Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Fog of Faineance

--Obama talks of Phony Scandals
Yes I am
In a bang with the gang
They gotta catch me
if they want me to hang
Cause I'm back on the track
and I'm beatin' the flak
Nobody's gonna get me on another rap 
--Back in Black, AC/DC

A half truth is a whole lie
--Yiddish proverb

You will see light in the darkness
You will make some sense of this 
--Secret Journey, The Police

If you're down he'll pick you up, Doctor Robert
Take a drink from his special cup, Doctor Robert
Doctor Robert, he's a man you must believe,
Helping everyone in need
No one can succeed like 
--Doctor Robert, The Beatles

 Ranger is delighted to hear President Obama dismisses his phony scandals (though still hailing his phony recovery); perhaps RangerAgainstWar's rhetoric of veil-ripping with the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is having some effect. A friend lives by the mantra, "What's real, what's important and what works?" Let's try that.

Some friends of RAW have expressed confusion over recent writings. My concern has little to do with the TMZ case, but everything to do with how the press handles us when they forefront such matters, and how we behave once thrown the bone.

What should be disinterested reportage today is full of nuance, and the readers Tweet the untruths and half truths around the world in real time. People are pressed from biased news and biased dialog on either side; with culture and religion conforming our front and back,  we live in a cage, and given any opportunity we jump for the joy of a little movement.

TMZ is but one iteration of the phenomenon. The story of abortionist Dr. Gosnell the week I broke my arm a couple of months ago began my simple thoughts; TMZ will be exhausted here, and then Gosnell.

The police and public attorney decided that the TMZ should not have been tried; that is their job and they make these decisions daily. Some reporter sniffed out what he thought would a cause celebre, and after deft publicity it was (though probably not for the original intent.) It was really a rather sad, absurd little tragedy in a life full of such things. Ultimately, the city of Sanford was correct, but the press sure got a lot of copy, and we took the bait.

It is always surprising the ardor these little flame ups arouse, and how quickly they die down with zero net gain. ISTM social networking platforms are being used primarily as a site for public flogging and self-flagellation and ritual purification. The liberal penitents have a hierarchy of those most "hard-done-by", and always champion and exonerate the usual suspects prima facie.

I wonder how they confer their most-favored status? Is their temporal view limited to the founding of the U.S. (+/- 250 years)? The U.K.? The Crucifixtion? I always thought liberals were the freethinkers, but they operate from a predictable playbook. The media and entertainment who twiddle with their emotions dial up an offense du jour to amuse, incense and preoccupy. Social networking allows us to respond passionately and immediately to teapot tempests in lock step with our fellows, thereby gaining validation. Toeing the party line (masquerading as independent thought) is the only requisite.

Charitably, we do this because we are so inundated with the relentless news feed that we haven't the time to ponder the stories, or even consider if they are worthy of our time. Entertainment junkies, we are addicted to our fix, and in order to feel safe and smart we huddle together with those of like mind in Plato's cave, discharging our discomfort in the same way our ancestors did, calling for heads to roll and ostracizing the challengers. The reactions are primitive, and the supposition flies 'round the world on the wings of Tweets. "I read it somewhere" becomes innuendo's rubber stamp.

The group is ever-vigilant for the spoiler, for he introduces the possibility of a cessation of hostilities, and that must not be allowed. Strife makes for a more colorful life. We do our penance and after a certain grieving period (depending on how incessantly the news feeds us the story), we are off to the next great tragedy. We are Chauncy Gardener in the film "Being There", our lives lived by the illumination of the teleprompter and computer lights.

Why the rush to judgement and condemnation in the TMZ case? Why advocate for only one side? If you are concerned about hate crimes, a real one happened earlier this month, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution couldn't be less concerned to bring it to your attention even though it has all of the salacious elements: racial profiling with intent to cause serious bodily harm resulting in murder.

A bright friend helpfully offers that the youths said they attacked the man not because he looked like a cracker, but rather because he "looked gay". I guess since the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, gays are no longer the liberal cause du jour. We were shocked by the Matthew Shephard killing, we dutifully watched "Brokeback Mountain". Gays can openly have same-sex partners in the military. Next.

I don't know if Mr. Chellow looked gay, but it seems he did come from the cracker element of society, and crackers have never been stylish victims. We laugh at the Honey Boo Boos and Welcome to Myrtle Manor because they are white and stupid, and clever white people who are still paying penance project their self-loathing into a tin trailer on the tube, thereby reducing their guilt-induced anxiety.

Who is on the media menu today -- blacks vs. whites (blacks win), Palestinians vs. Israelis (Palestinians win), Middle Eastern revolutionaries (revolutionaries win; rebels, not so much)? Will this week's rheostat be turned to "glad", "mad", "sad" or "disgust"?

Mostly, it seems to be stuck on outrage these days, and otherwise smart people are stuck in an impotent reactivity. What seems disingenuous is to ask how these problems might be solved, because our political correctness requires that we only view half of any story. Why? Perhaps because if we figured things out and solved them, we wouldn't need the talking heads (we would listen to our own.) We wouldn't need the anti-depressants and all the other escapes. But maybe we need our distractions, and these are as good as any.

As they say in the South, "Y'all all bigots," but you got there honestly. Question is, how to unencumber yourself from the architectonics of hate. You gotta say the whole truth, not half, if you want to try, and you gotta figure out if there is even a payoff for waking up. Leaving the safety of the clan is to operate against millennia of instinct.

But please don't cry crocodile tears over TM in the TMZ story and think that you would have it any differently. As long as you hold hatred and bias (even in the name of being pro-black), you're operating in bad faith.

Here's Charles Blow last week, one of the TMZ NYTimes Pied Pipers, telling you how it is (but not mentioning that he's in on the game). His words will make you feel clean for a minute, but he will suck you back into the miasma next week.

his is not the time for evanescent anger, which is America's wont.
This is not the time for a few marches that soon dissipate as we drift back into the fog of faineance - watching fake reality television as our actual realities become ever more grim, gawking at the sexting life of Carlos Danger as our own lives become more dangerous, fawning over royal British babies as our own children are gunned down.
This is yet another moment when America should take stock of where the power structures are leading us, how they play on our fears - fan our fears - to feed their fortunes. ... (Standing Our Ground).

Sounds like some powerful truth, no? Don't worry, you'll soon forget all about it, because that is how the media wants it. The power structure is leading Mr. Blow to his next paycheck.

It's like feeling so happy when you think you have finally reached someone at your internet email service provider to solve your computer woes, but finding you have actually reached some ersatz Indian person named "Rick" who is scamming you into buying a $300 plan to "save" you from the Zeus Trojan virus which he says some shady Nigerians have installed remotely (which he has actually just tried to install remotely himself.)

Blow is one of the cheerleaders -- he'll jerk your head to and fro, and keep you angry about things you have no ability to solve, because he doesn't, either.

Per TMZ and similar stories, either we believe in our rule of law or we don't. Reader "no one" correctly suggested that liberals lack a True North: Civil Rights was a good issue, but now things are not working in society and we are like rats incessantly pressing the bar hoping a goody will come down the chute, but the experiment has ended.

Liberals are doubling down on the tried-and-trues, but a different tack must be taken now if we want to help "poor blacks" and help ourselves to be a thriving society.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Not One to Let an Opportunity Pass

All the stuff goin' on in the news,
it's just a trick to get your mind off the war.
That's all it is
--Chris Rock 

I can cast a spell 
With secrets you can't tell 
Mix a special brew 
Put fire inside of you 
But anytime you feel 
Danger or fear 
Instantly I will appear 
--I'm Every Woman, Chaka Khan 

We sing about beauty and we sing about truth 
At ten thousand dollars a show   
--The Cover of the Rolling Stone, Dr. Hook  

More on TMZ (Travyon Martin / Zimmerman) as artifact of our culture and ourselves:

President Obama said in 2012 "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon".  After Zimmerman's recent acquittal and subsequent liberal self-flagellation he told RollingStone.com,"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago". Ranger has a suggestion for a final bravura installment: "George Zimmerman IS me!" as he meditates upon his drone killing of 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahmen al-Awlaki. It would be momentous. The truth shall set you free, Mr. Obama, and the humility may even effect a reconciliation with your mentor, Rev. Wright.

[Addendum for those who could not understand why the Obamat - Z nexus: They are both whitish-dark-skinned men who have killed a dark person; however, Obama's kill of Abdulrahmen was premeditated, while Z's was not.]

Alas, the press continues to spin its inanity and lies. National Public Radio this week reported on the small protest at Florida's capital against the state's "Stand your Ground" law, but ended the piece stating -- incorrectly -- the law was a significant factor in the acquittal of George Zimmerman.  In fact, the law was not invoked in the case.

Next, the reliably unreliable William Saletan in his recent Slate feel-good piece "Rules for Racism", cloddishly slips in the following fabulation disguised as fact:

"Yes, Zimmerman is the one who pulled the trigger. Yes, white-on-black racism dwarfs black-on-white racism. ..."

Um, no, this is purely conjecture, and actual homicide data from FBI.gov would seem to contradict Saletan's supposition. It's a slicky boy one-two punch -- fact followed by a non-sequitur imaginary statement, but the latter gains credibility by proximity to the leading statement (ergo propter hoc).

"White-on-black racism" is an unquantifiable statistic. Racism is a felt emotion and as such, purely subjective. One could extrapolate racist intent from crime stats, but that would be pure conjecture; myriad other motives could explain the vastly larger number of violent crimes committed by blacks against whites, however, that statistic stands.

And today I note the liberals are chomping at the bit to diminish the public black-on-white murder of a white man by four blacks in an Atlanta suburb last week. The most egregious and non-sensical of the damage control articles was exemplified by this one, which blames the victim for his own situation, without any notice of the blatant hypocrisy of the title: "Joshua Chellew: Right Wing Propaganda Tool."

The rambling piece quotes Mr. Chellew's passenger as saying, "He was a good person, one of them funny, outgoing kind of people" -- just so you get the message: They were probably ignorant hicks (see the pronoun error?) and didn't know how to behave any better than getting four young black punks to kill him, no doubt as a result of their racial Sturm und Drang. He didn't know how to defuse a situation which took him from life to death in two minutes, but that'll show him for being an ignorant cracker.

So there you have it -- my disgust for the media and those who call themselves liberals, hawking their pet interests and points of view, entrenching their biases. They are worse than the neocons who at least do not deny their reactionary stance. There is nothing new or wholesome in the liberal message, just deaf, impotent rage and anger.

For all the gnashing of teeth, we are still a racist, sexist, ageist -- you name it -- bunch. We are guilty as sin, and a little penance feels good, even for the most godless among us; perhaps, by virtue of that fact. Oh, as long as they don't have to actually dirty their hands ... it is all done in the neat and tidy realm of the computer.

Believing in nothing or maintaining dissonant views, their rancor stews, running the lines of least resistance, seeking the easy fault line so it may erupt and discharge their passions for a moment. They love to slaver and congregate over their own pathos, but their rage belies their project.

The media is happily complicit with their disunity, starting little fires here and there as their denizens run hither and thither to squawk and gawk, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

[In justification for addressing TMZ @ RAW: the war within ourselves and our society is expressed also as the war without; it is inescapable.]

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Inner Captain Renault

--Mob Rule

 There isn't any real good reason for fighting
except self-defense 
--The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton 

I'm shocked, shocked to find
that gambling is going on in here! 
--Casablanca (1942)

We have been discussing the small tragedy of the Zimmerman - Martin story not because it is unusual but as the phenomenon it is: a too-common story usually ignored, but once the media hops on (for whatever self-serving reason), one for which liberal people feel compelled to pull out their inner Capt. Renault --shocked, you know? All very predictable.

We will have a few more things to say about the disingenuity surrounding the tale (=The Spectacle), but today, a look at the neighborhood watch: Good Neighbor Policy, or stateside Counterinsurgency (COIN)?

For those inclined to exploit the event, The Trayvon - Zimmerman story is one of vigilantism, and becomes an excuse to label an otherwise reasonable self-protective action (=neighborhood watch) as racism. This is an involution of the posture vis-a-vis crime which we have been encouraged to take as a nation since becoming the victims of terrorist acts, namely, one of reasonable caution and vigilance. Florida highways have state-sponsored billboards which urge citizens to be alert, and not afraid. It is a foolish entropy to encourage a naive approach to one's safety.

Vigilantism has been a part of our society since its inception, and actions like tarring and feathering loyalists served many functions, primarily identification and ostracism of The Other. Neighborhood watches are not vigilantism, for The Other is already identified qua his Otherness.

The function of the watch is to identify possible criminal behavior before the action takes place, the purpose not to punish, but to identify. When one enters such a community, one can expect to be asked about one's purpose within the gates; the residents therein have usually paid a premium to feel their safety will be enforced. When an outsider enters the perimeter, he can expect to be identified as such; this is not racism or vigilantism, though it is vigilance.

Profiling has become taboo as it has become conflated with racism, but profiling is the basis of solving most crimes. In Zimmerman's case, the community had suffered numerous robberies and criminal situations in the preceding months. Surely he was aware of the descriptions of the perpetrators in these cases, and it would be sensible to identify figures which match those descriptions and confirm their intent.

And Zimmerman is not alone. Our own President racially profiles every time he sends a Predator or Hellfire downrange in the sandy regions of the world. Mr. Obama acts as the Neighborhood watch captain of the World with every missile strike. Yet when Obama approved the strike which killed another 16-year-old United States citizen, Abdulrahmen al-Awlaki, no liberals cried crocodile tears.

In fact, no one did, despite the sad fact that our President made two kills on that day -- one of the young man, and one a direct shot through the heart of our Constitution.  The young man's grandfather recently wrote a plaintive letter published in the NYT 17 July 2013 asking "Why?",  but there will be no answer ... State secrets, you know?

As a nation, we are an easily-distractable crew. We are suffering an en masse plague of ADHD, and we get our daily feed of pap through the umbilicus that leads to the online and on screen "news" outlets.

Here is the reality on neighborhood watches: Community-based policing has always been the center of our police functions; as citizens we can and must participate in ensuring our own safety. When neighborhood members shut their doors and roll into automatically-controlled garages and don't know their neighbors, you have a community ripe for crime.

Since the events of 9-11-01, U.S. police forces have been degraded as the military and contractors have bled off personnel who now work for Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Foreign Internal Defense (FID)-sponsored programs. At the same time public safety funds have shriveled on the home front, and community-based policing has been drastically reduced.

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has come home to roost.

If we as citizens do not have the right to ensure own safety in our own neighborhoods, then we have crossed into a police state mentality. When the death of Trayvon Martin is criminalized by a witch hunt trial, what is the message? When the police are not on the scene, the safety of the streets devolves to the citizens.

One may argue til the cows come home why young black men constitute the pages of most police blotters -- hint: economics -- but nonetheless, there you have it. It is a sad fact, but if you live in a vandalized community and see a black youth appear to be scoping out residences, you have reason to suspect. The comic Chris Rock has a skit, "You can't have shit when you around niggas, you can't have shit." referring to the high burglary rates in black communities. We laugh in recognition and then walk out of the theater.

Why pretend it is not a problem?

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Liberal's Horsehair Shirts

--Scene on the third day of the Los Angeles riots
following the Zimmerman acquittal. The story calls them
"demonstrators" and the peace sign is nice, but note the
rioters in the background. 

 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee,
Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven
--Matthew 18:22, KJV 

 There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution 
--Spirits in the Material World, 
The Police

 And now it's all right. It's OK.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man 
--Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees

 Almost no one has addressed the concerns in the previous two posts (Zimmerman Lynch Mob; Oh, Man), which is the way the press and the media are shaping, dividing and entrenching you. Oh, and let us not forget "distract".

The presentation over the hawked party line, and those liberals who march in lock-step ... they are creating nothing new, and are simply regurgitating their own brand of hatred. The sheer power of their only partially-informed outrage is astounding.

Friend BadTux is the pied piper for many who wish to fashion this sideshow into some sort of legitimate dialog on race. I appreciate his concern for racial bigotry, which is an ugly and persistent thing which is the sole domain of no class, race or religion. In his comments he shares specifics of what it was like (presumably) for him growing up black in America.

Certainly most of us born without a silver spoon in our mouth -- which would be most of the people taking time to blog -- could share similar stories of injustice. Surely my grandparents, parents and I all have our tales of woe. But I see the tragedy inherent in your trying to out-tragedy me, BadTux, and you fail to see that.

You also note the familiar sociological phenomenon of youth "trying on" other identities. Certainly not all young women who don Beyonce's or Lady GaGa's bling are hootchie mamas, and not all young men whose drawers fall mid-thigh will be robbing a bank, but what precisely are you defending? The male gansta culture is steeped in an angry, misogynistic attitude -- are you suggesting that we forbear the young men who "try it on for size" and "scuffle" with us? Should we allow our heads to be bashed on concrete due to the societal burden into which they have been born? Jesus may have turned his cheek 7 times 70, but not many of us are He.

The liberal news service I mentioned failed to publish my comment questioning the violence in the Good Liberal's responses, but did see fit to publish letters calling for Z.'s murder. This is a blatant contradiction, and a hatred which is not any liberalism familiar to me. (In addition, The Good Liberals at that site have published the most slanderous anti-Semitic screeds I've read this side of the century, yet they will not brook censure from an outsider.)

I see these too-many liberals for what they are, full of ugly sound and fury, signifying nothing. They stand revealed in The Emperor's New Clothes. Ranger says to me, "Let's stick to military matters"; I respond, "This is a war, too, and probably a more relevant one to most people's lives. This incident reveals that there is a war on in the media and the press for your mind and your very soul (if you are so inclined.)"

The power of bigotry and blind hate is seductive,winning over most people -- liberals and conservatives, alike. The jagged energy that fuels the many makes me cringe. You are the bright people, the intellectual and involved ones. You are probably not the ones pulling the strings in society, but you have the capacity for reason; sadly, it does not seem as though you are engaging it.

In Violence Unveiled, author Gil Baile makes a strong argument for our being at a crossroads regarding how we view violence. He argues that Christianity ushered in reverence for the meek and compassion for the scapegoat. Our collective guilt and shame makes liberals forbear any burden imposed by those whom they identify as having been dealt with roughly.  At the same time, we are reckoning with the admiration of violence as a mechanism for group catharsis and purification. Baile's book is based upon the provocative theories of anthropological philosopher Rene Girard.

One cannot hold bile and hatred -- not even for the right side -- and be balanced and healthy. You are either conflicted or in automaton form, and the best you may achieve is an artful presentation of your anger.

[correction: blogger BadTux writes that he is not black.]

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Oh, Man

I'm not going to bother looking for a fair and balanced
political cartoon of this story in all of the tripe, so here is
simply an interesting ad I saw the other day

Please understand what I oppose is knee-jerk liberalism. Take a look at this unadulterated merdimbuca (if grandma learned the word correctly):

Sending a message. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Gibson writes: "The Zimmerman acquittal proved what we've all known for some time now, and what's been true since the 16th century. There are two justice systems in America - one for white people and people of privilege, and one for everyone else."

Mr Gibson crows, "There are two justice systems in America - one for white people and people of privilege, and one for everyone else." Didja get that? Hmmm ... I wonder what trial Mr. Gibson is zinging off on? 

Does he even have to wake up to write that? Do the outraged semi-elites among us even have to fire a brain cell before they join in the chorus, the witch hunt of hatred against something of which they know nothing? It seems to make them feel good to circle their wagons and cry, "Hey, don't hurt me, o.k.? I like black people." The trial is over; Zimmerman was acquitted.

Zimmerman is not a privileged man. He was the poor shmuck out there watching over his lately ravaged neighborhood. Did he go on ski holidays like the Martins? I don't know, but unless Mr. Martin Sr. was slumming it with his new girlfriend, I'll presume all were all of the same socioeconomic status.

Mr. Gibson's work is, like so many of his fellow liberal incendiaries, riddled with some truth, scabbed onto an osteoporitic scaffolding. After a while of reading these diatribes, I grew sick of the lack of truth. In neither my previous piece (Zimmerman Lynch Mob) nor this one am I debating the trial, as I am not privy to the facts (and neither are you). You know your bias and inclination, and what the press allows you.

Here is a fact: U.S. society is an economic caste system; neither Z. nor Martin were Brahmins. Going  back to the O.J. Simpson trial, Mr. Simpson was, as a celebrity, among the elite. He bought the best representation money could buy, and he beat the rap of killing his white wife. Following his acquittal, I recall the black women delighting in his cleverness. Not his innocence, mind you; no Mrs. Brown had it coming to her.

We know that is our society -- blacks cheer for the nomination of silent Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas not for his legal acumen, but for his color; ditto the black community and President Obama. And whites, well, the good liberals self-flagellate. The color line is clear, but it is simply not so in this case.

So who are the "white people and people of privilege" lumped together so injudiciously in Gibson's piece. I know that I am not part of that entourage.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Zimmerman Lynch Mob

--this cartoon shows the 
 typical facile liberal perception

Ahm seventeen. Almost a man.
He strode, feeling his long loose-jointed limbs 
--Almos' A Man, Richard Wright

I am looking for a human 
--Diogenes of Sinope

How could they see anything but the shadows
if they were never allowed to move their heads? 
--Allegory of the Cave, Plato

I opened my news on a muggy North Florida Sunday to read the verdict of the Zimmerman trial: "Not guilty". I have faith in the jury system, and believe jurors -- my peers -- largely get it right, when provided the relevant data.

The form in which the news came to me was via a liberal news service which ran the Yahoo news article by Liz Goodwin. The lede begins,

"Zimmerman, 29, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, a 17 year old black boy ..."

"Black boy" -- evocative, no? My passing acquaintance with UPI and AP press manuals would suggest, "young man / adolescent / juvenile / or teenager" as fair descriptors, but "boy"?  BOY? Not for a 17-year-old young man, and especially not a young black man. It seems so uncouth as to be risible. It is derogatory, emasculating and humiliating.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided in a judgement last year that the use of the term "boy" towards a black man showed evidence of racial discrimination (Ash vs. Tyson Foods).  A retired judge commenting on the case was quoted in the New York Times as saying “It’s the same as calling him a nigger.”

Were Ms. Goodwin to describe a young black man thusly in our neck o' the woods, she would be liable to be jumped. Especially you, Liz-miss-white-person. No sir. Snoop Lion may say "boy" or "niggaz" ("fo shizzle my nizzle"), but certainly not you. Using a non-evocative, non-pejorative adjective is Journo 101, and it is sad when a national news service cannot get that right.

Our press is riddled through with bias at every slice. This should be the story of a trial and its findings, not an effort whip up some after-the-fact angst.

In addition to the offensive coverage, the comments from my fellow liberals following the story were atrocious, hideous, beginning with the suggestion that a black person now kill Z. The following is the comment I left:

"Why does the writer use the phrase, "17 year old black boy"? "Black boy" is the phraseology of the Jim Crow South; at 17, Martin was a teen. 

Oh, I get it, the liberals are just as disingenuous as the conservatives, and use anything in their arsenal, without regard to bias; in fact, intentionally with the intent of biasing. Disgusting, really. 

Some of the readers here call for the murder of Zimmerman by a black man ... most of you people here are nuts. Any hopes I had that this might be a truly liberal community are gone -- if this is liberalism in 2013 America, you can have it."

Ah, but a "boy" was killed, and we are gulled into believing that it was precisely because he was a "boy" (=young black man.) Don't give me that hokum. As Ranger says, when a 17-year-old young man earns the Medal of Honor dying in battle for his country, we do not call him a "boy". Trayvon falls short of that mark, but his age is commensurate; "young man", not "boy".

What passes for "news" and reportage today bores me. That people accept it is scary and disgusting.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Troika

 Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
--Heart and Soul, Frank Loesser

Well the eagles been flying slow,
and the flag's been flying low,
and a lotta people say that America's fixing to fall.
But speaking just for me, and some people from Tennesse,
we got a thing or two to tell ya all 
--In America, Charlie Daniels Band

Smokestack, fatback,
many miles of railroad track
All night radio, keep on runnin'
through your rock 'n' roll soul
All night diners keep you awake,
hey, on black coffee and a hard roll 
--Living in America, James Brown

RAW's friend Peter Van Buren @ his blog WeMeantWell recently asked, "What's patriotism", deciding upon the definition that it was loving his country, if not its government. Ranger wishes to riff off of that idea.

Can one be patriotic and not love one's country (if the country is defined largely by its government)? Is patriotism affixed to a place, or an ideal? Western civilization recognizes many schisms, such as the tripartite mind - body - spirit. This may be a result of our delight in system-making, but can a thing like "patriotism" be cleaved from its referent?

Does being patriotic require the entirety (mind - body - spirit) to be on board, or is the body alone needed to make the claim -- the willingness to fight and die for one's country, for instance? Ditto for the laws that compose the nation: Does the mind and spirit need to comply if the body behaves in compliance with those laws, and further, is compliance the basic requisite in order to declare for patriotism?

Or is patriotism a phenomenon of the spirit, sans approval for any specific administration, government or law? Is it a non-corporeal love for a concept which may (or may not) transcend the practice of that concept at any given time? Is the government and the country an indivisible essence?

What is the role of "faith" in the idea of patriotism? Faith could be described as belief in a system beyond the empirical facts, so is patriotism faith-based, like belief in religious dogma? Is this why we vote for "hope", in the absence of any other viable option?

In reverse, what is the government's concern/obligation to the integrity of it's polity? Can a government be healthy if its constituents are not cohesive or in harmony? It seems the body (individual) and the body politic must be in symbiosis for effective functioning. We tend (generally, if inadequately) to tend to the individual's bodily needs, but do not tend the harmonious interplay of the individual with his government.

What is the function of patriotism? Is it necessary for the attainment of a robust and equable government and society? Is it a thought, or an action? Is it defined by what it is, or what it isn't?

We have not defined the term, but provided for some weekend musings.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Like, Totally

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wond'ring what in the world did I do? 
--Crazy, Patsy Cline

 And bring back Springsteen, Madonna, way before Nirvana      
There was U2 and Blondie and music still on MTV      
Her two kids in high school they tell her that she's uncool        
'Cause she's still preoccupied with 1985     
--1985, Bowling for Soup 

I love going into like clothing stores and stuff 
 I like buy the neatest mini-skirts and stuff      
It's like so BITCHEN 'cause    
like everybody's like Super-super nice        
--Valley Girl, Frank Zappa

O.K., so we're like, in Jacksonville near the Naval Air Station, and we were privy to overhearing a group of six young Sailors yesterday -- all clean-cut, nice looking young people, but their verbiage was notable -- like, totally. A short transcript follows, in media res:

"So, like, I was in the garage and it was like, totally, y'know, AMAZING that um ..."

"Yeah, right, like where did that come from?"

"Oh, right, like, I dunno, like, maybe he (indecipherable) ..."


"OK, so like, last night that girl was working at ..."

"y'mean, what's her name ..."

"Yeah, that one, and it was like crazy like I was with (whomever), so like it had to be THAT night that she was there, and like ...."


O.K. -- so, you get the idea. Otherwise sound-looking young people unable to form a coherent sentence, yet seemingly telegraphing unvoiced sentiments, resulting in a lot of gesticulating and fallow ideas. We sensed a faint trace of confusion amongst them, but their unwilling to endeavor, or perhaps their inability to do so, left them adrift in what seemed a welter of unsatisfied expression.

I dunno. We @ Ranger have been mulling over the concept of metrosexuality and emo boys lately -- whassup with that? This is not hella good for the state of manhood in the near future.

So, do you, like, have any thoughts on the matter?

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Uncivil War, II

--dead Confederate soldiers,
Timothy O'Sullivan

A reflection on Gettysburg, considered a win for the Union by some, but not all, and then a reflection on the connection between then and now.

The entire battle was a glorified meeting engagement as Lee did not properly control his cavalry assets. Whether Lee or Stuart is responsible is irrelevant: the Confederates were in enemy terrain without proper screening of their flanks and lacking long-range reconnaissance to identify the order of battle and approach routes of the U.S. Army. Lee's Army was not arrayed for battle and their approach march was not concentrated or properly coordinated.

The Confederates pushed the enemy on days 1-3, but did not punch. Their attacks were piecemeal, and as such, inconsequential. Even if all of the Confederate Corps' attacks had been successful, the Army of Northern Virginia lacked Army level reserves to exploit any local success. An attack must have military relevance, which includes a means of exploiting success. Actions like Pickett's charge was akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight, and even had he ruptured U.S. lines his Army could not have exploited the break.

The U.S. forces offer the teaching point in this battle, for up to this point the U.S. soldier was never outfought, but only out-Generaled. This time, the Generals were not deficient -- the Army fought as a unified entity, terrain was properly utilized and artillery was employed in a coordinated and integrated fire plan; textbook command and control. The Army responded as a well regulated unit.

The great failure of the fight was not tactical but strategic since the Confederates were not decisively destroyed, nor was their ability to maneuver crushed; it is difficult to criticize General Meade, however, since he was not tasked to destroy the Confederate Army. The glory at that time was to fight them to a standstill.

Meade did not press Lee mercilessly nor did he offer him battle on the 4th day, allowing the ANV battered forces to escape South.
 Had Meade mercilessly blocked Lee's avenues of escape and destroyed his forces in piecemeal battles or in a coordinated effort, the war would have ended sooner.

The U.S. Army of 2013, like the Army on NV, does not apply its combat power to military objectives. Pickett's impotent charge could be seen as Lee's "Surge", much like our incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan: too little, too late, and uncoordinated and unsustainable. Like our current surges, his was an attempt to do more than soldiers are capable of doing. In Gettysburg this was understandable, but it was folly in Afghanistan and Iraq; military solutions cannot solve political, social or religious civil wars in fractured societies.

The success of Gettysburg was the result of a total war effort, versus the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) which is just a nation flaying around without a clearly-stated mission. In 2013 there is no enemy Army to destroy and there is no way to destroy their will to fight since, unlike the Confederates, our opponents have unlimited maneuver space and boundless safe havens.

Maybe the PWOT is not a military construct after all, and is hampered by its emotional raison d'etre as was Lee's Army.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Uncivil War, I

No international security, no call of the righteous man   
Needs a reason to kill man, history teaches us so   
Reason he must attain, must be approved by his God   
His child, partisan brother of war  
--War?, S.O.A.D. 

 And I don't need your civil war 
It feeds the rich, while it buries the poor    
You're power hungry, sellin' soldiers  
  In a human grocery store, ain't that fresh?  
I don't need your civil war 
--Civil War, Guns n Roses 

 Mr. Lincon, 
I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, 
the city of Savannah 
--General Sherman

Some reflections 150 years after Gettysburg.

Our Civil War was bloody and vicious, but it was certainly ours alone. It is the historian's party line that we could not have cohered as a nation had we not fought it (though its wounds, deprivations and  divisiveness persist.) One thing we have not learned as a result of our exhaustive self-study is that Civil Wars are internal affairs.

We persist in our folly by intervening in the inevitable Civil Wars of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.  Adding ignorance to our folly, we consider it a good thing to do. As with "The Trauma of the Gifted Child", we actually think we can fix their problems or stymy the inevitable. Maybe we think being a tourniquet is good enough, and fancy that we can stanch the bleeding.

If our justification for entering these conflicts is that the behavior of the combatants is heinous, we should consider how our Civil War was fought. Both sides perpetrated inhumane conditions upon their prisoners of war and suffered them among the troops. Grant, Sherman and Sheridan brought the carnage to the citizens of the South, Sherman cutting a swath of destruction to the Sea as a gift to President Lincoln. Sheridan destroyed the Shenandoah Valley so thoroughly that "a crow flying across the valley needed to bring his own provisions."

It was a total war of unflinching destruction, with such animus that the scars are still felt, and yet we now wish to involve ourselves in the Civil Wars of other nations, peopled by citizens who follow practices and beliefs much more foreign to us than that which divided the North and the South. Why? Are we suffering a collective wish for atonement -- to get it right somewhere else? Is it our Christian sympathy with the perceived meek, whomever he is conceived of being and wherever he may be? Throwing ourselves into the lion's den certainly seems to be the action of the martyr, yetwe haven't the wisdom of Solomon to determine who actually is the meek (if anyone out-qualifies another.)

RangerAgainstWar's position is that there is misery and deprivation aplenty in the United States without needed to go foraging about for it in other lands. It might not make for a exotic photo op, but if cross you Divide Street in most towns you would find need without bottom. However, Americans like flash and gash. It is as though at 237 years young, we are already an enervated ideology.

If Syria were not enough to interest us, we still have Iran on the back burner, and as a recent article teased with full seriousness, "Is Africa the Next Afghanistan?"

Our nation transfixed with one single death in the Zimmerman trial, yet we as a nation are willing to become the "neighborhood watch vigilantes" for the world, not too much troubled by death orders of magnitude higher.

Do we see the hypocrisy?

--by jim

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Friday, July 05, 2013

Dollar Store


 We’re gonna jump down turn around
pick a bale of cotton,
jump down turn around pick a bale a day 
--Pick a Bale of Cotton, traditional  

Call me a relic call me what'cha will
Say I'm old fashioned say I'm over the hill 
--Old Time Rock and Roll, Bob Segar

 I don't know where my soul is
I don't know where my home is 
--I'm Like a Bird, Nelly Furtado

Not wanting to be one of those people who critiques other blogs, please see that this not the point of this entry.

As a follow-on to yesterday's "Prelude to the Finale", RAW will mention a piece from yesterday's Huffington Post about a mother who left her kid in a closed vehicle in a parking lot on a hot (89 degree) day. The child was released unharmed, but the story shadowboxed one comment to their piece which called for a sort of vigilante posse to "patrol the parking lots of Dollar stores."

"I think we should all form a vigilante group and wander discount store parking lots and rescue kids and pets left in hot cars. I will buy us all frappes if you design the logo for our Mommy Hot Car Rescue league!"
Frapes all 'round!
What's not to love?

Does that sound reasonable to you? That ostensibly well-meaning comment reveals why liberals are unsuccessful in implementing any sort of meaningful projects. The comment is angry, dismissive and denigrating, embodying the divide between the haves and have-nots. You who have the time to patrol parking lots where the dregs shop may be able to fish the occasional child out of a sweltering (or freezing) car, and that may make you Superman for a moment. Then you may go back to HuffPo and report on your intervention, feeling very good for a moment.

But the people reading HuffPo are not the average worker bees who are lucky to have a moment to turn on the evening news, which means they will not really get a fair diary of the news but merely a entertainment facsimile leaving them all the more incurious about their world or alternately feeling hopelessly separated from it.

The problem is not confined to those who shop at Dollar Stores or whose thinking is disarranged. Child abuse (neglect) is a problem in all social strata. By making it a blight of "those people" who shop at Dollar Stores, you make an uncomfortable and illiberal divide between you and your sisters. We are all guilty of neglect; those with more money are able to fob their children off on au pairs, or sit them in front of the latest video games; anytime we fail to connect with those in our environment we cannot understand and so cannot contribute to a reasonable solution.

That parent and child saved from the potential fiasco at the Dollar Store will return to an abode without proper cooling or insulation, perhaps vermin-ridden with peeling lead paint or compromised asbestos tile. Maybe a mobile home full of carcinogens (FEMA or not).

There may be insufficient or no food in the fridge, or spoiled food. There will probably be no adequate medical care to treat an emergency which might arise, or to create a healthcare plan for achieving and maintaining a well body. (Waiting in an ER for 6+ hours does not qualify as adequate medical care.) The frustration which arises from such a fraught life may result in depression or substance abuse, which rolls over into abuse perpetrated on the innocent or a living dead sort of ennui which is just bad.

It is the paradox of the blind men in the room with an elephant. Each touches one part and so is certain that the animal is narrow, hard, rough and wrinkled or hairy depending upon which part he got to "see". We are not blind, and yet when we react by treating a symptom as though it were the root problem, we may as well be.

People seem to enjoy getting up in arms about the "outrage du jour", and that emotion feels like "doing something", which seems to quell their feelings of impotence, discharging their energy in a socially acceptable way. "You see, I am a caring person and just got very upset about what I saw." It is as though the outrage packet carries within it the knowledge that very little will change. The packaging of that reaction on Facebook or in 140 characters on Twitter is becoming a new art form.

A recent prime example of this was the reaction to the new "Common Core" school initiative proposing a set of standards for public schools in the vein of the spectacularly unsuccessful, "No Child Left Behind". Steve Krashen at the Cinncinnati Enquirer got it right when he observed that U.S. still lags miserably behind in school achievement among the other industrial nations and pins it to the fact that the U.S. has the 2nd highest level of Child poverty in the developed world.

"When children are hungry undernourished, ill" and go home to dysfunctional families, new standards and tests mean very little.

Are there any questions?

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Prelude to the Finale

--sign in front of a Tallahassee Walmart 

Think of how stupid the average person is,
and realize that half of them are stupider than that
--George Carlin 

Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy 
--Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

We kid ourselves that opening combat arms MOSs to women will be yet another step towards gender equality, but it seems a cruel joke. When over 20% of females serving in the military report at least one incident of sexual harassment during their time in service, that seems a red flag that placing them even further afield is unlikely to solve or mitigate the problem.

Even we at RangerAgainstWar fell prey to the canard that such a move would allow females in the military the opportunity to ascend the ranks as men have, by letting them test their mettle in the field and earn combat valor awards. A perverse added bennie: those females with a psychopathic bent will be able to enjoy the same opportunity to blast people (= "targets") into smithereens. Dying is not much of a way to make a living, but with 25% of women (some estimates are as high as 40%) currently taking antidepressant drugs, this might prove some sort of innovative stress-relief therapy.

However, the truth is that a majority of women who enter the Army do so because it is the last best employment option. Like the waitress we met in Beckley, W.V. -- sight of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mining disaster in which 29 men died -- told us when discussing her husband's recent decision to join the military, "It was that or the mines, and we've got a family to feed." Ditto the Latina kitchen worker interviewed on NPR who said that though she injured her arms in a kitchen accident while in the Army and subsequently left, she later decided to return to service as it provided the best work benefits for her daughters.

Life just above subsistence level is the reality for many women and their families. The National Center for Law and Economic Justice says "Poverty is a women's issue."  "Families headed by single women are particularly vulnerable to poverty and deep poverty". "[T]he Census defines people in deep poverty when they make 50% below the poverty line; Census figures show that, in 2011, 6.6 percent of all people, or 20.4 million people, lived in deep poverty." That means one in 16 people living in the USA are living in deep poverty.

For these women, military service is a means to put food on the table, and not a career-enhancing decision. The sign leading this post warning parents not to leave their children in the car is inside the front doors of our local Walmart. It seems portentous.

Something is wrong in our society when people must be alerted to the fact that they may have left their kids or pets in a car to die of heat exhaustion. We are so harried and amped up on our Two-Minutes Hate that we cannot focus on the actual issues of a life, yet the press forefronts issues like gay marriage and women in the combat arms to fool us into thinking that we have a functional society.

The reality of life for so many who do not gain the benefit of the liberal's embrace was embodied for me in a small tragedy which played out last week, one which caught my eye only because it happened in Jacksonville the day after leaving that town. It did not gain the eye of the media which instead has its sights set on the Zimmerman trial, yet it is an all-too-common story of life lived and lost behind the economic 8-ball.

It began in a Dollar Store, where a mother told one of her three daughters that she did not have enough money to buy her the bag of chips she asked for. In what must have seemed manna from heaven, a recently-released child molester overheard the girl's plea and offered to drive them all to a local Walmart where his "wife" was shopping with a large gift card. He told her he and his wife would be happy to put some clothes and food for the girls on the card, so they all loaded up into his van to head for the shopping spree six months shy of Christmas.

The story ends as you might imagine, the oldest girl found dead less than a day later outside of a church. You see, she wanted a cheeseburger, and the man offered to take her to the McDonald's food court inside the Walmart; instead, he departed with her in his van.

Here is a picture of the 8-year-old murder victim, Cherish Perrywinkle:

Now, you may be horrified that a mother would allow this; it is 2013, and surely she watched the true crime stories. But who knows what was in her mind. Perhaps she had come to rely on the kindness of strangers, surely a relic of President Reagan's compassionate Conservatism which aimed to close Federal assistance programs and throw the burden onto the private sector. This man was offering something like a community food kitchen, which may be the way they accessed most of their meals. The predator was offering to solve a crisis, and the prey did not know their position.

 If you don't know what it is like to "walk and not ride" -- the Southern way of saying you are poor, and cannot even afford to ride our notoriously unreliable buses -- you will not understand this sort of desperation, the sort that drives women to sell their bodies, and those of their daughters, sometimes. But this woman sounds like she knew that phrase intimately.

Survival becomes a patchwork of scrounging assistance from any open hand. You think she might have been mad or feeble-minded?  Perhaps, but why did she have three daughters? We recoil in horror at the mountain people's solution to such things which is imposing involuntary sterilization under the rubric, "appendectomy". Sophisticated people say that is inhuman, and yet they are not keen on the idea of providing probable lifetime assistance to such people, either. So, then what? One dead girl, for sure.

Opening up the firing line to these women will not likely raise their life condition, and there are more of them than there are rank-climbing military careerists.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Watching the Wheels

--Ernie and Burt, Jack Hunter 

Time was not passing...
it was turning in a circle 
--100 years of solitude, 
Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

I think I'm dumb 
Maybe just happy 
I think I'm just happy 
--Dumb, Nirvana 

Things they do look awful cold
I hope I die before I get old 
--My Generation, The Who

I blame Marlo Thomas.

Her 1960's agitprop album, "Free to Be ... You and Me" was the incipient kernel for the misbegotten plant we call "gender-neutrality", one aimed at the obliteration of our very real differing gender orientations, a castration in the best liberal sense which tells you that it is for your own good, or better, someone else's good who has been oppressed by someone who is not you. But you will pay for their oppression through a disseminated socialized and internalized guilt and enforced genuflection.

Not that there weren't other actors besides Thomas on the social engineering stage -- an army of them. This week's The New Yorker cover brilliantly depicts the outcome of 50 years of The Message, the Supreme Court caught like deer before the t.v. lights having been railroaded like the rest of us into its recent decision on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

Mr. Potato Head was part of it -- what was he? Ostensibly a "he", the spud came with with handlebar mustache, cherry red stick-on lips and high heels. He was transgendered, before genetic-engineering was even cool. Then there was the Playskool bus, with pop-out, gender-neutral passengers, all having round peg bottoms to fit into the same seats. No one "belonged" in the front or back, you see?

I have been raised amidst this vast experiment, yet in neither racial nor gender relations have we achieved harmony. Oh, but the message was hammered into our subconscious diligently and incessantly, until we started college and were told how to free ourselves from the bondage of our biology and rail against a stifling patriarchy and see homosexuality in Huck Finn and every Shakespeare play. If we could contort our minds to follow Lacan and Foucault, our lives would be superior to those that went before.

Only, it didn't turn out that way. The problem is, our animal impulses did not change because of the French structuralists, and those who claimed to integrate the messages did not create a more functional symbiosis with their partners; often, quite the opposite.

Despite our shortfalls we call it progress, and would now feign to export what we do not know. Three Cups of Tea assures us we are raising the status of women in our current war zones. Although movement is not always progress, one risks being called "Old School" if one questions change -- the most damning label of all in our youth-besotted culture.

If not caught up in the Twittermania over the changes -- any changes -- one risks becoming seen as the sort of person who watches the Delltones on Public Television fund-drives -- hopelessly mired in the ever-receding yesterday. Fustain, and worse, a person who uses the word "fustian" (Like, TOTALLY uncool.)

Social media demands an ever-present "now"; publish several Tweets a day or perish. Even the blog, which aspires to analysis -- though to the daily news treadmill -- is becoming passe. Ephemerality is the future, as we devolve into twitchy, itchy paramecia skittering hither and thither at the latest update, eliciting a concomitant quick reaction (shock/praise/disgust...)

Maybe we are limning down to just three emotions, to align with our truncated verb tenses: happy / mad or sad, for a past/present or future. Nuance is lost, and everyone wants to be an instant wit, but we have few Dorothy Parkers or Oscar Wildes amongst us. Mostly, we have harridans who scold with more or less finesse, to the march of the incessant news feed.

We mainline our news from outlets that deliver what we like to hear. When the New York Times recently ran an expose of the abuses of the federal Pigford farm giveaway program -- a subject which the late conservative blogger Breitbart had correctly heralded -- liberal mouthpieces were aghast. How could the NYT betray its liberality by presenting ... The Facts? News has become partisan, and if it favors a conservative position, it will be buried by the liberal press, and of course, vice versa. Not that there wasn't Yellow Journalism before, but the demands of the the immediate news feed makes anything approaching thoughtful insight less and less possible.

We are seeing the fruit of Thomas's plant in recent motions like the rescinding of DOMA and the move for women in the Rangers and the SEALs and the Combat Arms, in general. This is the new social frontier we are told and as such, we must reach it.

We derive value from championing the designated underdog, and it matters not whether this favoritism is for the greater good. In Syria, our sympathy is for the rebels (we like rebels, unless they are rebelling against us); in DOMA, we must allow for gay marriage, and in the military, women must gain a false parity with fighting men.

"The Disempowered" are our modern Golden Calf, and the liberals feel very smart when they worship at their feet. The engineers lay in their agenda like a stealth missile. Gay marriage is inevitable; after all, we have been watching media depictions of gay couples for well over a decade, so even if we do not live on the Coasts, the behavior seems de rigeuer and the institutionalization of it, a foregone conclusion. Our men have become metrosexuals and emo boys before our eyes.

We are barraged by studies of falling marriage rates and rising out of wedlock births. We are told that soon, the XY chromosome will become passe, and women will no longer need men -- the crowning achievement of the feminist project. While imbibing these messages, the groundwork was being laid for same-sex marriage: If no one else is getting married, well, at least homosexuals who wish to marry will fill in the void.

Before you label me a meanie -- of course gay couples should be allowed to marry. Married couples have more stake in their neighborhoods and communities. If you want stability and safety, nurturing stable households would be a good start.

If we were reasonable people we would recognize the biological imperative that a certain percentage of people will be homosexual and some will wish to marry, so it would be mean and primitive to disallow such committed partnerships from enjoying all of the benefits which accrue to a hetero married couple.  However, that end could be achieved by a civil marriage, without impinging upon church doctrine. We would construct a legal partnership bestowing rights of inheritance, shared work benefits, and every other thing a hetero married couple enjoys. And if you find a religious doctrine that sanctions homosexual marriage, go to that church. Case closed.

But for the government at the state or federal level to coerce churches to marry gay couples is patently absurd. If the church dogma sees homosexual pairings as disordered behavior, why would gay people cleave to a myth which does not recognize them? They will not be validated by invalidating the scripture. Further, such coercion would be a violation of the Church and State divide.

So that is a gloss on how we went from G.I. Joe to this No Man's Land. Did our tinkering with gender identification influence the current calls for total gender integration in the military? Certainly, and we will pick up the final "women in combat" installment soon.

[On a personal note: as I have recently stood back from the incessant tirade that is today's news cycle, I'm feeling a new fondness for Voltaire's simple dictum to tend to our own gardens. More thoughts on that later.]

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