RANGER AGAINST WAR <

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):

MOSCOW NIGHTS

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,
 Blondie

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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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Fool on the Hill

--Hillary Waves and Smiles,
 (El Nuevo Dia) 

And the face of the nation
Keeps changin' and changin'
The face of the nation
I don't recognize it no more
--The Face of the Nation,
John Mellencamp

The truth is incontrovertible.
Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it
but in the end, there it is
--Winston Churchill

They got little hands
And little eyes
And they walk around
Tellin' great big lies 
--Short People,
Randy Newman
_______________________

This last year of incessant, relentless press excoriation of Mr. Trump and those who voted for him is dispiriting. The burden of hatred which spewed forth from nearly every outlet a reasonable person might access has been daunting. It has been a year of detestable press.

Entirely ignored by the press has been the investigation of the momentous and unlikely phenomena of Trump's nomination, without resorting to the ad hominem. But the press is an institution which also feeds at the political trough.

Mr. Trump is the court jester who revealed that the other would-be emperors were naked. The sour- grapes simpering of Mr. Cruz at the Republican National Convention gave lie to the fusty Republican trope of being the party possessed of true red-blooded American bonhomie. If it ever was, it is no more.

For this, Mr. Trump shall be rewarded as the next Fool on the Hill. And for those renting their garments, tell me that you voted for Uncle Bernie with joy in your heart (in the Kondo-ian sense). And will you hold your collective nose as you check the box for the supposed heir to the Clinton dynasty?

In Trump, Republican voters did not see a fundamentalist Christian or any of the myriad vested interests represented by the other 15 stuffed shirts fronted by the Republican machine. The majority of Trump's followers did not vote for him out of any great love for the man, but for the fact that he was Other.

The Democrats never had any such option.

These voters said "no" to the party icons and scions. They refused to eat the lie which said, "Here are 15 candidates from among which you may choose, but choose you must, if your party is to have a chance." The voters for Trump said NO to tyranny and political dynasty.

 Trump would not have won his party's nomination if a straggling band of Naderites or Perotians had cast votes helter-skelter in a kamikaze mission. These voters got it and said "No" to the Fortunate Sons ("no" to a Bush III). "No" to pandering special interests (Rubio couldn't take his home state). "No" to the religious fanatics. They know that all emerged from the same bag, and paid obeisance to the same dirty machine.

This perspective should have been revitalizing, but the press could not allow it, for it did not fit into their gestalt of a "backward-looking, hopeless uncool and bigoted" Trump electorate. 

They refused to say that Mr. Trump's "Yes" was a "No" to all the rest. For all the money and concerted press effort to deconstruct and unravel him, top-down, inside-out, it did not matter. You may call it what you will: the last gasp of the white chauvanist male (a view which provides succor to most academics) or flyover state ignorance, but derisive labels do not change the fact.

They could not fully construct him as grotesque, because it was not he, per se, who captured the voter's  imagination. It was that he was NOT they (i.e., the Others). If elected President, hopefully he will recognize the gravitas and great yearning which lies behind the facticity of his nomination.

Theirs is a hope for a nation which does not spin apart, enervating itself with self-destructive diversions. The Good Liberals call this necessary progress, but the commonweal is suffering. America still lives between the extremes, and it is their hope which is on display in this nomination.

The press is wholly beside itself, waiting like wolves at the door this week, hoping for the eruption of some violence -- something, anything, to mar the reality -- all the while demeaning those Trump supporters who held signs which expressed a desire for a safer nation. They cannot spin fast enough, and they must soon confront their failed project.

No matter, there will be evermore to carp about.

Mr. Trump is outside, and is not bought and sold; he is therefore, unsafe to those who would continue the current disarrayed status quo. He, moreso than the other party puppets, is a man situated in place and time.

He may not be a man for all seasons, but he is a man for this season.

[cross-posted @ milpub.]


Part II:  on press violence -- "Carp Diem: A  Year of Living Dangerously in the Press."

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Video Killed the Radio Star

--No escaping it  

 Fasten your seat belts,
 it's going to be a bumpy night
--All About Eve (1950) 

 'Cause it's the new mother nature taking over
It's the new splendid lady come to call
It's the new mother nature taking over
She's gettin' us all
--No Sugar Tonight,
The Guess Who


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.
We have guided missiles and misguided men
--Martin Luther King,  Jr.
_______________________

Get ready for the New Normal -- national schizophrenia, a la carte. Tune in anywhere, and you will be updated on the grievance du jour. Because everything's O.K., and we're everybody.

One theory on schizophrenia says the patient lacks the ability to filter out irrelevant stimuli. One is overcome and overwhelmed, acting out in inappropriate and spectacular fashion, or not reacting at all.

That is our national life as fed to us on the tube, or the various circuit boards to which you are glued. An initial convulsing -- much like a paramecium in a petri dish into which an irritant has invaded his happy medium  -- followed by catatonia.

The reactionary unicellular animal is not dead; he is simply rendered incapable of self-generated movement. So there we are, stuck in the gelatin, seeing hazily, but not seeing how it is we got here. Perhaps a better analogy would be the marionette puppet who has no control over the strings tugging on its every limb, all for the amusement of the audience.

We are both the puppet and the audience, the watcher and the watched.

The presenters of the data pull you hither and thither, aiming to shock you with an overwhelming diversity of visual data bombarding you at such repetition and speed that focus and comment become irrelevant. The newscast template is unvarying, and only the visuals change

They will deliver you some Bad / Mad / Sad / Happy© within a half hour, and you will feel sort of o.k after the familiar wrap up, and go to find succor in a beer and chips. But while you have developed a pattern, the national players haven't sorted out their template for the new normal, yet.

Following the shooting in the Orlando gay night club, congressional members react emotionally with a sit-in encouraged by the President. The shout out of the day was to close the gun show loophole, despite the fact that the shooter did not use that loophole.

In fact, most of the recent shooters have not used it, and as a recent piece in the UK Guardian put it, it is like saying you will give up donuts in the face of a cancer diagnosis; it fails to target the problem.

The halls of Congress have become a place of demonstration, mimicking the convulsions of their electorate, rather than a forum for the creation of realistic legislation.

We live in an era of the Sportification of Death. Our entertainment and foreign policy is packed with violence. The U.S. proliferates weapons in the Middle East, while criticizing civilian weapons in the hands of U.S. citizens. Because we are fed a bleak future, many turn to the past in protest and rejection.

We live on a new frontier, but there are no babbling brooks or soothing nature sounds here. Instead, the frontier at which we gaze is all binary, 1's and 0's, coded to form a simulacra of the things to which our minds have become accustomed to seeing over eons of evolution. Only yesterday, our eyes were delighted by the magic lantern shows.

We are not seeing the same things in the same way, and we are taxing the same old brain to run as fast as it can.

Some people are reacting very poorly to this visual onslaught. Our challenge is to impose order upon the new chaos, and crocodile tears in Congress will not fix this.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Curious Yellow Boys


There's a sucker born every minute
--David Hannum

We're doing a series on the
ten most sordid social welfare cases.  
--I Am Curious (Yellow), 1967
____________________________

Subtitle: Stupidity Masquerading as Violence and Redemption.

Talk about turning rutabagas into sunflowers.

Our group think culture has taken a tawdry act on the part of all parties and massaged it into a cause célèbre. The incipient plucky heroine of the recent Stanford sexual assault case has a book contract and is well-placed for a Medal of Freedom.

Except, she is no heroine, and the story of this case lies in a place other than where the media shines its spotlight. However, everything is to be wrung dry for its entertainment value, or for its exploitation by vested interests, and "Emily Doe" is a "Citizen Ruth" for our times.

Vice President Joe Biden called her "courageous" and the Swedish passers by, "heroes". One of the ersatz news programs gave her 12-page manifesto one-half hour of valuable air play. Last week "House Members United to Read Stanford Rape Victim's Letter" (except in their passion they and the NYT got it wrong -- it was not rape but sexual assault.)

Representative Ann McLane Kuster, Democrat of New Hampshire said, “We are all Emily Doe,” a la President Kennedy's momentous, "Ich Ein Berliner" speech.

But no, we are not. Not unless you go to a frat party after drinking four shots of whisky and drinking two more of vodka and unknown quantities of beer and then go with a younger frat boy behind a dumpster, for that is who Ms. Doe is.

At the moment, she is an addict and possibly a sexual predator, most likely just wanting to get her kink on with a younger man. (The distance from 19 y.o. male freshman to a 22 y-o female graduate is great.)

The young man, Brock Turner, is nothing special in this regards, and neither is she. It is hardly the "night that ruined her life", as she began drinking her shots eyes wide open.

In reality, it will be the night that made her -- undeservedly -- something special in our culture of instantaneous stardom. She will possibly do the media rounds to capitalize and monetize her moment, and crocodile tears will be shed over the actions of the Big Bad Wolf.

She says she was "robbed of [her] worth", but she did that to herself before she went behind the dumpster to have sex with a frat boy three years her junior. (You didn't think they were going to read "Ulysses", did you?)

She calls herself "Everywoman", and why not? It's a heady moment for her. I suspect it is not her first rodeo, and an erstwhile skanky scene has been spit-polished into a story of true grit.

But she doesn't speak for me, not at any point in my life.

I don't care to talk of the young man, for he is a known quantity: 19 y-o male drinking heavily at a frat party. His role as an insecure and/or horny young male is to find the low-hanging fruit and schtup her; call it a night. He could be a necrophiliac in training, or maybe just a young American male getting ready for the sort of action he can anticipate after graduation when he marries a sorority girl.

But the female is the sticking point in this story, and we are not viewing it for what it actually is.

The obvious untold story is the substance abuse of the designated victim and her choice to be in a frat house party environment so drunk that she did not wake up for six hours after the act. The violence in this story is self-inflicted and issues from the same fonts which are now celebrating her victim-hood, who run flashy stories which depict drunken celebrity party-goers as having the time of their lives.

The violence may lie in having the misfortune to live an entitled and cosseted life as so many Santa Barbara residents do. In having a mother who would deposit you at a frat house party after you had already consumed four shots of whisky.

One subtext of this story is misogynistic. The press and politcoes are falling over the 12-page victim’s statement, but implicit in their surprise is that not all women who drink to the point of being comatose are illiterate hootchie mamas. In fact, they exist in number, but we are not interested. 

This is what passes for a "feel-good" story today. Predictably, we get up in arms. We act like we are shocked and outraged, like we actually care about the plight of women (and men for that matter.)

My guess is that the 12-page manifesto was either a compiled effort by a women's group who saw their moment in the sun, or the writer herself is a borderline personality, either of which was necessary to push this story into the spotlight, with a bump from social media. But beyond the uncovered substance abuse and misogyny lies yet another story, that of privilege.

This sort of thing happens every day of the week in most towns, but the participants are not often white frat boy potential future Olympians or UC-Santa Barbara grads. The privilege of the participants alone is what makes it newsworthy. It feeds our salacious desire to have the privileged white man atone, or for self-flagellation, depending upon your affiliation. 

The ultimate irony is that the outlets which are supposedly uber-sympathetic to this woman, couldn't give a damn that the same thing (and far worse) happens every day of the week to younger or older, non-white, non-Santa Barbara grads. What they dare not say is: those stories are ugly. This story is pretty, so it has legs.

We get to discharge more collective vitriol, hate the judge ("off with his head!"), and feel very smug, righteous and strac, for a bit.

Very probably, had the Swedish bicyclists not happened by the scene, we never would have heard about the matter; it wouldn’t look good for either party. (Wouldn't be prudent, as a Bush père might've said.)

What makes this a good story is that white male privilege gets a knock (and we will give a pass to the white female of privilege, ignoring the actual issues at hand.) Messy facts simply do not matter today.

The fact is, the press on this issue will change nothing, because the things which can be changed are not being addressed. But the folks on Capital Hill get some nice press and ensuing gravitas by leeching on to the non-story.

Here's a surprise: young men like sex, and if you put yourself in an extremely compromising position, you cannot cry wolf. For all our enlightenment, we may not re-engineer human brains or hormones. But what we could address is the culture of binge drinking, and to do so honestly would require both males and females to take responsibility for their actions.

You don’t get to wave the red flag in front of the bull and not elicit a reaction, or claim naivete when you do. (Drinking' til you're trashed does not provide plausible deniability.)  You may re-educate, but that training will go by the wayside once one’s executive functions have been overridden with booze.

Lesson: Everyone must be responsible. If you want to get wasted, have a designated escort to watch over you; better yet, do it at home, or among a group of trusted, platonic friends. Best -- don’t get that wasted, and choose your environments wisely.

Ms. Doe should not be book-worthy until she enters and successfully completes a course of rehab, and stays clean and sober for six months. She can then write from a position of understanding a cautionary "life of an addict" book, and it will be one of much too many.


Next: A Year of Inanity


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gorilla Violence


  The extraordinary gentleness of the adult male [gorilla]
with his young dispels all the King Kong mythology
--Dian Fossey

Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities
connected with the social instincts
which in us would be called moral
--Charles Darwin
All the arguments to prove man's superiority
cannot shatter this hard fact:
in suffering the animals are our equals 
--Rattling the Cage, Steven Wise
________________________ 

 SUBTITLE: #Ape Lives Matter.

I did not want to read the gorilla story. But when I saw the film of the gorilla’s approach to the child and subsequent behavior, the horror of the decision to murder the animal became obvious.

Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, leaned in to the water and scooped the child up carefully in both of his arms. At that moment, when the people realized a three-year-old had rolled down into the ravine, all hell broke loose (this video is missing the initial moment of encounter, before the human screaming began.)

Gorillas are gentle giants, largely vegetarian (Western lowland gorillas like Harambe, however, also eat termites and ants). Very shy and reserved, they must be provoked before they will attack. Though nothing in the gorilla's behavior indicated distress, the suddenly restive crowd began screaming like banshees, resembling nothing so much as a troupe of screaming chimps (our closer relatives).

Meanwhile, the distressed gorilla looked up and reacting to this tumult, scampered off with the child in tow for cover, into a grotto. This animal sat with the child for almost 20 minutes before the kill decision was executed. Why?

He did not hang the child by the leg, or throw him up in the air for pleasure, as some humans do to their young. He did not bash its head against the side of a ravine to kill the child, as Nazis did. He did not impale him on a bamboo shoot, all actions which the clever human has devised for meting out violence to his fellows.

After 20 minutes the child was unharmed; he was released from the hospital the next day after being treated for contusions probably suffered mostly from falling 20 feet into the ravine. It is unlikely during those 20 minutes that the animal was cogitating upon even more heinous ways that he might off the child.

But sadly, anger and violence is the first thing that comes to the human mind. Even though it was the human child who had breached the animal’s space; in our world, we have "Castle Laws", and a home invasion would warrant a kill. That is not the tack Harambe took.

We watch shows like “Zoo” which curry the paranoid mindset that the animals -- everything from rats to squid -- are plotting to murder us. Movies like “Jaws” and “Willard” enthrall us, allowing us to pay vicarious penance for the violence we have meted out to our animal brethren.

The decision against darting made little sense, for if the animal became agitated, then the ultimate move to kill could have been executed. He was captive in a small enclosure, nowhere to escape. Why was there no reaction plan in place for the eventuality of a careless parent?

What could have been an inspirational story for this child and the rest of us, turned out to be yet one more vulgar story of human neglect followed by overreaction, and finally, justification for violence.

The gorilla's death is yet one more example of the sad human recourse to violence-as-solution.

Poor gorilla. He showed more humanity than his killers.


NEXT WEEK:

~Stupidity Masquerading as Violence

~A Year in Provenance: Violence in Public Discourse

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