RANGER AGAINST WAR: September 2012 <

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disrespect and Unkindness

--Sea Battle, Kandinsky

I got heartaches in my pocket,
I got echoes in my head
And all that I keep hearing,
Are the cruel, cruel things that you said 
--Thousand Miles from Nowhere
Dwight Yoakum

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity
--1 Corinthian 13

Sunday thoughts: Disrespect and unkindness.

Several military men have recently expressed to me their feeling of disconnect from the society they pledged to protect, one which theoretically claims to respect and appreciate them, but which in actuality routinely dishes disrespect.

The reality of having citizen soldiers is that they will one day return to society and must re-integrate.  For this to be successful, society must adopt a level of conscientiousness beyond magnetized yellow ribbons; the people in these cases failed. If the perpetrators of the harshness had considered for even a moment the possible damaging repercussions of their cruelty, I wonder if they would have bravely persisted in their disrespect.

Of course, this is approaching the matter from a self-interested perspective; beyond that would be to operate from a principle of kindness and charity, something that adherents to god-fearing dogmas should not find hard to access.  A few examples of cruelty follow. Let us meditate on that this Sunday.

The most recent example occurred while driving down the main drag in town with Ranger, while an aggressive young female driver in a large SUV proceeded to tailgate him.  As he is wont to do, he started his car's flasher; this did not dissuade her.  He then slowed down to prompt her to pass, which she did not do.  He then slowed to zero, at which point she sped around, almost clipping his car's front end, with some aggressive gesture.

His response was automatic and unemotional, through clenched teeth: "I'd Jap-slap that bitch in a minute."  Jim has "disabled veterans" tags, but is unlikely she noted them, or that she would have dispensed a modicum of respect on that basis, anyway.  His fully sincere response made me think of the recent experiences of two other RAW readers.

Friend and fellow blogger Alex Limkin wrote a fine post about his recent experience walking his PTSD dog, Abigail, near a golf course in Albuquerque and the harshness he was dealt by one of the course denizens.  Alex is a Ranger, too, and has served in Iraq; the old man who dealt Alex such unkindness was perhaps himself a war veteran.  But he didn't take the time to consider their fraternity.

Instead, he threatened Alex, who was only trying to find water for his dog after a long walk.  I'll let Alex speak for himself:

I will not lie. My immediate sense of what I was going to do was not pretty. I meant to twist one of his golf clubs around his neck—not so as to hurt him in any way, but just so that he would be faced with the inconvenience of playing the rest of his round with a golf club wrapped around his neck. Plus, he would be denied the use of that club. While twisting it like a pretzel around his neck, I meant to repeat, “There is no need for such language, sir.” (from, "For Abigail").

Alex decided that his only safe move was to "move on." But physical aggression is the first programmed response to incoming (= hostility), and people would do well to honor that, and approach with their needs and wishes in a less threatening way. Compassion would be the next evolutionary step up, but what is recommended here is a bare minimum.

Lastly, reader Deryle shared a similar interchange, again (as in Jim's case), with an aggressive young woman.  I'll let Deryle speak for himself, too:

Last nite I had a beer, as in one, with an old bro who was passing through town. We're standing by his car saying good bye when 4-5 girls walked by singing and making a joyful noise.
"Whoo-hooo, Today's my birthday,"one of them yelled at us, to which I say, "Well, which birthday is it darlin'?" Without even looking our way, birthday girl girls yells: "I'm 23 and don't call me darlin, BITCH." They burst out laughing and walk on.
I look at friend, not saying a word. They're out of sight now.
"Well, goddam, that was uncalled for. I think I'll remind them to be respectful." He looks at me as if I'm crazy--which I am at this moment. I head down alley at lope, and round building and walk out on sidewalk just as they arrive.
Chubby little thing looks up -- all are startled shitless, as one might imagine:
"Hey birthday girl. I'm an old man and I don't like the way the word 'bitch' is used these days and I damn sure don't appreciate being called names. You don't even know me. Be respectful.
One of them jumps in front of birthday girl, whose lip by now, is quivering. A couple of the others look as if they've seen the devil. "Are you going to hurt her?"she plaintively asks.
I've spent my entire adult life working with young people, whom I love. Girls, drunk, being lippy.
"No, I 'm just saying be respectful" is all I can mutter, looking at those children. Ashamed of my self--sorta. I turn and walk away.
As I m headed back, I hear one of them yell, "Well, fuck you bitch" and jump in their car. I had to make myself stop thinking, you're about to end up in trouble mister. Walk on."

This post is long enough; I have some further thoughts on the matter.  I note the veterans' refrain of "moving on".

We have some work to do if we wish to be a civil society.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Out on the Outpost - Listening Post, 9.29.12


The free-fire zone is open,  Cat got your tongue?

Think of this as your online group, so please feel free to grouse, inform or pique our interest.

For Dave UC: 

As we sit on the cusp of another full moon, I am mindful of how I see time fly -- in the waxing and waning of the moon.  It was the merest slice just a few days ago.

To whomever is stuck: You have only so many of these beautiful full moons, and they will fly by you. Savor them, if you can, and what fills the time in between their appearances, too.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Stumpin Sumpin'

Now I don't mind choppin' wood,
and I don't care if ma money's no good
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest, 
But they should never have taken the very best 
--The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down,
The Band

 Southern man
Better keep your head
Don't forget
What your good book said 
--Southern Man, Neil Young

Standing in line marking time--
Waiting for the welfare dime
'Cause they can't buy a job 
--The way It Is, Bruce Hornsby

[We'll do better to inform you next time RAW will not post for a few days.  OPSEC, y'know ... but we will come up with a good reason.]

It is electioneering season, and from stumps across the North Florida swampland is heard the hue and cry of a "Return to North Florida Values".

"Values" and "North Florida" are not usually collocated terms.  The latter is often sadly linked to poverty, illiteracy, high sexually transmitted disease rates and a high inbreeding coefficient among dogs and people (it's quicker that way.)

Maybe the preponderance of one-parent households constitute one of these values; perhaps, teenage pregnancy.  Maybe being underemployed or unemployed.  Perhaps, a belief in less government, more godliness (that one's always good for a feeble cheer from the groundlings.)

Perhaps, it is a belief that LOTTO will keep your lights on next week.  Maybe this is why people are seen on line in the Jiffy Mart on payday buying $50 worth of scratch off tickets.  Values.  Then again, maybe that is needs; maybe what we need is values.

Maybe it was those values that built the gambling casino in Ranger's pitifully poor county, allowing the locals to fritter away their meager funds without having to schlep it to Coushatta, Mississippi.  Of course, you're not going to get the food freebies if you stay local, but the gourmet experience is not what the politely-labelled "gaming" community is after.

Yet now, fealty to "North Florida Values" is the clarion call to vote from candidates of all political stripes.  We guess that is because regardless of your values, you will wish your candidate to be steeped in them.

The candidates vow to protect these values (without actually enumerating them.)  To them and their pamplet-writers, a value must be a thing with value inherent in it, inviolate and worthy of propagation.

Sadly, many North Florida values had to go by the wayside, and grudgingly, at that: Days of the week set aside for flogging one's wife on the courthouse steps; thickness of the strop to be used in such needful events. Black and white laundry facilities, waiting room facilities and drinking fountains.  The list of egregious present-day North Florida values is long, yet somehow, protecting them as sacrosanct is accepted as good thing.

Since North Florida was a Confederate state, we can assume that rebellion, treason and slave-ownership was once a Dixie value, and judging by the stickers and paraphernalia on many a truck, it would seem Southerners are still secessionist at heart.

The little word, "values", makes it seem as though one would not do any of the coarse things an un-valued person might, but that's the funny thing about values.  Once you claim to subscribe to them, discrete actions are no longer scrutinized, as the holder of the value card must be ethical, de facto.

This is why being a religious "values voter" is so seductive: You may commit any number of abominable acts, but because you claim for values, you are seen as merely slipping up.  You couldn't possibly mean to have done that bad thing, because you are the possessor of "values", and the inheritor of the legacy of a savior who has pre-factum issued forgiveness chits.

Of course, the only values which should be sacrosanct to any good American would be those listed in the United States Constitution; all the rest is hot air.

We would love to hear a politician -- any politician -- state this, or instead substitute their own values in clearly stated terms.

Yes we would.

--Lisa and Jim

Monday, September 24, 2012

Across the River

 --U.S. Special Operations Forces in Guatemala

 Take me to the river and drop me in the water
Dip me in the river, drop me in the water
Washing me down, washing me down 
--Take Me to the River, Talking Heads 

Let us cross over the river,
and rest under the shade of the trees
--General Stonewall Jackson's last words 

O brothers let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
Come on brothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray 
--Down to the River to Pray, 

This is a Ranger challenge.

Fact:  200 U.S. Marines were deployed earlier this month in Guatemala. (This is not the Rio Grande.)

The Mission: To analyze and critique the above photo for mistakes, errors and any observations.  Please state your assumptions, both positive and negative, which validate your critique.

Bonus question: Does a soldier fight as he is trained?


  • This is a combat patrol to gain contact with the enemy.  
  • They have dropped their gear at an objective rally point (ORP)
  • This patrol will then conduct a combat mission.  This mission could be a raid, ambush or recon mission.

That is your starting point, Ranger readers.

Prize: The winner will be awarded the book, Special Forces -- The Changing Face of Warfare, by Mark Lloyd. Prize will be awarded at week's end.

Good night and good luck.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Miss Lonelyhearts, 9.22.12


 It's the weekend -- hit us with your best shot.

We'll push off:

Do we know who we are and what we stand for as a nation?  Are we correct to stand as the world's policeman, or to try training up police in lawless lands?

Do our democratic ideals have any relevance beyond our borders?  Are we responsible for democratizing the world?  Are we the ultimate arbiters of what defines democracy?

Are we war addicts?  Are we God's children or are we humanists? Can it be both?

Talk amongst yourselves.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Macho Men

 --Vladimir Putin imprinting on cranes?

Body...wanna feel my body?
Body...such a thrill my body
Body...wanna touch my body?
Body...it's too much my body 
--Macho Man, The Village People 

Moral maxims are surprisingly useful on occasions
when we can invent little else to justify our actions 
--Tales of Belkin, Aleksandr Pushkin

Whether he's retrieving a 6th century urn from a dive in the Black Sea, saving a camera crew from a Siberian Tiger or leading a flock of captive-raised Siberian white cranes in flight this week as part of the birds’ training for winter migration, it's all in a day's work for former KGB agent-cum-Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Putin has been filmed riding horses bare-chested and bareback, climbing trees, fighting fires, tracking whales, driving a Formula One race car at 150 m.p.h., and more.  Girls have been known to swoon and erupt into scripted dance before his manly swagger. He seems to be aiming for an Indiana Jones meets James Bond image. But Putin fessed up recently to Reuters that most of his derring-do was staged. 

D'oh!  Those poor, naive Russian peasants ... they'll never leave their Soviet indoctrination and potato fields, methought.  But then, there was this memory:

--President George W. Bush,, in his salad days 

And because he is who he is, GWB appears to be surrounded by colorful Teletubbies before issuing his Mission Accomplished (not) speech in 2003:

"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Alas, we are bumpkins, all. Belief and hope are a mighty things. As Pushkin also wrote, "A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths."

My name is Ozymandius ...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In Lieu of Reason

Don't give me no lectures
'Bout stress and strife
Just ain't my way of life 
--If You Don't Start Drinking, 
George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Ranger was troubled by a recent Popular Mechanics piece on the "Future of Special Forces" but couldn't find the right way to address his concerns; he now realizes that is the subtext of the piece which is more significant than the particulars.

Subtext is the basis of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) and present United States' insecurities, whether politico-military, economic or psychological.  All of Gaul is divided into three parts, the greatest of which is the psychological, and the following ideas are brought to bear:

[1] The U.S. loves the underdog

[2] Control of the media is more important than the losses to al-Qaeda terrorism

[3] Terrorists and the Neoconservatives and Teabaggers share the belief that government is just no darn good.  Both wish to monopolize belief systems and worldviews

[4] The Department of Defense, government, FBI, CIA SOCOM and the Homeland Security Administration all want the polity to believe that they are indispensable to our continued existence

[5] Terrorists thrive on inculcating the belief that government is powerless to protect us; this leads to government overreaction, suggesting the the PWOT is about violence when actually it is about control -- control of media and the resulting propaganda which perpetuates the collusion of the institutions which have control as their raison d'etre; a perfect Mobius strip.

[6]  Both terrorists and government interests are battling for our minds and hearts, and a sorrowful heart will accept lunacy as policy, in lieu of reason.

[7] Terrorist, government and religion all seek to castrate the individual will, and teach that through abdication of such may salvation be offered.  "Please be lost, so that we can find you."  Our collective will grows flaccid through fear borne of incessant propaganda.

The message in media like the Popular Mechanics piece and the movie "Act of Valor" is to confirm our infirmity and needful subservience to the institution for our safety, under the bunting of piousness or patriotism.  This requires we believe threats are everywhere and in need of outside neutralization.

The needful analog to the institution's efficacy is the primacy of our own insecurity.

Both the Right and the Left thrive upon this distortion of reality in the name of freedom of liberty and we accept their patronage, while never examining the reality of terrorism, its capability and intent.  Concurrently, we do not examine the capabilities and intents of our own government, also shrouded in secrecy and dogmatic hypocrisy.

Both terrorism and government are based upon paternalism and elitism, and the Special operations Forces are the definition of military elitism.

Next: A discussion of the Popular Mechanics article.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Loss of a Soldier

I'm a soldier, i'm a soldier,
i'm a soldier, i'm a soldier 
--Soldier, Eminen

While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown 
--Hazy Shade of Winter, 
Simon and Garfunkel   

Our Post-PWOT © World (PPW) has killed the meaning of words, and we at Ranger mourn the passing.

An example occurred in October 2012's Gun World magazine, in editor Jan Libourel's column Point of Aim remembering sometime gun writer, Jerry Ahern.  Libourel's (ironic ?) testimonial to Ahern is titled, "Loss of a Soldier".

But Ahern was never a soldier, and a gun magazine should be especially sensitive regarding whom they refer to as "soldier".  From his Wikipedia page, "Jerry Ahern (born Jerome Morrell Ahern, in 1946) was a science fiction and action novel author best known for his post apocalyptic survivalist series The Survivalist." 

How did writing for Soldier of Fortune magazine translate out to being in the Armed Forces?  Writing ersatz tough guy pablum does not a soldier make. This is not to say that Ahern chose to be mourned as a soldier-manque, and we are sorry for his too-early death.

But "Soldier of Fiction" would have been a more-fitting, non-pejorative, label.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Million Man Permits

 Breakin' rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won
I needed money 'cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won 
--I Fought the Law, 
The Clash

Pancho was a bandit boy,
his horse was fast as polished steel
He wore his gun outside his pants 
For all the honest world to feel 
--Pancho and Lefty
Townes Van Zandt

 The right of the people to keep and bear...
arms shall not be infringed 
--James Madison

Florida just issued its millionth Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit, which means it has charged 1,000,000 people $135 each to exercise their constitutional right to carry a weapon.  

For that, they get a laminated card saying they may legitimately tote their guns (independent of the cost for the required class and fingerprints, which are also required.)

Is it even a right if you have to pay for it?  What is next -- Freedom of Speech permits?  CCW's create two classes of citizens -- those who can afford to exercise their constitutional rights, and those who cannot.  Members of one group may pack heat legally, while those in the other are in criminal violation of the law for doing the exact same thing.

If our vaunted Rights are accorded to all citizens, regardless of race, creed or economic level, then why are some rights abridged on any of those criteria?  How is this democratic?

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Worst Case Planning

"Relax," said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive,
You can check out anytime you like... 
but you can never leave" 
--Hotel California, The Eagles 

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends 
--The Municipal Gallery Revisited, 
W. B. Yeats 

The recent murder of U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats along with the release of Mark Bissonnette's book No Easy Day prompt further thoughts:

The Special Forces Son Tay raid was an Act of War into a hostile nation to retrieve United States Prisoners of War.   It was a high-risk operation, just as was the SEAL team assassination party's incursion in Abbottabad, Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.  The difference is, Pakistan is an ostensible ally, and allies do not invade other allies; the idea is, a nation runs hostile operations in hostile countries.

If Son Tay had failed, the U.S. could accept that fact and the resultant loss of friendly lives, but what would a botched job have done to America in the case of the OBL raid? Could we have accepted a Black Hawk Down scenario, in which U.S. dead would be dragged through the streets of a friendly nation in hideous glee?

Would the U.S. have fought any Pakistani troops sent to establish Pakistan's control of their sovereign territory?  Did anyone wargame these questions?  Were the risks worth the payoff?  Was the killing of OBL worth taking these risks?

Since the inception of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) the military logic of operations has consistently been composed of pie-in-the-sky planning and ignoring worst-case scenarios.  

What strategic value attended this operation?  If the intel was as good as Bissonnette's book suggests, why not just JDAM the target area?  If indeed killing was the object, why not simply put a precision target on the compound?

Maybe the fix was in, and the Pakistanis had been read into the scenario and had agreed to avoid and contact with U.S. troops, but this seems unlikely. If this were true, then they are a duplicitous bunch of opportunists sans straight-talk or straight-dealing. Whatever the situation, the operation lacked any semblance of military logic.

These thoughts pose further questions, "What is 'hostile'?"  Are Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan allies or even friendly, or are the hostile to the U.S.?  How does the U.S. treat enemies, and how, friends?  Can we even distinguish the difference these days?

It is hardly credible that Iraq and Afghanistan are friendly to the U.S.  It is readily believable that they will suck every dollar that we will throw their way, but they will never love or befriend us, and to believe so is delusional.

[cross-posted @ milpub]

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Advice for the War Torn and Lovelorn, 9.15.12


Ranger's advice column is back and open for your general queries, insights, theories and griping.

What's on your mind?

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Pt. II

 Two shots in the heart, one in the mind
--T-shirt sold at a gun show

 Johnny's in America
Johnny wants a brain
Johnny wants to suck on a Coke
Johnny wants a woman 
--I'm Afraid of Americans, 
David Bowie

Former SEAL Mark Bissonnette's "No Good Day" recounted the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and though trying to serve as patriotic doggerel instead reveals the sham that is the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

Instead of having America's finest assassinate an ailing terrorist has-been by breaching his compound, why not find out where he was having his weekly dialysis performed -- would not that be a better place to conduct an operation?  What other possible scenarios could have occurred?  Bissonnette writes of the ever-re-converted modular structure in which they trained, but there is no talk of training OUTSIDE of the box.

Of course, that would not be Bissonnette's call, but his higher ups, and one must wonder why such an anti-climactic denouement with such apparent contradiction was executed.  However, this quality should come as no surprise when one of the founding theatrics of the PWOT © -- the all-services "rescue" of Jessica Lynch -- was revealed for the sham it was.

Further, was it necessary to kill bin Laden?  Was he still an operational threat, or just a symbolic target of revenge?  If the latter, then the United States is using terror to combat terror, a never-ending Mobius strip of murder.

If the PWOT is about winning hearts and minds, how do we justify assassination? If the operation was so vital to our national security, then why is the helmet cam footage not being released?  Surely we the citizens have the right to see our tax dollars at work killing folks and alienating Islamic hearts and minds.

It has not been explained how the U.S. has the right to violate the sovereignty of the borders of the  nation of Pakistan.  Would we Americans welcome United Nations black helicopters invading our borders?

The U.S. romps and stomps like a bull in a China shop, acting as though the entire world -- or even just U.S. taxpayers -- buys into the Special Operations view of the world, which is that they may kill at will.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  Can't kill your way out of war
--General David Petraeus 

Acting is all about honesty.
If you can fake that, you've got it made
--George Burns

 I think I'll move to Australia 
--Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst

Retired SEAL Matt Bissonnette's No Easy Day (published under the pseudonym, "Mark Owen") is a kiss-and-tell about the assassination of Osama bin Laden by Seal Team 6 (ST6), of which he was a member.  Many things surrounding this book reveal the questionable nature of the War on Terror.

First, if the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) were real, would it not be an act of sheer insanity to identify oneself in the media?  Would one not then be a sitting duck for al Qaeda retribution?

Second: All members of ST6 were awarded the Silver Star Medal (SSM) for this operation in which there was, by Bissonnette's account, less-than negligible hostile action.  This award should be bestowed for conspicuous valor in the face of an armed enemy -- how does this equate with assassinating an unarmed man in his nightshirt, in his house?

The Silver Star is appropriate for the Bedford Boys in World War II Normandy and later, the Battle of the Bulge. Appropriate for the Battle of Lang Vei or the Son Tay raid in Vietnam, in which large enemy forces were engaged and neutralized in a genuine military raid conducted for a military reason.  More recently, think Waygul and Wanat.

The SSM is NOT awarded for service or achievement; the Bronze Star without "V" device (valor) device takes care of that need. As with the Pat Tillman scenario, the statutory requirements for the award were not met.  There were more SSM's awarded for the OBL action than were awarded to entire Ranger and Airborne Battalions on D-Day.  Moreover, assassination is not a military term.

Third: The Law of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions, which are the law of our land and all civilized nations, does not recognize the actions of Bissonnette's "No Easy Day".

Bissonnette admits that OBL was shot in the entry phase with two to the head, and he said he himself then fired a handful into the body of a grievously-wounded adversary, whom he "could not identify".  If the target was no longer capable of hostile action (any man  is neutralized when he takes two to the head from a 5.56 carbine, and Bissonette describes OBL's brains spilling onto the floor), then his action is a violation of the GC's.  

He justified his trunk shots on the program 60 Minutes by saying he wasn't sure if OBL held a grenade under his clothing which he might throw, but that would be a scenario only seen in Marvel comics. Of course, after a cascade of dissimulation from the highest levels, what matter a final fib from a triggerman?

Fourth, but perhaps most significantly: Why was there no credible effort made to capture the most valuable source of intelligence concerning al Qaeda?  A live prisoner is an invaluable asset for neutralizing terror networks.  A kill mission in this case lacks military (though perhaps not political) logic.

The author has been criticized for jeopardizing national security, but what SEAL or SOCOM technique, training or operational imperative was exposed that had not already been revealed in the recent Navy propaganda film, "Act of Valor"?

If Act of Valor is a righteous film, then too is this book.  If this is a false conclusion, then Bradley Manning may be getting a new bunk mate.

Washington's objection to this book is that this soldier compromised the White House's carefully-scripted theater, revealing that the rapt faces in the NSC viewing room the day of the assassination were actually conducting the finest performance of the day.

[cross-posted @ milpub]

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It's Official: We're Back!

--No more of those shoes apres Labor Day
(Georges Simenon)  

Back in black
I hit the sack
I've been too long
 I'm glad to be back
--Back in Black, AC/DC  

More discipline, less bondage 
-- High Anxiety (1977)

RAW is cooling down, heating up, and generally getting in the spirit of post-Labor Day.  We are tightening up ship, leaving the languorous 5+ months which constitute a North Florida summer behind. We think the days of 90+ degrees are behind us for a bit, so picture your staff no longer swooning before the oscillating fan, groping for cold beverage.  We are committing to a regular posting schedule once again. Game on!

This a manifesto for our loyal readers by way of a slightly sheepish apology: We have been less-than-steady writers over the last month or so, but we are back and STRAC, or will endeavor to be so.  So please look for the usual 4-5 posts per week, with the occasional homily, occasional contest, and anything else you might like.

Ranger's "Advice for the War Torn and Love Lorn" will return on Friday as an open weekend blotter for your scatter shot. Remember: This is your site -- please join in the fray.

Ranger puts the new-found rigor this way: "No more pussy pieces!"; Lisa stares, aghast.  There will be hard and soft, Yin and Yang.  This will remain a human site.

Should travel interfere with regular posting, we will adhere to a truncated bi-weekly posting (and mean it.)  We will declare so ahead of time, when necessary.

Discipline, discipline, discipline.

Anyway, we're back, baby!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Artistic Offense

It makes me want to step outside 
I want to loosen my tie 
Sweet Jesus, my heart 
Is beating faster and faster 
--Modern Art, Art Brut

Nobody does it better 
Makes me feel sad for the rest 
Nobody does it half as good as you 
Baby, you're the best 
--Nobody Does it Better, 
Carly Simon

And while we are at our day of remembrance, witness the new Purple Heart pin fronting the cover of this month's Military Order of the Purple Heart magazine (on right).

The pin is supposed to be a facsimile of the noble Purple Heart medallion featuring our first president, George Washington.  Instead, it looks vaguely like a Labrador Retriever, or perhaps Veronica Lake.  The features have been so obliterated that it could be some insect's pupa.

This, no doubt, is a Chinese manufacturing effort, lacking the tolerances and oversight that used to be the hallmark of American-made goods. (Efforts to get an answer as to the source of the monstrosity were met with ambiguity.) So Americans fight and die, and buy things from our once great rival, Communist China -- now, Most Favored Nation (MFN) People's Republic of China, the nation who rolls over civil rights as we fight wars to ostensibly install those rights in lesser places.

Meanwhile, we suffer along, calling a bad the "new normal", gobbling up shoddy goods and calling it a day, forgetting that at one time, such items wouldn't sit on the discount table at Woolworths (if we still had a Woolworths.)

Where does pride end, and expediency begin? Gall?  This horrific effort -- fronting a national magazine, no less -- brought to mind the recent botched effort to restore an ecce homo fresco of Jesus in Spain -- "probably the worst art restoration project of all time"  -- by 80-ish parishioner Cecilia Giménez.

Take a gander, if you dare, and tell us which you think is the worse offense:

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Escape and Evasion

 No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody's gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody's gonna mess me round 
--Highway to Hell, AC/DC

Here's to remembering the events of 9-11-01, the beginning of the United State's Stalingrad.

To mark the 11-year anniversary, Daniel Politi at Slate ran the following: "Report: Bush Ignored Many Al-Qaida Warnings".  Say it ain't so, Daniel.

And below is a selection from "The Special Forces Guide to Escape and Evasion" (subtitled: "The SF Guy's Guidebook to Love".)  That's a little levity on a day for which there is not much reason to be light. It is from a section entitled, "Bravo Two Zero", about an SAS road watch patrol code named "B20" and their insertion in Iraq in 1991.

 Ranger likes this bit because it shows how it is supposed to be done:

 "When the NCO commanding Road Watch South landed, he did not release the helicopter before he had assessed the terrain.  This was open and flat and in the words of one trooper, the patrol would have been 'as obvious as a turd on a billiard table.'  The NCO and patrol decided that without vehicles it was a futile operation and were wisely withdrawn back to Saudi Arabia, for subsequent redeployment (60)."

Not only did the NCO do an aerial visual reconnaissance, he did not release the aircraft until he was satisfied he was in the right place and could continue his mission.  After a ground reconnaissance he deemed it a "futile mission" and so aborted it.

Unfortunately, Road Watch North -- in a similar exposed location -- did not abort.  They went in low on equipment, expecting to be self-sufficient for 14 days, a formula for disaster, which is exactly what they met with. Only one man, Corporal Ryan, survived.

Sometimes, quitting the mission is the correct move.  Today, it does not seem they will ever not continue the mission, come hell or high water.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Peddlers and Meddlers

Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution,
in which transactions are manufactured instead of products,
wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity,
and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured
while American communities fall apart  
--Greed and Debt, Matt Taibbi 

They’re peddlers and they’re meddlers
They buy and they sell
They destroyed your city
They’ll destroy you as well 
--Early Roman Kings,
 Bob Dylan 

Yo, we at war  
We at war with terrorism, racism  
And most of all, we at war wit ourselves  
--Jesus Walks, Kayne West 

"One Nation Under God" and "In God We Trust" have been co-opted as the mottos of today's Republican Party and express their vision for America as voiced in their recent national convention.  Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan even bemoaned the fact that we were not MORE Christian: 

Slate wrote, "Ryan wants the Obama administration to explain why the Democratic platform doesn't include the word God in it. 'It’s not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision,' the VP hopeful told Fox News this morning. 'I’d guess you’d have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform.'"

But what about those of us who do not Trust in God?  Who speaks for us?  Why am I bound to their beliefs?  We are not "One Nation Under God," but rather a pluralistic society founded upon a humanistic philosophy which transcended the mandatory belief in a personal god.

Our government was not based upon religious belief but rather the freedom from any imperative -- governmental or otherwise -- to believe or not to believe.  Separation of Church and State was the watchword; citizens could overdose on religion, or not, depending upon their own predilections.  The bible is not the Constitution, and the Constitution is the seminal document for the United States -- a document not to be contravened by any other dogma.

The U.S. is no longer a bastion for White Anglo Saxon Protestants; their domination has been thrown to the charnal house of history. Try though the two Republican nominees might, the days of what they are peddling has past.  They cannot legislate morality any more than they can live morally.

Mitt is right: We deserve better.  But their convention did NOT tell us is how we can achieve the fabulous wealth and security that will supposedly come of bootstrap-pulling and dogma-adherence.  The Republicans say that the government has failed us, yet in a non-sequitur, advocate cutting food stamps, a program which has been successful in alleviating hunger in a nation in which one of ten of us suffers from "food insufficiency" (=hunger). For such a religious platform, their proposed policies are awfully penurious and punitive toward the poor.

Among a sea of believers in the Prince of Peace, why have we none but advocates for Warriorhood?  When did the worldly paid warrior enter into a neo-pantheon of gods? While our nation flounders while needing to create millions of jobs, it instead borrows money to fight elective and meaningless wars.  Why is war the only foreign policy we consider?  When did warfare become the American way of life?

Reason and logic had left the building in the RNC.

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