Friday, July 29, 2011

Where Have all the Solons Gone?

Pink Slip Rick + Gerard Robinson

The impact of war is self-evident,

since economically it is exactly the same a
if the nation were to drop a part

of its capital into the ocean

--Karl Marx

Those who can, do,

Those who can't, teach,

Those who can't teach, coach,

Those who can't coach, administer


One problem with government is that mediocrity is rewarded and lesser-qualified individuals rise to the top by virtue of lock-step conformity and partisanship.

When the state of U.S. public education is languishing and Florida
languishes at the penultimate ranking of states in terms of quality of education, our vaunted governor Pink Slip Rick appoints Gerard Robinson as Florida's new Education Commissioner.

Mr. Robinson's qualifications to this weighty position are bugger all: He holds a MEd from Harvard and taught 5th grade for one year. Nil, zippo, aught qualifies Robinson to be commissioner of Florida's education, aside from the fact that, as Vice President Biden once said of President Obama,
he is a tall, black man "who is articulate, bright and clean." Oh, and he's a "change agent" (New Education Leader is Reform-minded).

Education is a field that undergoes reform before we even know the facts, but as a simple Army dictum goes, we shouldn't mistake movement for progress.
What constitutes reform? We would trust an educator with a Bachelor's + 30 years experience before trusting a callow 1st-year middle school teacher appointed by a venal carpetbagger.

Private school vouchers plus charter schools are getting backing from Scott, a businessman favored by those against anything which smacks of socialism. Of course, those same people are happy to have police, fireman and public transportation when they need it. Public education is being gutted, and nothing better is being fronted for the average student.

Political reliability is not an educational qualification. We should stop playing Lotto with our kid's education.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

SS Division Nordland

Tell Me Lies, tell me sweet little lies
Oh no no, you can't disguise

--Tell Me Lies
, Fleetwood Mac

You can put lipstick on a pig,

but it's still a pig


The recent murders in Norway are insane, but they are also acts of criminality in its purest sense.

The murders were premeditated and also fit the definition of terrorism as the shooter wanted to reach a target beyond his immediate victims. Shooter Anders Breivik believed he was at war, and even labelled his murder victims as
unfortunate collateral damage in his war scenario. His attorney says Mr. Breivik is nuts.

The cows have come home to roost (
thank you, Latka) when Mr. Breivik states that he thinks he is "in a war", for he resembles no one so much as the entity known as the United States in his belief. You can call terrorism "war", but that doesn't make it so:

"This whole case has indicated that he's insane," Lippestad told reporters in Oslo, saying Breivik believes he is leading an anti-Muslim revolution to overturn Western governments and that the victims from his downtown Oslo bombing and Utoya Island shooting rampage were casualties of war.

"He says he is sorry that he had to do this, but it was necessary to start a revolution in the Western world," Lippestad said. "He believes he is in a war" (
Suspect in Norway attacks 'believes he is in a war,' lawyer says).

Since the opening salvo of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) we at RangerAgainstWar have said that terrorism or the reaction to terrorism is not equated to warfare. TERRORISM ≠ WAR.

Terrorism, whether on the idyllic Norwegian island of Utoeya or the World Trade Center is simply an act of craven criminality. Terrorism is not warfare, yet we have a right-wing crazy in Norway who believes that it IS warfare;
we call him INSANE, while the entire foreign and military policy of the U.S. government is based upon Mr. Breivik's logic.

George W. Bush's presidency was predicated upon his being a "wartime president", with Obama gladly following in his footsteps. Why is Breivik insane, while GWB or Obama are considered steady as rocks?

If a lie is told often enough and loudly enough, somebody is bound to believe the message. A bad German said that when promoting a bad war.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't Need Sunglasses

Soldier 1:
We starve, look at one another
Short of breath

Walking proudly in our winter coats

Wearing smells from laboratories

Facing a dying nation

Of moving paper fantasy

Listening for the new told lies

With supreme visions of lonely tunes
--Let the Sunshine In

Constantly talking isn't
necessarily communicating

--Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind

Since 1975, every politician passing through his government tit-sucking phase has mouthed platitudes about gaining independence from foreign oil.

Thirty-six years on, the dance continues -- the only new twist being the unshakable conviction of the ultra-Right that oil shall flow copiously from the land upon which God has shed his grace. Forgetting, of course, the fact that mountaintops may have to be removed and hydraulic fractioning (fracking) may irrevocably damage the environment; certain shibboleths are inviolate. The U.S.A.-by-Gawd has a right to petroleum is one of these.

Some incongruities in the face of limited resources like petroleum are glaring. Here in the Sunbelt, solar power is pretty much non-existent. Sunlight is plentiful and free as love in 1968 Haight-Ashbury (and less dirty), but few are embracing it. Those innovating solar cell technology will most likely have to take their patents abroad for production, such is the lack of conviction in the States for alternative energy sources.

Tallahassee has only one apartment complex which is solar-assisted; there are no laws mandating solar use in new construction. Our approach to energy is helter-skelter, while our commitment to sink trillions of dollars into foreign adventures which guarantee us naught in the way of a secured lifestyle continues unabated. While we fight as unpaid mercenaries, the rest of the world invests resources into innovation and implementation of energy conservation initiatives which will provide them a sustainable future. They do this while weakly cheering on the U.S. in its depletion of its coffers a world away, closer to them than to us.

The U.S. has plentiful coastline offering hydro and wind capability, but we do not seem to be exploiting these cleaner resources in any meaningful way. Instead, we accept our serfdom to the oil kings , and feel compelled to mouth pious platitudes about supporting the troops, like lemmings off of cliffs.

But who will support the civilians when the lights go out?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

These Colors Don't Run

Camping on the prairie
Plays havoc with my hair.

Makes me feel quite dirty,

Though we all do sometimes

--I Wanna Be A Cowboy
Boys Don't Cry

But someday I'm sure your gonna know the cost

Cause for everything you win

there's something lost

--Everything That Glitters
(Is Not Gold),
Dan Seals

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Gettin' cards and letters from people I don't even know
And offers comin' over the phone

--Rhinestone Cowboy
, Glen Campbell

Why don't you make arrangements

to take our hovercraft to Medieval World,

Roman World and Westworld.

Contact us today, or see your travel agent.

Boy, have we got a vacation for you.


The title is a favorite line of the patriotic sort of American supporting the U.S.'s endless wars. Maybe not, but they sure do bleed out.

This is dedicated to the National Rifle Association, and specifically its little brother affiliate, the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) -- a group that is oh-so-Amurican, claiming as it does to represent our national cowboy character and values.
Ranger once belonged to SASS but resigned his membership over multiple ideological conflicts.

SASS conducts weekend fantasy matches which take their cue from Western fictional films like
True Grit and Outlaw Josey Wales. They begin with a invocation to Jesus, much like might be heard at the start of a Jay-Vee football game in Louisiana. The prayer thanks God for our soldiers fighting to protect our rights (with no mention of the Supreme Court's regular impingement upon said rights. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.)

After they done prayed it is time to suit up for the match, which requires two Single Action handguns, a lever-action pistol cartridge rifle/carbine and a double barrel shotgun or pre-1898 pump action or lever-action shotgun with exposed hammer. Oh, and a colorful and starched neckerchief, like those worn by fancy show dogs.

Per the Handguns:
The really cool guys shoot COLTS pistols, but unfortunately they are now made in Italy (only assembled in the USA.) Most folks shoot Rugers that are made and marketed in the U.S., but the steel is sourced internationally -- hey, it's close enough for country. The rest shoot Ubertis -- Italian or Brazilian replicas.

Per the Rifles:
Only the Marlin 1894 is made in America; all others are made in Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Italy or some other furrin' place. The rifles marketed as Winchesters are made in Japan, also. The Italian rifles dominate the field. welcome to the New Wild West, thank you Aldo Uberti (spaghetti Westerns weren't just whistlin' Dixie.)

Per the Shotguns: Usually low-quality doubles and replicas of the 1897 and 1887 Winchesters, usually made in China or some other foreign nation. Welcome to the O.K. Corral!

Let's talk Ammo:
You have your choice of Fioricci, Aguila, PMC, etc. -- Italian, Mexican, Philipino or Korean. There is U.S.-made
Remington or Winchester ammo but domestic is usually much more expensive, so foreign production is usually used. Did you say, Get Outta Dodge?

The guns are carried in holsters made in Mexico or some other diarrhea-ridden locale. (Some folks use costly U.S.-made rigs, but they are the minority.) The replica clothes are usually foreign-made, sweatshop specials, from Honduras, Bangladesh, Guatemala, etc. The underwear is seldom made anywhere NEAR the OLDE West, and the fibers are less-than-natural.

Shooting glasses and ear protection are usually Chinese-made. This is so we don't have to see that 40% of our money is borrowed from Communist China, a country that has killed a few good American soldiers in its time, whether directly (in Korea) or indirectly via arms, munitions and training for the VietCong/NVA. Also remember that that the entire Chinese defense budget is paid for by the interest on the U.S. Treasury notes held by the Chinese government. Oh yeah -- and not a few tchotchkes purchased by the True Blue SASS crowd. God Bless America!

The timers are from Germany or Japan, where things run on time. The targets are made from foreign steel and the target plates spray-painted with Chinese paint, courtesy Walmart at .97/can. The cowboy hats are cheap woolen knock-offs, as a Resistol or Stetson 10x beaver is rather pricey these days; the upside is, it keeps all the mad hatters South of the Border.

The range flags are made in China and I'll bet even money that the group's mouthpiece --The Cowboy Chronicle -- is printed on imported paper. I'll even bet the official SASS badges are also made somewhere other than the old West.

After the match the participants have an ersatz cotillion, with dinner eaten on plates from China and music played through foreign sound systems, where many women endeavor to strike a pose as Miss Kitty-cum-Beyonce. The bands are using foreign-made acoustic instruments with Chinese pick ups and strings made in Mexico.

While the hardcore faux cowboys are toying with fancy guns, firing live ammunition and spending money at the concessionaires, it is hard to picture the actual nastiness that our soldiers are actually perpetrating on a daily basis.

Praise the Lord and pass the foreign ammunition.

--by Jim and Lisa

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Small Unit Leadership

Don't start me talking
I could talk all night

My mind goes sleepwalking

While I'm putting the world to right

Called careers information

Have you got yourself an occupation?

--Oliver's Army
, Elvis Costello

The death of West Point military cadet Jacob D. Bower last Thursday while on a land navigation exercise (22 July 11) indicates a lack of leadership at the small unit level (West Point Cadet Dies During Training).

Why didn't they use buddy teams? Was the troop properly acclimated? Was there a heat index alert? Why not train at night to avoid heat casualties? Were water bags out? Was water at the training points? This was SOP in Ranger's day. Have we lost our military knowledge, which is nothing but common sense?

Was this a normal compass course or was it an orienteering endeavor? In a high heat situation, orienteering would be inherently hazardous and strict supervision would be standard.

Ranger recently read the book, "Small Unit Leadership -- A Commonsense Approach" by. Col. Dandridge M. Malone (ret'd)., and the recent death of cadet Bower pointed out what was missing from the text.
Though mission and winning the land battle were well-covered, getting the soldiers to that point was not addressed; leadership is about more than winning battles. It is also about knowing when to pull the plug and admitting that the mission cannot be achieved with the available assets.

Unfortunately, the military does not award Medals of Honor
for this type of leadership. What passes for military leadership can often be equated with mental aberrations as Soldiers are often tasked with performing irrational actions. Something like assaulting an interlocking bunker complex is not a sane act in any universe, yet it is seen as leadership in the Army.

Ranger realizes the exigencies of combat and the unit level requirements to fulfill organizational needs, but what is called bravery often does not lead to any national gain, and leaders are often pressed to choose the heroic-seeming action. If the West Point cadre allow such negligence in overseeing training, can it be any better in the "Real Army"?

Ranger's questions outstrip the purview of Col. Malone's book, but the needless death of an 18-year-old cadet demands they be asked.

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Not Nation Building

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,

The temperature's rising,

It isn't surprising

--Heat Wave
, Irving Berlin

I'm not interested in friends from those places,

and I don't trust politicians!

--Once Upon a Time in America

The underprivileged are

beating our goddamned brains out

--Death Wish


In the morning

Fever all through the night

, Peggy Lee

Once upon a time in America there was a nation called the United States, and that nation began building other nations.

This looked good -- democratic and generous --
except the outside building required the dismantling of the original nation. Think of the U.S. today as a Legoland or a Lincoln Logs house with most of the tile or logs used: To remove blocks threatens the integrity of the original structure. Such is the state of the current economy to all but the most Pollyannish of ostriches with heads in the sand.

Yet the U.S. 2011
continues to nation build, and the behavior is national insanity. If we were to collectively lie on the psychiatrist's couch, the nation would be diagnosed with a death wish. Look at any predictable challenge to the infrastructure to see the fissures; take the current heat wave which is putting national and regional power grids to the test.

From a
Washington Post report (Heat Wave 2011):

In many ways, this heat wave exemplified the type of extreme heat events that climate science studies show are becoming more common in many parts of the world, likely due at least in part to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Studies of specific extreme heat events, such as the deadly 2003 European heat wave and last summer’s heat wave and wildfires in Russia, have demonstrated that they were also associated with unusually large, intense high-pressure systems.

One study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2008, stated:

The risk of hot summers is currently rapidly increasing, raising the likelihood of record breaking heat waves around the World, as seen in Europe in 2003 and 2006 and in North America in 1995 and 2006.

Climate projections for the rest of this century show that heat waves of similar magnitude to what we just experienced may become much more common over the course of this century, possibly occurring once or twice per year if emissions continue to increase at present rates. In fact, one study published earlier this year projected a dramatic shift towards permanently hotter summers, with more frequent and intense heat waves, during the next few decades (starting first in tropical regions), which is far sooner than was previously thought.

Another study raised the disturbing possibility that the limited human tolerance to heat stress constitutes an “upper limit” to our species’ ability to adapt to global climate change, and estimated that this limit might be reached if warming reached about 7 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, which is within the range of projections of many studies looking at how the climate will respond to greater amounts of greenhouse gases over the longer term.

The bottom line: Heat waves such as the one we’ve just experienced may soon become part of the typical American summer, and we’d be wise to start taking actions to ensure that we are prepared for that very real possibility.

So, deadly heat waves may become de rigueur, but what are we doing to ensure our safety? We are not harnessing the power of the sun in any meaningful way, and the terror threat against the grid is negligible compared to the very real and immediate threat posed by Mother Nature. Yet pumping money into an ersatz protective posture against terrorism makes us think we are safe.

Our electrical grid is antiquated and we fail to maximize wind, wave and solar power, yet we spend $4+ Trillion on nebulous terror threats in far-flung sandboxes while we wither in The Homeland ©. We build nations while ours devolves into a jury rigged death trap.

And of course, some of us do not believe in global warming.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011


I have seen wicked men and fools,
a great many of both;

and I believe they both get paid in the end;

but the fools first

, Robert Louis Stvenson

Birds do it, bees do it --

even educated fleas do it

--Let's Fall in Love
, Cole Porter

It seems everyone's hopping on the kidnapping bandwagon these days. Italy convicted 22 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agents in absentia back in '09 for the abduction of a Muslim Cleric. That snatch-and-grab was done as part of the U.S. extraordinary rendition program, but it seems al Qaeda is now increasingly kidnapping for ransom to fill dwindling coffers (Al-Qaeda Kidnapping to Raise Cash).

Kidnapping has always been a top source of revenue for funding terrorist organization operations, the income supplementing that obtained from bank robberies and all the other criminal activities which provide group support. No news flash here.

So what is the significance al Qaeda's ramping up its kidnapping activities? The news indicates that their normal cash cows are out to pasture and the Osama bin Laden no longer is (was) a big draw for their supporters. They are losing the support of the passive and active membership (which makes these groups viable) and so must utilize crime to finance their existence.

This implies that the new al Qaeda leadership will need to run more criminal operations as fundraisers. Such activities are a last resort for terrorists when funds become scarce. Criminal behavior is not associated with the crusader mentality, and such crimes are easier for police to infiltrate and neutralize than are traditional ideological terrorist organizational behavior. With criminals you just follow the money and everything drops into place.

This increased criminal activity is good news for intel and police agencies as this degrades the terrorist's strategic stance in lieu of tactical criminality, which are simply survival operations.
As always, good police and intel work to counter criminal actions is the best avenue to neutralize terror organizations.

If the hijackers of 9-11-01 had to kidnap or rob banks to finance their plans ... you get the idea.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Rodeo Clown

[emendation -- Belgian corkscrew;
so the Austrians don't have a sense of humor --ed.]

Every faction in Africa calls themselves

by these noble names - Liberation this,

Patriotic that, Democratic Republic of


I guess they can't own up to what they usually are:

the Federation of Worse Oppressors

Than the Last Bunch of Oppressors.

--Lord of War

There's been a load of compromisin'
On the road to my horizon
But I'm gonna be where the lights
are shinin' on me

--Rhinestone Cowboy
, Glen Campbell

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks.

Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such

--Mamas Don't Let Your Babies
Grow up to be Cowboys

Waylon Jennings


Ranger recently filed a congressional inquiry with freshman Representative Steve Southerland's office based upon a charge by the Social Security Administration that they have mistakenly been overpaying him for three years and that he owes the government $10,740. He discussed this snafu in "Effing Wrong" 20 April 11.

Three months on, the inquiry has not been answered and the SSA has not provided any justification to verify the correctness of their allegations and actions. Since April his account has been garnished to pay back the contested monies and his monthly payments have been reduced, all without one iota of proof from the SSA. [A more paranoid person might wonder if blogging while on Social Security is the new DWB.]

There is no way to appeal the action without the facts. The SSA may have made an error, or they may not have, but withholding the facts is no way to run a government agency. Thus far, Rep. Southerland's Social Security rep has been unable to garner any additional information; he informed Ranger that he is currently handling 55 cases from constituents and that the going would be slow.

Meanwhile, we were delivered of brochure yesterday from the patriotic-sounding conservative PAC -- Heritage Action for America -- heralding Southerland as one of the "Magnificent 11" for cutting the fat out of government. "Fighting for Us!" is the tagline, but how can he fight for "us" when his staff is so stretched thin?

The back of the glossy featured a mounted cowboy in silhouette, holding an American flag. This was obviously not the good Rep., who was an undertaker prior to taking office this year.
It's all hat, no cattle.

We feel that Rep. Southerland's actual profession is far more suggestive of the current state of the union.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Untruth or Consequences

Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment
to an insane world

--R. D. Laing

We are here to awaken from

our illusion of separateness

--Thich Nhat Hanh

Insanity is the only sane reaction

to an insane society

--Thomas Szasz


The ability to maintain sanity in a insane world has been frequent question here at RAW. We wonder; Can we maintain sanity only by accepting insanity as our
daily ration of reality?

An example of which we speak is the current brinksmanship over a few trillion dollars and the debt ceiling, as though our existence hinged upon this amount. We languish while a recent Brown University study estimates the final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures at $3.7 to 4,4 trillion (and the fat lady is not gonna sing anytime soon.)

Buried in yesterday's Wall Street Journal was statement that NATO will continue bombing Libya because Muammer Qadaffi has no legitimacy. Did Qadaffi ever have legitimacy in this or any other arena? If then, why not know?

Page Two explains that Afghan President Karzai quickly appointed another half-brother, Shah Wali, to replace the government post vacated by his now dead half-brother Ahmed Wali (
Karzai Appoints Brother in Kandahar). It seems the endless supply of Wallys will secure the Karzai's control of the Kandahar region. Now that is democracy in action; thank you, America!

So, we are bombing the hell out of Libya because its leader lacks legitimacy, while concomitantly supporting the illegitimacy of one of the most corrupt governments on the face of the earth. In one scenario we kill to oppose illegitimacy; in another, we kill to support it.

Why do Americans grind their teeth over the debt cap while having no difficulty throwing away $trillions in foreign shit holes?

Where is the sanity? After taking my meds and settling into my Ikea Poang chair,
the idea hit Ranger like a ton of bricks: "What's the big deal?" It was not exactly a Thich Nanh Hanh moment, but it was clarity nonetheless. So some drug-dealing, nepotistic person is getting one over on all of us taxpaying U.S. citizens paying for a hypocritical, insane war. What do I care, except that we are back to $trillions spent and a whole lot of people fucked up in the process, which in my book is a good approximation of national insanity.

Didn't we do a similar tango here in Florida in the 2000 Presidential lotto? In our version, Governor Jeb Bush handed the presidency to his brother George W. Bush. Again, what is the big deal? A lot of sound and fury, but the result is a foregone conclusion. How can we criticize the Karzai cabal (
Kabul) when the U.S. uses the same playbook?

Insanity may be a coping strategy in America today.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

--Dog Doogity, Martin Luther
(click on pix to hear)

I like the way you work it
No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up

--No Diggety
, Backstreet

Don't let your dogs do that

on other people's yards

--Deputy Barber

Since God gave man freedom,

we can, if need be, accept the idea

that He is not responsible for man’s crimes.

The responsibility for shit, however,

rests entirely with Him, the Creator of Man

--The Unbearable Lightness of Being,

Milan Kundera


Today's topic is dog poop. Oh that Tallahassee had the environmental awareness of say, Puget Sound: Dogblog just featured Martin Luther's catchy green vid reminding dog walkers to "bag it up". In the South, pinworms, hookworms -- you name 'em, they're a fact of life. It ain't considered "natch'ull" to touch the dirty deed; just look the other way and move along.

People are confused about dogs. Slate answers in the affirmative today to the query, "Will Your Dog Eat Your Face off if You Die at Home?" Maureen Dowd writes today on "Hitler's Talking Dogs": At a Nazi study course, a talking dog was once asked ‘Who is Adolf Hitler?’ and replied ‘Mein Führer!A dog poop-bedeviled individual of the internet community asks, "Am I weird to think dogs are dirty and gross yet cute?": "They are adorable but they poo and pee and remnants remain in their fur." Alas -- it seems you cannot trust them, and they are filthy.

Tallahassee sports billboards saying, "Dog Poop Isn't Cute," explaining that uncontrolled droppings contaminate groundwater. Okay, except the new proposals for Leon County's animal control ordinance do not seem to support this concern; the restrictions do not apply to kittens or puppies younger than 4 months old:

  • Up to 10 cats and/or dogs would be allowed on properties 1.5 acres or less.
  • Eleven to 20 dogs and/or cats would be allowed on 1.5 to 2.5 acres.
  • Twenty-one to 30 dogs and/or cats would be allowed on 2.5 to 5 acres of land.
  • Thirty or more cats and dogs would be allowed on more than 5 acres.

Whether 11 -20 or 21-30 dogs on 1.5 acres, that is a lot of poop; that is more than overflows from Congress these days. If Ranger builds a house, he must have a septic system or link into sewage disposal for my excrement; however, there is no such legal requirement for dog's poop. This is contrary to public health concerns! Why is it permissible for dogs to defecate whenever and wherever they want?

Why are my feces regulated by health department codes but not those of dogs owned by humans? In short, owners of multiple dogs should be required to install septic systems to sanitarily deal with the dog's excrement.

[The topic is near and dear the Ranger's heart as a neighbor installed a dog kennel housing 20+ large dogs within 150 yards of his house several years ago. In his rural county, there was no health code restricting this wholesale production of poop; septic tanks are only required for humans.

Tempers flare high on this issue. While we are always keen to display Florida's multifarious episodes of malfeasance, sometimes, Mississippi outdoes us:

Blasingame told the AP that they argued because Tenhet shot his dog last week and threatened to kill him and his dog "over poop."

Tenhet denies shooting the dog: "I said 'Jerry, your dog ain't even dead. He said 'Just meet me at the levee and I'll shoot you down."'

Blasingame said he got a gun and left the house in his truck, hoping Tenhet would follow so there would be no confrontation in front of bystanders.

Blasingame says Tenhet was armed when he returned to the neighborhood:
"(Tenhet) said, 'Point that gun at me.' I said, 'No, point that gun at me.' He shot twice. I returned fire."

Tenhet says he was unarmed when Blasingame returned and told Tenhet he was going to shoot him:
"I said, man, do what you gotta do" before Blasingame opened fire.

For those of you outside of the Stroke Belt, count yourself fortunate. Woof, woof.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Click Off

Dead babies can't take care of themselves
Dead babies can't take things off the shelf

Well we didn't want you anyway

Lalala-la, lalala-la, la la la

--Dead Babies
, Alice Cooper

My possessions are causing me suspicion

but there's no proof

in the paper today

tales of war and of waste

but you turn right over to the T.V. page

--Don't Dream it's Over
, Crowded House

You’re missing that one final screw

You’re simply not in the pink my dear

To be honest you haven’t got a clue

--I'm Going Slightly Mad
, Queen

They only hit until you cry

And after that you don't ask why

You just don't argue anymore

, Suzanne Vega

Over the past several days Lisa has had the misfortune to be exposed to what passes for news today -- Caylee mania.

People she did not know implored her on the day of the not guilty verdict, "Did you hear?", as though this decision were something that would jostle the sun and the moon (Casey Anthony and the Court of Public Opinion). For three years Caylee's sad story has provided fodder for those who would declaim against the forces of dissolution in the U.S.: Justice must be served for little Caylee, and that means mother Casey must go down.

Yet justice worked as it must; the prosecution did not present an airtight case. The whole lot of the Anthony's are defectives -- misfits and liars -- and it is very hard to disentangle a bag of snakes. CNN promises 24-hour coverage Sunday, July 17th, when Casey Anthony is released, just so we may release a bit more bile.

Observers gathered outside of the Orlando courthouse daily to score one of the 50 tickets in. A psychologist was on air to minister to the viewer's grief ("over time, the sadness and anger will fade"); it is reported that a lightning strike at Caylee memorial "could be a sign from the angels", and there is a Broward County resto who won't serve the bad Caylee jurors. All of this was gotten in 20 minutes of CNN "news". We really are a fried chicken short of a church picnic.

More to the point: Why is the nation transfixed by tales of blond babies murders? Remember the Jon Benet Ramsey furore in the 1990's? Jon Benet was the six-year-old blond beauty pageant "star" who riveted the nation in her death. How about Madeleine McCann, blond British child reportedly kidnapped in Portugal? But what about the other 2,000 kids killed
annually in the U.S.? Well, they don't meet the photogenic bar for one reason or another.

Poor children fall through the cracks of supervising agencies with appalling regularity, but they don't permeate our collective mindset; just more statistics. Welfare workers are swamped with bloated caseloads, but no new taxes (the lesson of GHWB has not been lost.)

Do we care about the black toddler
baked in an oven this March in Mississippi (that's how they do in Mississippi), or the Asian baby fried in a microwave that month in L.A.? How about Alexis (Lexie) Glover, found dead in a frigid D.C. creek, repeatedly failed by the child services system? Or Banita Jacks, who killed her four daughters because they were "demon-possessed"? Or 7-year-old with cystic fibrosis Charles Poertner, found dead last December in horrific circumstances, or Danieal Kelley, and so many, many more.

The answer is, No, because they are not pretty little blond babies. We are hypocritical dunderheads

[cross-posted @ BigBrassBlog]

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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Miracle Mile

--LeMans Grand Prix d'Endurance,
Leroy Neiman

Ole Black's my truck's name.

She's held together

By BF Good tires

And bailing wire

--The Truck Song
, Lyle Lovett

Oncoming car went out of control

It crushed my baby

And it crushed my soul

, the Ramones

And he sideswiped nineteen neat parked cars,
Clipped off thirteen telephone poles,
Hit two houses, bruised eight trees,

And Blue-Crossed seven people

--30,000 Pounds of Bananas
, Harry Chapin

"You are now entering the most
dangerous place on earth:


--sign on main highway in Long Binh, Vietnam (1970)


There are worse things than terrorists if you're worried about losing your life in The Homeland©. Hubris makes us think terrorists are hiding behind every bush, but the people most likely to kill you are sitting behind the wheel of everything from compact cars to 18-wheelers.

The greatest danger facing the Average American is the
Average American -- behind the wheel of a vehicle, (mis)handling firearms, not cleaning their hands before handling food (etc.), not doing the right thing in a medical setting -- you name it, your fellows will dispatch you (or themselves) faster than you can say Speedy Gonzales.

Per these accidents and mistakes, drugs (often legal) and alcohol are often a factor, so in a sense these deaths are done with the blessings of the state. The medical errors, et. al., you may never hear about, but the crashes occur every day. Here's a recent local one where the truck driver was charged with DUI manslaughter:

"James Perry Wyrosdick — who has a long history of traffic citations and whose truck shouldn’t have been on the road because of out-of-service violations — was high on methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription pills when his flat-bed log truck crossed into oncoming traffic, said Sgt. Aaron Stephens of the Florida Highway Patrol. It struck two vehicles, killing Wendy Jackson, who worked at Gilchrist Elementary School, and injuring two others. Wyrosdick suffered minor injuries."

"Stephens said fatigue was another factor in the crash. Commercial drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours in a 14-hour period, said Lt. Jeff Frost, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Compliance Office. The investigation showed Wyrosdick had been driving about 12 hours and was still 45 minutes away from his destination in Blountstown" (Arrest Made in Fatal Leon County Crash).

Ranger drives a small car and always feels over-matched in these road wars. The sight of a truck grill bearing down on him instills fear in my mind and body. It is common at 70 m.p.h. to have an 18-wheeler two car lengths behind; this is a form of terror, if not terrorism. The old rule of thumb for minimum safe driving distance was one car length for each 10 m.p.h. of speed. Therefore, at 70 m.p.h. the next car should be seven car lengths away. For an 18-wheeler it might be more, as they cannot stop on a dime.

Of course, tailgating is not reserved for truckers. We see motorcycles clipping our bumpers while passing daily: How could the cycle stop in the event of a blowout? With no auto exoskeleton, this behavior is pure folly.

There are things you should fear that you cannot kill with a rifle,
and this is not a Stephen King novel.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Taking the Shot

Hit me with your best shot
Why don't you hit me with your best shot?

Hit me with your best shot

Fire away

--Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Pat Benatar

For as long as our people are held hostage
by controllable socio-economic forces,
we cannot afford to be indifferent to the ravages of poverty
in all its dimensions and ramifications
--Ibrahim Babangida

Bang bang, you shot me down

Bang bang, I hit the ground

Bang bang, that awful sound

--Bang Bang
, Cher

This is not a t.v. episode of Flashpoint; this is real life, or to the point, real death.

"SWAT team members in Pennsylvania yesterday killed a career criminal suspected of killing a Fall River toddler and Yarmouth man execution style and critically wounding the boy’s mother and two others — while in Fall River, neighbors mourned the death of the youngest victim, who would have turned 3 this month, and prayed for his mother’s recovery (Cops Kill Suspect in Baby Slay Case.)

Reuters gives a somewhat more dispassionate head, "
Gunman who planned to kill man shoots child, another adult" but ledes with the claim that the SWAT team's target was, "an evil unrepentant monster."

Now, we are not defending the alleged actions of such a man, but we must consider the spin to which we are subjected daily. There are people who howl, "He is not a man -- he is a monster!" But sadly, no, he is all too human. The press did the same with killing of Osama bin Laden; the fact of his being unarmed and amidst family was too . . . like us.

As for the specifics of this SWAT event, Ranger wishes to comment as a former training specialist teaching in both the Hostage Negotiations and Special Reaction Teams courses at the U.S. Army MP School. These were the official qualifying courses for Army Hostage Negotiators (HN) and Special Reaction Teams (SRTs). While Ranger is not an expert on HN or SRTs, he did attend all the classes to know what used to be Federal Law Enforcement policy in hostage or barricade situations.

The recent incident with Mark Geisenheyner was a simple barricade situation. According to the details released in news reports, it need not have ended in Mr. Geisenheyner's death. Police policy for such situations would follow these procedures:

  • Isolate the scene with inner and outer security with an on-site command post
  • The HN and SRT's would be isolated and not in communication. Because the HN often gains a rapport with the subject, he should not know the tactical movements of the SRT for the reason that he might unconsciously convey some information to the subject
  • The formula was that the barricaded individual without hostages once physically contained is not a threat unless he attempts a breakout. At that point, elimination is alright; barring that, there is no viable reason to assault the barricade
  • All life is valuable, even the suspect's
  • The suspect has not been adjudicated and the SRT is neither a judge, jury or executioner. For example, the suspect may be bat shit crazy, and would not merit a death sentence. Any threat to life must be dealt with accordingly, but is it moral to kill a crazy person, even if barricaded? (If so, Ranger better get some good body armor.)

In the Geisenheyner scenario there is no evidence of a HN on-site, and one wonders why the SRT assaulted the suspect when he was cornered in the basement of a house. He was no threat to anyone. Assaulting him may have been dramatic and decisive and oh-so-manly, but it was a violation of established police doctrine, or of what was once accepted policy.

What was gained by this assault? If police do not believe in the sanctity of life, how do they differ from men like Mark Geisenheyner? The willingness of police to expedite assaults is discomfiting to this Ranger.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How Little Bighorn Looks like Afghanistan

Part of the Crazy Horse Memorial under construction
in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in Custer County

You can take an Afghan to Hell with kindness,
but never to heaven by force

--Afghan proverb

Tribe wars with tribe. Every man's hand

is against the other and all are against the stranger

... the state of continual tumult has produced

a habit of mind which holds life cheap

and embarks on war with careless levity

--Winston Churchill

Same old song

just a drop of water

in the endless sea

all we do

crumbles to the ground

though we refuse to see

--Dust in the Wind
, Kansas

Chief advocates viewing the Battle of Little Bighorn as another fight in the progression of events which began in 1492. This perspective helps in understanding the totality of the situation. Using that viewpoint, let us extend lessons from LBH into current scenarios in Afghanistan dealing with Counterinsurgency, unconventional/guerrilla war (UW/GW) and terrorism. This may seem a stretch, but saddle up . . .

The hostiles in both scenarios did not have a problem in the world until the outer world forcibly imposed progress upon them. The Afghans have much experience repulsing the outsiders, be they Greek, Persian, British, Russian, Paki, Indian, Chinese, American or even present-day Iranians.

Minus external forces, the Native Americans and the Afghanis would do fine, thanks, without the education or whatever the interlopers wish to impose. Both nations (or more precisely, confederation of nations) would be happy to continue killing each other before it became necessary to reach out and kill The Other. The only thing better than killing each other would be to kill invaders.

Following are some ways LBH can be compared to the Phony War on Terror (PWOT):

[1] "Fighting Season" -- both the Indians and the Afghans could only fight when they could support themselves operationally. Where the Afghans gather support external to the group, the Indians had to follow the cycle of nature. Both groups were sidelined by deadly winter weather, but of course, they continued to train, plan, maintain equipment, etc.

[2] Militarily, both the Afghan and Indian War campaigns had the same goals. The hostiles were given a Hobson's choice: Submit to government control or pick up the lance. There is no discernable middle ground.

[3] The Afghan fighters have a force structure similar to that of the Indians, one based upon tribal loyalties and realities. The groups are usually as strong as their leaders. Both groups possess limited ability and opportunity to isolate the battlefield, but both have the luxury and will to prepare the field before they willingly engage government forces. Both are fighting for their survival as discrete entities; neither care to subsumed into their own loosely confederated nation nor into a construction fashioned by the invaders.

[4] Both must apply the concept of Mass and Economy of Force. The LBH demonstrated Mass as the prevailing principle, where most fights in Afghanistan demonstrate the principle of Economy of Force. The U.S. Army must gain and maintain contact with these adversaries, while it is the opposition's job to break contact until it is advantageous for them to turn and face the enemy. This was shown at LBH, Waygul and Wanat.

[5] Government forces used indigenous members to neutralize the indig. The government elevated the indig that they chose either to leadership positions or as judas goats. At LBH they were called Scouts and in Afghanistan they are called the Afghan National Army.

[6] Intelligence is mitigated: In 1876 intel was negligible to non-existent regarding the Indian's intentions. In Afghanistan there is so much intel that analysis is hampered. The reliability and validity in both cases is always in doubt.

[7] Concealment: In the Indian Wars, there was no place for the Indians; in Afghanistan, the hostiles hide in plain sight and there is no place for U.S. forces to hide.

In conclusion, the best hope of prevailing in the Afghan leg of the PWOT would be to use a tactic that worked with the Indians: Give them tax-free cigarettes, legal gambling casinos and tell them they are free and autonomous. Facts be damned.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Samurai Police

Gotta find a friendly city
And that's the reason why,

I'm going to Kansas City

Kansas City, Wilbert Harrison

Nobody naw give ya no Break,

Police naw give you no break,

Soldier naw give you no break

--Bad Boys
, Bob Marley

This America;

at least it was 10 years ago

--t.v. show, House


This is for the Blakenator (a friend from friendly San Francisco.)

Blake, like Ranger, fears the trend toward the militarization of the police. Clearly, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has turned the military into an international police force, so it is little wonder that mobius strip has turned upon itself, and our police have become like the military.

Here is an article from the recent American COP magazine,
Gearing Up for SWAT. Just read the lead-in: "Boston or Baghdad, Kansas City or Kandahar -- TOUGH TACTICAL GEAR GIVES WARRIORS THE WINNING EDGE" Isn't that a mouthful of wannabe bullshit? Don't you just look forward to the day you cannot discern Kansas City from Kandahar? And it is coming, America, don't you worry your little minds over it -- your police are gearing up for it.

When did COPS become tactical assets? In what universe? When did they become
warriors? Just for grins, look at that POLICE i.d on the helmet of an otherwise combat-outfitted police officer. This photo indicates the murkiness that has become law enforcement in America. (For further reading see the works of Radley Balko, who has written extensively on No-Knock raids and other vice and civil liberties issues.)

When did police begin to view their reality as tough and tactical, and that they need a winning edge? What happened to "protect and serve"? When did cops start viewing themselves as winners?

If cops are the winners, then who are the losers?

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Monday, July 04, 2011

United States of Chimerica

--China Territerrorist, Manny Francisco, Manila

Merchants have no country.
The mere spot they stand on
does not constitute so strong an attachment
as that from which they draw their gains
--Thomas Jefferson

Thank God there are still legal ways
to exploit developing countries.
The only problem with an honest buck
is they're so hard to make -
the margins are too low, too many people are doin' it
--Lord of War (2005)

Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn't help thinkin'
That there was a little more to life somewhere else
--American Girl, Tom Petty

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days
--Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen

There haven't been too many happy 4th of July cartoons in 2011 -- most are to the effect, "We've seen better days".

So without further ado, we present a little photo essay of pure Americana, Chinese-style. Of course, it's not JUST China that interprets all things America for us; it's El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and every other country blessed with less-than-liberty.

These uber-patriotic tchotchkes were snapped at Cracker Barrel restaurants, the last redoubt of those who hold out for washing boards and galvanized bathing tubs as being good things and cross-stitching constitutes high art. Lisa thinks a site for the
"People of Cracker Barrel (POCB)" could easily vie with the the People of Walmart (POWM) site far as capturing a definite swath of America.
Many CB denizens resemble extras from the film "Deliverance"; you don't see such a concentration of overalls and corn pone just every day.

You see, the South never did rise again after the Civil War (but don't tell them), and their response to this lack of parity with their Northern brethren is to embrace all things Hokey-Dokey. In Cracker Barrels, Toby Keith is a demigod, and the experience is an ersatz one of the South's glory days. It is a veritable cornucopia of all things that once were and now exist only in their simulacrum states, everything from paddle balls to balsa wood airplane sets. By simulacrum we mean, nothing is actually made in the USA, though there is plenty of red, white and blue to go around.

And now, for a little Tour d'Cracker Barrel:

China's "large penny" is just kinda rubbing it in . . .

Raggedy Ann has now been outsourced to India -- is nothing sacrosanct?

"Freedom, Morality, Character", so says China.
We hope Mr. Lincoln's right: "America will once again . . ."

The books are about US . . . but they are printed in China

This one's for you, Deryle . . . maybe it all WAS worthwhile.
"Hecho in Vietnam" -- talk amongst yourselves

Happy 4th, y'all.

--Lisa and Jim

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