Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ruby the Church Lady

Sometimes I can't resist the urge. It isn't nice, it isn't pretty, and it usually strikes me at the worst of wrong moments.

But I'm like Pavlov's dog whenever I run across someone using religion as a blanket excuse for Being an Asshole Whilst Assuming the Mantle of Righteousness.

I'm not big on religion in general, as you know. But when I run across someone using it to justify assholery, whether it's being mean to a gay couple or engineering a sectarian massacre, it makes me all kinds of stabby.

Yesterday it was that idiotic Indiana "Jesus Sez It's Okay to be Hatin' on Homos" law, and a friend's Facebook feed.

Another FB pal posted this link to some sort of anti-anti-gay-law protest and it drew the ire of someone I'll call Ruby the Church Lady.

This is a summary of what Ruby the Church Lady had to say:
"This is not an anti- gay law but a freedom of religion law. Why do people insist others go against their religious beliefs just because they don't agree? What about the rights of the ones on the religious side. I suppose they don't count, they're not important, because there are those who think they're wrong. They are protected by the Bill of Rights. This law is redundant. Are they suppose to go against their beliefs because someone doesn't like what they are doing?...I'm not saying they are right or wrong. However, what good is freedom of religion if the gov't makes you go against your beliefs? You can't have it both ways. You are either free to follow your convictions or you're not. I doubt very seriously that these people, (bakers, photogs, florists) ever refused an African American. Because of all the uproar about this these people are losing their businesses. Is that right? It's not as tho they are the only ones in town who do these services. Instead of raising a stink about it, go to a different business. That's what I would do... If I had to choose who I would answer to it would be God, hands down...I am NOT openly against the rights of the LGBT community. I have a gay granddaughter and I support her completely and love her partner."
Of course you do, Ruby! Of course you do!

Anyway, let's see what else you have to say on the subject...
"...This is not a matter of discrimination against them. It is a matter of the free exercise of religious beliefs. Either you have that freedom or you don''t. If you are made to go against your beliefs you do not have free exercise of that belief. You and the Supreme Court can spin it anyway you want but that is a fact. Like I said., it is not as tho they have no where else to go, they do. The only reason you or anyone else would insist that they do not have the right to refuse service is because you want everyone to think as you do. and will cause trouble for anyone who doesn't. They do NOT have to do that. That is what FREEDOM is. They have as much right to their beliefs as you do and the free exercise thereof..."
Of course you see the problem here.

Ruby is, not to mince words, being a pig-ignorant, hypocritical, theocratic Bible-banger on this issue.

She completely misses the point where her Crusade - or jihad - stops at the end of my nose. And, of course, part of that is the part where if she opens a shoe shop and sells shoes to the public then she's gotta sell shoes to, you know, the Public. Every spotty ill-washed rube, every drooling gomer with money in his, her, or its wallet.

Every homo.

Doesn't mean she can't enforce some rules. No shirt, no service (can't really go with the "no shoes" in this case since, gudDAMN, she's sellin' shoes and if they had shoes they wouldn't be coming to ol' Honest Ruby's Shoe Emporium, right?).

No profanity. No show tunes.

But she can't hang up a sign that says "no blacks" or "no queers". Why not? Because let's say she's the ONLY shoe store in town. And she doesn't want to serve me because I'm black. Or queer. Or, hell, a left-handed atheist pan-flute-playing goatherd. So no Ruby shoes for me and how the hell do I get anything on my damn feet, then?

So. Bottom line - in this country, anyway, where Equal Justice Under Law is written on the fucking front door of the Supreme Court - is that I'm the Public, and you're serving the Public, you gotta serve me the same as anyone else providing I'm within the law.

Then you can then go pester Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, on your own dime and on your own time...AND you don't get to be the "good guy" here. You may claim dot you vere chust vollowing Gott's orders but someone, either you or your God, is being an asshole. The hypocrisy of pretending to be the Noble and Upright Christian pisses me off far beyond the mere assholery of being cruel and unreasonable to other people for who they are and not for what they're doing.

In other words, Ruby the Church Lady pushed nearly every one of my buttons and I drooled on cue. To wit:
"Actually, no, it's not that simple.

I may worship Moloch, but the damn state law prevents me from sacrificing babies. I may worship Tir, but intrusive and unreasonable state law prevents me from strangling my king and throwing his body in a peat bog (actually, I suspect that state law has something to say about the whole "king" thing, but, whatev...). I may follow Jainism but the rigid and oppressive state law forbids me from walking into my kids' daycare sky-clad.

Sucks to be me, but, there it is. There's all kinds of things that your religion says you have to do - or can't do - that the law forces you to refrain from, or to perform. So this isn't a "controversy, got it? The people who want to run a public business have to leave their racial, sexual, religious, etc. exclusionary beliefs at home and serve the public. If you insist that your religion should let you discriminate based on things that people are and not things that people do then either you or your religion are effed up and wrong."
Now Ruby didn't like this at all. She replied:
"You are really comparing not wanting to provide your services on religious grounds to sacrificing babies or strangling a king etc? That doesn't even deserve a response!"
Yep, I said, and is the comparison so inapt?

Tir, Moloch, Satan, Ayn Rand, Communism...all have their "religions". Human and animal sacrifice were a respected part of most religions for millenia. The reasons for sacrificing kings, babies, and goats seemed perfectly good at the time. So did the reasons for stoning adulterers. So, frankly, do these contemporary "reasons" refusing to admit homosexuals to the common lot of humanity.

It's just a whole lot of lovin' or hatin' on things for no real "reasons" at all; just what your or their or his or her invisible sky-wizard or Earth spirit or inner voice tells you is good or bad. Or that YOU tink is bad and icky and wriggle around trying to find something in your religion to justify, so you won't feel like a self-righteous asshole.

And in a nation like ours, where citizenship is a matter of believing not in a God, or a flag, or a race, or a language, but in a couple of pieces of paper that boil down to "Equal Justice Under Law" that law must, must, require you to park your prejudice at the door of your public accommodation.

You don't have to love me.

You just have to work for me if I hire you, same as you do for Pastor Jenkins.

It seems to me - and pisses me off no end - that instead of admitting that they're being assholes, that they're indulging themselves and cherry-picking their beliefs that people like Ruby the Church Lady and her pals just want to have it all. They want to be "cafeteria Christian" - pick the parts of their religion they want - like not baking a cake for a couple of gay guys - but still want to wear mixed fabrics, eat shellfish, and go golfing on Sunday...and be considered sweet, wholesome, corn-fed, upstanding pillars of the community and all around Good People of the Earth.

Instead of a mob of selfish, hypocritical, bilious old bitches and bastards with a hate-on for stuff they find icky.

I'd respect them more if they just came out and said honestly that they hate what they hate and stood up honestly as the hate-filled skinsacks they are instead of hiding behind "God".

It's not the hate.

It's the hypocrisy that really gets my goat.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Isn't that SPECIAL..!

I dropped into a discussion of a particular aspect of the current film The Gunman the other day over at Lawyers, Guns & Money, and ended up thinking way more about this than I probably should; that for all that the U.S. public seems to think about soldiers that it typically thinks about soldiers in some very odd ways.

One of those ways we've talked about here quite a bit; that the interest in and concern for the soldiers that this public cheerfully (or, worse, unthinkingly) sends to do dirty work in the less-paved parts of the world isn't even an inch deep, that it typically takes the form of "yellow-ribbon patriotism" disconnected with any real interest in the soldiers themselves, what they're doing, and why.

But the discussion at the above post touched on something I started thinking about when we talked about that Chris Kyle American Sniper flick back in January. Which is that when Americans do think about soldiers, U.S. soldiers in the recent wars and rumors of wars in Southwest Asia, Africa, and the Balkans, they tend to think not of "soldiers" but of a particular type of soldier - the "special forces" soldier.

And that, in turn, got me thinking about "special" and "regular" soldiers and the aspect of the armed forces that has changed a lot since my RA time in the Eighties is the vast expansion of what is typically termed the "Special Operations Forces" or SOF, for short.

We certainly had the Army Special Forces in my time (along with the special-est SF outfit, SFOD Delta or "Delta Force") along with the aviation outfit that went with them.

The Navy had their SEAL teams, the Air Force their Pararescue outfits, and the Marines their Recon. Since then, however, we've had the U.S. Army Ranger battalions added to the "SOF Community", and the Marines have upgraded a bunch of their Marine Amphibious Units or MAUs to "special operations-capable". And the number of guys working in the Army SF and Navy SEAL outfits has grown all to hell. There's a LOT of swinging dicks swinging around the "SOF Community"


Here's the thing. If you lump all those outfits into the category "special forces" it seems to me that you end up with a hell of a lot of guys that are fundamentally just high-speed light infantrymen.


Hey, look, the batt guys in the Ranger Regiment are damn good troops, among the best-trained and organized parachute infantry in the world. But that's what they are; parachute infantrymen. They may work out on the hairy-assed end of conventional war...but what they do is what my old parachute battalions did; patrols like recons, raids, and ambushes, hasty and deliberate defenses, hasty and deliberate attacks. They may be a little faster and a little more precise than my old outfits, but the skillsets are fundamentally the 11-series skillsets.

Thinking that actually got me thinking about “What does count as a “special operations mission”?

I can think of just two right off the top of my head; the original Army Special Forces (which was intended to be a sort of WW2-SOE-OSS-style guerrilla-warfare outfit) mission of training up friendly G's...and the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams, who were tasked with amphibious reconnaissance and landing-beach-obstacle removal.

Regular grunts can't and don't do that stuff; those really ARE "special" missions.

But everybody else just seems to me to do light infantry stuff with just some cute extra tricks thrown in and sometimes in an "operations other than war" setting.

AND...since the beginning of the Global War on (Some Kinds of People Who Use Some Kinds of) Terror ISTM that a lot of the Army SF and Navy SEAL teams - the successors of the UDTs - have moved a lot closer to conventional infantry (at least in execution).

SFOD Delta and SEAL Team 6 may perform “special operations missions” in the sense that they don’t always operate on a conventional battlefield...but the principles of a hostage rescue seem very analogous to a “raid"...and many of the sorts of missions that the regular SF and SEAL teams were performing in SW Asia seem very much like conventional infantry patrols.

Marine Recon missions seem very analogous to the Army's Rangers, and the Air Force's PJ missions seem to me like your basic "raid"; move to the objective (the downed pilot), secure the objective whilst killing or driving off enemy forces, withdraw from the objective.

So while there seem to be a lot more US troops thrown into the "special operations" bag of holding the number that actually do anything "special" - that is, who do something other than be a high-speed, low-drag infantryman - are not just rare but fewer than they were back in my day.

Think about the Kyle movie we talked about. The dude was a sniper. A SEAL team sniper, sure...but a sniper. My old battalions had a bunch of 'em. They were, generally, experienced guys with good infantry skills. But that was what they were. They weren't these war-porn super-soldiers...and I suspect that the actual number of people out there who are or could be is really, really tiny, and that the war-porn has got the U.S. public confused in thinking that their "special operators" ARE super-soldiers instead of just better-trained and experienced infantrymen.

After all this discussion of "specialness" I'm not sure what the general misconception of "special forces" as movie super-soldiers might do the the public's enthusiasm for sending those guys out to slay Afridis where they run.

But it's nothing particularly intelligent or good, I suspect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shouting at the ocean, draining the swamp

Whilst I try and come up with a fun and interesting post about Northwest landslides I wanted to take a moment and consider this:
It's from the political data-nerd site Five Three Eight by way of Gin and Tacos (one of my favorite political snark sites, by the way) and pretty much says in a single image everything I need to say about why I have completely lost interest in blogging or anything else about U.S. politics and foreign/military policy.

I mean, fucking look at it and consider the implications for politics in this country and those of us who don't consider a job as the upstairs maid in the Big House as a preferential career option.

In the GOP circa 2015 Dick Nixon, the old Red-baiter and original ratfucker, would be a liberal too flaming to be considered for a job as handshaking door-greeter at CPAC. Bush 41 is damn near Dukakisesque and even Dubya, DUBYA!...that brain-dead chickenhawk Reagan fellator, is to the Left of the typical GOP Congresscritter today. Ted Cruz down there at the bottom - a hominid lifeform closer to the average Teatard than any of these other mooks - is so far Right that he can practically see Francisco Franco shaking his dead ass at him from Hell.

THIS is today's GOP. THIS is the face of American "conservatism", a form of political life so far from the sort of Eisenhower Republican that I was introduced to by my father the Master Chief as to be unrecognizable. Me trying to understand today's "republicans" would be like going to work one day and opening the front door only to be met by a mob of Ubangi warriors shaking feathered spears and leaping about shouting what to me would be incomprehensible gibberish.

These are people who believe in Gilded Age crony capitalism, in the rapacious greed of John D. Rockefeller. These are people who believe in the primacy of invisible sky-gods, that people who aren't Christian, who aren't heterosexual, who aren't plutocract-starfuckers - who aren't them, in other words - are untermenschen to be driven out and exterminated to the degree possible. These are people who believe that anyone who doesn't believe in their ideal of white, Christian, imperial, Gilded Age America is a "traitor" and "unAmerican".

These are people who look at all the work that "liberals" have done to drain the goddamn malarial swamp that was the United States in 1929 for all of us not born into the two-yacht families. To rein in predatory oligarchs and vulture capitalists, to try and make work safer and more lucrative, old age kinder and less penurious, sickness rarer and less impoverishing...and see this all as a fucking bad thing.

I have nothing whatsoever to say to, or about, these people, except "Fuck you".

What the hell is there to say? They're utterly and vilely, criminally wrong, in my view. They're the dead hand of an older United States, a zombie nation we thought the New Deal and Civil Rights had buried in the graves of John C. Calhoun and Mark Hanna, arisen and shambling to the polling place to cast their ballots for the necromancers that gobbled their brains and replaced them with a toxic stew of triumphalism, grievance, hatred and stupidity.

They show no interest in compromise or accommodation. If they can't have the U.S. they want they appear perfectly ready to burn it down and dance their Ubangi war-dance in the ashes.

They are a third of my fellow citizens and they are utterly uninterested in what I have to say here. "Talking" to them is like shouting at the ocean.

And, in fact, I don't want to "talk" with them. They themselves assure me that they not only have no interest in my America but that they want to wreck it, destroy it, replace it with their own version of 1890 only with more fighter-bombers and fast-food fry cooks instead of breaker boys and match girls.

I don't want to "talk" about that. Why the fuck should I? There's nothing to "talk" about. I want to destroy that, that entire notion, that the very idea that a neo-imperial, neo-Gilded-Age America is not just possible but desirable. I want to cut off its fucking head and sew the mouth shut over a garlic bulb and then bury the headless body at a crossroads and sew the gravedirt with fucking salt.

But this blog isn't the place to do that. Frankly, if you can't see how undesirable the notion is to return this country to the economic, political, and social conditions of 1894 on its face then I can't say a goddamn thing here to change your mind. All I'd be doing is shouting at the waves and with about as much benefit; I'd get hoarse and angry and the waves don't give a shit.

Or, to put it another way; I'm too pissed off about the fucking swamp to bother wasting my time here trying to argue with the fucking alligators.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I apologize, gang. This damn blog has been going nowhere for almost a month and - much as I hate to admit it - I've really don't have any notion where I want to go with it.

Every so often I've sat down at the computer and called up the big white Blogger posting screen and...sat and looked at it. I couldn't find anything to say worth hearing. I know. That's fucked up. But that's the truth.

I just can't stomach writing about politics or foreign affairs. It seems like the Stupidic Orogeny is taking place in human-scale time. Here the GOP is everywhere doubling-down on its lethal dose of crude venality and vicious rapacity; apparently the urge to ram the national dick into the Gilded Age meatgrinder is irresistible to the sort of Ayn-Rand-gobbling idiot capable of being elected in a safe Republican district, whilst the Democratic Party seems to be unwilling to defend the grand bargain that the New Deal secured after seventy years of class warfare hammered away on everyone not already members of the New Century Club.

And abroad? What the hell can you say when the only "democracy" in the Middle East does a 2004 and re-elects its little tinpot Duce, whose only answer to every political problem is force, might, and beatings? When I think of the utter fuckery that this brickheaded sonofabitch is going to lead my country into I could weep.

Sure, I could rip off some sort of incandescent rant about that fuckery, or the domestic fuckery of the domestic fuckers who want to return my country to the open kleptocracy of the fucking Cleveland or Harding Administrations. But why? You all know the problems, and you all know that nothing I can say here will solve them, or even get the addled 27% who long for the firm hand of Daddy Cheney on the wheel to agree that this nation would be more secure, more prosperous, and more promising if that vampire sonofabitch was buried at a crossroads with garlic in his lying fucking mouth and a stake through his shriveled secondhand heart.

I don't have a battle to write about until May when I'm planning on doing the 1422 Siege (and Fall) of Constantinople. I'm frankly having a difficult time dredging up anything interesting to tell you about the end of my active duty service and the beginning of my USAR time back in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

And everything else is just home and family, or pastimes, and I don't find those - generally, unless there's something larger to be said within them or about them - any more interesting to write about than you would find to read about them.


I'll try and come up with something here soon. I'm not sure what it will be. But it's either that or turn the lights out in the old place and shut the door for good.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Thirteen years gone
But still in my heart,
New like tomorrow,
Sour like the hurt of a stolen kiss,
Dark, like shadows of loneliness.
I recall...
I remember...
I still feel... I know
Everyday the presence of your absence,
I endure the weight
Of the emptiness you left behind,
Thirteen years but still...
Even now still
I, in the silence of every breath
Pray, even if...
Just for a few minutes with you...
I never got the chance to say.
I never got the chance to say I love you.

~ Ezediuno Louis Odinakaose

Bryn Rose Gellar

March 1, 2002 - March 2, 2002