Saturday, April 30, 2011

P Squared

We're in a battle for our lives
for things that really matter to us.

There's a shell game going on

like I've never seen before

--Sen. John Kerry

I'd say your were a carnival barker,

except that wouldn't be fair to carnival barkers.

A Carney will at least tell you up front

that he is running a shell game

--Peter Fitzgerald


Why is General David Petraeus being sidelined to the Central Intelligence Agency when he is obviously poised to be a future Chief of Staff of the Army or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and why is Leon Panetta being moved from CIA to Secretary of Defense?

Petraeus's experience from Platoon to theatre Army commands plus his Centcom experience make him a natural as a NATO Deputy Chief of Staff
and then on to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Chief of Staff of the Army. He is NOT a logical choice for the CIA as he has no depth of intelligence experience. (Gen. Stanley McChrystal would be more of a natural for the top spook position as he has the sleazy background which would make him a hand/glove fit for the duties required.) Why short-circuit a natural progression?

Petraeus's depth of experience is essential to the institutional well-being of the Army. The CIA appointment is not a forward step, and this is the second time that Petraeus has been moved laterally. Entering the CIA is not a career progression for a professional combat unit soldier.
Putting Petraeus in the CIA is an insult to his service.

The position of CIA director is now a backwater slot since the introduction of the Director of National Intelligence into the intel apparatus. Why is the CIA not promoting from within, as they did when Gates became the director?

Ditto the move of Leon Panetta from CIA to become Secretary of Defense: What cross-over exists between Defense and CIA? Should we want, or even encourage, the CIA to think like the Department of Defense, or
vice versa? These agencies operate in two separate worlds, and it is not advisable that they cross-fertilize.

Why would Petraeus agree to such a move, and why did Obama conceive of this game plan? Petraeus is the iconic combat officer of his generation, so why would he abandon his loyalty to the Army?

Both Petraeus and Panetta are competent men in their respective fields. Ranger has even predicted that Petraeus would be a logical contender for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2012, coming as he would off of a long an unbroken term of service in the military field. The media and Congress are deferential to Petraeus and voters would view him favorably. With this move, he is being denied that unbroken train of integrity.

If terrorism is still the U.S.'s main concern
, why dilute our institutional knowledge by shuffling around the top players? Though this shuffle is being portrayed as a positive reassignment, it reeks of political maneuvering. The Obama administration is willing to sideline key effective military leaders for unknown purposes.

Marine General James Cartwright, slated to to replace Admiral Mike Mullen, has never served in Afghanistan, nor has Petraeus's replacement, Lieutenant General Allen. Replacing Petraeus is a confusing move that weakens the entire Afghan war effort.

After 9+ years of war, one would think the USMC would have a depth of experience that would elevate those with Afghan experience to the highest levels of command. Putting newbies in the line of fire is not the smartest personnel move.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011


If we have to use force,
it is because we are America

--Madeleine Albright

I was the only guy with

any bit of anarchy left

--Sid Vicious


Is tyranny preferable to anarchy? Since the U.S. is supporting rebels in Libya who are an unknown quantity, this is a valid question.

Just War theory suggest tyranny is preferable to anarchy as it better serves the greater good. In President Bush's view (and that of many others), democracy is the highest good, and war a legitimate way to emplace it. However, war is greatly destructive to a society, and order is not the inevitable result; descent into anarchy is just as plausible an outcome.

Let us consider the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when the U.S. supported the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Russians. We gave them everything except tactical nukes, and the Mujahadeen kicked some Russian ass. Mission accomplished, but not quite.

Throwing out the tyrannical Russians and their puppet government was the easy part. The toughie was the descent of the Afghan nation into an anarchic orgy leading ultimately to the enmeshment of the U.S. in endless war, beyond the wildest dreams of even Osama bin Laden (
that guy.)

Yes, the dirty, nasty Russian were gone, to be replaced by the dirty, nasty Taliban. So, where the progress?

The same question should apply to U.S. intervention in Libya.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


You made me promises, promises

You knew you'd never keep

Promises, promises

Why do I believe?

--Promises, Promises
, Naked Eyes

I beg your pardon,

I never promised you a rose garden.

Along with the sunshine,

There's gotta be a little rain sometimes

--I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,

The Suicide Machines


Much like dealing with a squirrely person, reading the news today requires considerable skill at verbal jousting. Take the Associated Press's recent, "US to give Libyan rebels non-lethal aid":

"President Barack Obama intends to use his so-called drawdown authority to give the opposition, led by the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, up to $25 million in surplus American goods to help protect civilians in rebel-held areas threatened by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces."

The previous graph says those surplus goods could be "cash and possibly weapons and ammunition". Okey-dokey -- so "weapons and ammunition" = "non-lethal aid"? Oh, and "cash" would be a "surplus American good"? Right-on . . . so, where I can get me some of that surplus?

To "help protect civilians in rebel-held areas threatened by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces": So, rebels/insurrectionists are now "civilians"? We wouldn't be protecting the rebels, would we? Because we don't usually like rebels; they tend to de-center tenuous American puppet regimes.

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton . . . said the aid would go to support the council and 'our efforts to protect civilians and the civilian populated areas that are
under threat of attack from their own government in Libya.'"

Ummm ... isn't it the other way 'round?!? This is not a very esoteric chicken-and-egg question.

"'This opposition, which has held its own against a brutal assault by the Gadhafi forces was not an organized militia,' [Clinton] said. 'It was not a group that had been planning to oppose the rule of Gadhafi for years. It was a spontaneous response within the context of the broader Arab spring. These are mostly business people, students, lawyers, doctors, professors who have very bravely moved to defend their communities and to call for an end to the regime in Libya.'"

Well, when you put it that way -- just a bunch of good guys, like lawyers and professors (presumably not of the William Ayers stripe.) Not ruffians or hoodlums. It was just one of those things y'know, and surprisingly, their government has moved to squelch an internal rebellion. Golly, I'm sure the U.S. government wouldn't do such a thing to rebels here at home. (Right -- Ruby Ridge and Waco were just mild overreactions to some unusual people.)

Yup, close-readings required these days. It helps if you've had a logic class, too.

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Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

--Cadillac Ranch
, Bruce Springsteen

Vain are the thousand creeds

That move men's hearts, unutterably vain,

Worthless as withered weeds

Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

--No Coward Soul is Mine
, Emily Bronte

People just uglier, and I have no sense of time

--Stuck Outside of Mobile
With the Memphis Blues Again,

Bob Dylan


Watching a PBS special on the ways Detroit's city fathers are struggling to save the city engendered some RAW thoughts.

Detroit is dying, and social and support functions cannot be adequately administered unless the city pulls in its perimeters and relocates its inhabitants to population clusters. This clustering will facilitate the administration of municipal functions, to include police and fire protection, to more restricted areas requiring less funding. The problems and proposed solutions indicate that our wars are coming home.

Detroit's solution reminded us of COIN policy and the never-successful "Strategic Hamlets" in the Vietnam War. In Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. reverses the flow, sending the police and Army down to live with the people for the same reasons that we would cluster populations in Detroit. But that approach will not work at home because the funds are not available to nation-build one of the formerly greatest cities in America.

So we pull in our perimeters and pray for the best, when prayers are as impotent as a politician's promises (
read my lips.) The strategic hamlets failed in Vietnam because we never won their hearts and minds and the government could not act as an honest broker for the welfare of the citizens trapped in the strategic hamlets.

Now it is U.S. citizens being forced into this same humiliation which signals the foreshortened horizons of the new America. Ranger wonders if the new resettlements will be surrounded by razor wire barricades as we imposed in the Iraqi conquest.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

A Country for Old Fools

--Hanoi Hillary?

"Is that a Chevy '69?"
How bizarre, How bizarre

--How Bizarre

For my military knowledge,
though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General
--The Major-General's Song, Pirates of Penzance

--How'd you sleep?
--I don't know. Had dreams.
--Well you got time for 'em now.
Anythin' interesting?
--They always is to the party concerned.
--No Country for Old Men (1987)
Last night my nightmares returned me to the Vietnam War. Since time had regressed, Hillary had taken Jane Fonda's position, this time on a Libyan anti-aircraft gun, goofily looking through the sights as her assistant gunner John McCain prepared to feed rounds into the piece.

How much more bizarre does a nightmare get?
Fonda was called a dupe and a traitor for supporting the Viet Cong's right to overthrow the Saigon puppet regime, yet McCain has now supplanted her in supporting his heroes, who happen to be the equivalent of his former enemy, Victor Charlie (Sen. John McCain says rebels fighting Gadhafi troops are his heroes during visit to east Libya).

The Libyan rebels and the VC are the same critter: They lack legitimacy, are not in accordance with the laws of their respective governments and are in open rebellion. Does McCain see the high irony of opposing the rebels in Vietnam War yet heralding their moral equivalent as heroes in Libya?

Neither McCain, Clinton nor O-bomb-a can clearly explain why it is incorrect for Moammer Qaddafi's troops and loyalists to attack and kill rebels, while at the same time supporting the "rebels" for doing likewise to Qaddafi & Co.
Where is the sense, especially when a cash-strapped America must get the operational funds to do so at a Chinese Title & Pawn Shop?

In a word, McCain has once again pulled a flip-flop. McCain was bombing the folks of North Vietnam because they were supporting the rebels of South Vietnam. Now, he has done an about-face.

As for Clinton, it is equally difficult to understand her warmonger stance as a former Flower Child of the 60's. Clinton was the picture of a liberal intellectual, so how did she end up taking Jane's seat supporting the rebels?

Ranger wonders why Ms. Fonda keeps her mouth shut these days. Where is her outrage at the U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan? Where is any outrage for that matter?

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Mind Country

We will have to repent in this generation
not merely for the vitriolic words and actions

of the bad people,

but for the appalling silence of the good people

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have a very good reason for everything you do
--Laurence Olivier


From Special Forces: The Changing Face of Warfare -- "Watts appreciated that however much the policy of hearts and minds might weaken the enemy, it would never destroy him" [Lloyd, p.109] Note for 2011 Pentagon warriors: they are speaking of the enemy, for one need not win the hearts and minds (H & M) of friends, an obvious but little emphasized point.

This got Ranger thinking about his particular neuroses and psychoses that add up to his personality, and how they meet the erosion of sanity in U.S. policy in his lifetime. Specifically, the run-up to our current imbroglios, Gulf War I which turned a local oil and terrain squabble between two absurdist states into a
coalition to liberate Kuwait from oppression.

During the time of that campaign Ranger was in a Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored therapy group for PTSD veterans; all were Vietnam veterans except the facilitator, bought and paid for by DVA. He was a non-veteran academic pretending to understand our points of view.

To my memory, the facilitator and most groupies were Gung-ho about the new war, forgetting the fact that all of us were fractured by a similar war 20 years prior. One ooh-rah group member, K-2 -- an SOF/130 Aircraft Gunship type -- was fine until a 130 AC was shot down and all aboard killed. My comment was, "They got what they were dishing out," which earned me an expulsion from the group for being TOO HOSTILE, which according to the PTSD diagnosis is a common attribute of the disorder.

What has this got to do with H & M? In Gulf War I, H & M were not discussed; we just killed the hell out of Iraqis and everyone cheered, even PTSD-plagued veterans.
But in Gulf War II we have vacillated between H & M-ing them and Seven Six Two-ing them, all the while hailing the validity of Counterinsurgency policy (COIN). (So successful were we that the Iraqi parliament recently affirmed that Hammurabi's Code was in accordance with Sharia law, and the COIN actually predates the Christian bible; Ranger is undercutting Glenn Beck's comeback here.)

Point is, H & M is a con job perpetrated upon the U.S. taxpayer but we're too myopically-focused on the back streets of the Arab world to see this. Enter Libya -- the most recently discovered Arab ne'er -do-well -- and the U.S. does not even attempt to win the H & M of Qaddafi loyalists (
our erstwhile, sort-of, friends.) So the U.S. bombs and presumably later will give the H & M shtick a go. When will the U.S. military realize is not very good at this H & M thing; they did not win mine, and they will not win the enemy's.

Where is the sanity in selectively employing a failed policy in an insane world? We have a fiction called COIN and it does not win H & M, and we have a policy called bombing that does not win low-intensity conflict, guerrilla wars or wars of rebellion.

Expecting otherwise is like willing time to run backwards and hoping Saigon is not Ho Chi Minh City.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Effing Wrong

Government Bureau, George Tooker

[H]e realized at once that he shouldn't

have spoken aloud, and that by doing so he had,

in a sense, acknowledged the stranger's right
to oversee his actions
--The Trial, Kafka

--We're going to have to ask you to leave, sir

--I did not watch my buddies die face down
in the muck so that this fucking strumpet could abridge
my right of free speech

The Inimitable Walter Sobchak in
The Big Lebowski

Take away the right to say "fuck"

and you take away the right to say
"fuck the government"
--Lenny Bruce


Purple Heart Magazine (Apr. '11) featured Staff Sergeant Robert Miller's Medal of Honor and Florida's memorial commemorating his actions; in short, the plaque said Miller died fighting for freedom. I'll presume that means Floridian's freedom, too, since here is where the plaque resides.

However, Floridian Ranger's freedom was recently curtailed by the
government of the free. He received a letter from the Social Security Administration claiming that his SSA benefits since April 2008 have been in error, and that he has received an overpayment of $350 per month, and that he now owes his government over $10,000.

No data was given to explain the overpayment; no figures produce or explanation given. Ranger has no idea the propriety of this allegation, and must now navigate the labyrinthine bowels of the SSA in order to find the origin of this alleged error.

In his initial foray into the SSA office he was told he needed to file an appeal to uncover the data behind the demand for payment of the $10,000+. The totality of his knowledge is that his payments have been fucked up since April 2008, and not by anything he did or did not do. The burden of proof is upon him to discover why the allegation of overpayment, all because some dumb-fuck SSA employee put him in this predicament, and he so stated: "
This is fucked up!"

At this spirited summation of the incompetence surrounding him, the SSA representative told Ranger that swearing was not permitted as it violated office decorum, and
"this is a public place." Well, that riled Ranger sufficiently to see the hypocrisy in his admonition. As Ranger saw it, he can BE fucked over by the functionaries, but he daren't declare it.

Ranger replied to SSA Rep Roberto that he would say what he pleased, (and, Walter Sobchak-like) that he carried scars reflective of his sworn duty to uphold The Constitution and asked Roberto if he was sworn to uphold The Constitution, also (came no reply.) Not only will Ranger possibly have to pay a great sum of money for the ineptitude of our government, he discovered the SSA was curtailing his civil rights, of which free speech is one.

What is freedom of speech if one cannot be profane in a government office? What is protected speech? Is the word "fuck" adequate justification to deny service to taxpaying citizen? Why have free speech if it
really means, "polite free speech"? Being polite does not = free speech. Where is the freedom if we are all polite, if we all engage in that unctuous Southern practice of false politesse?

Ranger can understand a private employer putting certain constriction upon customer's behavior, but a government entity encroaching upon his freedom, at that moment, was too much. If SSG Miller died fighting for his freedom, why hasn't the SSA gotten the word?

We have addressed free speech as taught to our students (Fartwah) and in many posts as imposed upon our soldiers. Now it is clear we citizens are being muzzled, too. If our rights are "God-given" as postulated (
*snicker, snicker*), how can a government agency's policy or employees restrict that free and open speech?

Fucked up might not be polite, but it sure does sum up the shooting match.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


How much pain they have cost us,
the evils which have never happened
--Thomas Jefferson

Had a brother at Khe Sanh

fighting off the Viet Cong

They're still there he's all gone

--Born in the U.S. A
., Bruce Springsteen

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women

No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark

Everyone around me is a total stranger

Everyone avoids me like a cyclone Ranger

--Turning Japanese
, The Vapors

There is not much to say about the nuclear meltdown and concurrent problems in Japan. Not much directly, but indirectly it provides entree to a blast from the past, this one pertaining to Japanese terrorism.

The now-defunct international terror group, The Japanese Red Army (JRA) was synergistic and operated and cross-fertilized with other transnational groups, behaviors which elevated them to a significant threat level which they actualized on several occasions. They were a focus of law enforcement throughout the free world, though then, as now, we overplayed their actual threat capabilities.

All the little nasty JRA acolytes -- both active and passive -- were of long-term concern to the average Japanese citizen. However, their actual damage was minimal when compared with a real and imminent threat such as confronts Japan now.

Who would have imagined in 1975 that nuclear power plants would pose a much larger and persistent threat than the national terrorist group which was, in today's parlance, a kinetic as opposed to a static threat? Terrorists are and were a much sexier news story than, say, a concrete nuclear energy plant. Che and Patty (SLA) still grace T-shirts; not so, Three Mile Island.

Who in America would say that BP's Deepwater Horizon "spill" is a greater threat to our well-being than al-Qaeda?

It is by our own heedless negligence and incompetence we wreak more havoc than those who would wish us ill. A recent mid-flight "Hole in Southwest Jet Attributed to Cracks" could have been prevented with due-diligence by the maintenance and inspection teams. If shoe-bomber Reid and crotch-bomber
Abdulmutallab had placed their devices on top of the aircraft, they could not have done as much damage as our own neglect. As friend FDChief says, this shouldn't be happening in an industrialized nation, not in the U.S.

All of the major threats we face are of our own making, and eclipse the threat that we call terrorism.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name ...

The whole scene impressed Venters
as a wild, austere, and mighty manifestation of nature

--Riders of the Purple Sage
, Zane Grey

Now I don't mind choppin' wood,

and I don't care if the money's no good

Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest

But they should never have taken the very best

--The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
, Band

Redneck, cracker, hillbilly, Oakie boy, ridge-runner, hick, trailer trash . . . Call them what you will, every gun culture's got 'em, and they have a fan base. In the South, you're stylin' if you have a triple gun rack back of your cab. Often, a woman will occupy the passenger seat, but she is the secondary objet d'art; the true coups are the shotguns and hopefully, the carcass in the truck bed.

The latest entrant into this venerable grouping:

The Libyan Technical Riders.

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--Arend Van Dam

It's a weight, a wonder that is wise

I am here, you are there

Love is our cross to bear

--Love is Our Cross to Bear
John Gorka

Dark waters rise and thunders pound

the wheels of war are going round

and all the walls are crumbling

Shelter me lord underneath your wings

--Shelter Me
, Buddy Miller

In honor of National Poetry Month, a poem by Polish poet Julia Hartwig (b. 1921):

Yet We Desire It above All

Freedom does not mean happiness right away
the free world hides more traps than tyranny
mastiffs let loose from chains passions exceeding the horizon
steps entangled in the ropes of old bonds
that try to pull tight again

Freedom both for scoundrels and those
who sacrificed themselves for it
freedom for those who feel as pure as a diamond
and want to cut deeply surrendering passionately
to a new slavery—of hatred
from which the earth cracks like under dynamite
changing the course of rivers

[cross-posted @ milpub]

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Sunday, April 17, 2011


--Burqua, Joep Bertrams

It's hard to start a revolution. Even harder to continue it.

And hardest of all to win it.

But, it's only afterwards, when we have won,

that the true difficulties begin.

--The Battle Of Algiers

Cause you're hot then you're cold

You're yes then you're no

You're in and you're out

You're up and you're down

--Hot N Cold
, Katy Perry

Frenchification. In the South it means adding prefixes and/or suffixes onto given names to make them sound more interesting and, well, French: LaToya, Sha'niquia, Telethia, LaShawndra, etc. It can also be re-purposing a word with a slight tweak, like "Beyoncé" for "fiancé" (which won't work if you pronounce it like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona.)

Frenchification is also happening to the Libyan Civil War/Rebellion (or, whatever you call it.) Any name will do since the whole shooting match is as organized as a Chinese fire drill. But my point is, while French bombs are supporting Libyan Islamist Revolutionaries in North Africa/Libya, they are at the same time denying Islamic fundamentalist immigrants to wear the niqab and burqua in public places in France.

This contradiction sums up the whole ball game. We Westerners support them, except when we do not, when they do not conform to our societal expectations. Ranger does not care what the French do or how they do it, but when the U.S. puts its eggs in a French basket, they'll end up cracked into the souffle they're making.

Do we forget that in the 1960's France renounced the military wing of NATO? In 1986, they refused to allow U.S. warplanes to overfly French territory when U.S. planes were bombing Libya? Are the French in, or are they out, and how will we know?

The French strike us as the proverbial leaky vessel: they support you to the top, until they do not. Come to think of it, this ambivalent behavior is an apt description of U.S. foreign policy since 1945.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stirring the Pot

Is you is, or is you ain't my baby?
Won't you tell me please, I gotta know

--Is You Is, or Is You Ain't My Baby?

--Billy Austin

Hey, you, get off of my cloud

Don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd

on my cloud, baby

--Get Off of My Cloud
, Rolling Stones

If you don't know where you're going,

any road'll do

--English saying


The games the politicians play are disconnected from the results of their policies, which are always strapped to the backs of the citizens, trusty mules we are. If they would only lead, versus politick.

Would anyone 60 years ago have imagined the Fantasyland that government policies have wrought? Does it matter that we won a Cold War when we are now devolving into Iron Curtain status ourselves?

Does it matter that Afghanistan and Iraq are free and democratic (sort of?) Did it really matter if Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)?
Does it really matter that there is an al-Qaeda hostile to America? Do we realize that our own policies are hostile, and that WE export violence?

Do we realize that our Department of Defense policies add to the drain of dollars from our domestic lives? Our military policies adversely affect our economy and our people, and to what benefit? And to what detriment?

Now the U.S. has gone from assuming the onus of "protecting" rebels to supplying said rebels in Libya so that they may take out the sovereign leader of their nation. Iraqi and Afghani rebels: BAD; Libyan rebels: GOOD.
Why are we meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign nations? Who was President Obama to tell Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek to step down? Our President is not president of the world.

Do we know what Democracy is about anymore, or are we are just deluding ourselves?
If the reason for going into Libya is to protect the "innocent" civilians who are anti- Gaddafi from his brutal army and secret police, why are we not doing the same to Iran, Syria or any of the other states that are oppressing their peoples? The U.S. never lifted a finger to protect the protesters in Iran or Syria, so why Libya. Seems one rule for some and another for others.

Our venture into Libya will only incur the wrath of Gaddafi's supporters and help al-Qaeda consolidate power. It's a lose-lose scenario. Despite the exhortations of John Kerry and crew, air intervention in Libya is military intervention and arming the rebels is foolhardy and short-sighted. How many times has the U.S. armed the rebels only to see them become our eventual enemies? The unasked question is, if we arm the rebels now, at conflict's end will we be able to disarm them?

Why has the U.S. betrayed it's neutral hand and not simply urged Tunisia, Egypt and Libya toward a peaceful and bloodless outcome? When did we become instigators rather than negotiators for a regime change.

The U.S. has lost it's way, and the
clarion calls to 9-11 grow fainter by the day.

--Lisa and Jim

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Word Games

Ooo and it's alright and it's comin' 'long

We got to get right back to where we started from

Love is good, love can be strong

We got to get right back to where we started from

--Right Back Where We Started From,

Maxine Nightingale

I can read in red.

I can read in blue.

I can read in pickle color too

--Dr. Seuss


Words must matter or else we would still be grunting and pointing at things with dirty, jammy fingers and meat tofu would be a distant dream, since mastodon would be the kill du jour.

Words. They sometimes come hard for Ranger, but when they do, they mean something. Let's look at two which are saddled with all manner of baggage:
Liberal and Conservative.

Proud and haughty are the conservatives, in a regressive sort of way. If they were dancing Disco, it would be to a spirited version of Ms. Nightingale's "Get Right Back" tune. No wobbly tofu -- not even
Seitan -- for them; no mincing words. They stand behind the concept, right or wrong. Right is always right.

Lacking such surety, liberals are afraid of their title, kind of like a dachshund who might find his designation onerous should he see his full name written out. Liberals hide behind names like "Progressive", as if this will change their spots. A liberal is a liberal whatever you do, and calling oneself anything else is just deceptive and self-loathing. (In Florida last year we had a Democratic contender who called himself a "moderate progressive" -- what sort of griffin is that?) Liberals would probably dance to a dour "Private Dancer".

Liberal is a once-proud word that has been side-lined and shouted down in the din of political life. Yet, all that is fine and everything exceptional in American life is based in liberal thought; this seems lost on all involved. In comparison, one would have to search to discover any great conservative legislation that has added anything of substance to our democracy.

Why do liberals hide behind weasel words like progressive? Why do liberal cloak their true colors, which are red, white and blue?

Somewhere inside of every conservative
there is a liberal that is a sellout and and traitor to the truth. The truth is that all conservatives serve a master that is not of, by or for the people.

That is a self-evident truth.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011



Ever had a Twilight Zone moment? Photos and certificates from "James M. Hruska" landed in my inbox recently, but this was another JMH, a USMC veteran who died in 1966. His mementos were found in a barn sale in Oregon, and a couple took the pictures by cell phone and shot them to me, such are the
possibilities in this Brave New World.

Did I know him? No. JMH was perhaps a WW II and possibly Korean War vet. It is possible he was born in 1912, and may have lived in California. The owner of the barn was unavailable, so nothing else is known beyond the citation and pictures. The couple felt protective of the items and purchased them anyway.

If anyone has any information concerning the other James M. Hruska, we would appreciate the input. Some things you cannot ignore.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not Even a Peep

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—

I am the grass; I cover all.

, Carl Sandburg

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields
--In Flanders Fields
, John McCrae

Put the story together. Understand the story.

Ask questions of the story; make it answer you.

Make it.

--Packing Inferno
, Tyler Boudreau

A couple of years ago while driving the back roads of Vermont we stumbled upon this roadside memorial to the U.S. war dead in the Iraq part of the war on terror.

Was it merely a committed and reverential gesture? Was there the subtext of protest? It is hard to know as it was merely a field of crosses, with a simple scoreboard tallying the number.

The field on that remote road makes us wonder why there are not more protests against these wars. Why does our society accept the deaths of so many good people in questionable efforts without so much as a peep?

Since there was no suggestion that this was protest, the field of fluttering small white sheets was certainly an effort, but it seems disconnected from the reality. They suggest that the sacrifice of the people whom the tidy white pennants represent was acceptable -- a necessary expedient for the good of man. But we cannot accept this proposition as the war dead did not achieve any greater good.

How can a society willing to sacrifice its young for dreamlike fantasies prosper? Of course, that is the ultimate significance of the cross, and as a society we have ingested the goodness of the sacrificial lamb.

It is Ranger's unchristian belief that death is not to be celebrated; it is much too final.

[For mike. We will be addressing sacrifice and myth-making next week.]

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Ghost Busting

No event in American history
is more misunderstood

than the Vietnam War.

It was misreported then,

and it is misremembered now

--Richard M. Nixon

~~Are you a God?


~~Then... DIE!

~~Ray, when someone asks you

if you're a god, you say "YES"!


But give my daddy a job 'cause he needs one

He's got lots of mouths to feed

But if you've got one, I'll have a machine gun

So I can scare all the kids down the street

--Father Christmas
, the Kinks

Our post Stone Gardens looked at the quantity of death which war commands.

This post looks at how we render those deaths. Myth-making has always been an important part of how a culture copes with its losses. While the purpose of myths is to bestow some meaning upon the killing, sometimes the mythic stories are just that -- myths.

At various online sites, including historynet.com is a moving memorial by Norman Brookman to comrade Henry Lee Bradshaw found at the Vietnam War Memorial, but something about the entry struck Ranger as amiss. It is an almost cliche (as one commenter notes) wonderful letter of courage, pathos and lost comrades, but it fails upon close analysis.

While the story and letter may be true, the empty cartridge case and the bullet so integral to the telling are not compatible. The cartridge case is clearly a 7.62 x 39 casing, which would have been fired by an AK/AKM/SKS or RPD machine gun; however, the projectile is NOT an AK projectile.

The round appears to have a greater sectional density than the 122/123 grain 7.62 bullet. It more closely seems to resemble a 6.5 Japanese WW II bolt action round. The diameter of the bullet is much smaller than the case mouth, which should nominally measure .311". The bullet in the photo lacks a clear
cannelure (crimp groove).

It is extremely doubtful that this round was launched from this cartridge case. Further, if this was a fire fight, how can one cartridge case be determined to have been the case that killed a particular trooper?

At its worst, hyperbole and glurge is used to prop up meaningless slaughter. Mr. Brookman may have served with Mr. Bradshaw, but he should not have used props so obviously incompatible.

Hero's tales are not sacrosanct. This sort of abuse deserves to be busted.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Crown of Creation

Tonight we trade
our vanity for insanity

--Charlie Sheen

We cannot have peace among men

whose hearts delight in killing any living creature.

By every act that glorifies or even tolerates

such moronic delight in killing

we set back the progress of humanity

-- Rachel Carson

We have guided missiles

and misguided men

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Could kill a man with a gun like this.

Kill anybody, black or white.

And if he were holding his gun in his hand,

nobody could run over him;

they would have to respect him

--Almos' a Man
, Richard Wright

Ranger recently acquired a WW II-captured P08 Luger with accessories from the grandson of a recently-deceased veteran. The pistol had no value to the man and he did not feel the need to keep the items.

Shooting the pistol yesterday I recognized it as a precision piece of advanced firearms engineering, mechanically complex and ergonomic, before CNC capabilities -- tight and efficient. (As an aside, the gun was designed before we had a clear definition of how a semi-automatic pistol should look or function. The toggle bolt was copied from the 1873 U.S. Winchester lever-action rifle and adopted to a recoil blowback system; pure mechanical genius.)

But, so what? Technological marvels of the 20th century abound. There was the P51 Mustang fighter escort, ground attacking aircraft. The Enola Gay sits in a place of honor in the Smithsonian. What they, like the Luger, Mauser, the MG 34 and 42 machine guns, share is their unity of purpose: to efficiently kill our fellow humans.

My Luger is a beautiful piece of nastiness highly-coveted in the collector world. As with all of the aforementioned items, they were the crown of creation of God's chosen species, and they all rain death. When these weapons were introduced the U.S. was not an electrified society and indoor plumbing -- much less cars -- was not a given. To keep it on a Ranger level, venereal disease was incurable and appendicitis along with other routine infections were killers. Children died young from common childhood ailments.

High school education was a luxury for the average person, but the manufacturers of death-dealing devices were decades ahead of commensurate civilian advances. The U.S., Germany, Belgium and the Czech areas armed the world, and everyone had a repeating long-range rifle available to them at a reasonable price.

Even as we were peddling Jesus to the natives we were arming them, too, before they even had proper clothing or reliable food. Christianity always flourished next to the firearms distribution centers of colonial precincts. The pictures in Ludwig Olsen's
The Mauser Rifle show that the sign of arrival in most parts of the world, no matter how primitive, is the possession of a fine hand gun or other weapon (This is why Osama bin Laden is always photographed with his AK 74 ready to hand.)

Who could deny a God that arms his believers with such magical fire sticks? Such an item is a miracle akin to converting water to wine.
We pretend to export culture, but really we export guns and violence, in the name of our God or creed.

Ranger is not against the use of weapons to justly defend one's person or country, but we must consider the brutality wrought by our fine technology. The march of civilization has often advanced at the end of a rifle, and this is worthy of consideration. Much as we revile Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), gunpowder-based weapons have killed far more people than has what we now call WMD's. Firearms are WMD's as wielded by the individual.

Richard Wright's "Almos'A Man" considered the idea succinctly, the naive protagonist "Dave" standing for all of mankind. After he gleefully feels the power of the shot, he realizes his mistake in shooting Jenny the mule, an innocent beast so vital to the farm, and helplessly packs the bullet wound with mud.
He is overcome by guilt and shame, but there is no unshooting the poor beast.

For all of our fancy engineering, we are but children playing with morbid, murderous toys.

--Lisa & Jim

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Stone Garden

In the bungling and bellicosity that constitute
the back and forth of history,

worsened by natural disasters and unprovoked cruelty,

humble citizens pay the highest price.

--Paul Theroux

Blessed [are] the peacemakers:

for they shall be called the children of God

--Matthew 5:9

I've got a tombstone hand

and a graveyard mind,

I'm just twenty-two

and I don't mind dying

--Bo Diddley

Understanding that a peacekeeping is not the same thing as a peacemaking . . .

When traveling Ranger sticks to the routes that lead to the small towns; his destination, to find the
heartland in each region. Much as in Europe, most small towns here have war memorials, and it is disquieting when passing through these towns, many of which so faithfully memorialize their war dead, to realize the number of men who were sacrificed for our country.

For the smallest towns it is almost outrageous the number of men who didn't come home -- men not easily replaced, men who were the solid core of a slice of America. The vacuum left behind must have been staggering to all involved, and the losses were not a one-time occurrence.

In one town, the Vietnam KIA's outnumbered the WW II losses; in another, Korea had claim on that honor over the Republic of Vietnam. One town among the many with such memorials is the tidy little enclave of Walpole, N. H., home to documentarian Ken Burns and located in the Monadnock region, childhood stomping grounds of Lisa's mother. The town is very much as it was 70+ years ago, and could serve as a Twilight Zone set of prototypical small town America.

The Walpole war memorial was one block off the downtown square, and was among a small walking area divided according to conflict. The names of the killed were chiseled in stone long after any heart remembered the actual faces -- young men forever lost.

The last chiseled panel was dedicated to "Peacekeepers". Not everyone realizes that peacekeeping can be a deadly pursuit, and many people died from this little town trying to keep the peace in far-flung zones. One wonders what peace they were trying to keep, and how long -- if at all -- it was kept. Whatever the answer, they ended up becoming a memory etched on a cold granite section of wall.

But the peacekeepers recede as one pans to the final panels, for
the town of Walpole has had the foresight to place totally empty panels of granite at the end of the wall, to be filled in as needed, as new wars arise and new dead fall.

Iraq and Afghanistan will be ninth and tenth on Walpole's tally of wars that have gobbled up soldiers as if they were Girl Scout cookies. Now, we can anticipate new work for the chiselers on a wall called "Libya", or maybe they'll go under "Peace-Keepers", depending on how the Men Who Label Wars decide the matter.

But whatever the categorization, servicepeople keep dying and some tourists dutifully witness the names on the plaques. The continuity of such death in a society dedicated to the pursuit of happiness is a thought worthy of consideration.

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Friday, April 01, 2011


It isn't necessary to imagine the world
ending in fire or ice.

There are two other possibilities:

one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.

--Frank Zappa

Sorry, I'm a bit of a stickler for paperwork.

Where would we be if we didn't follow

the correct procedures?


The Veterans Administration is often held up as a model for what a limned-down civilian health care system might look like. But Ranger would like to share this tidbit from his latest month's prescriptions from the VA.

Two of eight items -- 25% -- in the the order were incorrectly sent; these were medicines not ordered, as Ranger no longer uses them or has a backlog of them. Included with the package was a wad of paperwork: 53 pages to cover the eight drugs (see above picture.)

Much of the paperwork was redundant: For each drug was a half page of the same info: "
Call your doctor about any side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA @ 1-800-FDA-1088." The side effects were both printed out on paper, and included within the product insert. There were four blank pages.

If Ranger is not the only recipient of such officiousness, that is a lot of wasted trees. Isn't there a Federal agency to whom one could report this abuse
of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)? (In triplicate, of course.)

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