Sunday, September 25, 2016

Transrational Terrorism

  --IS BrainWashing,
 Arend Van Dam

The eyes see only
what the mind is prepared to comprehend
--Henri Bergson

We can do the Innuendo
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done
We haven't told you a thing
--Dirty Laundry,
Don Henley

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said

--Excitable Boy,
Warren Zevon

Ranger enjoys simplicity. Some things change, while others immutable.

After the events of 9-11-01 we were told that everything has changed, but everything is the same. We are born, we live, we die. Maybe we have eyes to see different things now; that is all. The only thing that changes is how we view the journey.

The United States is now focused on terrorism, a threat so small that it could be ignored if the world were so inclined. There are so many more actual and imminent threats posed by our environment, yet we ignore those, and at our peril. 

Where can we go for perspective? The press warps already warped behavior calling the recent New York bomber Ahmed Khan Rahami an “average American” and a "class clown". That is a stretch. Anyone who builds and attempts to detonate an explosive device is not an “average American”.

Likewise, the New York Times calls the recent Minnesota mall stabber, Dahir Adan, a "Normal American Kid". 


More distressing is that fact that Mr. Rahami's father had contacted the authorities years ago regarding his concern over his son's activities.  This apparently fell on deaf ears. Shades of the Underwear Bomber manque -- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- whose Nigerian father alerted authorities about his son's activities, again to no effect. 

But aside from the media lies and the police failures, the actions of terrorists, while repulsive, are not an existential threat to a nation of 320 million people, with 10,000 grain elevators of corn. We have so much grain Bloomberg reports that farmers are dumping it in parking lots. 

Contrast the dozens or hundreds of people who may be killed in a terrorist action with the thousands who could be killed by a failure of infrastructure or infection by a drug-resistant superbug. Add onto that thought that those inherent weaknesses might be exploited by a terrorist and you can see the actual measure of the problems we face

We are riveted to the media talking heads nattering on about terrorism, but we have no realistic understanding of the concept. 

Recently some junior league explosions occurred in the New York and New Jersey area. Most of the mainstream media declared, “the perpetrator had been CAPTURED by the police”. That statement betrays the disregard of the actual threat and actions of the bomber.

Terrorists on our soil are not captured, since they are not combatants. They are arrested as the criminals they are. Using war terminology not only confuses the issue, it lends legitimacy to their criminal endeavors. 

Our confusion remains consistent over our recent history. Domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski was arrested 20 years ago, but the caption under his image in Wikipedia says, “Kaczynski after his capture by police in 1996.

In 20 years the U.S. has moved into the world of transrational terrorism yet we still do not realize that police arrest people, while only soldiers on the battlefield may capture them. 

There is a lot that the average American has to figure out. There is not much clarification available.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Roberts Ridge Revisted

 --USAF Technical Sgt. John Chapman 
(KIA, 2002)

 "It was just a moment of pure panic." 
--Pilot of Razor 4

Fourteen years after the first publicized meeting engagement in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) -- the Battle of Roberts Ridge -- USAF Technical Sergeant John Chapman (KIA) is being considered for a posthumous Medal of Honor (MOH) based on "newly accessed" graphic data.

The new data? A grainy and indistinct film recently released in the New York Times. But this fuzzy footage is superfluous because the Sergeant's 2003 Navy Cross award citation already told the story of an action which clearly met the bar for a MOH.

The Blair Witch Project-style footage seems an absurd criteria for reconsideration of Chapman's award. 21st century photo technology could render clearer footage (or what's a DARPA for?).

In a 2010 post on this blog [War and Remembrance], Ranger said that Sgt. Chapman should have received the MOH. Why is the Air Force only now considering the upgrade of his Air Cross?

What was being hidden, and why now?

In an incompetent mission, Airman Chapman was left for dead on the battlefield by SEALS. He continued fighting for an hour, before dying from his injuries. Were the authorities waiting to release this Bad News until all living players had received their retirements?

Certainly the war effort and the concept of a viable Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) would have been harmed if it had been acknowledged that the SEALS had abandoned a member of a sister service. Special Operations have not come far since Desert One, despite the Hoorah and exorbitant funding.

The Special Operations Command ratholed a clear MOH action because it would have shed light on the fact that the vaunted SEALS left a seriously-wounded man to die on the battlefield. While they returned to find injured fellow SEALS, they did  not do so for Air Force member, non-SEAL, Sgt. Chapman.

The SEALS have gained a cachet following the release of Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor (later a movie). Luttrell was the first of the literary SEALS in the PWOT.

But Ranger questions why the Navy even has an element like the SEALS. They are essentially Naval Infantry which lack the training, experience and institutional knowledge to be infantry. Why does a United States fleet Navy need its own infantry personnel thrown into a fight which is remote from any fleet activity?

Why were the SEALS on a frozen Afghan hillside with nary a whiff of salt in the air?

The Navy has the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for land combat purposes. The Marines have  depth of knowledge and Combat Support (CS) and Combat Support Services (CSS) to support their mission. The SEALS are a redundancy.

This battle lacked the hallmarks of advanced military thought or action. In addition, the players lacked for functional equipment. A quick review of the enemy situation reveals the irrelevance of this mission for which Sgt. Chapman died on a meaningless piece of real estate:

They were a squad or platoon minus, or a reinforced squad, occupying an isolated high-altitude observation post; one could stretch the point and call it a combat outpost. Whatever we call it, it was probably occupied by Chechens who got there by climbing the mountain.

This means that United States forces could have interdicted their support and utilized ambush and blocking positions to kill them as they went up or came down the mountain. This is Infantry 101, of the sort any Army or USMC grunt instinctively understands.

The Battle of Robert Ridge is reminiscent of the Battle of Ia Drang (LZ X-Ray, 1965) in the Republic of Vietnam, the first meeting engagement of the North Vietnamese Army against a heliborne U.S. Army. The Roberts Ridge debacle could also be equated to the Battle of Mogadishu ("Day of the Rangers", Blackhawk Down, 1993) in Somalia.

The truth is simple: if the enemy is assaulted, he will fight back and accept the losses. Our technology means naught when the equation is reduced to rifle against rifle. At that point, you have already lost..

Obviously, the SEALS have no patience for the basics of ground combat, and assaulted an objective without proper visual reconnaissance.

The Operations Orders for this action are still classified -- why?

[cross-posted @milpub.]

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2001 -- 15 Years On

 --A Little Firework to 911 
Marian Kamensky (Slovakia)

Once there  was a way to get back homeward,
Once there was a way to get back home
--Golden Slumbers, The Beatles
 All the fakeness just rolls right off them,
maybe because the nonstop sales job of American life
has instilled in them exceptionally high thresholds
for sham, puff, spin, bullshit, and outright lies,
in other words for advertising in all its forms 
--Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016)

Mankind survived the last ice age.
We're certainly capable of surviving this one.
All depends on whether or not we're able
 to learn from our mistakes 
--The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

This is a call for a momentary cessation in hostilities, whatever your stripe.

It is a reminder of a time, not so long ago, when we were able to cohere.

I live near the top of a little hill. It's not much, but it's what suffices for such here in our state capital. As such, I am privileged to watch the cast of regulars who summit the hill daily.

There are the high school ROTC runners and their barking drill instructors, and the local marathoners. There is the elderly gent with the broken straw hat who travels the route daily atop his John Deere tractor mower.

But yesterday, it was an old woman who stopped my attention as I saw her make her way along her familiar daily route.

She is always to herself, inscrutable, with a seeming self-contained pleasure about her. She often stops and bends to pull weeds to tidy a neighbor's planter, to gather twigs or to set aright a fallen recyclables bin. She is usually silent.

My friend Rhett, lifetime resident and self-proclaimed "dirt-road country boy", diagnoses her unwavering sashay as being the result of some good lovin' when her husband was alive.

This week, she reminded me of the events of 9-11, and this particular woman on that particular day.

That infamous day began when I walked into the office to be confronted by the stricken look of a co-worker, who directed me to go to the staff room and watch the events on the television, what was to become the unceasing loop to which we would be served for weeks to come, the burning towers of NYC's World Trade Center.

In my next class that morning, I shared my supposition that this was an Islamic terrorist act. Most students did not yet know what Islam or terrorism was, a blissful ignorance from which they have since awoken.

As I drove through downtown on my way home that day, I was struck by the silence. No planes, but more than that, the road noise was brought to a hush. It was as though no one dared to crack the uncustomary silence. There were no horns, and no music blared out of windows.

In retrospect, it seems that most windows were closed, even on that pleasant Indian summer day. Perhaps they were listening to the radio. Most faces stared obediently -- stunned? -- straight ahead.

In stores, there was a palpable politesse. What had just happened to us, by whom, and why? But the  questions were not asked aloud.

When I arrived home, the lady on the hill soon passed my window singing a mournful spiritual. She knew what time it was, figuratively -- a knowing that we seem to have lost today.

Her dolorous dirge was a snapshot in time for me, and when I saw her yesterday, in context of the ceaseless strife and chatter during this election season, I thought about her Cassandra-like break in her silence.

15 years later, proportionately few Americans have served in the so-called Wars on Terror. Many of those who have done so have returned with poor or ambivalent views of their actions in the Middle East theatre.

Taking a parachute view of our country, we are still a nation of law, we still have a Supreme Court (though we cannot seem to fill the vacant seat.) We remain a capitalistic democracy, and many people continue to so very well. But some things seemingly remote from the events of 9-11-01 have changed.

We are two months away from a Presidential election, and our papers of note shave till failed to adequately cover the candidate's positions, in lieu of squeezing the humor value, tabloid-style, out of personality gaffes. Everyone wants to be on someone's feed, and one must be absurd or outrageous to get "Liked" in that way.

Recently released studies show middle-aged white males are the one demographic no longer making gains in longevity; in fact, they are losing time. Cheaper adulterated drugs like heroin are resulting in more deaths among users, especially in that demographic.

Most people are now preternaturally connected to their smartphones and other devices, an era-defining development.

It is difficult to imagine a time when life was lived in real color, and not pixels. So, much has changed for the worse in the 15 years the start of the 21st century, and much of it wrought through our our own malfeasance.

When we let the genie out of the Middle East bottle, we ensured that we would have a perpetual problem to hold our interest for the remainder of our lifetimes, at least.

But by putting these people -- who had mostly been quietly living their lives in a pre--modern fashion -- on the world's stage in such a spectacular fashion, the U.S. has unfairly ensured the rest of the world face the fallout from our discretionary wars. As a result, it is they who live in closer proximity to the region of unrest who are suffering the brunt of the problems.

My philosopher-cabdriver friend called that afternoon 15 years ago to say, "Everything has now changed."

I thought that was a bit of an overreaction at the time.

[Note: so enamored are we with the piffle which has characterized the last year of public national life that when I searched on my political cartoon website, I found predominately European cartoonists who had remembered today's significance.

Most U.S. cartoons still featured GOP candidate Trump's blond coiffure in some disdainful manner. Life in 2016, U.S.A. Go, team.]

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dear Ranger, Redux

Gray skies are gonna clear up,

Put on a happy face;

Brush off the clouds and cheer up,

Put on a happy face

--Put on a Happy Face
Bye, Bye Birdie

[Re-post, from 18 May 2009. Ranger will soon re-visit another battle analysis, recently vindicated six years later after new "technology" was released.]

Ranger recently
received a lengthy letter from a serviceman in response to recent Wanat articles, mostly echoing the institutional party line, while agreeing with Ranger on a point or two. In the name of anonymity, we will call him "Paul".

Paul specifically agreed with Ranger that he did not care about
Iraq or Afghanistan, and yet he felt it was imperative that the U.S. "win the war" and go whole hog with counterinsurgency (CI).

Unfortunately, this misses the entire point of CI: You cannot say you want to win a COIN operation, because the only people who would win would be the indigenous, and you have stated you do not care about them. You then come around to my position: The war is a lie. It is not about COIN, it is about

The two possible missions are non-parallel -- there is the "Win" mission (for oil, or whatever it is we win), or the COIN mission. It is disingenuous to claim for both.

Though Paul seemed upset that Ranger was engaging in "armchair quarterbacking," four typed pages of letter belied his same concerns.
He wrote --

"Security is high on the hierarchy of needs. These Combat Outposts (COPs) are typically co-located with local national COPs and are eventually turned over to local forces when an area is deemed secure enough. Loyalty to the government, local, provincial, or otherwise, is complex at times because of tribal and religious affiliations, but generally occurs when an area is secure enough for the government to meet and function effectively. This was proven in the “restive” Diyala Province, Iraq. "Prior to Feb 2008, no legislation could be passed because there was no quorum in the Provincial Counsel (Baqubah, the former capital of the “Islamic State of Iraq,” was not safe for the Counsel members. Since then, the counsel has executed about ½ of 3 annual budgets and they did it inside of a 9 month period. At this point, it’s probably all been committed and work, real capacity building work that improves people’s lives, is now underway. It is worth noting that we, in the US, struggle with executing 1 year’s worth of budget most years… without the threat of car bombs and assassination."

Only time will tell if this is true. Even if it does play out, what benefit has accrued to the U.S. taxpayer who shouldered this burden? Improving lives in Baghdad is not purpose or reason for the existence of the U.S. Army. This is an Iraqi concern.

If improving lives is a U.S. military mission, then let them work their magic in Cleveland or Detroit.

He said, "While the locals are no doubt not happy with a US presence in their neighborhood, they’re likely no more or less thrilled with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, either,"
but where is the proof of an al-Qaeda presence in Wanat?

"TOWs would be attached to deal with VBIEDs, as insurgents have been known to “Up Armor” them, dump trucks in particular, and then drive at speed into friendly formations causing a lot of damage and casualties. 50 CALs have failed to stop a fair number of these in the past. Further, many of the areas that what we would formerly have called “the Mujahedeen” occupied in the mountains during their late unpleasantness with the Soviets were fortified with concrete and construction equipment provided by none other than Osama Bin Laden and his family’s construction company (…this was a major contribution of his to the war effort…). That reason, coupled with tasks such as clearing caves, are two more possible reasons for having this capability along."

What was the maximum range for the TOW employment at Wanat? Would AT4's served defensively for this position? Couldn't the engineers crater the road for protection, if necessary? Since no overlays or topo maps are available, what were the high-speed avenues of approach into the village?

Since the mission was initially defensive, it is doubtful that the Combat Outpost would be attacked by a cave. This leaves up-armored VBIED's, which aren't exactly tactical vehicles. If a .50 cal with Ap and API will not stop them, then why not employ AT4's?

Also, what about mortars to stop vehicles? This is a standard mortar technique. Where were these vehicles parked, and were they arrayed tactically?

He mentions the 24 attached Afghan troops: Was the Afghan element under the command and control of the Platoon leader, or were they in a separate chain of command? What was the rank of the two USMC advisers, and
why have we not heard any comments from these individuals?

Of the 24 Afghan paratroopers he says,

"I’d suggest one likely possibility is that they didn’t patrol. I think that this may be a function of uneasiness with their situation in terms of force protection, as you seem to indicate, but also because of a desire to keep their combat power massed together. This would have allowed them to finish their work on the foothold they were clearly seeking to establish in relative security, with operations beginning in earnest after the site was completed. I’m not saying this is what happened, I’m saying this is a possibility based on the fact that counterinsurgency is a slow growth enterprise and that leadership was probably taking a longer view of their operation… for better or for worse."

This indicates that Brigade and Battalion did not have a thorough, well thought out plan. If they did, more assets would have been assigned during the key period of establishing a perimeter defense. He is confusing COIN with conventional Platoon in the defense doctrine; the two are not the same.

Finally, Paul says
, "[Y]ou seem as though you’re treating the men and women who actually fight this war like they are idiots… they are most certainly not that." Ranger thinks all the fights he has commented on were idiotic. Any Platoon Leader executing suicidal orders and losing nine men KIA is not a brain surgeon.

The upshot is, the U.S. will abandon the Aghanis and Iraqis that have fought on our side now as readily as we did our Vietnamese Montagnard allies in the Vietnam war.

Though you say, "America practically invented modern insurgency/counterinsurgency warfare," we left their hearts and minds behind when we hooked up.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Moscow Nights

--a serious Rosa Klebb 
(From Russia With Love)

And now you've given me, given me
Nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams
Feel like I could run away, run away
From this empty heart
--Shattered Dreams,
Johnny Hates Jazz

Anger is dangerous.
It makes people do stupid things
--Eastern Promises (2007)

Red wine with fish.
Well that should have told me something.
--From Russia with Love (1963)

(Since Mr. Putin is in the news of late, we are taking a little caesura from the political wash-n-rinse cycle. Today: a day in the life, on the road with Ranger):


It all began with a small dream for cabbage rolls . . .

While in Jacksonville, a Navy town, Ranger thought to seek out some new cuisine, such as a North Florida town may offer. In retrospect, Southeast Asian would have been the logical choice,

But throwing caution to the wind we dialed “Moscow Nights”. The second person with whom we spoke spoke an English patois, and he said they did have cabbage rolls. We were off.

“Did” turned out to be the operative word.

This is the pleasure of traveling with Ranger, his boundless eagerness to engage the natives, on his turf -- matters of geopolitical speculation. They rarely know what to make of it, but it is a not too-unkind amusement when traveling, and one way to suss out the humor of the locals.

After passing by the typical Florida strip mall, we found it upon circling back. Three men sat languidly at an outdoor bistro table smoking Gauloises as the sun was setting. Two looked like Russian Vory v Zakone in the film "Eastern Promises", the ones who tried to kill Viggo Mortenson in the steam room.

One had a visible ankle holster, perhaps for his linoleum knife. They were drinking hot tea out of small glass cups. We imagined they wore long sleeves in the Florida heat to cover their killer tattoos.

The third was squat and swarthy. He was the only one who seemed happy to see us, and he was the designated major domo who led us into the ersatz restaurant.

But something besides ambience was missing in this small restaurant of three tables, and that was food. Where there were apparently once cabbage rolls, there were no more. He showed us the menu on which the dish was printed, but expressed sad dismay that none remained.

In a feeble effort at good cheer, he spread his hands over a small cooler case as a proud Boulanger might have done over a showcase of sweets: “But we do have some items here.”

A humorless Rose Klebb stood guard over the refrigerated case which housed an odd selection of smoked fish, something wrapped in grape leaves, and ¾ of a sheet of stale-looking pink & white marshmallow treat in a tray, the plastic wrap half folded back. There were also two head-sized Styrofoam coolers at the bottom of the cooler, but their contents remained a mystery.

Jim said, “We came for cabbage rolls . . . but I have a question.”

“Yes, anything,” the server with no food to serve said, helpfully.

“Who do you hate?”

Perplexed, the small but stout man canted his head, always with a smile.

“Who do you hate!” Jim repeated, con brio this time, like General Orlov, raising his voice like some people do to deaf people or dogs, thinking they will hear better this time.

This time the man stepped out of his confusion and said, “No one . . . I don’t hate anyone!”

To this Jim delivered his coup de grace.

He looked at the world map on the wall and said with the surety born of one who can unravel most espionage novels by page 50, “Hate – it is what holds the world together!”

That was it, like Trotsky in the café, like Boris Spassky at check mate.

The squat swarthy man stood with an unwavering smile, I fancied thinking that a true Rasputin had just entered his shop. But he was not out of the net, yet. The master had one final card up his sleeve.

“You’re not Russian, are you!”

The man nodded and smiled.

“No, you are Bosnian or Serbian – look!”, and Jim approached the map, tracing his way down to the regions he felt this non-Russian person pretending to be a cabbage roll-maker originated.

The man put up his hands in the universal gesture for, “You win, sir,” whatever the pot was.

I nervously nudged Ranger and eyed the door, and with that, having successfully countered the slight of having driven across Jacksonville for cabbage rolls that were not, we left.

The men were still sitting at the table smoking galoises, squinting, or maybe that is the way they always looked. To me it said, “good riddance”.

The swarthy man came out. He called, cheerfully, “Next time, cabbage rolls!”

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Fourth Estate is Bankrupt

Are you for or against us
we are trying to get somewhere
--Join the Boys,
Joan Armatrading
Change is avalanching upon our heads
and most people are grotesquely unprepared
to cope with it
--Future Shock,
Alvin Toffler  

Nobody will have to leave home
 to go to work or school, 
or even stop watching television. 
Everybody will sit around all day 
punching the keys of computer terminals 
connected to everything there is, 
and sip orange drink through straws 
like the astronauts. 
--Ladies and Gentlemen of 2088,
Kurt Vonnegut

When did we go crazy?

The New York Times asked last week if the press should cover a duly elected presidential candidate in a disinterested way, sans commentary or prefatory disclaimers and disdain with no apparent irony in absurd non-sequitur, “Trump is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism,” (when it is THEY who are demolishing the norms.)

I am a stranger in a strange land reading this.

The press should be an institution tasked with collecting and disseminating the news in a thorough and disinterested way; only the editorial side of the house is permitted to make commentary. 

When did this outrageous fascistic press arise which arrogates to itself the power to decide what we see and how we see it? Why have we allowed this and -- moreover -- why do we fed greedily at their trough?

August 8 2016 saw the first NYT coverage of Mr. Trump as a candidate with a platform, and not simply a caricature to be derided.

Three days prior, Robert Parry and Andrew Bacevich considered in separate pieces that Trump is actually a candidate, and that the the liberal media entity has failed both us and themselves in its project to discredit the candidate. In fact, the media has succeeded only in dropping the democratic standards of a free and disinterested press by several rungs.

The shame is entirely upon the press which has fomented the hatred in the public square and erased any serious debate between the candidate’s positions. The talking heads and pens and their creative efforts to curry reader's outrage became the story the year.

Their collective egos trumped the actual story, which is beyond their hatred or disdain.

Surely our abdication of rationality and impartiality to our egoistic social media feeds are partly to blame for our isolation in our respective echo chambers. But there is something else, something more atavistic, which is being awakened in the public.

The decency imposed by exposure to a marketplace of ideas has been erased as a new Left arises which brooks no censure of itself. To be Left qua Left today implies having a lock on the progressive impulse.

Any thought they deem conservative is labeled as hopelessly reactionary and foolish. By extension, the people who hold conflicting ideas are voted off the island of sophisticates. 

But it is the Left in the United States which is missing the bus in their snarky boy-in-the-bubble deshabille. This smug dismissal is ignorance of the highest order.

Opposed to the media story is a mass of people who are chagrined by dynamic world events, and they are not reacting obediently to the Left’s unrelenting insistence upon change-as-progress (lest one be labeled a Neanderthal.)

The Left is wallowing in the madness of the riotous mob (theirs), born of fear and hatred of the unfamiliar, of that which challenges its tidy status quo. They have become bullies. They are they (and therefore, enlightened), and we are we (who are by default, not.)

The reformist and progressivist impulse is gone. I have no sympathy for them and their project to silence their opponents.

By rendering the other side of the aisle as some vague menacing enemy, they give lie to the reality of our political process which for all its variations in opinion, seeks to safeguard and enhance our republic via mediation and amalgamation of a marketplace of ideas.

What I have seen from the erstwhile legitimate liberal press resembles nothing so much as World War II agitprop, which depicted the Japs and Huns as various vermin with exaggerated and grotesque features. Such is the image rendered repeatedly, ad nauseum, of Republican candidate Trump.

Lobbing verbal mortars is so much easier than actually listening and allowing a space for understanding.  One may understand this crude impulse from the average person who lacks access to the details of a precise news feed. But one may not excuse this behavior from the press.

This derogation of the "Other Candidate" is what the liberal media has being practicing for the last year, and they have done so with our imprimatur. Slaves to our shibboleths, the press -- like liberal media wonk Nate Silver at his site FiveThirtyEight who failed so dismally in calling the Republican primary – has NO idea what time it is in our nation.

We are not a very serious people. We play Angry Birds and we are Angry Birds. We prefer to flame-out online versus to engage in rational dialog, and have bifurcated into two dismally remote factions, glowering at each other from our respective caves.

But the more shameful ire and bigotry has arisen from the Left, the corner which should be a shining beacon for liberal thought. The Left has lost any prior claim to excellence and understanding. It has become mean and shrunken.

Snarkiness and much worse rules the day. It is an ugly elitist bastard copy of liberalism with which we are bombarded. Do you present another point of view? “Lalala”, they say, “I don’t hear it”. Moreover, “You are not one of the cognoscenti, because you are with us or agin us.” And with a fillip, the possibility of  an emergent unity from difference is disallowed.

Back to The Cave.

The obituary of liberal and progressive media will say it went down a rabbit hole of begrudging anger and verbal violence born of befuddlement of their fellows, the “Other 50%”. They got lost pursuing cleverly violent bilge to stoke and corral anger against the Other Candidate and his electorate in their easy and predictable derision.

In their refusal to countenance Mr. Trump’s message, the Left shows itself biased, arrogant and dismissive fools. I am not a part of that club. My interest is for the whole of my society, and to understand the impulses behind people’s contentions, and the solutions which are forwarded.

I can’t see all of this from within Plato’s Cave, which is where my liberal fellows currently reside.

August 15 was the first time Trump was mentioned by name as-candidate on the ABC Nightly News. Unfortunately, it was simply to deride some campaign-trail rhetoric (regarding the genesis of ISIS), juxtaposed with an audio-visual of Mrs. Clinton saying something derisive in response.

Because it is her voice alone which was featured, the implication is that she is the Serious Candidate, and therefore alone is sound-byte worthy.

Later the same day, BBC America also mentioned candidate Trump in service of its agenda. Program emcee Kitty Kay asked Former former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about Mr. Trump’s position vis-à-vis NATO.

Rasmussen predictably said, “[NATO] has worked very well since it’s inception in the Cold War.” (An era which has been, of course, OBE.)

Undeterred by the superannuated bias of her guest, Kay asks Rasmussen asks in her very American form of editorial reportage, “So do you fear for the safety and security of the West if Mr. Trump is elected President?" in what used to be called a "leading question", suggesting candidate Trump would put the entire world in mortal danger from the "bad guys" (Rasmussen's term).

“Indeed,” replied the agreeable-to-being-led Rasmussen (a sina qua non of being Secretary General.)

This abdication of pure reportage -- more pointedly, its devolution into cartoonish verbal partisan violence – is shocking and sad.

We the People do not need to receive this hate and nearsightedness. What fools we are to accept this bludgeoning to our psyches on a daily basis.

We need excellent, careful, disinterested reportage, and we are not getting it.

[cross-posted @ milpub.]

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Khan Game

--Political Dead Letter Box;
Gatis Sluka (Latvia)

This is what he truly envies of these people,
the luxury of terror as a talking point
 --Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk,
 Ben Fountain


Since Persia fell at Marathon,
The yellow years have gathered fast:
Long centuries have come and gone.

And yet (they say) the place will don
A phantom fury of the past,
Since Persia fell at Marathon
 --Villanelle Of Change,
Edwin Arlington Robinson

There is nothing fair in this world
There is nothing safe in this world
And there's nothing sure in this world
And there's nothing pure in this world
--White Wedding,
Billy Idol


Subtitles: "Khan Men"; "The Greatest Khan of All", and "Pro or Khan". [Sometimes it is hard to choose correctly.]

This past weekend Ranger attended his local Military Order of the Purple Heart [MOPH] banquet (August 7 is Florida's official Florida Purple Heart Day.) Gold Star families were also in attendance as special guests.

Gold Star families have lost a family member in an overseas conflict. They were invited to show sensitivity to the harsh sacrifice which they have also rendered our nation. It is a quiet and somber recognition the nation renders them, and these families are never to be exploited.

But while the privacy of these parents is sacrosanct, this rule was superseded the moment Hillary Clinton and the Khan family gathered on the stage and politicized the death of their son, parlaying their loss into a campaign coup. They fired the first salvo and no one should be surprised that they received return fire. While Mr.Trump may have been ill-advised to have shot back, he was well within the rules of engagement. 

While my sympathy abounds, the family voluntarily surrendered their attack-exempt status when they stepped up to the microphone.

The Khan's son died for their country, not for Mrs. Clinton's aggrandizement or gain, or to provoke Mr. Trump's reaction. Captain Khan did not die to be used in the partisan political arena.

To have done so was gauche, gross and a disrespect of the dead soldier. Mrs. Clinton showed herself to be as tone deaf as fictional senator Ray Wheatus in the series "BrainDead", when he propped up a dying soldier in his hospital bed for some publicity photos.

The Khan's were portrayed as raw and grieving parents, but their son was in fact killed in 2004 (12 years ago.) If one were cynical, one might imagine this was the only Gold Star family willing to shill for Mrs.Clinton.

Even death has a shelf life.

It is especially difficult to understand the cynical nature of putting Gold Star parents on a political convention podium as attack dogs when candidate Clinton has never attended an MOPH or Gold Star event in her entire political career.

We veterans and surviving families are not set pieces to be trotted out to entertain the nation in political elections. If this is how Mrs Clinton views the purpose of dead soldiers,, how will she treat live soldiers if elected?

It is a sad politician that would exploit a soldier's death as blatantly as did the Democrats in Philadelphia.

[cross-posted @Milpub.]

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Friday, August 05, 2016

They Shot Their Trump Card

Shut up Kyle!
Shut your Goddamn Jew mouth.
You’re the reason that there's war
in the Middle East
 --South Park

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
--The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
--Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

It was recently revealed that the Democratic Party (i.e., the Clinton campaign) attempted to discredit Mrs. Clinton's sole opponent, Mr. Sanders, by disseminating the word that he was an atheist, instead of Jewish (which he in fact, is.)

Are we to believe that dismissed Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was to blame for the dirty doings in order that Mrs. Clinton may not have still more smut attached to her already tetchy image?

As the first Jewish congresswoman elected from Florida and a hard-working graduate of a Florida state school, it strains credulity to believe that Mrs. Wasserman Schultz would sink so low against one of her fellows.

Unless she was a pathologically self-loathing Jew, she alone did not hatch this plan but was directed to do so by higher ups. Remember, Mrs. Wasserman Schultz was Mrs. Clinton's campaign co-chair in Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. Old loyalties die hard.

I did not know Mr. Sanders was Jewish, but it is now obvious: his campaign was doomed to failure out of the gate. Anyone in his right mind knows that a Jewish quasi-Socialist will not win election to the presidency of the United States. Whether atheist or Jew, does it really matter as far as unelectability for the Presidency in the U.S.?

Vermont is another country; a Jewish -Socialist can be Senator there but in few other places. What were they thinking? Fronting Sanders seems a put up, to make it APPEAR that we have a viable democracy in the United States. After all, it would be unseemly for Mrs. Clinton to run opposed. Too Banana Republic; too Soviet.

But  Mr. Sanders was never a viable candidate, and that he won as many votes as he did is a measure of the dissatisfaction of the electorate. A vote for Sanders was a no-confidence vote against Mrs. Clinton (who was the presumptive nominee from the start.) Sanders was the Democrat's Trump, and now they have none.

Who would be Mr. Sanders' constituents, he, an older white, Jewish man? He does not command the black vote nor the meso-feminist vote, which goes to the establishment Mrs. Clinton. He would not even corner the small Jewish vote.

Bernie got as far as he did on the disaffected lower-middle class white male and female vote -- precisely those who chose the non-establishment Trump on the Republican side.

You who voted for Sanders may think that spending their time also disdaining Trump was time well spent, but you have no candidate now. You drank the cherry Kool Ade Mrs. Clinton mixed for you, and now you have nothing. For the liberal True Believers, the best they can say now is, weakly, "We must not have a Republican".

It is a measure of the yearning of the Democratic base for something other than the Clinton dynasty that Mr. Sanders was able to garner such a following, and a damning reveal of the desperation of the Clinton group to even attempt the smear of Mr. Sanders.

Jews in the U.S. may hold positions of authority which exploit their humor, intelligence, wit and capabilities. You may have your Rahm Emanuels, Judah Benjamins and Admiral Hyman Rickovers. Jews have won many Nobel and Pultizer Prizes, served as Supreme Court justices and served admirably in the armed forces (though after World War II they often could not be hired in the peacetime industries in which they had distinguished themselves during war because of anti-Semitism.) Hillary Clinton's daughter is married to a Jew. They may be doctors and lawyers, but not Indian chiefs.

Anti-semitism is the last great unbreeched bigotry in this nation, but we do not recognize it because Jews' successes are so outsized to their small numbers.

The boundaries to holding the office of Presidency will be breached in the order in which they were laid: First, a black man (15th Amendment), then a woman (19th Amendment). But before a Jew will be every other minority. Today, an Arab-descended Muslim man would be a good choice, a sort of holding out of the olive branch ("Sorry about that whole war thing.") Following Barack Hussein Obama, it is not far-fetched.

However, he will have to be Muslim in the way that Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is Indian: fully Anglicized, Hart Schaffner Marx, hair waxed and parted on the side. This will demonstrate the movement toward homogenization which is a necessary good today.

So it will be a woman after the first black President (who was quick to assure voters that he was Christian, and not Muslim, like his father and stepfather.) But should it be this woman, so freighted with problems of her own making, done in the name of clawing her way to the top?

In light of the recent revelations, Mrs. Clinton shows herself to be despotic and tyrannical, moreso than her Republican opponent has ever had the opportunity to be. She should be held to account, versus making her lady in waiting take the fall.

But this, the press will not allow. They have made our choice for us.

[cross-posted @ milpub.]

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Problem is The Problem

 --Leader Goldstein in the film 1984

I believe the children are our future.
Unless we stop them now
--Homer Simpson

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think
there is no place for the edgy and fucked up Rihanna
or Prostitute Barbie, Nicki Minaj.
I just fear, that’s all we ever get anymore
--Conversate is Not a Word

I feel good not understanding
--There Are No Children Here,
Alex Kotlowitz

Let us deconstruct another Clinton campaign commercial, using the same image as we discussed in our  2 AUG post ("Dirty Bad Words"). It is in the vein of past favorites like Willie Horton, Howard Dean's too-enthusiastic yawp, and McCain's dismissal as a war-damaged loose canon.

The American loves drama and scare-mongering; rationality is not his strong point.

The piece again shows Mr. Trump declaiming about some gruesome bloody scene. Whatever it is that has Mr. Trump so agitated, we can assume he is not happy with the scene he is describing and is not celebrating the gore. 

Could Mr. Trump be talking about the victim of gang violence, or police brutality? Of a drone strike? Or a random shooting, stabbing or bombing by a disaffected member of the Islamic faith?

Perhaps, the perpetrator of the violence was neither disaffected nor Islamic, but in fact well integrated into his culture. Perhaps the violence was perpetrated by a respected state actor, like the United States. 

If the bleeding woman came to be such by the latter scenario, one may say that President Obama and Mrs. Clinton have her blood on their hands, not Mr. Trump. If so, this advert is a grand, nonsensical display of projection.

However, not knowing the context for Trump's words, one could presume that it is a good thing that he is upset by the violent scene he describes, and that he would not want that to be the future for any child.

A blood red filter then saturates Trump's visage a la Orwell's 1984, and we have a camera cut to a young black girl sitting alone in a dark room facing the t.v. glow, presumably staring at this scary man. The implicit message is, Grandma Clinton wants to keep your children safe from this wild white man, who obviously wants to scare young black children.

What the ad does not state, however, is how Mrs. Clinton would solve whatever problem is being depicted (an unknown.) Because of the ambiguity, the ad is a fail. 

First, if the young girl is alone in a dark and barren room watching t.v. during an hour when campaign debates air, she is already lost. The television will bring multitudinous vicious and violent images within any given hour to scare anyone. Start with real images like war, bloody cafe scenes, and then move on to the ubiquitous ersatz ones which are so highly produced as to out-gore any reality.

As Alex Kotlowitz wrote in his seminal study, There are No Children Here, children like this girl  have seen a lifetime of violence by the time they are teenagers. If this young girl is sitting in a dark and barren room alone, where are her parents or guardians?

Books like Ghettoland and films like "The Interrupters" give a fair representation of the dire situations in which so many children live. (The blog HotGhettoMess written by a Washington, D.C. attorney also gives a good feel for the reality.)

This girl has probably also been exposed to violence and misogyny in music, say, something by the rapper Jay-Z, which occupies a place on our President's playlist. The rappers explain that they are not celebrating violence, but merely documenting its reality. If so, then Mrs. Clinton would do well to listen to THAT reality. 

In stark contrast to that partiular hell, Mrs. Clinton's daughter Chelsea and President Oama's daughters have attended the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Bethesda, where presumably they are taught to analyze media messages.

Contrast this to the little black girl in Mrs. Clinton's ad who may have been the recipient of various government initiatives like Head Start, but who presumably will be like the much too many who spend countless hours every day staring at the screen, any screen, growing ever more estranged from, indifferent to or radicalized toward their fellows, depending upon the source of the feed.

No one is shielding the girl in the ad from the ugly violence of the world, violence about which it is appropriate for adults to discuss. What the ad does not discuss is the ACTUAL issue: child abandonment.  But that issue cannot be so easily dispensed with by a brief and massively expensive campaign ad.

Mrs. Clinton lacks the cachet of her husband, and cannot claim to feel this child's pain with any sincerity. The isolated child is merely a prop for Mrs. Clinton's set piece.

The upshot: Mr. Trump's discussion of the violence is not the problem -- the problem (violence) is the problem. A young girl alone in the dark watching adult subject matter is the problem.

50+ years after Civil Rights movement, race relations continue to fray. Mrs. Clinton could do us all a service by addressing this girl's needs. One in five black men are in prison at any given time, and race relations have grown only more tense during President Obama's administration.

Representative Robert Dole -- himself once the target of ugly smears based on his stiff demeanor (which none of his detractors said was due to his dire war injuries resulting in an immobile arm) -- has advised Trump to tone down his rhetoric.

Actually, that is the last thing Mr. Trump should do. The people have spoken. They are tired of being pandered to with bromides that change with the audience and the days of the week.

At long last, Madam, have you no shame?

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Dirty Bad Words

--Candidate Clinton removes her RBF

You think that you're such a smart girl
And I'll believe what you say 
But who do you think you are, girl
To lead me on this way hey? 
--Lies, The Knickerbockers

  And on a clear day
On that clear day
You can see forever, and ever, and ever
And ever more 
--On a Clear Day,
Barbra Streisand  

She drives me crazy like no one else.
She drive me crazy,
and I can't help myself 
--She Drives Me Crazy,
Fine Young Cannibals

It is not good for me to read or watch any Democratic propaganda this campaign season. Every single thing I witness is an absurd non-argument for candidate Clinton.

The above image from the news digest The Week magazine shows an apple-cheeked open sincerity behind the usual dour and shrill Hillary of the last 25+ years. But the juxtaposition of the toothy grin against the Mao-like blue tunic reveals the gryphon-like nature of this construction.

She and her handlers are dancing as fast as they can to get The People to ignore what they already know. The grasping RBF is the actuality of her being.

The campaign and the so-called liberal press's tack for the last year has been relentless outrage and derision toward Republican nominee Mr. Trump, but the latest publicity move is an attempt to shift into revealing a kinder, gentler Hillary Clinton, one which never was.

The New York Times ran the predictable condemnatory piece against Trump today regarding a Muslim soldier's parents appearance at the Democratic National Convention, but never spelled out what Mr. Trump had done that was outre.

The attempt was apparently to condemn Mr. Trump for his lack of military service. If this is the case, why are the non-serving Clintons also condemned?

In fact, considering Mrs. Clinton's participation in the current wars, why is she not singled out for particular redress to the Khan family? Mr. Trump had no hand in the war death of their son, did he?

A Clinton t.v. commercial attempts to access the grandmotherly Clinton by showing an impassioned Mr Trump talking about some terrible scene involving blood; we are not given the context, but a benign head shot of Clinton rises on the screen over words which ask the viewer if they want their children exposed to such dirty, bad words. Always good to tug on the heartstrings regarding the innocents. 

Sorry, Mrs. Clinton, but the violence is a fact of life today. It is on the evening news, it is in video games, it is playing out in your city today (though perhaps not in your neighborhood.) The advert of playing an ostrich with your head in the sand about the fact is not only unhelpful, it is revoltingly disingenuous.

In fact, the implication behind the words is a reactionary one -- the very thing Mr. Trump has been condemned for. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. 

In truth, brutal violence on a massive scale is a fact which you have helped shepherd into being. You have been a party to the Long Wars and pronounce your position as a war hawk. You will do naught but continue the swanning about the Middle East policy of President Obama.

Mrs. Clinton's ugliness of soul was on fine display when she made her off-the-cuff reply to being told Muammer Gaddafy had been killed by a murderous mob of his people.

CBS News reported:

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. 'We came, we saw, he died,' she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi's death by an aide in between formal interviews."

Further, she said she had hoped that her recent visit to Libya as Secretary of State had inspired the murder, assuming the posture of  a caesar, with a glint in her eye. And of course, Libya is so much better off today, no?

Funny stuff, that murder.

[I will soon write one final piece on my observations of a year of violence and partisanship in the press. Like Tracy Chapman sang, there ain't no more to say.]

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

--What was Mr. Cruz thinking?

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball! 
--Pinball Wizard, 
The Who

 You gotta ask yourself a question:
"Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
--Dirty Harry (1971)

Jump, little doggie, 
better do what she say,
jump, jump jump 
--Jump. Jump, Jump,

So you get nothing!
You lose.
Good day, sir!
--Willy Wonka and 
The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Subtitle: Despicable Me. (Of course, Mr. Cruz is not the only one to qualify for that sobriquet.)

Watching the PBS News Hour last night, one would get a totally different perspective of the conventions than if one had actually watched them. Saith one of the panel members, the Democratic national Convention went off smoothly, save for a minor glitch: 

"That Debbie Wasserman Schultz [former DNC Chairwoman] has been a problem for awhile now. She had to go," thereby effectively dismissing with a fillip what should have been the biggest convention gotcha -- the behind the scenes machinations to shuttle the campaign of Mrs. Clinton's only viable contender, Bernie Sanders.

That story did not fit the press's agenda, sadly. Journalistic integrity has died a slow, lengthy death starting about 50 years ago with Walter Cronkite's decision to breech the journalistic posture of indifference in exchange for editorial comment on the Vietnam War. 

Nothing which transpired at the Republican National Convention -- a predominately orderly affair -- remotely compares, but since we peeked into the Democratic National Campaign Wednesday, it is only fitting to recognize a once-contender in the Republican posse who shall now be relegated to a footnote in malcontent convention history for his spectacularly ill-behaved, egotistic and churlish performance, Mr. Ted Cruz.

It was a surreal moment when Mr. Cruz announced that he would not be supporting his party's candidate, Mr. Trump, and moreover that he refused to play Mr. Trump's "puppy dog". Mr. Cruz had not been invited to do anything, really, beyond the formality of recognizing the Party's choice (i.e., someone not him), and welcoming Mr. Trump into the bosom of the Republican family.

He failed to recognize that -- like a couplet from Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham , They did not like you then / and they do not like you now, Sam-I-Am.  Or as megachurch pastor Rick Warren would say, it's not all about you.

In the South, they would say Mr. Cruz showed himself to be a dog that won't hunt for you. He was barking up the wrong tree if he thought to gain any positive regard for his sourpuss solipsism.

He may have defended his lady fair, but we saw the mess that George W. Bush created when he went after the man who "tried to kill [his] daddy". Politics is not the art of getting too personal, and of putting on a thicker skin.

At a certain point, one must put on one's Big Boy or Big Girl panties, suck it up and move on. It's called grace, and it's called integrity. A politician is part of Bernard Mandeville's hive, and should tame his ego for the larger good of the party. 

Sadly, this is truly the age of Mega Me, and Mr. Cruz mistook the microphone for a megaphone with which he could impugn the party's nominee and possibly earn some Facebook Likes for doing so. However, the press and the Democratic party has been lashing Mr. Trump for a year, and to no good effect. What good was he possibly thinking might result from his petty show?

Humans are nothing so much as emulative creatures, so perhaps by witnessing the the equally small behavior from certain party denizens who had boycotted the event via their glaring absence, Mr. Cruz got the idea that he was doing something praiseworthy.

Sadly, it was not comme il faut, and far from presidential. He found Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard bare.


No Milk Bones for you, Mr. Cruz.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

She Stoops to Conquer

 --Jim, staunch Bernie fan

I understand; you took them in a round,
while they supposed themselves going forward.
And so you have at at last
brought them home again.   
--She Stoops to Conquer,
Oliver Goldsmith

 Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery
That never would come to me
--Runnin' Down a Dream,
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 

 You will never see a team play harder
than we will the rest of the season.
God bless.
--Tim Tebow promise

[the latter two quotations are in honor of Gainesville. Sa-lut.]

We were hoping he would be there, and so he was.

We noticed Jim last week outside of a Gainesville Starbucks, proudly displaying his "Bernie 2016" sign at the corner bistro table. When we arrived back in town today, he was precisely as we'd left him, though we thought with an ineffable air of wistfulness (or perhaps it was a slight melancholy) following the latest shenanigans of the Democratic (i.e., Clinton) machine.

When asked how he felt about his candidate's situation, he did not voice any rancor. He said he was proud of Mr. Sanders (to whose campaign he said he had donated money), and that Bernie had "opened the debate".

He had a certain equanimity, a peace that surpasseth all understanding. Perhaps it was resignation, but Jim's civility stood in stark contrast to the boorish behavior to which we are party on the tube.

Much as Mr. Trump has functioned in the Republican's posse, Mr. Sanders was a burr, albeit a mild- mannered one, who also functioned to animate those members of his party who held out hope against hope for something new.

The behaviors at both party's conventions is vexatious. Certainly campaigns have historically often been rowdy slugfests, but the party faithful always coalesced behind their candidates at convention time. Not so this year.

Bernie's supporters heckled Elizabeth Warren as the farcical handover of power to Mrs. Clinton occurred in a scripted, crypto-Soviet fashion. "You betrayed us!" the crowd chanted, unaware that the betrayal had already occurred echelons above Ms. Warren.

Mr. Sanders could've been a contender, but the power elite did not like him. He was the primary threat to Hillary; in fact, the only one. Now as more pesky emails emanating from within the Party itself deriding Mr. Sanders threaten to block Mrs. Clinton's hoped-for ascent to throne, Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has fallen on her sword for Mrs. Clinton. Buh, bye, Ms. Wasserman Schultz.

It becomes curiouser and curiouser. It seems the only reason to vote for Hillary and maintain personal dignity would be for the Presidential power of Supreme Court nomination. However, as Mr. Trump is largely a centrist Republican, it could be inferred that given the opportunity he would nominate a centrist jurist. Perhaps someone in the vein of Nixon's nominee, Justice John Paul Stevens, who served the Court well and honorably.

Like the Peanuts character Pig-Pen, Mrs. Clinton is unfortunately surrounded by an obscuring maelstrom of -- at best -- less-than forthrightness. Boys can be excused for being dirty, but not girls.

Her husband Bill could weather such debris fairly unscathed due to his rakish charisma, of which Mrs. Clinton shares not a whit.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Shady Lady

--from Alice in Wonderland
Shady lady, you want it all your own way
Shady lady, you won't let go of your prey 
--Shady Lady,
 Uriah Heep

Stand by your man,
Give him two arms to cling to,
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely 
--Stand By Your Man,
Tammy Wynette 

How do ya do and shake hands,
  shake hands, shake hands. 
--Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Hillary's choice of running mate is intriguing. It seems her road crew is trying to appropriate some of the Trump magic for themselves by being a little dangerous and choosing pro-life Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. Mrs. Clinton is changing her tack, dancing on the edge of the white bread volcano, as it were.

Not that Mr. Kaine would give someone like Javier Bardem in his role as Chigurh a run for his money in the menace department. No, in fact he resembles nothing so much as a Raggedy Andy doll, with his button nose, faint smile and pale complexion.

By matching Kaine with Hillary, the Democrats are performing a sort of middle school science experiment, like mixing baking soda and vinegar, or watering the little shrimp that come alive when they hit the water. They are hoping for some sort of frisson -- a reaction, and anything would be to the good. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Kaine nor Mrs. Clinton throw off sparks.

By choosing a pro-life Virginian with working class roots, carpetbagger Hillary gets some street cred amongst the Oxy-fiend Appalachian belt. Presumably, Mr. Kaine's choice is an attempt to repair President Obama's misbegotten slight against a wide swatch of Americans with his early dismissive "Guns and God" characterization.

What the bland Mr Kaine does for Mrs. Clinton is to knock her down a notch, off her high horse. Though there was a brief moment where Hillary courted Elizabeth Warren for the post, she must have seen the moment of her greatness flicker in that eventuality. The queen has had to settle.

This will allow her to access women who are not Bella Abzug aficionadoes. It may be hoped that Kaine will be seen as smoothing her rough edges, making her accessible to a contingent inacessable to her heretofore.

In the moment of his unveiling, a vertical banner proclaimed, "Together", implying a seamless coupledom, the thing Hillary could not achieve with that man she now refers to as, "her husband". The sort of Tweedleee-Tweedledum-ness she proudly decried in the Steve Croft "60  Minutes" interview ("I'm not ... some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette"), has been re-packaged as a good.

The scene conjured up nothing so much as the lyrics to the middling Jack Johnson tune, "Well, it's always better when we're together / Yeah, it's always better when we're together." But WHY it's better, is one of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns.

This is the humbling of Hillary: she must stand by a white male, pro-life, at that. Hillary Rodham (nee Clinton, against her better angels), now sees the light, or so her handlers are hoping we will think.

LLMC (lower-lower middle class women) need a man to help them navigate through life. Kaine is a kindly-looking man, and the photos show Hillary looking trustfully his way. She must bear their reality, and accede that she cannot make it alone as "I am woman, hear me roar". However, she is still a sheep in sheep's clothing, for all that.

The subtext for the cognoscenti is, she will shepherd Kaine into a new awareness, post-1972. Like Sisyphus, she will continue pushing that male rock up the hill. She did it for Bill, she will do it for Kaine. The Clinton dream team is hoping that she will become beloved by hard-working women everywhere for bearing that cross.

This is a reactionary, retro Hillary, one which hopes to skewer the LLMC women who may be now on the fence. But can she surmount the irrevocable burden to which she is yoked -- her essential, indwelling unlikeability. ("Me, and my shadow, walking down the avenue ...").

There is no question that Mrs. Clinton would eat scrapple and Little Debbie cakes in a W. VA coal mine if it would buy her a few votes. By any means necessary, as Malcom said.

The press's viciousness could not stop Mr. Trump, so they have settled into a new position: he is wealthy, and cannot possibly feel your pain. Of course, this is just as disingenuous as all of the rest of their boilerplate, for no one may run for the United State's presidency unless one is wealthy, and Mrs. Clinton is very wealthy, indeed. While she joins in criticizing her opponent's wealth, she herself is a solid 1-percenter.

Time will tell if Clinton's undercut will reverse her fortunes. The lady taketh a fall, and will not let pride stand in her way.

Hillary may, in fact, have to stand by her man. Apologies to Ms. Steinem, Ms. Friedan, Ms. Greer, Ms. Beauvoir, et al.

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