Monday, March 31, 2014

The Weakest Link

When she was good,
She was very good indeed, 
But when she was bad she was horrid 
--There Was a Little Girl, 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of 
--19th cen. nursery rhyme 

She may be weary, women do get weary,
wearing the same shabby dress
And when she's weary,
try a little tenderness.
--Try a Little Tenderness, 
Frank Sinatra

~I think ugly girls should be
shot at birth by their parents.
It's bad enough being born a girl...but ugly and clever...
~fancy you're clever, do you?
  ~I rather hope so. I'm done for if I'm not! 
--My Brilliant Career (1979)
Myth, media and reality: Tough Grrrls

The Marines recently pushed back the requirement that female recruits successfully accomplish 3 pull ups as more than 50% could not manage that feat, "delaying the prerequisite as it tries to integrate thousands of women into combat roles by 2016, the Associated Press reports."

The myths surrounding female vigor have shifted over time. There were the fabled Amazons who possessed physical prowess and goddesses who wielded the power to command others to do their killing. There was Boudica and Joan of Arc, and the rare women throughout history who went to war under cloak of male's clothing.

Patriarchy emphasized female reliance upon the male's brawn, and diminished her further through representations of the hysterical woman at once enslaved to her hormones and therefore a threat to the male's surety of his lineage, while at once ensuring the male's place as the satisfier of her wanton lusts.

Freud introduced us to the male's fear of engulfment and the vagina dentata, and the ever-receding possibility of sexual parity issuing not only from the inherent structural differences between the sexes but also our own particular neurosis and psychoses. It would seem the sexes would be forever consigned to opposite sides of the cave, cowering, glowering and licking their chops. The agreement allowing for one-on-one cohabitation was the marriage contract, a prospect based upon the distribution but not equalization of labor.

The 20th century ushered in film, actors, computer graphics and a social ethos which says, "Free to Be ... You and Me." In a generation we went from female cops like "Cagney and Lacey" -- of indeterminate sexual orientation -- to sexy killers like Ziva David on the popular television series NCIS. The boys can play with dolls, and girls can watch G. I. Jane and Lara Croft Tomb Raider. It's all good.

Fast forward 30 years and the new tough females are borderline or straight-out psychotic killing machines, like the female characters on the t.v. series Person of Interest. Forget bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan -- she does not care about making you feel like a man, because she's too busy co-opting your positions. Or so the media would have you believe.

The press hypes the new aggressive Alpha female and most accept the idea of women in combat and the death of the draft. But Ranger's position has remained steadfast: women should not be in the combat arms or maneuver or deployable units.

He does not hold this position because he is a misogynist or a dinosaur, but because the facts bear out his position. He is sorry to stomp on the parade of those who maintain the happy thoughts like "anyone can grow up to be President.

The Army teaches that a unit is as strong as its weakest link. Soldiers train hard to achieve a strong chain that can pull a heavy load. Individual training strengthens the individual, and these single units are integrated into unit training after which they become deployable assets. This is the basis of all combat effectiveness and unit cohesion.

Combat is neither glamorous nor does it have redemptive value. In training, men frequently lose weight and get beaten down hard. It is doubtful that women could perform on the brute physical level of men like Medal of Honor recipients Staff Sergeant Jon Caviani and SSG Roy Benavides, who killed enemy in close quarters combat with their fighting knives after having suffered grievous wounds (Caviani put his knife in a man's brain and was forced to leave it as it became bone welded and would not extract.)

SSG Fred Zabitowsky broke his back and ribs but managed to pull three men out of a downed helo and drag them to an extraction area. He was burned, broken and gunshot, yet he hefted soldiers onto his back. Like so many MOH recipients, Zabitowsky accepted the award on behalf of his fellows, whom he credited with operating at the same level of heroism. (We have written about Ranger associate Paul Longgrear, who led his men out of the Battle of Lang Vei with a broken ankle and head wound.)

These acts are those of the fighting male operating full bore. Unlike Title IX in women's sports, the battlefield may not be arrayed so that women fight only their physical peers. The fact is, most men who qualify for military participation can physically dominate most women in a fight scenario. This is why most Olympics sports are segregated by gender -- it is not to give them the disadvantage, but rather to offer them parity in competition. This "separate but equal" is fair.

Ranger anticipates objections that these are extreme scenarios, but this is what the military's "chain" concept is all about. 

Twenty-four Medals of Honor were recently belatedly awarded to men who had been denied their awards due to racial or religious prejudice. Ranger challenges anyone to read these MOH citations and image a female performing the same deeds. It does not come down to bravery or patriotism alone, it comes down to sheer physical capabilities.

So what's the solution? Put women on 155, 8 inch, 4.2 mortars? Will they pull motor stables with the mechanized and Armor? Will they carry a Barrett 50 or a GPMG? Will women hump ammo as assistant gunners? Can they throw a grenade and fight with men in close quarters combat? Endure the filth and privations of the battlefield?

Ranger does not believe combat effectiveness should be compromised in the name of raising the glass ceiling.

 [cross-posted @ MilPub.]

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kansas Preacher Man

He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone 
--John 8:7 

A half truth is a whole lie
--Yiddish proverb

 The evil that men do lives after them; 
the good is oft interred with their bones 
--Julius Ceasar (III, ii)

We don't know Rev. Fred Phelps from Adam, and do not hawk any particular dogma. But we are interested in the way media presents events.

In our outraged society, the death of Kansas preacher Fred Phelps must call for celebration -- a blot of medieval backwardness has been removed from the planet. Mr. Phelps gained infamy for his pronouncements that the United States' pro-homosexual stance was bringing the wrath of God down upon it, and his protests at military funerals gained him no love from that community of mourners.

A WaPo piece on his death even endeavored to take the high road by suggesting that imminent posts by Facebookers and Twitterers not dance on his grave, as that might be bad form. But what the Post failed to provide readers was a balanced obituary for this easy-to-dislike man, which would have provided real grist for such a request.

Missing was the momentous first half of this attorney-cum-preacher's life, in which he was one of the only private attorney's in early 1960's Kansas who would advocate for the civil rights of its black citizens, and he was successful in a big way. As a Christian, Phelps found racial bias unpalatable and against the word of God. All men are made in God's image; that's what his Good Book said. He could not brook their second-class status, and he moved against prejudice in a meaningful way.

You may call him a demogogue, but this was a man of action and not solely words who behaved in accordance with his beliefs. According to his moral guidebook, marriage was between men and women, and recent moves to force gay marriage in church were an an abomination. He didn't create his viewpoint, but was guided by the Christian rulebook, a book which has provided the foundation for many of our laws. Playing by those rules, his positions were consonant throughout his public life. 

Gay rights is the cause du jour -- the last frontier of the civil rights movement -- and this time, Phelps was on the wrong side of public opinion. Monster (on gay marriage) / savior (black civil rights). Demagogue / demigod. Like Ella Fitzgerald sang, " 'taint what you do, it's the way that you do it," and Phelps' approach was far from politic.

However, it is futility to expect the State to attempt to coerce the Church to believe otherwise on the gay marriage issue. Our Founders were wise enough to separate the two spheres. But separation does not imply smashing the institution. We are not Communistic, and those who would condemn religionists are as intolerant as those they would condemn. Live and let live is the ideal.

The whole truth of the man's life is complex, not so easily dismissed in a 120 character tweeted diatribe. Had the Post presented a complete obituary, they would have to forgo their saintliness, and we would have to forgo our desire for outrage and easily understood stories.

Complexities require thought.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy Spring

The great enemy of the truth
is very often not the lie,
deliberate, contrived and dishonest,
but the myth, persistent, persuasive
and unrealistic
 --John F. Kennedy

 Fly with me, float down to Peru
In llama land there's a one-man band
And he'll toot his flute for you
Fly with me, we'll take off in the blue 
--Come Fly With Me, Frank Sinatra 

Everything we hear is an opinion,
not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, 
not the truth
--Marcus Aurelius
Ranger update:

Apologies for the paucity of posts. It is springtime, and we return with a whiff of fresh air.

Our current interest is the nexus of myth, media and truth (not that the first two do not possess their own truth.) We will be looking at today's events through this lens.

Why not? This decade has seen the demise of major newspapers and the extreme downsizing of the reporting staff at the remaining papers. McClatchey news service was left standing as a lone credible (=disinterested) news source, and wildcat reporters congealed around groups like Global Post.

Many are attempting to decenter such news, playing upon the Postmodernist idea that truth does not exist. Tech billionaire Pierre Omidyar has seized the moment to create his partisan-style news service First Look Media which has recruited lawyer-writer Glenn Greenwald and journo Jeremy Scahill.

The Guardian quotes Jeremy Rosen who interviewed Omidyar as saying Omidyar is seeking "the proper midpoint between voicey blogging and traditional journalism, in which the best of both are combined." His First Look Media has been called "crusading Journalism", but that is an oxymoron. Journalism is the direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation. Opinion is opinion.

Truth. Let's give it a go.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gadsden County Social Security Office Closing, April 2014

 --Minister Alphonso Figgers 

Sedan delivery is a job
I know I'll keep
It sure was hard to find
Hard to find, hard to find a job,
hard to find, hard to find 
--Sedan Delivery, Neil Young

Here's a little story from Ranger's town of Quincy, the county seat of Gadsden County, the only predominantly black county in Florida. Thirty percent of the residents of this pine scrub county on the Georgia line live below the Federal poverty guidelines.

For the last two weeks, lay minster Alphonso Figgers has been manning his makeshift roadside post outside of the Gadsden Social Security office at 1105 East Jefferson Street, protesting the imminent closing of that office. Figgers showed us a folder of materials on the closing, slated for 31 March 2014.

While the decision to close the office was made in January, workers only received notice earlier this month (2 March).

The SSA stated that the decision to close the office was based on findings that the office rental of $12,000/month was not justified by the 54 constituents served daily.

Figgers said that to address the rent issue, Representative Allen Williams and City Commissioner Holt had convened a meeting on 11 March to discuss alternatives to the closing, including offering free space for SSA operation in an annex of the Sheriff's Department to address the rent issue. However, the offer could neither be accepted nor declined as no representatives from the SSA attended the meeting.

After the office closure, a letter from the SSA states residents will have the option of seeking services at the SSA offices in Tallahassee (25 miles), Marianna (50 miles) or Albany, Georgia. But for residents who do not own or have access to a vehicle or any sort of public transportation, this will constitute a possibly insurmountable hardship. Senator Bill Nelson has written an letter of appeal to Carolyn Colvin, the acting Commissioner of the SSA, expressing the direness of the situation.

The SSA has already closed its contact stations and mobile service stations in the county. There will be no further attempts at outreach to needy citizens. This is but one sad loss resulting from the sequestration and budget cuts. With the aging of the population comes the requirement of more servicing from public resource agencies, not less.

Mr. Figgers wonders aloud if its not the demographics of the constituency in Gadsden County which make it any easy target for losing government services. Perhaps it is just that a government on a shoestring is operating in the same mode of the "compassionate conservatives," hoping that some private party will step in to meet the need they are abandoning, but that is not how a government should operate its programs aimed at serving its neediest populations.

As with what happened when the Food Stamp program increased its requirements for qualification and those without vehicles had difficulty amassing all the new materials necessary for qualification, some will go underground and do with less food, less medical care and medications. Some will die prematurely, but the death certificate will not read, "death by sequestration".

And the country gets a little meaner incrementally.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"A" is for Adultery

--One of West Virginia's finest bites the dust 
How are the mighty fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!
--Samuel 1:27 

I'm only human
Of flesh and blood I'm made
Born to make mistakes 
--Human, Human League 

But you didn't have to cut me off 
Make out like it never happened
and that we were nothing 
And I don't even need your love 
But you treat me like a stranger 
and that feels so rough 
--Somebody That I Used to Know,

The latest big Army Horn Dog to fall -- Brig. General Jeffrey Sinclair (="General Sin clear"?) -- has found a safe place to land following his indiscreet dalliances. His wife submitted a statement read before the court today requesting a lenient penalty be dealt her husband, not just so she could retain the income to which she'd become accustomed, mind (ahem), and it seems some additional sympathetic testimony has turned the judge's heart

Adultery, which is a felony charge in the military, could have earned up to a 25-year sentence for Sinclair. By this yardstick, Ranger knew a lot of felons while serving in the Army.

He wonders why adultery is a felony in the military when it has been decriminalized in most states? In traditional English common law adultery was a felony but we have come a long way since the 1700's, for better or worse(In the states which maintain adultery's criminality, it is a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The crime is rarely prosecuted, mainly used as evidence in divorce trials.)

Sinclair follows in the ignominious footprints of General David Petraeus (= "General Betray us"), and his military career is probably now over. It is understood when one enters the military that such disorder will not be brooked. But it does seem hypocritical to have permitted Generals Pershing, Eisenhower and Patton their mistresses in the past. Ditto the various philandering Commanders in Chief.

Perhaps society or the media was more discreet in their treatment of such stories in the past. Perhaps the immediacy of social media demands the public flaying of the once-mighty whose hubris leads them to think they can outrun the ever-watchful eyes. Or perhaps it is the general disillusionment with a military which has led us into numerous fiascoes which has caused it's leaders to lose their immunity from censure.

In any event, it does seem selectively damning to choose adultery as criminally prosecutable while other questionable military actions are granted immunity. This is not to argue for the excellence of extramarital sex, but perhaps the hypocrisy of discretionary punishment.

As gay Air Force Technical Sergeant and gender-rights crusader Leonard Matlovich had inscribed on his tombstone: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." Not that screwing around should be a medaled behavior; everyone knows the cost. But if we were truly talking morals, there is a lot more that goes on that ought to be prosecuted and is not.

For a simple start, it could be argued that killing and maiming in the service of discretionary wars is immoral.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Words as Saltambiques

Let me hear you say
The words I want to hear
Darling when you're near 
--Words of Love,
Buddy Holly 

Now what I want is Facts. ...
In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir;
nothing but facts! 
--Hard Times, Charles Dickens 

I've believed as many as six
 impossible things before breakfast 
--Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol

Outside of last weekend's local gun show stood an animated crowd of young Republicans swinging placards declaring of our Teabagger-friendly Congressman Steve Southerland, "He'll protect your 2nd Amendment rights!"

Ranger thought, "What's a right if it has to be protected?" Of course, no one has a "right" to own a gun -- our rights are delegated to us, and protected by the proper authorities. This implies they may be yanked from us just as easily.

Ditto all rights: just because we have a voice box does not guarantee us the right to use it in any manner we see fit, or in any circumstance. Our "rights" are curtailed once they enter the public sphere, and protections must be issued and guarded in order to allow our expectation of continuity in our lives. So perhaps the word "rights" is not the best one for these privileges accorded by our guiding societal agreements.

An enumerated right might be an offense, in another context. Words are symbols, and may only approximate the actuality (presuming an actuality exists.) As Alfred Korzybski wrote, "the map is not the territory." This is not to say that the deconstructionists are correct when they strip the possibility of fixed meaning from words. It is simply that absolute definitions are really only valid within an agreed upon construct.

In context then, terms like "situational ethics" are revealed as the excuse and cloaking mechanism which they are. Situational ethics imply no ethics at all, or no fixed ethics, which throws the reference point for knowledge (in this case, "ethics") into question.

Words can be used to communicate or to obfuscate. They can be constructive or destructive. The goal of communication is not necessarily positive. Words in the service of communications have become more emotive, as it is easier to sway people with emotion.

Some words are forbidden, and euphemisms can become mandatory. Entire swathes of our population engage in a private lexicon understood only by acolytes. However, as in the classic "All in the Family" episode in which husband Archie forbade Edith from using the term "cling peaches", a way around the matter was found, and a careful and discreet listener can divine the meaning behind the rhetoric.

Today, when words are generated at such a rapid pace, and replicated through the push of a button into myriad other platforms, words often fail to clarify, instead taking up their role as saboteurs of meaning. By blurring hard definitions, words wear a cloak of impenetrability. This confusion over simple meanings causes the listener to block attempts to hear and decode what the saboteurs are producing in their sound bytes, or simply to question when those sound bytes do not seem to be consistent with observed reality, or even what was said prior.

For example, the word "invasion" has gone from being a word describing an offensive act to an ostensibly protective concept with the addition of "preemptive". Invasions become prophylaxis to a future invasion. The aggressor (= "preemptive invader") becomes a gatekeeper.

In this context, the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq becomes a positive and protective gesture, like Congressman Southerland's protection of my rights. However, in Russia's current actions in the restive nation on its border (the Crimea in Ukraine), invasion is once again configured as an untoward and aggressive action. How does an individual make sense of one word with so many intonations and connotations?

Contributing to the problem is the panoply of issues which occupy a life, and the concomitant number of platforms on which we receive our news, gobbling up any free time which might be used in contemplation. Not only have facts blurred into opinions, but the opinion generators have gained their own followings, such is the need for material to fill up the cable airspace, and comedians who can keep our attention better than the dry newscasters are often our main sources of data. But while comedians may hold our attention, they cannot do the deep thinking for us, something required of an informed electorate.

Words can also be the basis of disinformation when used by propagandists, and are used to confuse and confound, eliciting a desired effect that may be unreasonable, emotional or inappropriate. Sometimes, the propagandists look like good guys, such as those in our National Security Agency.

But back to the gun show.

How can a  congressman protect my rights from anything? If they are rights, as conferred by foundational documents which have created and guide my government, then he is only charged with getting out of the way. Congress critters should disabuse themselves of the notion that they are doing anything besides functioning as obedient public servants.

--Jim and Lisa

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Truth is a Pathless Land

The devil and a friend of his
were walking down the street,
when they saw ahead of them
a man stoop down and pick up
something from the ground, look at it,
and put it away in his pocket.

The friend said to the devil,
“What did that man pick up?”
“He picked up a piece of Truth,”
said the devil.
“That is a very bad business for you, then,”
said his friend.
“Oh, not at all,”the devil replied,
“I am going to let him organize it."   
--Truth is a Pathless Land, 
Jiddhu Krishnamurti 

A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war:
wide-awake, with fear, with respect,
and with absolute assurance.
Going to knowledge or going to war in any
other manner is a mistake,
and whoever makes it might never live to regret it
--A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, 
Carlos Castenada 

There has been a sea change in the content and distribution of news since 2006, when we started RangerAgainstWar.

This week, the executioner's hood came down on disinterested reportage on National Public Radio in the form of a program covering Facebook's recent $19 Billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service.

Technology columnist Farhad Manjoo late of The New York Times stated disingenuously that young people don't like that their documentation of every facet of their lives (=doxxing) is being data mined. Did you get that? This suggests that the reason one opens a Facebook account is to protect one's privacy, which is absurd.

The unspoken presumption and agenda was that everyone must participate on Facebook, which is unequivocally false. (Interestingly, Manjoo wrote a book called True Enough, in which he recognized our current slide into what comedian- posing as -journo Steven Colbert called, "Truthiness" -- a way of "feeling the news".) So while Manjoo wrote a book about truthiness, virtually the entire hour-long NPR roundtable on the What'sApp story was an homage to such idiocy, meaning a lack of rigor and a puffy sycophantic awe at the latest toy.

Here's a portion of Manjoo's own truthiness (keep in mind Manjoo was formerly tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal and Slate):

"You know, (What'sApp developers) were adamant from the start that they did not want this app to feel lumbered -- you know, lumbering, sort of weighed down by advertising.
"It has no ads. They sort of have written several blog posts about how they hate advertising. And it also doesn't collect much user data because they don't have advertising. So they don't really need to kind of target you by, you know, your demographics or your location or, you know, any other information about you. So you sign on with very little information. And this is very unusual kind of in the internet industry and unusual -- very unusual for a company that's now going to be owned by Facebook"

I don't know what it means to "sort of have written several blog posts," but what are Manjoo's implications? --

  • Idealism is beautiful and making no money from advertising is idealistically beautiful.
  • What happened to FB's founder Mark Zuckerberg that he has become this profit-making titan of industry who sells ads on his sites?
  • All hail the "advertising-hating" developers of What'sApp who have just pocketed a cool $19 Billion from the sale of their app to an advertising revenue-creating giant (so much for idealism.)

Manjoo called the adamantly anti-advertising stance of the What'sApp developers an "interesting shift", but this is a mouthful of mush for there is no shift whatsoever in media's revenue-making model: advertising is king. The developers just sold their product for $19 Billion to Mr. Zuckerberg, who will gladly get his hands dirty with advertising if the developers won't.

But did anyone else listening to or moderating the program catch these glaring inconsistencies which essentially rendered the program clap-trap? It does not seem so.

This is but one example of agenda posing as information, and it happens every time you read a paper or listen to any media transmission. Today, misinformation and agenda is the norm. Some more recent lies that pop into mind:

The Week Magazine recently wrote that the rise of the Fascist far-right Jobbik party in Hungary must be due to the fact that its members are unfamiliar with its uncomfortable Nazi link. Sadly, no -- more likely the neo-Nazi members are delighted with the linkage, and hence their affiliation. Appealing as it may be to a gentle conscience, we cannot whitewash hatred by explaining it as a function of the ignorance of the practitioners.Hatred is a deliberate choice every bit as valid as choosing for tolerance.

Reporting on the Ukrainian violence, the ABC Evening News added to the case against Ukraine's Prseident Viktor Yanukovich by stating he had been ushered into office on the results of a undemocratic election. This is false, as the election was closely monitored by an international group of elections officials. Whatever claims exist against Yanukovich, they cannot be substantiated by piling on the false one of an undemocratic election.

And there is so much more, on every newscast, in every paper.

Back in 2006, some interesting and informed people landed at the new blog, RAW. One, a Norwegian anarchist, pled, "Tell us what to think, Ranger." We were somewhat amused but also flummoxed: who were we to tell anyone what to think? Our goal then, as now, was to observe and place our observations out there for consideration and dialog.

Today, the reporter's agenda is not merely obscured -- however faintly -- but it is actively championed. Writers like Ezra Klein and Glenn Greenwald are hopping on the bandwagon of providing "opinionated news", and oxymoron if ever there were. At best, it is "benevolent propaganda" ready to tell you how they think, and how you probably should, too.

More on benevolent propaganda soon.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Taps: Norman C. Dupuis

 If it is not right do not do it;
if it is not true do not say it 
Marcus Aurelius

Integrity is not a conditional word.
It doesn't blow in the wind or change
with the weather.
It is your inner image of yourself,
and if you look in there and see
a man who won't cheat,
then you know he never will.
Integrity is not a search for the rewards of integrity.
Maybe all you ever get for it
is the largest kick in the ass the world can provide.
It is not supposed to be a productive asset
--John D. MacDonald

Lisa reads the obituaries, and she noticed an associate of Ranger's in the Taps section of last month's Purple Heart magazine, Norman Charles Dupuis.

It is poignant to learn of his death now, after Ranger's recent piece on his disillusionment following his poor Officer Efficiency Report. You see, as an enlisted man who had received a direct commission, Captain Dupuis had a distinct view of soldiering which manifested in one of Ranger's fonder memories regarding the OER process.

Ranger first met Captain Dupuis (pron., "Doo-pus") when he was assigned the dubious distinction of training this young soldier newly-assigned to B53/5th Special Forces (Abn) to be his replacement, as Norm was being rotated into the S-3 (Operations Officer) job.

Ranger learned much from this sober man with a wry sense of humor who did not threaten easily. This was evidenced when our Camp Commander threatened to ding people on their OERs if they dared go a scintilla awry.

Norm replied, as only a Sergeant Major in receipt of a direct commission could: "The only way an OER could hurt me is if you rolled it up and stuck it in my eye."

Another example of Norm's direct humor followed a torturous staff meeting run by a tedious officer with a preternatural faith in charts. Norman stated, "What we really need now is a chart to show how many times we've used the other charts."

RangerAgainstWar has written previously about a fight on 22 Jan 71 outside of Camp Lang Thanh in Vietnam that led to numerous U.S. deaths. Ranger believes that failure would not have occurred if Cpt. Dupuis had been the S-3 on that day. Norm was always calm and cool, and he probably would have been more deliberate before launching the ad-hoc reaction team on their ill-fated mission. He might have hewn more closely to troop-leading procedures, and lives might have been saved.

Though we were only business associates, Ranger has always remembered Norman Dupuis fondly. He was an exceptional example of soldierly rectitude.

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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Taliban's Got Spokesmen

Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
Machine gun ready to go
Are you ready, hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? 
--Another One Bites the Dust, 

 So when you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree
There'll be pennies from Heaven
For you and me 
--Pennies From Heaven, 
Bing Crosby

When another one bites the dust, the happy-yippy media cues up applause. So when the United States vaporized Pakistani Taliban head honcho Hakimullah Mehsud last November, the audience's neon sign lit up predictably.

But the Pakistan Taliban -- like all such groups -- self-generates, and every slot can be filled by another, one-each.  As we at RAW have written before (when "taking out" the No. Two's was big deal), if the 7th "No. Two" is taken out there will be an 8th.

The media crowed that the latest leader is the hardest of the hard, Mullah Fazlullah. Feh -- just another day at the office, but there is meaning here for U.S. taxpayers.

Fazlullah is reported to be supported by Afghan intelligence, noteworthy since Afghan intel is a creature of 12 years of support provided to Afghan National Forces. Afghan intel is supporting Pakistan Taliban in order to punish Pakistan for supporting the Afghan Taliban. (Sounds like a line from a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera.)  So U.S. monies are now supporting the Taliban, which is in turn trying to destabilize Pakistani interests.

Get that? Simply put, the Taliban flourishes in theatre with the support of U.S. tax dollars. -- the same guys who used to be the bad dudes. (What, no applause?)

The Pakistani Taliban's spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, has recently announced a month-long ceasefire of the affiliated groups (theTehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or "TTP") aimed at reviving stalled peace talks with the Pakistani government, and to coerce them into accepting conservative religious sharia law. So even the Taliban is ingratiating itself into governmental tactics by offering to stop breaking the law in order to twist the arm of the reigning rulers to do what it wants. The statement released by spokesman Shahid said the groups should "restrain themselves from all kinds of [fun] jihadist activities," like killing polio team workers.

However, the New York Times reports, "The announcement of the truce came just hours after two bombings killed 13 people and wounded 10 in an attack on a polio vaccination team in the northwestern Khyber region." We at RAW do not think it is because they are anti-vaxxers who got word on Jenny McCarthy's anti-mercury-in-vaccines crusade.

But beyond the local Taliban wars, does it even matter that U.S. policy destroyed Saddam or Qaddafi? Where is the progress in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria? Are the new regimes better than those deposed with U.S. tax dollars? Were those tax dollars well-spent?

An old military axiom is to never mistake motion for progress nor to move laterally under effective enemy fire, yet that comprises the entirety of the Phony War On Terror (PWOT ©). Afghan President Karzai recently called the war for what it was, an exercise for 'Western interest', and gave his version of The Romantics' "Goodbye to You" in a recent WaPo interview:
"To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the U.S. government, give them my anger, my extreme anger."
So, whence the progress for the hapless taxpayer, who was told he would become a safer Plebe if the Taliban could be combated?

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