Thursday, July 31, 2008

American Goniff

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty

I feel pretty and witty and gay,

And I pity any girl who isn't me tonight

--I feel Pretty
, West Side Story

Sorry, just struck me as funny. In today's New York Times Fashion section (Shorts Crack the Code) a Mr. Newbold justifies these ensembles saying, "(f)or client meetings, account executives are expected to 'dress to the level of presentation that looks credible and respectable.'" Ahem.

Would you feel confident with your account in the hands of this cheery bloke?

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Hell and High Water

Billy Graham's lasting damage was to persuade
the youn
g George W. Bush to abandon
his wastrel ways, at which he excelled,

and instead seek the path that has

led him to where he is now,

a calamity for the nation and the world.

Graham's burden is heavy indeed.

--Richard Cohen

You say it is the good cause
that hallows even war?
I say unto you:
it is the good war that hallows any cause
--Friedrich Nietzsche


Though he continues to favor a troop withdrawal, Obama said he would not choose "a rigid timeline of such and such a date, come hell or high water" (In Iraq, Obama Hails U.S. Security Strides.)

Obama also favors sending an additional 7,000 U.S. troops
to the war zone in Afghanistan. So both presidential hopefuls are willing to continue and extend the war in Afghanistan. This sameness of thought got me thinking about the nature of the conflicts.

There are two wars being fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq, for a total of four wars. Two are defined by U.S. interests; the other two are defined by the interests of the Iraqi and the Afgani people. The two in each country are not the same.

The U.S. war in Iraq was won when Saddam was toppled. The deaths since "Mission Accomplished" were incurred while trying to build a nation of disparate elements, a war that should not concern the U.S.; it is of no benefit to the U.S.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan ended when al-Qaeda was isolated in the confines of the border regions. Al-Qaeda's defeat was the point of the exercise, and that was achieved. Further military action is a misapplication since the Taliban is an internal Afghan issue, unless they support al-Qaeda terrorism. It is a safe bet that continued military action against the Taliban only strengthens this tie.

Only internal political action can achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. The Taliban must be integrated in the peace process. Afghanistan will never be a stable nation unless the Taliban are reintegrated into society. It is even possible that they will be the dominant power in the nation. That is democracy, however. It's messy.

Obama wants a political settlement in Iraq yet places his bets on military action in Afghanistan. This seems either disingenuous or callow. Ranger's discomfort is that our civilian leadership with no military experience prefer military action in Afghanistan over political accommodation.

The continual false labeling of the Taliban by U.S. policy as terrorist insures the anti-coalition forces a job there. But where are the Taliban to go -- they are part and parcel of the country. It's not like a U.S. inner city where you could just gentrify and push them somewhere else.

Politics is the art of the possible. Politicians can get by with platitudes and sound bytes; soldiers cannot. War is not the solution to the Afghan situation. The entire Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is such a mish-mash that applying military force is like prescribing an aspirin for a heart attack. It may be a palliative, but it does nothing to remedy the situation.

Still, most accept the lie that we are being saved by the sacrifices of our troops. The fact is, our troops are not dying for our liberty, but for that of Afghanis and Iraqis. They have possibly died allowing for Iranian hegemony in the region.

The welfare of the U.S. citizenry is a distinctly different issue from the welfare of the Iraqis or Afghanis. Will either of those countries care if we bankrupt ourselves for their freedom?

Iraqis greeted the visit with a mix of anger and anticipation.

"The main thing that we need is to get rid of the Americans," said Mona al-Essawi, 19, who works for a women's clothing store. "If [Obama] will take his soldiers and leave Iraq, then I will even invite him to dinner at my house."

Yankee, go home.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Florida: Dumb and Dumber

I don't want you to be true

I just want to make love to you
--I Just Want to Make Love To You
Muddy Waters

Florida, besides being a Winter escape for snowbirds and home to transient hucksters and grifters, and hiring 10,000 criminals to work in the mortgage industry between 2000 and 2007, has made another very bad political decision.

Northwest Florida specifically, the current home of toxic bacteria-laden beaches and occasional tourist death knell site. You see, our own Democratic party is running Rudy Maloy for State Representative, District 8

Rudy Maloy has managed to evade four sexual misconduct allegations along with charges of expense account fraud. Maloy even got Leon County to pay $238,836 plus interest to Tallahassee attorney Stephen Dobson for successfully defending Maloy on charges of theft and official misconduct.

When then-Governor Jeb Bush reinstated Maloy to the Leon County Commission in 2002 after his acquittal on the fraud charges he said, "I don't do this with any joy in my heart. The use -- the public use -- the power of an elected official should not be used to create a bad working environment or abusive working environment. And that occurred
(For Voters, Maloy May be the Issue.)"

Tallahassee Democrat
writer Gerald Ensley said the ethics hearing was "wild" -- "an X-rated cavalcade of marital infidelity, swimming naked, spanking, lesbians and desktop trysts (The Logistics of Infidelity.)" Ultimately, the county commission's insurance company agreed to a multimillion dollar confidential settlement with three of the alleged sex victims who were threatening to sue Maloy.

"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement ... found Mr. Maloy subjected female employees to unwanted touch
ing; appeared to hire and fire employees on the basis of their willingness to engage in sexual relationships with him; and frequently had sex in state offices, sometimes during business hours," Bush said in his statement to commissioners. "Mr. Maloy's behavior was absolutely deplorable, particularly for an elected constitutional officer charged with a duty of public service (Gov. Reinstates Man Despite Sex Charges.)"

Why then Maloy? In a word: Obama. Most liberals I have spoken with are tickled that "we finally have a black man running for office." I am always appalled by these interchanges. It is not that I do not want a black President, but that I want the best person to be President. Race and gender ought to be a moot point, but they are not, alas.

The Democrats are trying to hitch their wagon to a star.
Maloy is not the best Democrat District 8 could field.

But he may be the blackest.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


What we couldn't do, what we wouldn't do,
It's a crime, but does it matter?
Does it matter much, does it matter much to you?
--Living on a Thin Line
, The Kinks

They'll stone you and then say they're all brave

They'll stone you when you're sent down in your grave

But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

--Everybody Must Get Stoned
, Bob Dylan

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, one of Osama bin Laden's seven chauffeurs, is the subject of
the first American war crimes trial since World War II, and like Jose Padilla, he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. The decks are stacked; the judge has already barred evidence obtained by interrogaters following his capture in 2002.

The title of a USA Today article calls Hamdan "bin Laden's aide," promoting him up the chain of command in the public's eye. Do George Bush's drivers qualify as aides? Were the drivers of Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, the Emperor, Goering, Himmler, Goebbels, et. al., tried at Nuremburg? No.

Are we so desperate in our Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) that drivers are now high-value targets or prisoners? America has become trapped within the confines of our faulty rhetoric and turned the world into a real-life video game that is the PWOT. Why, the PWOT outsells its nearest competitor -- Grand Theft Auto -- by hundreds of billions of dollars.

These Gitmo cases violate every tenet of American jurisprudence and the principles of the civilized world. After being denied habeas corpus and access to prosecution materials, having nine military members wearing WOT medals on their chests as judge, prosecutor, defense and jury is actually a joke. The world is laughing while alternately cringing.

These phony tribunals and phony wars are infinitely more detrimental to the integrity of the republic than any terrorist attack could ever hope to be. You could say the U.S. has functioned as [unwitting] accomplice to the goals of the 9-11 attackers, if you dared risk being called a heretic.

Hamdan's case features two distinct components, which should yield different results: 1) Actions prior to 9-11, and 2) Actions post 9-11.

If it can be proven that pre 9-11 Hamdan knew about or participated in criminal conspiracy in the 9-11 attack, then he is in fact a criminal and should be tried as such -- in a U.S. federal court.

Post 9-11 Hamdan was captured (not arrested) with 2 SA 7 SAM missiles in his vehicle. An SF Captain attested to this fact, but couldn't verify that Hamdan was the driver.

Assuming that Hamdan was the driver transporting these missiles that would be used against U.S. air assets, does this fact make him a terrorist? How about Enemy combatant?

In our lexicon, The U.S. CPT is a "warrior," while personnel captured opposing the U.S. invasion are deemed terrorists or war criminals. According to international law, everybody has the right and responsibility to defend their homeland. If U.S. soldiers are warriors, those fighting them are also warriors. If warriors, then POW's upon capture, not criminals.

Hamdan post 9-11 is not terrorist, he is UW/GW, a designation clearly covered by the Rules of War. Either way you cut it, a military tribunal is the wrong venue for driver Hamdan.

Going back to basics, a war crime violates the customs or laws of war. Both war crimes and crimes vs. humanity necessitate the actuality of a state of war. 9-11 was not an act of war, it was an act of terror, which is a legal concept. None of the charges against Hamdan fit the definition of war crimes.

If Hamdan was so bad, then why didn't loyal Special Forces troops just shoot his ass back in the wilds of Afghanistan? After all, it worked with Che.

Phony charges in a phony war turn America's legal system into a phony semblance of justice. The Hamdan's will come and go, but the erosion of America's legitimacy is indelible.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is on the short end of the morality stick here. Its invasion of Afghanistan because Saudi Arabians attacked the U.S. is not defensible, as Afghanistan's Taliban were not al-Qaeda, which was in fact the threat. Is America safer because we have destroyed our credibility in the civilized world?

U.S. actions fit the definition of war crimes much more clearly than do those of Hamdan.

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Monday, July 28, 2008



This is a good news-bad news essay.

The good news is that supplies for rebuilding Iraq are moving freely and with a convoy-attack rate of 1.5%. So the good news is you could now happily pin on your flag lapel (Attacks on U.S. Convoys Decline.)

". . . logistics convoys rely on drivers and vehicles supplied by Iraqi companies under contract with the corps. British and U.S. companies provide convoy security, also under contract with the corps."

On the suspicious side, is it remotely possible that these security companies are paying tribute or kick backs to keep from being attacked?

"Pease says the successful use of private security contractors to protect the logistics convoys frees more U.S. troops for combat and peacekeeping."

If things are so swell, why do U.S. troops have to perform either function? Let the Iraqi forces perform these functions. It is their country after all is said and done.

Now for the bad news. The same
USA Today edition features an article on the sad state of food banks across the U.S. -- "Gleaning Programs Multiply as Food Donations Decline."

"The Society of St. Andrew reports overall food donations have declined from 46 million pounds in 2001 to just over 20 million pounds in 2007," their supply reduced by half over the course of the last six years. The picture accompanying the article shows a banner "Please Donate Food" at a San Francisco food bank.

Poor people need food in the good old USA, and donations to food banks are down for a number of reasons. So in America the poor are suffering increasing "food insufficiency"
( to use the government's euphemism for hunger), but back to the Good News: we are still rebuilding Baghdad.

That doesn't even thaw my cold Ranger heart.

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And on a clear day...
On that clear day...

You can see forever and ever more!

--On a Clear Day
, Burton Lane


Driving up Interstate 65 Ranger noted smog from Dothan, Alabama through Nashville, Tennessee. Both Montgomery and Birmingham had air quality warnings. Nashville was nasty. Here's the kicker: Cincinnati and North were clear.

Didn't the North used to be industrial? Is the South the new smog zone? It sure appears that way.

On his amble Ranger also noted that Indiana has a license plate that declares, "In God We Trust." The words "In" and "We" are downsized; "GOD" and "TRUST" magnified. The effect at first glance is "GOD TRUST." Doesn't make grammatical sense, but true believers aren't troubled by such minutiae.

He's not sure which is worse -- the smog or the license plates.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

La Gioconda

If you got bad news,
you wanna kick them blues; cocaine.

When your day is done

and you wanna run; cocaine

, J.J. Cale


The War on Drugs comes to mind during this campaign, especially considering our last two presidents and our possible next C-in-C (Commander in Coke.)

America has been fighting phony wars as a matter of policy. Any war will do in a pinch. Our prisons are filled with drug offenders, many of them for minor offenses. And we don't like to admit it but since 1992, so has our White House. If Obama is elected, we will be batting a triple-header.

Clinton, of course, didn't swallow. Sorry, I meant inhale. I confused him with Monica for a fleeting moment. George W. Bush by most reckonings was a cocaine user (witness his perpetual smile) and Obama admits to using "blow."

So what have we got, taxpayers and citizens? A multi-billion dollar war on drugs because they are bad-bad-bad. Then we proceed to elect drug users.

Here is Ranger's reckoning: If one is white or 1/2 white, he may use drugs and become President. If one is black and uses drugs, one can become a convict and be denied the right to vote.

This black-and-white view even considers the gray.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


Christopher Morris, Patriotism

All that you eat

Everyone you meet

All that you slight

Everyone you fight

All that is now

All that is gone

, Pink Floyd

Now here you are with your faith

And your Peter Pan advice

You have no scars on your face

And you cannot handle pressure

, Billy Joel


Regarding the photo: Christopher Morris's photo of troops waving flags upon receiving dignitaries was featured in Time magazine recently. It looked like patriotic overkill, but I think the irony was lost on that reading audience. I only confirmed my suspicion by checking out his other work. Visit Hasted Hunt Gallery online for his haunting images of vapid, gape-mouthed American patriots. Android-like citizens stare like Madame Taussad wax figures at rallies, transfixed by the rhetoric and indoctrination they have come to hear, always American flags plastered on their shirts or ditty bags.

But conspiracy theory is the purpose of my post. AOL greeted me this morning with the following:
"Danger Is All Around Us: Woman Nearly Dies After Detox Diet; Chimp Grabs Gun, Almost Escapes." Now detox diets and chimps don't scare me much, as they aren't a part of my daily routine. But I'm not above constructing conspiracy theories of my own, and mine is even scarier than grapefruit and chimps.

My theory follows from my recent post on the obesity epidemic, "Wide Load," and draws a linkage to the abysmal state of psychiatric care for returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, plus the Department of Defense's removal of a popular military blog this week. Here goes.

It does a conspiratorial and dictatorial government no good to have engaged, lucid and communicative citizens among the populace
. Likewise, there is no desire for a fit base of citizens trained in the military arts. Doubly bad is the citizen who can use and clean his weapon plus write tracts questioning military/government actions.

Soldiers who return after a tour of duty and become depressed are no asset. They are depressed for a reason. Better to have them self-medicate, and call them a hero should they commit suicide.

Hence, George Bush's directive to get out there and shop, and spend those bonus checks on Cheetoes and the like. Meanwhile, diabetes meds plaster the airwaves, often with overweight actors telling how various meds helped them "get their life back."
During any half hour of t.v. you will see an array of medications to allay your depression, and help knock you out at night. But you won't wake up drowsy, so you'll be able to get back up in the morning to do it all again.

Lietenant G's
"Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal," has been stopped; the Lt. has been promoted. Prime directive is to keep 'em happy. Not so for another soldier who kept a blog, "Milo Freeman" (The Calm Before the Sand.) Milo/Seth this week wrote an excoriating farewell posting. All the more poignant coming from a religious young man who joined in 2004 in good faith.

Milo said he will upend every yellow ribbon magnet, and he will not mourn the fallen soldiers, as they are doing wrong. In other words, he will not feign normality. It is a radical statement meant to make his point.

So my theory: keep them overweight, dim-witted and remove as many thinking soldiers from the brew as possible, either actively or passively.

Decide for yourself how far off-base my theory is.

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Ninja II

Us and them

And after all we're only ordinary men

Me and you

God only knows it's not what we would choose to do

"Forward" he cried from the rear and the front rank died

And the General sat, and the lines on the map

Moved from side to side

--Us and Them
, Pink Floyd

To recap the first failure of Ninja (Operation Red Wings), the action for which Patrick Murphy earned the Medal of Honor: the recon team had been discovered by local goatherds, and instead of immediate radio request for exfiltration, the 4-man team maneuvered position and were ambushed the next morning by possibly 200 Taliban.

The next major failure is shattering, and even Miniter cannot draw a halo on it.

Twenty minutes after the helicopters were dispatched, "the pilot had bad news":

"The two Black Hawks, including Healy's were too heavy to vault over the peaks of Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province. . . . the choppers diverted to Jalalabad, where 16 men were ordered off the Black Hawks. With more than 10 minutes lost, the two helicopters decided to outrun their slower, armored escorts. Contact with the trapped SEAL team had been lost."

How can this be? This is the supposed 80-man team at-the-ready. These are Night Stalkers -- an elite SOF asset -- and we are to understand they do not know the load limits of their birds, nor the elevation of the terrain involved? This is a tragicomedy, a Chinese fire drill.

When the Black Hawks enter the landing zone, Taliban fire an RPG round, which explodes inside the first helicopter.

"The SEALS onboard the second Black Hawk were horrified to see the lead chopper explode, tilt its nose upward and spill men to the ground. The remaining air crew, belted in, were trapped inside a flaming comet, plunging down into a boulder-choked ravine. Healy, McGreevy and a dozen others were gone."

Why would any leader attempt an insertion under enemy fire without the suppressive fire of gunships? This is plain foolhardy and cannot be justified even as a desperation measure. If the recon team just got destroyed, it is a safe assumption that there will be heavy anti-aircraft fire to include automatic weapons and RPG's.

Miniter assures us the SEALs inside the 2nd copter "desperately wanted to land and make the enemy pay. But the radio gave different orders: leave now." Fortunately someone was now making decisions on a rational rather than emotional basis.

One cannot make the enemy pay. You can kill them, but that won't return the 19 friendly KIA's to life. This is not a computer game, it is real-life brutal combat.

When Miniter, writing about the rescue of the bodies, says, "the cavalry had come," it's time to tune out. The question remains: Where was the 80-man assault element previously mentioned as a component of this operation?

If the plan called for an 80-man reaction force, then artillery or aerial rocket artillery should have been pre-planned to support the assault and recon teams' efforts. In addition, aviation assets should have been on-station and ready to launch.
Yeah, sure, the cavalry had come, but they were riding dead horses.

The Taliban were controlling the pace of battle. We gave up the principle of initiative when the first shot was fired. It is safe to assume that anti-coalition forces were pushing the SEALs down into a pre-planned kill zone.

The Taliban displayed a level of proficiency one would expect of U.S. SOF ground assets. They fought good, solid, well-planned small unit Infantry action.
Murphy's team was totally reactive and defensive, therefore, they were the designated losers.

This entire operation seems based on a hope and a prayer, and not a chaplain anywhere in sight. The author calls it a "rescue", but it was a salvage operation and a body recovery mission. Nobody were rescued except Marcus Luttrell, who survived with a broken back by the good graces of goatherd who took him into his stone hut.

This failure of colossal proportions, like the Pat Tillman incident, proves the Army maxim: when a big screw up occurs, promote, or award medals. The Army's answer to an eraser.

Addendum: Author Richard Miniter is the best-selling author of two books which Borders does not stock. Each explains how Bill Clinton is to blame for Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. You can guess the audience which drove these books into best-seller status. That's right -- your fellow Americans.

Miniter's non-credentials as a "terrorism expert" include a terminal degree of a B.A. in philosophy from a liberal arts college. He has never worked in the military or government. He would make a fine writer of YA adventure stories.

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Friday, July 25, 2008


Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows that the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost
--Everybody Knows
, Leonard Cohen

Ranger will deconstruct the American Legion Magazine's "Rescue in Afghanistan" (May 2008), an article by far-right mouthpiece Richard Miniter on June 2005 Operation Red Wings, the action for which Lt. Michael Murphy (deceased) earned his Medal of Honor.

Even the title is a misnomer;
there was no rescue. Instead, Red Wings was a series of errors, blunders and improper mission planning and execution. The mission cost 19 lives, yet the article hails it as a victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, except that's not how the current Department of Defense reports portray things in that neck of the woods.

"Senior Crew Chief Dan Healy was in chrage of planning the SEAL component of Operation Red Wings. . . . he became obsessed with finding the Taliban warlord killing Marines in A-bad."

Imagine a Senior Crew Chief in charge of planning! Where were the officers? Being "obsessed" meant his decisions were emotional, not based solely upon hard, cold military reasoning. One must also ask,
what is a Taliban warlord, and why are we fighting him? If warriors are the newest class of American Heroes, shouldn't we be honoring rather than fighting him?

One team member, Dan Dietz, "wanted to be a ninja, until he found out it wasn't a real profession." So we have an obsessive + a ninja-wannabe. And a writer who doesn't know his history.

"The plan was simple. A helicopter would drop off the SEAL team a few miles from a village where the warlord Shah had been sighted from the air. They would rope down and find a concealed position. If they spotted Shah, they would radio "eyes on target" and an 80-man force would swoop in to capture him."

This is a good simple plan, except it lacks any contingency plans or Escape & Evasion considerations. This elementary failure is what cost the team their lives.
Murphy staked out a position on a "finger of rock" that looked down on his target. After dawn the next morning goatherders with their flock discovered them. After a brief capture, Murphy decided to let them go.

While it was a solid decision not to murder the goatherds, they should have been detained until the team exfiltrated due to the compromised nature of the mission. A recon team is no longer a recon team once it is spotted. Once spotted they quickly become desperate men fighting for their lives.

If Murphy had done a proper terrain analysis based upon maps and satellite photos and visual reconnaissance the make-shift selection of position would have been eliminated. Prior planning goes a long way to keeping a team alive.

"The Taliban were not long in coming. Initial intelligence reports put Shah's forces at 80 fighters, but some 200 Taliban appeared on the ridges above them. The enemy held the high ground and started flanking the SEAL team on both sides; they were about to be surrounded."

This demonstrates weak intelligence and interpretation. Why are Shah's forces and the Taliban enumerated separately? Isn't the fiction that this entire group is Taliban?

"The SEALs couldn't hold out for long. The radio only spoke static. They couldn't phone home."
Where were their URC-type survival radios?Where was the airborne radio relay? Where were the emergency contingency plans when contact with the team was compromised?

"Murphy ordered them to retreat down the hill, gaining distance and time. But the Taliban pursued their prey relentlessly."
Classic hunter becoming the hunted scenario. A team fighting downhill with enemy elements above is the same as a death sentence. "Without an air rescue, or close air support from a plane, the SEAL team would die."

And again, why again was their no air rescue or close air support laid on for immediate support of this mission? Perhaps someone could explain this to the surviving family members.

Miniter writes it took an hour for help to arrive -- "Would their ammunition and luck hold?" The entire article is written like an installment of Boy's Life. Does this melodramatic pap satisfy the combat veterans reading this rag?
Why would it take an hour? Why would any team be expected to survive based upon luck? Luck is not a military term.

As Miniter's rousing tale continues, after Murphy steps out to place a cell phone call to HQ, sustaining a shot through his right side, "Back at Bagram, Lt. Cmdr. Michael McGreevy instantly approved a daylight rescue, though standard procedure was to fly helicopters only at night."

"McGreevy ran into the barracks to round up any SEALs or Night Stalkers he could find. The men sprang into action, grabbing gear and guns while running for the door. Onboard trucks heading, sergeants divided men into "chalks," and Healy counted heads. The posse was coming."

This herky jerky assemblage thrown together well after this four man recon team was in imminent danger is absurd, yet is being depicted heroically. Has Miniter taken his reportage lessons from Stalin or Mao?

Where is the 80-man reaction team which would "swoop in" and supposedly on standby? They should have been in full combat array and readiness. Launch should have been no more than a 5 minute warning before lift off, day or night.

Are we to believe a day time rescue launch was heroic? Wouldn't the 80-man exploitation unit launch during daylight? If not, the recon team's mission was superfluous.

Ready Reaction Teams should be SOP for recon work, for when things go wrong in recon it is standard to lose an entire team. Especially in Iraq and Afghanistan where there is not thick cover and concealment and the indig are not sympathetic to U.S. forces mucking about their terrain.

Tomorrow: Part II of "Rescue in Afghanistan."

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wide Load

A got a whole lotta for you
A got a whole lotta for you

I got a whole lotta kisses for you

--Whole Lotta Lovin'
, Fats Domino

Idle hands are the devil's playthings

Too much of a good thing

Will turn your whole world upside down

--Too Much of a Good Thing
, Bon Jovi

Well, twirl my turban, man alive!

Here comes Mister Five by Five

He's one of those big fat bouncing boys

Solid avoirdupois!

--Mister Five by Five, Ella Mae Morse


Where Ranger is more nuts (and bolts), Lisa takes a more holistic view of world events, with a particular interest in evolutionary biology.

Forgive the juxtaposition; like we've said before, it's not all guns and roses at Ranger. Sometimes, we must show you the ugly (under)belly to capitalism. While perusing the photos on the desktop of a photographer friend's computer, the above two photos by chance were side by side. I could not fail but make the connection.

The picture begets the question:
How fit are humans for their environment? Birds have always seemed like such staunch denizens of the air, always industrious and vigilant, and they sing when Spring comes. But humans, not so much.

Now, many of us are carrying around a few extra pounds, but we are talking something else here -- morbid obesity. Recent statistics say one-third of your fellows are clinically obese; 63% are overweight. At some point, one must say, that is one Mars Bar too far; na ga da. Up to one-third of children and adolescents qualify as overweight. Is there not enough to do in their world?

Some say obesity is a "disease triggered by a food-rich, activity-scarce environment in people who are genetically susceptible to weight gain" (The Obesity Crisis: Americans' Bodies are Out of Balance.)" Pretty much all of us will pack on weight if we indulge in rich foods and don't move much. As adult-onset diabetes is triggered by a lifetime of eating a high-glycemic index, high sugar diet featuring a genetic predisposition, then so is obesity triggered by partaking in "food-rich and activity-scarce."

That is not to say eating well is easy, and high carb/high calorie fare is often cheap. And if you are working a factory job standing in line all day, that doesn't offer much opportunity for overcoming "activity scarcity." Part of the answer may be a workplace revolution which recognizes the benefit to having fit and energized employees. We eschew the regimentation of the Japanese workplace, but maybe some morning Tai Chi might help matters.

A sign at my orthopedist's office says, "If you are over 350 lbs, please do not sit on the chairs." I asked why, and the receptionist said it was a liability issue; a chair had collapsed from beneath a patient, and they wanted to avoid a future incident.

These patients are having joints replaced and ligaments repaired. Can you imagine the strain on those hinges? As I sat and watched, I observed many came lumbering in like the character Hurley in the t.v. show
Lost, or in wheelchairs. My sympathies go out to all in distress, but I wondered, what is happening to allow this avoirdupois?

These souls will not be captaining a militia anytime soon.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ready for L.A.?

Karadzic, Now and Then

If you're down he'll pick you up Dr. Robert,

Take a drink from his special cup Dr. Robert

--Dr. Robert
, The Beatles

The world of alternative healing is stranger than you can imagine.
Beyond your iridiology, hot rocks or chakra elevating via digeridoo, consider the case of captured war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.

Mr. Karadzic has been living on the lam for a decade in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, as
neo- Rasputin New Ager
with-his-own-website [here], Dr. Dragan "David" Dabic -- "bioenergy and macrobiotic specialist."

Looking every bit Dr. Andrew Weil's alter-ego, he held well-attended conferences and was even a regular contributor to
Zdrav Život (Healthy Life) magazine. Radio Netherlands reports Karadzic "Led a Normal Life," as such suffices as normal over there.

Now, Panama hat-wearing Dr. Dragan of the nifty black cowlick will be extradited to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague for his part in genocidal crimes during the 1992-95 Balkan War.

Meanwhile, witchdoctors are hunting down albinos in Zimbabwe for their body parts and hair, which are then rendered into potions which will help bring affluence upon the lucky ingesters. Same-same in Tanzania and Kenya. This is not the day of the light-skinned.

Times are tough, and people just wanna feel better. Exercycles and Atkins are so Old School.

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The Singularity


President Bush's use of the phrase "time horizon" is so apt for his non-plans on troop withdrawal from Iraq. So perfectly elegant a description of the obfuscation surrounding the entire enterprise.

Time horizon
is reminisecent of the event horizon surrounding a black hole, an object so dense that no matter or radiation can escape its gravitational field. Matter or energy passing the horizon is doomed to disappear from the visible universe.

From Wikipedia,

"In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime, an area surrounding a black hole, inside which events cannot affect an outside observer. Light emitted from inside the horizon can never reach the observer, and anything that passes through the horizon from the observer's side is never seen again."

Relativistically speaking, it's a bit fiendish. Bush can allow events to approach the ever-receding horizon in every confidence that should the horizon be met, his wrong-doing would drop off the face of the map.

I wonder that he has a physicist with a wicked sense of humor on his team.

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Seen the carnival at Rome
Had the women I had the booze

All I can remember now

Is little kids without no shoes

--The Pogues
, The Sunnyside of the Street

I place economy among the first and important virtues,
and public debt as the greatest of dangers.

To preserve our independence, we must not

let our rulers load us with perpetual debt

--Thomas Jefferson


Let's talk about Ranger's back yard. Literally.

This week yard work and earth moving were the order of the day. The story is the economy and the earthmoving company.

Owner Barnes Malone said things are so slow and fuel costs so high that he has had to let go all but two mechanics and three field workers, this from a normal crew of 20 field operators.

A separate business of his is selling hay. He works about 5,000 acres here in North Florida. The cost of fertilizer and fuel ran hay up to $8-10 per square bale this year. Two years ago, hay was selling for $3 a bale.

He now sells all hay locally as transporting is not economically feasible. In the past, hay was transported in a circuit from Florida to the Ohio Valley, and vice versa, providing for a variety of grasses in each market.

Think about those grass roots the next time you eat beef.

Addendum: Manhole covers and street grates are the new hot commodity amongst those looking to make a quick buck in scrap Metal. In Philadelphia this past year, 2,500 covers and grates have been stolen, compared to 100 in the previous year. The same trends are seen in other metro areas.

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Just Another Day

God's in His heaven and
All's right with the world!

--Pippa's Song, Robert Browning

It's Just Another Day

Du Du Du Du Du

It's Just Another Day

--Another Day
, Paul McCartney

No position taken has done more damage

to the American reputation in the world -- ever

--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., on the Bush
extralegal torture policies

Ranger isn't sure whether hypocrisy or just plain bald-faced lying is the leitmotif of the story of George Bush's claims of executive privilege in the Valerie Plame case.

President Bush invoked executive privilege to keep Congress from seeing the FBI report of an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney and other records related to the administration's leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003 (Bush Claims Executive Privilege on CIA Leak Case).

Remember when pre-28 Percenter George told the credulous taxpayers on the investigation into the leak of the CIA operative's name,
"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration"? One would almost think he had integrity. He obviously meant someone outside of the President's or Vice President's office, which we have since learned are two sacrosanct domains.

We now see his empty protestations as part of his oeuvre. One must put things in perspective.
Thousands of Americans dead in a Phony War on Terror (PWOT©) and tens of thousands severely wounded and disabled. Americans losing jobs daily, their dollar tanking and oil and commodity prices soaring. Foreign policy is a shambles, if it can be said to exist at all, and the military is unable to secure far-flung dreams of Bush's fantasized glory.

So what's the big deal? A little lie in the service of punishing an infidel (Plame's husband Joseph Wilson, the blasphemer who wrote in 2003 the Bush administration had trumped up intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat.") What Wilson didn't understand was that like VISA, Iraq was everywhere Bush wanted it to be.

The show must go on, after all. And the lord loves a sinner.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coffins and Criminals

Nuclear arms in the Middle East

Israel is attacking the Iraqis

The Syrians are mad at the Lebanese

And Baghdad does whatever she please

--The Envoy, Warren Zevon

Can one preach at home inequality of races and nations

and advocate abroad good-will towards all men?

--Dorothy Thompson


When the 2006 Hezbollah/Israel annual live fire exercise began, Ranger opined to Lisa (who disagreed) that Hezbollah would treat the two captured (the papers called them "kidnapped") Israeli soldiers as POW's. It seemed self-defeating for that group to do otherwise.

I was dead wrong. Now the bodies have been returned in a prisoner exchange for closure for the country and the families.

"Kantar, who had been serving multiple life terms in Israel for a grisly 1979 attack, wiped away tears as he stood before a crowd in the coastal border town of Naqoura.

"The five later flew to Beirut, where they received an official welcome from the president and were congratulated by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who was last seen in public in January.

"Your return is a new victory and the future with you will only be a shinning march in which we achieve the sovereignty of our land and the freedom of people,'' President Michel Suleiman said in his address. 'I congratulate the resistance (Hezbollah) for this new achievement.' (Lebanese Militant Released in Israeli Prisoner Exchange Swap.)''

And just what is this " new achievement" for which Lebanese President Suleiman praises Hezbollah?

Beyond the story, this episode is instructive of the spectrum of warfare. Hezbollah has progressed beyond terrorism to become a true military force. This is true despite killing Israeli soldiers in violation of the rules of war and the dictates of common humanity. But who can blame them when U.S. policy also violates the Geneva Conventions on a daily basis?

If one doubts this transition one need only look at the photo of murderer Kantar as he arrives to a hero's welcome in Beirut. Hezbollah has reached the status of a military force within a state and beyond the control of that state, or so goes the fiction.

Hezbollah is not a rogue actor but an instrument of state policies which allows them plausible deniability. The group may be acting as the unofficial army of the Lebanese state. If George Bush is so bone-headed that he is considering a military strike on Iran, or he is considering unleashing Israeli forces in a proxy attack, the Hezbollah wild card should be fully considered prior to any ill-advised strikes being launched against Iran.

Hezbollah is a counterforce that is more powerful than any nuclear weapon that could be developed by Iran. The entire Middle East is out of the control of U.S. policy.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Deputy Dawg

Leon County Sheriff's officers conducting school -safety
training exercise, Tallahassee Democrat (7/17/08)

Gosh, you've... really got some nice toys here.
--Blade Runner (1982)


Training is a great thing, if the training is realistic, relevant and correct.

Why are these Leon Sheriff's Special Reaction Team members bunched up like old ladies at a game of mah jongg? Have they never heard of RPG's, hand grenades and rapid fire, big bore sniper rifles? Since their body armor is above the waist, the bad guys would only need take their legs out with grazing fire. This is just not a correct assault tactic or even a movement to contact formation.

With inexperienced troops and police the tendency is to bunch up to create a false sense of security. This is a really bad thing to do. All those automatic rifles, submachine guns and semi auto pistols are the real security.

A team uses overwatch techniques and if necessary, moves with fire and movement. These are solid military tactics. If these teams are dressing up to look like soldiers, then let them train like soldiers.

This photo indicates poor training and tactical ability. It is obvious the money is spent for goodies rather than experience.

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Some they may go for cocaine

I'm sure that if, I took even one sniff

it would bore me terrifically too

but I get a kick out of you

--I Get a Kick Out of You
, Cole Porter

Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!

--Trix cereal jingle

Whatever you fear, whatever you hide,

whatever you carry deep inside

There's something more than this

--Something More Than This,

Project October


A West Coast friend had this article from the Canadian press in my Inbox this a.m.; they care about these things in Oregon. While this post is a slight deviation from our mission at Ranger, if pressed I could find a linkage. And not to worry, we will be back to the hardcore military stuff later.

Bob Fulford wrote in this weekend's
National Post that Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire has served to mutilate male-female relations, arresting male development to the juvenile level of the forbidden gaze at the homogeneously perfect female form. Perhaps the attainment of that form will become his quest; perhaps, because he cannot attain or maintain it, he will become resentful and angry, and foist that resentment off on the actual mates he is able to bed.

In any event, sex is the raison d'etre, which one could say is a sound biological approach. However, if we fancy we humans are capable of attaining a higher plane, bunny ears won't take you there.

Fulford mentions Dutch historian Dylan van Rijsbergen who argues for an anti-Hefner, Slow Sex movement — "focusing on sex as 'elusive, exciting, intense, playful, authentic, dynamic and sublime.' It would stretch sexuality 'beyond the single
moment of the orgasm.'" Van Rijsbergen argues widespread pornography degenerates into erotic boredom.

One needn't go either-or on the matter of pornography.
I'm a defender of Free Speech. Efforts to liberate body image are a good thing, though these models are highly airbrushed, and their perfection can serve to stunt a girl's self-image. The Naomi Kleins and Andrea Dworkins have already written extensively on the objectification of women.

Surely such objectification predates Playboy. But the men of Generation Playboy have been
"liberated" to see the female body as a playground, but a playground for their entertainment, with pleasing the woman as a tack-on feature to buoy their own ego agenda and sense of proficiency. There is little more painful than standing on either side of the gulf separating the sexes and hoping that proper genital manipulation will release a torrent of passion. At best, what will be achieved is a momentary physical release.

Author Nick Hornby captures this tragedy a deux nicely in his How to Be Good when he talks about the estranged couple's
bedtime antics as "button pushing" sessions. Not psychological buttons, but anatomical buttons, like playing a game of pinball.

Not to knock the physiological benefit of getting off, but truly great sex isn't to be had through button pushing. There is a psychic gap between getting off and transcendent union, the latter which usually goes lacking. For the people in the former group, sex is masturbation with company.
The psyche in hiding is fragmented, split as it is from inhabiting the body at such moments.

One of the commenters to the piece, "
TCtheTiger" expresses it thusly:

"There is fun, a lot of it, in sex. But that fun becomes truly erotic and transcendental ONLY when sex is used as an expression of love towards the spouse, a total gift of oneself, without any reservation, yes, ZERO reservation. This kind of reservation is sorely lacking in casual sex.

"I never depreciate the carnal nature - just [want] an atomic bomb to harness [its] energy.

"When the carnal, the heart, the mind, and the spirit converge, you're close to heaven, that's real erotic. The carnal alone is just not cutting it...."

What do you think?

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tactics 101

How I love my liberty
There are no strings on me

--I've Got No Strings
Washington and Harline

All for a little bit of money. There’s more to life

than a little money, you know. Don’t you know that?

And here you are. And it’s a beautiful day


Ranger is disdainful and indignant over both the offensive and defensive tactics used in this Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©). We thought it would be instructive to offer some basics in tactics and will focus on defensive tactics to compliment "Dak To" and "Designated Loser".

When you expect a Big Mac Attack, you must defend properly or you will be consumed. The indignation arises from the fact that the Army is fighting this war as amateurs when in fact our history provides a template of how we should fight.

Preparing for all fighting is similar to frying hamburger. There are clear steps which must be achieved on the way to producing the finished product, whether the workspace is McDonald's, GM or the battlefield. A successful battlefield product is not having soldiers killed needlessly.

The following comments will be pertinent to any hill being defended in the PWOT, from Platoon to Brigade level. Since our focus has been isolated outposts, most of the fights will be Platoon and Company level.

Planning considerations:
  • What is the mission, and contingency planning
  • What is the friendly and enemy situation?
  • Is there fire support
  • Is there logistical support?

Regarding mission: since you are sitting on a hilltop (or any other terrain in the COIN environment), the defensive position will be planned (not hasty), will not be in-depth, should provide 360-degree security, and survivability in the position is predicated on fire support, via either air or artillery.

Since these positions are isolated, they must be task-organized and heavily weighted. That is, they should have a heavy augmentation of crew-served and M-203 weapons. Their medical support on-site should be augmented. A forward observer (F.O.) should be assigned to coordinate all defensive indirect fire. This allows the ground commander to devote his attention to directing the ground battle.

The F.O. and unit commander generally co-locate to insure contiuity of effort. Both are combat officers, so there is redundancy if that becomes necessary. Unit mortar F.O.'s may also be present, and air assets would be an integral part of this fire planning.

The fire support assets available at Platoon and Company level should be overwhelming to any attacking enemy formation. the history of the U.S. involvement in Korea indicates this necessity. LZ X-Ray in Vietnam demonstrated the indispensibility of artillery for the survival of isolated units. This is true regardless of whether the unit remains one night in that location or one year. Defensive fighting positions must be hardened and have overhead cover to defend the troops from friendly and enemy indirect fire.

Contingency planning must address worst-case scenarios and be prepared to relieve pressure on defending units, which can be achieved in a number of ways. It also must be determined if there are any friendly units in the area which can be called upon to relieve pressure if required.
Logistically, can the position be provided with proper support, either via air or ground.

By this point in COIN operations in Afghanistan the capabilities and intents of local anti-coalition forces should be clearly understood and delineated. The recent attack at Wanat was not a jack-in-the-box event. It was a pre-planned attack which demonstrates proficiency of enemy tactics.

These basic planning considerations seem absent from the operations we read about in the daily news. There is simply no way 200 Taliban can overrun a weighted U.S. Platoon with proper fire support and fighting from prepared positions.

So when you read, "Nine Soldiers Killed and Fifteen Wounded," what is clear is that something is amiss. even before reading the after action report. Doubly true when dealing with elite units.

These battles indicate proper troop planning procedures are not being implemented.

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