RANGER AGAINST WAR: November 2007 <

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grits Ain't Groceries

No sugar tonight in my coffee
No sugar tonight in my tea

--No Sugar Tonight
, The Guess Who

Keep behind me.
There's no sense in getting killed by a plant

--The Day of the Triffids
(1962)

Dr. Harold Medford: We may be witnessing a Biblical prophecy

come true -- "And there shall be destruction and darkness

come upon creation and the beasts will reign over the earth."

--Them!
(1954)

__________

This post is not directly about war, but the repercussions of war. The results of a recent grocery shopping trip assumed the proportions of science fiction. It was like entering a time warp, ca. early 2007.

Recent grocery bills have averaged $80. Shopping for one, and not varying the gatherings much week to week, a few months ago an average day's tab was $40. So the cost of an average grocery trip has effectively doubled in that period of time. The cost rises consistently every trip. Not a one-shot deal, not a comfort food blowout experience.

Eating well, but simply, no prepared foods and only staples are purchased. Milk has gone from $2.50 to $3.50 a half gallon. Butter, eggs and honey have seen similar rises. $80 for one day, and with more than one trip to the grocer per week, that tops out at over $100 weekly. To put this in perspective, $80 is almost an entire month's allotment of food stamps for a single individual household (In Florida, that figure is $104/month.)

To head the mean-spirited off at the pass, who will argue that those collecting food stamps should be working: what if you are working, but are still too poor to provide for all the barest essentials of a life? What if you are disabled, someone who once paid taxes, but can not do so at the moment.

This must be apparent to others. The following via email is from a legitimate website:

"Did you know that about 25,000 people die each day from hunger? And sadly, most are children.

"It is our duty to help those in need. But it can be difficult knowing where to start. Well, I have a fun way for you to help fight hunger.

"At FreeRice, you can play a vocabulary game. For each correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Program. The rice is then distributed to those in need."


Should one laugh or cry after reading this tripe. This is a do-gooder website, which occasionally calls for sending goody bags to the troops, but it all amounts to feel-good gestures. I cannot feel good about sending a goody bag to a troop who may get his head shot off the next day. The only genuine act is to work to stop the madness.

"I support the troops, but not the war" makes no sense. The troops are the war. How does one support the agents of an action that is reprehensible? Playing little word games to send 10 grains of rice to a starving person is an obscenity.


Other must be noticing this. We are not all trust fund babies. There are those of us who do not have stock options. Wages do not accelerate at such a pace. Subsidies like food stamps see no such commensurate increase.

When rapper Jay-Z notices the problem, and features euros, rather than greenbacks in a video, and a model requests to be paid in denominations other than the USD, things are not good for the homeland.

An acquaintance noted a while back how overweight many of those who must use food stamps often are, suggesting that they must be living high off the hog to gain such girth. Actually, no.


It costs money to stay lean and healthy. The cheapest foods are processed carbohydrates and cheap fats and oils. These people are fat because eating those foods are the cheapest way to buy calories.


Many states, including Florida, laud the decreasing food stamp roles as an indicator of a more robust economy. Actually not -- it is an indicator that the qualification process has become more draconian, so less folks bother to try for them, out of frustration or inability.


Dr. Harold Medford in the classic
Them! echoes the call of many of my Christian conservative contacts. [ Religions, like good sci-fi, create mythologies, so the connection seems relevant.] They see the showdown in the Holy land as being prophesied in their Bible, and therefore, necessary. What they fail to realize is that we create and manifest our expectations.

Christians feel fairly confident that they shall be in the number when the saints go marching in. But they might have missed the possibility that the beasts who shall reign triumphant over the earth might just be us.
__________

[Addendum: From 11/30/07 New York Times, "Food Banks, In a Squeeze, Tighten Belts."]

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Days of Wine and Roses

Our day will come
And we'll have everything

--Our Day Will Come
, Mort Garson

__________

In Tuesday's opening addresss at the Annapolis Mideast Peace Conference (an oxymoron if ever there were one), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged: "The days of war and terrorism are passed." Obviously, Mr. Abbas was prophesying from the year 2525.

Word is, Vice Vice President Cheney, while closely following the proceedings from an undisclosed location, was overheard to make a slight personal emendation to Abbas's words.


An unidentified bystander said it sounded like Mr. Cheney said, while intoning along with Mr. Abbas's words,
"The days of war and terror are ours." But of course, the words were a bit muffled, coming as they were from behind his helmet.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the Year 2525

What, then, I wonder, do they
To chase all the goblins away?

They have some tribal sorcery you haven't mentioned yet

Oh, what do simple folk do to forget?

--What Do Simple Folk Do?
, Lerner and Loewe

Assure a man that he has a soul
and then frighten him with old wives' tales
as to what is to become of him afterward,
and you have hooked a fish, a mental slave
--Theodore Dreiser


Old man trouble I don't mind him
You won't find him 'round my door

I've got starlight

I've got sweet dreams

I've got my man
Who could ask for anything more?

--I Got Rhythm
, George Gershwin
__________

We included Dreiser only because he authored the first American Tragedy.

In his folksy, aw-shucks way, GWB is fond of saying that his legacy will remain unknown, as he will be dead when historians weigh in on the question.

This veteran will venture a reading now, and he doesn't even need recourse to Madame Fay's crystal ball. In a word, if Mr. Bush fils is waiting for laudatory strokes, he needn't stick around.

Forget the amateur hour that is the Phony War on Terror. Today, one-quarter of America's homeless are veterans. The National Alliance to End Homelessness recently released a comprehensive report on the situation, Vital Mission: Ending Homelessness Among Veterans. Among its findings:

  • 336,627 [veterans]were homeless in 2006.
  • Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people. They represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older. This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population.

But forget this moment, if you can, and extrapolate to the near future.The vets are aging and need increased care and increased disability compensation due to increased severity of service-connected conditions, which naturally deteriorate with age. Consider that new Disabled Vets and Service-Connected vets are being created on a daily basis through combat actions that have no relevance to the safety of America.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently dealing with a huge backlog of cases, to the tune of 600,000 and counting. DVA hospitals are overcrowded and often substandard, and large numbers of honorably discharged vets are excluded from receiving their services. But that is now.

When Iraq and Afghanistan become a distant memory, the disabled soldiers will still be here and will pose a real social and economic problem, to be addressed by politicians who probably never served in the armed forces.


Where will the assets come from to maintain this population? We read about Social Security's future being in danger, but what of the veterans system? The latter is based upon yearly appropriations pulled from the national treasury. What will be available in the national coffers in 2010? 2020?


The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not end when U.S. forces withdraw. For us, they end the day the last veteran of the wars dies.
U.S. taxpayers will be paying veterans benefits for this war well into the 2060-70 time frame.

This is one of the elephants in the room, and none of the 2008 presidential candidates has yet shown the courage or will to address the enormousness/enormity of the situation. They are in good company, for none of the fraternal organizations have addressed the issue, either. Perhaps this is the fallout of the haute day of the faith-based agenda. They do not discuss it as they fear putting the mojo on the presumed magical appearance of the funds to pay this butcher's bill.


U.S. policy addresses the liberties and freedoms being forcibly imposed upon Afghanistan and Iraq, but few seem concerned about the quality of life of our veterans in the here and now.


And just in case all of the folks who tote the yellow ribbon magnets on their car didn't really mean it, there are other contraindicators to a positive legacy for GWB, outside of the plight of the veterans who humped this war.


This isn't news -- the imploding dollar, the untenable national debt, America's loss of legitimacy following the Phony War on Terror, diminished civil rights at home, the 20% of Americans without health coverage. . . A veritable cornucopia of self-imposed homeland terror for this holiday season. Take your pick.


A less free, less safe, more economically-burdened society -- all the price for one man's ego war.
To the good General's question, "How will this story end?" Not well. A dismal prediction, but one based in reality versus wishful thinking. This societal hit is a greater threat to the welfare of America than anything ever posed by an al Qaeda mastermind.

This great American tragedy was wrought courtesy a mind not often linked with the superlative "master", but which has brought a result surpassing that which the best and brightest of that terror organization could have ever hoped for.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

The Head of State


rangeragainstwar ©

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Signs are on the Wall

A promise made is a debt unpaid
--
The Cremation of Sam McGee, Robert Service
_________

On Ranger's latest visit to the local VA Outpatient Clinic, he noticed a newly-posted sign which read: "Individuals with Tricare will no longer be issued Department of Veterans Affairs ID cards." It seems ominous.

It implies that Service-Connected retired members will be eliminated from the the DVA medical system. If so, then things like our 100% service-Connected benefit of dental care will be another benefit chipped away, and our non co-pay drugs will be a thing of the past.


Tricare does not cover dental care, and a co-pay is required for prescription drugs. I have not seen the fraternal magazine address this issue, yet the signs are on the wall for all to read.


A
New York Times Op-Ed recently addressed the issue of uninsured vets ("Veterans Without Health Care.") It cited a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, estimating nearly 1.8 million veterans uninsured in 2004, with an additional 3.8 million members of their households in the same boat. "(T)his group made up roughly 12 percent of the huge population of uninsured Americans."

"Although many Americans believe that the nation’s veterans have ready access to health care, that is far from the case. A new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has found that millions of veterans and their dependents have no access to care in veterans’ hospitals and clinics and no health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Their plight represents yet another failure of our disjointed health care system to provide coverage for all Americans."

The DVA healthcare system does not provide dependent coverage unless the veteran is 100% service-connected. For veterans rated 0-90% there is no dependent care.

Most of the uninsured are working-class stiffs too poor to afford private insurance, "
but not poor enough to qualify for care under a priority system administered by the Veterans Affairs Department. Some were unable to get care because there was no V.A. facility nearby, or the nearest facility had a long waiting list, or they could not afford the co-payments required of some veterans."

The prioritization of services and categories belies the promise of health care for all veterans, and is clearly a disservice to untold servicemen and women who must forgo medical care upon return from their tour of duty. And the situation is worsening:


"Despite a shrinking population of working-age veterans, the number of uninsured veterans increased by 290,000 between 2000 and 2004, propelled by a steady erosion of health care coverage in the workplace and a tightening of enrollment criteria for veterans’ care."

Of course, the criteria for enrollment tightens after the veteran has provided good and faithful service to his country. Understandably, returning combat vets with service-connected disabilities get priority, but due to underfunding, there has been a freeze on enrollments from other categories.

Taking care of WW II, Korean and Vietnam vets is just plain inconvenient in a system which does not budget for keeping promises made to all veterans. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. The newly returning vets are cared for on the backs of our poor, aging vets who also served honorably.

Bills are pending to end the freeze, allowing possibly a million or more to qualify for V.A. care, at a cost of over $1 billion the first year, and $9 billion over 5 years. In other words, simply honoring the health care promise made to the vets when they signed on.

War fighting comes at a cost, far exceeding the per diem rate. This is why war should always be the last recourse, and not the first, as it was in George W.Bush 's Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

The U.S. can come up with $500,000 a minute to fight in Iraq, yet veterans appropriations are always a tendentious affair. If the wars are essential, and the veterans are essential to fighting the wars, then the outcome of the war is essential, i.e., vets needing disability compensation and medical care.

The entire U.S. federal system -- Congress, president, vice president, federal judges --should all be required to use the DVA health care system as a matter of law. That might torque the quagmire that we call the veterans health care system.


Hail America, your colors never run, but your veterans benefit sure do.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Showtime

--Shooting War, Lappe and Goldman

Make 'em roar. Make 'em scream.
Take a fall, butt a wall, split a seam.
--Make 'em Laugh
, Brown and Freed

A house divided against itself cannot stand
--Abraham Lincoln
________


The double entendre of the graphic novel "Shooting War" has it about right.

Don't worry about the Writer's Strike -- for a mere $20,000 a year, you and your family are privy to the best reality show around. That is the cost to you of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according a recent estimate given by the Congress's Joint Economic Committee (JEC), as reported by the
Washington Post ("'Hidden Costs' of Two Wars.")

The article cites the new study, which puts the bill for the wars at
$1.5 trillion, after taking into account "higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars." This is a more realistic estimate. as it takes into account the inevitable long-term costs of the war, versus the overly optimistic per diem estimate by the White House.

This Congress's report effectively doubles that put forth by the White House, which still cleaves to the paltry $804 billion tab through 2008.
But regardless of whose estimate is correct, the wars and their costs are political footballs played along partisan lines, and the following seem irrefutable rules of the political game:

[1] WW II and the Cold War were won through bipartisan coordination, something missing in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT©.) A war -- even a phony one --cannot be won without the total support of the American people and our elected leaders.

[2] The PWOT cannot be a political issue dealt with on a reactive basis.
Statesmanship, not brinskmanship, is required. Scanning the new crop of presidential candidates, none of the contenders are world leader-type material. All are politicians or attorneys. America needs a leader.

[3] Regardless of the contentious figures and Enron-style accounting, one fact is unequivocal:
"t
he wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000." Even if that number were halved, keeping it within the purview of the White House estimates, $10,000 per family of four is still too much.

If we use the $20,000 JEC estimate, each family is paying $355 per month for the war. Broken down further, that means each family is paying $11 per day for its share of the glorious expedition to force democratization.


Eleven dollars a day sounds like a good deal, especially if your sons of daughters don't have to actually fight in the reality show called Iraq and Afghanistan.
One could even view the $11 as a pay-per-view of the wildly entertaining news stories and visuals flowing over our the t.v and radio waves.

Think: for a crummy $11 bucks we get to see people blown up, decapitated, burned, sandbagged, flex-cuffed and forced on their knees and sexually humiliated, and see neighborhoods and societies destroyed. All for $11 a day.

Really, $2.75 a person, broken down further. Much less than a ticket at the local multiplex. Less than the cost of a gallon of gas or milk. Incredible the deals offered to a grateful America through the largesse of GWB. Noblesse oblige.

The entertainment value is inestimable. While there have been no cost analyses or comparisons, this PWOT must be cheaper than the Roman circuses sponsored by the Roman government. Not only am I guessing the entertainment is bought cheaper, but the show is more widely accessible to a pre-brain-numbed public.

The Roman viewed their warlike gladiatorial battles in a blood-soaked arena; the citizens of America do so on their plasma t.v.'s rented from Chinese communists. Seems cleaner that way.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sitting Ducks


"Do grown men always have to play games?
Does everything have to be an excuse for another kind of game?

Do any men grow up or do they only come of age?
"

"You don't know everything," the Gunslinger said,
trying to hold his slow anger. "
You're just a boy."

"Sure. But I know what I am to you."

"And what is that?" the Gunslinger asked, tightly.

"A poker chip."

--The Dark Tower, Stephen King
________


We liked the response to a recent post and are running it here, with further commentary. It is from Minstrel Boy of
Harp and Sword:

"You have exactly grasped a much neglected concept when dealing with terrorism. They are not at war. They are not warriors. They are criminals. Thieves and murderers who should be treated as such.

"The CIA has no law enforcement skills, and the military is not much better. Had the investigation team from the FBI been given full faith and credit along with the mandate for the response, arrest, and fair, open trial for the perpetrators of the USS Cole, the embassies, and the twin towers, the terrorists would not have been legitimized as "soldiers in the faith" or revolutionaries. That tactic worked very well for the Brits in Northern Ireland.


"It takes time, but when used skillfully the folks who are talking about high-minded revolutionary ideals revert to their true natures. During the course of "The Troubles" the political posturing of the provos was exposed to show many of them for the murdering, bank robbing, drug- and gun-running, protection racketeering thugs they were. The Sinn Fein guys went about their political process, and have reached many accords that were first deemed impossible."

__________

There are indeed realities being ignored in the Phony Made-for-TV War on Terror:

[1] Terrorism is not warfare, on any level.

[2] Terrorists are not soldiers.


[3] Terrorists are criminals.

[4] The Central Intelligence Agency is not a police organization.

[5] The CIA is an intelligence agency, only chartered to operate overseas.

[6] The CIA is not a prison administration.

Terrorists should be dealt with through the police and federal court system. This is the only legitimate answer to the problem of terrorism.

The fact that terrorists use violence and indiscriminately target and kill civilians is not a justification for U.S. leadership to set aside the democratic standards of conduct that are embodied in our legal system.
What terrorists do can not become the standard for U.S. actions. Nothing should alter our national ethical and moral footing.

A complicating factor of the legal approach, however,
is that the host nation where an attack against the U.S. takes place may in fact actively or passively officially support terror groups. Such may have been the case in the USS Cole scenario off of Yemen.

But in that instance, why did the Cole put into port in a high threat environment? Showing the flag is not a reasonable explanation for needlessly exposing a $1 billion U.S. ship to destruction by a $1,000 bomb. This scenario gives the terrorist the advantage in the assymetrical warfare model. Therefore, national policy should avoid placing such assets into hopeless, lose-lose situations.

Why does the U.S. place service members in harm's way for no discernable reason? Ceasing such provocative actions would be a good step in the actual confrontation with terrorists. The gunslinger approach favored by the current non-gunslinging president advances a dearly paid for bravado which does nothing to discourage terroristic activity against Americans.


CIA secret prisons, secret courts and secret torture sessions do not protect Americans from terrorists. To the contrary, these actions only increase the cycle of violence and hatred. U.S. actions must ratchet down the violence, versus increasing it. GWB's policies enhance violence at all levels.

Where along the way did we lose these basics:

[1] The Department of Justice (FBI) is lead agency for confronting domestic and/or international-transnational terrorism through their counterintelligence programs. Terrorism=FBI involvement as lead agency.

[2] Countering terrorism on a military installation is a police function, as it requires a response to a criminal action.


[a] CONUS: FBI is lead agency. The attacked installation would contain the incident
until the FBI arrived to assume control of the event.

[b] OCONUS: Same deal, except under most Status of Forces agreements, the host nation is the lead agency. This fact does not sit well with most Post Commanders, but it is a fact of life. Post Commanders had Special Reaction Teams (SRT's), Po
st MP's and possibly attached units to utilize in the initial containment of a terrorist incident.

There were no significant terrorist incidents on any U.S. installation from 1971-present. This is not due to the hundreds of millions spent on training and physical security devices, but can be ascribed to the nature of the terrorist threat.

Terrorists seldom attack hardened targets. Even the Marines in Beirut in October 1983 cold be viewed as a soft-target, as there were no security/exclusion zones around their barracks, which were therefore easily reconned and targeted.

In the 1970's and 80's, the military was desperate for an enemy. Any enemy would do, if funding resulted. After the '83 attack, the military began to rev up their role in terror. Secret Army units assumed worldwide direct action roles that often violated international laws, treaties and practices. This was the inception of the go-it-alone philosophy in what would become the Phony War on Terror
(PWOT ©).

The problem is not terrorism per se, but the fact that there is no coherency at any level to U.S. policies and actions in the PWOT. America strikes Ranger as a runaway machine gun that hoses friends and foes indiscriminately, and nobody is attempting to twist the belt.


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Airborne Daddy

C-130 rollin' down the strip
64 Rangers on a one-way trip

Mission Top Secret, destination unknown

We don't know if we're ever coming home
--C 130, Army running cadence

___________

The last few publicized parachute jumps by George H. W. Bush have been with the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team ("Ex-Pres Bush Goes Skydiving Again.") The Golden Knights are not a privately-funded sports parachute club, but an entity of the U.S. Army which is totally funded by U.S. tax dollars.

GHWB is not a military member -- he is not the Commander in Chief and he has no official role in the U.S. government or military. He is a retired politico and as such, the Golden Knights are not at his beck and call.

If Bush the elder wants to fall out of perfectly good airplanes then let him pay for the experience out of his own pocket. Ranger strenuously objects to Army funds being used for the entertainment and pleasure of a Bush former president. Obviously, GWB and GHWB feel that the U.S. Army is constituted as their personal plaything.

Please don't tell Ranger that the Golden Knights are used because security is required during these photo-op jumps, presumably taken under the camera's watchful eye to allow the 83-year-old's presented machismo to somehow rub off on the feckless son.

Ft. Bragg has a wonderful Sports Parachute Club operated in a secure environment, and is slap filled with patriotic parachutists, all of whom pay for their own jumps. If GHWB is so strapped for cash, he could tandem-jump for free by just asking.

After all, there are plenty of homeless and needy vets, so being a veteran and down-at-heel isn't a sin. Why should GHWB be any different?


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Friday, November 23, 2007

Underreported TBI

USA Today revealed figures today giving the lie to the Pentagon's underreporting of injured military personnel from Afghanistan and Iraq (Combat Brain Injuries Multiply.)

"The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327."


Rep. Bill Pascarell (D-NJ) puts the figures much higher than USA Today's figures of 20,500+. Pascarell, founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, says more than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat.

"I am wary that the number of brain-injured troops far exceeds the total number reported injured," he says.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the signature injury of this war, where troops suffer concussive brain damage due to exposure to IED blasts. While the troop may suffer no obvious visible trauma, the damage has been done and often will not manifest until some time following the injury. It has been suggested that many of these injuries may prove to be every bit as debilitating as a severe body wound, with a longevity which is unknown.

Yet due to the marvelous accounting legerdemain that emanates from the Pentagon,

"Soldiers and Marines whose wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the official casualty list, says Army Col. Robert Labutta, a neurologist and brain injury consultant for the Pentagon."

So not only are these soldiers not counted in the official wounded list, they will have a fight ahead to prove their injuries were legitimately sustained in the field. And the taxpayers are given an inaccurate estimate of the actual cost of the war once again, in terms of long-range care and disability payments for these excluded injured troops.

--Lisa

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Jumpin' Jack Flash

Mohammad Al-Rayies, (The Arab News, Saudi Arabia)

I was schooled with a strap right across my back,

But its all right now, in fact, its a gas!

--Jumping Jack Flash
, Rolling Stones

Gripweed:
And I'm not a thief, really.
I've never found anything worth keeping.

--How I Won the War
(1967)
__________

Ranger is often asked what he would do to "win" in Iraq. This hearkens him back to 1968.


While attending Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning, Georgia, Ranger had a Company Tactical Officer name of Frank Willoughby, Cpt., Infantry.


Cpt. Willoughby was a Silver Star recipient from the Battle of Lang Vei. Without a doubt, Willoughby was a combat-hardened Special Forces veteran of COIN, and as such, his opinion should be considered relevant and pertinent. In fact, it is as valid today as it was in 1968.

One morning during PT, several of us young, dumb and full of cum freshly minted 2nd lieutenants were hung over from the previous night's drunkenness. This was a frequent occurrence. Well anyway, we were doggin' it, merely going through the motions, when Cpt. Willoughby's wisdom was bestowed.


During jumping jacks, Willoughby pulled yours truly out of the formation and chewed me from head to toe. The core message was, this type of behavior (laziness in PT) was the reason the U.S. was losing in Vietnam. As noted, if anybody knew we were losing, it would be a guy like Willoughby.

So that is the long and short of it. We were losing because 2nd LT's were lazy doing their PT ministrations. It did not matter that the war was unwinnable. It all boiled down to lax side-straddle hops, jumping jacks and push ups.

Using the Willoughby formula, add more repetitions to the jumping jacks and the war is as good as won.

(Note: Willoughby retired a Major, and passed on a few years ago. Requiescat in pace.)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Unbridled Charity

Me and the Devil
was walkin' side by side
Me and the Devil, ooh
was walkin' side by side
--Me and the Devil Blues, Robert Johnson

_________

Ranger was a little boy. Once upon a time he was a young 2nd grade student in a Catholic school. This fact prompts the following commentary on "Nun Pleads No Contest in Sex Abuse."

"A Roman Catholic nun pleaded no contest to two counts of
indecent behavior with a child in connection with accusations from the 1960s when she was a principal and teacher at a Catholic school in Milwaukee.

"The nun, Norma Giannini, 79, faces up to 20 years in prison for what prosecutors say was sexual abuse of two male students."

"The complaint said the assaults included intercourse and occurred in numerous locations, including a convent and
a classroom."

First, a comment on the head description of the offense as "Sex Abuse." The criminal complaint describes the incidents as "intercourse," implying penetration occurred. Shouldn't that more correctly be described as "rape"?


Why the double standard -- is it that boys are presumed to always be putting notches in their belt, therefore, if an older woman commits intercourse with a boy, he is only being "educated" (nudge-nudge, wink-wink.) These are 5th grade boys we are talking about. Even if they were to gain erection, the onus is on the adult to prevent that from going anywhere.


Well, as we used to say about the nuns, "just don't get in the habit."


Ranger spent 10 years in Catholic education and was never sexually molested in any manner by nun or priest. But in the 2nd grade a certain Sister Giles forced little future Ranger Hruska to kneel for twenty minutes and and be sprinkled with holy water because, he was told, the devil was in him.


Imagine that! A second grader being told that the devil was in him. Now, this is not sexual abuse, but
it certainly is abuse of another kind and was detrimental to the mental health and welfare of a young child.

What allowed this type of behavior? What God condoned such nastiness? Is it any wonder that old Ranger Hruska won't step into a church?


Which is worse, sexual abuse or pyschological? Both scar for life.


So not only was I born with original sin, but Jesus's wife tells me I've got the devil in me. A heapin' helpin' of guilt. By second grade, I'm a two-time loser. So much for the baptism.


Another aside: I remember the nun's wedding bands, signifying their spiritual marriage to Jesus. With this I draw the logical parallel to the Muslim vest bombers, who anticipate their reward of 72 virgins following their martyrdom.


It hit me that Jesus can expect 100's of 1000's of spiritual brides upon their passing. Yet we criticize the vest bombers as being nuts, and consider Jesus to be holy. If one takes this thing literally, Jesus is a bigamist. Which leads to the logical conclusion that the Mormons must be right in their bigamist practice. Maybe Romney shouldn't be knocked out of the ring on the basis of his religious beliefs alone.


By the way, Sister Giles was a Vincentian Sister of Charity. If she is still alive, Ranger wishes her the best. Her service to Jesus was unique.
____________

Follow-on: Seeking the correct word for an adult who engages in sex with a child, we checked out "pederasty : A man who has sexual relations, especially anal intercourse, with a boy." So in common vernacular, there is not a word for an adult woman who engages a boy in sex. What does this imply about our society?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Helter Skelter


Sgt. Archibald Cutter: You're mad!

Guru:
Mad? Mad. Hannibal was mad, Caesar was mad,
and Napoleon surely was the maddest of the lot.
Ever since time began, they've called mad
all the great soldiers in this world. Mad?
We shall see what wisdom lies within my madness.
For this is but the spring that precedes the flood.
From here we roll on. From village to town.
From town to mighty city. Ever mounting, ever widening,
until at last my wave engulfs all India!
--Gunga Din
(1939)
__________

Ranger has read and commented on Pat Tillman, Roberts Ridge, SSG Nein and Cpl. Sanford. My information was gleaned from open source material (After Action Reports available online.)


All of these actions share common threads:

[1]
All were based on or resulted in hasty and ill-advised action. Only Nein's action indicated correct troop leading procedure prior to the action. Tillman's unit, the reaction forces at Roberts Ridge and Cpl. Sanford's unit were rushed for time and ignored basics of combat. These include leader's recon, establishing security elements and utilization of preplanned fires. None had an evident appropriate fall back contingency plan.


[2]
All of these actions showed the heroism and dedication of our soldiers, even without proper staff planning and coordination.


[3]
All of these actions show the lie that is evident in our Phony War on Terror (PWOT
© ) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yeah, we have a great new COIN program with a minty four-star guru, but units will be required at an instant's notice to divert and back up any Iraqi unit that is in a tight. Why?

The why is that the military is desperate to win, and to the military mind, killing people is the same as winning. Screw their hearts and minds -- blow their shit away!

What you have is a magnificently-equipped U.S Army running around willy-nilly looking for targets of opportunity. These hapless searches take place in the latest, most expensive blast-resistant vehicles money can buy. And of course, none of this expensive gear will produce a victory.

Using Cpl. Sanford's action as example, the Iraqi police are in a bad firefight to clear a house and call for help. If they are policemen, they should have backed out, contained the area and halted all movement in and out. The Iraqi Army should have been called for support, and anti-tank weapons could have been deployed to destroy them in place.

Since U.S. intelligence is so faulty the chain of command obviously prefers to throw assaults against houses full of insurgents and cross their fingers and hope for the best. When the best doesn't happen, cover it up with the heroism of the soldiers. Works every time.

These assaults are ill-advised, helter-skelter skirmishes, and overly costly to the tasked units.
It is doubtful that the fighting, violence, death and destruction of any of these actions addressed the threat of al-Qaeda.

While the Chechen fighters at Roberts Ridge were hardcore al Qaeda assets, were they a strategic threat to America? Those jihadists wearing shower shoes in sub-zero temperatures were land-bound and fighting to expel the U.S. Army, as are most military assets that face U.S. troops.

Even if they were all al Qaeda linked, they are military arm and have no relationship to the sophistication of the western savvy 9-11 operatives. The threat of al-Qaeda is their infiltration-capable operatives. Their military arm cannot project any offensive action outside their sphere of influence. They may have the intent, but lack the capability. Which leads to the questions for us:

  • What are we fighting for?
  • What are we fighting against?
  • What can we win?
  • When will we know if we've won?
  • If we win, can we afford the cost?


Victory
and War on Terror will never be uttered in the same sentence, save by fools like GWB & Co.

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Dressed to Kill


Dreyfus: The beggar was the lookout man for the gang.
Clouseau:
That is impossible. How can a blind man be a lookout?
Dreyfus:
[Insinuating Clouseau] How can an idiot be a police officer?
Clouseau:
Well, all he has to do is enlist...
--The Return of the Pink Panther
(1975)
__________

Ranger Question of the Day:

Why do the U.S. police wear flags on their body armor?

Do their actions cause them or others to forget

what country they're from?

___________

When did police officers become tough guys? Why do they need to be tough guys?

There are some dark and dangerous places, but you don't have to be tough to go there. Only smart. Try these protocols:

  1. Contain the area
  2. Do it at 12 noon
  3. Have a preponderance of force
  4. Have inner and outer security
  5. Have additional back-up reserves on station
--Isn't that easier than being a tough guy?

Sometimes a policeman must make a tough tactical call to save innocent and perpetrator's lives. (Remember, all lives are equal.) But Ranger hopes that this is done in a non-escalating manner.

The pictured policeman in his ninja mode is a walking invitation for escalation of violence. Hell, he's even hard to identify as a police officer. Maybe this picture was intended for Iraqi police.

Ranger prefers old-fashioned, reasonable police response instead of a tough guy approach.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye to You

These last few weeks of holding on
The days are dull, the nights are long
Guess it's better to say
Goodbye to you
--Goodbye to You, Patty Smyth
_________

Just as I was developing an intense dislike for the woman, Frances Frago Townsend, the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser of the past 4 1/2 years announces she will be exiting stage right next January (Homeland Security Adviser Townsend Leaving White House.")

First GWB loses long-time Texas flunkie Karen Hughes, now Frago Townsend, the woman who never met a convoluted non-statement she didn't like. The ladies are staging a defection, it seems.

The semblance of multi-culti bleeds from this semblance of a presidency. Condoleeza Rice alone remains, and it is unlikely she would forgo such a savory apres-administration meal ticket as her current post will provide.

Perhaps it was her years prosecuting mobsters what came back to haunt Ms. Frago Townsend. Even attorneys must suffer the red meanies in their deep sleep, after too long abed with the people they once fought against.

--Lisa



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Fighting,There and Here


Smart lad, to slip betimes away,

From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.

--To An Athlete Dying Young, A. E. Housman

I had a brother at Khe Sanh
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
--Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen

One of the biggest things I've learned is that
the country wants heroes, but doesn't necessarily
want to pay for the consequences of having heroes
--Cpl. Stephen C. Sanford

_________

Distinguished Service Cross recipient Stephen Sanford is a true American hero, and he is not happy about what he sees now that he is on the other side of the fight.

Though medically retired following action in Iraq, he continues his heroism speaking out for veterans' benefits. You can surmise something is awry when the normally submissive fraternal magazine
DAV chooses to run the following:

"I've heard the damn "h" word [hero] a few times. Honestly, it's an honor to receive the award. I'm humbled by it. But at the same time, in reality, it's just a two-ounce piece of bronze." Sanford said. "If it means anything, I think, it means that I have a responsibility to use this time in the spotlight to help my fellow soldiers and veterans who've also been wounded or become disabled through their service."


"One of the biggest things I've learned is that the country wants heroes, but doesn't necessarily want to pay for the consequences of having heroes,"
said Sanford. "There are a lot of people making tremendous sacrifices, and the process of healing and recovering isn't fast. People think that once the stitches are out the wound is healed. And it's not. Recuperation is a long process, and many people will be affected by their injuries for the rest of their lives. While an injured soldier is just starting to learn to cope with a wound or disability, many people have already forgotten about him ("Honoring the Brave").

Truth. He is saying, what a cost, and for what? Four soldiers from his squad were medically retired following that fight. That afternoon will cost the American taxpayers many millions of dollars over the lifetimes of the soldiers involved. Is securing a Mosul street that important for the security of America that we'll continue to pay for that fight well into the 2060's?


The action for which Cpl. Sanford received his DSC was a call for backup for Iraqi police "who were engaging an enemy safehouse in Mosul. Sanford's squad was the second to enter the sprawling residence and immediately encountered enemy forces gunfire. The initial push to assault the enemy had left the soldiers overwhelmed. The first squad to enter was pinned down and suffered a number of casualties."


Once again, a terrible firefight with heavy U.S. casualties takes place in an ad hoc manner. What ever happened to pre-planning? Why is everything thrown together on the fly? Where is the leader's recon or estimate of the situation?


Driving into a fight blind is a recipe for disaster. This is a criticism of a chain of command that appears a tad too loose, and not the engaged soldiers.


Sanford goes on to criticize an arcane medical claims process and an unfair pension process. He says he "want(s) to make it so other guys don't have to fight as hard."


Sanford sustained numerous gunshot wounds in his action, and with DAV help, recently got an 80% disability rating from the VA. The DAV will also help him appeal that rating. The article concludes with Sanford's clarion call, "We need to continue fighting for these things that really should be a given." Pity.


Young Cpl. Sanford has learned many ugly truths following his service in the infantry -- to Sanford, "the best job in the world." Freedom is certainly not free, but neither are veteran's benefits.


Every penny a veteran receives as disability compensation is twice earned -- once fighting an enemy and once fighting an erstwhile friend, the VA claims adjuster, who more often than not never carried a rifle.


Some personal observations:


[1] Why isn't this DSC being considered for an upgrade to Medal of Honor? It fulfills the requirements (you can read the citation
here (p. 19).

[2] Seeing the pictures of Sanford then and now, it is obvious his wounds have debilitated him and drawn him down physically. How can any claims adjuster read these medical reports and arrive at anything less than 100% and total and permanent?


A tangential observation: It is a shame and a pox on America that the new generation can produce such fine young Americans, yet the best my generation could front for president was GWB.


Sanford is a living testament that deep down, there is still a chance for America. Thank you Cpl. Sanford. Ranger wishes you well. You have earned it.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

133t Speak

Grandpa: Again with the fucking chicken?
Richard
: Dad
Grandpa
: It's always the goddamn fucking chicken
--
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Going through the motions
Losing all my drive
I can't even see
If this is really me
--Going Through the Motions,
Once More With Feeling (2002)
__________

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a meta study today expanding upon their 2004 report on the declining state of literacy in the U.S., "Reading at Risk" ("To Read or Not to Read")

"Americans are reading less and their reading proficiency is declining at troubling rates [the report said.] The trend is particularly strong among older teens and young adults, and if it is not reversed, the NEA report suggests, it will have a profound negative effect on the nation's economic and civic future.

"This is really alarming data," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Luckily, we still have an opportunity to address it, but if we wait 10, 20 years, I think it may be too late."


"In an increasingly competitive world, the consequences of doing it badly include 'economic decline.'" Non-readers are less well-integrated into society; they suffer by almost all markers of health and prosperity. Keep this trend of your society in mind the next time a packet of $80 billion dollars goes flying from the U.S. tax coffers into the Middle East.

Mr. Bush's middling school initiative "No Child Left Behind" is leaving many children burned out and minimally functional automatons, products of teachers who are on an annual treadmill of teaching to a test. The majority of students will have passed their competencies, having jumped through the hoops, and will receive a certificate at the end, but they will not be discriminating thinkers.

Some migh see discrimination and critical thinking is an undesirable quality in an electorate; they become restive in the face of incongruities. On the other hand, hoop-jumping is a fine skill to possess for installing oneself successfully within a system. In fact, the Founding Fathers, an elite themselves, probably did not think the hoi polloi needed much beyond a sixth grade education. (Of course, 6th grade back then probably equates to 10th grade today.)

"The story the numbers tell, Gioia said, can be summed up in about four sentences":


"'We are doing a better job of teaching kids to read in elementary school. But once they enter adolescence, they fall victim to a general culture which does not encourage or reinforce reading.
Because these people then read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they do more poorly in school, in the job market and in civic life.'"


HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman says her company is "very much into the digital side of the business," and when it comes to a customer's choice of format says, "I don't care. Reading is reading."

English professor Matthew Kirschenbaum said last week the NEA report didn't account for "the different ways in which we read." So, "reading is reading," even when it is just listening.

This begins to sound like a report from
The Onion.

I remember the rhetoric from my education classes. In the
community of learners there are differing modalities of learning. Some learn kinesthetically, something which mystified me, leaving me guessing that meant something like while turning cartwheels, or maybe while watching someone perform song and dance. Which is not to say those things can't be entertaining or enriching. It is just that hey are not reading.

Maybe everything is not taken into consideration in the 7-10 minutes per day the study shows the average 15-24 year old to be engaged in "voluntarily reading anything at all." If we added in time spent reading menus and Xbox instructions and road signs, we'd probably find people read more than 7 minutes in a day. But it is not the eye movement and letter recognition alone which qualifies as a meaningful engagement with text.


Life is lived fast today, and I see the loss of expression among some of my communicants. Talking points stand in the stead of well-constructed thoughts and ideas. Who has time? So the universal communication mimics the shorthand of email, with only the most essential data being communicated. Speculation, flights of the imagination. . .these things fall by the wayside on the information highway, where a toolbox of acronyms covers the gamut of intentions.


So, things get done, and perhaps efficaciously, but with little charm or flair. The grinding regularity of the bucket of takeout chicken and liters of soda for dinner in the film "Little Miss Sunshine" is symbolic of this loss of creativity and expression. One of the children has gone intentionally mute, while the father strives to create the ultimate power point systemization of a life. He lives by sound bytes, a la Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


But "get 'er done" is not the same thing as doing it well, or with feeling.

Maybe there's 2MI today; 404. T+, TTFN. G2G.

--Lisa

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Burquaritaville

(United States of Iraqistan)

by rangeragainstwar ©


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Simple Prop

All the gods are dead
except the god of war

--
Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver


So welcome back baby
To the poor side of town
--Poor Side of Town, Johnny Rivers
___________

Tallahassee is a far piece from Afghanistan or Iraq, but an old Washington Post report on crime trends in our Frenchtown community may be relevant to recently reported crime reductions in Baghdad and other blighted areas our military is confronting.(High Incarceration Rate May Fuel Community Crime.)

Frenchtown is the "wrong side of the tracks" -- a depressed area into which most southern cities bifurcate. Crack deals, prostitution -- all the usual suspects occur there. But up to 1997, crime rates were falling in Frenchtown, due to vigilant patrolling and incarceration of offenders.

However, after that year, rates began to level off, and are once again on the rise. The theory is that though
incarceration initially helps reduce crime, any area eventually reaches a "tipping point,"

"where so many people in a given neighborhood are going to prison that it begins to destabilize the community and becomes a factor that increases crime."

"'Until recently, nobody has really thought about incarceration in the aggregate,' said Dina R. Rose, one of the researchers studying the relationship between incarceration and crime in the Frenchtown area. 'Many people assume that incarceration reduces crime. But when incarceration gets to a certain density, that is when you see the effects change.'"

Sociologist Rose suggests, "
(w)ith high incarceration rates, prison can be transformed from a crime deterrent into a factor that fuels a cycle of crime and disorder by breaking up families, souring attitudes toward the criminal justice system and leaving communities populated with too many people hardened by the experience of going to prison."


The article concludes with the concerns of a Frenchtown
mother of a 6-year-old boy:

"'His biological father is incarcerated. His stepfather is incarcerated,' she said. 'If somebody does not come along as a mentor or something and show him a different way, he is going to think that jail is the place where he will ultimately be too.'"


This reminded me of my first visit to the local library's computer bank. The young woman next to me was accessing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website, showing the young children with her the booking photos of their uncle online. A perverse family photo album.


I do not know if these local lessons can be extrapolated abroad. I am neither a criminologist nor a sociologist. If anyone can bring something to the table, please do.


--Lisa

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Friday, November 16, 2007

The Transporter

Transportation is a precise business
--
The Transporter (2002)

You work a forty hour week for a livin',

just to send it on down the line

This is for the one who drives the big rig,

up and down the road

--
40 Hour Week, Alabama
__________

Today at lunch Ranger met a Reservist/National Guard Army type and we discussed Iraq. The soldier had 1 1/2 years in country with the Transportation Company from Marianna, Florida.

A transportation company is just that -- it transports things. Simple and easy. So what did this Transport Company do while in theatre? They received armored-up Humvees and they provided convoy security for contractors who were transporting things.

What a strangeness. This company is trained and equipped to move things down roads, yet they become security for big buck contractors.

Is this any way to run a military operation? Is anybody in charge? Who would authorize such a misuse of assets?

This is mind-boggling.

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Money Makes the World Go Around

Peace, Ramirez

Money makes the world go around

The world go around

The world go around

--
Money, Money, Cabaret
__________

"Chevron has agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges that it had made illegal kickbacks to Iraq for oil purchased in 2001 and 2002 under the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that Chevron had agreed to the settlement under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act without admitting or denying the charges
(Chevron to Pay $30 Million to Settle Kickback Charges.)"

If Iraq was so bad of a player in 2001-02, then why are Chevron executives not tried as common criminals or traitors, as they were trading with a stated enemy?


For perspectival sake, American John Walker Lindh simply carried a rifle for the Taliban and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Oil executives pay kickbacks while trading with an embargoed country, and they receive a fine. A slap on the wrist for the men who hurt America far more than an ideologue like Lindh in Afghanistan ever could.


Something is skewed in America's concept of justice, democratically speaking.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leap of Faith

“Hmm, what would Satan do?”, Cartoon Bank, Cartoonbank, New Yorker Magazine, New Yorker Cartoon, New Yorker Cover, New Yorkistan, New Yorker 2008 Desk Diary, New Yorker Desk Diary, Naked Cartoonist, Bob Mankoff, Robert Mankoff, Roz Chast, Saul Steinberg, Peter Arno, Jack Ziegler, Leo Cullum, Lee Lorenz, Charles Barsotti, Peter Steiner, Mick Stevens, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Charles Addams, Danny Shanahan, Golf Cartoons, Baseball Cartoons, Kids Cartoons, Technology Cartoons, Money Cartoons, Business Cartoons, Cartoon licensing, Thursday's out

"He had, in fact, got everything from the church
and Sunday School,
except, perhaps, any longing whatever
for decency and kindness and reason."


"A proper school should teach. . .the Hebrew Bible
as interpreted
by men superbly trained to ignore contradictions,
men technically called 'Fundamentalists.'"

--
Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis (1927)

A twelve-gauge, double-barreled, grenade-launcher of LOVE!
--Leap of Faith (1992)

_________

Sitting at the Mayo Clinic the past two days and being post-operative leads one to introspection. Thinking on morality inevitably leads one to religion. For us here at Ranger, this is not the little personal religion, but the larger Religion that overtakes a people.

Ranger has always proposed that terrorism is a total cultural phenomenon that entails economic, religious, political, economic, sociological and psychological elements. This applies to most typical terrorists groups, like the Irish Republican Army and ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom), which are but two long-term examples of the genre.

But we have encountered a deviation from the old partisan groups with our created Phony War on Terror (PWOT©). The U.S. has fabricated an enemy cut of one cloth, variously called Islamofascism, Islamic extremism or radical Islam. We see them as the motivating force behind Middle Eastern terrorism. But this impulse is only relevant to al-Qaeda and related sympathetic Wahhabi elements.

In fact, the terrorists, or what we call terrorists, fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are not of this fabric. Most elements of the Taliban and Iraqi insurgency are fighting simply because the U.S. is an invading army of occupation, with no ideological ax to grind beyond that of expulsing the occupiers.

This behavior is justifiable, understandable and sanctioned by international law. Bottom line: the U.S. invaded a country without being aggressed upon and targeted the Taliban, a group which never did attack U.S. interests (though they did provide safe haven to the actual menace, which is the terrorist group al Qaeda, as does Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.)

In contrast to the Taliban, all the extreme Islamists targeting U.S. interests have one shared characteristic, from leader Osama bin Laden down to the lowliest recruit. They are all willing to defer their happiness to the supernatural plane. They are willing to forgo material gratification in this life with the goal of entering paradise as an honorably felled warrior.

In effect, the earthly plain is of little consequence and the battle therefore assumes eternal and cosmic proportions. Powerful stuff.

Sure, the Christian ideology retains quaint notions of resurrections and Elysian Fields, but for most, the concept of eternity is only concretized in the form of a vain concept of personal genetic legacy -- a quasi-scientific projection of one's own gametes. But that is as sure as most folks get. The metaphysical persistence of one's essence beyond death is a hope residing on a tenuous faith. Most are willing to hedge their bets in choosing belief in the eventuality of this gossamer afterlife, but this is a far less certain call.

So how does the U.S. true believer, who has most faith in the almighty dollar, address these true Muslim believers? We send troops to fight them, troops who have access to computer porn, but who aren't allowed to drink alcohol in consideration of their area of assignment. Can you say, "hypocritical"? Conflictual?

Our occupation has introduced cell phones, ipods, blackberries, You Tube, My Space and cellphone and computer accessed smut. But the local women wear burkhas and hajibs.

We further believe that oil revenue sharing will buy their loyalty. Foreign aid --throwing truckloads of shrink-wrapped newly minted C notes is another tried and true attempt to pimp them out. But to the true al-Qaeda believer, none of this will ever work. They don't want our money and things, they just want us out of their face and space.

These people cannot be bought off like the pimps that cooperate with the U.S. occupations of their countries. Money is not the answer. They are focused on eternity, and this earthly plain (plane) is simply the line of departure.

The radical Islamists are reminiscent of the religious right in American politics EXCEPT the radical Islamists have a purity of intent that is unknown to church-goin' people like GWB and Cheney. The hardcore Islamists really believe their dogma.

The Catholic church worships their martyrs and saints who preferred a reward in heaven to life on this plane of sin, but the day of the literal self-flagellant is largely passed. And the act of worship has been transmuted into a pecuniary transaction, one of buying indulgences from more sainted entities.

Modern Christianity may call for man to walk in the footsteps of his savior, but also says that there is no greater glory in living the ascetic life. God wants you to be affluent! Surely that bit about the meek inheriting the earth is just metaphorical.

These adherents have no understanding of deferred gratification. They take the dominion over the land and beast part seriously. The radical Islamists do not share in such temporal material revelry. Mohammed never met a Calvinist or Presbyterian.

So if not via force, how does America best countenance the problem of the actual terrorist threat posed by al-Qaeda? We lack their ideological fervor, regardless of how arrogantly we believe we are in the right. Because of our milder engagement, they have the better claim to victory on the battlefield.

Some possible ideas:

[1] Keep our Armies off their sacred ground.

[2] Realize that not everyone can be bought and sold by Mammon.

[3] Monitor extremist mosques via police and intelligence on a coordinated worldwide basis.

[4] Hold the real radical Islamists to task -- even if they are in the royal family of Saud.

[5] If it is a time of war, then isolate U.S. borders and protect the homeland from the threat.

[6] Do not allow Islamic individuals to fly in groups on any domestic flight. Surely not without an air marshal aboard. This is surely inconvenient, but then again, so was 9-11.

[7] Establish economic programs to purchase petroleum without trying to dominate their societies. In effect, security trumps phony unrealistic calls to democracy.

These people live in a tribal space and time that is not in sync with U.S. realities. They do not prioritize here and now, and their loyalty is otherworldly. Isn't this something that a Christian President with a higher father should understand?

--Jim and Lisa

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