Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rangers, Outriders, And Scouts

     In the days before aircraft and satellites made possible the observation of a battlefield from above, the term ranger had a specific military meaning. Rangers were under orders, usually loosely phrased, to move about in the general direction of the expected conflict, well ahead of their main force. This had two purposes:

  1. To gather general information about the enemy force: its size, composition, and orientation;
  2. To probe for weaknesses in the enemy battle array with skirmishing attacks.

     Such information, then as now, was an asset of immense value to each side’s tacticians. Acquiring it was a high-priority objective before such a contest. That was especially the case with any weaknesses the rangers could detect. The main force would strive to exploit such weaknesses before the enemy’s commanders could shore it up.

     The term outrider had a similar, albeit non-military meaning. An outrider’s function was to find travel paths for larger, slower moving bodies of travelers. Some outriders traveled alone; others worked in small groups, often with a cartographer. They would periodically return to the trailing group to present their findings, hopefully to ease the hardships and reduce the dangers of the journey.

     The immense value of the information rangers and outriders gathered “should” be “obvious.” A third occupation, that of the scout, sat somewhere between the other two. A scout might or might not precede the troops or travelers for whose benefit he worked. The scout might be tasked to report on the progress of a battle already joined, rather than to gather information beforehand.

     These three jobs had two commonalities above all others:

  1. Gathering information;
  2. Bringing it back at speed.

     The men who did those jobs had to be very good at them. Moreover, they had to be trustworthy, for reasons I hope will strike my Gentle Readers as “obvious.”

     Contemporary political combat has its rangers, outriders, and scouts, though we seldom call them by those titles.

     The indispensable Mike Hendrix has a must-read piece today:

     “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of let’s hop a train to California, of you’re not allowed to own cows anymore,” Trump said in the El Paso speech. White House Bureau Chief at The Washington Post Philip Rucker let his 340,000 followers on Twitter know that this was “false” and that “no one” had proposed any such thing. David Weigel, another well-read political reporter at The Post, who had earlier co-bylined a piece with the misleading headline “Ocasio-Cortez retracts erroneous information about Green New Deal,” retweeted Rucker’s falsehood to his 450,000 followers.

     First of all, even if Ocasio-Cortez did walk back her pitch, it was proposed. This might be inconvenient, but it’s also indisputable. Simply because a politician pulls a proposal that’s been dragged across the entire internet and beaten senseless does not mean its existence has been expunged from the record.

     The authors of the Green New Deal were very clear that their plan was a “massive transformation of our society” with “clear goals and a timeline.” Those goals included eliminating “combustion engines” and air travel and beef. It was the bill’s authors who wrote about “economic security” for those who are “unwilling to work.” They simply hadn’t come up with all the nuts and bolts yet. And, yes, a bunch of presidential candidates endorsed these ideas, while the FAQ was up.

     Please, please read it all. It might be the most illuminating piece you’ll read this year, at least if you’re interested in the dynamics of modern political combat. When you’ve finished, come straight back here; I’ll wait.

     Now let’s assign some function titles:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a ranger of the Left. It’s her task to probe the pro-freedom forces for weakness by advancing radical proposals. How conservatives and Republicans respond to her probes is what her masters most want to know.
  • Various commentators on both sides of the political divide work as outriders. They seek to chart reliable courses through the public-policy Sturm und Drang that legislators and executives can trust. Many a legislator has consulted some body of opinion writers before speaking publicly on some subject of interest. Indeed, one can find numerous cases where a legislator has lifted a large portion of some op-ed and made it the basis of a presentation of his own.
  • Media functionaries and pollsters function as scouts, usually by gauging the temper of the electorate after some public-policy battle has been joined. The information they gather is of critical interest to the proposers of particular policies, who might choose to firewall the gas pedal or to slam on the brakes according to what the scouts have to report.

     The Ocasio-Cortez “Green New Deal” document was a ranger’s probe for weakness in the Right’s defenses of the free-market economy. The bayonet was an entirely cosmetic concern for the environment. Note what Kurt Schlichter has to say about it:

     The Green New Deal, which is supposed to be about fighting the pressing threat of slightly different temperatures in the next century, also contains a bunch of other stuff that one might not think play a part in controlling the climate. Odd, but these prescriptions to reach whatever perfect temperature we are supposed to reach (the creepy weather cultists never seem to tell us what the “right” temperature is) correspond exactly to the classic Marxist wish list – redistribution, nationalization, and the central planning of the economy. Strange how that works.

     This is valuable information for us in the Right. Schlichter, of course, is one of our outriders. The Left has its own; tune in to any major-media outlet for a taste. (Keep a big drink handy for afterward.)

     The pollsters who report upon national sentiment toward such things are the scouts of our time. What issues does John Q. Public prioritize most highly? Which legislators stand highest in his esteem? What does he think of the current Administration? Regardless of the allegiances perceived among pollsters – this one is “one of ours;” that other one is “theirs” – you may rest assured that the strategists and tacticians of national politics pay close attention to all of them, whatever they may say in public.

     Never have the parallels between land warfare and political combat been clearer than they are today.

     A final set of observations about the “Green New Deal” contretemps: As mentioned in the first segment, a ranger must be both very good at his job and trustworthy. He must know what risks he man and must not take. The relatively loose envelope of orders he inhabits thus emphasize the importance of good judgment.

     With her “Green New Deal” sally, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went from being a reliable, useful ranger of the Left to a “loose cannon.” The document’s brashness and unconcern with human well being have done the Left significant harm. As Mike’s piece makes plain, its media scouts have detected the public’s reaction and are now struggling to confuse the issue, in some cases with blatant lies. As the Internet is forever, what will determine the extent and persistence of the damage is how many Americans take the time and trouble to learn the actual course of events.

     It remains to be seen whether Democrat party leaders will make a serious attempt to rein in the wild-eyed, wild-tongued Ocasio-Cortez. She’s exhibited little willingness to listen to anyone’s counsel. Her erratic ways and outsized ego make her valuable to the Right as an exemplar of what the Left really intends for us. If the Democrats’ strategists are willing to credit their scouts’ reports of the general incredulity over her notions, they’ll do their damnedest to haul her back to the main force. We shall see whether she can be kept there.

     It could prove to be an unprecedentedly entertaining – I hesitate to say outrageous — quadrennial campaign season. Stay tuned.



Excellent observations and parallels. It's long been said that politics is just war by different means.

AOC proposes loony stuff; the Left sees the reaction and backs down but still pushes for "common sense" stuff. The RINOs, being squishes, agree to compromise.

This is how you eat a salami. Once slice at a time. The Left has a LONG GAME; they think in terms of decades if not centuries. Slice by slice, they intend to eat America.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Or is it ask for the world to soften the blow of taking it inch by inch as they have done for 115 years

John said...

This explains a lot about the left and their propagandists in the MSM:

(PDF) Conditional dishonesty -
Dishonesty is a widespread concern within and across companies. A characteristic feature of companies is that employees who collaborate with each other can observe each others' behavior. Observing ...

In the article where I saw this cited it was pointed out that contra "The Emperor's New Clothes" where one truth teller causes the entire crowd to finally see and admit the truth in front of them, this article suggests the opposite, that a single liar can cause an entire organization to join in to the lie (which may explain the little montages done by various media watchdog sites showing one person after another repeating exactly the same talking point - Journolist lives). (The paper doesn't directly refute that having a single truth teller may cause the lie to collapse, so whistleblowers may still be useful, but the MSM also does everything they can to suppress any bit of truth that counters their narrative).

Mark said...

Interesting observations. But I'm not sure the Ranger analogy works with the likes of AOC. She, and others, lack the intelligence, strength, cunning, and talent of those who typically wear the Ranger moniker.

AOC, and those like her, are expendable pawns controlled by those behind the board: used to probe for an enemy's weakness and/or strategy, draw out the enemy's more important pieces for attack from the side, and to mask or distract from more subtle attacks.

We've already seen some of this at work. Anyone critical of AOC's or Omar's clear idiocy has been attacked from the side with accusations of sexism or islamaphobia... or at least a hatred of clean air and saving the planet.

syd B. said...

If I may correct, "Apparently the word has gotten out that you don’t mess with a crazy white MARRIED dude, ESPECIALLY an elderly one."

Drake's Place said...

AOC "ranger of the Left" - yes indeed. Great description of her. Same with Omar. Both "feelers" for disseminating the Far Left Propaganda to see it if will float or sink. Sadly, their base will accept these ideas out of pure hatred for any political ideology that is not "theirs".

Excellent writing, as always, Francis!