Thursday, June 30, 2011

Down on the Corner

For globalization to work for America,

it must work for working people.

We should measure the success of our economy

by the breadth of our middle class,

and the scope of opportunity offered

to the poorest child to climb into that middle class

--John J. Sweeney

I've seen and done things I want to forget;

I've seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat,

Blown and shot out beyond belief.

Arms and legs were in the trees

--The Words that Maketh Murder
P.J. Harvey

Freedom comes into being only when we understand . . .

the fact of our brutality, our callousness and indifference;

it is to be actually in contact with our colossal selfishness



The KGB crowd (Kayaking - Granola - Birkenstock) often sport a bumper sticker that reads: "Think Globally, Act Locally". After years of observing this platitude, Ranger divined the falsehood therein (fortunately, he wasn't chewing gum at the same time.)

This should actually read, "Think Locally before You Act Globally". As a simple person, Ranger sees everything as local, and maybe even personal. Christianity defines itself by imputing to everyone a "personal relationship" with God, and if it is personal with The Big Kahuna, then it is personal with everyone.

Living in the South, church missions form a big part of many people's lives. While it outfits the missionary with trinkets and stories and plenty of feel-good vibes (after the ill-feeling from the multitude of vaccinations wears off), it does nada for the indigenous locals, who suffer any number of indignities in every hometown in America.

The missionaries are not thinking locally before acting globally. So it is with our military, which is tasked with nation-building and civilizing cultures diametrically opposite from our own.

Ranger recently finished, "Love and Hatred: The Stormy Marriage of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy" (William L Shirer
), who included the following 1905 Tolstoy quotation:

"You want a constitution, they want a monarchy, the revolutionaries want socialism, and you believe you can fix things for the people. I can guarantee you that the lives of men in general will not improve until every single man strives to live well himself and not interfere with the lives of others."

While most of us cannot live as hermits, it makes sense that we cannot export anything we do not already possess. The U.S. finds itself in 2011 convinced that it not only must think but also act globally, while the local goes wanting. The truth is, we must think locally before tromping about the world and acting globally.

There are plenty of thoughts and actions which are needed right across the street.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stay Tuned

It is in the nature of process that in the final stages,
those who are overextended,
and overprivileged,
shall be overcome
--Tao Te Ching, Verse 36

We've got some good stuff coming up beginning tomorrow . . . please stay tuned to this station,

--The Amaneunsis (*snicker, snicker*)


Monday, June 27, 2011


Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay!

We're marching to a faster pace

Look out, here comes the master race!

--Springtime for Hitler
, The Producers

Do you no good to go poking around

under rocks, Justin.

Some very nasty things live under rocks,

especially in foreign gardens

--The Constant Gardner


Subtitle: New Thugs on the Block

Everybody is up in arms about the Obambarator unilaterally declaring war in the Libya miasmasphere. The furor revolves around the War Powers Act and the constitutional strictures regarding presidential employment of the Armed Forces of the United States.

The question is not, "Is the military action in Libya constitutional?" but rather, "Is it legal?"Further, is there anything of value to accrue to the U.S. as a result of this action? If Moammer Qaddafi is deposed, a new Moammer, or a coalition of Moammer's, will replace him.

We are violating a bedrock military principle in Libya, to wit: "Don't mistake movement for progress." There is no replacement for Mr. Qaddafi even if we do topple him. And how many more years will the U.S. spend grooming the next nutjob?

Why do we employ our assets in the Middle East every time some new thug throws a hand grenade? "Arab Spring" sounds fresh -- like a bar of green deodorant soap -- but spring doesn't mean the same thing for everybody. In some gardens, it's sunflowers; in others, turnips. An old saying goes: Don't plant radishes and expect turnips (Eastern European, as you can imagine.) A good gardener knows he must check soil conditions, weather, seeds and pests before planting and expecting a good yield. The U.S. is dropping Liberty Bombs expecting a lush yield, but that is a fool's errand.

Is it U.S. policy to do something simply because we can? If so, then we should elect teenagers as our leaders (it seems often, we do.) Lisa once asked a friend's 6-year-old who was behaving badly, "Why are you so bad?" To which the bright lad offered, "Because I can be!" He knew his unbridled power, and wielded it indiscriminately. The U.S. is behaving much the same in its war policy.

President Lincoln asked General McClellan in the Civil War, General, if you are not using the Army, can I borrow it? Not only is Obama borrowing the Army to continue Mr. Bush's ill-advised adventures, but he is now extending the U.S.'s presence into new theaters; moreover, there is no Army from which to borrow in Libya, unlike the cover of the marginal Armies available in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We own scraps of paper indicating our exit dates from the first two engagements, but who can believe the U.S. will not leave troops in either country if they request we extend our presence to aid in their cause?

That is what our Army now does: Protect everyone and everything, except America.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hey You!

Vigilia Aeternus (Eternal Vigilance),
Motto of the Marine AT Battalion

There was a checkpoint Charlie

He didn't crack a smile

But it's no laughing party

When you've been on the murder mile

--Oliver's Army
, Elvis Costello

After 10+ years of war, we are still training up and calling Reserve Forces Soldiers to active duty without a 100% certainty of their mission:

Capt. Juan Cristales, the company's inspector/instructor, said right now it's not 100-percent clear what or where the company's mission will be. Cristales is an active-duty officer with real-world deployment experience who has trained this reserve unit for the last two years (Marines say goodbyes before heading to the Middle East).

In the old Army days we used to call this the "Hey You" roster, which meant the First Sergeant would grab whomever, whenever the need arose. These 32 Marines are victims of a cosmic "Hey You!" moment. This is no way to run a war, not even a phony one.

How can a unit train for two years if they do not know their assigned mission until after activation?
The military should not operate in this manner. Further, Capt. Cristales is described as having "real-world deployment experience," but is there such a thing as "non real-world deployment experience"? Is there an alternate universe where some Soldiers deploy? Is that the same place Ranger's socks get sucked into when they fail to emerge in matching pairs from the dryer?

A USMC Anti-Terrorism Battalion sounds really cool, but how does this translate into "real world experience"?
Has any USMC Anti-Terrorism battalion member ever killed or captured a hard-core al-Qaeda operative? Putting a "IX" and "XI" on a unit crest flanking the Twin Towers does not make it so.

While no hard core terrorist has been apprehended by this unit, assuredly they would function well in an unconventional or guerrilla war (UW/GW) or Counterinsurgency environment. However,
neutralizing local threats to Afghanistan and Iraq is not the same as neutralizing Terrorists aimed at The Homeland ™. For this mission, the USMC Anti-Terrorism battalion is an exercise in show, only.

Terrorists are not eliminated by blunt force trauma.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

I Want You to Pay

When knowledge is limited - it leads to folly...
When knowledge exceeds a certain limit,

it leads to exploitation

--Abu Bakr


The WaPo today has an interesting triumvirate of editorials today critical of President Obama, using words like shamelessness, pure politics, no good reason regarding his decisions on our current wars. (Charles Krauthammer is the expected lone hawk, and his is simply a generic attack on the War Powers Act.)

Eugene Robinson, erstwhile Obama cheerleader, has consistently turned away of late. He wrote:

"In essence, we are using military means to pursue political ends that lie beyond our reach. Obama should realize that this makes no earthly sense . . . There was no evidence [in Obama's address] he had considered the possibility that the war is being perpetuated not by rational pursuit of our national interests but by its own inertia (Why Does the Afghanistan War Go On?).

WaPo cartoonist Anne Telnaes offered an update on the Uncle Sam poster (above) in line with Obama's philosophy.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Flim Flam Man

(fr. True Fashionista Now!)

I have here in my pocket -

and thank heaven you can't see them -

lewd, dirty, obscene, and I'm ashamed to say this:

French postcards.

They were sold to me in front of your

own innocent high school

by a man with a black beard... a foreigner

--Elmer Gantry

: One can't believe impossible things
: When I was younger,
I always did it for half an hour a day.

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as

six impossible things before breakfast

--Alice in Wonderland
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson


Two incompatible headlines from yesterday's news:

"Obama's Task: Maintaining Support for U.S. War"

"Fed Holds Interest Rate as U.S. Recovery Limps"

It seems
mauvaise foi to argue for two contradictory things; it can't be both. Yet Mr. Obama continues to tout the resilient (not so) U.S. economy.

In keeping with our lead-in quotation, a third might be the headlines for Michelle Obama's current South African trip while the raging waters are soon to breach the dikes in North Dakota, a very uncool place for a new jet-setter like
Shelly O. (North Dakota Residents Flee as Historic Flood Waters Rise):

"Michelle Obama, Daughters Make Splash in South Africa"

She's unlikely to make a splash when the poor folks in Minot are inundated; the First Lady always manages to be on a junket when our nation faces a crisis. At least she was not shown frolicking poolside as during her trip a few months ago to South America. That would have been
tres unchic considering the floundering state of the nation she would pretend to represent.

{Note: Ashwin Madia, Iraq war vet and interim Chair of
VoteVets.org wrote a solid piece in HuffPo yesterday on the President's speech -- Time for Troops to Come Home. Madia accuses Obama of violating President Lincoln's dictum: "You can't please all of the people all of the time" by fronting a mish-mashed war policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.}

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Term Limits

We do not keep the outward form of order,
Where there is deep disorder in the mind

--Merchant of Venice
, I, ii, Shakespeare

Counter Terrorism is today's watchword, the Alpha and the Omega of all things Terrorism. We have even consecrated two endless wars to the concept . . . but is this logical?

Terrorism is a limited threat to our national security, but it has become a detractor, distracting from the real survival issues facing the United States. While Counterterrorism (CT) is a sound concept, it is only one-half of a balanced protective posture. Everything that is done to address terrorism is NOT Counterterrorism.

Counterterrorism encompasses all of the active measures emplaced to neutralize a terrorist threat. This includes assault teams and active operations directly aimed at operational terrorist assets. These programs may be tactical or strategic, and their effectiveness is limited by our definition of the programs.

CT used to be only one side of the coin (COIN); Terrorism Counteraction (TC/A) was the balance to the equation. TC/A used to be Department of Defense policy before everything morphed into CT, a conflation which misconstrues the nature of the threat. We have now created a farrago of guerrilla war (GW), unconventional war (UW) and civil disobedience, calling the unholy trinity TERRORISM, which is not always factual.

An example would be an IED in theatre, which is usually described as a terrorist incident if occurring in Afghanistan, Iraq or any OCONUS location occupied by U.S. troops. In reality, the IED is a UW/GW event misrepresented as terrorism; while the detonation caused terror, it was not terrorism.

TC/A is the pro-active aspect of a program aimed at countering terrorism. It is aimed at lessening the likelihood of a terror group initiating actions against an entity, whether that be an Army base, a state or a nation. TC/A assumes that we are on friendly terrain and control the territiry we physically occupy.

In a UW/GW environment TC/A is applicable but more difficult to evaluate and execute. TC/A is program-oriented and simple, enlisting things such as roadblocks, random patrolling, vehicle stops and checks, I.D. checks, population and resource control (PRC) and all other programs that were historically adapted to Internal Defense and Development (IDAD). The screenings at airports are akin to roadblocks on the approaches to Saigon.

TC/A are preventative measures aimed at breaking up or hindering the movement and success of terror groups. When these same programs are used in theatre they are classic PRC.
The point is, not everything in the playbook is CT. We ignore the panoply of TC/A measures to our detriment, for the expected results of a strict CT approach are rather meager.

When we fail to articulate or clearly define the problem, how can we expect anything of value from the expenditures of our effort and resources? Our emphasis is is on "kinetic" direct action and CT at the expense of the less sexy TC/A. Such an imbalanced approach is based upon counteracting free-floating anxiety and fear, versus realistic, long-term appraisals. We should re-emphasize randomness and realistic evaluation of threat levels.

The CT program does not succeed in its current incarnation
because it is neither complementary nor synergistic.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Buh-Bye, Clarence

I don't stop until I know she's sas-i-fied
And I can always tell when she gets sas-i-fied

'Cause when she gets sas-i-fied she start calling my name

She'd say: 'Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter

, Clarence Carter

There is not much to add about the need for the eminently mediocre and venal Mr. Thomas to resign from the Supreme Court appointment which he has so silently and inadequately filled (see RangerAgainstWar's "Bench Warmer" and "He's No Fool".)

Submitted for your consideration:

CREDO Action | more than a network. a movement.

It's time for Clarence Thomas to resign.

Enough is enough.
Take Action!

Clicking here will add your name to this petition to the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court:

"It's time for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign."

Take action now!

Dear Lisa,

A New York Times expose published Sunday details the improper ties between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and influential rightwing funder and activist Harlan Crow.1

Crow is a major contributor to conservative causes and a stalwart supporter of Clarence Thomas. In past years he reportedly gave Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas, $500,000 to exploit the Citizens United decision and start a shadowy, Tea Party-related group called Liberty Central. He gave Thomas a bible (estimated value $15,000) that once belonged to Frederick Douglass, and allegedly provided the Supreme Court Justice with access to his yacht and private jet.

As if that wasn't enough, the New York Times has revealed that Thomas may have improperly solicited a multi-million dollar donation from Crow to benefit one of his own pet projects near his birth place in a remote coastal community outside Savanna, Georgia.

Enough is enough. It's time for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Shockingly, the Supreme Court is not legally bound by the code of conduct for federal judges, though Justices Breyer and Anthony M. Kennedy have testified to Congress that members of the Supreme Court voluntarily follow the code which explicitly prohibits justices from directly soliciting charitable donations. If Thomas can't legally be removed from office because adherence to ethics rules for the Supreme Court are voluntary, then we must simply demand his resignation.

Crow is far from a disinterested philanthropist. He has donated nearly $5 million to Republican campaigns and rightwing groups, including a six digit donation to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth which so effectively attacked Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election. He's on the board of the ultra conservative American Enterprise Institute which brought a case to the Supreme Court challenging federal voting rights laws, a case that found only one sympathetic vote on the court — that of Clarence Thomas.

Recusal is not enough. It's time for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Crow is not the sole source of questionable ethical behavior on the part of Clarence Thomas. His highly questionable relationship to an ethically challenged Supreme Court justice is simply the latest to be exposed.

Clarence Thomas participated in a secret political fundraising event put on by the Koch brothers to fund Tea Party infrastructure groups.2

And for years, Thomas disregarded rules requiring him to report his wife's income on financial disclosure forms. His household received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the conservative Heritage Foundation during a period when he was voting on landmark cases in which the rightwing think tank had a clear ideological stake.3

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas must resign. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

This type of behavior wouldn't be tolerated for any other federal court judge. Common Cause Attorney Arn Pearson says in the Times, "The code of conduct is quite clear that judges are not supposed to be soliciting money for their pet projects or charities, period. If any other federal judge was doing it, he could face disciplinary action."

Even absent a legally binding code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, a Justice resigning for ethics violations is not without precedent. Justice Abe Fortas resigned in disgrace in 1969 after it was revealed that he had received gifts from interested benefactors similar to those received by Clarence Thomas.4

Fortas, prior to resigning, actually recused himself from voting in cases related to his benefactor. Thomas, however, has refused to recuse himself from cases before the court in which organizations related to Harlan Crow continue to file briefs.

Enough is enough. It's time for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Clarence Thomas' behavior has long been beyond the pale. In response to these latest revelations by the New York Times it's long since time to demand Clarence Thomas' resignation.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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NATO Nonsense

--Free Ride, Paresh Nath (UAE)

Make yourself a mule,

and someone will ride you

--Carl Sandburg


U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused NATO of "collective military irrelevance" in a recent speech in Brussels, a long-time stance of RangerAgainstWar.

NATO has been superannuated since the fall of the Soviet Union, and was irrelevant in the 1970's and 80's -- it has always been a legerdemain foisted upon the American taxpayer.

From The Week's "Putting NATO in its Place"

"(fr. Madrid's El Mundo): The European countries (who else would be in Nato?) have slashed their defense budgets, with the result that, while the U.S. used to count for half of Nato's funding, it now makes up 75%. ... Only 4 of Nato's other 27 members spend 2% of their GDP on defense, as required by the treaty." [Pablo Pardo's report can be read @ "The UN, NATO and Nuclear Weapons".]

George Will recently wrote that the Libya imbroglio "is igniting a reassessment of NATO, a Potemkin alliance whose primary use these days is perverse: It provides a patina of multilateralism to U.S. military interventions on which Europe is essentially a free rider" (Libya and the Potemkin Alliance). Will suggests that some legislators are awakening to their job, in the face of Obama's disingenuous assertion that the U.S.'s involvement in Libya does not constitute a war. Fellow WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson asked poignantly in "Obama's Novel Definition of "Hostilities":

"The advent of robotic drone aircraft makes it easier to wage war without suffering casualties. But without risk, can military action even be called war? Or is it really just slaughter?"

This is a question that demands an answer.

There is no discernable military threat to the European conglomerate, so
WHY is there still a NATO structure sans a threat? From Saudi Arabia's Arab News ("End of NATO?"):

"What will it take for the West to face the reality that the Cold War is over and the NATO is long past its sell-by date? It might have had its uses and played its role in checking communism. But it’s time to give it a decent burial. If the world needs an international peace keeping force to deal with trouble spots like Libya, it should exist under the UN command. "

In addition, NATO's activities should be clearly defined. For instance, it is spurious to label NATO's actions in Libya Peacekeeping (PKO) since PKO's are supposed to be neutral and humanitarian in nature. The Libyan venture is an undeclared war of aggression, plain and simple.

Now, after a NATO airstrike killed 9 civilians this weekend, Moammer Gaddafi now calls for Global Jihad against the U.S. and the West.
Twenty years of grooming "the madman", down the drain. Faint traces of another fouled up "intervention" termed success waft by . . .

"Heckuva job, Brownie."

[cross-posted @ milpub.]

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Sunday, June 19, 2011


She's got a competition clutch with the four on the floor

And she purrs like a kitten till the Lake pipes roar

And if that ain't enough to make you flip your lid

There's one more thing, I got the pink slip, Daddy

--Little Deuce Coupe
, Beach Boys

Oh lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,

So lord, wont you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

--Mercedes Benz
, Janis Joplin

I ran over some old lady

One night at the county fair

And I didn't get arrested

Because my dad's the mayor

--Bitchin' Camero
, Dead Milkmen

In the past few weeks we've happened upon some auto visuals which explain some of today's problems.

The first shows a classic 1960's Mini next to a 2003 version. The 60's car looks like a toy, though it is next to its modern version which itself is sometimes described as a soapbox derby car. In comparison, today's Mini looks positively palatial.

Next, Ranger's Mini Clubsman -- the "wagon" version of the Mini -- is seen next to a Cadillac SUV Escalade. Now, the modern "big" Mini looks like a tyke's car, dwarfed as it is by the luxury SUV which permits its owners to move up ("escalate"?) through society.

The 60's Mini got over 45 m.p.g; the new Minis get 27-42 m.p.g, depending upon engine configuration and driving conditions. The modern Minis run at 116-175 horsepower, where the Cadillac SUV is a hulking 430 HP with 12-18 m.p.g. (on a great day).
[As an aside, Mini has an electric version and a 95 horsepower version available, but only in Europe. The reasoning is that Americans won't buy an underpowered fuel efficient car, so says the Mini maniacs.]

It seems the U.S. car market is moving in the wrong direction.

Shouldn't our vehicles be getting more fuel efficient rather than less? Driving gas hogs ensures
a tether to the crazy Middle East, and petroleum-generated locomotion will be outmoded eventually. Why aren't we innovating, versus designing new grilles?

We won't look to Eminem for an explanation.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Freaky War

She likes the boys in the band
She says that I'm her all-time favorite

, Rick James

Just 'cause . . .

Reader Underground Carpenter sent us this nugget of modern war explication via cartoonist Ken Rall. In case you were confused about the
War Powers Act . . .

(Note: Mr. Obama appears to be morphing into Mr. Bush as he subsumes the latter's weasel-ness.)

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Great Divide

The true hypocrite is the one

who ceases to perceive his deception,

the one who lies with sincerity

--Andre Gide

Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice,

and all fashionable vices pass for virtue


I'm not a prude

I just want some respect

So close the door if you want me to respond

'Cause privacy is my middle name

--Nasty Boys
, Janet Jackson

Democrats have strong moral values

--Howard Dean


Rep. Anthony Weiner's sort-of affair is a case of just another elected official acting in an inappropriate manner (les affaires sont les affaires); sometimes we are in the forgivin' mood (see Clinton/Lewinsky), sometimes not. But what if an active duty military officer performed the same activity?

In our opinion, Soldiers and civilians should be treated equivalently on the moral meter since Article 1, Section 8, Clause 14 of the Constitution empowers Congress to make rules for the government and regulations for Land and Naval forces. The rules should not show preferential treatment for either body of citizens. Nowhere in the Constitution is there any evidence that the Founding Fathers envisioned two separate systems of rules and regulations governing appropriate behavior.

Article 133
of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) defines conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Elements of proof include: "Actions or behavior in an unofficial or private capacity ... [which] compromises a person's standing ...certain moral attributes ... indecency ... public association with prostitutes." If war fighters are held to this standard of conduct, then surely those that have the power to declare war should comply, as well.

The world is a strange place when Soldiers are held to a higher code of moral conduct than are our national leaders.
It is further ironic that segments of both societies bemoan the perceived moral laxity of repealing Don't ask, Don't Tell (DADT), yet never question moral turpitude among our national leaders.

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Monday, June 13, 2011


Jim with dad, Stephen

Just a quick heads up:

Ranger's dad, Stephen, is featured on the "G.I. Page" in the August issue of America in World War II, on newsstands now. We have featured his story on RAW in "Hunters and Killers" (June '09).

Fr. RAW piece:

The capture of U505 was a major historical event in the control of the Atlantic during World War Two. U505 codebooks, Enigma machine, and other secret materials found on board assisted Allied code breaking operations. All but one of U-505's crew were rescued by the Navy task group.

The submarine was towed to Bermuda in secret, her crew was interned at a US prisoner of war camp and the Navy classified the capture as top secret and prevented its discovery by the Germans. She is one of six U-boats that were captured by Allied forces during World War II, and one of four German World War II U-boats that survive as museum ships. U505 is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. The U-505 was credited with sinking 47,000 tons of allied shipping, including three American ships.

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On the Road, Again



RAW is on the road through end of week. We'll pick up posting then. Thanks for your patience,

For the commander
--The Adjutant

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Gone by the Wayside

One day we're gonna wake up
And the ghetto's all around

All over my friend

Have you ever seen a man break down?

--Feel No Pain
, Sade

~~I'm afraid it's no use.

The boat won't come until Monday.

~~No boat will ever come.

We're here forever.

--And Then there Were None
Agatha Christie


Many niceties of our civil society are going by the wayside due to fiscal insolvency. In the past two weeks, National Parks and Public Broadcasting have taken the ax.

It takes passion, devotion and insight to build something great and good, and momentum to keep it going. Once gone, that good thing is unlikely to return, and certainly not in its former guise. That is why we shouldn't give the heave-ho to civilizing institutions in the name of pragmatic privitization. When things become private rather than shared matters, the money usually follows the drift line of vested interests vs. the general welfare.

In The Sunshine State (not), Governor Rick Scott has vetoed Florida’s nearly $4.8 million appropriation for public broadcasting. The last-minute budget had already trimmed a third from the PBS budget; now, there is nothing. The station I grew up on -- WMFE -- is going dark.

Public broadcasting began in 1970, forged from private educational stations. One of its primary functions has been to provide educational programming for young people, and generations learned the basics of grammar, reasoning and citizenship on that network. It was a "free" counterpart to the hustle of the commercial networks, producing thoughtful programming and financed by private contributions and matching state funds.
Its day is drawing nigh.

Now, state parks across the nation are
being forced to close; 70 of 278 in California alone. For those that remain, the bargain with the devil is to allow drilling, raise entrance fees, eliminate provisions and/or cut employees in favor of hoped for volunteers. Timothy Egan calls it "the death of American life by a thousand cuts," and that about sums it up.

Compassionate conservatism under George W. Bush hacked away at the AmeriCorps program, Bill Clinton's initiative to unify a stateside version of the Peace Corps, another worthy initiative which could have helped fill in the gaps. Though John McCain made a
gesture to support national service, that program was eviscerated years ago.

There's always money for the dirty, pretty things, the things that elicit a rise, or more lately, a shrug from people falling into lassitude. But the generous and decent things that speak of a nation's drive to uplift itself, those things are being frozen in amber.

As with Ozymandias, there will remain a plaque somewhere to note the spot.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Toe to Toe

I'm not interested in self-analysis.
I do know my room was so cold in winter

and so hot in summer I couldn't sleep.

Your house looked like heaven, high up there.

That's how I began to hate you
--High and Low


While standing in grocery lines it is easy to eyeball people and look into their lives. Specifically, looking into women's purses is rather easy to do -- one need not be Special Forces-qualified or a Private Manning to unearth a few details of a person's life.

The local Publix supermarket is where Ranger's eyeballs feast on the targets of opportunity. In Florida, the Food Stamp program uses a patriotic emblem of red-white-and-blue on their scan cards. This, he is sure, is because the recipients are patriotic Americans. Ranger has noticed a correlation between ornate manicures and the female users of these cards.

It is hard to ignore the sculptured, extra-fancy fingernails on many of the younger women's hands. Ditto the ornate toenails. The question that arises is: If a person is on foodstamps, where does she get the time and money for frivolous finger and toe nails? Ditto those recipients playing Lotto. If they need assistance paying for food, why are they frittering away their money on frivolous items.

This might sound like the typical Limbaugh screed:
People on public assistance don't deserve to spend on discretionary items; if they do, they are scamming the system. But that is not our point. We are in favor of assisting the needy, but the observations have been consistent and long-term.

Imprudent spending is certainly a hallmark of modern life, from the heads of government on down.
But frivolous spending on a personal level is less damaging to those who have more of a cushion than for those living closer to the bone. For the latter, living a few days a month without utilities or phone is commonplace, and along with it, exorbitant re-connection fees. Cars don't last because they are not treated to proper maintenance. Ditto teeth and bodies, which become enslaved to the healthcare behemoth.

In Florida, the FCAT is a contentious standardized test administered throughout a student's public school career, ostensibly to ensure certain basic academic goalposts are met. However, the FCATs don't test a student's knowledge of basic living skills, or the ability to prioritize.

Author Robert T. Kiyosaki has made a killing from his book and seminars, Rich Dad Poor Dad, teaching people the "secrets" to personal economic solvency. Why aren't these lessons taught in schools? Why must a person muddle along until middle age and beyond before they stumble upon someone dispensing what should be common knowledge? Values clarification was tossed out of schools in the 1970's as being akin to the antichrist -- at least here in the South -- and yet that sort of self-understanding is just what is needed in order to live a comfortable life.

There is something between the nails and the cards. Our culture of entitlement for both the rich and the poor is bankrupting us.

One wonders who profits from the maintenance of our economic caste system.

--Jim and Lisa

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Conflict Overseas

Terminate the, enemy
Eradicate the hated enemy

I am an enemy

My very greatest enemy

, Disturbed

Eyes may open but cannot see

Torn open to a bleak reality

The silent waves of a pitch black sea

Laying waste the last of me

--Words Mean Nothing
, Veil of Sorrow

After serving in the conflict overseas.

And the time that he served,

Had shattered all his nerves,

And left a little shrapnel in his knee
--Sam Stone, John Prine

Ranger Observation:

Calling a war a conflict is like

calling a sniper a people person


After watching viewing several memorial Day programs stating how we honored our dead from foreign
conflicts, the word began assaulting my ears.

Conflict (n):
A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash.
A state of open, often prolonged fighting; a battle or war.

Why do we use the word "conflict" to describe the brutal fact of war?
It seems too mild a word when the result is the reality of combat deaths. Since WW II the U.S. somehow lost the will or ability to declare war, even when our armies were locked in deadly conflict. Even when 35,000 Soldiers died in Korea or 58,000 in Vietnam, we could not bring ourselves to call the deadly activity for what it was.
They were conflicts, altercations, scuffles . . .

Why do we have an overseeing agency called the Department of Defense? Why not call it the Department of Overseas Conflict? Then our wars would be simple matters of conflict resolution, with our Soldiers becoming arbitrators. The Combat Action Badge (CAB) could then morph into the Conflict Arbitration Badge, with the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) becoming the Conflict Infantry Badge.

The next logical step would be to amend The Constitution to legalize the concept of endless conflict by granting the President the authority to declare CONFLICT, thereby simplifying the whole shooting match by making WAR obsolescent. Congress would be disburdened of a duty they are clearly too timid to exercise.

It is so simple:
In a snap of the finger war becomes truly a thing of the past. Simple, except the dead patriots in the cemeteries will still stay dead a long time.

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