Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Nearly Was Mine

United We Stand, Alex Lilly

Like an actor on a movie screen,
living out someone else's dream.
Living out a total misconception,
reality, a false perception.
--Cliches of the World, the Kinks

Now, now I'm alone, still dreaming of paradise,

Still saying that paradise once nearly was mine

This Nearly Was Mine, South Pacific

Before turning off the Charlie Rose Show featuring the chameleon Wesley Clark recently, Clark got in the requisite, "We're the most powerful nation on earth" schtick.

In that belief, Clark mirrors the attitude of many. But the U.S. is only the most powerful country willing to attack other nations without provocation. This proclivity, however, does not make us the sole world superpower.

Ranger has a few questions:

Where would the oil come from to lubricate a full-scale war?

[2] Where would the personnel come from to fill these services?

Where would a world conflict army train?

What industrial base would support a large-scale war?

From where would the money come?

Has Wesley Clark noticed that the U.S. military is stretched to the breaking point fighting opponents often killed or captured wearing shower shoes?

What if India and/or China united versus the U.S.?

[8] What if Russia attacked the U.S.?

[9] What if China attacked the U.S.?

Any combination of the above.

A realistic assessment of U.S. capabilities is sorely needed. As it stand, we are glutted with too many cliches.

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Faith-Based Reality

Terror Equals Terror, Jason Craig

"As Commander in Chief I am ever cognizant of my authority to
launch a full-scale
orgy of death there in the desert sands"
--Dana Carvey as GHWB on eve of Gulf War I, Saturday Night Live


In testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, FBI director Robert S. Mueller III revealed an administration rift when he discussed his confrontation with Atty. General Gonzales over the National Security Agency's (NSA) counterterrorist eavesdropping program, describing it as “an N.S.A. program that has been much discussed.”

Presentation is everything. NSA Counterterrorism Eavesdropping Program sounds so much better than Program to Illegally Spy on Your Citizens Without Warrant. Eavesdropping is a bad habit, but innocuous, overall.

To the best of Ranger's knowledge, the NSA Eavesdropping Program is so secret that the parameters of the surveillance have not even been revealed to any meaningful segment of the U.S. Congress. The loyal American taxpayer must take it on faith that the program was in fact aimed at an external threat.

All indicators suggest, however, that this
intelligence mining operation was illegally aimed at U.S. citizens. Why is the U.S. military being used to spy on U.S. citizens in their own country? This violation of privacy rights is an outrage.

The U.S. military is designed to protect the U.S. population from external foreign threats. U.S. citizens are not the enemy. As Padilla taught us, if they are in conspiracy with terrorist elements, then they are criminals to be dealt with via the usual legal channels. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown asserted this inconvenient fact to Bush yesterday at the White House.

Americans are not the enemy. We are the life blood of this country.

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Roll CrimsonTide

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

Watching the tide roll away

Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay

Wastin' time

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding

When the tide of misfortune moves over you,
even jelly will break your teeth

--Persian proverb

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned

The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats

That General Petraeus and U.S. Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker would like to see the surge strategy continue is little surprise ("US general, diplomat: Give Bush's Iraq strategy time.") "Petraeus. . .signaled he would like to see a substantial US combat force remain well into 2008 and perhaps beyond."

Just as a Coca Cola retailer would like to see his product prevail in a new market, Gen. Petraeus's business is soldiering.

Meanwhile, the day before the announcement, a devastating coordinated attack on a formerly safe zone:

"a simultaneous truck bombing and rocket attack ruined a Shi'ite market district in one of Baghdad's safest central neighborhoods, killing at least 28 people and wounding 95.

"Although suicide bombings are common in Iraq, it is rare for militants to stage a double attack with such effectiveness. The attackers struck about 6:40 p.m. as the Karradah district's market area was packed with shoppers on the eve of the Islamic day of rest.

"An explosives-laden garbage truck exploded near the market at about the same time as a Katyusha rocket slammed into a three-story residential building about 100 yards away. Police said the explosions destroyed 17 stores and 14 cars.

"An Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Qassim al-Moussawi, blamed Sunni extremists for the rocket attack. He did not mention the car bombing reported by police.

"Overall, at least 78 people were killed or found dead across Iraq yesterday."

"The surge enables us to turn the tide
just a bit in key places," [Petraeus] said.

This is American Generalship at its best. Turning the tide, a bit. This are words usually heard over afternoon tea--"a wee bit of sugar, please." But not a phrase typically heard in military speak .

Did Eisenhower invade the continent of Europe, "just a bit"?

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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Price of Justice

Libby Lied, Bruce Plante


Ranger Question of the Day
: If Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick is found guilty of animal abuse, will he go to jail?
The politics of race is not usual Ranger country, but of course it interweaves and girds the entire Iraq project, on both sides. A Philadelphia Enquirer story looking at the old question of incarceration rates not commensurate with demographics caught our attention, especially in light of Scooter Libby's recent executive dispensation.

"According to Human Rights Watch, two out of every five black persons sent to state prisons nationally in 2000 were convicted of drug crimes. Although blacks constitute no more than 15 percent of all drug users, 63 percent of drug offenders sent to state prisons were black.

"Why that discrepancy? Studies show the majority of drug offenders sent to prison in the last decade were convicted of low-level drug possession or sales. Where do most of those arrests occur? In low-income neighborhoods populated largely by African Americans.

"Why? Because it's much easier to make a bust in poor neighborhoods where drugs are sold in open markets than in suburban neighborhoods where drug abuse is largely hidden
(Stuffing Prisons With Black Men)."

The solution in our increasingly militarized society is more prisons, though it is questionable what benefit to society is served by locking up small time drug offenders.

Of course, these facts would not trouble GWB, since he is supposedly no longer a substance abuser, and certainly not underprivileged. The catechism is, them that has, gets. The corollary: If you get busted, you deserved it.
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Tell that to Scooter, who has scooted. Orange just wasn't his color.

But it's all right, since he's white, and like Cheney during Vietnam, has better things to do, after all.

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Party Poopers

Happy is the Man, Annie Bisset

“The bosses of our mass media, press, radio, film and television, succeed in their aim of taking our minds off disaster. Thus, the distraction they offer demands the antidote of maximum concentration on disaster”
--Ernst Fischer

He was a bad ol' puddy tat

--Tweety Bird, Loony Toons

The reportage on last week's soccer celebration bombings in Iraq bears the hallmark of biased news coverage. Unthinking, at best (Bombings Strike Soccer Fans in Baghdad.)

"The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni militants who have fueled the violence [in] Iraq for nearly four years." Of course the Sunni militants have fueled the violence for nearly four years. But this is only true if one disregards the Shia violence sponsored by the U.S-supported Shia-dominated Army and Police.

Ranger espouses calling a spade a spade.

Let's roll the opacity back one more level. Why is the violence in Iraq not equated to an illegal invasion and occupation of their country?

Saddam was a bad man, or so goes the rhetoric, but the level of violence associated with him was not aimed at U.S. interests, nor did it approach the level of carnage introduced with messy democracy.

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lisa test


The Numbers Game

Ranger Question of the Day: Since this war has lasted longer than WW II, why is GWB only now getting around to solving issues concerning wounded military members?

Lorne Lutch: I was pretty good at killing Viet Cong, but that doesn't mean I wanna make a career out of it
--Thanks for Smoking (2005)


The report recently released by the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors--a title galling in it's imprint of warrior status on professional soldiers--notes that 28,000 troops have been wounded thus far in Iraq and Afghanistan ("Overhaul Urged in Care For Troops").

Of those, 2,700 have sustained traumatic brain injuries; they also report up to 20% of Iraq veterans report post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). "The Department of Veterans Affairs has treated more than 52,000 returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for PTSD," according to the report.

Ranger suggests a radical correction: a large portion of the 2,700 who have sustained traumatic brain injury could be added to the current death toll of 3,000, almost doubling the current number.

Is it not more correct to say 5,700 fine people were lost in this war? If their bodies are alive but their brains not functional, are they not, in a sense, killed in action?

Ranger's comments are not meant dismissively or disrespectfully, but are an effort to clarify what is actually happening to our service members. The lifetime implications of these brain injuries are horrible to contemplate.

This is a needless slaughter and sacrifice of American military members for absolutely no forseeable benefit to this nation.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

What If?

Inmate Glendale Edwards, with his trainee, Nabisco

Here's a wonderful antidote to the Michael Vick's dog abuse story ("Dog's Learn Obedience From Inmates.") From the county due east of us, it is ostensibly a story about a dog obedience training program carried out by inmates at the Taylor County Correctional Institution, which has as its goal the upping of adoptions at the local animal shelter.

But the program accomplishes so much more. Like similar programs aimed at inner city youth, this imparts a sense of pride in the trainer, and care and compassion are benefits which accrue to both sides of the equation. Evident in the photo above, Edwards said of his dog, "I've grown attached to her."

Warden Duffie Harrison said,
“We are not going to cure all the evils of the world, but I know when you are around something kind and good, it makes you a better person.”

What might have been Vick's relationship with dogs had he matriculated in such a program?

If convicted (Spartacus for Puppies), participation in such a program would seem a fitting sentence.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Chance

Misleader, by Giant + Dwarf

Flying away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?

Believe it or not it's just me

--The Greatest American Hero, Post and Geyer

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
--Macbeth, Shakespeare

Now we hear the U.S will have a role in Iraq at least until Summer 2009. This is according to the classified Joint Campaign Plan--the strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador.

"The goals in the document appear ambitious, given the immensity of the challenge of dealing with die-hard Sunni insurgents, renegade Shiite militias, Iraqi leaders who have made only fitful progress toward political reconciliation, as well as Iranian and Syrian neighbors who have not hesitated to interfere in Iraq’s affairs."

Of course Iranian and Syrian neighbors interfere. But the U.S. is the BIG schterer. Invading, effecting regime change and FUBARing Iraq--the methodology of visigoths and huns--used to be seen as barbarous. We now call running that sort of interference democracy.

Do we have any clue as to the hypocrisy of U.S. policy? We do whatever we want, but the Iranians and Syrians had better mind their P's and Q's.
“The idea behind the surge was to bring stability and security to the Iraqi people. . . and by so doing give the Iraqis the time and space needed to come to grips with the tough issues they face and enable reconciliation to take place,” said Col. Peter Mansoor, the executive officer to General Petraeus."

Remarkable. U.S. soldiers are being blown to bits to allow Iraqis to come to grips with their tough issues. This is beginning to sound like some perverse Woody Allen analysis marathon. Perhaps we ought to just truck in a slew of therapists couches and analysts, post them along the safer border regions, and anyone wrestling their inner demons can tough it out there before returning to negotiations. The MRAP's can perform as shuttles to the therapy regions.

Ranger does not suppose that the families of maimed and wounded U.S. soldiers are proud to sacrifice their progeny for Iraqis to gain time and space. Does the word Polyanna come to anyone else's mind?

"(t)he new approach reflects the counterinsurgency precept that protection of the population is best way to isolate insurgents, encourage political accommodations and gain intelligence. . ."

The protection of the population can only be accomplished by isolating insurgents if they are outsiders. Examples are Che Guevara in Bolivia, and the British Malaya experience.

When the insurgents are the population then separation is unlikely. The insurgents are not interested in political reconciliation, and 95% of them are Iraqi nationals. Only the 5% can be isolated, and that should be the goal of U.S. operations.

Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to General Petraeus, said:

“We are going to try a dozen different things,” said one senior officer. “Maybe one of them will flatline. One of them will do this much. One of them will do this much more. After a while, we believe there is chance you will head into success. I am not saying that we are absolutely headed for success.”

It is the military precision implied here which is breathtaking. An entire policy based upon a chance.

Guess it's the "even a blind fox catches a hen every now and again" game plan. Is that Clausewitzian?

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Deconstructing the Constructions

Surgeon General's Warnings, Richard E. Moore

A recent editorial by former National Security staffers (A War the Pentagon Can't Win) shows some of the prevailing misunderstandings of the Iraq War. Ranger will debunk a few of them, as he sees it.

"Mr. Rumsfeld, who viewed special forces as the keystone of a transformed 21st-century American military, could not keep on track a mission that would have stunned Al Qaeda."

Stunning an adversary is meaningless in warfare, unless followed by a killing blow.

The writers cite successful counterterrorism operations, like the Israeli raids in Entebbe, Uganda; Tunis; and Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1970s and 1980s, and Germany's 1977 Mogadishu raid of 1977 freeing passengers on a plane hijacked by the Baader-Meinhof gang.

But the German example is comparing apples and oranges. The '77 raid was conducted by the police function GSG-9, since the hostage-takers were criminals, though it was conducted with military precision and tactics.
The event is not comparable to hunting down Osama bin Laden, as it was a distinct event, and not a military action.

Note: The Federal republic of Germany never subverted democratic principles when dealing with terrorist threats. All police and intelligence functions operated with the purview of their constitution.

How ironic. The U.S. today has co-opted some of Germany's pre-democratic policies in regards to citizen surveillance and war conduct. Seeing as how Germany today has been forced as a nation to rectify their conduct and to strictly abide by the policies of a democratic constitution, there is hope yet the the new fascist state of America may get back on track.

Let us hope we can manage it before enduring such a come-down.

This is where the public gets misled, and why so many are still confused as to what constitutes a police/intelligence action against criminals (terrorists), and what constitutes a military action, one therefore requiring a correct military response.

"Senior officers. . . view special ops outside a war zone as something to be avoided at all cost."

Wars are not fought outside a war zone, using the military. Ex vi termini.

"The record of a small, vulnerable C.I.A. paramilitary force in Afghanistan in 2001 was more impressive. The group’s audacious reconnaissance work and direction of local warlords in action against the Taliban provided the most significant battlefield success of the post-9/11 period."

Of course, this is cited as a glorious moment for democracy since these local warlords are criminals and generally sympathetic to Iran. These same warlords are the present drug lords of Afghanistan. Now that's a great presto chango! And for our next trick. . .

"We have failed in Pakistan, and are failing in Iraq, to achieve a primary aim of our counterterrorism policy: preventing Al Qaeda from acquiring safe havens."

Why deny them safe haven? Keeping them in a geographically isolated mountainous distinct area is much better than their being in France, Spain or Saudi America.

"When the inevitable American drawdown occurs, we will need a way to keep the terrorists off balance in Iraq and to disrupt the conveyor belt that is already moving fighters to places like Lebanon, North Africa and Europe."

Keeping terrorists off-balance is a phony unsustainable policy that wastes U.S. assets. That's their job--to be wily. Good intelligence work that prevents them from entering the country is a much more realistic policy.

Ranger does agree with the writer's conclusion:

"With a small fraction of the resources that Pentagon has for special operations, the C.I.A. could develop the paramilitary capacity we profoundly need."

The CIA should possess this function only because Congress has oversight.
Until the Department of Defense, SOF came under congressional oversight and until they stop operating unilaterally, then they are more of a danger to U.S. policy than they are a useful tool.

Rummy and Gates should never be given the option to launch SOF forces into any country without congressional approval. That is, unless it is a real war.

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT) is not.

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Nuremberg Revisited

Greetings, Craig Foster

Ralph Peters (Lt. Col., ret.) wrote the standard pap in his recent USA Today opinion piece (General Failure) about protest, moral courage and proficiency, and like all dialog on the war, it misses the key point.

Peters charges the generals' greatest shortcomings are that "they failed in their duty to inform decision-makers as to what war means and requires." Not so.

The salient issue is protest, but not of the type discussed. Who cares that General Shinseki was fired because he predicted that 200+ thousand soldiers were needed for the invasion? Of course he was right and Rumsfeld wrong--so what?

What Shinseki should have been fired for was his refusal to sign or issue orders requiring U.S. forces to invade a country that didn't aggress against us in any meaningful manner. If U.S. civilian leadership would not recognize the illegal nature of this elective invasion, then the onus should have been shouldered by the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff.

By the time a soldier achieves four stars, surely the international rules of warfare should be within his store of technical knowledge. Or so one would like to believe. The MSM, Departments of Justice, State and Defense and Congress are strangely silent on this aspect of the war.

Nuremberg Trials championed by the U.S. after WW II hung German Field Marshals for planning and participating in wars of aggression, along with other monstrosities. It seems that wars of aggression linked with regime change is the new face of democracy.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's a Wrap

Showtime, Anthony Wood

Everything old is new again
--from The Boy From Oz, Hugh Jackman

Since our friend Lurch at
Main and Central has recently weighed in several times on the topic of Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles (MRAPs), Ranger is challenged to say something on the matter.

Top Marine Corps commanders are defending their 2005 decision to send armored Humvees instead of MRAPs to protect the troops (not) from IEDs, despite urgent request memos from then-Brigadier General Dennis Hejlik asking for 1,169 MRAPs to "increase survivability and mobility of Marines operating in a hazardous fire area" in Iraq's Anbar province (Marine Leaders Defend '05 Decison on MRAPs.)

Obviously Humvees do not protect the troops from major blast damage, even without the handy dandy plate addendums. No news flash. But the Marines say that Hejlik didn't really mean what he said--that he meant something like an MRAP, and they figured a Humvee with plates hanging off it was a pretty good facsimile.

And of course, that's how Hejlik now remembers it, too, with the assistance of Marine Corps Commandant James Conway. Even though Hejlik's memos clearly request the MRAP, which has a unique raised chassis and a V-shaped hull to disperse under-body blasts.

In any event, MRAPs are not an answer to roadside bombs, nor will they defend against them. MRAPs are inanimate pieces of motorized steel. Targeting techniques will simply change, and the softer vehicles in a convoy will instead be targeted.

What protects troops from roadside bombs are:

[1] Randomness (conducting operations in an unpredictable manner)

[2] Avoiding the same routes

[3] Varying times of convoys

What is the point of reconfiguring the vehicles of the military to conform to the Iraqi formula?

In a standard theatre of operations, operating in the normal corps scenario, the vehicles of the combat support and combat service support and ancillary convoy support would not be in hostile areas subject to daily depredations by opposition forces.

MRAPs are neither cost-effective nor required in the normal envisioned requirements of conventional combat. Alright, you out there--please don't say everything changed after 9-11. The only thing that's changed is that military people buy that b.s. It keeps things all shook up.

Heljik wrote last week, "I must stress that we were not seeking a specific vehicle design. Rather we wanted to significantly enhance the force protection capability of our vehicles."

O.k.--so you upgrade the force protection of the convoy escort vehicles. So what? It is impossible to remove the vulnerability of the CS & CSS vehicles. (But hey, since most of them are contractors, who cares?)

The solution is obvious. No extended occupations of invaded countries is acceptable. Sometimes the only way out is out.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I've Seen them Come, and I've Seen Them Go

You'll dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MiB special
You'll conform to the identity we give you,
eat where we tell you,
live where we tell you.
From now on you'll have no identifying
of any kind. You'll not stand out in any way.

Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory
with anyone you encounter. You're a rumor, recognizable
only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist;
you were never even born. Anonymity is your name.
Silence your native tongue. You're no longer part of the System.
You're above the System. Over it. Beyond it.
We're "them." We're "they." We are the Men in Black.

--Men in Black (1997)

We may be witnessing a Biblical prophecy come true
--the beasts will reign over the earth.
--Them (1954)


Going along with the current leadership's attunement to the music of the spheres, Ranger takes this off-target landing as ominous (Military Parachustists Miss Target, Land in Colorado Prison.)

"Military officials said 25 heavily armed parachutists who landed in a cornfield on the grounds of a Colorado prison last week were on a training mission but landed about 3 miles off target.

"'Those were Special Operations Command forces conducting routine training,' Army Col. Hans Bush, a spokesman for the command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., said Monday. He declined to identify the units that landed at Fremont Correctional Facility but said the target was Fremont County Airport."

The parachutists presented the prison guards with documents identifying them as Defense Department employees.

"We don't know who they were and I'm not sure we'll ever know who they were," Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said. "Everyone acted appropriately."

Why does Ranger find none of the above very reassuring. Do SOF troops not carry ID cards/tags as required by the Geneva Convention rules? Maybe the GC has been contravened in America.

Why do the SOF'ers even have to get cute with their ID's? Hell, they're not even deployed.

Anyway--what's three miles amongst friends?



So, in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not by others' hand
Are we now smitten."
--Aeschylus, Fragment

Woo hoo witchy woman
She got the moon in her eye

Witchy Woman, The Eagles


More divination on the part of our leadership. They may next be casting runes and reading entrails in the Pentagon.

In the same vein as Chertoff's recent gut feeling comment, Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, top U.S. training official, addressed the recent slowdown of U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces ("Training of Iraqi Forces Slows.")

“I think it’s just temporary,” Pittard said. “We’re not seeing the kind of progress we’ve seen in the past. ... I think we’ll see it in the future.”

The progress is postulated on his crystal ball readings and carried upon the back of killed, maimed and wounded service members.

Ranger reckons that prediction must be a career-enhancing, ticket-punch moment.

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Empty Suit

A few comments on the Nicholson coverage, "Veterans Chief Quits in GI Health Probe."

First, Nicholson was not the "Veteran's Chief." He was actually Director of Veterans Affairs. This does not make him a chief. Chiefs care for the welfare of their tribe.

Second, Nicholson said, "It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the VA during this historic time for our men and women who have worn the uniform."

"Worn the uniform" is not the standard that determines veteran status. Veterans are not window-dress dummies with a uniform slung on for effect. Veterans serve, suffer, tire, hunger, fight, march, etc., and this is the standard.

If one simply "wore the uniform," then GWB would qualify as a vet, and that just doesn't quite get it.

Third, the article states that 5.8 Million vets are served by the VA nationwide. Why aren't all veterans served by the system? Why are categories of veterans denied care?

This is the lie of America. This country does not support our veterans, save with empty rhetoric. Vets only get the support that they fight for, after they fight for their country.

Screw the yellow ribbons.

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Monday, July 23, 2007


Every sperm is sacred,
every sperm is great;

if a sperm is wasted,

God gets quite irate.

Every Sperm is Sacred, Monty Python

The management of fertility is one of the most important functions of adulthood
--Germaine Greer

Hypocrisy: Prejudice with a halo

--Ambrose Bierce

Morality become hypocrisy if it means accepting mothers
or dying in connection with unwanted pregnancies
and illegal abortions
--and unwanted children living in misery
--Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of World Health Organization


The fundamentalist-Republican stance on life is schizoid in that it claims to be pro-life, yet its practices are often anti-life. You can't have it both ways.

They are pro-life when it comes to their stance on contraception or abortion. They love the fetus, but hate the child. It is a logical variation of
love the sinner, hate the sin. In this case, the sinners are pre-birth--the faultless egg and sperm, which unite under heavenly sanction to form the fetus. The sin is the product, or the child. After all, in their dogma, we are all sinners, produced as we are from original sin, also known as biological imperative.

They have yet to reconcile the dictate to go forth and multiply with the reality on the ground, which is that it needs occur with assistance of a bit of the nasty. Unless, of course, it is to be an immaculate conception, and only Mary, Komodo Dragons and a few other sundry organisms have yet to achieve that feat.

They are also pro-life when forcing the bodily existence of brain dead individuals like Terri Schiavo, Jeb Bush's cause celebre.

Yet when it comes to alleviating the pain or burden of a life--say, when it comes to allowing for stem cell research, which holds out the promise of cure for so many terminal illnesses--they are rabidly against scientific inquiry. I suppose that unless the misfortune has befallen them and theirs, it is just God smiting you, so buck up.

Apparently, science is good if it allows prolonging the existence of a body sans brain, or if it allows a painfully premature fetus to survive, which will endure a lifetime of physical and psychological burden, but it is not good if it seeks to alleviate the suffering of a viable human life.

They celebrate the war, and the miracles in medicine wrought there. But I cannot be happy for a serviceman who has lost half his brain, and lives under a helmet, or a plastic skull carapace to keep things intact, but whom cannot recall his mother or his wife.

That is no miracle, that is a grave tragedy and a miscarriage of justice. That is allowing this venal administration a pass, to call a lethal casualty an injury. Preserving bodily functions does not necessarily mean preserving a human being.

They are against a life of quality, or ease, as that is solely the domain of those whom God has favored with economic access. In a sense, it is the idea of blessings via good works--a mindset which the fundamentalists, who cleave to the concept of an elect salvation, would ordinarily reject. If thou hast gone forth and prospered, then you win in life's lottery. They are Jamesian economically, Pauline otherwise.

Then we have the loss of the Civil Rights initiatives which were introduced to level the academic, and therefore, economic playing field, programs like Head Start and Upward Bound, which have taken hits every year of GWB's administration. So the economically poor children are denied a leg up. Pro life, just not a very good life.

But if they get to high school, there will surely be a recruiter to offer a way out of the barrio or the housing development. And since it is likely that student will suffer on the standardized achievement scores due the trials of a deprived upbringing, he or she will be most well-suited for the grunt positions upon enlistment. Dangerous positions, which means
if they didn't get taken out on the front end of life, their demise will only be deferred by a couple of decades.

Here is where the fundamentalist's anti-life occurs. They are thirsty to send these individuals off to be killed, and kill others, in a patriotic war. So their agenda is not strict conservation of life. It is more like an enlightened self-interest. Fetuses are good for what they might buy the defenders: salvation, entrenched classism, a disempowered working class, bodies to be sacrificed on a nationalist altar. Fetus activism makes economic and theological sense to the activists.

It behooves the religious conservatives to advocate for fetuses and against women's rights--but not because they wish to surrogate them. Far from it. It is out of their own economic self-interest. The health care behemoth will be fed by ministering to the blighted existence of the medically condemned, the lower echelon jobs will be filled by each new generation, and the military complex will be fed by the more physically fit specimens.

This will allow for future profiteering on the backs of the matured fetus's life.
For the lifetime managed care of the damaged; in their death, by the swell of patriotism so necessary to keep the military juggernaut rolling.

The neocons buck every effort to lighten the load of the neediest, ergo reducing food stamp benefits and medical assistance, and increasing the bureaucracy to obtain those benefits, providing an insurmountable wall for many to scale, hence the victory they can claim over producing shrinking welfare rolls. The absence of universal health care continues to leave the working poor to fall between the cracks. Yet still, these individuals function to keep the economic machine well-greased through their abject neediness and desperation.

Rather than being a blessed event life, and death, becomes a governmentally regulated production line. As our Court turns more conservative, the coercion will become more strong arm in tactic.


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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bunker Hill--No Beans About It

Ranger can't protect you from all the things that might do you in, but when we saw the cute Minuteman on this label for possibly tainted potted meat product, we felt it was a patriot's duty to inform you.

Castleberry, subsidiary of Bumble Bee, has recalled almost 3/4 of a million pounds of potted meat recently due to possible infection with Clostridium botulinum, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced 7/21/07. Personally, I was jarred by the graphics, which I thought were passe in the 80's.

Now, as to why you're putting a potted meat product atop your nitrate-preserved meat product is another health issue altogether. It doesn't even have beans, so there's little health justification.

The USDA does have not offer color threat levels, but botulism is a Level I warning, with a "reasonable probability of serious health consequences or death," a pretty serious consequence in itself.

This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

The USDA warnings are compelling showing as they do that Americans can get killed either through lax governmental oversight (=poisoned food), or via the vast expenditure of national treasure (KIA), as with the seven young soldiers who died on Roberts Ridge in the previous post. Either through E. coli or botulinum toxin, Americans are just as dead, under your government's aegis. And in neither case is your money being spent to protect, preserve, enhance or extend life.

As an aside, consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative of indefinite ethnicity available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. That sure takes a load off my mind.

Ask Karen
Food Safety Questions? Ask Karen!
FSIS' automated response system can provide food safety information 24/7

USDA update, 8/2/07:

"In disposing of any cans that remain in homes, or in retail establishments with just a few cans on hand, Castleberry's and health officials are instructing people to double bag the cans in plastic bags that are tightly closed before being placed in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home.

"If any of the cans are swollen, bulging or leaking, the consumer should put on gloves and eye protection before double-bagging and disposing of the cans. Slowly remove gloves and dispose of them after use. People should then wash their hands with soap and running water for at least two minutes."

Just so you know.


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Roberts Ridge

The wastefulness in excess explosives seen in a recent picture (Dick & Dynamite), and a recent meeting I had with the father of Sgt. Bradley Crose--one of the first three Rangers killed in the Shah-i-Kot battle--brought to mind a small section of the book Roberts Ridge, about the battle on Takur Ghar mountain.

As in Bowden's book Black Hawk Down, we are given the picture of Special Operations Forces caught up in hubris and poor planning.

This fight took place 4 March 2002 in Afghanistan, and lasted 17 hours. Rangers, SEALs, and Air Force SOF all fought in this engagement ,which took place at an altitude of 10,240 feet.

The SEALs were inserted on this key terrain to provide fire direction to interdict enemy movements during "Operation Anaconda". The insertion on the Landing Zone was done without a proper visual recon. A gunship indicated that nobody was near the LZ, and no U.S. personnel actually eyeballed the terrain prior to insertion.

Standard procedure is/should be to do a visual recon (VR) of the proposed LZ. Though an infrared scan indicated there were no fighters present, this proved inadequate as they were deeply dug in. It is yet another example of over-reliance on technology.

A good rule is, if there are bunkers present, do not land helicopters within their effective kill radius. It is so simple, even a retired Ranger understands it.

Next, a Quick Reaction Force of Rangers was sent to secure the LZ and to rescue the initial assault element.

The chosen LZ--Shah-i-kot--is key terrain and defensive ground for the Afghan fighters. The area served them against Alexander the Great (321 B.C.E.), British colonial troops (1840's) and against the U.S.S.R. in the 1980's. The Russians lost 250 soldiers in one day near this area.

Following are some excerpts and quick thoughts, as they arose, from the book. Following these are my perceptions:

"Defenders of the Shah-i-Kot had never tasted defeat. The tunnel and cave systems in this area are 165 years old."

"Over flights of intelligence-gathering warned of American interest, if not their intent."

As for the QRF, their mission changed after lift-off, and "with no time allowed to stop and conduct deliberate planning. . . Coordinating would have to be done on the fly."

"The ambush shocked the QRF and crew, but the enemy fighter's true shock must have been greater--that their enemy had sent a third plump target down the sights of their guns."

"The QRF was caught in an ambush in a sub-zero environment, and their air at an altitude at which no Ranger--indeed no U.S. troop--had fought before."

The M-134 mini-guns on both shot down helos would not work after being shot down. The guns required electricity to function.

"(But) true cooperation, they were finding, went only as far as unit loyalties, when the stakes were this high."

"No one commander had been given authority to issue orders to everybody else."

The enemy dead were seen to be wearing plastic shower shoes. "The minute you don't respect your adversary is the minute you are going to die.

The Ranger QRF leaders generally had to beg to get a medevac to their location.

The Special operations Forces Chinooks cost between $30 and $40 million each.

"Regardless of the virtues of the men, [Air Force pilot Lt. Col.] Milani said, "The mission was obviously not a success because MAKO 30 never got in. [Milani was tasked by JSOC Commander Gen. Dailey with chronologizing the event.] They became the focus instead of Anaconda. It was an unwanted distraction. Al-Qaeda soldiers--probably no more than 25-30 of them--died on or around the peak. The loss of seven Americans was not a fair trade. "

Rangers humble thoughts:

[1] The enemy fighters killed seven Americans shot at least $60 Million worth of helicopters out of the sky. What a tremendous loss of life and money for no gain. Afghanistan remains a situation of throwing good money after bad.

[2] The SOF in this fight were not included in the fire-planning of Operation Anaconda taking place in the valley areas. There was no dedicated direct or general Support Artillery, nor was there any designated General Supporting Reinforcing.

Simply put, the SOF fighters were to rely totally on Air Force weapons delivery, which is most precarious in close quarters combat. All Air Force munitions were delivered on a danger close scenario.

[3] The enemy fighters were definitely standing and fighting. These personnel were probably Chechens, and not native Afghans. These were hardened infantry-type soldiers. Note: Ranger did not and will not call them "terrorists."

Loosely planned, on-the-fly operations cannot be successful against determined foes. Technology will not be a force multiplier without proper prior-planning. Sorties must be preplanned. Same for resupply and medical evacuation.

It is not the bravery and courage of the engaged U.S. soldiers which is called into question, for that met the gold standard. These military personnel were of the very same high calibre that is a longstanding tradition of the armed forces.

Rather, it is the operation itself. And extrapolating from that, the entire Afghan and Iraq project. It is never the common man, nor the soldier, at fault. rather, the powers that run these two entities.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

No Ad Hominum Attacks, Thanks

I wish you wouldn't say that
I thought I'd have to come right over;

I thought I made it clear enough

I guess I'll have to make it clearer

--I Wish you Wouldn't Say That, Talking Heads

Ranger is writing this bit for the following two reasons:

[1] We'd like to try unmediated dialog again, so we will be turning word verification off on a trial basis, and allowing for real-time postings to the site.
This is an effort to encourage dialog.

You will have a one-time registration, this, to avoid being inundated with Cialis and Levitra ads. Nobody pays us to advertise.

We can take reasoned dissent. But if the usual cast of crazies shows up (not you, friends)-- advocating all manner of anarchic undertakings--we'll have to pull the plug again. Trolls not welcome; if you must disgorge nastiness, please move to the right. However, earnest debate from all stripes is welcome. No vituperation or name-calling. We are all human beings here.

[2] Ranger has been advised that attacks against his credentials are to be expected in the near future. Chaff is on the radar, so this is a proactive protective posture.

In order to avoid dealing with groundless accusations, he has coordinated with and authorized his Florida Veteran's Service Officer to verify his status as a Ranger-qualified, retired Special Forces Officer.

Any interested parties need only contact the VSO--Jerome Jordan, 1SG US Army, ret., 850-875-8661 (ph), 850-875-8792 (fax), or
jjordan@gadsdengov.net, and ask re. rangeragagainstwar. That is all that is needed, and he will provide necessary verification to allay your wildest suspicions of fraudulent claims. Yeah, Rangers can think on their own.

While onerous, it is a good-faith effort to spare everyone ugly name-calling, and allow for minds to stay open, and on the matters at hand.

Thanks to all the good RAW readers,

Ranger Hruska

Ranger Class 7-68

Served 3rd Rngr. Co. 1971-72

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Spartacus for Puppies

We have become a culture of women

--Clever Fritz

I've lost and found, it's my final mistake

She's loving by proxy, no give and all take

I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight, Cutting Crew

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
--Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads


Who would be pro-dogfighting? How about a guy already earning a hundred million a year in pro ball, and a guy who thinks we need to toughen up as a nation.

Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcon's quarterback, has been indicted for running a dogfighting ring after 55 pit bulls in varying states of distress were found recently on his property (
Vick Case Sheds Light on Dogfighting.)

Vick's ring, like most others, was found by accident. Police were on site investigating a drug-related charge against one of his relatives when they found the dogs.

Eric Sakach, West Coast regional office director for the Humane Society of the United States, who has been investigating dogfighting for about 30 years, estimates 40,000 people may be involved in the blood sport nationwide. Though traditionally associated with rural settings, Sakach says the biggest growth is at the "street level," in cities.

". . . gangs are increasingly engaging in dogfighting. "Instead of those guys getting in a fight and police getting called, they'll fight their dogs instead," Hunt says.

Brave men. Which leads me to include one response left on the aol message boards to the story below, sans editing:

fritzzwicky4 01:42:40 PM Jul 19 2007
"man you people have no clue.no wonder we the most powerful nation in the world cant beat a bunch of rag heads in a war .we have become a culture of woman . i love the people who set with a big helpling of fried chicken or steak and tells me how cruel i am for fighting dogs. hahaha. . . ."

Clever Fritz sees analogy between the wimpifying of our nation and the loss of taste for brutal entertainment like dogfighting. What emerges is his belief that it is more glorious to allow the dog to fight--and then killing him when "he is not game enough to go on"--than to disallow an animal to compete in competitions at all.

Upon arriving in this Deep South college football town, I remember my horror one game day on hearing a group of men asking, "Well, do you s'pose our nig---s will beat your nig---s today?" It is a mean, ugly, proprietary, slave-owner mentality, and it can be propagated by folks of any race, upon beasts of any species. It is an equal-opportunity vulgarity. Once infected with such decay of soul, no living creature is immune from exploitation by such an individual.

Welcome to the martial mindset of the 21st century. Strength=unthinking brutality. You're unworthy unless you die and come back on your shield. Except the men talking big, aren't the men dying big. Machismo by proxy. Will we never escape this brutality.

Same as it ever was.


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Free Dog Tags For You

How are they gonna keep the rank and file filled? Such innovative campaigns as hitting the mean streets in gang areas, lowering acceptable aptitude scores and forgiving criminal convictions have not quite filled the quotas. But shy on marketing sense this Army is not.

Florida State University alumni recently received this mailing for "free personalized U.S. Army dog tags--while supplies last" when they send in the recruitment form. There is a certain morbid humor involved here, as we all know the purpose of dog tags, which is not fashion statement.

Clever marketing approach. Dead of Summer--guys have had a chance to hang out and party, maybe looking around for the next thing to do, and viola! Uncle Sam comes knocking for a few good men.

And of course, the picture featured on the back of the mailer is that of two handsome Apache pilots, who don't appear to be sweating in 130 degree desert heat, ignominiously stacking C4 incorrectly like the poor enlistee in the previous post.

I wonder if private colleges also pimp their student rosters to the government.



Dick and Dynamite

If you can't fuck it up, then blow it up


The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within
what you are trying to defend from without
--Dwight D. Eisenhower


Ranger Question of the Day

Why is this soldier profiling in front of a primed explosive charge?
This is a major safety violation.


This photo accompanying an article on computers (Soldier Uses Web to Stay in College) caught my eye.

It shows a young Airborne enlisted combat engineer in front of a cache of explosives that is about to be blown up. Ranger assumes it is ordnance being destroyed, since MRE's can be destroyed by eating them.

Look at the amount of explosives being used to destroy this cache. It is the old Special Forces formula "P", which means
plenty! If these boxes were stacked on a grid of four, four pounds of C4 on top of them would do the job very nicely. In fact, one pound would probably do it, but it is best to be safe and to use more than enough.

But christ, this is a stupid waste of expensive explosives. Why not simply detonate the captured/old ordinance with a kicker charge?

Additionally, the charges are placed in an amateur fashion. The charges should be on top of the materiel, in order to blow it into the ground. The idea is to destroy the materials, and not to spread it over the countryside.

To the reader, this may seem a picky point, and it is. This picture shows that the elite 82nd Airborne doesn't have the experience nor the state of training that is required of an elite unit.

Further, the picture clearly shows why this war is out of fiscal control. In this one random photo, the waste of war is clearly shown. All one has to do is look at the picture.

Absolutely incredible.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yada, Yada

America is addicted to wars of distraction
--Barabara Ehrenreich

The majority of Americans, the ones who never elected you, are not fooled by your weapons of mass distraction

--Michael Moore

The blind are always at war, always have been at war
--Blindness, Jose Saramago

The current blah, blah, blah concerning the Iraq War is just that--blather and neglect. We are talking about everything that is irrelevant--all of the particulars, the tactics, the strategies, the munitions--but nothing that really matters.

Yesterday Bush's Homeland Security adviser Townsend dished more of the same: "We've got them pinned down over there." And the Limbaughs of the world see no further terrorist activity in America and draw the connection that A results in B.

Unfortunately A (the U.S. invasion and occupation) results in lots of bees being released from the hive. And the folks we are pinning down are not the folks who initiated the 9-11 plane attack anyway. Al Qaida in Iraq is just a copycat spin-off group, generated in response to U.S. aggression in country. A bunch of groupies pledging homage to al Qaida National.

Why isn't Afghanistan being included in the dialog? The legitimacy of both wars is the key issue that needs to be rationally addressed and discussed.

Why are U.S. forces and dollars being expended in the Afghan mountains of madness and the Iraqi kitty litter box nation? Why are we there? The national dialog never clearly addresses this issue. Instead, we get bogged down in collateral, meaningless expressions, analysis and words. This talk does not alleviate the problem, which is an occupation which gains us naught, with no endgame.

Even those who see the futility and criminality of this action often get bogged down in the minutiae--the specifics of this weapon vs. that, this tactic vs. that, when the only correct focus is, we must leave, and how can we best effect that. Enough armchair quarterbacking.

Only Congress will end this mess, but they must face the facts squarely.
The U.S. has no legitimate reason to occupy two Islamic countries in a world that is worlds away from Peoria, Ilinois, or any U.S. hometown. It just isn't right; all the side issues aside, nothing will legitimize this war.

The issues of Iraq border security, civil war, insurgency, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, security of Baghdad are all separate issues. The wheat must be separated from the chaff. Let the conversational ball drop into whatever court is pertinent, but that does not address the key issue.
The only morally responsible action is withdrawal of U.S. forces from combat immediately.

U.S. forces are paid for by the U.S. taxpayers only to defend America from all enemies. The U.S. military is not responsible for the security of an Islamic country, or any country, other than America.

How is America safer if Baghdad is secured? Forget all the emotional words of GWB, just look at the realities. This war is not good for the American nation in any way, shape or form.

Forget the Iraqis and Afghanis; let's focus on the next country that should be targeted for democracy--the good old U.S. of A.

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