RANGER AGAINST WAR: February 2012 <

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mightier Than the Sword

You have not converted a man

because you have silenced him

--John Morley

Wherever they burn books
they will also, in the end,
burn human beings
Almansor, Heinrich Heine

I think every religious person should have

a deep sense of respect for other people's

religious documents and religious symbols

. . . So I think we ought to all oppose

burning the Koran

--New Gingrich


The book is mightier than the sword.

This is what Afghanistan is showing us in their reaction to the recent Koran burnings. A whole heap of FM-24's on a bonfire would not have elicited a peep.

This incident adds a moment of clarity and truth to a war based on deception and lies. (We agreed a while back that a project based in duplicity is bound to fail.) The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is not about liberal democratic values and has nothing to do with the welfare of the Afghan people. The entire philosophy of Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24 was based upon a simulacrum of truth, and the burning (as with previously reported incidents of Koran desecration) proves the point to the citizens of Afghanistan.

They have endured a decade of foreign invasions, home invasions, personal metrics collection, air strikes and to top it off, Koran burnings. The resultant violence reveals the cultural divide that will never be breached. Halliburton could not be gifted with a contract big enough to build a bridge capable of crossing this cultural chasm.

Conservatives argue that the burning of the war's precipitating event -- the World Trade Center attacks of 9-11-01 -- was a bigger deal than the burning of a few books. However, the comparison is false as the Twin Tower attacks were perpetrated by a terrorist organization called al Qaida, for which
the Afghan people have collectively borne the punishment for an event which was beyond their control or comprehension.

They do, however, understand the symbolism of this "accidental" burning.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I would rather see a saloon on every corner
than as Catholic in the White House.
I would rather see a nigger as president
--Bob Jones, of university fame

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate!
--Every Sperm is Sacred,
Monty Python

There's a lady who's sure
all that glitters is gold
And she's buying
a stairway to heaven
--Stairway to Heaven,
Led Zeppelin

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on

--Battle Hymn of the Republic

{NOTE: Apologies for the whacked formatting and late posting of SIN! Typeface should be corrected in the next posting --L.}

Of the Republican contenders, who have made of their platform a moral soapbox, it seems fitting to ascertain who is the biggest sinner of all, for he should wear a horsehair shirt under his vest for the remainder of his sorry run.

We will first define our terms. The dictionary likes a variation of SIN: n.-- Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong. Lisa will limn it down to "doing something bad, intentionally, that knowingly hurts someone."

Several variables go into the algorithm for determining biggest sinner: Hyprocrisy, cluelessness, sanctimoniousness, intent and lack of remorse. But our title designator is not a simple thing to ascertain. Bad faith is part of it. Let us leave it at willful bad behavior which has a predictable negative impact upon another.

And off we go.

Romney --

Sin: Cluelessness and hubris.

It was woefully out-of-touch of him to say he drives a couple of American vehicles and his wife drive a couple of Cadillacs to a depressed Detroit crowd. He is visibly uncomfortable amongst the hoi polloi, and thinks wearing an L. L. Bean Tattersal plaid shirt equals dressing like the volk.

He seems not to know that we are Whitney people, people who follow Snooki and watch You Tubes of dogs jumping into pools and the Sports Illustrated cover model Upton doing the Dougie because, well, that's who we are.

Also, for all our attempts to be all-inclusive, Romney's Mormonism remains problematic. He has unwisely chosen for a religion which teleports its dead to another planet -- just wing-nut crazy -- unlike Christianity, where the dead get glorified bodies and teleport to heaven (or the bad place.)

Which brings us to Newt --

Sin: Pompous and belligerent. Hypocrite par excellence.

In most faith systems, Newt's adultery doesn't play well. He definitely sinned, by all conventional accounts. However, he wisely chose for Catholicism for the mulligans.

(I asked an observant Catholic friend if there was a limit to the number of forgivenesses one might be granted for repeat offenses, and he suggested that God did want us to learn from our transgressions. That did not satisfy, however, as there is no "sin menu" for Confessional which says something like, "Once you steal your 4th pack of Clove gum, no more expiation for gum theft.")

However, Newt looks like he could wear a Hogly-Wogly T-shirt and mean it (Newt could model for a Hogly-Wogly T-shirt.) He is a man of the folk, in a way Romney may never be. Where Romney looks like he could play a President on t.v., Newt in all his schlumpiness really is one of us.

To me, Romney and Newt are rather petty ante sinners, run of the mill for all that.

The biggest sinner of all is he who cloaks himself in the greatest piety, Rick Santorum.


Sin: Choosing for wrong and selling it as a "right".

The wrongs are many, and centered around his self-construction as a man of faith. His daughter Bella has Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder which is almost 100% fatal by the first several years of life. Like Tay-Sachs disease, it is an incremental death sentence. (See, "Rick Santorum, Meet My Son.")

To some, Bella and Sarah Pain's Trig (Down's syndrome) are seen as selfless choices. That is debatable. Santorum wants to limit prenatal genetic testing as he feels poor results yield too many abortions. But this is the height of arrogance, to impose one's religious beliefs upon others.

Even a patron of the Down's Syndrome Association defended testing and abortion saying "The hard facts are that it is costly in terms of human effort, compassion, energy, and finite resources such as money, to care for individuals with handicaps... People who are not yet parents should ask themselves if they have the right to inflict such burdens on others, however willing they are themselves to take their share of the burden in the beginning."[60]

In a religious sense, his choice for bringing his Trisomy 18 daughter to term makes sense and fits into the slave/martyr Christian ideology. It is the "last shall be first" and gaining a heavenly reward. But being President is not being Pope.

As a Republican, Santorum favors cutting governmental services, and presumably limiting Medicaid and Medicare allowances, so how does that jibe with a desire to bring more profoundly blighted fetuses to term? Who will care for these offspring and tend to their monumental medical needs? Certainly their parents will be taken out of the workforce to some degree, and professional intervention beyond normal parenting will be required.

If 93+% of women who now choose abortion due to chromosomal abnormalities were not to abort due to mis- or non-information, then from where will the funds come to accommodate this new influx of disabled citizens? Santorum has health insurance and Bella -- for her short and miserable so-called life -- will be drawing from it liberally, but what about the 49 million citizens without health insurance? What impact would that have upon society?

Can we say Newt is less responsible than Santorum? Both are allowing others to feel pain, but in the former case, there is cause for a hopeful recovery; in Santorum's choice for another's pain, there is no relief to be had.

We all know some bright, wonderful person locked into a body which is failing them due to some accident or disease. Why not direct the limited research staff, time and dollars to helping those already vibrant people have a stab at re-entering society at a fully-functioning level? What we need is more productivity and creativity, not less.

Further, how does Santorum's wife homeschool seven children, with a Trisomy 18 daughter at home? Certainly she is receiving help, and somebody is paying for that. But Santorum does not speak of generosity on the ex utero side of life.

Santorum is not only a hypocrite, but ill-informed and hateful.

He declaims, "We were put on the earth for our benefit, not the earth's benefit." Rick, are you a Christian? What then of being a good steward to the earth? What about Noah and the animals? What about BP oil spills and Bhopal and Exxon Valdez ... What an environmental horror you would be.

He opposes homosexual marriage, forcing a cohort of citizens to live "in sin" or celibacy. He says he is not opposed to homosexuals, but to their sex acts -- "to do things in the sexual relation that is [sic] counter to how things are supposed to be". What Santorum misses is that every permutation of sex performed by a gay couple can be and are performed by straight couples. Now what? Where's J. Edgar when you need him?

It feels like we are in a post-presidential epoch. The great events of state have taken a back seat to medieval concerns over controlling a woman's body as a means of production. (Santorum does not speak about controlling the behavior of heterosexual men, presumably a category in which he would like to reside.)

Well, there's RAW's sin round up. Santorum wins, hands down.

Sadly, the sin meter does not have elective predictive value as the voters are only recently out of the primordial ooze. Sanctomonious, sanitorium Santorum may be just what the doctor ordered.

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A Tale of Two Cities

All is for the best in the best
of all possible worlds

, Voltaire

It was the best of times,

it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness
--A Tale of Two Cities,
Charles Dickens

It is through the lens of war that we now view our place in the world. Let's view two recently destroyed cities -- Homs (Syria) and Fallujah (Iraq).

The destruction of both cities came courtesy the counterinsurgency (COIN) handbook.
We will conveniently elide rebellion and insurgency, since everyone else in government does.

In the 2004 Fallujah offensive, the United States Marine Corps cordoned off and blockaded an entire city, and systematically converted the landscape into a Stalingrad-like moonscape. This was not an action after hearts and minds, but rather, the eradication of insurgents. The U.S. affixed the name counterinsurgency to this death and destruction to make it more palatable to those not there.

Of course, unlike a true rebellion-suppression in which the government acts against its own, the Marines were mercenaries, sub-contracting their violence to a Shi'ia government which was suppressing a Sunni insurgency. This was not a proud battle for proxies for the ostensible forces of freedom.

Turn the page, and today substitute Homs for Fallujah, and yet . . . everyone is condemning the Syrian actions. The Syrian government is suppressing a rebellion in its midst -- the very thing governments are charged with doing. Think of our own Rebellion, a pretty bloody thing, and one of those one-off events in which the rebels actually won. But that is the risk a rebel takes: They might take your head before you take theirs.

So what are the Syrians doing that the U.S. did not do in Fallujah and on countless other map sheets in our Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©)? Is it not a little hypocritical or blind to accuse the Syrians for using the same tactics to which the U.S. sought recourse? In fact, the Syrians are more justified as they are operating in their own country.

Ranger's opposition to the PWOT is based on policies that are based in ignorance and arrogance, lacking any intelligent guidelines or purpose. The killing lacks direction and does not lead to anywhere of merit. In the annals of justified killing, actual rebellion suppression by a functioning sitting government qualifies.

Killing for no quantifiable goal is an unjustifiable military exercise.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

No Nukes for You

--Ollie Johansson (Sweden)
Let's drink to the men
who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever
and the cold steel that kills
--The Patriot's Dream,
Gordon Lightfoot
Everyone's concerned about Iran's wanting to develop nuclear weapons; meanwhile, our friends across the pond, the Brits, earlier this month were accused of :

[Sending] nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic, in violation of a treaty that created a nuclear-free zone there. Argentina said Friday it has information that Britain sent a nuclear-armed submarine to the South Atlantic near the disputed Falkland Islands in the latest verbal salvo in a dispute over the territory (Argentina: UK sent nuclear sub to Falklands)

Why is it alright for the UK to intimidate Argentina with the threat of nukes while Iran is castigated for even wanting one? Lap dogs can snarl, while Iranians are disallowed the same privilege. Is this fair?

Ironically, the best weapon in the Argentinian inventory was the French Exocet missile. We moan about North Korea, China, Iraq and Iranian missiles, but turn a blind eye to the Frecnh sale of missiles to any cash customer.

The bigger picture is one of possessions: Why does England even have a possession in the South Atlantic? Why does the U.S. have Guam?

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Guys Gone Wild!

Look me in the eye, GI,
and tell me you're not tired
I'm tired to death sir,
I'm tired till it hurts
This s.... couldn't get much worse

--Starship Troopers (redux),

The Herd

Come on. Spring Break.
Spring Break!

--Girls Gone Wild

The compassionate warrior will be the winner,

and if compassion is your defense you

will be secure

--Tao Te Ching
, Verse 67


The day would never come that Ranger would call himself a warrior, so the current "warrior" fervor rankles. I have more self-respect than that. My soldiering days had a dignity beyond the violence.

The trial of Lance Corporal Harry Lew is making its way through the legal system with as little fanfare as possible. Lew committed suicide after alleged hazing by his fellow Marines:

The prosecution claims Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III put his foot on the back of Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, 21, ordered him to do push- ups, and poured sand into Lew’s face. Orozco has been charged with assault, humiliating Lew, and cruelty and maltreatment. A lance corporal pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and demoted to private first class; Sgt. Benjamin Johns was acquitted by a court- martial jury (USA Today).

Imagine a Lance Cpl. ordering another to perform pushups. Strange in itself since this was at unit level and not a training scenario. Is this how warriors treat their own? Is the loss of a stripe and 30 days in jail correct punishment for this behavior? The Sergeant involved was acquitted; where were the officers?

In the other loo case, the Marines who urinated on recently killed bodies demonstrated the desire to inflict extreme humiliation, but they have not been indicted because boys (=warriors) will be boys. When we revel in treating others this way, we have lost our basic goodness.

Warriorhood allows for this desensitization. Ranger understands Marines are not following Emily Post, but the recent violations getting press are opposed to the collegiality shared by older veterans.

The U. S. Marine Corps history in World War II is that of fighting on brutal, isolated Pacific battlefields. Today, we are not fighting on constricted battlefields or aboard ships; the days of fighting slug-fests on remote rocky outcroppings are gone.

Men like those Marines, or like my father who fought on discrete battlefields (aboard ships), were only fighting enemy soldiers intent on killing them. This is just and fair for both sides. But bombing a ridge line on Iwo is different from destroying Fallujah, or any other target in-theatre today. We no longer have isolated battlefields. Because of this, today's military efforts require more humanity, not less.

As unimaginably horrible as their fighting was, even on Okinawa the Marines attempted to save civilians intent upon suicide. Their humanity was intact; that is what is in danger in today's warrior world.

For the men who returned from those constricted battlefields, fighting had a certain clarity (if not always sense). Today's warrior mindset does not allow for the discrimination needed when dealing in a more ambiguous terrain.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Test Fire

So if you can take a man's life
for the thoughts that's in his head
Then sit back in that chair
and think it over judge one more time
--Johnny 99, Bruce Springsteen

Take a ride in the sky
On our ship fantasize
All your dreams will come true miles away
--Fantasize, Earth, Wind and Fire

In my country, we have a name
for a warrior with the vision to be just
and the courage to show mercy.
We call him... The Cid!
--El Cid (1961)

[Continuation of yesterday's "The Sting"]

Let's consider the threat, or the illusion of threat, which has been hanging over our soldier's heads for the last decade. It is unquantifiable, based upon innuendo and dismissive of the intelligence concept that evaluates a threat by analyzing both intent and capability.

Obviously El Khalid had the intention, but he lacked even a whiff of any capability to carry out his bombing fantasy. This "terrorist" lacked even the basic common sense to test fire or to strip his weapon to examine its condition. If he cannot do that, his capabilities are precisely squat.

Let's go further: If a Qaeda is a threat and a mushroom cloud looms on the horizon, then why haven't any commercial-grade explosives been smuggled into The Homeland ™ or been confiscated by Homeland Security of the Federal Bureau of Investigations? Ranger does not accept the paltry home-made, gram weight explosives found on would-be Shoe-Bomber Reid or would-be Underwear Bomber Abdulmutallab as posing an existential threat to the U.S.

The capability has not been proven. Ask the question while pondering two wars, countless U.S. casualties and trillions of dollars spent on internal security. The governmental response is disproportionate to the threat. The losers that we prosecute are not Skorzeny commandos, as we are being led to believe.

Now consider the bombs, Predator missiles and all of the people we kill trying to eliminate a threat which appears trumped up, at best. Billions of dollars wasted, goodwill lost and people killed worldwide for an unproven threat.

Khalid could not even procure a handgun in Washington, D.C., a city awash in firearms for local thugs -- so what does this tell you? Where is the supposed Gun Show loophole which allows anyone to buy a gun? This does not appear to be the case when Khalid had to buy his MAC 10 from a government shill. Besides being incompetent, he was delusional or just plain stupid, or a combination thereof.

America needs to rethink the entire Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) in a dispassionate and realistic manner. Perhaps it can pull out of its nosedive before hitting the bottom of the rabbit hole.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Sting

--The Evil Midnight Bomber

I coulda been a contender
--On the Waterfront (1954)

Amine el Khalifi is the latest in a string of pathetic, untrained, unfocused individuals pulled into sting operations euphemistically called "Counterterrorism". If wannabes like Khalifi are the threat, then why are we spending so much money in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©)?

The Wall Street Journal
reports, "Mr. Khalifi is a Moroccan national living illegally in the U.S. since shortly after he entered on a tourist visa in 1999, the FBI said in an affidavit filed in U.S. district court in Alexandria, Va" (Suspected Terrorist Arrested Near Capitol). Why wasn't Khalifi simply deported as an illegal? Put a sombrero on him and send him to Mexico.

Since Mr. Khalifi is not a U.S. citizen, why not just kill him extra-judiciously as we did with al Awlaki? If you can drop a bomb on them, why not bust a cap on their ass while they are watching
NCIS? Why spend millions setting up an ineffectual loser?

"Amine el Khalifi was arrested as he walked from a parking garage near the Capitol building carrying what the Federal Bureau of Investigation said was a MAC-10 automatic pistol and a bomb vest, both rendered inoperable by agents." [per WSJ]
* * *

"Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Va., was taken into custody with a gun that didn't work and inert explosives, according to a counterterrorism official. He arrived near the Capitol in a van with the two undercover operatives, and walked toward the building, according to court papers. He was arrested before he left the parking garage."

"During the investigation, El Khalifi went with undercover operatives in January to a quarry in West Virginia to practice detonating explosives, according to court documents" (Terror Suspect Arrested Near Capitol in FBI Sting).

What a clown this dupe happened to be, so clueless he didn't even test fire his MAC-10. Who but an idiot would not familiarize himself with a new weapon?" (Terror Suspect Arrested Near Capitol in FBI Sting).

This sting netted a suspect in an alleged bombing plan which Federal authorities said "never posed a danger to the public." Yet if El Khalifi is convicted, he faces life in prison.

We wonder at the phantasmagorical nature of U.S. thinking. We are more than a couple of Trillion dollars into the
PWOT © and the best threat we can scare up is a miserable defective like El Khalafi -- do you feel safer?

Why didn't they just blast him into oblivion out there in a West Virginia quarry? If he is such a threat, we would all applaud.

Ranger's not clapping.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Medievalism, 2012-Style

--Man, Woman and Sin (1927, silent)

Now wicked things can happen...

you see 'em goin' down in war.

But when you play in a quiet way

that bites it even more

--Say It Isn't So
, Hall & Oates

In this dark march toward

whatever it is we are approaching...

don't -
don't hang back with the brutes!

--A Streetcar Named Desire,

Tennessee Williams


Below are thoughts prefatory to "Sin, Sin, Sin", RAW's tour de force handicapping of the Republican contenders on their SIN quotient -- coming this weekend.

Who's the biggest sinner of all? The lord loves a sinner, so perchance he who sins more, is more worthy of great things. After drawing names from a hat, what could be a better indicator of winning potential? Does the sinner take all?

. . . Stay tuned!

Medievalism. Nope, we're not gonna talk about Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or the lot of them. We are talking right here in River City.

It doesn't seem real, this focus on women's bodies amongst the Republican presidential contenders. Our economy is in shambles; we are in a war; the country's basic needs are profound -- and yet somehow, women's bodies have become the battlefield.

We did become fully human (almost) in 1920, with the contentious ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. For over 90 years, women have been granted full manumission in the U.S., in terms of being allowed to exercise our rights of citizenship (even Mississippi ratified the amendment, albeit in 1973.) And yet, our rights over our very bodies remain in the hands of men.

For less than 40 years, women have legally been allowed to determine whether they shall carry a pregnancy to term, without risking our lives in shoddy back alley operations or self-inducements. This right has been contentious since it was granted, but now in 2012, Rick Santorum -- Republican frontrunner -- suggests that contraception is harmful to society and pre-natal testing should be curtailed as it promotes abortions.

Santorum approves of some pre-natal tests like sonograms, but not amniocentesis, on the basis that it encourages abortion. “Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortions,” Santorum said. “That is a fact” (Rick Santorum: Prenatal testing encourages abortions).

That is a disingenuous statement. The test itself may result in a 1-5% chance of miscarriage, but the test does not result in more abortions. What it does result in is an informed woman who may then make choices based on the results of accurate scientific testing. We did go through the Scientific Revolution so that we might avail ourselves of technology which might reduce human suffering.

Amniocentesis is ordered when a basic sonogram reveals abnormalities. Because there is a risk of false positives with a sonogram, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are then necessary to give an almost 100% verification of chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), or Trisomy 28, which Santorum's child has.

Santorum's wording is painfully ignorant when he says things like, “The president has a very bad record on the issue of abortion and children who are disabled who are in the womb. I think this simply is a continuation of that idea.” How do these children crawl retroactively back into a womb? Children result from a live birth. Words and their meanings matter.

In Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, she argues that the events of 9-11-01 allowed for a cultural atavism, in which male folklore returns, imperiling feminism. Rick Santorum is resonating with the people because he embodies, if not the machismo, then certainly the subjugation of women in the guise of protectionism.

We have a Homeland Security guarding our borders, why not a president who oversees the gateway to the uterus? This is not benign concern -- this is a brazen attempt to co-opt women's decision-making. It is malevolent paternalism.

How is this even a topic of presidential concern in 2012?

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Truth, Lies and Afghanistan

--President's Day, 2012

Garbage. All I've been thinking about

all week is garbage.

I mean, I just can't stop thinking about it

, Lies and Videotape (1989)

The Armed Forces Journal ran a piece earlier this month by Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis, "Truth, Lies and Afghanistan: How Military Leaders Have Let Us Down." After two year-long tours in the country, Davis decided to write about how the reality he saw did not mesh with the spin.

While it is commendable that LTC Davis spoke his truth, Ranger will fish out the problematic details.

In his first graph, Davis speaks of "the enemy", but of whose enemy is speaking?
Are the enemies of the Afghan government enemies of my country? Is the U.S. war fighting or doing counterinsurgency (COIN)? What is our mission? How did killing Taliban become a U.S. war policy?

Davis says he deployed hoping to find local governments and military "progressing toward self-sufficiency", but becoming self-sufficient is not an outcome of the application of military power;
to the contrary. A nation has military power because it is self-sufficient. Mirroring U.S. policy, LTC Davis puts the cart before the horse.

Writes Davis:

I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.

How does "pacification" relate to the U.S. effort? What is pacification, and is it a part of nation-building? Have there been any precedents for successful military pacification programs central to a U.S. mission in a theatre scenario? Surely it is not as simple as occupying key terrain and killing all opposition forces.

Is it possible that the insurgents, the Taliban and the Afghan people are not aligned with U.S. goals? Davis saw "little or no evidence" of a government capable of providing even basic needs, and "[s]ome of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government."

If true, then there is no government structure in Afghanistan -- only a poor simulacrum reliant totally on U.S. arms to subjugate the population. This is not a reason for the U.S. military to be killing people on a daily basis, and Davis suggests as much.

When speaking of the police, Davis asks a police captain if they send out harassing patrols, but harassing patrols and combat patrols are military functions, and should be separate from police authority. Police should not hunt people down for the purpose of killing them; they are law enforcement, not war fighters.

Of course, the police captain thought Cavalry LTC Davis's question nuts:

No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”

The captain made a sane response. Sticking him and his officers out in the middle of a lawless nowhere is nuts. How does it benefit anything if another firefight happens or not? If their government is a chimera, why would anyone expect the police to die for a fantasy? Afghan policemen are not Cav troopers; the latter get to go home after their tours.

A non-sequitur occurs in the piece: After describing the failings of the Afghan National Police (ANP), Davis says most U.S. officers told Davis
"they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred." Troops and police are different entities; while both are surely substandard, Davis only gives particulars on the ANP behavior.

He quotes a local official serving as a cultural adviser to a U.S. Commander who cites the example of a Taliban murder of an off-duty ANP member visiting family as showing that "[t]he people are not safe anywhere." However, the ANP member was a representative of the government and as such, he was a valid target for the opposition forces; that is how insurgents operate.

"Abysmal" is the word Davis uses to describe the "tactical" situation, but really, he is describing the social and political status quo, too. Perhaps since he is writing as a military man for a military journal, he was simply writing to his audience. But a change in tactics can only affect the military situation, leaving the other failures in place.

Davis sometimes gets bogged down in the how's, but addressing the why's will deliver a better truth. The war was based on lies and false assumptions, and truth can never flow from that font.

Davis concludes,

When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it.
Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.

This is no slam on a mid-level 0-5 who is putting it on the line, but shouldn't we have had this discussion 10 years ago rather than last week, and shouldn't it be led by someone with more horsepower than an 0-5?

Addendum -- One of our faithful readers, GunsShowJoe, made the following incisive comment we'd like to share regarding Davis's piece and how we came to be here:
My take -- in this world appearance takes precedent over reality (with only very rare exception) even in situations involving the life and death of people and governments. We have most recently seen this in the cases of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The old saw about killing the messenger if the news is bad comes to mind, so all the messengers make sure they deliver only good news and all the leaders pretend it is real!
Wasn't it one of George W's minions who said, "We create the reality of and for the world" or words to that effect? Such men have perverted the truth for their own nefarious and hidden reasons...so that the entire world is now truly upside down and inside out.
Spot-on, GSJ. And that's why a truth that's allied with the facts matters. Otherwise, the truth will be "Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools", as Kipling wrote.
Truth perversion is a high art for those practicing the discipline. People like Peter Van Buren (We Meant Well) and now LTC Davis generally don't fare so well up against the Institutions --Lisa

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sympathy for the Devil

It's a fools' game
Nothin' but a fools's game;

standing in the cold rain,
feeling like clown

--It's a Heartache
, Trick Pony

So far as I can remember,

there is not one word in the Gospels

in praise of knowledge

--George Bernard Shaw

It's embarrassing -- you try to overthrow

the government and you wind up

on the Best Seller's list

--Steal this Book, Abbie Hoffman

Sunday homily: What if we've got it all wrong?

By "it", Ranger means the bible as the Good Book and the god-worshiping thing? What if the devil is the one before whom we should be burning incense? Let us go back to Genesis.

Genesis portrays a Club Med for Adam and Eve. Unless mistaken, those two were thrown out of paradise --if you call Babylonia
paradise -- for eating an apple symbolizing knowledge and free will.

So Step One is the travesty of getting evicted for opting in for knowledge and free will. That, we demonize as temptation . . . the work of the devil.
So what of all of that exegesis going on by theological scholars? Well, it's not looking good for learned theologians. If we stay stupid, can we live forever?

Step Two
is everyone turning around and believing that this same god who screwed us in the beginning is going to gift us with glorified bodies after death and give us life everlasting, IF we follow all of his rules. Why would we expect he is going to suddenly play nice once we have strut our petty hour upon the stage, dependent of course upon how well we walked within his lines?

Oh, and further, no one knows if they have won the lottery and gained his grace, anyway. It's like playing monte, but the dealer never shows his suit.
Are those the odds of a loser, or what?

Again, if not mistaken, it was the devil (= fallen archangel and god's favorite) who encouraged mankind to seek knowledge and free will.
If god will cast down and out his favorite (Lucifer), then why should we trust he will not turn on us?

Why do we put our faith in the goodness of this very strange god? How is he any better than the fallen angel who encourages us to make our own meaning? Are we to believe that everything achieved beyond the supposed "received" word of this god as transcribed in the bible is evil?

Ranger does not believe in any of the bible's mutterings, but if he did, he would give the whole thing a good thinking over.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Eggmen

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman
to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics,
though she is still forbidden
to resort to physics or chemistry
H.L. Mencken

Those who in principle oppose birth control
are either incapable of arithmetic
or else in favor of war, pestilence and famine
as permanent features of human life
--Bertrand Russell


Soon, thoughts on sin as pertains to the Republican frontrunners, but tonight, just a quick riff off of some political news this week:

Republican hopeful Rick Santorum thinks contraceptives are dangerous to society and that sexual relationships should "be procreative", and of course he is toeing the Catholic party line here. When his super Political Action Committee Donor
Foster Friess said (on contraception) that women used to just hold an aspirin between their knees, he is speaking from a privileged point of view.

The great tragedy of life is how little we know about our fellows (or how little we care to know.) The problem is not that too many women are trying to contracept, but that so few are.

More like it, girls from wealthy families would take an "abortion holiday" abroad in the case of trouble, but that was hushed up; once finishing school was completed, they could marry (or not) the erstwhile father . The real problem for our society is a glut of unmarried mothers and hungry and under-tended children; over 20% of our children live in poverty. Too many orphans and foster children no one wants because, just like at the animal shelters, everyone wants the cute little kitten. The problem is not too much contraception, but too little.

I know more than my fair share of good Catholic girls who got knocked up as a career move. Yes folks, it's 2012, and this is the way things are and always have been. Since they were not immaculate conceptions, that means boys were not using aspirins, either.

Baptists and all the rest follow the same policy: Some stopped taking birth control pills or stopped their rhythm method and -- voila! -- a miracle baby! Hey folks: birth control pills are 99% effective (when used as directed) -- do people really believe when their partner "gets pregnant" this was divine intervention? I guess if they figure they are going to hurtle to infinity on the back of this offspring, oh, and go to Heaven, yeah, I guess they can suspend their disbelief long enough.

This works for 20-year-olds as well as those in their 40's; I've known both, and the behavior transcends socio-economic class.

Nothing locks in a husband like a child, or so many women think. This is not news for anyone, is it? The problem today is, jobs are growing scarce for the laboring class (as well as for everyone else) -- men end up addicted or in prison, and the women are left to work and tend to their offspring, a division of labor which means someone gets the short shrift.

The unmarried mothers of Lorain, Ohio, were featured in a New York Times story today, continuing that paper's agenda that marriage is demode. They report the 60% out of wedlock birth rate in Lorain, a Cleveland suburb, and suggested that marriage is passe (
Young Mother's Describe Marriage's Failing Allure). NO! These women wanted to be married, and their pregnancies were achieved via intention or ignorance.

The paper failed to mention Lorain's poverty mindset grown over many generations since subsidized housing projects grew there several decades ago. Lorain suffers the same rust belt fate as so many of its sister cities, but the Times was remiss not to provide some historical perspective on its subjects.

Pregnancy as a way out of the family system has a long pedigree. The reasons why women have not achieved parity with men are manifold; in many cases, these mothers -- though working at Walmart while taking classes at community college -- are doing better than their children's fathers.
They followed the archetypal script, but no one is there to save them.

The reasons for the current failure of that game are many: Economics, education, social structure and general lack of access to information. The pro-lifers are vehement in their concerns that all fetuses be brought to term, but I doubt many in the market for adoption would like to take on a crack or an AIDs baby of different ethnicity from their own. No -- it is the blue-eyed blond baby which is the coup for most of that group.

Likewise, the pro-lifers are not too keen on guaranteeing or extending the social safety net which is necessary to ensuring the well-being of these one-down babies. Having worked with students of varying exceptionalities, including fetal alcohol syndrome, I can say the lifetime limitations imposed by their disabilities are profound.

Some memories from working in a high school dropout-prevention program in the late 80's will close this piece:

While doing intake for the program, I traveled to impoverished areas of my county I did not know existed, and encountered some raw mindsets which I could not fathom. I remember one reticent heavy white girl who met me out on the broken-down porch and warned me that her mother didn't want me there.

She quickly told me why she wanted in the program: Her siblings were drug addicts and young mothers who lounged about the tattered room all day watching t.v. She said at first she thought that would be really fun, but realized that their lives were full of boredom and she wanted out before that became her fate. In order to join, her mother had to sign the release; she would not. In retrospect, she probably wanted or needed the funds which would come from a third daughter pregnant and on the dole. She was running her own puppy mill.

Another was Angie, a sweet 10th-grader who wrote and shared her poetry. She was always neat, clean and demure. The topic of sterilization came up in her biology studies one day. "Angie, do you know what that means?" She replied that was what one did with baby bottles. I explained that this was different sort of sterilization, and she listened raptly, her enthusiasm barely veiled.

"You mean, there's something I can do to not get pregnant?" I was taken aback: "Well, there are other methods less drastic that you could also use ..." The last time I saw Angie she said stoically, without a shred of self-pity, that she was walking home on the tracks a few months before when her uncle raped her; she was now pregnant, and would be leaving school.

Her mate in the program from her school, Quanda, was Angie's opposite: Pretty, she played on the school basketball team and had a fine athlete's body. She was a girl all business, but one day she spoke in subdued anger of Angie's predicament, and about how hard her carpenter father worked as a single custodial parent to care for her and her sister. She said that he was her template and that she had no use for most of the boys out there, and that if she never found a man like her father, she was not going to marry.

A few years ago, we went around the classroom and everyone was to answer the question: "What is your proudest achievement?" One young woman said that she was in her second year of college, and had not had any babies. Her response earned her some applause.

The problem for our country is way beyond access to contraception.

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