

--Emily Dickenson

Death is always the same,
but each man die
s in his own way
--Carson McCullers

--I'll give you nothing more to eat.

--Then we'll die.

--I'll give you just enough to keep you from dying.

You'll be hungry all the time.

--Then we won't die

, Samuel Beckett

In a rather non-cohesive statement on unit cohesion and why the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy against openly gay service should remain intact, General James Amos -- new commandant of the U.S. Marine Crops said,

"There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women — and when you talk of infantry, we're talking our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and
sharing death, fear and loss of brothers," he said. "I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion, it's combat effectiveness" (Marines' Leader: Keep Policy on Gays in Military.)

In Ranger's experience, death is never a shared experience; one is either dead or not, and no man can die your death for you. Everyone witnesses death as an individual, and one's confrontation with death does not change based upon one's sexual affiliation.
Homosexual soldiers die and can witness death, too.

Pity the General does not abide by his word when he states his concerns:
"This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. That’s what the country pays its Marines to do."

If Gen. Amos was worried about Marines' combat effectiveness, he might remember Staff Sergeant Eric Fidelis Alva, the first Marine seriously wounded in the Iraq occupation; SSG Alva is gay.

Alva lost a leg to an IED. When asked by interviewer Paula Zahn if he had ever been attracted to a soldier in the field, Alva said, "I never took my personal life to work." Exactly, as it should be for hetero Marines and soldiers, too.

Alva has also said, "I come from a family of servicemen. My dad, Fidelis, is a Vietnam vet. My grandfather, also named Fidelis, was a World War II and Korean War veteran. I was named after them. My middle name is Fidelis. Fidelis means faithful."

Faithful. It is the least the Commandant can be to his fellow Marines.

Semper Fi.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Truth or Fiction?

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures
--Jessamyn West

Politics is the art of preventing people from

taking part in affairs which properly concern them

-- Paul Valery

It is curious that physical courage should be so common

in the world and moral courage so rare

--Mark Twain


Ranger is a reader of detective and police procedural novels. The British do it well, but so do authors from other gloomy climes like Iceland and Sweden, and of course, Americans. It struck him recently that the protagonists have one thing in common: He or she suffers some severe psychological glitch. Many are borderlines, or at least, highly neurotic.

So, why do we need and sympathize with these flawed characters who cannot navigate the waters of a healthy relationship? People who suffer severe personality issues beyond their comprehension, or their ability to remediate?
Perhaps we are voyeurs, and enjoy that these characters flaunt their flaws, whereas most of us strive mightily to hide ours.

A strictly rational reading might say that their problems allow them entree into the lives of their damaged criminal prey, but probably more to the point is their familiarity. They are us, but since their flaws are on public display, we feel safe and perhaps less exposed. If these detectives can be the star of a novel and catch their man (or woman), then perhaps we are not that bad off after all.

Can our fictional hero's flaws be extrapolated to our political heroes?
Richard Blumenthal is a liar who has been downgraded to to a "mis-speaker". Florida governor-elect Rick Scott is accused of fraudulent business practices, yet both win their respective elections, and a liar and a thief earn sobriety by virtue of their wins. We give them a pass because we know our own flaws.

Should elected officials be held to a higher standard of behavior? Will they rise to the occasion by virtue of being selected to speak for the people? Have we just gotten fiction and reality confused?

Have we become so dissipated that we lionize inadequacy and call it leadership? Are we so conditioned to dysfunction in our entertainment that we vote for it in the political arena? Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges wrote an inquiry into this state of conflation -- American Psychosis: What Happens to a Society that cannot Distinguish Reality and Illusion (thanks to reader tw.)

The detectives written into the novel may not develop, unless their authors allow them, but we can. Will we?

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beelzebub's Trough

Now I bet you niggers do think y'all white.
College don't mean shit.

Y'all niggers, and you gonna be niggers forever

--School Daze

I'm a little bit country

And I'm a little bit rock 'n roll

I'm a little bit of Memphis and Nashville

With a Little bit of Motown in my soul

I don't know if it's good or bad

But I Know I Love It So

--A Little Bit Country
, Marie Osmond

: A modern school where football is taught
--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

A mind is a terrible thing to waste

--United Negro College Fund motto

A mind is a terrible thing

--Eddie Murphy, SNL


Let's talk about socialism in America today. We will begin with the public school system.

Aviator47 @ Milpub today posed the question:

"Why does public education exist? Does it exist to help/please/entertain the student or the parent, or to meet a societal need? I doubt that the way we implement it in the US is really about the needs of our society. If it were, then a diploma would be a clear credential of an identified level skills, knowledge ability in specific subjects."

The only thing most people agree on is, education is a mess. But why do we even have public schools? The question is anathema. Why don't we allow some students to follow a vocational or IT track (the equivalent of the old "secretarial")? Anathema, again. We hew to the fallacy that education is about leveling the playing field, making it so that you, too, might be president one day.

But that's folderal, for if you are to be president, you better be a good money-maker (if not born into it), a good entrepreneur, and have all the skills that accrue to that undertaking. We don't teach that in school -- that's privileged information, and those that have it are averse to its wide dissemination, or we would have a different sort of educational system.

And how is this socialist mosaic funded? Partially through Ranger's property taxes on an investment property in a county in which his children could not attend school anyway, even if he had them. His assessment (above) shows he pays three school-related taxes amounting to over $1,000, which gets funneling through the tax collector to be distributed by the school board.

Ranger pays taxes for somebody else's kid to have a seat in the classroom, and is this not a definition of socialism? The involuntary redistribution of Ranger's wealth, without his input. Is this just and equable to pay for goods and services that one does not use? Why not tax only families utilizing the school system? Why not a "special purposes" fee?

The U.S. has made a societal choice to socialize at the local level, while the conservatives continue to rail at this
de facto situation. Socialism is the devil, so your kids are feeding at beelzebub's trough.

These education taxes are but one example of the contradictions and fictions that guide our clueless and hypocritical political and personal lives. Do you take a commuter train to work? You, too, are benefiting by socialism at work. Many of the loudest voices still understand the need for public transport, for how will their household help make it out to the suburbs to service their every need?

Schools are also funded through the Lotto -- gambling, an activity skewed to taking it out of the poor. Just like socialism, gambling is an evil to the likes of the conservative crowd, but they somehow turn their heads like Linda Blair in The Exorcist in order to allow its funds to trickle into the slumgullion that is socialized education in America. We can't be honest, but we have mastered averting our eyes.

Here is the humdinger: We will oppose socialism with all of our might -- with wars and violence -- all while meekly paying our taxes.

Can you say, "hypocrisy"?

--Jim and Lisa

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bombs Away

I'm afraid that people will say "enough".
I'm afraid that in 2010 people will say,

"Look, it's a new century, a new millennium,

let's turn the page"

--Elie Wiesel

Each man must for himself alone

decide what is right and what is wrong,

which course is patriotic and which isn't.

You cannot shirk this and be a man.

To decide against your conviction is to be

an unqualified and excusable traitor,

both to yourself and to your country

--Mark Twain

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
The Shadow


Our news focuses on the scary bomb threats foiled, but not so much on how they came to be so.

The latest package bombs were exposed to Saudi Authorities by a former Gitmo detainee,
Jabir al-Fayfi, who received religious training upon his release and subsequent reintegration into society, news that the Limbaugh's and Beck's of the world would prefer to sidestep (Cargo plane bomb plot tipoff came from ex-Guantánamo Bay detainee.) The foreign press covered this fact which was not emphasized in the U.S.'s scramble to ring out the message, "Hit again!"

You may say, "So what? One success proves nothing", and you would be correct. But we should at least hear all of the facts, versus the sole story thread that these people are so bad they should rot in prison. Unlike Santa, we don't know who is good or bad, but we can look at violations of international law such as those that have occurred at holding pens like Gitmo and say, that is a bad.

Around the same moment that
al-Fayfi alerted Saudi authorities, former PWOT czar George W. Bush boasted in a television interview that he authorized water boarding because it saved lives. While it is hard to argue with a man of his intellectual stature, it still seems surreal that U.S. courts disallow the accused to enter evidence of possible torture as those details would breech national security, yet the former president confirms his criminal conspiracy on network t.v.

Detaining people in violation of international law is not a solution, but a part of the problem. It is no excuse to say, "I have been sucked into the problem, and so must give tit for tat." Decency and really, simple self-interest (if dignity and safety is the goal) demands a better response. If you tussle with a pig, you will get dirty.
President Bush encouraged us to get down in the dirt.

Coverage of the cargo bombs emphasized that they showed al-Qaeda was now focusing on small-scale attacks, but this is obvious. Terrorists are dynamic, and
al-Qaeda is a deficient operational group that must use low-level diversified small attacks with semi-skilled operators -- it is all they have got.

Small bombs in cargo planes are cheap and effective, even if the bombs do not detonate. The effectiveness is not in the actual explosion; that would be an ancillary benefit.
The effect is in scoring another overreaction, and the continuance of our petrification. Success is counted in the terror wrought via scrolling news coverage and our lust for spectacles.

As David Ignatius wrote in the WaPo:

The greatest damage won't be the attack itself but the public response. The Yemeni plotters saw the frenzy produced by their failed Christmas Day bombing attempt on a flight to Detroit. They must be hoping now, with the package bombs, to disrupt cargo-handling around the world and damage a fragile global economy (Staying Nimble).

The events of 9-11-01 were a one-off; pretty simple.
Forget Condi's mushroom clouds.

Anne Applebaum calls al-Qaeda a "weak threat":

Al-Qaeda, at least in its desert hideouts on the Arabian Peninsula, does not pose a serious, existential security challenge to the United States.

If al-Qaeda terrorists are stuffing PETN into underwear or packages, that must mean that they do not have access to cutting-edge biological research or nuclear bomb components. On the contrary, they remain strangely fixated on airplanes and far behind the technological times.

If the best al-Qaeda's remaining cells can do is hide PETN, a 19th-century explosive, inside a printer cartridge, then perhaps we have already succeeded - far more than we usually realize - in destabilizing at least this particular terrorist threat. ... (w)e shouldn't let al-Qaeda take too much public attention, diplomatic energy and government funding from the more complicated, and more dangerous, challenges of the future (
A Weak Bomb Threat from al-Qaeda.)

The Christian Science Monitor said the small attacks would further traumatize and damage us economically. But how can al-Qaeda damage our economy any more than our banking industry has -- with the full compliance of our leadership? How can the U.S. be further traumatized?

We have been exposed to the war violence daily --
the only threat is that we become inured to it and forget the actual threat to our way of life.

--by Lisa and Jim

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Terrorism --That's the Ticket

Dilma Rousseff as leader of Brazillian terrrorist group,
Palmares Revolutionary Armed Vanguard [VAR Palmares]

Rousseff being received by Obama

The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive
his deception, the one who lies with sincerity

--Andre Gide

Are right and wrong convertible terms,
dependent upon popular opinion?
--William Lloyd Garrison

Laws control the lesser man.

Right conduct controls the greater one

--Chinese Proverb


The United States wants to be known as tough on terrorists. We don't negotiate; we hunt them down and eliminate them. They can run, but they can't hide. Yadda yadda.

Except when we choose to fete them at the White House, as in the case of Gerry Adams, Yassir Arafat and Menacham Begin.
Of course, these terrorists did not target U.S. citizens, so they are o.k. The latest in this tradition is the new president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, except she did target a U.S. citizen, a soldier, for murder.

Ms. Rousseff was recently treated to a warm glad-handing by President Obama, but Rousseff was a terrorist and bank robber in the 1960's and 70's. She also planned the murder of American Army Captain Charles Chandler on December 10, 1968, an act accomplished in cold blood in front of his wife and child. Rousseff is a nasty piece of work, but 42 years later she navigates the halls of Washington at our President's bidding.

Why was she not arrested and tried for this crime, which has no statute of limitations? Instead, The U.S. Attorney General, the State Department and President all preferred to treat Rousseff as an honored guest. This shows that terrorists sometimes triumph and rise to the top of the political hierarchy.

The lesson here is that the future leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq will come from the ranks of those people we call terrorists,
those to whom we deny rights -- they will be lionized as standing up to the capitalist occupiers.
As with Rousseff in Brazil,
the populations of these countries will repudiate their puppet leaders and go their own way. This is only right as democracy demands this behavior. Democracy emanates from the people and not the tip of a foreign bayonet.

As for Rousseff, if the Phony War on Terror
(PWOT ©) were a real, global war, she would be treated as the criminal she is. If she remains in Brazil, fine, as the U.S. has no jurisdiction in foreign nations, but the moment she stepped on U.S. soil she should have been arrested and tried for the 1968 murder of a U.S. soldier.

It is sad that we prosecute figures like Khadr while treating Rousseff as a VIP.
All terrorists are not treated equally, for if they were, she would be in a cell in Gitmo awaiting trial for her crime.

What makes Rousseff's case different from that of Omar Khadr?

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Bloomin' Joke?

Our God and Souldiers we alike adore,
Ev’n at the Brink of danger; not before:

After deliverance, both alike required;

Our God’s forgotten, and our Souldiers slighted

--Francis Quarles


Several restaurants offered perks to veterans on Veterans Day, but we think Outback Steakhouse took the cake, mate, with their FREE blooming onion (with meal purchase.)

Let me get this straight: I have spine damage, numb hands and feet and my ears ring and buzz without interruption. In addition, I lost my left nut somewhere back there in Vietnam. And I was the lucky one, unlike so many other severely disabled veterans, men mangled beyond comprehension.

So it boils down to this: I gave my left nut for liberty and freedom, and I can claim a free Bloomin' Onion -- great deal! Maybe Ranger can use it as a prosthetic for the missing orb -- an organic Neutical.

Sometimes, when one can't be gracious, doing nothing is best.
Why do I feel this empty gesture is actually an insult to veterans?

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

I took a breath of fresh air

I took in the view at the top

--I'm Willing
, Ben Lee

And let each one perform some part,

To fill with joy the warrior's heart,

And we'll all feel gay when

Johnny comes marching home

--When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Patrick Gilmore

That valley is fatal when furnaces burn,

Yonder's the midden whose odors will madden,

That gap is the grave where the tall return

--O Where Are you Going
, W. H. Auden


This is a veteran's Day reminiscence.

Ranger has discussed training exercises, which were institutional lessons in misery as the soldier's lot. During training and in life I learned to disconnect and depersonalize to the point of neurosis, which is normal terrain for a soldier. I remember the beauty around me and my inability to see beyond my self-centered misery.

This misery was outwardly-imposed, but later in life it became self-imposed. Misery became a friend, and along with this was a hardness of spirit induced by training and experience. I do not an cannot complain or wimp out decrying the hardness that I voluntarily embraced. But I never thought I would become the hardness, and in turn would add more to the formula.

I developed a technique I called "blinking it off" to deal with unpleasantness or the need for violence. I will simply turn my head and blink, and when I turn back to the previous focal point I am then ready for whatever will happen. This is a conscious depersonalization developed for self-protection.

I have become the numb hardness that cannot be gauged on a Rockwell hardness test. Looking back, I did try to cut slack and go easy on those around me when it was possible, but I also expected them to respond to command. My humanity was a form of inhumanity. My sympathy had an end point surpassed by orders and the needs of the service.

The times I ran afoul of the system were those events when I tried to cut slack for myself and/or for those around me. There is no slack for a soldier, nor is any slack due. We acknowledge this and live within this harsh terrain. This interior is what makes us veterans.

It is not the flags or the parades, the uniforms or the medals. It is the thing that no one will ever see; it is in our minds and is unquantifiable. It is that willingness to obey.

I don't care that I chose a hard road, but I regret that I became the hard road. In modern terms, Ranger has embraced the suck. I also wonder why parents so readily send their offspring to this reality which crosses to unreality in the blink of an eye.

Well, anyway, I'm a veteran but I'll never again don a uniform nor will I ever attend a parade, but I still fail to see or acknowledge the beauty around me.

Beauty is not mission essential.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Survival, Inc.

Integrity is not a conditional word.
It doesn't blow in the wind

or change with the weather.

It is your inner image of yourself,

and if you look in there and see
a man who won't cheat,
then you know he never will

--John D. MacDonald

[upon seeing Apollo Creed
He looks like a big flag


The most revolutionary act

is a clear view of the world as it really is

--Rosa Luxemburg

A dysfunctional political system is one that knows

the right answers but can’t even discuss them rationally,

let alone act on them,

and one that devotes vastly more attention

to cable TV preachers than to recommendations

by its best scientists and engineers.

Can't Keep a Bad Idea Down, Thomas Friedman

War, counterinsurgency, Homeland Security -- the entire Phony War on Terror
(PWOT ©) behemoth which has issued forth from the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01 -- has no bearing upon the survival of the U.S.

However, those secondary phenomena which are being packaged under the rubric
"Survival, Inc." will impact our survival, and not in a good way. Whether they threaten our moral or economic existence -- or, both -- the concept of U.S. democracy will have been forever altered.

Our survival depends on the ability of our government to govern, and our local and state governments have lost the ability to finance these quotidian services. It is this loss which threatens the well-being of the American people.

Computer modeling for the spread of infection throughout a population is instructive. Any population has a certain toxic load it may bear. Once that critical level is surpassed, the population crashes. The U.S. citizens have been dealt a number of recent blows; while we are not down for the count, who knows how many rounds we may yet sustain before we and our government morph into something other than what we have been?

The blows have come from many sides: A profligate and criminal fiduciary class has gutted the life savings of many. Two wars and all the attendant expenses provide a cruel and steady drain on our coffers, both now and projected well into the future.
One this is for certain: Terrorism, counterinsurgency, and Homeland Security has no meaning if our financial future is not secure.

The United States will not be kept sound through combat patrols and actions in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq.
The future of the U.S. is dependent upon the security of your home, your neighborhood and your assets. Whether the Bros. Karzai deal dope, steal elections or peddle influence has no relevance to our survival.

Many feel the wars and the Department of Defense constitute but a small percentage of the Gross National Product, and are therefore not complicit in the economic woes of the U.S. But the Department of Defense does not operate in a vacuum. Adding in all concomitant costs -- Homeland security, Department of Veterans Affairs, civilian intelligence agencies, NASA military oriented spending, State security-related costs and servicing the debt of aforementioned items -- runs into a tidy sum, contributing to the largest deficit in the recorded history of the world.

The Long Wars and associated costs are the straws that are breaking the humped camel's back.

--Lisa and Jim

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The U.S. of Assassination

--Hunting Taliban,
Manny Francisco (Manilla)

I wish I was a neutron bomb,

for once I could go off.

I wish I was a sacrifice

but somehow still lived on

, Pearl Jam

We’ll spend a month obsessing about Terri Shiavo.

But dare we show the body of a fallen soldier?

--Boston Legal

We should never confuse dissent
with disloyalty

--Edward R. Murrow


Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S. citizen, is officially on a U.S. "kill list". Do democracies remain liberal when they run hit lists? Does the President have the legal authority to sentence a U.S. citizen to death, sans trial?

"if the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes in an enemy of the state," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, who presented arguments in the case. "It's the government's responsibility to protect the nation from terrorist attacks, but the courts have a crucial role to play in ensuring that counterterrorism policies are consistent with the Constitution (Obama's Administration Claims Unchecked Authority).

FBI investigators sayAl-Awlaki's function may have been to keep the 9-11-01 hijackers "spiritually on-track". That IS the function of spiritual advisers, after all. And one could argue that U.S. military chaplains do the same for our soldiers. Both sides kill civilians, so the label terrorist could depend on which side of the fence one resides.

The U.S. did not target Shiite cleric Musa al-Sadr, whose preachings obviously led to U.S. deaths. How is one exempt, and another slated for dispatch into oblivion?

Truly, the U.S. President lacks the authority to sentence any one to death, nor can he legitimately authorize assassination. Assassination is not an option in the U.S. legal pantheon for responses to terrorist actions.

Definitions matter in a country under rule of law. Is al-Awlaki a
belligerent, as claimed? Belligerent is a term of warfare as defined by the Geneva Conventions. Yet if we capture belligerents, we fail to afford them prisoner of war (POW) status and all rights that issue from that.

Further, we predict that al-Awlaki presents an imminent danger to U.S. citizens. Going with this line of predictability, do not serial killers also pose imminent threats to life? Yet, we do not target them for assassination. Likewise, we do not target Mexican or Columbian drug lords, yet just as surely they are imminent threats to life which bleeds over our borders. The U.S. has precedent for dealing with criminals, and it does not involve assassination.

We are assured that the Central Intelligence Agency will be prudent and apply due process in their assemblage if their kill lists and this elicits a snicker, for surely the CIA is composed of extremists every bit as much as the group al-Qaeda. There have been no charges of terrorism filed against al-Awlaki, and the administration refuses to release evidence (State secret, y'know.)

When the U.S. must maintain a death list and cannot extract a small-time operator like al-Awlaki from tribal areas in Yemen, how can we say we are a world power?

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Crossing the Rubiocon

Some day my prince will come
Some day we'll meet again

And away to his castle we'll go

To be happy forever I know

--Some Day My Prince Will Come,

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Well let me tell you 'bout the way she looked
The way she acted, the color of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool

Her eyes were clear and bright

But she's not there

--She's Not There, The Zombies

In light of Republican Marco Rubio's win as Florida's new Senator, Ranger recants his previous forecast that General David Petraeus would be on the Republican's short list for the next presidential election. Here's why.

In the final stages of the election process, old buddy Jeb Bush attached himself remoran-like to Rubio's belly. Rubio (like Obama) will be a first-term Senator, and already his name is being bandied about as the Republican's Great Hispanic Hope for 2012.
Like Obama, Rubio is many things to many people: He is a lawyer, pro-life, of immigrant stock (Cuban parents), former football player, former Catholic-cum-Christian Fundamentalist -- he is even a Gemini! What could be a more fortuitous astrological sign for a profession requiring the face of Janus?

Project your hopes thereupon, and you will have a good chance of finding a niche into which it might fall in the person of Mr. Rubio. Where does this leave good buddy Jeb? Will there be no tertiary Bush dynasty?

Tune in 2012 for the days of our lives (which thank god has been renewed for another two years. proving some bad things never change.)

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