RANGER AGAINST WAR: January 2007 <

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

The Times reports, "The clock reads 9:25 when I. Lewis Libby Jr. strolls in with a tight smile and a high-priced bodyguard of lawyers..."

Mr. Libby is represented by 3 law firms and 11 lawyers.

Here's a simple question: Who's paying for all this legal talent? The American taxpayer has the right to know.

It's Only a Game

He was a degenerate gambler. That is, a man who gambled simply to gamble and must lose. As a hero who goes to war must die. Show me a gambler and I'll show you a loser, show me a hero and I'll show you a corpse.
--Mario Puzo

The picture accompanying this article on rioting at Beirut University tells a complete story, but it's not the same one the text tells.

All the Lebanese soldiers are armed with U.S. M-16 rifles. It's crystal-clear where all the M-16's came from, which were also observed in numerous photographs of Hezbollah fighters in the last Israeli-Hezbollah shoot-em-up.

As always, we're arming both sides of the fight. It's an even bet: this insures that our policy always backs a winner.

Buh-Bye American Legion

What follows is a letter of termination of membership which I sent today to the American Legion:

Dear Ed.,

As an American Legion member, I am seriously conflicted.

That the American Legion Magazine is a consistent and vocal advocate supporting the GWB wars is unacceptable to me. The Legion has my membership only because they support veteran's issues. Unfortunately, the Legion leadership follows a hawkish policy, this despite the fact that many of your members have had difficulties securing deserved benefits from a reluctant Veterans Administration.

As example, the 2/07 article on Gitmo--"None Dare Call Them Prisoners"--is an apology for and an acceptance of the concept that war crimes are acceptable if committed in the name of America. This is not commentary, but pure administration propaganda.

The article states clearly, "Most were captured on the battlefield, gun in hand." Indeed, and according to the rules of land warfare, this is the definition of a Prisoner of War, not a "caged terrorist," as your article states, with barely veiled disgust.

The article indicates that in no previous war were captured enemy combatants eligible for judicial review before the war ended. This is true, but only because the US followed the legal guidelines of the Geneva Conventions. Ignoring the G.C. is ignoring the legal basis of US authority.

Because of my disappointment with the Legion's continued posture of unquestioning support for every aspect of this Iraq endeavor, I will not renew my Legion membership this year in protest. I can no longer swallow the Legion's blind cheerleading of bankrupt administration policies.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Candy Asses

We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.
--Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S, President

"I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America, where it's nice and safe and secure."
--George W. Bush, (9/23/04)

To the latter of the above quotes, I would ask, then why are we over there? It also makes me think that perhaps the President has never been to eastside Cleveland, or maybe even parts of his own district, at least not outside of his entourage.

Last night I attended an anti-war talk sponsored by our local Democratic Party. I have no party affiliation since it seems that neither party realistically addresses the needs of Middle America.

This meeting featured the usual angst and rhetoric, but was unwilling to address the illegality of U.S. war policy and Democratic party complicity with the war. Not only is the Democratic party an enabler in Iraq policy, but it is leading the precipitous rush to war with Iran.

The latest drumbeat to war is heard in the murmur that Iranians are helping to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq. This is a most unfortunate and probably true statement, yet it is a meaningless construct. It is likewise obvious that Pakistani assistance to the Taliban leads to U.S. casualties, as do Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian fighters within Iraq.

If U.S. policy is going to get tough with Iran, then why not just start a general Middle East war and kick everybody's asses. Something akin to the free-for-alls found in a WWF tournament. This would be a fitting legacy for a GWB America.

The Democrats and Republicans must gain a consensus to end the war in Iraq and to prevent further military insanity towards Iran. Iran is another phony issue with which to mesmerize the American public. Fortunately, the European leaders understand this shell game subterfuge.

The Monroe Doctrine

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both
--James Madison

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend
--Henri Bergson

National Public Radio and other news sources are reporting that the U.S. administration is going to present evidence that Iran is meddling in the affairs of Iraq, and is instrumental in causing U.S. casualties.
This seems a given.

Accepting Iran's aiding and abetting of Iraq as true, what then are the implications? What permits the U.S. to romp and stomp through Iraq, yet disallows the Iranians from involvement, branding them persona non grata?

U.S. intervention has been bloody and violent. Yet somehow, America sees this as legitimate. The entire region is now destabilized as a result of our efforts, and this is o.k. However, when Iran does anything at all, this is viewed as emanating from satanic intentions. Iran has a legitimate national security issue dealing with Iraq and a foreign army of invasion on its borders.

There was a time when America had a Monroe Doctrine that addressed issues of this nature in the North American arena. One must remember, also, that the Lincoln administration's key foreign policy was to keep foreign powers at arm's length from our Civil War. All international powers were warned off from intervention. This was done with the threat of war towards England.

In effect, today's policy is that we can kill and deal violence on a daily basis, but that is solely our prerogative, and Iran better opt out. Possibly America should realize that there actually is a United Nations in place to deal with such issues as mediating national rivalries. Ignoring or de-legitimizing the U.N. is not conducive to world peace. Moreover, a preemptive or knee-jerk war against Iran will not solve any national issues for U.S. policy, instead only multiplying them.

The U.S. wants secure borders with Mexico and Canada, but will not acknowledge that Iran has the same right
vis-a-vis its neighbor, Iraq.

America must remove its helmet and deal realistically on the world scene as it is, and not as we wish it to be.

Urban Legends

It's another day in Iraq and a bunch of people are dead again. It never ends in this glorious battle to keep the world free. According to the New York Times, An Iraqi commander states that the combined American and Iraqi forces killed 470 in a battle with a militia group Soldiers of Heaven--either partly or wholly consisting of Shiite members--outside of Najaf this past weekend. He said people, but hopefully, he meant combatants.

But I find spurious the statement from the Iraqi commander that "some of the dead Soldiers of Heaven fighters were found bound together at the ankles and suggested that the chains had probably been used to keep people from fleeing and to keep them moving as one unified group." Well, that's what he said, but it would be very nice to see proof of this statement.

This portrayal suggests a group unmotivated to fight; however, Abdul Hussein Abtan, deputy governor of Hajaf Province, suggested "This group had more capabilities than the government."

It is an old canard: In WWI, Germans were reported as being found chained to machine guns; ditto for the Japanese in WWII; in Korea, it was Chinese, in RVN it was NVA. But never once has there been a photo to verify these allegations.

Urban legends have a half-life longer than that of Iranian uranium.


Reports indicate three U.S. helicopters have been shot down in Iraq this past week. The method used has not been clearly elaborated, but it's possible that ground-air Strela-type shoulder-fired missiles are being introduced into this scenario.

If so, then they will be coming from Russia, via Iran. The Russians defend their sale of "defensive rockets" to Iran as legitimate. Legitimate or not, it would be ironic payback for U.S. support of the Mujahadeen in the Russo-Afghan war, where the U.S. introduced Stinger (air-to-ground) missiles to help shoot down Soviet helicopters.

Payback is a bitch.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kick Ass

The above one-page advertisement from a current military history magazine states, "A good boot can kick some ass when it has to," in an ad entitled, "On the job with the original S.W.A.T." The penultimate panel shows the boot standing in front of a downed arm in handcuffs, with the the phrase, "You have the right to remain silent..."

The Miranda rights seem to be what's being kicked around here, as the previous panel shows a beefy SWAT team member diving on top of the terrified-looking supine suspect, who utters "Argh!" at the moment of being pinioned.

I read this otherwise respectable magazine for its history articles. I was stunned by this so very Marvel comics Superhero ad; not exactly the tone you'd like your law enforcement officers to strike. The concept of kicking ass is not consistent with the police mottoes of "protect and serve."

I recently passed a black Apache helicopter being towed down the interstate in Florida. featuring the word "POLICE" painted on the side in bold white letters. Yes, this is the military's Apache Attack helicopter, complete with 20 mm cannon. So now the police have attack helicopters...but why? I s'pose those 2.75 inch rocket pods will go a long way to quelling any domestic violence situations.

The Defense Department distributes surplus military gear and machinery gratis to local law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In Georgia
alone, "(T)he Defense Department gave 3,425 items valued at more than $1.8 million to more than 100 agencies in Georgia in fiscal year 2005."

"The program includes vehicles (such as APC's), boats, helicopters, clothing, helmets, computers, office furniture--almost everything you can imagine," said Buzz Weiss, public affairs officer with Georgia Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the state's excess property program. "Each certified law enforcement agency in the state can access a password-protected Web site where they can shop for surplus items that are offered by the Pentagon for free." (AP, 1/28/07).

Popular Mechanics recently ran an article discussing the militarization of U.S. police forces ("Swat Overkill"). Included is a discussion of "No Knock" drug warrants. In effect, it is becoming commonplace for police now to use military tactics to make dynamic explosive-type entries into civilian homes. The article notes, if you "dress like a soldier, you think you're at war."

It reminds one of the warrants which led to the WACO and Ruby Ridge fiascoes. Absent an immediate threat, these explosive-type entrances should not be used in less volatile situations, like serving routine search warrants for illegal drugs.

My local Tallahassee Police Department Swat team wears black T-shirts with rifle scope crosshairs on front, and the phrase "We Still Make House Calls" on the back, accompanied by a picture of the team making a dynamic entry. This threatening stance is not what police functions should be about. These shirts are intimidating and arrogant, and unfortunately, that is what many police officers have become in America.

The question is: Why does the American citizenry accept the fact that our civilian police are armed as heavily as an infantry platoon in Iraq? Not only are they armed, they're combative. Witness the above advert.

The military (National Security Agency) monitors civilian transmissions, the mail can now be more easily opened and no-knock warrants are an everyday occurrence in the People's Democratic Republic of America.

Is it possible that RVN and Iraq have so desensitized the U.S. public to events like kicking down people's doors and burning hooches that we have gained an insensitivity to the invasion of a man's domicile, which is a bedrock concept of democracy? Do we now accept these unacceptable intrusions into our privacy as the natural course of events? If so, where will this take us as a nation?

As "Swat Overkill" notes, "Our homes are supposed to be our castles. The police shouldn't treat them like enemy camps."

Martyr Camp

I just saw a film clip of a camp which trains children to be future religious martyrs. Pretty dismal stuff. I'll just give a few quotes from what appeared to be 10-11 year-olds--articulate, but brainwashed 10-11 year-olds:

"A lot of people die for God and they're not even afraid. We're being trained to go out and train others to do God's will, be God's army." "There's an excitement, yet peace, at the same time. When my father goes into really dangerous areas, people yell,
Martyr! Martyr!--it's really cool."

O.k., the rejoinder on that last one may have tipped you off that these are Westerners speaking. The above is from a film called "JesusCamp--the Movie," a documentary of an evangelical children's camp which was released late in 2006. Ted Haggard, disgraced head (unfortunate term) of the National Association of Evangelicals, is even featured lauding the kid's efforts. Among other activities, the kids are led to lay hands on a cardboard cutout of the President, and I tell you, it's darn good facsimile.

The take-home point is that fanaticism is fanaticism is not tolerance. What makes this fanaticism any different from Taliban fanaticism? And the only result of one of God's armies meeting the other is that one will be left standing, or at least, someone will be left standing.

The zealotry is the frightening part, as these folks--all zealots--think they will be rewarded for their fanaticism. They look forward to meeting their maker joyfully, even if, or perhaps especially if, their demise should occur in an intentional confrontation with heathens (="the other side.")

It is Haggard's stated opinion that "If the evangelicals vote, they determine the election." An inspiring thought for the democratic principles of America.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Time on Target

This is a study of the recent raid on an Iraqi government facility in Karbala that saw four U.S. soldiers captured and executed by unknown assailants. I offer it without access to official after-action reports, and only on the basis of what I've read in the press. Nothing that follows indicates acceptance of murderous behavior by any belligerents in this Iraqi scenario.

  1. Vehicles must be procured. Five each at $40,000 per. These were either stolen, or purchased. If purchased, the opposition has access to excellent funding. But more troubling is if they were stolen, as this could imply cooperation within the Iraqi government.
  2. Weapons and uniforms. Same situation as vehicles.
  3. Training of team required.
  4. Intelligence required to define and procure a target that could be exploited. Pinpoint information was required. This suggests Iraqi official compliance and sources (cooperation).
  1. Detailed knowledge of route and checkpoint procedures. Indicates dry-runs prior to execution of raid.
  2. Suggests cooperation of police at road-block. However, as police supposedly called ahead to warn of approaching vehicles, this needs further investigation.
  3. The timing of the attack is significant. Obviously, U.S. forces have no control of events, even during the day.
  4. It is safe to assume that the assault team had near and far security isolating the target.
  5. Precise raid and time on target.
  6. Escape route preordained and coordinated.
  7. Abandoning vehicles is excellent operational security.
  8. Killing the POW's is a statement.
  1. This raid is a possible reaction to the raid that was executed on Erbil, in which Iranians were arrested.
  2. This raid is a reaction to the "surge" in U.S. forces. This is a statement that no U.S. service members are safe outside of safe areas. U.S. military must be ever-vigilant and ready for attack.
  3. U.S. casualties could have been avoided if the captives had maintained a proper defensive posture. Why did they not fight to the death? Surely U.S. fighters know that their chances of surviving capture by Islamic fighters is slim-to-none. These executions will ratchet up the level of violence.
  4. The brutal murder of U.S. personnel is to be expected, since U.S. military personnel have murdered and raped in more than one incident. Abu Ghraib, torture and arbitrary imprisonment, along with ignoring the Geneva Conventions, all encourage the cycle of violence.
  5. The attackers detonated sound bombs and "didn't target anybody except Americans." This indicates an inside job, as the flash-bangs were used rather than normal grenades, either concussion or fragmentation. In effect, the assault team didn't want to hurt Iraqi personnel. This is standard assault team tactics for hostage/barricade situations, to protect the innocents. Military assault teams use total deadly explosives, as preservation of life is not an objective.
  6. Attackers probably work for the U.S., as they spoke English so well. The one blonde attacker is surely a dye job.
There are all indicators that this is a Shia-inspired attack with government compliance and Iranian support. This cannot be acknowledged by the U.S. leadership, so the blame will fall solely on the Iranians.

Another brick in the wall in the march to war with Iran.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
--George W. Bush

Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.
--Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953)

I met a young man yesterday while conducting a business transaction by phone, and as it came up relevant to the business at hand, I mentioned this site to him. Courteously he said, "Yes, ma'am. I'll definitely be looking at that when I get home." A few moments on into the transaction, he said, "I have recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. I am very disturbed by the President saying,
I'm the decision-maker. I thought this was a democracy."

His tone seemed imploring. I thanked him for his service, and told him I thought he was not alone in that thought. I wanted to say or do something more, but the span of probably a thousand miles and the limitations of time prevented it, whatever it might have been. I repeated my invitation to visit the site.

Betrayal is a nasty business.

--by Lisa

Basic for Commanders-in Chief

Any forces that would impose their will on other nations will certainly face defeat.
--General Nguyen Giap

Our enemies...never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
--George W. Bush

All combat soldiers do only three things: you shoot, move and communicate. This is the basis of all combat operations. It's so simple, a Second Lieutenant can understand it.

In combat you never move without a purpose, and never laterally across a battle area.

You must move with a purpose, and the
purpose in Baghdad is questionable. Movement is not the same thing as progress.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Noriega's the Man

To kiss the man who wins success,
And kick the man whose luck is less;

to make of vice beatitude,

And virtue of ingratitude!
--"The Isthmian Way", James Stanley Gilbert (1894)

Stanley's 19th century poem on Panama reads familiar for a 21st century American. Check it out, if you can, and you will understand further the arguments to follow.

Recent news articles indicate that Manuel Noriega is soon to be released from U.S. Federal prison, a little shy of his 1992, 30-year prison sentence--time off for good behavior, you know.

I'll refrain from discussion of Noriega's being a General and leader of a country illegally invaded by U.S. forces and then being denied POW status. The U.S. is presently in the business of institutionalizing such transgressions. And Noriega is old news. But this may be a brainchild: Noriega might just be the answer to GWB's troubles in Iraq.

Noreiga has what it takes to stabilize the Iraqi venture, and posses an impressive resume. Following are the arguments for using General Noriega in the stead of Lieutenant General Patraeus:

He has extensive military schooling, even attending the School of the Americas, now based at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Noriega has extreme experience working covertly and clandestinely with the CIA and U.S. State Department. Noriega has also cooperated closely with the U.S. Department of Defense.

There is an entente between General Noreiga and President Bush, as his his personal ethics include halting a presidential vote count in 1984, which inconveniently was going badly against his side. Instead, he installed his candidate, affectionately known as "Fraudito." (The fact that Noriega is self-promoted from the rank of Colonel to General is a small point.)

In addition, this is a man who understands the requirements of close alliance and dealings with the Bush clan (watch your back, as well as what's in front.) GHW Bush, in his tenure as CIA director, was Noriega's boss, arranging his annual stipend
(as noted in the House Foreign Affairs Committee Report: "Narcotics Review in Central America" - U.S. Govt Printing Office, 1988.) Talk about old home days. And, he's already pre-punished. His insertion could make for a well-oiled machine.

In fact, putting Noriega in Malaki's slot would also do wonders for stabilizing the Iraqi venture. This is one man who could wear many hats ably. Creative thinking is in order.

The Bounty Hunter

You depend on our protection
Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth

* * *
Why don't presidents fight the war?

Why do they always send the poor?

--BYOB lyrics, System of A Down

It seems that Josh Randall, Steve McQueen's 1960's bounty hunter television character, is alive and well and working for the Army Recruiting Team. Randall always did get his man, "dead or alive".

That the Army is now soliciting for bounty hunters to ensnare recruits makes the entire war venture look like a very bad "B" Western gone awry, after the World's Sheriff kicked the bad guy out of town.

In this program, Soldiers or retirees who convince someone to join the Army can mop up to the tune of $2,000 a head in the Referral Bonus Pilot Program. My January/February Purple Heart Magazine explains, "The bonus is not paid to Soldiers referring members of their immediate families, to include spouses, children, parents, step-parents and siblings." So don't try any funny business thinking you'll shed yourself of some troublesome relation. Just set up shop somewhere--a coffee shop or McDonald's will do--and try to reel 'em in.

But it's not a slam dunk--you don't get the whole enchilada just for having them sign the dotted line. You, as the one who scored the hit, get $1,000 when the individual finishes Basic Training; the other $1,000 comes when they finish AIT. So should there be a problem along the way, your efforts on behalf of Uncle George will not be remunerated. You function, in effect, as a contract recruiter.

One must see the desperation that is evident for the Army to start pimping out its recruiting functions. This program is designed to turn all Soldiers and retirees into Johns looking for help. If it's true the Bad Sleep Well, then this is your gig.

Personally, I'd rather sandpaper my butt and sit is salt than participate in this Judas goat project. How could any old soldier want to be responsible for leading a young one to slaughter? I personally don't want or need blood money.

To whom was sold, this bounty soul,
A gentile or a priest ?
Who victored over the seljuks,
When the holy land was taken

We will fight the heathens, we will fight the heathens
We will fight the heathens, we will fight the heathens
--WAR lyrics, S. O. A. D.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Baby Einstein

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war
--Albert Einstein

But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is..thinking -- it's just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with "thinking."

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell

I think Malcolm Gladwell has touched upon the mysterious ways in which the President's mind works. President Bush basically closed his State of the Union speech yesterday by praising the Baby Einstein Company. Pity that George Sr. and Barbara couldn't expose mini-me to the series. Hopefully, future presidents will actually be grown-up Einsteins.

GWB recognized absent Senator Johnson and Congressman Norwood, but he neglected to mention absent Senator Ney (Oh.) and Representative Foley (FL). Aren't those party faithful missed by GWB, too?

His opening exhortations also pledged "spending discipline in Washington D.C." and "to protect America against all evil." Well, maybe not all evil. And Washington D.C. is probably the one place you're not likely to find spending discipline. At least not at the big white building on Pennsylvania Ave.

Later, while talking of border issues, GWB emphasized the need to "leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists." Hmmm...I thought drug smugglers and terrorists were criminals, aren't they?

Always tell the voter what the voter wants to hear

As for the growing the economy comments, let's wait and see what scenarios his state of the economy speech will promise. It is doubtful that everything's coming up roses, as GWB intimates.

He claims that the economy is on the move and "not with more government," yet he also wants to establish a "volunteer civilian reserve corps." You can't have it both ways--you either favor restricting the growth of federal government, or you don't. He says citizens should receive federal funds, but doesn't say where they will come from. Possibly they will be funded by the tax cuts.

"We need to pass medical liability reform to protect good doctors from junk lawsuits." One would like to think that good doctors could protect themselves in court from ill-founded lawsuits. Good U.S. doctors kill over 90,000 Americans per year through medical errors. Americans have a greater chance of dying at the hands of medical science, yet this fact does not lead to preemptive invasions of hospitals.

GWB understands that "(T)he lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts." But if our federal courts are such successful arbiters of disputes, then why are terrorists denied access to this bedrock source of justice for all?

"We stopped an Al Qaida plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an Al Qaida cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And, just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean."

But of course,
GWB doesn't mention that none of these scenarios were based upon combat operations. These were conducted by intel/police functions, which then neutralized the threat.

GWB said that terrorists "preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs." Yes...and how do we do it? Remember "Shock and Awe"? How about U.S. reaction to Iran. Isn't our entire foreign policy based on that very foundation of "bombs and bullets"? Perhaps he's grooming some of his "armies of compassion" to preach to these sand devils.

"And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies and to protect the American people." Were it only true.

Law enforcement is not aimed at enemies, but rather, criminals. The legal fabric of the War on Terror is completely based upon illegality and falsehood. Warrantless wiretaps, militarization of intelligence functions, disregard of international laws and the Geneva Convention, extraordinary rendition, torture, military tribunals-- does GWB not inhabit the same universe as the rest of us mere mortals?

With the old swagger he asserts, "Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies." This is a false presumption, just as mistaken as Socrates' belief 2,500 years ago that men will always do what is best for them. So that's why they smoke, and gorge, and shoot up, and everything else so conducive to living the Good Life? The Confederate States of America, Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy also suggest otherwise.

Mr. Bush got on the phone with Iraq and Iran and said
Now you sons-of-%$#@!es you better not be doing any business

with that Taliban
--The Taliban Song, Toby Kieth

"We advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers and brave voices for democracy;" "In the last two years, we've seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East;" "(W)e're working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase the support for Iraq's government." So...where are these moderates and reformers? Do they dwell in the wildly democratic countries that GWB invokes? The countries mentioned constitute a rogues gallery, but certainly not of democratic institutions.

It's a shame that Pakistan was not mentioned, since they are the 3rd largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid. This key ally in the War on Terror is so democratic that the intelligence organizations semi-openly provided material support to the Taliban and its leadership. Yup, the foregoing list of democracies on the march would be somehow incomplete without Pakistan.

"We are pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land." Now this one's really scary, because your and my tax dollars are supporting this Holy Land crusade. I wonder--does GWB mean the Israeli/Christian, or the Muslim "Holy Land"? When did the secular U.S. government get into the Holy Land security business? I can't find it in our Constitution. Why not just make Israel or Iraq a U.S. state and be done with this stupid Christian idea of Holy Lands?

"In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in...the first time the alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic Area." Wrong! The Luftwaffe and Bundeswehr (FGR) deployed to Bosnia, as did other NATO forces. Unless Bosnia has been repositioned, it is out of the North Atlantic area. Possibly GWB should vet his speeches with General Wesley Clark. I'd be a little shaky on going to Colin Powell, and Mr. Clark does so enjoy the spotlight.

"We are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons." He does mean theirs, right? Unless this foreshadows a U.S. removal of its nuclear weapons from the peninsula, but somehow, I think this is not GWB's intention.

"We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus and Burma." This is embarrassing, but I can't seem to find Burma on my map. Hopefully, the State Department's down with this. Places we will not speak out for include Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, or any other country selling oil to U.S. interests. The march of freedom stops at the oil spigot.

"And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments." If a country can't control its own capital, then it doesn't fulfill even the narrowest concept of sovereignty.

"My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options," but will do what we choose anyway, despite the mandate of the voters and carefully skirting Congressional oversight.

"For America, this is a nightmare scenario." Did anybody consider this prior to the ill-advised invasions? Possibly it was the Burma specialists what got us into this mess.

Now give me money, that's what I want
--Berry Gordy

GWB waxed warmly over African NBA star Dikembe, suggesting that any successful professional athlete is welcome to citizenship in America. We want money makers here, and we want to be amused; if you can be star of stage-and-screen, or trip the light fantastic on the b-ball court, come. But if you're from Haiti, then you can tread water back to where you came from.

So, we're back to Baby Einstein. Yes, Julie Aigner-Clark is inspired and a wonderful tale of American get-up- and-go. Unfortunately, Ford Motor Company is going, going...

Big Lie the Third--The Economy

``Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.''
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

George Bush you’re looking like Zoolander
Trying to play tough for the camera
What am I on crazy pills? We’ve got to stop it
Get your hand out my grandma’s pocket
We need health care more than going to war
You think it’s democracy they’re fighting for?
--In a World Gone Mad, Beastie Boys

Here comes another ration (feed them death)
‘Cause they're the finest in the nation (feed them death)
When there's nothing left to feed them
When it's freedom or it's death

Let them eat war
That's how to ration the poor
--Let Them Eat War, Bad Religion

The Third Big Lie is the economy, subtitled, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," except these are gold bricks we're looking for. It's usually a good idea to look at which way the money flows to figure out why and where the U.S. will intervene in war. What follows is offered simply as a person, non-economist, noticing a few economic indicators from my daily life. The ideas are not rocket science. I will not even address the cost of energy, since it's trend is so obvious.

While unaware and untutored in economic theory, I always have the weekly grocery bill and home maintenance prices to consider. A sheet of plywood has quadrupled in price since Bush took office. This same increase is reflected in building products across the board. One need only look at the grocery bill to figure out the price of food commodities has been trending steeply upward over the course of this administration.

These are the indicators the average taxpayer deals with and understands. Forget estate tax breaks, just consider the cost of items used in daily survival. The cost of beer, potato chips and dip is a fine yardstick by which to gauge the rise in the cost of the basic necessities.

While I'm eating my chips and dip, consider the neediest among us. The Head Start program is geared to help students from such families be competitive in the school environment. This worthy program helps shore these at-risk students up with their more privileged classmates, providing morning meals, tutoring, and other interventions.

The National Head Start Association (NHSA) warned last April, "
If Congress does not act to add at least $234 million to the President's 2007 budget for Head Start, most or all of the 2,700 Head Start programs across the United States will end up crippled and perhaps unable to recover."

$234 million is small-time compared to the $700 billion to our Iraqi friends, but it did not pass in Congress, and Head Start is "flat-funded" this year as a result. Their budget will not cover the cost-of-living increases for the year, and no new students can be admitted in 2007.
The program has sustained an 11% real cut in funding since 2002.

In an interesting White House report covering such programs as Head Start--"
Compassion-2007"--we are told, "A strong economy, together with spending restraint, is critical to reducing the deficit."

Fascinating. So, it's not the Iraq "War" that's spending us into oblivion, rather, something here in the land of
compassionate spending which needs some tweaking, in order to pay for the over-sized but oh-so-necessary tax cuts which have really got our economy humming. It doesn't matter how strong your nation's economy is; if you're morally bankrupt, you're lost.

99 Luftballoons--

One riveting section is subtitled, "Marshalling the Armies of Compassion." It says there will be $99 million, up 50% from 2006, set aside to build "small armies of compassion." I don't know what these are, but they sound positively
Orwellian. Are these like traveling bands of Jehovah's Witnesses, who feel your pain with you? It boggles the imagination.

In this small, two-paged report (compassion doesn't take very much time in this harried world), the term "faith-based" is used at least three times. There is $250 million for "new healthy marriages initiatives;" I don't know what you get for having an old, unhealthy one. There is also $204 million for "abstinence-only" education programs. So if you're good, if you're part of the faith-based armies of compassion, in for a healthy marriage or abstinence, you've got some funds. But not many.

Disingenuously the report also states, "The Administration supports reauthorization of Head Start to make sure children enter school ready to learn." Problem is, that's giving credit where none is due. Head Start has been a compulsory funded program since 1965. It is not up to the President's compassionate discretion whether to fund or not.

The flow of U.S. jobs overseas, the devaluation of the dollar and increasing trade deficits are some other key items to consider when taking the pulse of the nation's health, economic and otherwise. And while considering this personal economic impact statement, remember the financial cost of supporting the Iraqi adventure.

--Jim and Lisa

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Second Big Lie

Georgie boy is really mad
Bombing Baghdad for his dad
* * *
You bend and break to your politician's will
The world moves forward, they stand still.

Not in My Name, Lato

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results
--Sir Winston Churchill

Following the First Big Lie--that the War on Terror actually is a war--comes the Second Big lie, namely, that the U.S. is the world's sole remaining superpower. To anyone who believes it, they're soon in for one of those emperor's new clothes moments. This lie also accepts that NATO is vital to the protection of Europe. To propagate this lie is to ignore the reality of Russia, China and India as contenders for this title.

This troika consists of sleeping military giants, much as was the U.S. in 1940. All possess the nuclear capability to light up our lives, but they are dismissed as non-viable threats. Why? Because the efforts of all three are focused on internal, non-military objectives, which in the long-run will defeat the U.S. without the foolish wastefulness of military misadventures. I should say, precisely because of the avoidance of the latter.

An example is Chinese economic policy, which both has the U.S. in its back pocket, and is becoming the world lender of choice for many countries. While the U.S. is tied down in Baghdad, moderating petty contests between religious factions, China is blowing communications satellites out of the sky. China has extended their nuclear strike capabilities, while the U.S. is moderating minutiae in Iraq. Recalcitrant minutiae, at that. It's not that we're moving little things around and they're getting better; rather, we're moving little things around and they're getting worse. Why, and who is benefiting?

Next to NATO. This is the basis of European security as it ties into U.S. policy. However, U.S. policy is no longer the guiding principle of NATO policy. The E.U. Euro has just surpassed the U.S. dollar, while the U.S. still supports the fiction that NATO is supporting our interests. Strangely, the factions that attack the United Nations never even consider that NATO is a house of cards.

The EU is generally equated with the NATO nations. The overlap is clear, but what is the threat posed to NATO? Unless prodded, Russia is content with economic growth. So where is the justification for spending U.S. dollars to protect a European Community that is an opponent on the economic playing field?

In effect, U.S. dollars are protecting E.U. economic growth. Again, why, and who is benefiting? Certainly, it's not the U.S. taxpayer. There is no reason for continued U.S. presence in NATO. Let the Europeans defend their own interests, especially as they are no longer tied to U.S. foreign policy goals.

Next: The Economy

The Big Lies

You take the trouble to construct a civilization, to build a society based on the principles of... of principle. You make government and art and realize that they are, must be, both the same. You bring things to the saddest of all points, to the point where there is something to lose. Then, all at once, through all the music, through all the sensible sounds of men building, attempting, comes the Dies Irae. And what is it? What does the trumpet sound? Up yours.
--George, from
Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state."
--Joseph Goebbels

The basis of all propaganda is the Big Lie. Tell it often and tell it well, and it will become truth. The Bush administration's policies are based upon several big lies. They are as follows:
  • The Long War
  • The U.S. is the World's Sole Superpower
  • The Economy
This will be a tripartite blog. Today: The Long War.

The military has developed the concept of the Long War to support U.S. military aggression. There is no war, and GWB is not a great wartime leader. This war is smoke and mirrors. The War on Terror (WOT) is defined as the 21st century's most important ideological struggle, commensurate with the Cold War of the 20th century.

In fact, there is no strategic threat to America
, except in Tom Clancy novels and GWB's narrow mind. U.S. policy must deal with what is on the board, and not what may be introduced. The survival of America is not an issue in the WOT. Al Quaida can only hurt U.S. interests through terrorism and pinprick attacks.
U.S. intelligence and police, through international cooperation and intelligence-sharing, is more than adequate to address this minimal threat.

The Cold War and the Long War are not even remotely related. GWB certainly does not equate to Truman. The Cold War lasted roughly 50 years, and realized bipartisan support to address the threat of a monolithic nuclear communist threat. The adversary actually had the capability of destroying the U.S. through nuclear war, and
vice versa.

As a result, proxy wars became the method of conventional armed conflict on the periphery. To give a domestic analogy, this is akin to the ferocious, but not killing, domestic battles fought by the characters George and Martha in Edward Albee's play,
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

They both had the tools [vicious wit and anger] to fillet the other. But to do so absolutely would end the game of cat and mouse, and they were unwilling to extricate themselves from this painful dans le deux. A direct strike [divorce] would take the other out of the equation, so their proxy wars, fought over other's heads [usually unwitting dinner party guests], became a kind of do-si-do. The opening quote by George recognizes the futility of total warfare, and that the destruction wrought would only be in service of an "up yours".

Greece, Korea and Vietnam were the larger proxy wars in the Cold War. Although both major sponsors had the capability of nuclear war, neither had the intent to unleash this nightmare. Total destruction is not a desirable military or political objective. Wars must serve the foreign policy objectives of the nation's strategic views.

This was the way we won the Cold War, through alliances. The Cold War was conducted within the framework of international alliances and treaties. This was before the State Department became an Equal Opportunity Post for flunky Secretaries of State willing to call the master's tune, which had no grounding in objective facts.

The same is true for defense policy. U.S. policy is now totally concerned with terrorism as the decisive threat facing America. The U.S. is now willing to go to war because nations are
trying to develop nukes. Never mind that preemptive invasion policies require these weapons to defend against invasion.

U.S. policy encourages nuclear proliferation. Iran is surrounded on three sides by U.S. aggression, which has preemptively invaded for regime change. Therefore, they see the creation of tactical nukes as a defensive posture, and rightly so. This is not to defend Ahmadinejad's separation from reality on issues such as Holocaust denial; strictly as a state defense posture, nuclear development makes sense for them.

As of yesterday, Jordan announced their intentions to jump on the nuclear bandwagon. Thank you George, Colin, Condi and Rumsfeld.

The question that the U.S. taxpayer must ask is: who/what is benefiting from this phony war of terror. The key is to follow the money.

The American citizenry is not benefiting from this inexplicable wasting of scarce national resources. America cannot sustain this response without destroying our national economy. America cannot afford leaders that are carrying out aggressive wars based upon unrealistic threat assessments.

Reality must enter into the equation, and this won't happen as long as the Big Lie is being pushed by the administration. A nation cannot sustain wars based upon a propaganda lie.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Roland Rollin' Rollin'

"He didn't want to fall...It was a matter of pride. A gunslinger knows about pride--
that invisible bone that keeps the neck stiff."
--Steven King, The Dark Tower series

Steven King's Dark Tower series was mentioned in a recent posting. In it, King's character Roland the gunslinger is adrift in a world which has "moved on," yet he is compelled to pursue his lonely quest to top the Dark Tower, which he believes will heal the world. What follows is a minor pop-culture tour-de-force of Roland the warrior archetypes in the canon. The final mention is perhaps the most damning. You decide.

The legend of Roland has been appropriated in any number of ways, as evidenced even by the above painting, "Roland the Warrior Cat". This entry will not concern itself with anything so frivolous, but rather the serious myth of Roland, originally transcribed in the 12th century French
La Chanson de Roland.

In the French story of a relatively minor military engagement, the battle of Roncevaux Pass (778), Roland is leading the rear guard of Charlemagne's troops. He has 20,000 Franks, but he is severely outnumbered by the Saracens, and defeated to a man. His flaw is his ungovernable pride or rashness (
demesure). Despite being urged to do so, Roland refuses to blow his horn in distress, thereby assuring his defeat as no reinforcements will arrive.

Encyclopedia Mythica describes Roland as a "Christian hero overwhelmed by the forces of Islam," and "reveals a surprising depth of Roman Catholic hatred for the followers of Mohammed."

Poet Robert Browning, around 1855, wrote "
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," a dismal depiction of a chivalric effort for naught, it seems. In a particularly dire stanza:
"What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad breweage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk

Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews."

Later on, another sad description of the after-effect of any such engagement:

"Not hear? When noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,--
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old
Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years."
Browning eloquently expresses that, even if one were "fortunate" he is still "lost", with one moment knelling the woe of years to come. Battle will leave an indelible mark on all involved, and there are no footprints leading out of the "horrid mews."

Finally, to the inimitable Warren Zevon, and his song "
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" (1976). Zevon's Roland is a gun for hire who goes where there's "fighting to be done." Sadly, Roland gets his top blown off, but plods on to seek revenge for this mortal wound.

In this somber and stirring mock-epic, not only does the headless Thompson gunner get his man, he continues the fight, "In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley." He simply doesn't know when to call it a day.

All of these warrior Rolands are rash, and do not see the consequences, both physical and psychic, of their undertakings. They fight elective battles, or fight them pridefully.

Submitted for your consideration.

--by Lisa

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What if God's One of Us?

When the president talks to God
Does he ever think that maybe he's not?

That that voice is just inside his head

When he kneels next to the presidential bed

--When the President Talks to God, Bright Eyes

If the title, taken from a popular song, is true, then Bush and his homies have some 'splainin to do, as Ricky Ricardo would say.

The Pentagon has decided that detainees "could be convicted and perhaps killed" on the basis of coerced and hearsay testimony, reports the
AP. Human rights groups say the regulations "would allow evidence that would not be tolerated in civilian or military courtrooms." The article reports that on the basis of a law passed by Congress last September, some abuses of detainees--"including mutilation and rape"--are prohibited (shucks), but the president has leeway to decide which interrogation techniques are permissible.

Now, forgetting the Constitution for a moment, as seems fitting in this Power Ranger post 9-11 America, let's don't talk Constitutional, let's just talk moral law. I know those don't hold sway in the courtroom, but it seems that increasingly, established laws don't, either. So maybe this consideration could get us to some grounding principles...oops, I know principles are outre too, in this new world. But just for old times sake, let's take the Golden Rule, a foundation principle for our religious forbears.

Using that as a touchstone, the new rules are an incredible indictment of an America that likes to stretch tyrant's necks, only to emulate some of their worst qualities. These new rules are right out of a totalitarian leader's handbook. How does America justify attacks upon Saddam, Chavez and Castro, when our policies bear their imprimatur?

Neither the Constitution nor the Golden Rule seem to be shining all that brightly these days.