Friday, July 29, 2011

SS Division Nordland

Tell Me Lies, tell me sweet little lies
Oh no no, you can't disguise

--Tell Me Lies
, Fleetwood Mac

You can put lipstick on a pig,

but it's still a pig


The recent murders in Norway are insane, but they are also acts of criminality in its purest sense.

The murders were premeditated and also fit the definition of terrorism as the shooter wanted to reach a target beyond his immediate victims. Shooter Anders Breivik believed he was at war, and even labelled his murder victims as
unfortunate collateral damage in his war scenario. His attorney says Mr. Breivik is nuts.

The cows have come home to roost (
thank you, Latka) when Mr. Breivik states that he thinks he is "in a war", for he resembles no one so much as the entity known as the United States in his belief. You can call terrorism "war", but that doesn't make it so:

"This whole case has indicated that he's insane," Lippestad told reporters in Oslo, saying Breivik believes he is leading an anti-Muslim revolution to overturn Western governments and that the victims from his downtown Oslo bombing and Utoya Island shooting rampage were casualties of war.

"He says he is sorry that he had to do this, but it was necessary to start a revolution in the Western world," Lippestad said. "He believes he is in a war" (
Suspect in Norway attacks 'believes he is in a war,' lawyer says).

Since the opening salvo of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) we at RangerAgainstWar have said that terrorism or the reaction to terrorism is not equated to warfare. TERRORISM ≠ WAR.

Terrorism, whether on the idyllic Norwegian island of Utoeya or the World Trade Center is simply an act of craven criminality. Terrorism is not warfare, yet we have a right-wing crazy in Norway who believes that it IS warfare;
we call him INSANE, while the entire foreign and military policy of the U.S. government is based upon Mr. Breivik's logic.

George W. Bush's presidency was predicated upon his being a "wartime president", with Obama gladly following in his footsteps. Why is Breivik insane, while GWB or Obama are considered steady as rocks?

If a lie is told often enough and loudly enough, somebody is bound to believe the message. A bad German said that when promoting a bad war.

Draft Speech for President Obama

My Fellow Americans:

Tonight I wish to reassure you that the Will of The People, as embodied in our Constitution will be fulfilled. Have no doubt of that.

As you have all witnessed, there is a hard core group of legislators who feel empowered to hold their fellow Americans, as well as the rest of the world hostage to their threats of economic terrorism in order to advance their political agenda.

As one who has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, I have no issues with the party in power setting the agenda for the future. The Constitution provides for that. If one does not accept the right of the party in power to set the agenda, then one does not accept democracy nor the Constitution. And when a single party is not in power, I also realize that compromise must be made to move our government in any direction. However, nowhere in the Constitution is there a provision for holding the nation, no less the world, hostage to extreme ideology by disavowing previous legal debts of the United States.

However, the crisis we face today has nothing to do with the future course of our great country. Rather, a minority group of ideological zealots feel that they have the right to disavow previous Congressionally approved and Constitutionally authorized fiscal obligations of our government unless they have their way with future obligations. Many of these economic terrorists, hiding in the robes of members of Congress, voted for the very obligations that they now threaten to disavow. While they attached no strings to the obligations when they voted for them over the past many years, they now add the caveat that unless their political agenda is not accepted, they will ensure that our country, as well as the rest of the world will suffer the consequences. They are willing to effectively be deadbeats, at the expense of the world, to make their point. They are persons without honor.

Today, not only are Americans watching the arrogant antics of these economic terrorists and shaking their heads, but so is the rest of the world. How dare this small band of irresponsible ideological power seekers threaten to undermine the savings, pensions, jobs, investments and general well being of not only their fellow countrymen, but every human being on the planet who exhibited faith and trust in our country.

If it were not so tragic, I would have to laugh at the fact that some of the most ardent members of this band of economic terrorists claim an unswerving devotion to the Constitution, but obviously have never taken the time to read and understand it. Some 143 years ago, We, The People, seeing that ideological zealots might choose to be deadbeats on the nation's legal debts to further their extreme partisan causes, amended our Constitution to add,

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

As President, and head of the Executive Branch of our government, I hereby instruct the offices and workers of the Executive Branch, the branch that carries out the work of the government of the United States each and every day of the year, to support and defend our Constitution. Unlike the economic terrorists on Capital Hill, who do not do the day to day work, the Executive Branch, in compliance with the 14th Amendment, will honor the legally legislated debt of our country. Every last penny of it. That is what the Constitution says, and that is what those of us who have sworn to support and defend that Constitution are obliged by a solemn oath to so. And, I might mention, an oath made with the words, "So help me God", lest the Religious Right not realize how solemn that oath is to be taken.

Therefore, on behalf of those who do support and defend the Constitution, as well as all in the world who have placed trust and faith in our government, I reject those who would threaten to reneg on our nation's legal and binding debt, and expose you for what you truly are - economic terrorists.

My Executive Order to honor our nation's debt should not be necessary, but alas it is. The United States will, at least on my watch, be an honorable country that keeps its word. If the people wish to change course and be a nation of deadbeats, feel free to do so at the next election. Until then, I will support and defend the entire Constitution, to include the 14th Amendment, as I solemnly swore to do.

If you Tea Party folks are feeling discomfort from my actions, perhaps it's because I just shoved the Constitution up your asses, placing it closer to your brains than ever before.

Good night and God Bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An American Apology to Norway . . . sorry about that.

I would like to address this post to all Norwegians and the supporters of Norway. I only speak for myself and do this in the humility of a single person addressing a great nation, something that the WWW both fortunately and unfortunately provides.

Let me first say that I wish to convey my own condolences to all the families of the victims of this possibly avoidable massacre. What happened is difficult to understand, but perhaps Americans can say something at this point and perhaps create the potential for a real turnaround in world politics. Something that would give these tragically fallen and brutally removed from their families young people, these sons and daughters who were so greatly loved by their families . . . Perhaps the very spirit which brought them all together may carry on.

That spoken from a US small-town Southern conservative. I could tell ya'll how much I admire your country if only for the way you've dealt with your own mineral wealth . . . that would be enough without getting into anything else.

Instead I wish to tell a family story . . . Upon hearing the news of the terrorism in Norway, I had that old memory of having cookies and milk in Grandma Back's house. She was Norwegian, ya know and of the kindliest manner. Her smile and the way she used to extend words . . . was it an accent ya think?

She was the mother of the man who had married my mother's closest sister, my favorite uncle who had come back from WWII a war hero (had won a Silver Star). I would always sit in the same chair, as would she in hers, and the cookies were also always the same, and I liked that. There was a window overlooking the garden and I could see my uncle and aunt's house from it. Grandma Back would always smile at me and ask me basic questions. How was my week, what had I done, and such that a grandparent asks her child. Only later did I realize how she had lived through great tragedy, that noble woman, losing a husband, a son, and a grandson under terrible circumstances. Still, as a child I remember those Sunday mornings, with the milk and cookies. Above us hung the picture of another son, her youngest - the son who had fallen with the 101st at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Then we would all go to Mass.

I guess the simple fact is that the recent act of terrorism in your country, Norway, touched upon a tragedy in my family, that I had forgotten, but had in fact "witnessed" at 18 months . . . that is I was actually there as a baby in all the chaos, and heard countless stories about afterwards over the years as I grew up, about a semi-truck hitting a tractor with two people on it as the truck left the highway, the driver having fallen asleep at the wheel . . . a senseless tragedy that left an indelible mark on my family.

You see, they were all there, they all got to see and witness the whole thing. My grandmother was never the same after that, and my mother, the medical professional who was first on the scene? My father too, although he had not been there, would comment on it.

My cousin as well, who I was also the closest to of any of my cousins . . . her brother, dead, along with our uncle, the favorite brother of both our mothers. So in effect Mrs Back's sister-in-law, my grandmother, had lost the son this time round. While they had both lost a grandson.

That was July, 1958.

So . . .

Long live Norway!

Why do I say that? Because you are a great country and people. That, and I think Norway has a lot to teach the US of A right at particularly this point in time.

As in for instance: Maybe how to deal with tragedy, how to accept loss, that is if you ever can, how to rid yourself of self-serving egoistical delusions which only allow you to avoid the really tough questions . . . you Norwegians are good at that as I've seen so maybe it comes with the territory. We miss that particular ability awfully. At the same time you Norwegians have a bit sentimental . . . to balance ya'lls rationality.

The dialog would be good for both peoples since I think we in fact as a nation owe ya'll and Norway an apology . . . Ya see I think the nut who gunned down all those kids was probably influenced to a large degree by right-wing US bloggers and political commentators acting as propagandists for a specific US policy . . . These people are intentionally and "professionally" selling a war, actually the current central US foreign policy if ya'll haven't noticed. People in the US simply accept this as fact. The notion of a global Islamic threat to the West is the sole rationale for the continuing Global War on Terror. Rumsfeld was talking about it in 2005 and the US government hasn't really stopped talking about it since.

In what passes for US politics today, the official foreign policy of the US - The Global War on Terror - precedes all else, it is after all a "war" what is by definition the single reason for the state itself (at least in right-wing US eyes). You are probably starting to see how this merges with the current budget highjinx in Washington. "Not to be taken seriously" or so the common wisdom goes, but at the same time misses the point as perhaps intended.

The truth as I see it is, that we have developed a Global War on Terror "industry" which would include "marketing". The terrorist Breivik (ABB) seems to have been critically influenced by this propaganda and into believing this war to have had something real behind it, where the US was actually the defensive side. That is there existing an actual global threat to the US and its allies and thus justifying their continuing operations in primarily but limited to the Middle East, East Africa and South Asia.

ABB is simply an unsuspecting stooge who fell for a propaganda theme. Grand politics in effect recruits such stooges, Lenin referred to them as "useful idiots".

Personally I see no global jihadist threat, no looming or existing Eurabia, no coming Muslim takeover, absolutely no real rationale for a Global War on Terror, rather political capitalism run amok operating in an atmosphere of the same right wing Nihilism I have spoken of before (my conclusions). Over the last ten years large numbers of non-combatants have been needlessly killed in America's wars, including hundreds of children. Yet the wars go on.

It's time for a change.

For far too long the world has been ruled by this notion of a Global War on Terror, but that can now be shown to have been dubious.

People of Norway, even in this time of great sorrow, I think that America could use some advice . . .


Abraham Foxman wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post which addresses the issue to some degree, but fails to link the problem to the current GWOT, still worth a read. Some interesting points:

Left-wing “multiculturalist” sentiments tear down traditional European culture, they argue, allowing Muslim immigrants to replace it with “their own” culture and values. The result, they claim, will be the demographic, cultural and, eventually, political suicide of the West — unless action is taken to stop it.

These ideas are no longer geographically isolated. The Oslo perpetrator in his manifesto quoted extensively from the writings of European and American bloggers — including Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller — who promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam. Because of the reach of the Internet, these ideas float freely across borders and are reinforced by like-minded bigots.

This belief system goes far beyond anti-Islamic prejudice based on simple religious or racial grounds. In a sense, it parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the backs of the previously dominant cultural and religious forms of anti-Semitism.

The presence of this new ideological form of anti-Islamism is clear in the Norway attacks. The perpetrator, though motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments, did not attack or kill Muslims. Rather, he reserved his extreme actions for those “traitors” whom he believed to be collaborating with and allowing Muslims to take over Norway (and Europe). He chose targets related to the Labour Party, the alleged “multi-cultural Marxists” who dominated his thoughts.

Breivik’s acts are so far the only major incidents like this. Perhaps they will remain unique. His thinking, however, is certainly not. Thanks to his carefully sourced manifesto, we can identify many of his intellectual influences, and they are prominent on both sides of the Atlantic. And many people hold views similar to Breivik’s. In the United States, we have seen frequent manifestations of this ideology, including the eager promotion by anti-Islamic zealots of a growing conspiracy theory about “creeping Sharia law.”

One bizarre twist to Breivik’s warped worldview was his pro-Zionism — his strongly expressed support for the state of Israel. It is a reminder that we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs . . . In America, the polarization, vitriol and fear engendered by anti-Islamic activists must be replaced by reasoned and civil debate. We must rally the voices of reason to overcome the voices of intolerance before it is too late.

(My emphasis). The comments from the Nihilists are at the same time soooo predictable.

2nd Update (10 August) Interesting post from one of Glenn Greenwald's guest bloggers . . .

Here are a few choice quotes regarding the Oslo attack:

* "I shed no tears for these HAMASnik campers with a Scandinavian dialect. Perpetrators are not victims. Sorry. HAMAS collaborators don’t get my pity. They never will."

* "Karma is a bitch . . . especially for Jew-haters who were Fatah’s bitch. You hang out with snakes, you get bitten."
* "Victims” or Perpetrators?" -- Debbie Schlussel, 7/28/11
* "There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler youth.." -- Glenn Beck, 7/25/11
* "The more that is revealed about that youth indoctrination center, the more grotesque the whole story becomes"
* "The jihad-loving media never told us what antisemitic war games they were playing on that island. Utoya Island is a Communist/Socialist campground, and they clearly had a pro-Islamic agenda." -- Pamela Geller, 7/31/11
* "The youth camp he attacked was engaged in what was essentially a pro-terrorist program." -- Barry Rubin, 7/31/2011

Try to imagine what the reaction to comments such as these would be in the wake of an attack by Islamic extremists. Aside from the vile slander against the victims of a horrifying crime, these words are a clear attempt to justify and legitimize the actions of Breivik.

Just another example, if we needed one, of the terminal sickness of the Radical and Nihilist Right in the US.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Small Unit Leadership

Don't start me talking
I could talk all night

My mind goes sleepwalking

While I'm putting the world to right

Called careers information

Have you got yourself an occupation?

--Oliver's Army
, Elvis Costello

The death of West Point military cadet Jacob D. Bower last Thursday while on a land navigation exercise (22 July 11) indicates a lack of leadership at the small unit level (West Point Cadet Dies During Training).

Why didn't they use buddy teams? Was the troop properly acclimated? Was there a heat index alert? Why not train at night to avoid heat casualties? Were water bags out? Was water at the training points? This was SOP in Ranger's day. Have we lost our military knowledge, which is nothing but common sense?

Was this a normal compass course or was it an orienteering endeavor? In a high heat situation, orienteering would be inherently hazardous and strict supervision would be standard.

Ranger recently read the book, "Small Unit Leadership -- A Commonsense Approach" by. Col. Dandridge M. Malone (ret'd)., and the recent death of cadet Bower pointed out what was missing from the text.
Though mission and winning the land battle were well-covered, getting the soldiers to that point was not addressed; leadership is about more than winning battles. It is also about knowing when to pull the plug and admitting that the mission cannot be achieved with the available assets.

Unfortunately, the military does not award Medals of Honor
for this type of leadership. What passes for military leadership can often be equated with mental aberrations as Soldiers are often tasked with performing irrational actions. Something like assaulting an interlocking bunker complex is not a sane act in any universe, yet it is seen as leadership in the Army.

Ranger realizes the exigencies of combat and the unit level requirements to fulfill organizational needs, but what is called bravery often does not lead to any national gain, and leaders are often pressed to choose the heroic-seeming action. If the West Point cadre allow such negligence in overseeing training, can it be any better in the "Real Army"?

Ranger's questions outstrip the purview of Col. Malone's book, but the needless death of an 18-year-old cadet demands they be asked.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Since we're piling on the "United States - Where Dysfunctional is the New Black!" I thought I'd add another log to the fire with some observations about the U.S. higher education system.

Conventional wisdom has gone all in for the "It's All About The Degree!" meme in the past two decades or so. Supposedly the fact that we have put in place tax, tariff, and economic policies that encourage "job producers" to produce jobs overseas is offset by the new excitement among Americans for going to college, getting degrees and thus moving into the Exciting World of the Real Middle Class. As opposed to those yobbo rivetheads who just ACTED middle class because their union jobs paid them so well.

Well, Ed over at Gin and Tacos has a nice little rant on the effect that this explosion of student bodies has had on the Grove of Acadame:
"The cost of higher education, either for students or state legislatures, isn't going to go down until they stop putting politically expedient Band-Aids on their problems (furloughs, larger classes, pay/hiring freezes, more temp labor in the classroom) and decide to focus on what is supposedly their core mission: educating people. The new $100 million MultiTainment Complex and the Orrin Hatch Learning and Instructional Center are expensive frills. Athletic programs are money-losing albatrosses. Administrators exist mostly to perpetuate the need for administrators. Teaching and research should be 99% of what we do. But mention that on the Campus Tour and watch the eyes start to glaze over…"
My experience teaching at community college mirrors his only without the research. My observation is that many, many of the students there were thoroughly unprepared for their junior college entry, that the community college did nothing, or next to nothing, to try and make things go better for the poor Powerpoint Fodder - in particular, most CCs and JCs are staffed with overwhelmed, overmatched adjunct faculty because the administrations know perfectly well that there are waaaaayyyyy more people out there with advanced degrees than there are teaching jobs for them - and their primary job seems to be to act as a revenue generator through monstrous tuition increases.

But on of Ed's commentors makes what I consider to be the most trenchant observation about this entire fucking mess; it's the credit, stupid.
"Comrade Luke has it right,"
he says,
"the root of the matter is the guaranteed student loan system that allow 18 year olds to amass debt beyond their comprehension that they will not be able to discharge even in bankruptcy.

If there aver were an argument for the free market it would be this. You can't charge more than your customers are willing to pay. The ready access to limitless credit to people who would never qualify for a loan of any kind is what has driven tuitions to the ludicrous levels they are today.

Perhaps someday when we acknowledge our third world status it will change but until then let's all celebrate the future of online education that costs just as much but without bothering with such things as classrooms, professors or even dorm rooms.

Bring on the future."
I know a young woman who is a tremendously bright, motivated person. Right now she is out of work, her unemployment is running out (she got temporary employment with the Census but that is going away, obviously) and she is crushed, completely buried under the student loans. Part of her problem is that she majored in a humanity that offers her little in the way of employment except in truly lush economic times.

But the other part is that she should never have been accorded the sort of credit it took for her to spend two years at UVA. It starts her off with a huge rock on her shoulders that will perforce warp her life as she struggles to carry it and has to find ways to pay it down.

Perhaps it's the curmudgeon in me. But it seems as I grow older that we have either found more perfect ways to do simple things wrong...or those ways were always there and it just took me that long to recognize them. Either way, it's like hitting oneself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Wonkiness on Health Care

Vice someone called Austin Frakt, here's the CBO projection for expenditures vs. revenues through 2080;Ezra Klein adds that for this to play out three things need to happen:
1) All the Bush tax cuts expire, as they’re currently scheduled to do;
2) The Medicare doc fix is either implemented or its repeal is paid for over the next 70 years, and;
3) the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and all of its spending targets are met and all of its taxes are collected.

That's all very well and good (and might as well come with magical ponies, if you think that the frigging Bush tax giveaways will EVER be allowed to expire...) but the thing that seems to escape both the pundits is on the y-axis. The assumption that tax collections will rise to 30% of the GDP.

That's wartime levels, and that's ridiculous. No public would tolerate that for very long. If that's what needs to happen to "bring deficits under control" we might as well give up right now.

But you'll notice the other thing; the "growth" of SS and "other non-interest" spending are either minimal or actually declining. The massive, massive increase is in the health care programs, and that is nearly entirely due to front-end medical costs.

So the real question is - how do we manage that?

And there are answers out there...but nearly all of them start with some variation of "socialized medicine" and, as such, are utterly off the table until the last of the 27-percenters goes into the cattle cars for transport to the secret black helicopter extermination camps for conservatives in the Utah desert.

Real medical cost control just isn't possible under the present political system.

Game over.

The Propagandization of America

For as long as I've been around, I have frequently written that the American people are among the most propagandized of all in the world.

Here is one fellow's experience with America's corporate media, which supports my belief.

Here's one of the reasons why he is in this predicament.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How You Look At It 2: Electric Boogaloo

See Al's post below. And note that most of these programs are NOT "aid to the poor"; they're entitlement programs that benefit mostly the middle class.But they're NOT a bunch of lazy, government-teat-sucking yobbos, no!

God, I love this country.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Guess it's How You Look at It?

State of Illinois legislators are fuming because the stricter rules they have put in place for proving Medicare eligibility have been rejected by the Feds. Their legislators say it is necessary to prevent fraud and to lessen the burden on an already overloaded budget.

State Representative Patti Bellock, a Republican who helped craft the reform package, didn't mince words when describing how overloaded she believed the state's Medicaid rolls are.

"Fifty percent of all births in Illinois (are) on Medicaid," Bellock said, according to ISN. "One out of every three children in Illinois is on Medicaid, and one out of every five Illinoisans is on Medicaid."

Is Rep Bellock's "non-minced words" directed at the people receiving Medicare benefits, or at the state of the society in Illinois that results in these large portions of the population having to fall back on public assistance to receive medical care? Add the 2008-2009 uninsured to the numbers she is quoting, and roughly 35% of her state's population is either uninsured or on publicly assisted insurance. And, if you wade through that Kaiser data, you will find that 58% of the uninsured are employed full time, as are 54% of the Medicaid beneficiaries. We are talking about working people. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

Note that Rep Bellock does not seem to be expressing concern that 1/3 of the children in her state are from families that cannot afford "private health insurance", and that perhaps that's an indicator of other deprivations suffered by the young in her state. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

So, is it about "budget issues", or people? It sure as hell isn't about "those people getting jobs and getting off the welfare rolls, as only 55% of the population has employer sponsored coverage, and if you factor out government employees, the private sector is not doing anything truly significant to give access to health care benefits to the population. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

Does the US spend double the per capita amount of other nations for health care, or do we charge double? Indeed, if you look at it from a charges basis, we charge 3 to 4 times more for most medical treatments and supplies than anywhere else in the world, yet our most common health indicators are lower. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

What leaves me cold, is that the generally expressed viewpoint tends to judge poorly those who must rely on public assistance for the cost of their medical services, yet the data shows that on a societal level, we have priced health care out of the reach of a significant portion of the population. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

Sadly, the sub-texts in the medical insurance debate seem to make it sound as if a small, lazy, segment of the population is over burdening the public coffers. I would offer that a large, bloated, greedy insurance and medical care provider industry is slowly, but surely bleeding everybody's coffers. I Guess it's How You Look at It?

Friday, July 15, 2011

US Recognizes Libyan Rebels . . .

Ya'll know my view on this . . . Why did we handle it so badly?

Or no surprise at all given the current state of US strategic thought . . . if this is any indication . . .

Harlan Ullman writes:

. . . For most of history, war was a contest between more or less like military forces. Defeating the enemy usually meant defeating his armies as a precondition for victory. Of course, insurgencies were as old as war. And, of course, insurgencies had relatively fixed geographic boundaries that, after the Duke of Wellington's brilliant peninsula campaign during the Napoleonic Wars, became known as guerrilla or small wars.

The American way of war remains firepower intensive. We won World War II, with the Soviet army, literally blowing away the Wehrmacht with our superior firepower.

As technology improved dramatically, so did mobility and maneuver. The Iraqi military was shattered twice by this onslaught first in 1991 and then a dozen years later. And the initial and stunning success in Afghanistan in late 2001 demonstrated the effectiveness of this technology in support of Northern Alliance ground forces in routing the Taliban, at least for the moment.

Unfortunately, Clausewitz's genius has been partially trumped by a critical question: How do even amazingly capable military forces defeat an adversary who lacks an army and uses insurgent, terrorist tactics, metastasized by a radical ideology in which suicide is a preferred weapon while possessing global reach manifested by the September 11th and other attacks against the U.S. and European allies? . . .

With all due respects to the father of "Shock and Awe", I think his history is a ways off. Perhaps some wars between Western armies have been between "more or less like military forces", but the wars between Western and non-Western (and there have been plenty of these) have been by definition "asymmetric".

The British and their little wars, the US in the Philippines and much later in Vietnam, the Russians in Afghanistan . . . but we could go back to Clausewitz's time as well and find the same thing. Napoleon went into Spain and Russia with the best army in the world at that time and was defeated in the end by decidedly second-rate forces. Even the Wehrmacht in WWII easily defeated the Yugoslav army in the spring of 1941 only to be faced later with Partisans who continued on the fight. Ullman's view of WWII is flawed. Sure the Red Army ground the Germans down, but at a terrible cost, perhaps five men for every German soldier they put out of action. Could our successes in Western Europe in 1944-45 have been achieved without this great blood letting, the recourse to "grand attrition" on the part of the Russians?

The invention of gunpowder allowed for distance between combatants, war was no longer necessarily up close and personal. Any additional technological improvements have not quantitatively changed that fact. War and killing have had a remote quality for some time. Is there much difference in this regard between "Big Bertha" in 1918 and the Creech Air Force Base drones of today? We're talking about an improvement of targeting perhaps, but not really a new way of war.

War remains subordinate to politics since it is politics which gives birth to war. The recent failures are all explainable in Clausewitzian terms, which is an uncomfortable fact for people like Mr. Ullman who would rather ignore the current political realities . . . and assume that we have blundered in to some new era of warfare. Sorry, but it has all to do with politics and we ignore that basic human fact at our own peril.

The US recognizes Libyan rebels . . .

Discuss . . .

Untruth or Consequences

Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment
to an insane world

--R. D. Laing

We are here to awaken from

our illusion of separateness

--Thich Nhat Hanh

Insanity is the only sane reaction

to an insane society

--Thomas Szasz


How to maintain sanity in a insane world? Can we maintain sanity only by accepting insanity as our
daily ration of reality?

An example is the current brinksmanship over a few trillion dollars and the debt ceiling, as though our existence hinged upon this amount. We languish while a recent Brown University study estimates the final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures at $3.7 to 4,4 trillion (and the fat lady is not gonna sing anytime soon.)

Buried in yesterday's Wall Street Journal was a comment that NATO will continue bombing Libya because Muammer Qadaffi has no legitimacy. Did Qadaffi ever have legitimacy in this or any other arena? If then, why not know?

Page Two explains that Afghan President Karzai quickly appointed another half-brother, Shah Wali, to replace the government post vacated by his now dead half-brother Ahmed Wali (
Karzai Appoints Brother in Kandahar). It seems the endless supply of Wallys will secure the Karzai's control of the Kandahar region. Now that is democracy in action; thank you, America!

So, we are bombing the hell out of Libya because its leader lacks legitimacy, while concomitantly supporting the illegitimacy of one of the most corrupt governments on the face of the earth. In one scenario we kill to oppose illegitimacy; in another, we kill to support it.

Why do Americans grind their teeth over the debt cap while having no difficulty throwing away $trillions in foreign shit holes?

Where is the sanity? After taking my meds and settling into my Ikea Poang chair,
the idea hit Ranger like a ton of bricks: "What's the big deal?" It was not exactly a Thich Nanh Hanh moment, but it was clarity nonetheless. So some drug-dealing, nepotistic person is getting one over on all of us taxpaying U.S. citizens paying for a hypocritical, insane war. What do I care, except that we are back to $trillions spent and a whole lot of people fucked up in the process, which in my book is a good approximation of national insanity.

Didn't we do a similar tango here in Florida in the 2000 Presidential lotto? In our version, Governor Jeb Bush handed the presidency to his brother George W. Bush. Again, what is the big deal? A lot of sound and fury, but the result is a foregone conclusion. How can we criticize the Karzai cabal (
Kabul) when the U.S. uses the same playbook?

Even here amongst my esteemed fellows, we discuss strategy, logic and leadership as though they are present for duty in the National Command Authority. Perhaps those are not logical assumptions.

Insanity may be a coping strategy in America today.

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forgotten Dates in Military History: The Doha Dash, 11 JUL 1991

Clif's Notes Version; malfunctioning vehicle heater cooks off ammunition in an M992 ammunition carrier that then sets off a series of massive secondary explosions that effectively destroy a hell of a lot of 11ACR's AFVs - a total of 102 vehicles including 4 M1A1's. The toll was orders of magnitude higher than combat losses in the just-concluded Second Gulf War.
Read about it here.

My son once asked my why soldiers marched around and did everything together like robots. I explained that in the old days soldiers fought that way. That the rule of thumb is that the closest weapon is the most dangerous, and that the man beside you - even though he was on "your side" - was closer than the closest enemy. So the soldiers learned to handle their weapons like that to keep from shooting each other.He didn't get it.(h/t to John Cole at Balloon Juice, one of the veterans of the Dash)

One Rule to Rule Them All, One Rule to Bind Them

I find this depressing to a degree:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday appeared to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq as part of the war against al-Qaeda, an argument controversially made by the Bush administration but refuted by President Obama and many Democrats. Panetta made his remarks during his his inaugural visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief. “The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” Panetta told the troops. “And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”
I suppose you could make the case that the reason that "you guys are here" is because the Bush/Cheney Gang thought that 9/11 made a dandy excuse to do a little foreign adventuring.

But can we just stop fucking repeating this goddamn canard?We went into Iraq because we wanted - or at least a group of people who were at the controls of the U.S. government at the time wanted - to go into Iraq. No, there were no "weapons of mass destruction". No, there was no "Saddam-Osama Connection". We invaded for the same reason that Germany invaded France in 1870, that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, that every invader has invaded since Cain whacked Abel out in the tules; because the Other had something we wanted (or something we didn't like) and we had the military power to do something about that.

This goddamn lie just doesn't seem to want to lie down and die and certainly it is important for the national-greatness/PNAC wing of the GOP that it doesn't. But Panetta is supposed to be Obama's man. And Obama was elected - to the degree that anyone voted for him who had qualms about the man himself - because he was supposed to represent the antithesis of the idiots who rammed our national dick into the Middle Eastern meatgrinder because Osama was holding the handle and taunting us; "Hee hee, betcha you Yankees are too pussy to come and stick it to me!" For his new SecDef to be repeating this damn lie...well...damn.

The thing is - I accept that there is a case to be made for invading Iraq and elsewhere in the world to... (fill in the blank here; try and end the cycle of fucked-up despotism that is endemic to that sorry region, exert U.S. power, protect Israel, secure strategic resources such as petroleum or the passage of transportation chokepoints such as Suez or the Sunda Strait).

I disagree with the logic used to make that case; I think it's weak and foolish and based on an entire series of misconceptions, outright delusions and magical thinking. But there's at least an arguable case to be made for the notion.

But "9/11"?


And worse - horseshit that we now KNOW is horseshit, was designed as horseshit to avoid having to argue the harder case above, and to hear the supposed partisan of an Administration that sold itself to the U.S. public as accepting that the "9/11 = invasion of Iraq" rhetoric WAS horseshit is just goddamn depressing and another reminder that regardless of who rules in Washington the Washington Rules rule them all.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Inaugural Dipping of the Big Toe:

I do not have the literary skills of FDChief, nor the credentials of Aviator47, but will do my best to fill in occasionally. Please don't spare the criticism. There is nothing worse than a group of people that turn into a self-licking ice cream cone. For starts, I thought maybe a goulash of two or three things that caught my interest.

1] The Art of War at Fort Ticonderoga

I hope they have some of the paintings of John Turnbull on display at Fort Ti. Yes much of his work like that of the deaths of Warren and Mercer could have been classified as propaganda. But his 'General George Washington Resigning His Commission' is IMHO a classic.

With my mother's family from Maine and a father from Virginia I have never been big on Civil War battlefields. My entire Civil War library consists of Grant's Memoirs, bios of Farragut and Jackson, and a Naval history of the time, nothing on the bloody land battles. Seems there were family folk on both sides and even a great-great grandfather who was a bounty jumper and fled to Canada after enlisting for cash. No shame there, he made his living as a steeplejack a hundred feet up back in the days long before steel scaffolding and cherry pickers so I never considered him a coward.

But as much as I am repelled by the CW, I am fascinated by the history of our Revolution. I have visited Yorktown, Valley Forge, Saratoga, Stanwyx, Brooklyn Heights, and most of the New England sites. I regret though that I have never been to Fort Ti. I need to make that trip soon.

It was a small victory against a few pensioners. Stop me if you did this before Chief, in your Decisive Battles series, I could not find it. The entire Brit force at Fort Ti was only two officers, two artillerymen, a couple of sergeants, 44 privates (many of whom were invalids) and 24 women and children. Reportedly only two(?) musket shots were fired by the defenders and one was a flash in the pan. Even so, the effects of that battle were enormous. Knox's transport of the Ticonderoga big guns and their use at Dorchester Heights is the stuff of legend. But some of those guns were used throughout the war. According to Christopher Ward’s history, although many of the captured guns from there were unserviceable, we did get 78 good cannon ranging up to 24-pounders (I reckon that is close to 150mm, what say the redlegs, Chief?). There were also six mortars, three howitzers, thousands of cannon ball, nine tons of musket ball, thirty thousand flints, plus tons of miscellaneous equipment. This was a small battle that changed the calculus of the war.

Our leadership at Fort Ti (Tyconderogo in the old vernacular) would not be considered top rate today. Arnold's ego eventually drove him to treason. Ethan Allen spent more of his time fighting the State of New York than he did fighting the Brits. Last year when I visited Bennington Vermont, imagine my surprise when I found the actual battlefield is now in New York. Old Ethan would be turning over in his grave.

2] Book Review: 'Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth' by Diane Wilson. I have always considered myself a conservative, but I have never been one of the new whiney, corporate Koch-sucker types who currently lay claim to the conservative label. I am more of the old school who believes we should be stewards of the earth for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. I always had a soft spot in my heart for environmental authors. So when I saw this title I immediately got a copy.

This is a good book. It is easy to read, and contains some very strong allegations against corporate polluters on the Texas coast. Wilson writes in an entertaining style like the downhome Texas woman that she is. A former shrimp boat owner and captain, and bayside seafood restaurant manager, she was one of many whose livelihoods were trashed by Union Carbide, British Petroleum, and Formosa Plastics. I note that Formosa Plastics plants were shut down in Taipei and also in Illinois for safety violations, but not unfortunately in Texas even though there was a huge explosion there horribly injuring up to 16 workers as well as massive chemical spills.

Wilson was also reportedly a former Army medic. She has been in jail several times for her environmental activism. She has been threatened, her dog was shot, she was called a communist, and been pressured by some in her family to cease and desist. Many employees of the polluters eventually came to her with information on chemical spills. They generally started all conversations with her by saying: ‘Now I am not a treehugger, but…’. One thing I like about her approach was that she never did espouse Edward Abbey’s proposed monkey wrenching or arson and the tree spiking that we saw here in the NW. I think she understands that civil disobedience was a better answer than sabotage that could kill or maim Joe Lunchpail and antagonize the people you needed to convert.

Imagine my surprise when I found halfway through the book that she was one of the founders of Code Pink which I always considered a group of loosey-goosey media whores. Or maybe she is not one of the founders as she is not listed as so on the CP website? Perhaps she was just a founder of a local chapter in TX, or perhaps one of the first activists but not actually a founder? She is probably a fan of Bradley Manning which would drive me crazy. Oh well, even angels sometimes have feet of clay, or at least a terra cotta toe. They, at least her and maybe some others, have earned my respect regardless of their methods. We need more like her.

It was published by Chelsea Green, from Vermont (like Ethan Allen above). I need to look into more of their environmental titles. NOTE: No gratuities have been accepted from the publisher or from booksellers.

3] What can be improved on this blog: Not much. And who would I be, a rank newcomer, to make recommendations? But alas, any self-respecting saloon that would take me as a bartender is probably not worth drinking in. BG or Andy would serve up stronger spirits. Pluto has a better handle than I on economics which is THE major issue for America at this time. And perhaps Svenn could be persuaded to occasionally cross post one of his zingers of interest to American readers? Make them an offer they cannot refuse.

PS - sorry if I stepped on your post Al, I waited two days. Not sure how the blog self-regulates that.

R/S - mike