Thursday, April 30, 2009

Feeling a Bit Queer

Think Your Husband is Gay?
Take our Free Gay Husband Quiz
& Discover if your Husband is Gay


I'm just slightly amused by the
"Take our Free Gay Husband Quiz" advert that keeps popping up on the site. Why does a Ranger site invite that sort of interest?

Add to that the kind chap who's been writing us trying to substantiate gayness among service members, and you can see why we're feeling a bit queer around here lately. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I just had to check the test out to see if it could possibly be legit. No.

A metrosexual-plus fellow heads it, and the question regarding the type of compliment you are likely to receive from your man sealed it: choices like, "Those pumps look really nice with that skirt!"

What about the missing option F, "He does not give compliments"? Sadly, that is oft times what characterizes a "manly man"
in our society.

But not a real man.

I'm open to observations from our women readers (or men). Heck, we're not gender-biased around here.

Labels: , ,

A Theory of Relativity

Our citizens work hard,

but solely with the object of getting rich

The old man was sitting
up in bed,
at his usual occupation, counting out dried peas
from one pan to another.
seeing his visitor he looked up, beaming with delight
--The Plague
, Albert Camus

The news cycle is fast and violent. Take Mexico.

Just a few weeks ago the big deal was guns drifting south of the border, causing death and mayhem. This was the media's blitz presaging an anticipated campaign to further limit U.S. gun sales. The push was to keep assault-type weapons from reaching the drug lords. But we have since moved on.

Today the big news is the flu pandemic headed north to gringoland. If the flu proves to be a massive killer, that would constrict the gun flow question into one of relative insignificance.

Last night, Reuters
reported "WHO warns flu pandemic imminent"; today, AP reports Mexico says cases are leveling off.

We as a nation are like a loose cannon, with no grip on reality. There are things that can kill you which lack a high-capacity magazine or bayonet stud, and this applies to terrorism, as well.

On 9-11 the U.S. lost about 3,000 people in a criminal event, and this was used to justify a totally disproportionate military response. In fact, our reactionary wars demonstrated our total ineffectiveness. The same formula applies to the flu epidemic hanging over our heads.

Terrorism or gun sales problems are not even a blip on the radar compared to the death tolls that could be racked up by a flu pandemic. We lose ourselves in phony wars based upon phony or non-existent threat analysis, yet are no safer than we were on 9-12-01.

And then a virus raises its ugly little potential. Meanwhile, we blithely distract and busy ourselves with political jockeying and trumped up charges and wars, and we continue depleting and polluting our resources at an alarming rate. Population rates continue to grow towards the planet's carrying capacity, and pontiffs and plutocrats smile while encouraging their supporters to go forth and multiply.

Meanwhile, our smallest nemeses, the viruses, continue their inexorable path of mutation and multiplication.

Now that is a threat with a deadly potential beyond the vagaries of political action.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Need and Greed

--Money, Andy Warhol

When you touch me it's so delicious

That's money, honey
Baby, when you tear me to pieces

That's money, honey

--Money Honey, Lady Gaga

Norbert the Rat

The wonderful, wonderful rat;

Whenever he gets in a fix

He reaches into his bag of tricks!

--Norbert the Rat

--He wants more, don't you, Rocco?

--Yeah. That's it. More.
That's right! I want more!
ill you ever get enough?
--Well, I never have. No, I guess I won't

--Key Largo

The subtitle for this article is, "karma is a bad mofo," or more delicately: "comeuppance".

The world runs on need and greed. Even in the World of Warcraft, "Need before Greed
describes a rule of looting etiquette as well as the loot setting enforcing that etiquette" (wowwiki). Recent economic events in America were blamed on greed above need, but is that really it?

Ranger was recently exposed to a Madoff "victim" via a six-degrees-of-separation scenario (well, actually two) causing him to peruse the concept of victimhood.
There is a personal reason for writing this. For revealing the mentality of entitlement so engendered.

But first some thoughts on the term in the abstract; later, its application in the concrete.

A victim is a resident of the Ninth Ward who has lost his shotgun shack to Hurricane Katrina, forever. A victim is a kid molested by a priest or a trusted family friend. However, today the concept of victimhood is being diluted by virtue of its being applied to those who are not truly victims.
We are re-branding greedy investors as victims. (Read here for an ethicist's take on Madoff.)

The first rule of hustlers and con men is,
you cannot con an honest men. It was not greed alone that caused our financial problems, but a complete lack of honesty within the financial sector, abetted by government indifference. The dishonesty was on our side of the equation -- you and I were the problem.

Greed may be intrinsic to the human being, but opacity is not. It is not the greed, per se, but the dishonesty (cover-ups) perpetrated in reaching for gain which is unrighteous.

To the greedy, everyone is measured per their capacity as a tool of loss or gain. That is also the crime: The lies + the transformation of individuals into tools -- agents of either gain of loss.

This dishonesty extends beyond the financial sector. The entire political life of this contracting nation is based upon dishonesty fed by greed. We call this dishonest system,
democracy. If democracy is dishonest, then our "honest" lives are shams. Our "freedom-loving" policies are shams, as well as the institutions which perpetuate these ideals.

So we have established that the real injustice is obfuscation of one's intent, and using people for one's own benefit (whether that means actively employing them or discarding them.) Lying and exploitation.

Ranger does not play the market, but he knows the Rules of the Game. One does not expect a consistent 10% annual yield on investments, and that is precisely what the Madoff scheme investors made off with.
Maybe they were occasionally a little uneasy, but hey, what's to complain about?

Oh, losing all the money you thought you'd have for retirement? O.k., so now you know what its like for the rest of us. Maybe there is some kind of cosmic justice. Maybe, it's just the rules of the marketplace. Certainly, there is justice for Mr. Madoff, who himself had apprehensions of his own divine retribution; his comeuppance came.

The guise in which Madoff was visited upon Ranger concerned an event in which a
"Madoff victim" was given preferential treatment, co-opting a previous agreement with another party because, well, the Madoff investor had it so bad, y'know. The event organizer actually chose to contravene a "gentleman's agreement" with the initial party because there was profit to made over the switch, both monetarily and image-wise.

The truth underneath the switch-cum-largesse was
profit + an elite collegiality. A profit was to be made by excluding the initial party in favor of the group being able to rub elbows with a "Madoff victim" more a part of their social circle. It was behavior in bad faith, the same bad faith which allowed for a Madoff and all the rest.

The event organizers were disingenuous in their choice of cachet over decency, yet hid behind their posture of generosity toward the "victims".

The only victim in Ranger's scenario was the humble individual who made event plans in good faith but who was excluded, all
under the organizer's guise of operating in good faith and even magnanimity.

Bottom line: people who had money to invest with Mr. Madoff may be sorry and suffering in their own way, but they are not really victims. When you make it to the ranks of being able to invest with Mr. Madoff, you are not a victim, not in any traditional sense.
You are not innocent; you knew the risks to be had in exchange for your hefty returns.

When one invests in the market, one is not naive. One understands that profit comes with risks -- the risk that all might be lost.

To extend victimhood to Madoff investors and second-home flippers is to allow for the diminution of actual victims.
The term "victim" should be reserved for someone truly innocent, who had no hand in their situation.

In retrospect, it is fit that this group remains tightly cohered.

Their karma is ensured.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wild World

Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
and look a bit harder

cause we’re so uninspired

so sick and tired

of all the hatred you harbor

--Fuck You Very Much
, Lily Allen

I ain't like that no more

--The Unforgiven

But let judgment run down as waters,

and righteousness as a mighty stream

--Amos 5:24


If President Obama wishes to strike a conciliatory and forgiving pose, he would do well to remember his scripture.

In our democracy, judgment rolls down from a judiciary adhering to the rule of law. The president's job is not to impede the workings of our tripartite system. We've had enough unitary executive, thanks.

In the spirit of the recently released torture memos
, Ranger will discuss "Communist Interrogation and Indoctrination" from a 1966 Special Warfare Center publication [U.S. Army Intelligence School, Department of Combat Intelligence #9808.]

Interesting title page disclaimer: "This article [73 pages] was reproduced with the permission of the American Medical Association and the authors." Interesting because of the complicity we have recently read about on the part of medical personnel in the Enhanced Interrogation [EIT] process.

This document on Communist terror tactics was one of the sources of inspiration for the architects of the EIT in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

"In the US, it is said that a man is 'arrested' when the police seize him, detain him, or otherwise deprive him of his freedom; and US law requires that the police obtain a 'warrant' or comply with certain other legal procedures before carrying out an arrest. . . . In the Soviet Union, the KGB may 'detain' a man on suspicion and interrogate him 'to see if he is a criminal.'

"For more than 20 years it has been the practice of the Russian State police to seize their suspects in the middle of the night. The 'midnight knock on the door' has become a standard episode in the fiction about Russia" . . .

And now, in the U.S., too! When the U.S. arrests Iraqis and Afghanis, it usually happens at night.

"A third method, said to be preferred when there is no warrant, is to seize the victim suddenly as he walks down the street."

The extraordinary renditions (= street snatches) in Italy followed this old Soviet standby. The KGB would be proud. There is a reason Mr. Bush could see into Putin's soul.

"According to Soviet administrative principle, a man who is arrested by the state police is not 'imprisoned.' He is merely 'detained.' In theory, he is detained in a quiet, healthy atmosphere where he has an opportunity to meditate upon his crimes, and a chance to talk them over freely and at length with police officers, without being prejudiced by friends, associates, or lawyers, who might induce him to distort the truth."

Isn't this entertaining?! Who would have thought after Uncle Ronnie's Wall speech we would import the nasty Soviet techniques into our own Central Intelligence Agency? If the KGB's actions were evil in '66, then why are the CIA's copycat activities not illegal in 2009?

"The KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Communist principles, and is contrary to KGB regulations, also. The ostensible reason for these regulations is that they are contrary to Communist principles. The practical reason for them is that the KGB looks upon direct physical brutality as an ineffective method of obtaining compliance of the prisoner. . . . In general, [brutality] creates only resentment, hostility, further defiance, and unreliable statements."

In following their manual, we forgot to notice their caveats. It appears the U.S. just picked out the nasty bits to use as a matter of policy, ignoring the disclaimers that these things just might not work. In fact, worse than being duds, they might backfire.

"Throughout the entire interrogation period, the prisoner is under some form of medical observation. Prison physicians are familiar with all the effects produced under KGB procedures, and evidently they are skilled at judging just how far the various procedures can be carried out without killing or permanently damaging the prisoner. . . . The unintended death of a prisoner during the interrogation procedure is regarded as a serious error on the part of the prison officials."

Yeah , and we're not foolin' here -- unintended murder = serious error! It's not like any heads are gonna roll, but definitely an error. Akin to not buckling up when you take your driving test. Big error.

This technique was adapted from U.S.'s Survival, Resistance, Evasion and Escape (SERE) training that taught resistance to Communist interrogation and indoctrination efforts. The fact that U.S. medical personnel would participate willingly in such perversions of the medical code exceeds our ability to comment.

"In typical Communist legalistic fashion, the NKVD rationalized its use of torture and pressures in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or 'confession' it simply declared the prisoner a 'war-crimes suspect' and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war."

This is so cute -- "in typical Communist legalistic fashion." Right-o.

The U.S. denied that PWOT
detainees were legitimate combatants and proceeded to hang every nomenclature conceivable around their necks to enable the U.S. to ignore the Geneva Conventions. That is just so typical America, 21st century.

Our nation spent a generation or more fighting Communism, and now we have appropriated their techniques. What a wild world.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 26, 2009


"Three patients exposed to contaminated medical equipment at Veterans Affairs hospitals have tested positive for HIV, the agency said Friday."

"The VA also said there have been six positive tests for the hepatitis B virus and 19 positive tests for hepatitis C at the three locations (VA says 3 positive HIV tests from follow-ups)."

"The VA statement shows the number of “potentially affected” patients totals 10,797, including 6,387 who had colonoscopies at Murfreesboro, 3,341 who had colonoscopies at Miami and 1,069 who were treated at the ear, nose and throat clinic at Augusta."

"More than 5,400 patients, about half of those at risk, have been notified of their follow-up test results, the VA said."

These patients were exposed to contaminated equipment at VA facilities while undergoing colonoscopies and endoscopies. The veterans got reamed out in more than one way. Ranger does not have words to comment on these occurrences.

What comes to mind is: To those who are about to die, we salute you.

Labels: ,

Milgram Excuse

There ain’t no substitute for the truth
Either it is or isn’t
You see the truth it needs no proof
Either it is or it isn’t
--The Truth, India Arie

Stupidity is an often fatal disease
--R. A. Heinlein

It may be we are meant to mark
with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing.
It may be beer is best
--The New Unhappy Lords,
G.K. Chesterton

Yesterday's Washington Post reported the 2002 military memo to the Pentagon advising against the use of
"torture" because it doesn't work.

The military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency
advice to the Pentagon was,

"the application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture) [JPRA term] has some serious operational deficits, most notably the potential to result in unreliable information (In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against 'Torture)."

It doesn't
get any clearer than that. "Eyes Wide Shut" comments on the Bush administration's dismissal of military dissent against "enhanced interrogation techniques" [EIT], and "Interrogation Memos Detail Psychologists' Involvement" reveals the medical establishment' collusion. It amounts to a nice confirmation of the Milgram experiments, for all our high-falutin' protestations of being better than "them".

Techniques like extreme sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, dousing with cold water, sleeping on concrete and waterboarding were not employed because they "didn't cause organ failure," but because they don't leave marks on the body. Instead, they scar the psyche, a mark that America must also bear.

Watch for the
Department of Defense to release at least 21 photographs by May 28, showing detainee abuse in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan other than Abu Ghraib. They are meting it out to us in assimilable parcels so that we may process our outrage before the next onslaught of offense.

One can be assured we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Watchtower

All I've got is three chords
and a red guitar and the truth

All I've got is a red guitar

and the rest is up to you,

--Along the Watchtower
, U2

Why not think about times to come,

And not about the things that you've done,

If your life was bad to you,

Just think what tomorrow will do

--Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac

Do or do not. There is no 'try'

--Yoda, Star Wars


As the Wall Street Journal and other conservative outlets assiduously laid the ground for the release of the bad news, in the form of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) logs, President Obama firmly ensconced himself in the fence rider's position.

Yes, we will release the torture memos, but we will not stir up any dust actually letting Congress and the Justice Department do what they should do. Not exactly change you can be proud of.
It is like putting perps behind the glass in a police line up, in perpetuity. You may look, but you may not touch.

In a sense, one can understand. Obama is a political animal; you don't make it to the White House lacking that qualification. Why should he expend political capital on an ugly business, when Susan Boyle may yet give us all hope of a better day?
He is standing on the watchtower viewing his constituents' response.

What is the meaning of this gesture? It seems movement without progress, a formula which characterizes the entire Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©).

"[T]he administration plans to propose redacting parts of the memos. In addition to the prisoner names, certain operational details of interrogations are expected to stay secret. . ." vWhat could possibly remain secret, and what is the rationale? There is no middle ground.

The President cannot be anti-torture, yet defer prosecution of torture.
It is disingenuous.

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to comment Wednesday on
how the administration plans to handle the memos."

The memos are crummy little pieces of paper, with as little value as a GM stock cert or the average 401K. the crux of the biscuit is how to handle the illegal activity authorized by the memos.

In comments redacted from the online version of the article:

"[Obama] is wrestling with political pressure to distance himself from now-abandoned Bush administration programs while keeping on his side an agency that is critical in the fight against extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Portions of CIA Memos to be Released)."

This implies the CIA's loyalty must be purchased by the president via judicial compromise. However, the CIA does not work for the president but the taxpayers of America.

A senior administration official said, "[Obama] doesn't want to do anything that seems to be undercutting [the CIA] at the very time he needs them.]" But the U.S. does not need the help of a criminal agency or rogue elements thereof.

What we do need is a purge of the network that produced such criminality. The seine net should include the Departments of Justice and Defense, as well as CIA elements that compromised the legal requirements of a liberal democracy.
Democracy and legality are not pick and choose concepts. You are or you aren't.

The big argument from the torturer's side is that "their activities were approved by the Justice Department at the time." Nuremburg, anyone? That precedent negates the faulty argument that allows the administrations and the CIA's sidestepping of legal consequences.

What is at stake are the issues of trust and accountability -- as Paul Krugman wrote yesterday, the soul of the nation has been rent. The taxpaying citizens are realizing that their leaders are a nepotistic mutual support society.

This same behavior has knocked our financial sector to its knees. Our own home-grown pirates hold us as a nation hostage, demanding tribute, exploiting our trust and patriotism.

We are holding a portfolio of toxic goods.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Perfect Storm

It ain’t that we’re so dumb;
it’s just that what we know ain’t so

--Will Rogers

You can never get enough

of what you don't truly need

--Eric Hoffer

Somebody must have been telling lies

about Joseph K., for without having done

anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning

--The Trial, Josef Kafka

Seldom does the Wall Street Journal define the problem as clearly as does the following statement from
Obama's Gitmo by William McGurn:

"As president, [Obama] is finding out that this very much is a new world, that we do face a new enemy, and that the problems posed by Guantanamo have less to do with the place than the people we detain there.

"Put simply, the U.S. needs the ability to detain people we know to be dangerous without the evidence that might stand up in a federal criminal court. Because we can't say when this war will end, moreover, we also need to be able to detain them indefinitely. This is what makes the war on terror different, and why our policies will never fit neatly into a legal approach that is either purely criminal or purely military."

This is the perfect summary of the perfect storm that the U.S. has created over the past seven years.

Self analysis becomes necessary in a time of national psychosis if one is to maintain bearings. One question for analysis regards our definition. America either is or is not democratic.

We cannot claim to be a liberal democracy ruled by constitutional law and said to respect the rights of man + a repressive regime.
Only totalitarian regimes, "detain people we know to be dangerous without the evidence that might stand up in a federal criminal court." It is a far stretch to imagine any American could endorse the idea of jailing people on the basis of suspicion alone.

Does this suspicion become verified by virtue of torture, secrecy and the mantle of state secrets? As if by piling on and accretion the charges gain legitimacy? A country cannot place people in detention indefinitely and without trial and still be a democracy. Period

If this is the case, then democracy is as road kill, dead as a possum on a Florida highway.

"Because we can't say when this war will end, moreover, we also need to be able to detain them indefinitely." Sweet. So much is packed in this sentence.

It supposes we are at war, which is as fallacious as the concept that terrorism could destroy our way of life. Calling it a "war" is an attempt to legitimize the illegitimate. Somehow, the war hawks also manage to deny POW status to the captured personnel.

Like some Communist/Fascist/Banana Republic dictators, we simply judge terrorists outside the strictures of law. By fiat, we call them detainee and throw away the key. Q: Who has the power to detain people without trial? A: A dictator.

When a respectable news outlet like the WSJ allows this commentary, it is also approving the concept of Dachau, a place designed to detain those deemed too dangerous to the Nazi regime. It is a small step between Bagram/Gitmo to Dachau. In fact. less than a step -- a matter of millimeters. 9 mm to be exact.

Once a detainee is so dangerous as to be out away for life, it is easy to kneel him in a ditch and put a 9 mm slug in his brain pan. Nazis do this every day on the History channel, yet we fail to recognize our present policies are moving us in that direction.

This is what makes the war on terror different, and why our policies will never fit neatly into a legal approach that is either purely criminal or purely military" is so simplistic it twists Ranger's little brain (yes, an oxymoron since all Ranger brains are little. There is only one part smaller.)

Present U.S. policy is so muddled on the topic of terrorism as to preclude rational critical thinking on the matter. The national has wrapped the topic in a hopeless welter of emotionalism.
We've wrapped terrorism in a cloak of fear to support policies that are otherwise indefensible.

The WSJ and the U.S. government ignore the fact that terrorism can be religious, political, philosophical, economic, nationalistic, sociological, psychological or any combination thereof. Yet present U.S. policy attempts to pound this multi-facted concept and pound it into a square hole with a BFH (*Big F*@%ing Hammer.)

We deal with terrorism in the most simplistic manner as we are led by simplistic leaders, and then wonder why it morphs into a Long War. When leaders like Obama see the contradictory nature of our counterterrorist policy, they become constrained by simplistic political considerations reined in by the pragmatic reality that fear and emotion are the vote getters in America today (Susan Boyle, anyone?)

WaPo says, "The idea of a "9/11-style" commission appointed with the president's imprimatur . . . was quashed by Obama, who said that such a panel would provide a forum for a renewed national argument over torture and the broader question about the fight against terrorism." Yeah, y'know, God forbid we should actually have a national discussion over torture and the PWOT.

"His concern was that would ratchet the whole thing up," a senior White House official said. "His whole thing is: I banned all this. This chapter is over. What we don't need now is to become a sort of feeding frenzy where we go back and re-litigate all this."

We weren't aware it had been litigated in the first place.

Fear and emotion are the vote getters. That is, if you're not holed up in an isolation cell in Club Bagram or Club Gitmo.

Labels: , , ,

Ranger Does Napa

Come all my hearties, we'll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder, together we will ride

--The Wild Colonial Boy, Tommy Makem


[An aside:
We are flummoxed by the fact that that
Google ads has decided
Ranger is a good place
for a
Wall Street Journal advert.
Makes us look like some kind of undercover gig.]

Happy Earth Day.

This is open invitation to any Northern California/Southern Oregon readers: Ranger will be in your neck o' the woods for two weeks, beginning next week. If you'd like to have a meet-and-greet, write us and we'll see what can be done.

He is doing a confab with some of his reunion mates in Napa next week; the following is open.

Ranger can guar-an-tee he will not lift his pinky finger when swilling the wine. We all know Sideways put the final nail in the coffin of Napa, so while his fellows are doing the right proper vineyard tours, he will probably drive over the mountain to Sonoma to look for more rugged gigs.

Recommendations are welcome. Tell us your favorite down-home, out of the way joints (does Napa have joints?)

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eagle Scout

The only photo we ever get of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,
Looking like one of Tony Soprano's unter-lieutenants after

a huge bender

But there's shit that I've done

with this fuck of a gun

You would cry out your eyes all along

, My Chemical Romance

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) should get a Boy Scout merit badge for being the
Eagle Scout of Waterboarding.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (Waterboarding Used 266 on 2 Subjects).

183 times. Surely he has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. 183 times cannot be due to intelligence gathering by the waterboarders. It seems nothing but punitive. I have read that if the suspect does not break by the second attempt, he will never.

When will KSM be brought to trial? If the intelligence obtained was so valuable, why is it not being utilized in legal proceedings? Oh, I forgot -- by Mr. Rumsfeld's estimates, democracy is a dark and arcane process, even here.

The concept of trying the alleged perpetrators of 9-11 has apparently been dropped off the board. What happened to the concept of trial by jury? We could even waterboard him in open court, since no one gets prosecuted for it.

We can understand KSM -- he is a crazy man. But not the CIA; their actions surpass rationality.
KSM is a criminally crazy crusader. What is the CIA?

By extension, what are we?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bollixed Up

We seem not to realize the central fact
each one of us is responsible
what is going on in the world,
the terror, violence, wars.

--J. Krishnamurti


A 4/16 Wall Street Journal Op Ed lumped Counterinsurgency [COIN] and Counterterrorism [CT] into the same bundle. The writer used the terms interchangeably; unfortunately, they are they are anything but.

The writer said winning hearts and minds was a goal of CT. This is far from the truth.

Hearts and Minds is a bogus COIN construction that has no application in CT. The stated goal of COIN is to win the hearts and minds of the population, thereby denying recruitment and support from flowing from the people to the terrorists. (Really, we'll kill insurgents, nationalist movement members, guerrillas and anyone else in the line of fire.)

In contrast, the goal of CT is to destroy and obliterate terrorists. In the confused Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), this mission is also applied to insurgents, militants, guerrillas and anti-government forces.

Since it is difficult to ascertain the actual CT mission today, the violence of suppressing these groups spreads to the population in general, which negatively impacts upon the more positive expressed intents of COIN.

COIN and CT are neither complementary nor equivalent concepts, and are in fact contradictory programs.

In any event, CT and COIN are both faulty bills of goods.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Behind Closed Doors

The lines we cross in search of change,
but all they see is treason

--Behind Closed Doors
, Rise Agains

Join Ranger on th
e radio tonight at 9 EST.
"Today's Political Landscape"; topic: Gun Control.

Call in during show at 646-595-3281,

or join online at
E-mail your questions before the show to
"Ranger Against War" in subject.


How does one comment on the irony of this situation of U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi?

The AP reports, "Iran
convicted an American journalist of spying for the United States and sentenced her to eight years in prison," but does not mention the fact of her dual citizenship, nor her lapsed press credentials until later (U.S. 'Deeply Disappointed' as Iran Convicts Reporter).

The U.S. is expressing outrage over Saberi's closed door trial and sentencing, yet this behavior has become the hallmark of the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©). Both the U.S. and Iran hide behind secret courts, justifying the need by claiming ultra secret security concerns.

Secret courts are fine for Iran because, well -- it's Iran. Ditto China, the Stans, etc. But they are inconvenient in the democratic liberal tradition
. Judicial transparency is what made America different.

This case highlights what is being largely ignored to our dissolution. America fears Iranian and North Korean nukes and missiles, while what we should fear are secret U.S. courts, with all that implies: secret police, secret judges and possibly secret legislation. The sun no longer disinfects the U.S. judicial system. The same shade clouds the legislative and executive functions, as well.

Secrecy is a threat greater than nuclear weapons. Nukes can destroy armies and cities, but they cannot destroy liberal thought.

Also, the U.S. should eliminate dual citizenship. One is either an Iranian citizen or American -- one should not be both. This would eliminate the U.S. being placed in an official action that supports an Iranian citizen from an Iranian court.

Using the Gitmo formula, Saberi is beyond the control of U.S. jurisdiction; therefore, her treatment
by Iran should be construed as fair and just. It is the exact formula that the U.S. has used in the PWOT. The U.S. wants it both ways. Unfortunately, the world does not play by the U.S.'s version of Cicero dicit fac hoc.

The press wondered why Saberi's trial was fast-tracked. Maybe she is a spy for the U.S. Such things have been known to happen.


Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wanat, Revisited, Pt. II

And all the morons
And all the stooges with their coins

They're the ones who make the rules

It's not a game - its just a rout

--I Want My Money Back
, Meatloaf

he greatest perils to democracy arise
from the fanaticism of moral idealists

who are not conscious of the corruption of self-interest

--Reinhold Neibuhr


Wanat, Pt II:

"[T]hree minutes after the attack began, the first target for indirect fire support was given to the fire direction center, and within < ? > the first of 96 rounds of 155 mm artillery was fired in support of VPB Wanat."

155's are too much for danger close type fire missions. 105's would have been more acceptable, as would have been 81/60 mortars. Danger close 155 rounds are shaky stuff! In addition, as previously noted, an OP should fall back automatically after they have given early warning of attack.

"The defenders engaged the AAF from opposite sides of the Hesco and received fire from above . . . house less than 50 meters away."

Why would any combat leader place a house less than 50 meters from a defensive perimeter? This is tactically unsound policy that provides a likely avenue of approach for attacking units.

"PV2 < ? > and SPC < ? > and others repeatedly ran across the VPB under fire to resupply the fighting positions with ammunition."
Only one M2-50 cal is mentioned, but why not more firepower put in the perimeter? Also, why was extra ammo not stored in the fighting positions? In addition, were there any alternate fighting positions designed and prepared?

"All were injured or killed by enemy fire within the first fifteen to twenty minutes of fighting." Again, was this a blocking position or an OP? OP's are not fighting positions.

"SGT < ? > and SPC < ? > attempted to fire several claymore mines against the AAF to the north but they had been disabled or turned around to face the OP by AAF."

"The AAF fighters in the hotel and bazaar area engaged from the second floor windows at a distance of approximately 20 meters. SGT < ? > then called over the radio that Top Side needed help."

Why were anti-disturbance devices not used on the claymores (push-pull detonated explosives)? With the attackers are safely ensconced 20 meters from the perimeter, one must question the tactical planning that went into this incident. Personnel beyond the O-3 level know better than this, or at least they should.

". . . their 30 mm cannons "danger close" to friendly forces on the ground, including multiple gun runs though the bazaar, but there is no eveidence of casualties due to friendly fire."

This entire fight is contradictory in nature. If the mission was to bring the people under the wing of the government then it was a miserable failure, since the village was destroyed. The same old story -- they were destroyed in order to protect them.

"The leadership on the ground at wanat was given an order on 14 July 2008 at 1700z (2130L) to prepare for either remaining at Wanat or relocating the forces."

What an amazing warning order.
Be prepared to remain or relocate! That covers all the bases and is some fine tactical guidance.

The 60 mm mortars and attached on site Medic are not mentioned in the AAR. Both would have enhanced the defense of the VPB. Since there was a Medic in the CO QRF, Ranger will assume there was not one present at the fight.

"There were between 21 and 52 AAF killed in the attack. . . . One of the recoverd AAF bodies was identified as an Arab man in traditional Afghan clothing over a set of woodland camouflage military fatigues."

How was his "Arab nationality" determined?

"A formal risk assessment was conducted before the location was occupied."
The AAR does not indicate or clearly state if any of this information was disseminated to Company or Platoon level.

"Based upon the fact that the enemy normally conducts probing attacks prior to conducting an all out large scale attack, it was logical to think that an attack of 20 AAF would be a probing attack."

What the AAR calls "logical" is stereotypical thinking, of the sort probably found in the AAR of the Little Big Horn battle. What is called
logical led to the deaths of nine fine young men.

"The first MEDEVAC arrived at 0125z (0555L), one hour and thirty-five minuites into the fight."
No comment.

"Recommendations concerning improvements, if any, to coalition force techniques, tactics and procedures": "We must hold the population accountable if they are to [ever] benefit."

Who is "we", and how do the people benefit?
The US Army cannot hold the Afghan population accountable. We may kill the hell out of them, but only the Afghanistan government can hold their population accountable.

Wanat seems like an uncalled for action and fight, which could lead to no possible benefit for anybody. Platoons do not fight strategic battles, nor should they be placed in unsupportable and untenable situations. The bravery of these soldiers was wasted.

Historical perspective:
At the battle of Lang Vei in Vietnam, the camp was commanded by CPT Willoughby and the Mike Force by 1LT Longgrear. In addition, LTC Shungel and MAJ Hoadley arrived on scene to exert experienced leadership and to influence the outcome of the battle.

Why was such activity not evident at Wanat?

Addendum: Below is some informed commentary received by Ranger on the battle --



45 Americans in the battle if I read this right.

9 KIA. 27 WIA.

11 Silver stars (two went to the two officers. In all 3 were posthumous meaning 8 went to survivors)

17 BSM-V

25 ACM

Total 53 metals for 45 Americans.

Reading the information, I suspect there were no listening posts because the unit knew the attack was coming and because the elders had warned them of an attack and had evacuated their families.

I note in the AAR it says that the claymores around the OP were disabled or turned around. Do you suppose they fired the claymores on themselves?

AAR implies no civilian casualties in the village which is odd given the ordnance dropped.

I wonder if there were sworn statements taken from the two marines training the afghan soldiers. They would be the only Americans not in the 173rd direct chain of command.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wanat, Revisited -- Pt. I

Oliver's army is here to stay
Oliver's army are on their way

And I would rather be anywhere else

Than here today

--Oliver's Army
, Elvis Costello

A nation with an inordinate degree
of political power is doubly tempted

to exceed the bounds of historical possibilities

--Reinhold Neibuhr


This is commentary on the fight at Wanat, Afghanistan, 13 July 2008, based on the After Action Report (AAR). Tom Ricks offered his breakdown in "A Battle Gone Wrong" here. (The Operations Order would have been helpful, but was not available.) Ranger is offering his take as a courtesy to an associate. Further comments are welcome.

"The freedom of movement experienced by the AAF [Anti-Afghan Forces] in Waygul District would not be possible without the passive and active support of the local population and the weakness of the government."
This acknowledges that the threat is actually the Afghan people. How does one address such a reality with combat arms power?

"The brigade and battalion leaders agreed that finding an alternate base to COP Bella in the Waygul district was necessary to improve the force protection for Chosen Company while still accomplishing its mission of connecting the people with the local government."

This was the closest thing to a mission statement for the engaged US forces. But how is "connecting the people with the local government" facilitated by building a vehicle control base (VPB) in their midst? It is not logically necessary that a VPB or Combat Outpost will win the locals over to the government. US combat presence ≠ loyalty to the government.

"The district level partnership is a successful model in Eastern Afghanistan. It increases security for the district governor, secures the area for infrastructure development, facilitates ANP training, and fosters an improved connection between the population and government while minimizing corruption at the local level. -- all of which were desirable to the local community in Wanat. ... Furthermore, moving near the district center would allow the CF and the local government to build a foundation from which to project good governance to the northern region of Wanat district."

But there is/was no effective government presence. Since the village was destroyed in the fighting, it is doubtful that the dispossed Afghan nationals have developed any loyalty for for the U.S. military or the Afghan government.

"The new base would initially consist of a VPB that would be expanded into a combat outpost, when the coditions were set." The conditions are undefined and unlisted. Without defintion, how can one determine when the conditions are met?

"The ISAF Force consisted of: five combat engineers from the 62d Engineer battalion; a three man TOW missile team from Destined Company; six mortar men from Chosen Company; and 29 paratroopers of 2d PLT, Chosen Company."

Why would a TOW team be attached? A TOW is an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). It's only function could be to destroy local homes since the Taliban lacks armored vehicles. Since the Wanat defenders had 50 cals., these ATGM's were simply eye candy.

Why only 29 paratroopers? Was there a medic on site? Unclear from the AAR.

"A two-man Embedded Training Team (ETT) of Marines and 24 Afghan National Army Paratroopers also partnered with the Coalition Forces (CF) to establish the VPB, bringing the total manpower at Wanat to 72 troops."

Was there an Escape and Evade plan in place? What was the fall back position if the VPB were overrun? Where is the worst-case planning, the contingency plans?

". . . Wanat sits in the central Waygul Valley, one of the steepest valleys in eastern Afghanistan. It sits at approximately 4,000 feet with mountains towering to 8.600 feet . . ." The number of villagers is never noted, nor is the fact of friendlies or civilian casualties.

"They took shifts working, resting and pulling guard duty in gun turrets of their up-armored HMMWV's." No where in the AAR does it indicate that the defenders did any actual active patrolling outside their perimeter.

The 24 attached Afghans would have been ideal for this purpose
(or are Afghan soldiers not received as friends by Afghan citizens?) The key point is that all military units at all levels in the defense conduct active patrolling to enhance local security.

"Above the VPB to the east, the paratroopers built on OP [Top Side] . . . which sat on slightly higher ground than most of the VPB at the base of a terraced spur which rose to the east. OP Top Side consisted of three levels with sandbags tied into existing rock walls to provide necessary protection from an attack."

An OP is not a fighting position. It appears that OP Top Side was actually a blocking position. An OP gives warning of attack and falls back to the main defensive position. An OP does not fight -- it provides early warning.

". . . all paratroopers were awake, wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE), and securing their positions for stand-to at 2330z (0400L). A smaller element led by 1 LT Brostrom was preparing to conduct a patrol of the area at 0000z (0430L) JUL 2008. Simultaneously, a different element of ANA and Marine embedded training team (ETTs) was preparing to leave to scout the location for a new ANA OP."

Why was this ignored until after the position was established? The OPs/LPs should be integral to any defensive planning.

". . . the indications that the enemy would attack at any time. He was in the process of coordinating a 120mm nortar fire mission and TOW missile engagement when the enemy intiated fire onto the VPB."

Were there Forward Observer's (FO's) present? The AAR indicates that 60 mm mortars were present but only 120's are discussed as being employed. The minimum 120 range would preclude effective use of these indirect fire assets. The 60's would have been much more effective and have provided flexible fire support. It is also easier to move the tubes while under enemy pressure.

"It was apparent that the AAF had identified the key crew served weapons systems and trageted them first. There was a burst of fire and an RPG fired into the mortar firing position (MFP), wounding SPC Abad."

It is standard policy to eliminate all crew served weapons in the intial burst of fire. Did the defenders attempt to tactically deceive any potential attackers?

"The main AAF support by fire position was around a house on high ground approximately 900 m to the SE. . . . The buildings and hillside to the north and east provided excellent positions for the enemy as well."

Why were there no concentrations or pre-planned fires laid-on prior to the attack? After all, it was obvious that a fight was in the making.

"Paratroopers in each fighting position at VPB Wanat controlled their fires, but ensured that all positions engaged enemy positions with an overwhelming level of suppressive fire in an attempt to gain control of the battle tempo."

When one is defending it is called defensive fires; when attacking, suppressive. The battle tempo is usually controlled by the attackers, as seen here. The defenders were fighting like cornered rats, behavior not conducive to controlling the tempo of combat.

Tomorrow: Pt. II, Wanat, Revisited

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The End of our Rainbow

The problems of this world cannot be solved
by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited
by the obvious realities, but only by people

of vision, confidence, hope and imagination

--George Bernard Shaw

If you had had a sudden change of heart

I wish that you would tell me
don't leave me hangin' on the promises
you've got to let me know

--Where is the Love?
, Roberta Flack

Hate baby hate

When there's nothing left for you

You're only human

What can you do
--New Sensation


Re. the graphic: Yeah, right on. Classify this entry under "Culture Wars".

Sometimes my sap-meter just redlines. Tonight, in short order I was exposed to Trace Adkins'
Arlington (And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,/I know they brought another hero home, to us) and Susan Boyle's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream on "Britain's Got Talent". "And even Simon liked her," the new Good Housekeeping seal of approval. *Sigh*.

You can imagine the glurge that "Arlington" is about. Ms. Boyle is the case of a doughty and homely, never-been-kissed, "almost 48-year-old" who harrumphs onto stage to jeers, only to be embraced by the once-hostile audience for her heart-tugging rendition of Les Miz's "I Dreamed a Dream". All within three minutes, mind -- a new sensation!

The sturdy Ms. Boyle was interviewed, if you could call it that, this morning by once heavy-hitter Diane Sawyer who had to feign incredulity with the contrivance. Are we really this naive?

Who buys this pap? A woman who describes herself as "a garage" sings:
"There was a time, when men were kind/And their voices were soft/And their words were inviting," and the audience hops to its feet on cue, shrieking for this brave woman with the audacity to hope and sing of such things which were probably never her truth.

To dream the impossible dream. . .
And speaking of the audacity of hope, it seems Obama had lost his die-hard constituency in our fair city.

The day ended with a late trip to our local food co-op. Sensing I might be a subversive activist, one of the clerks approached me on the checkout line: "Did you hear, Obama will not bring charges against the torturers? This is the first time I have been deeply disappointed by my vote." Others rallied around concurring. A pall hung over this last redoubt of liberalism in Tallahassee; no one was wearing their Shepard Fairey tonight.

"Where is the change?" he asked glumly, to no one in particular. And that was our hope: That our nation would be reinstated as the bastion of freedom and
respect for human rights that it once was, before the Bush years tamped it down. The hope was that Obama would do a 180, and fully reject the abuses done in our name. A full rejection would require recognition of and amendment of those wrongs. Judicial review would be a part of that process, which has sadly been co-opted now.

In announcing that CIA operatives, including contractors, who followed Bush guidelines for torturing prisoners will not
be prosecuted for these actions, Obama launched a pre-emptive strike covering those who might plead the Nuremburg Defense (New Interrogation Details Emerge).

I'm still hopeful, but things seem less bright/shiny/clean with this executive decision.

Labels: , , , , ,