Sunday, September 24, 2017

This is Only a Test

--Congratulations, you were a "participant"

I never took the smile away from anybody's face
And that's a desperate way to look
For someone who is still a child 
--In a Big Country,
Big Country

 And why should I call your name,
When you're to blame
For making me blue? 
--Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,
Freddy Fender 

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace 
--The Genius of the Crowd, 
Charles Bukowski

[This is a prelude to our concluding segment on the stories we tell, "Circle Jerk III: The Frontier".]

I do not watch the news, as the mandatory agenda and relentless editorialization is onerous. But occasionally, it cannot be avoided.

Like Douglas Adams' holistic detective Dirk Gently, the gestalt does not escape my vision.  To that end, two segments in a recent BBC World News America broadcast neatly collided for me.

First was a story on the propriety of leaving graphic Syrian violence uploads on You Tube channels. The commentator suggested that discretion was the key as, "People live on their platforms." 

They live there, mind -- not just visit, not just type or read. Live. In a 5 x 8" screen. Even International Humanitarian Law would frown upon such living conditions.

 And the Band Played On

Second, catty anchorwoman Katty Kay was sputtering over the bipartisan meeting called by the President with Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Clearly, this move was in violation of the party line that Mr. Trump is untenable.

"But he's 'toxic'", said Mrs. Kay (her go-to descriptor for the President.) The horror accompanying her protestation had the desperate look of someone who has been gobsmacked: the gig was up. Nothing normal was supposed to happen, yet it did.

It sounded like the silence after the horrible scratch of an agly needle on a rare vinyl album; it will now never be the same.

Instead of what might have been interesting speculation regarding a meeting on healthcare that looked a bit like a convocation from the film, "Cocoon", we get Kay, beside herself, asking her guest for some understanding of this, to her, inexplicable event.

In an embarrassingly simple explanation, the guest explained to Kay that as the U.S. President is the head of the Executive branch, he is allowed to do this sort of thing. (In fact, he noted, this is exactly the sort of thing candidate Trump promised to do.)

In such moments one perceives that the vitriol against this "impossible" President is just so much night music, a nocturne designed to both palliate and arouse the insulted Clinton faithful. The media enabled them to feel a false sense of power by unceasingly feeding -- in fact, designing -- their corrosive hatred.

While the media story is that chaos reigns, the more banal reality is that the administration churns on, doing the work of government.

A responsible press would sift through the daily docket to find the serious but important news which merits coverage. Instead, you will hear about shoes, hands and the inappropriateness of Mr. Trump's every utterance because it is a cheap and easy way to entice the faithful to update their feeds without much thought.

These two stories explained why what should have been the story of the century -- analyzing and perhaps even celebrating the election by the people of a candidate far outside of the mainstream -- has gone missing. 

While this election could have spurred an honest and incisive discussion about why such a happening, that would require actually looking at the state of the American people. 

Instead, we have been trained to mock the President and all attendants, and have been offered no insight. Those who voted for him are stupid little puds worthy only of our derision (right?) Comedians like Jon Stewart may be proud of their legacy.

An inroads is always found to bring any disaster back home to Mr. Trump. We all know the drill: he is white and wealthy, therefore, he emboldens poor and marginalized people to crawl out of their hidey holes and disturb the rest of us.

At least, that is the media's story and they are sticking with it. It has incited their faithful to expulse untold reams of bilge over the last year.

But as with a hurricane, such passionate energy eventually dissipates. Perhaps some of the erstwhile livid and animated viewers are becoming like Sasha Baron Cohen's character Borat at the Texas rodeo. 

In the midst of Borat's impassioned diatribe about how the U.S. is going to win their "War of Terror" in increasingly contorted and ridiculously vicious ways, the supportive screams of the crowd begin to die down at his uttermost declaration (May you destroy their country so that for the next thousand years not even a single lizard will survive in their desert.)

At some point every dupe tires, and perhaps, realizes that he has been had.

And so it goes. All of the madness to which we have been exposed, causing us to to cry out against our duly-elected President, has probably been a proving grounds for the use of social media, like a test to see how wastewater permeates an unsaturated zone.

Meanwhile, some other people who know the score and see the futility, are reading Financial Times, The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, and are not spending too much breath on these things that obsess the lives of the hoi polloi.

The people who "live" on their smartphones and happily re-tweet endlessly unvetted "news" bits, have been played. They have proven to be someone's useful idiots, as they are pricked hither and thither, like hapless paramecium, whose thumbs cannot twitch fast enough (if paramecium had thumbs, that is.)

They were not even paid the $15 a Gallup Poll might have to pick their brains. By willingly surrendering their contacts and their wits, the angry re-Tweeters have proven quite useful to someone, as they dart under their Petri dish cover (i.e., smartphone screen).

Someone will use this enormous trove of free behavioral data you have provided. Count on it.

Cold comfort, but Big Brother loves you.

NEXT: Ranger on Vietnam

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Bridge Too Near

Science does not have a moral dimension. 
It is like a knife. 
If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer,
each will use it differently
--Wernher von Braun

[Note: "Circle Jerk III: The Frontier" coming soon.]

For the last few months we have been bombarded with emotional drivel about removing the statues of Confederate States of America heroes. (This being but one example of the copious multitudes of emotional drivel on the media tap that RAW chose to look at.)

But the opening football game of the ACC college season in Atlanta, GA, brought the matter into its technicolor hypocrisy for Ranger. Specifically, it was the location.

Why, you ask?

The game was held in the Mercedes Benz Stadium. You may know that Mercedes Benz, along with BMW, Volkswagon and IG Farben all supported Hitler with his racist fantasies. They robustly enabled his international criminality and crimes against humanity, and specifically, his program to eradicate the Jewish people.

All major German corporations actively engaged in the genocide by using slave labor subjected to abysmal conditions and starvation diets, and worked unto death, times. But it doesn't seem to bother us as we sit fatted before the football game in the stadium funded by their ill-gotten monies.

No, in fact, we are untroubled by the re-location of these same German industries to the Southeast right-to-work states in order that they may hire workers at one-third the cost they would have to pay workers in Germany -- and the U.S. workers have no benefits, to boot. This outrage gets nary a peep, while we seem to have the attention and energy to attack memorials of our own Civil War, and a few pathetic slogan-carriers who look like Cousin It frozen in time from the The Munsters.

While we see fit to attack our pathetic marginalia holding anti-Jewish signs at a march to retain Civil War memorial statues, we do not bother to attack anti-Semitism in all of its guises. In fact, it is a convenient good when enlisted by liberals to support a plethora of entrenched anti-Semitic organizations.

This is called "hypocrisy".

Are we the people who supposedly won War World II? Are we now become their servants?

Since we seem so keen these days to get up in arms, why do we not bulldoze their factories, and leave our CSA heritage alone?

Ranger would rather see a Confederate statue than a monument to a foreign-owned factory with blood on its hands employing non-Union labor to avoid paying what they would pay their own -- shades of 1945. Our Southern population is the newly-exploited cohort in a time-honored behavior for these companies.

And while we are in the protest mode, why not dismantle all NASA memorials to U.S. space programs since all or our efforts sprang from the efforts of SS Maj. Wernher von Braun and his Nazi comrades? Their factories also enslaved and starved workers in the V1 and V2 rocket experiments, experiments later happily assimilated by U.S. efforts.

This should be more egregious to us than a Confederate statue.

It's amazing how quickly we forget. Is it from convenience, poor education or lack of attention spans, or a combination thereof?

We vote for Rebels over historical Nazi corporations any day of the week.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Circle Jerk 2: Queensberry Rules

A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom
must be denied. And it is not true 
that the recognition of the freedom of others
limits my own freedom
--Simone de Beauvoir

So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me and we just disagree
--We Just Disagree
Dave Mason

It's funny how the colors of the real world
only seem really real when you viddy them
on the screen
--A Clockwork Orange (1971)

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are
--If You Wanna Be Free, Be Free,
Cat Stevens

self-flagellation does not equal integration
--Lisa (doing her best Johnny Cochran)

{We refer readers to the comment thread our previous post, Circle Jerk I. It is a candid and considered dialectic of the evolution and position of thoughtful RAW (link) readers. 

Think of it as "My Dinner with Andre", with gravitas.}

You didn't know?

FirstOne may think as one wishes, and believe what one wishes. Those are the primary and foundational human freedoms, upon which all others are contingent. There is no second, for we are not going to the next step of potential action, as actions are circumscribed by the laws of civil society.

This obviates the need to discuss the Charlottesville marchers. It is a full-stop, Q.E.D. right there.

However, seeing as our media and society has fixated upon, ostensibly, the topic of civil rights lately  -- with relish -- we will look at them to figure out the answer to the question, "Why?" and, "Is their concern genuine and relevant apropos their topic?"

If we agree that one's thoughts and beliefs are one's own, why the move to persecute anyone for his beliefs? We have not yet Orwell's Thought Police to torment and imprison us (though DARPA is probably working on that app.)

Don't Give Me No Hand Me Down News

Following the recent Charlottesville march supporting the retention U.S. Confederate War General Lee's statue, the media has been giving overwhelming coverage to supposedly mandatory contervailing thoughts and behaviors to the those of the marchers (whether stated or inferred). These are presented as necessary correctives to be imposed upon the dissenters.

To watch the talking heads is to imagine that we are like Captain Renault in "Casablanca", shocked that people believe different things. But Renault knew the game.

Maybe we are actually more like Gomer Pyle, USMC, with his authentic gesture of  profound discombobulation. "Gol-ly!"

The topic might make a nice solid 3000-level Philosophy course on ethics and morals ("Why do people believe what they believe?"), but focusing on conflicting ideologies -- and preferencing one -- is not the stuff of national news. In fact, no university (aside from Berkeley, perhaps) would have the temerity to go to the next step and instruct upon how to eradicate or silence difference.

Surely any true liberal arts activist would cry to the high heavens if freedom of expression were curtailed. At least, that is how the United States used to be run.

Morality may be neither judiciously nor judicially mandated. It may at times be a curiosity and a perversion, but it is NOT actionable news. It deserves no front page ink.

So why is this even a thing?

In parts of the South, blacks celebrate their 1865 emancipation from slavery, the religious likening Mr. Lincoln's War to Moses's dictate to Pharoah ("Let my people go".) Of course, it is not exactly the same thing, but this part of the analogy to Christianity holds: Jesus doesn't make much sense without the cross.

Erase the Roman soldiers and the Crucifix and you just have a gentle guy spreading platitudes about love. So you can't have Jesus without the cross.

While General Lee was hardly anyone's crucifier, he is a representation of the Confederacy. Being as the CSA was an actual separate entity within our nation, then if for no other reason than historical accuracy, scrubbing statues and other testimony from our midst makes little sense. The statues have stood for the last 100 or so years, so why the move to rent them now?

Kipling's Jungle Book and Twain's Huckleberry Finn have both been bowdlerized to meet the politically correct policemen's standards. But in doing so, they have lost the very fire against racism which they had contained. They are happy little stories now, with nothing to rub you raw.

Throughout the South, including in many predominately black counties, statues of Confederate soldiers stand, facing North. it is a reminder of the horror of the Civil War which the young nation endured to become a Union.

So what are we really talking about when we talk about racism? Why were the people duking it out in the street in Charlottesville predominately white people? Can we reify the viewed phenomenon in order to see it as more than a salacious bloody news bite?

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The marchers had a clear agenda and a permit to march, and they did so with the blessing of the ACLU. If we accept the media's presentation, they were mostly middle-aged white men who have been left behind in a technological society, and find value in identifying with the past.

They have either been adversely affected by the mandates of the Civil Rights era, or know someone who has been. The Equal Opportunity era was not about them, and racial quotas signified the end of white male dominance.

If they wish to march to preserve a commemorative statue, it is their right and they are permitted to do so. We moved through the Civil Rights and EOE era 50 years ago; the project was a judicial one, not one of neuro-engineering human thought and belief. In case you had not noticed, the human is not a perfectable organism; this is as good as it gets.

In any event, who is our Solomon, and who dictates what constitutes "right thought"? Who may choose and install our beliefs?

The Confederacy lost, and its sympathizers know that. Many have direct familial ties to that tragedy. For them, the history is living, and the desecration or removal of a monument is a felt offense.

They are like comedian Richard Pryor's black men who hold their crotches: Y'all took everything else ... we're just checking to make sure they're still there. The white marchers are checking.

Like a mute garden of stone, the continued existence of the thing will not affect history moving forward. In fact, the infinitely stronger argument is for the retention of the monuments as a reminder of the horrible sacrifices made all 'round.

The protesters are more difficult to understand. White and predominately young, they use the few and the worst placards of the marchers as their animating cause, signs expressing bigotry towards Jews and blacks. But Jews and blacks were not protesting, so what gives?

Who are these malcontents who gather to wale with such fury upon those with whom they ostensibly disagree? How are they mobilized to perform their violence? What fuels them, and what is their raison d'etre?

The protesters (not marchers) were crusin' for a brusin', fired up and ready to go. More agile and confrontational than the marchers, they looked like nothing so much as hipsters fancying themselves nuevo Che Gueveras. 

But they were not fighting the power. The protesters were goading the marchers into a reaction, and taunting is schoolyard bully behavior.

They were attacking a dissipated cohort. Those from barren former factory towns know the bounty once theirs will not return for them.

The protesters are reminiscent of the character Malcolm and his misfit cohort in Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. They probably hit the Milk Bar (Starbucks) after a performance, for how to fuel the next round of "ultra-violence"? (Maybe they just return to their group homes and take their medicine.)

The larger point is, they have achieved nothing by expulsing their anger upon a crowd of non-violent legal actors. In a charitable reading of what is their driving their hatred, perhaps the protesters are resentful that they may not retroactively join the Union forces.

But more likely, they are a bunch of prigs who are angry that they missed the counter-culture movement of the 1960's. Today, gays may marry, so we are really at the end of the line as far as finding civil rights causes to fight for.

Knockin' down statues and telling people they may not believe what they believe? Kind of embarrassing. Once they have performed their diffuse violence, the beliefs of the people they are protesting remain. Their action is rendered entirely impotent. Worse, they are guilty of intimidation and illegal assault.

Beliefs are inviolable. If anything, when the marchers confront such white hot fury they will be strengthened in their beliefs, for they have been transgressed upon, furthering their feelings of alienation and resentment.

Hypocritically, many of those same protesters exploiting the few anti-Jewish placards also support the BDS movement and would be glad if the Jewish homeland disappeared. These are the same people who would disallow Stanford Jewish student Rachel Beyda from sitting on a committee because she is Jewish.

But back to Religion 301

People believe different things, and in seeking meaning they often affiliate. Their associates and they often believe they are special in some way, perhaps chosen as favored by God. This is all good in Democratic Republics like the U.S. which have both freedom from coercion to believe and the concomitant freedom to believe anything. One's mind is terra incognita.

The Judeo-Christian doctrine brings many fine things to the table of civilization. But true Christians do believe that non-believers will go to hell upon death, while they will go to the Elysian Fields. Mormons and Urantians believe they will go to another planet upon expiration. If you are not a believer, you might find these things disagreeable.

The Dalai Lama makes it his business to love all, but dollars to doughnuts, there is someone out there who thinks he is the anti-Christ. Nonetheless, all may believe as they wish. One world is enough for all of us, as the song goes.

Freedom of speech, assembly, religion -- all very fine things, inviolable in even the smallest way, for the smallest abridgment would nullify the whole. Liberalism is not the State religion; we do not have one.

On the spectrum of black power and liberation, one might choose to affiliate with Marcus Garvey, Haille Selassie, Farrakhan's anti-Semitic Nation of Islam or the Black Lives Matter movement, Frantz Fanon, Malcom X or the peaceful Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. No one's gonna cold-cock you for it.

Yet the media gleefully reported the first white marchers to lose their jobs due to doxxing (revelation of anonymous marcher's personal data): a Chick-fil-A worker and a roofer. What has been accomplished? Proof that you are more powerful than they?

Do you feel better that these people are now unemployed? I do not.

I do not feel good knowing that there are vengeful bands of brigands in my midst, people hailed by many for inciting violence. Who is next on their list?

It was bully behavior and nothing to apotheosize in a functional democracy. Yet in a non-sequitur, the media rushed to feature black commentators on the spectacle, despite the fact that they were not a part of it.

The PBS NewsHour featured the usually reasonable Leonard Pitts and Carol Anderson , a black female academic from Emory, who said, either disingenuously or without understanding, that America needs to have a place for all Americans.

All, apparently, except the marchers.

Ironically, Public television had just concluded a six-part series on the American Civil War. Historian Shelby Foote gave informed testimony to the tragic regional devotion of Confederate General Lee, a man who had written passionately about the plight of slavery and the damage which the peculiar institution wrought on both Whites and blacks. He, like Jefferson before him, saw the permanent mark which would be left upon the nation.

None of the featured historians suggested Lee was a monster whose image should be struck from our collective memory. In fact, Lee's example is of nothing so much as the tragedy borne by capable military men who must perform their terrible duties, leaving unspeakable wretchedness in their wake.

The news cycle hasn't the time for such nuance, does it, when it is ultra-violence that keeps 'em tuning in.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Circle Jerk

A republic, if you can keep it
--Benjamin Franklin

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, 
people will eventually come to believe it.
-- Joseph Goebbels

We try to hustle them, 
try to bustle them, try to cuss them
Another day, another dollar, 
another war, another tower
--Who Will Save Your Soul,

[War is our stock in trade here at Ranger. Apropos of that, this is the first of a three-part critique on our media's descent into madness, thereby committing a war for your mind, and why you feel so perturbed and menaced today, and think things are falling apart. They may be, but not in the way you think they are.]

Do you love me, now that I can dance?

The mainstream media (MSM) has pulled off a great moral and ethical heist, and it all happened so quickly -- in their would-be twilight -- as the cultural critics were singing their swan song.

Papers across the nation were shuttering their doors (166 since 2008) and the reporting profession lost more than 50% of its rank and file over the last 20 years (most in the last five years.) But just before the casket lid was closed -- in this watershed moment -- the media made a pact with the devil to save its skin.

To staunch their bleeding, they co-opted billionaire entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar's model in his oxymoronic "opinion news" tabloid, The Intercept (refashioned lately as a "national security blog.) Media "reportage" became a circus seemingly overnight, the players dancing madly under the protection of diaphanous Big Top of former respectability.

No longer was the oxymoron absurd, dastardly or a piker's error, and Omidyar's model provided to the media the way to the greatest resurrection since Lazarus came back from the dead. Five years ago, the standard press was moribund --DOA. Now, the MSM were players once again.

While the papers and reporters are still gone, the press has gained cachet by adopting a new paradigm: All furore, all the time, with no pretense of rigor, and no apparent goal to their delirium and agitation. The holy grail of fact-checking has melted away in favor of the newsish, "bystander cell phone footage caught ...", or "In a leak today, ...".

Righteous indignation projected towards the solution of a moral offense is one thing (we have laws to cover legal transgressions.) But that is not what we have now, though we may trick ourselves into believing it is so, or that such a thing might be quantifiable, adjudicatable or in fact, newsworthy.

What we have is a free-floating angst focalized toward any crumb we are fed. Smut is the coin of the realm, and if the news makers have no thing, insinuation and sneers will do. The goal is pandemonium, and an instantaneous and white hot fury is the expected response from even previously thoughtful and informed consumers.

Now, we are ridge runners all. Thomas Hobbes had it right: it is a war of all against all. The media found the keys to the kingdom when they learned to transmute itself into a Zippo.

"Fire 'em up!

The old woman at a 2007 South Carolina church rally for candidate Obama had it right. A controlled candidate Obama was trying to appear down-home. He requested that attendees get stereotyped cousins "Ray-Ray and Pookie" up off the sofa to vote.

The speech was dwindling down on its own enervation when the woman in the back (Edith Childs) harnessed the power of "call-and-response" with her well-placed shout out, "Fired up, ready to go!"

While the scholastic Obama himself did not quite light the fuse, once the bodies started swaying and fist-pumping, it was all she wrote. The crowd had self-ignited, and like a stadium wave, its momentum carried itself.

That was an instructive moment in modern politics. People LIKE to get agitated, whether for good or bad. Since we have now abdicated our rationale, we easily turn "Hatfield and McCoy" when our media overlords sound the alarum.

Judicious reportage is no longer needed in the face of vanity social media feeds. The New York Times' Jim Rutenburg asked if it was o.k. to cover Mr. Trump's Presidency solely from a position of opinion, so malignant, so sui generis was it to the average NYT's reader.

Our nation's paper of note decided that the President demanded a new way of being covered, despite the fact that he won the Presidency in a most mundane fashion. It had the look of a plebiscite, but it was a foregone conclusion.

Writer Matt Taibbi said that the news was signing its death warrant if it bought into this, and trust in press impartiality would be gone. It was a last stand for dignity. (Mr. Taibbi soon joined the other side, seeing on which side his toast was buttered.)

Turns out, we do not want impartiality; what we want is to be able to whank off with others who think like we do. It feels so good that we have ceded our wits to them. Dopamine and adrenaline are powerful motivators, and we will do anything to keep the supply coming. We may now be too ill, too drunk on the toxic brew, to give up our fix.

Co-opting and Re-directing Anger

President Obama's administration oversaw a renascence in the news of police clashing with black citizens, an issue which appears like a sine wave in the media. This time, however, the events combined with the ubiquitousness of social media, allowing the images to be uploaded and shared in real-time.

Nothing was off-limits, and speculation ran rampant before the least fact could be vetted. Nothing new was happening in actuality under Obama, but the presentation and reaction to is WAS new. WE now created our reality out of bits and pieces ingathered from the sources which spoke to our predilections.

This "news wobble" became obvious several years ago when noticing the headlines from the same major news outlet delivered to my two email accounts differed considerably. After pondering the matter, the only difference was that from the older email address I wrote to mainly conservative friends; the other, primarily liberal.

The news which arrived in the first box box tended to be more optimistic and "news-like", of the old ilk. However, my newer email received only incendiary coverage, angry and rarely offering balanced viewpoints.

The media is trafficking in your fear and anger, and selling it back to you with the halo of righteousness. You are co-opted into their project when you re-send their content to 5,000 "friends". You have become small-time Soma pushers and fail to realize your complicity.

News goes on auto-pilot, as you function like HuffPo's unpaid "content generators", adding your own glib comment. But unlike the HuffPo non-wage-slaves, there is no hope of gaining a writing day job for all of your efforts.

You are mental bondsmen, compelled by habit to "help the revolution". It's just what you do, sun up to sundown, and beyond.

Bad Brilliance

So, the MSM (which was on oxygen) made a life-saving move. They would co-opt and harness the anger of the black community. They have subverted a moral and institutional failing, stripped it of its facticity, and are using the ensuing white hot fury as bellows to keep them alive.

This should make you mad. Your outrage can now be directed to any issue of their choosing. You are like bulls with ringed noses.

Think about it: they did not raise your ire against president Obama for his inability to contain the racial violence which erupted under his terms, and the media now owns that real estate (i.e., your violent impulses). They are practicing their dark arts now, and have led you to another pasture, re-directing your anger upon a focalized point of easy derision, President Trump.

This is as fine a work of agit-prop as I have seen in my lifetime. It is legerdemain of the highest order.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017


--The White Rabbit, running behind

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

Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation 
that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. 
This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; 
this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; 
this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force 
in the whole godless world
--Network (1976)

Just think of those shocks you've got 
And those knocks you've got 
And those blues you've got 
From that news you've got 
And those pains you've got 
(If any brains you've got) 
From those little radios
--Anything Goes
Cole Porter

The story here is not the story.

What is this madness engulfing our news? Y'say you are shocked that tribalism and racism exists in America? Really?

If you are in the above category, you have fallen prey to the media's skulduggery.

In a true democracy, the events in Charlottesville were a law and order failure, not a civil rights one. In the absence of a proper threat assessment, there were not adequate police on site to maintain order, and violence happened.

The new normal should be: lots of police on-station when people will be exercising their freedoms of speech and assembly, if it is a situation the press may conceivably exploit to pump up viewership. There will be a flash mob on-site -- count on it.

The recent Charlottesville march should have been a quiet affair. The United States is a Republic, and contains multitudes. We have freedom of speech and of assembly. The marchers in VA had a permit (and the blessings of the ACLU) to do so.

Had agitators opposing the march not made a rumpus of it, and the press not shined a spotlight upon it, it would have been an event of no moment. Tension requires two things in opposition.

In a democracy, we are allowed to hate who and what we hate, love who and what we love. There are no thought police. To borrow from founder Thomas Jefferson, the beliefs of another "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg".

The only rule is, we may not deprive another of life and liberty. Further, if we do so motivated by our hatreds, there will be an added designation of "hate crime" appended to the charge.

In 1978, the KKK marched in Skokie (IL) with the blessing of the ACLU. In contrast, today we are cudgeled en masse into outrage over the press's non-p.c. image du jour.

Meanwhile, within days the news cycle will direct your attention to something new to raise your ire, and you will have forgotten what had seemed so important yesterday. You will have invested no analysis into the things to which you are responding so viscerally, as there is no time or encouragement for you to do so.

Your opinions are handed to you, and they are designed to make you feel a constant undertow of menace. You have become Henny Penny, much to the delight of the press, for they are the dope pushers, and you are now a user mainlining their drivel.

The NYT recently ran a story on the "antifa" or "anti-fascist" movement. (The antifas are the liberal fascists, as opposed to the conservative ones.) They see their mission as muzzling the free speech of those with whom they disagree.

One of the group's members is quoted as saying, “You need violence in order to protect nonviolence ... [t]hat’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi would be rolling over in their graves at the madness. As liberal darling Noam Chomsky wrote, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all."

What the news will not tell you is, the antifas were illegally attempting to abridge the marcher's rights. That is all.

Do I really need to say this?

--by Lisa

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dog Day Afternoon

And when you turn on the evening news 
Mass confusion is the only thing you see 
Well there's no question that we need a new direction 
Cause we all could use some peace and harmony 
--Love Will Save the Day
Whitney Houston

 You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
You gotta stay together 
--Ya Gotta Be,

There is a choice. One may make a realistic threat assessment prior to taking a discretionary action (Like the Afghan and Iraqi Wars), or one may leap upon the braggadocio of an adversary who may be acting out of a feeling a threat and call it a legitimate casus belli.

The rational player should realize, if you have an insane adversary, to even reply is an insane act.

In the case of NoKo's Kim Jong-Un, a little sabre-rattling is most probably an adequate response. A display of force, like deploying an aircraft carrier group off of his shores, would allow Kim to save face. He may spin it to his people as he wishes. ("You see how important I am? Just look at their response!")

Instead of President George Bush's schoolyard bully reply ("Bring it on!") to Saddam Hussein, the President may instead choose to ignore the prod of inflammatory rhetoric, not chomping at the bit after every word. Like mothers used to advise when dealing with bullies, "Pay him no never-mind!", or "Like water off a duck's back". "Do not go down to his level." Bullies usually act from fear.

The President could act as a hostage negotiator with Kim. If we take his threat as viable, Mr. Kim is taking the NoKo people and the world hostage. It is important to note, the hostage negotiator cares as much for the dignity and survival of the hostage taker as he does for that of the hostages.

When dealing with various threats, politics is often hostage negotiation at an international level.

Bush disallowed Saddam his dignity; there was no way out for either man. In hostage negotiations one never corners the hostage taker. On an international level, especially when dealing with an autocrat -- and especially in the orient -- the leader should be allowed to save his respect. This all part of the game of realpolitik.

President Trump betrays his campaign platform of non-interference when he engages in tit-for-tat inflammatory rhetoric. He should be curtailed from his trash talk; following in the footsteps of GWB is not winning (as Charley Sheen might say.)

At the end of the day, Kim likes his Emmenthaler, American Basketball and Dennis Rodman. He should be satisfied with the opportunity to wallow in a bit of puffery.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Size Matters

--Gen. Colin Powell and his pictures at UN (2003)

 ~How long do you think this can go on 
before something happens?
~It's a circus, isn't it?
--The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Sometimes... believing is all we have
--Team America: World Police (2004)

"I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."
--Colin Powell on his UN speech, before he read it,
as reported by U.S. News and World Report (2003)

We at RAW try an avoid the daily news cycle (the media having proven that it is outrunning the facts). But the North Korean manufactured crisis du jour requires comment.

The question is not, "Does NoKo have a bomb?", but, "Do they have a miniaturized bomb that could be delivered via missile?" If we believe United States intelligence, then the answer is, "yes".

If so, the question becomes, "How did NoKo come to build and minitaturize a bomb?" Further, "Can it be delivered by means other than missile?"

Beyond that, "Can NoKo's intent to deploy the missile be verified?" If the possession and the intent has been confirmed, then, "Why do we always wait to counter such threats until they become a crisis?"

Of course, this is the same U.S. intel community that assured us that Saddam Hussein had mobile miniature bacterial warfare production facilities, run by a Frau Farbissina ominously dubbed, "Dr. Death". Because we had been so traumatized by the incessant media coverage of the events of 9-11-01, the Greatest Nation on Earth believed laughably cheap artists's renderings on an easel as evidence to strike up a war.

We and our representatives failed to demand photo intel to verify Powell's assertions. We saw the General's stripes and believed that he was telling the truth, and that he and his would protect us. He gave us what we thought we wanted and needed.

It was easy to follow him since false media-promulgated events like "The Sinking of the Maine!" and the Gulf of Tonkin (sans the Teddy Roosevelt spirit) which sparked other wars had predated Powell's presentation of the (not) Death Mobiles.

Beyond the bombastic rhetoric of Kim Jong-Un, an autocratic leader like Saddam who promised the U.S. the "Mother of all wars" in a show of unrealistic strength for the benefit of his countrymen, what have we?

RAW does not trust one bit of data filtered to us through the press, and especially nothing got via supposed government leaks.

We may use Kim's words as a casus belli, much as President George Bush did with Saddam's. Or, we may simply ignore the bravado as the posturing which it most likely is.

Let us hope the U.S. leadership takes the latter position.

Size matters, but so does intent.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Affordable Care Act , 2017

Let me explain to you how this works:
you see, the corporations finance Team America,
and then Team America goes out...
and the corporations sit there in their...
in their corporation buildings, and...
and, and see, they're all corporation-y
... and they make money.
--Team America: World Police (2004)

Oh, you build it up, you wreck it down
Then you burn your mansion to the ground
--Hold On
Tom Waits

Does the legislative branch exist to enact or to destroy legislation? Or is a grand Mobius make-work strip in which everyone is guaranteed a job (either building or destroying)?

Every President wants him some flagship legislation, so we have former President Obama's hobbled Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Almost 7 million people opted-out of the plan last year, incurring a tax penalty in 2017 of $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is higher. For most, this was not an ethical protest, and came down to how to best disburse limited family funds.

Further, just because you can manage to pay for insurance does not ensure that you will be able either pay for or be seen by a doctor. The ACA will never deliver a high level of care. (Lisa's associate Dr. Lickerman actually read most of the 1.500 pages of the abstruse document, and offers a gloss HERE.)

This is the same legislative branch that wants to put sanctions on North Korea and Russia (our sometime ally ... when convenient.)

In a nutshell, they cannot rule the united States, but they are intent to use their same ineptness to dominate foreign powers.

Both parties agree that any ACA-type arrangement must have an individual mandate; otherwise, the effort fails. The healthy must be forced to buy-in, to subsidize the medical care of the grossly unhealthy. Also, in a nutshell.

For some wide-ranging perspective, the U.S. committed a Cold War against the communism of the Soviet Union because, well, collectivism is a bad thing for Capitalists. (This is also why unionism has always been eyed with suspicion, as it is collectivism writ small.) Capitalism is good; socialism and communism, bad. Ranger-simple, at its finest.

Forgetting for the moment the reality that humans are the common denominator making anything either good or bad, let us consider the ACA  and "skinny" clones, for they are socialism in action.

If we were faithful to our capitalist ethos, we would allow people to be uninsured, and not care whether the old or poor die, or anyone else, for that matter. Capitalism is about profits, and not the welfare of the individual. Free choice is its mantra.

With the ACA, we have confused capitalism with socialism and arrived at a gryphon which defies all of our sensibilities. But we can't be seen as being mean, can we? Spin is all -- just watch evening news if you have any doubts.

When the healthy are forced to subsidize the unhealthy, this is the definition of socialism. Insurance is a capitalistic vehicle; forcing it upon unwilling citizens is socialism.

Interesting that neither party calls it for what it is.

(ed. addendum): In keeping with its dour, wet-rag demeanor, The New York Times coverage continues its hope for this administration's failure on this topic in their editorial board position: "Capitol Shocker: Democrats and Republicans Start Working Together on Health Care By THE EDITORIAL BOARD. But Republican leaders could still block their efforts."

Never miss an opportunity to put the kibosh on any sincere deal-making before it has even begun.

Mystical Judaism believes that in every generation there are 36 righteous people. They are the enlightened. Let us hope we have even a couple in our government.

We know the Times is a wash.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Country Club Set

There's a reason for the twenty first century
Not too sure but I know that it's meant to be
--21st Century,
Red Hot Chili Peppers

For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased;

and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted
--Luke 18:14

America is not a happy place. We are disgruntled, disorganized and disputatious, and this is not due to Russian interference in our elective process.

There are two Americas. (Maybe three, if one believes in a "deep government".)

My life has represented the middle class of America. As immigrants, we worked and struggled to integrate into American life. We carried union cards and served capitalism, as required of any citizen.

We bought the myth that any man (if not woman) could become President, and all the other platitudes of citizenship. We saluted the flag and pledged allegiance, and even marched off to war when asked to.

When we returned, it was not to a membership in the country club, which is the place the Others occupied. These are the folks blessed by capitalism, and they are the source of our leadership class.

Nobody in my family visited or were petitioned for membership in a country club. Our elections seldom placed working men in leadership positions. Yet we elect into positions of power people who live in artificial communities, people who live in a foreign land, for us.

The same was true in the military. The men of destiny had played golf, and had not worked, at the country club. This was doubly true in the Reserves. Those blessed by capitalism also excelled at promotion boards

We pretend to be a democracy when in fact we are a class-riven society dominated by and for those favored by capitalism. Even our new religion of Prosperity Gospel supports the idea of success as being a favor of God.

So the power struggle ensuing in the United States now is not for the soul of democracy but for the rights of capitalism to continue predating upon the workers. Strange that for capitalism to work, the people that elect our leaders must vote from among a small stable of the privileged.

The People are played when they buy into the lie that the system is democratic and designed to benefit all.

Seeking external corruption is merely a distraction aimed at keeping us obediently in our places, in thrall to the media scions and the country club set.

The only thing that matters to our power class is that we believe that whatever party they hail from represents the Truth and The Way. That they are public servant saviors giving it up for us, offering the hope of a bit of power and glory in the form of a company COSTCO membership.

The fact is, there is no salvation in any political system. Golf balls and tennis rackets are the basis of capitalism, and life can be devoid of both.

--by Jim

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Thursday, July 20, 2017


And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
--God Bless the U.S.A.,
Lee Greenwood

There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me and we just disagree
--We Just Disagree,
Dave Mason

God help your men.
They'll be torn apart by the wily Pathan.
--How I Won the War (1967)

We ended SITREP I saying that wars were based on objective facts which underlie and precede the action.

In contrast, the War on Terror (WOT) is based primarily upon false assumptions and cruel cynicism. Prior to the initiation of the WOT proper in 2002, we had the Iraqi - Kuwaiti event known as Gulf War I, named as though to lend the WOT a provenance which then-President George H. W. Bush's Most Excellent oil adventure most certainly had not.

Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Kuwait, but it was not a strategic victory for the United States. The U.S. gained nothing beyond a show of power politics. Kuwait was never liberated and will never be a democratic society.

Of course, neither will be Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, but many have yet to see the failure as they do not have the benefit of an end date which would allow a perspective to see the failure that is. (The Marines returned to Helmand Provence this year, and so it goes.)

The U.S. has precision weapons and artillery and mortars with GPS fuses, but we cannot fix the enemy. We cannot even define the enemy. Is he "militant", "insurgent", "terrorist", "militia"? Is he an amorphous and fungible pool of "Bad Guys"?

It is a poor way to conduct a war.

If we cannot define the Bad Guys, then how do we identify the Good Guys? He is a squidgy enemy on a non-linear battlefield.

The U.S. and battle buddies (do we still have them?) can kick the baddies out or kill them, but that does not cut their main supply and support routes which are remote from the battlefield.

Clearly, the battlefield has never been isolated in the WOT. The best that can be achieved is local tactical security. There has been no strategic thought or action in the WOT because this is not a war.

If this was a war, we would have allies that were not disingenuous and duplicitous.

Neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia or any other country in the mix share our values or our goals, either military or political. Our NATO ally Turkey is at odds with our policy regarding the Kurds whom we support, though they have no value to the U.S. as allies.

We have no friends in the region and our actions are at cross-purposes to our interests. There are no moderates in any of the regional equations.

So, if there is no war to be won and no chance of political accommodation, then what is it that we hope to achieve in the region?

Remind me: why are we back in Afghanistan?

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Sunday, July 16, 2017


--Hogwarts Coat of Arms,
the new "E Pluribus Unum"?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
--Stuck in the Middle With You
Stealer's Wheel

Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper
--William Rawley

It's a beautiful mornin'
I think I'll go outside a while,
And just smile.
--Beautiful morning,
The Rascals

America is like Disney World's Magic Kingdom. We have left Frontierland and Liberty Square, now residing squarely in Fantasyland. We live as though Harry Potter is real. We receive our tutelage at Hogworts (aka The Media News).

We believe in entertainment and alternate realities; we are saturated in it. In fact, we are so estranged from the daily requirements of life that we -- to include our leaders -- cannot define what our national health should look like. Much like "the leadership" stood agog before the dipping barometer in advance of 2005's devastating Category 5 storm Katrina, we see the wreckage ... we CREATE the wreckage ... yet the lack the ability to pull up the brakes, or to take another track.

Leaders which are primarily self-serving lack the ability to lead others. Our national policies are largely self-destructive, despite the inclusion of words like "care" and "defense". The rubes in the despised flyover states considered good by the these politicians only for the fodder of their party vote and photo ops have shown that they know the gig is up.

The day of the true Statesman is gone. The People now know that neither the Right nor the Left will improve their lots or protect them from their too-often dismal lives. "Hope" is the provenance of them that has, or at least, those that have access to mentors and tutelage, goods not often seen in the downward cycling hinterlands or the decayed inner cities.

Like almost all revolutions, we forged a nation in fire and blood. Liberal thought and action was played out on the field of battle.

Revolutions are not conservative events; the U.S. Revolution was no exception. All that is great about our nation sprang from liberal concepts. Sadly, for too many today, to be a liberal is an exclusionary thing.

Hypocritically, liberalism has become perverted to denote a creed sanctioning all behaviors, while concomitantly ostracizing those deemed not "liberal" enough. We have betrayed the great competition of ideas we once had between the Madisons and the Jeffersonians.

We use tinny words like "progressive" to describe thought and action which should rightly be called "liberal" but which we know is a term which has passed its "use by" date.

Politics has become an ego project. One is either enveloped in the "aren't we cool" fold of rube-baiting, or one is a rube. (Pick your side of the fence, and you will be facing the Other.)

There is a third group, however, and its members disdain the absurd theatre. It is remotely possible that our salvation may be there.

The military realm should be logical and linear, but that is not serving us well today, for the events that we call war are neither logical nor linear. The old paradigms do not plug into the new chaos.

Since our assumptions are illogical, our tactics and strategies cannot succeed. As said previously (Symbolic Targets), we fail because we insist on calling counter-terrorism "warfare". Nothing done militarily since 2003 has been warfare.

What is HAS been is the use of military might in an attempted suppression of an idea. Ideas are not defeated with either drones or foot soldiers.

Wars are opposing nation-states pitting their armies against one another with realistic military and political goals as their drivers.  Wars are based upon objective facts.


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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Symbolic Targets

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering,
and it's all over too soon
--Woody Allen

[Note:  Ranger will be returning to his military roots this week. While Lisa had a lot of presence in posts over the past several years, she will now pull back to the role of copy editor. Readers may note the lack of gussying up. (But if you liked Rangerette's frilly-Kevlar style, you will still see it in her posts.) The writer will always be identified in the vanishingly-light tagline at the article's end. -- the editrix.]

The key point of terrorist activity is that their targets are soft and symbolic. That is why the craven activity of running down pedestrians with a van should not be surprising.

This clearly indicates that terrorism is NOT warfare because softness and symbolism does not designate legitimate military targets. When applying a military yardstick to terrorism we lull ourselves into a false sense of security, i.e., we will be protected by a powerful military that knows how to fight it.

Simple logic dispels that notion. Ask yourself: "How many al Qaeda No. 2's has the United States killed since starting its Non-War of Terror? Did any of those drone kills produce security here in the States?

If we think symbolic targets are not cricket for the use of terrorists, then why does the U.S. use them? Assassinating Osama bin Laden in his bedroom is a good example.

If OBL had been killed at the Battle of Tora Bora, that would have been legitimate as he would not have been a symbolic target, just another hostile on the battlefield. However, escaping death he moved on to sanctuary in Pakistan. (Good jihadists don't really get 72 virgins, but rather safe haven in Pakistan, the original "Sanctuary City" state.)

In his safe house, the aging OBL was no longer a military threat (if he ever was), but just a man in his jammies. He was a non-combatant symbolic target.

In fact, OBL was largely beyond symbolism at the point of his murder, and the action looked like a paltry act of vengeance. (However, the much-lauded operation sure provided Academy grist for a military film-makin' woman in EOE Hollywood.)

We seem to not know that vengeance is not military. It is Old Testament dogma which does not have any place in liberal humanistic thought.

This is why we will not defeat terrorism. First, it cannot be approached by classic military action. Every time a terrorist is killed, his replacement is close behind. In celebrating that which has failed, we have become emotional and betray the essential logic of war-fighting.

We choose for military myths over our legal codes and traditions.

A War on Terror will not be won by killing people in their bedrooms. If symbolic targets are not legitimate for terrorists, then how can they be legitimate for the U.S.?

Is this what warriors and war-fighting have become?

ed. coda:

Terrorists strike soft targets, unsuspecting and in an inferior posture. When the U.S. military "takes out" soft targets like OBL -- a man well-past his "use-by" date -- it has joined in their project.

The huzzahs which followed his 2011 death were anticlimactic, the cheers sounding like a 45 record being played on 33 1/3. The "hunt" for OBL kept a war project going for a decade, but the resulting mayhem has so far surpassed the man that the outlay of accomplishing his demise has little justification.

Most cultures create a military mythos in the form of an iconography to buoy cultural spirits over an essentially death-dealing project. The new Instamatic or Super 8 is a Smartphone aided and abetted by Facebook or YouTube. It is easy, like taking holiday beach pictures -- anyone can do it.

For Hitler, Leni Reifenstahl filmed it. For Islamic State, the graphic du jour is 9th century beheadings in the desert on Instagram, victims in orange, executioner in black (orange is the new black?)

An eager, desperate, salacious and obedient press gloms on and feeds it back to us in a bright-shiny package. Just like Capt. Renault, we are all shocked.

For the U.S., it is plucky West Virginian Jessica Lynch who went down shooting (not), being sent back from the checkpoint to the hospital to allow for the filming of her heroic four-service rescue. Football hero Pat Tillman was to be interred as the casualty of enemy fire, until his family questioned the plot line.

In a time when we have lost our way, we must make meaning and justification by any means necessary.

Where are we now vis-à-vis Islamic terror?

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Friday, June 02, 2017

Truth or Consequences, II

We are never deceived;
we deceive ourselves

Yes, I'm stuck in the middle with you,
And I'm wondering what it is I should do
--Stuck in the Middle with You,
Stealer's Wheel

The biggest lie is that our election are about freedom and democracy. These are the same lies that we accept as the basis of our wars. Wars are not about anything but power, since democracy and freedom are never achieved with a bayoneted rifle.

Our elections and wars are based upon capitalism, not democracy. This has been the truth since the founding of our nation. Every election walks the fault line between Jeffersonian (agrarian homeland focus) and Hamiltonian (strong armies, banks and foreign policy) thought.

If words have no fixed meaning or are lies, then so, too, are our laws. Words are the only thing that binds us to the world and reveals its meaning. If words are untruthful the the resultant insincerity is the precursor to societal decline.

Our elections are about capitalism and the parties ability to exploit that fact. If they were about freedom and democracy we should have no need for them since we would all agree that freedom and democracy were good things.

Freedom and democracy are words that have no fixed meaning, for we are told the elections in Egypt and Afghanistan provided democracy and freedom to those countries, but should ask, "how?"

Our elections are about two very simple capitalistic thoughts. With one party the top one percent get to exploit what used to be the middle class (which is now the working class) and trickle up the money from the many to the few.

The other party wants to take from the top and distribute to the lower income bracket. At the same time, they pretend to support a middle class democracy.

Neither strategy enhances democracy or freedom. Elections simply decide where the money will flow and which party gets to exploit the middle class. In both scenarios, the middle class takes a beating.

If one accepts this logic on the topic of elections then one must accept the use of lies as party planks, for it unlikely that people will vote to be exploited.

History has proven that all elections have been based upon lies, false suppositions and faulty assumptions or interpretations of facts.

And we the people continue to march as if our voices matter.

That's the lie of democracy.

--by Jim

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Truth or Consequences

They dreamed that Americans would break
the traditional link between the religious impulse,
the impulse to stand in awe of something greater than oneself,
and the in­fantile need for security,
the childish hope of escaping from time and chance.
--Achieving our Country:
Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America,
Richard Rorty

The concept of "truth" frequently pops into my mind and it seems passe and frivolous to discuss the topic. If lies are the basis of our democracy, then obviously, democracy is a lie.

How have we come to such a condition that our politicians and leaders can lie to us and we accept this as the natural course of events? This by the way is a criticism of our way of life as well as our political situation.

Everything in our society is based upon the Big Lie. Read the small print very carefully. It's not that our leaders lie but rather that we expect them to lie.  We are  uncomfortable and disengaged from the truth. Factually, the truth is past the point that we can even recognize it.

We lie to ourselves which is worse than lying to others. Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories are abundant and popular? If we believe the small lies then we'll swallow the big ones.

Propaganda and demagoguery require this crossover. It often crosses my mind that if a person can believe the bible then you can feed them any bit of drivel. The bible is the basis of all conspiracy theories.

We are in the age of insincerity and self-doubt in the centers of democracy. Self doubt is healthy if conducted with the goal of improvement but is destructive if bound over to insincerity.

Machiavelli's work "The Prince" clearly expects the Prince to lie and be deceitful but that was 500 years before we had Constitutions and coded agreements. The Reformation and Enlightenment supposedly ushered in a search for truth and benign leadership.

English common law was based on codes that theoretically protected the citizenry from verbal maneuverings by the "Prince". But now we once again allow and expect the Prince to lie, We have come full circle.

In the age of Machiavelli the world was ruled by fear. We do the same thing now except we electrify the fear and call it "Twitter", and call the lies "fake news".

What have we benefited by the last 500 years if our political thought remains dominated by fear that is based upon lies?

[pt. II tomorrow]

--by Jim

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memory of the Army

Statue inscription:
"Cemetery for the Memory of the Army"
(trans. by Phil Nguyen, Morrow, GA)

{this entry is a re-post from Jan 23 2012.}

This picture of the Vietnamese "Cemetery for the Memory of the Army" was snapped in 1970, and Ranger has never seen the subject in any of the photo histories of the Vietnam War.

This cemetery was the Vietnam equivalent of our Arlington National Cemetery. Note the caretaker squatting at the left of the statue. There was also a religious shrine at the rear of the statue, on a hillock. It was located in Tu Doc on the road to Saigon, South of Long Binh and Bien Hoa. There is a military base to the right and rear of the highway.

Always one of my favorite photos, the cemetery was a scene that few U.S. soldiers saw or appreciated. The South Vietnamese lost many men in the "American War", and this burial place commemorated their losses.
 I passed by often but rarely saw anyone visiting the grave sites.

Ranger has never seen a war memorial which features a sitting soldier. Does this symbolize the exhaustion of a nation which had been fighting for decades at that point? Is it a gesture of reverence?

I won't know, because fellow veterans returning to Vietnam as tourists report the graveyard has been bulldozed, and is now planted with fruit and nut trees. 
The symbol and artifact has been lost to history; the bodies must still be interred there.

There are no bitter memories or hatreds associated with my experience in that foreign land. I have always wanted to share this view of the other side's trauma, which no doubt looked very much like ours when you get to the level of the dirt.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Vision Thing

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
--Macbeth, Shakespeare

I get bored
A wish for a real one
--Bored, The Deftones

Subtitle: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

There is rampant speculation that the Democratic Party needs to develop a vision for the future.

Having thought relentless disdain and opprobrium toward their opponent and a sense of entitlement to the job good ways to sail into the White House (not), some are scabbing today onto that tone-deaf repertoire the thought that it might just be a good idea to mount a vision-quest.

To actually have something to offer the voter which is substantive, believable, forward-thinking, and more appealing than that offered by their opponent. Since the Democrats lost in 2016, it seems fair to say they failed in that mission.

But what they did well was obloquy, and they cut their teeth on their favorite catch dog, Mr. Trump. For those who do not know the "sport" of dog fighting, the catch dog is the designated loser, thrown into the training pit and on which the dogs may hone their fighting skills.

What they failed to see was, too many of We the People have become the catch dogs in the ring of life, and those people saw a vision of themselves in the pit.

None of the arrogant and privileged candidates spoke for them, and they knew it. For them, life continues to constrict, and Democrats have been on station during the devolution of their lives.

Candidate Clinton offered empty words that offered nary a drop of water to the thirsty.

So this "vision" will supposedly energize the system, allowing democracy to flourish and prevail. Great concept, but what about today?

Without a rock solid today, will there even be a tomorrow worth a hill of beans?

The Democrat's mission is a garbled transmission. One may not continue down the path of invective (their entrenched losing strategy), yet also build something credible and positive at the same time.

Speaking on the 2012 Presidential election, Mr. Trump recognized that meanness of spirit was not a winning strategy. Speaking of the Democrat's position on illegal immigrants he said, “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind” (unlike their Republican opponents).

They are no longer kind.

Their continued divided efforts show them to have a tin ear, for the voters they lost already divined that the party's sole goal was a win, and not a desire for a better tomorrow for them.

There is no tomorrow without a today.

--by Lisa and Jim

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