RANGER AGAINST WAR: January 2011 <

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tanks a Lot

We do not err because truth is difficult to see.
It is visible at a glance.

We err because this is more comfortable

--Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I can't control my buried thoughts

the slightest thing makes me distraught
I'm like the people I once fought
my every action's being bought
--Cold Life, Ministry

milgram's 37
we do what we're told
we do what we're told
we do what we're told
told to do
--We Do What We're Told,
Peter Gabriel

A continuum 0f "Rocket Man":

Also in the ward was an older man who had a consuming, debilitating fear of tanks, as in armored fighting vehicles. He was obsessed and terrified that one was going to get him and run him into the mud. Remember that this was a VA psych ward and the patient was a combat veteran.

His attending psychologist (a different one from the previous piece) joked about this fear, using it as a teaching point in class when discussing psychotic behavior. Ranger then asked two questions:

"Are you a veteran, and have you ascertained if this patient fought at Anzio or the Battle of the Bulge, where Nazi tanks actually ran over U.S. Infantrymen?"
To both, the answer was negative.
So a psychologist in the VA system did not have a clue as to the reality that possibly destroyed a veteran's mental stability -- he never entertained the thought.

Though the VA health care system is much vaunted for its efficiency, it employs many people who fail to grasp the plight of veterans. The patients constitute a unique population, and if misunderstood, risk being warehoused for behaviors which are outside the purview of those of the general population.

That has been 35 years ago and I wonder whether anything has changed since those dark days . . . the time before soldiers were the heroes in every guy's video games; the time when the U.S. lost its first war.

I really do wonder.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011


--Saint Rosalie Interceding for the
Plague-Stricken of Palermo
, Van Dyck

Coleman, you think like a prisoner.
You're white as snow and you think like a slave
--The Human Stain
, Phillip Roth

If you got the time

I'll give you some money

To buy a dirty mind

--Dirty Mind
, Prince

Cleanliness is next to godliness (approx.)

--Rabbi Phinehas ben-Yair


As a follow-on to the earlier post, which got us thinking about sin, salvation and civilization.

Ranger opines that civilization did not begin with music art or literature, but rather, the discovery of soap. We came to realize we were unclean and set out to do something about it, ca. 2,800 b.c.e. in Babylon (according to the soap Wikipedia entry). From that discovery, the newly clean man needed to tend to what must be an equally filthy interior, hence religion.

But like Lady Macbeth, some stain always remains, hence the big business in all things personal care and church. Thus, all progress in civilization can be linked to soap and the use thereof.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rocket Man

--Sky Stuff, Andy Singer

Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise

From outward things, whate’er you may believe.

There is an inner centre in us all

Where truth abides in fullness; and around

Wall upon wall the gross flesh hems it in

That perfect, clear perception which is Truth

, Robert Browning

Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity,

comfort and advantage.

He lives... by make-believe

--The Summing Up
, W. Somerset Maugham

The eye sees only what the mind

is prepared to comprehend

--Henri Bergson

Ground Control to Major Tom

Take your protein pills
put your helmet on
--Space Oddity
, David Bowie


Sunday homily:
Power and delusion.

Ranger volunteered long ago at Tuskegee Veterans Psychiatric Hospital,
where one long-time ward denizen -- a paranoid-schizophrenic -- felt he was transported to earth on a spaceship; he yearned to find the mothership to take him home. The ward psychologist thought this assertion was insane, but in a group discussion Ranger proffered: "Can you disprove that he arrived on a spaceship?" Haven't we achieved space landings? After so many billion years, is it not possible that life exists in distant galaxies?

The point was, neither side had an infallible position, although one had the drugs, keys and controlled the ward's lock up policy. The patient was barred from finding a launching pad from which to return to his home.

Crazy stuff this alien talk, and yet this same shrink believed in Jesus sans a scintilla of proof of his divinity, or even of A divinity. In fact, the 15 1/2 billion years of this universe suggests that God, even if He does exist, is a finite being (despite the ontological argument).
It was irksome that a man who placed his soul's well-being in the hands of an unverified being found fodder for jokes in the Space Man's contentions, without the slighted sense of irony. Of course, he felt no compunctions because he wasn't locked up in the nut house.

In fact, to be in Alabama and NOT believe in the Big Guy Upstairs would cause more than one well-respected man or woman about town to cast a skeptical eye one's way.
In fact, to NOT believe would jeopardize one's standing in the community.
What fantasy places one deluded person in lockup and allows another to be a pillar of his community?

This meditation is about power, as every human endeavor hinges upon who has the power to lock you up and lock you down. If a Ph.D. is delusional, is it a far stretch to believe that a congressman, Secretary of State or President may be delusional? As a society, we live by our delusions, packaged as realities.

What can we say? God's will be done, or Allahu Akbar! When's that fish fry start?

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Friday, January 28, 2011

G'night, John Boy!

Justice is open to everyone
in the same way as the Ritz Hotel
--Judge Sturgess

Go, tell it on the mountain

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain

That Jesus Christ is born

--Go Tell it on the Mountain

Mister City Policeman sitting

Pretty little policemen in a row

--I Am the Walrus
, The Beatles

Your entertainment feature of the week concerns the highly mediocre police television series,
Blue Bloods, concerning a New York City police family devoted to public service and getting the bad guys. Unlike so many law and orde type series today, this one promised no terrorist hype, and the possibility of some psychological drama. Alas, it was not to be.

Ranger is a fan of the underrated Tom Selleck, patriarch of the fictional Blue Bloods. He is a fan of the mystery genre, and thought Selleck was well-cast in a recent mini-series as the ever-pensive police character Jesse Stone. But the reason Selleck worked as Stone was the same reason he worked as Magnum P.I.: Selleck is a hale fellow well-met, working on the fringes, not exactly by the book. A ladies man just out of reach, his feelings drowned in the bottle or other pasttimes (hence, his name,

In the new series, Selleck is cast as New York police commissioner Frank Reagan -- a straight-up guy, with a side-affair with a journalist on the police beat, a feeble attempt to keep his bad-boy aspect.

The show went wrong on so many fronts. Blue Bloods is typical of so many inadequate police and detective series today, and gains Ranger's ire due to its horrible miscasting of Selleck in what should be his glory moment. Instead, he is forced into his worst self: a wooden scion of a family of cops, playing good family man to this do-right crew. This is Magnum, fergawdssakes -- he drinks Mai Tais and drives a Ferrari 308 GTS!

Yet, the series will probably swim based on its formula: A family of policeman plus a liberal attorney all out to do good by society. They congregate over dinner each night, and the young-uns offers such homey platitudes as "I wanna be a policeman, just like Uncle ..." This is the Waltons, with guns.

That is what it is to live in 2011 in the U.S.: Fighting crime is a way of life. Our own
Blue Bloods are those who fight the good fight daily; an aristocracy which is ever vigilant, confronting evil wherever it lurks. They can and will save society because they are gutsy, gunsy and believe in the God of Christianity, evidenced by their meal time blessing.

Can there be a better formula for success?

Goodnight, Tom Boy.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Danse Macabre

--Danse Macabre,
Hans Holbein the Younger

But above all, do not assume

that the war is over, because it never is.

The zombies you kill today

will merely be replaced by the zombies of tomorrow.

--How Modern Life is Like a Zombie Onslaught

Her eyes are formed of emptiness and shade.

Her skull, with flowers so deftly decked about,

Upon her dainty vertebrae is swayed.

Oh what a charm when nullity tricks out!

--Flowers of Evil
, Charles Baudelaire

You shall not worship them or serve them;

for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children

--Exodus 20:5


Ranger and Lisa viewed A Film Unfinished, an overview of the German May 1942 filming of the squalor of life in the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto. Whatever the German's purpose for filming their atrocity is unknown, but the product is a stark indictment of their savagery and inhumanity.

Questions of universal humanity or its absence arise. 68 years later the U.S. is patrolling the ghettos of Afghanistan and Iraq. While not starving the people, we are imposing our will upon their social order. The grimness of Warsaw Ghetto and the Final Solution arose 34 scant years after the U.S. fought a War to End All Wars, a war to hopefully secure a democratic future for the world. 92 years hence, the U.S. seems to have lost its grasp on that concept.

And how does terrorism play into all of this? Is terrorism a good thing in certain situations, like the dire one of the Warsaw Ghetto? Does man have the responsibility to fight state-sponsored terrorism with this main weapon of the dispossessed? Does this imply that terrorism in an outgrowth of terrorism, a spiraling cycle of violence and dance of death?

The Ghetto of 1942 was a hell hole, but imagine the same place in '43 and '44 where the violence served no purpose other than genocide. Both the Jews and the Poles adopted terror tactics to address the German genocide -- who can criticize these actions? They utilized terror as surely as did the British Special Operations Executives (SOE) and the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The U.S. emulated the terror to which we were opposed; terror is often a logical choice in a grim situation.

Terror is not the black-and-white issue we try to make it. Terror is multi-facted, the only sure thing being that terror begets more terror, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) illustrating this point.

The Ghetto documentary was stark, as only an ugly truth can be. It gave the lie to all the warm and fuzzy Hollywood films like "The Pianist", "Life is Beautiful", "Defiance" et. al. which transformed ghetto life into an idealized form stripped of its relentless brutality.

This German idea of art film rectified those images in our minds.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


--Bill Mauldin, 1940's

We have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will ...
it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal,

basically, to achieve our objective

--Vice President Dick Cheney

[E]very one of these dead noncombatants represents

an alienated family, a new desire for revenge,

and more recruits for a militant movement

that has grown exponentially

even as drone strikes have increased

--Death from Above

Don't just stand there, kill something!



In the previous post (Connecting the Dots) we speculated about the impending U.S. torture civil suits to come, in the vein of the Marcos' victims' suit.

Cheney's statement above got the torture ball rolling, with few raising any serious objectives to the criminal behavior to follow.

We wonder what Cheney's "objective" defined. Was it the defeat of terrorism, or the subversion of the American concepts of legality. If the former, that is a goal more ridiculous than Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in Our Time", for at least somewhere there is peace; for terrorism to be defeated, it must exist nowhere, and that menace will never be eradicated until humans in unequal positions with grudges are eradicated.

The books
The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer, and Torture Team, by Philippe Sands address the U.S. approach to achieving Cheney's objective:

  • Lawyers worked for a government led by reactors rather than leaders. They used tortuous legal logic to justify a democracy to use torture
  • Torture was a top-down affair, contrary to the propaganda which portrayed torture as a bottom-up development
  • Torture did not lead to significant counter-terrorism. Nothing of strategic or even tactical significance was gained through torture, contrary to the claims of George W. Bush or Cheney
  • The civilian leadership of the Department of Defense bypassed the military, rendering its chain of command irrelevant with regards to torture. The paper trail resides on Rumsfeld's desk
  • Whether the military chain preferred to be hoodwinked, bypassed and rendered ineffectual will never be known without careful historical analysis
  • Torture was policy at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Bagram and all of the undisclosed CIA secret dark sites.
  • SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) training was perverted to facilitate "breaking" prisoners. Medical and mental health professionals facilitated torture techniques. Torture became nothing but vengeance.

The U.S. courts have failed in their legal responsibilities to address crimes that violated U.S. and International torture statutes. This sidestepping has been achieved by invoking "national security" issues as superseding the law. However, at least one court in Italy has tried U.S. agents in absentia, finding them guilty of kidnapping and illegal renditions.

At some point, a court will address U.S. leaders and followers for their role in these illegal acts.
The argument that the U.S. President may order illegal tactics to secure the U.S.'s well-being does not wash, as even the POTUS is subject to the rule of law.

Unless the courts address the issue, presidents can create endless wars via murkily defined and assumed spurious wartime powers.

NOTE: Today's NYT
calls for "some measure of accountability" from the Bush administration, this time regarding the C.I.A.’s decision to destroy torture tapes in 2005 "rather than submit them to the judge for a decision on whether to order their public release ... a serious affront to the court and the rule of law" (A Case for Accountability).

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Here on earth,

God's work must truly be our own

--JFK inauguration speech (1961)

Congress's definition of torture in those laws
-- the infliction of severe mental or physical pain
-- leaves room for interrogation methods
that go beyond polite conversation
--John Yoo

This is not what God wants!

--See No Evil (2006)

Thousand of victims of torture under the regime of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (who first sued for redress in 1986) were awarded a settlement by a federal judge January 13, 2011:

"A federal judge on Thursday approved the distribution of $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by thousands of victims of
torture, execution and abduction under the regime of the late former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos

"Each of 7,526 eligible members of the class-action lawsuit will receive $1,000 under the plan approved by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real. Distribution is expected to begin in mid-February and take about a month" (
Judge approves $7.5M payment to Marcos victims.)

The Marcos regime was a U.S. client, supported, trained, equipped and funded with US dollars. Marcos violated human rights under the rubric of defeating Communism, which equated with keeping Marcos in power.
While this award is to victims of foreign atrocities, it is the shape of things to come for an America which participated in those same abuses.

It is bizarre that U.S. courts will rule on Philippine torture cases yet turn a blind to U.S. torture policy. Ignoring criminality will not eliminate it.
Acknowledgment of torture is not accountability for it (Yousef Munayyer). The U.S. trumpets that it will not appease terrorists, yet we protect torturers.

Appeasing torturers who are every bit as criminally heinous and opposed to U.S. values as are terrorists is hypocrisy.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

The UnCola

--Food Prices, Luojie (China Daily)

Don't piss down my neck

and call it rain

--The Outlaw Josey Wales

So when you hear it thunder

Don't run under a tree.

There'll be pennies from heaven

for you and me

--Pennies from Heaven
, Bing Crosby

Though 2011 will be the third consecutive year Social Security recipients will receive no Cost of Living Increase (COLA), the Consumer Price Index rose 1.5% and 2.7% in 2010 and 2009, respectively. "About 80 percent of the increase was due to an 8.5 percent rise in the gasoline index, ... the sharpest increase in 18 months" (Consumer price index jumps on costlier gas.)

If this increase is correct -- and IF we are a nation of law -- then why have S.S. recipients not been receiving our legally-mandated COLA increases? The government's excuse is that the cost of living has not risen, yet the items most affecting those on a fixed income -- gasoline and food -- have increased over the past several years. If the nation truly cared about the needs of its citizens, it would consider the commodities most consumed by Social Security recipients.

Your USDA website presents a rather benign outlook for the first paragraph, until one actually reads the statistics, which all indicate increases, whether larger or smaller. An excerpt:

Beef prices increased 0.2 percent in November and are 6.2 percent above last November, with steak prices up 5.4 percent and ground beef prices up 7.4 percent. Pork prices decreased 1.9 percent in November but are 12.9 percent above last November’s level. Poultry prices decreased 0.9 percent in November but are 2.1 percent above prices last year at this time, with chicken prices up 1.9 percent and other poultry prices (including turkey) up 3.2 percent. For most of 2009, retail meat prices were lower than the previous year due to weak demand stemming from the global recession. However, with rising commodity prices and input costs over the past 6 months, beef and pork prices are now significantly higher than in 2009. Increased inflation for beef and pork products is expected in the first half of 2011, as reflected in ERS's forecasts—beef prices are now projected to increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent and pork prices 3 to 4 percent in 2011.

Egg prices increased 10.6 percent in November (following a 9.6-percent decrease in October), so that egg prices are 4.7 percent above the November 2009 level.

Dairy prices were unchanged in November and are 3.8 percent above the November 2009 level. Within the dairy category, prices changed as follows in November: milk prices were up 0.6 percent and are 5.8 percent above last November’s prices; cheese prices were down 0.3 percent but are 5.4 percent above last November’s level; ice cream and related product prices were down 0.3 percent and are 1.1 percent below last November's level; and butter prices decreased 1.6 percent this month but are 32.1 percent above last November. In 2009, dairy prices were down 6.4 percent from 2008 (the largest annual decrease since 1949). However, higher projected prices for farm milk will lead to increases of 1.5 to 2.5 percent for dairy products in 2010 and potentially higher inflation in 2011 (Food CPI and Expenditures).

Food and petroleum -- the bread and butter of the average Social Security recipient's life. The government projects inflation to increase in 2011; there will be pain, even beyond that felt in the average year by a person reliant upon this stipend.

And where are the Gray Panthers in all of this, the nations largest special interest group?
Social Security used to be the sacrosanct entitlement -- hands-off for every representative lest his halcyon days at the feeding trough of public largesse be cut short tout de suite. Three years running and NO increase? This is unprecedented.

How can the U.S. spend money on elective wars and pay sandbox nations hundreds of billions of dollars to pretend to be our friends while I cannot get a measly 1.5 or 2.7% increase in my Social Security check (while my daily expenses rise)? We print money and throw it everywhere except at our retirees, who spent their working lives anticipating this stipend. My life, work and contributions to my country deserve more consideration.

Ranger thought: If you are going to fuck me, have the courtesy to use lubricant.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home Wreckers

LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines with Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), fires the main cannon of an M1A1 Abrams tank during a range at Camp Leatherneck, Jan. 13, 2011. The Marines are the first tank unit to deploy to Afghanistan (Official US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ned Johnson)

"Former Vice President Dick Cheney says

he believes he'll have to make a decision on

whether to have a heart transplant ..."

--Cheney says he may have to have heart transplant

RAW comment: Doesn't it seem a bit late?

On the avenue, Fifth Avenue,

The photographers will snap us

And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure

--Easter Parade
, Irving Berlin

Clank, clank

I'm a Tank

--Infantry barb

Something is always happening,

but when it happens, people don't always see it,

or understand it, or accept it


You ready to be fucked, man?

[W]e're gonna fuck you up

--The Big Lebowski

A belated commentary on the U.S.'s latest bad-boy entry into the Afghanistan melee: The company of M1 Abrams tanks rolling down an avenue near you, that is if you have the misfortune to be Taliban (U.S. Deploying Heavily Armored Battle Tanks for First Time in Afghna War.)

One must know that developed nations (a designation which still includes the U.S.) share combat doctrine that tanks fight tanks. Infantry supports the tanks. Tanks do deep objectives, religiously avoiding fighting in channelized environments like cities and built up areas.

No matter. Gushes the WaPo
: "They can destroy a house more than a mile away"!

Wow -- that sure is great: A tactic to destroy slow-moving houses a mile away. Our ardor was a bit extinguished when contemplating the question: "Why destroy a house if it is a mile away?"
Is the metric to win this war or the ability to fuck up houses in Afghanistan? When have hearts and minds ever been won by house-wrecking?

Do we have a clue how stupid and disconnected this violence has become? Will destroyed houses lead to victory or even democracy?

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

National Insanity

Those who would give up a little liberty
for a little
security would lose both and deserve neither
--Benjamin Franklin

This is supposed to be a happy occasion.

Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who

--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

trainers earn their pay
as mutant kids go out to play

it's such a pretty pretty day
with orange nights and days of gray
--Cold Life
, Ministry


Further reflections on the Tucson shooting, our violent culture and rush to abdicate civil liberties, and blindness to the implications of both:

Democracy requires citizen participation in what is already a strained relationship, as the electorate is far removed from the reality of its governance. A probable reactionary security protocol will further isolate the electorate from the elected. The more isolated the voters, the less informed their decisions; the more meaningless the gesture of voting.

To what purpose or benefit are we becoming a security state? Our leaders could be as delusional as the wanton shooters in our midst and we would not know, and the shooters are not some unimagined aberration; they represent the fringe just as the elected generally represent the privileged. There is no solution to this bifurcation.

The U.S. will close the barn door once again. But whatever the reaction, crazies will always breach the perimeter because they are unpredictable and there is no 100% security posture if we chose to remain a free society. If we became secure we would no longer be free. Safe, maybe, but not free. Further, the threat would have to be clearly identified: Safe from what?

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is supposedly keeping us safe from crusaders, as law enforcement protects us from criminals, but how to protect ourselves from crazies? It seems we will always be vulnerable to crazies, whether they be the lone desperado or entire posses, like the gang in the George W. Bush administration which fostered indefensible invasions, torture, secret prisons, illegal renditions, et. al. Taking this view, the acts of the lone gunman pale in comparison to the institutional insanity to which we are collectively held hostage.

What we sow, we reap. We vote symbolically and get screwed realistically, and we are so distracted and hypocritical we weep for the apparent aberrant violence while giving a pass to the institutional.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Land of Rape and Honey

One of these days I'm gonna
change my evil ways

Till then I'll just keep riding on

--Ride On

far below original sin

far below the state I'm in

far below malicious crimes

far below her for the time

far below

far below

far below is the place you'll go, ho!

, Ministry

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight

--Everything is Beautiful
, Kalb and Stevens

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence,

the word and the act

--Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)


Ranger Question of the Day [RQOD]:

Why do we fly the flag at half-mast when white,

well-to-do folks get shot by a gunman,

but ignore shootings in L.A. barrios, Washington D. C. slums

and all the other free-fire zones we call "inner cities"?

Are some deaths more worthy of sorrow than others?


If the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) were real, why do our congressional representatives travel freely and unabashedly among the populace? The lack of security around our Senators and Representatives suggests that foreign terrorism is a conjured bogeyman which gives the military and government something to do and with which to distract the people.

Meanwhile, though terrorists cannot get to our unprotected VIPs, our indigenous crazies can do so with impunity. What is the actual threat when foreign crusaders and criminals cannot outperform our own nut jobs, of which there is no shortage?

Ranger attends gun shows and often comments on the bat-shit crazy philosophy and hatred promulgated by the National Rifle Association and associated groups which subscribe to the Glenn Beck Truth Ministry. The annual NRA convention is a bacchanalia of Right Wing paranoia parading as patriotism, deep-fried in all things red, white and blue.

Yet somewhere between the NRA and Congress reside the bulk of U.S. citizens, but how to define them? Surely most would say we are a peace-loving nation, but since 1847 every generation of Americans has fought a major war. We travel with death and are comfortable killing people, presently raining it down surgically from Predator drones, never shedding a tear or taking a moment to reflect upon the need / needlessness of such actions, but shootings in Tucson sure do cause a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Soldiers win medals for killing. This archetype is so powerful that even the best-selling video games want a cut of the action. "Medal of Honor" and "Call to Duty", for example, show nothing but unadulterated, unabated violence. How many hours in a day does the average young person spend participating in such spectacles, wielding such ersatz power to destroy? "I oughta kill you" need no longer be hyperbole.

Our entertainment is filled with violent heroes who kill with weapons.
Beloved modern directors like the Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino show realistic shootings up close and personal. Any attempt to attenuate the violence by calling it Pulp Fiction is lost on the more disturbed, or more determined, among us. When Sheriff Rooster Cogburn vaporizes a guy's head with his trusty Colt 45, this is heroic; possibly a defective mind conflates and mimics this action by shooting a congressperson. If shooting people is heroic in wars, games and movies, then it must be o.k. on Main Street right?

If your tastes do not run to the art house,
there is always cage fighting, World Wide Wrestling, boxing and pro football for your amusement. What is the effect upon those whose minds are unable to differentiate between symbol and reality? Our lives are supersaturated with violence, yet we are befuddled when we see people who fail to differentiate reality from fantasy and pop a cap on someone's head.

We have become inured to violence and killing, and are blase to its ubiquity.
Of course, other national traits feed these actions: We are fiercely individualistic, praised in some circles for "going rogue" and for "letting it all hang out". We gain too-easy accolades from grade school on up, and political correctness demands "everyone is beautiful, in his own way."

We are a culture of violence. While we can legislate gun restrictions and medicate for depression, we cannot criminalize insane behavior, the latter which seems to be a growth industry in America

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Case of the Red-Headed League

There's a lotta things about me
you don't know anything about, Dottie.

Things you wouldn't understand.

Things you couldn't understand.

Things you shouldn't understand.

--Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Officials say that they have photos of Jared L. Loughner posing with a Glock semiautomatic pistol while wearing a red G-string (New Insights into Jared Loughner).

"In some of the photos Mr. Loughner is holding the gun near his crotch, and in others, presumably taken in a mirror, he is holding the gun next to his buttocks, investigators said. It was not clear when the photos were taken."

As if the clarinet playing were not convincing enough of Mr. Loughner's rightness, we now have the Col. Russel Williams indictment, i.e., the panty fetish. The kink suggests he was indubitably messed up, the confusion of where to place the gun, an indicator of his confused sexuality -- a double damnation.

Can a person with such a gun-and-panty fetish be expected to be a good citizen, in the South 48?

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Where Clarinets Go, Treble Follows

The bag should have been the tip-off

Well, this is a great relief:

  1. Loughner's Ex-Girlfriend Says He Was "Normal"
    The alleged gunman's teenage sweetheart said they practiced clarinet together.
    Read original story in The Wall Street Journal | Friday, Jan. 14, 2011

Of course, clarinet-playing may seem to say "wholesome American fun" to large swath of the country, but there is a good kind of crazy, and a bad. True, Benny Goodman had his Hotsy Totsy Gang, but it didn't get any crazier than a wild rendition of "Sing, Sing, Sing". Woody Allen is another clarinet alum who didn't exactly bring honor to the legions of those who played the reedy instrument, but he wasn't a stone-cold killer, either.

Ruth Buzzy said "Sex and violins" were the downfall of civilization; perhaps it is actually the clarinets we should watch out for.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting With It

To our readers:

Apologies for being slow out of the gates this year. We'll pick up speed by next week -- promise. Thanks for your forbearance,

The Management


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Easing the Transition, II

It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom
as long as you don't do it in the street
and frighten the horses
--The Duchess of Jermyn Street
, Daphne Fielding

Sometimes posts don't go exactly as planned.

Easing the Transition
was meant as sarcasm against the cruelest and most ignorant fears surrounding the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding the service of homosexuals in the military. It has long been Ranger Against War's position that bigotry against an individual solely on the basis of sexual preference is absurd and primitive. (We haven't quite hit our stride for 2011, but hope to, soon.)

In the work environment, sexual matters should be irrelevant. A heterosexual's sexual escapades are no more savory a topic than those of any other sexual orientation. Discretion and discipline are the watchwords, especially so in a military environment.

So, no offense intended, and we hope none taken. On a more serious note, if you wish to comment on what you see as impediments to instituting the repeal, please feel free to comment here. As previously mentioned, old institutional ideas die hard; the first wave of openly gay soldiers will take some knocks. As one young soldier shared with us, he would take no offense to serving with a gay soldier, but he fears for the response of some of his more testosterone-driven fellows.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Easing the Transition

What a dump!
--Beyond the Forrest

If you really wanted to mess me up,

you should have got to me earlier

—High Fidelity
, Nick Hornby

Why can't they have gay people in the army?
Personally, I think they are just afraid
of a thousand guys with M16s going,
"Who'd you call a faggot?"
--John Stewart


2010 was a slog, and we found little of national import to celebrate. However, the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays serving in the military was one bright strike for truth-telling.

In honor of that decision, Ranger is holding another contest, challenging all readers to answer the question:
What changes do you think will happen now that gay soldiers can serve openly?

Some suggestions:

  • The Soldier's Creed will undergo a grammatical revision. Instead of "I will never leave my buddies behind", now: "I will never leave my buddy's behind"
  • No fuit drinks served in mess halls or vending machines
  • Neckwear remains regulation -- no feather boas or leis
  • Roger's Rules for Rangers will become, "Roger's Rules for Rangers and Rangerettes". Emendations include, "Never leave your lip gloss behind" (now available in grapefruit and musk options.) Motto change: "Rangers Lead the Way, Gayly" {RLTWG]
  • Now, one can bend over and pick up soap if dropped in the shower
  • The Meritorious Service Medal will be redesigned to change the ribbon color from pink to a more androgynous mint green
  • Never start a forced march before you've had your pedicure
  • Clean Machine Gun prior to manicure
  • Doughnut pillows now standard-issue
  • Never wear a thong on a night jump
  • Troops may wear mascara like the Taliban, fostering a competitive fashion spirit
  • No hooped earrings allowed in combat pits
  • Issey Miyake deodorant fragrance, optional
  • Multiple awards of the Meritorious Service Medal will no longer be designated with an oak leaf cluster; to be replaced by a petite rosebud
  • Tracers will go from red to fuschia
  • It is o.k to call your rifle "Betsy"
  • Chipped beef on toast will be replaced by a framboise reduction over pork medallions
  • Chaplains assistants are no longer to be used for joke fodder
  • Never leave two gay soldiers on point at a time. Ditto for guarding an objective rally point, in a buddy team, or as a Machine Gun crew
  • As Winter Rangers are unofficially allowed to use white thread to affix their tabs, gay soldiers may use pink thread

Well, that's Ranger's start to help ease the transition.
What are yours?

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

--What truth?
--That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else,
you were born into bondage,
born into a prison that you cannot smell, or taste, or touch
... a prison for your mind.
--The Matrix (1999)

Birds of a feather flock together
--Sister Roberta, St. Francis Day School '57

Actions speak louder than words

The enemy of my enemy is my friend,
--Arabic proverb

[T]he companions of our childhood
always possess a certain power over our minds
which hardly any later friend can obtain
--Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Reflecting, I see I learned everything I needed to know in 5th grade in order to be a President, or Secretary of State or Defense. It is strange that the people who inhabit these posts are not smarter than fifth graders.

As a skinny little fifth grade country boy new to the city, I used to get my ass pounded on by the class tough guys. This brutality was regular and it was not hard to figure out that these assholes were my enemies. Fortunately a classmate intervened -- a natural-born pugilist name of Fergus O'Flannigan, stopping these fun-filled slug fests by throwing a few punches in retaliation.

This taught future Ranger a golden lesson: The ability to distinguish friend from foe. Simply: Friends protect you; enemies pound on you.
Further, my friend's friends are mine, too, and the friend of my enemy is also my enemy. Nothing earth-shaking, but why does current policy ignore this simple equation?

India and Pakistan are sworn enemies; we can't be friends of both without someone's dissembling.

Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot be friends when Pakistani officials support Taliban forces and when we speak of the Afghanistan which is the Frankensteinian monster of U.S. creation. The alternate interpretation is that the Afghanistan separate from U.S. fantasies is a natural friend of Pakistan due to the Taliban affiliation. If the latter is true then Pakistan is the friend of an enemy, and still falls into the enemy category. Pakistan as ally is a faulty construct.

So in the fifth grade a young man learned of enmity and friendship. Treat your enemies as such and hold your friends close to the vest. The problem with U.S. foreign policy is that none of our leaders have any basic street smarts that a kid in East side Cleveland learns as a matter of survival.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


War always finds a way
--Bertolt Brecht

Luckily, however, there were still savages

and barbarous peoples.
There were Zulus and Afghans,

also the Dervishes of the Soudan [sp].
Some of these might,
if they were well-disposed,
‘put up a show’

--Winston Churchill


The cavalier WaPo headline reads, "2 U.S. troops killed in Iraq; rare loss of American lives amid targeted killings".

BAGHDAD - Two U.S. service members were killed in central Iraq on Sunday night in a rare loss of life for the American military here since
the last U.S. combat troops left the country in August.

If it's so rare, why were two U.S. Marines -- Cpl. Sean A. Osterman and Cpl. Eric M. Torbert -- also killed in Iraq 12/16 & 18, for a total of 32 service members killed in Iraq in December, 2010? Does the Post think our memories are so short? Granted, a flurry of holiday shopping and holiday cheer can distract the mind, but only ten days separate the two events.

If combat operations have ended, these troops might like to know why they are now dead.


NOTE [1/10/11]:

This blog's friend Labrys @ Walk of the Fallen offers the following links for OIF/OAF casualties.

Military Times / Honor the Fallen pages for Iraq's Operation Enduring Freedom conflates the KIA's for Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the confusion.

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