Friday, January 13, 2017

Goodbye to You

Nothin' more to be said
Write me a letter instead
I don't mean to be cruel
But I'm finished with you
--Talk to Ya Later,
The Tubes 

You say yes, I say no
You say stop
and I say go go go 
--Hello, Goodbye,
The Beatles 

These last few weeks of holdin' on
The days are dull, the nights are long
Guess it's better to say
Goodbye to you 
--Goodbye to You,

Capping off an evening of inanity which passes as television news today was departing President Obama's Farewell Address to the nation from Chicago. It was a self-aggrandizing wrap on a lackluster two terms.

Mr. Obama proudly proclaimed that our lives as citizens matter, while inhabiting a podium in a city which he and anyone he knows and loves would not walk the streets sans Gestapo-like personal security details. Say it all you want, but the lives of those city's residents do not matter, not so much.

His boilerplate about how our soldiers, police and security apparatus have protected us from terrorist incidents drew hearty applause, but it is unproven. Mr. Obama was pitching woo over the murders of Osama bin Laden and thousands of terrorists, but the subjects of his kill orders were never near threats to the United States.

Those killings were merely convenient distractions, of the Wag the Dog variety.

The President cannot prove that his actions prevented terrorist attacks, and Ranger cannot prove his contention to the contrary. Neither Ranger nor Obama can prove that he is correct. Both positions, simply hypotheses without proof.

We here at RAW have maintained since 2005 that there have been no follow-on attacks because there are no operational terror assets capable of such actions here in the Homeland. The worst that we can expect are pin-prick attacks by pathetic losers wrongly portrayed as credible threats.

The President talked "democracy", while bragging of killing without trial and proof of guilt. Such actions are not democratic, and look suspiciously like those of the 9th century inhabited by crazed modern jihadists. Our leader is not a monarch wielding the power of life and death. Our Constitution says otherwise.

Ironically, this speech preempted a PBS special, "Super Weapons of the Third Reich". The coincidence provokes thought.

How do the U.S. drones unleashed on terror suspects differ from the V1 and V2 rockets used by the Nazis on the people of England? The U.S. Tomahawk missiles are direct descendants of these rockets. We launch them in the absence of declared war and on people outside the jurisdiction of our legal codes.

What the President did not say about democracy was that we hold detainees in a prison called Guantanamo, and that they are held without consideration of their being Prisoners of War (POW's) nor of their not having been convicted of any crime by any federal court.

One of Mr. Obama's feted election promises -- to dissolve GITMO, remains unfulfilled. 40 prisoners remain held in this legal limbo inflicted upon enemy combatants, our term for what the international community calls POW's.

Mr. Obama was elected on a platform of "hope" and "change", a counter-balance to the legal breeches of his predecessor. As he departs for his new $5 million D.C. digs (yes, the Obama's are leasing this humble abode, but they are buying multi-million dollar homes in California and Hawaii), it seems the main and abiding change will be in his personal and familial well-being.

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has not achieved much for most of us, but has profited some, handsomely.

History will be the final arbiter of the actions of both President Obama and those of his predecessor.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 02, 2017

Welcome to the Post-Truth Era

--Schott (De Volkskrant, Netherlands)

 A half truth is a whole lie
--Yiddish proverb

Welcome to Costco,
I love you
--Idiocracy (2006)

It's a beautiful mornin', ah
I think I'll go outside a while
And just smile
Just take in some clean fresh air, boy!
--A Beautiful Morning,
The Rascals

Play that funky music white boy
Lay down that boogie and
play that funky music 'til you die
--Play That Funky Music,
Wild Cherry  

A caveat, and a wish:

Ranger and I considered this week which loss will hurt the most: the death of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) or former boy band singer George Michael. The news cycle has tended assiduously to both. But the answer is, “neither”.

The greatest loss is the integrity of the portal through we are fed such stuff. 2016 marks the death of the news media as a trusted partner in our vaunted democratic experiment. Requiescat in pace.

Yes, yes, we all know the news has always come with a bias, and even the fact of what we see is determined for us. But this year, the rust fully breached the veneer. 

It has been a long, inexorable regression. 

Newspapers have been precipitously cutting staff and shuttering operations for over a decade. Cheap, often unvetted and inaccurate content has filled the void (thank you Huffington Post for leading the way, exploiting desperate and often unpaid writers.)

Gone are most college journalism departments and their lessons of boring but stolid integrity. In their place, media studies programs where one learns the art of the package and the spectacle, how to be “newsy” and “newsish”, have bling, and get hired.

Fakirs and Magis:

In 2016, it became o.k. for "legitimate" newscasters to present a lie, provided it propped up the approved liberal agenda.

Couric edited her "Under the Gun" documentary to further the program's anti-gun agenda. Jill Stein was censored in her appearance on the PBS Newshour to make the candidate appear clueless. The reporting offenses are legion, and occurred daily through 2016 in every erstwhile legitimate news outlet. 

This year, I learned disgust for my previous go-to sites, places like The New York Times, The New Yorker and National Public Radio. Each liberal media source partook this election season in a robust and frenzied dance of “Kill the Other Candidate,” and they did so by any means necessary.

It turns out much of their “news” was fake -- misinformed or outright created to foment madness and fury. And in their mad bubble, they were wrong. (It didn't take a Carnac the Magnificent to see this.)

We head into 2017 dampened by a sour anger and a bitter fear born of their imposed and continually reinforced ideation. It is a poor way to welcome a new presidency and a New Year. 

For those who were blinkered, snookered and tribed-up, our wish and hope is that you will wake up, and not too hungover.

In the face of this loss, some tonic ideas from elsewhere:

A Swedish friend recently celebrated with me the Finnish concept of  “Sisu” (in honor of my heritage). Sisu is a national ethos, and has no English translation. Roughly, it means “grit”. Getting it done despite all resistance; seizing success from the jaws of defeat. 

Sisu is a good and noble sort of hardheadness.

We then spoke of “lagom”, the Swedish concept of “just enough” – neither too much, nor too little. Again, a concept absent from the average U.S. lexicon. 

Lagom is a sort of life art, the knowing and understanding of what is necessary for an elegantly simple life. It is a hard concept to acquire for one raised in our “more for me” society.

For good measure, we threw in the Danish idea of “hygge”. Hygge is both the having and the enjoying of simple comforts, the sort that makes a “hard rain’s gonna fall” sort of day bearable. It is neither ostentatious nor in excess. It may be private, or shared.  It is a self-comfort.

So for our readers may you know sisu, lagom and hygge as the holiday season draws nigh. May we all find a candle to light our way.

May we be grateful for the things not lost, and for the ability to apprehend and to appreciate them.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not Gonna Die on That Hill

  --“Lily” calls for violence and death 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back 
--The Road Not Taken,
Robert Frost

Things go up, things go down,
but at least the Lord is always around 
--There Will be Blood (2007)

Pictures of Lily made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lily helped me sleep at night
 Pictures of Lily solved my childhood problems
Pictures of Lily helped me feel alright 
--Pictures of Lily,
The Who 

From among the people protesting the election of Donald Trump, CNN featured “Lily”, a sign-carrying Latina woman from Los Angeles who called for blood and death. Why this would have to happen for her was unclear.

Lily appeared like your prototypical American, what Ranger calls, the “fat, dumb and happy”. She appeared to be well-fed, clean and well made-up. Like the much too many, Lily was either stupid or misled in the nature of her amorphous animation, or someone paid her and put a sign in her hand.

Like so many people, Lily is living off the fat of the land. It is not a bad life. That is why so many immigrants come to this country.

We don't say anything negative about her call for anarchy because she is a Hispanic person. We are all cowed into fearing being labeled “racist”. In fact, we consider her kind of heroic since she is featured on CNN with no censure.

Lily states enigmatically, “There will be casualties on both sides. There will be, because people have to die to make a change in this world,” she continued. “Trump, enough with your racism. Stop splitting families. Don’t split my family.”

So, there must be casualties, because Mr. Trump has been “splitting families” (even though he hasn’t held political office yet.) This seems something of a non-sequitur.

One might guess that her baffling statement has to do with illegal Mexican immigrants wanting to bring other family members to the United States. Sorry, Lily, but I don’t want to die for your right to break immigration laws.

See, these things are set in law books, and it takes legal action to get them changed. We do have limits on the numbers and qualifications of immigrants which are allowed into the United States annually. You either qualify or you do not, and it all stands on current immigration law (not Donald Trump).

If people like Lily were interested in facts, they would know that President Obama is known as the "Deporter in Chief" for the large number of illegal, mostly criminal, aliens which he has sent toting. Ah, but he is a person of color, so therefore, he too, cannot be criticized.

In fact, his decisions in this matter have been correct, and they are commensurate with those of Donald Trump. (This, according to all the major news outlets.) Yet, despite the pesky facts, Berkeley students are protesting to coerce their school president to make their campus, post-Trump, an immigrant asylum zone.

Why they have remained mum for the past eight years is a mystery.

Now, here is a thought project: what if the sign-carrier were a Cliven Bundy-type telling the government to stay off his land? That he is not going to pay the BLM grazing fees – that he would also like to break the law, like Lily -- and that he too says, “People have to die.”

Would we be kindly disposed to Cliven’s call for blood? Perhaps deify him, too, on a CNN clip?

What if it were a Branch Davidian member in WACO, Texas, calling for people to die? That would have been ironic, since they were the ones who got killed (76 of them).

They were killed in 1993 in their religious compound after a 51-day standoff with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for suspected weapons violations. It has been postulated that the WACO deaths, in combination with those at the Ruby Ridge standoff a year earlier, were the tinder that set off the Oklahoma City (OKC) Bombing by McVeigh and Nichols exactly two years following WACO.

In 1995, OKC killed 168 people, injuring over 680. National mass killings have been with us more or less since then.

Killing is never a good way to solve a problem. It breeds more violence and killing to avenge the deaths, ad infinitum.

The nation's fear-mongering and anger escalation needs to end. The people must direct their energies to building, versus destroying.

Trump has been called upon by the press to address the rioters. But the rioters have some vague notion that they are rioting against him, so that doesn’t make much sense.

The press would be on standby, ready to call him an “interloper”, someone who does not respect democracy or President Obama, a bumpkin, tone-deaf, a jackboot or some other derisive epithets which they might conjure.

It would be like throwing butane on a fire, and Mr. Trump has rightly not made comment. What could he say after the press has had its year of evil play . . . “Don’t hate me?”

No, it must be a concerted effort, and President Obama could play a great role. By onboarding the President-elect and addressing the nation as a team, the two men could appeal to the nation’s heart and soul.

Perpetuating and fomenting protests against a legally executed election and duly-elected President shows a total lack of faith in our country.
It is a sad spectacle on the part of all the players.

 --Hatfield Clan

Our nation outgrew the Hatfield and McCoy grudge matches in the 19th Century. It would be a pity to resurrect them now.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs 
--What's Going On? 
4 Non-Blondes   

I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;   
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,   
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,   
And in short, I was afraid. 
--The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,
T. S. Eliot 

In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting 
to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings 
--The Kookaburras,
Mary Oliver

After five days of violent rioting in East and West Coast cities which did not vote for Trump, the President has finally issued a tepid request for the protesters to cease their violence and to accept the election results.

Of course, the press, with egg on its face, will not go quietly. More than anything, they bear the brunt of the destruction, for when some people inclined to theater are validated by the media, they will not hesitate to give vent to their dissatisfaction in the modern flash-mob style.

The New York Times keeps grinding the organ stoking the malcontents, and CNN found an unhinged protester who actually called for blood. [At least, we would call her "unhinged" if she were a Trump supporter and had done such a thing.]

We should remind ourselves that we are a society which prides itself on the rule of law. This is a terrible way to allow a duly-elected President to enter office. It enforces division -- and much worse.

Mr. Obama's statement was even less convincing than when he first endorsed candidate Clinton -- it was faltering and non-ringing.

The calls are for Trump to quell the violence, but these are not his people. Much as when the "groping gotcha" emerged, Mrs. Clinton remains silent.

She had a potential chance for greatness then. She could have thrown up a dramatic mock-protest and asked the talking heads to stay on-topic and to not stray into personal fallibilities.

She could have spoken from the force of conviction, referencing her husband's own moral failings. She might have earned both a modicum of sympathy and admiration.

Instead, not a peep. She looked like nothing so much as a weasel peaking out of his den.

Obama has squandered the same opportunity for greatness. He could have vindicated the racial strife evidenced by repeated protests in major cities throughout his presidency by stepping up to the podium and delivering a large and impassioned speech on the necessity for a Union.

The People would have listened. It is easy to imagine they would be relieved to lay down their anger if they were told it would be the righteous thing to do. He could have turned on a bit of that Reverend Wright fire that he once (almost) displayed, and peace would have been restored

It could have been a defining moment for Mr. Obama. Yet another chance for the Democrats to show leadership, yet another chance, lost.

We must ask ourselves what sort of nation we wish to be. We can no longer ride on the fiction that we are the City on the Hill.

The violent protest do not make sense. We have a democracy that worked. We have selected our next President. What is the source of this destruction?

To paraphrase Golda Meir, "We will have peace when people love their children more than they hate the Other."

Labels: ,

Friday, November 11, 2016

An American Song

--A young future Ranger is in the top row

Hop in my Chrysler, it's as big as a whale
And it's about to set sail
I got me a car, it seats about twenty, so come on
And bring your jukebox money 
--Love Shack,

Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hide behind a rainbow's wall,
Slipping and a-sliding
All along the waterfall 
--Brown Eyed Girl,
 Van Morrison

Every day is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Every day is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine 
--Every Day is a Winding Road,
Sheryl Crow

Happy Veterans Day.

Two lines have intersected looking through the reticle into my life.

An old high school buddy and Vietnam veteran Dan Perhay out of the blue sent Ranger a photograph of my training platoon at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation (IGMR, PA) where our ROTC class took Basic Summer Camp.

It was called "summer camp" but we did not have a social director, unless one counts Major Michael or SFC Gene Floody as such.

The Major was a phantom-like presence, but Gene Floody was a rock in the slipstream current of Army training. He never once chicken-shitted us or harassed us beyond the prescriptions of our training. Ranger has always remembered SFC Floody fondly.

This was the beginning phase of his young adulthood and he had the world by the dick string.

Following the completion of training, the five cadets driving in his full-sized car climbed aboard at the impound lot (which is where trainees keep their cars and keys locked up so they can't fly the coop).
Ranger turned on the radio, which was not allowed in barracks. Playing was Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl".

Pete Varis said, "Hruska, that's your kind of music," and we all laughed. We had the world whipped.

We returned to finish our senior year and went on into commissioning and active service. Ranger has never seen those guys again.

Ranger heard the song on the radio the day he received the photo. Every time he hears the song he smiles and relaxes a bit, remembering how happy we all were on that bright summer day in Indiantown Gap, PA.

Labels: , , ,