Saturday, August 31, 2013

Don't Panic

We @ RAW thought this was a nice explication of what is about to happen, or not:

In our opinion and from our experience,
there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen
that realistically threatens the United States of America
--John Kerry, in his 1971 Testimony to Congress on Vietnam  

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style 
Ain't got no gal to make you smile 
Don't worry, be happy  
--Don't Worry Be Happy,  
Bobby McFerrin 

Obama Promises Syria Strike Will Have No Objective

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
30 August 13
ttempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have "no objective whatsoever."
"Let me be clear," he said in an interview on CNN. "Our goal will not be to effect régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days and then leave."

"I want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal," he said. "This is consistent with U.S. foreign policy of the past."

While Mr. Obama clearly hoped that his proposal of a brief and pointless intervention in Syria would reassure the international community, it immediately drew howls of protest from U.S. allies, who argued that two days was too open-ended a timeframe for such a mission.

That criticism led White House spokesman Jay Carney to brief reporters later in the day, arguing that the President was willing to scale down the U.S. mission to "twenty-four hours, thirty-six tops."

"It may take twenty-four hours, but it could also take twelve," Mr. Carney said.

"Maybe we get in there, take a look around, and get out right away. But however long it takes, one thing will not change: this mission will have no point. The President is resolute about that."

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Friday, August 30, 2013

That's Entertainment!

--Fake Revolution -- psych!

A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound
A buck or a pound
A buck or a pound
Is all that makes the world go around 
--Money Makes the World Go Around, Cabaret

Business is the business of America
--President Calvin Coolidge

The clown with his pants falling down
Or the dance that's a dream of romance
Or the scene where the villain is mean
That's entertainment! 
--That's Entertainment, The Band Wagon

"Morality?" The question rings in my head in my best irate and clueless Michael Palin voice. Some are saying aerial bombing of Syria would be "moral", and not bombing would be immoral.

Morality with a Florida flavor came when Florida's Governor Rick Scott cut $1.3 billion dollars from the new education budget, resulting in cuts to programs like art and music, Head Start and after school programs. The same week, on a national level we debate dropping bombs at a $1 million+ a pop over Syria (that's just the cost of the paltry warhead, of course.) Neither action will not make our students smarter or more compassionate citizens. 

I propose a morality defined by the uplift and betterment of our citizens. A morality which hews to our Constitution, which is to say a Republic which adheres to our rule of law, if for no other reason than such a nation acts on behalf of enlightened self-interest.

Of course, the program cuts do not affect the lives or families of the decision makers, which is to say, they don't matter. Their children will not suffer the ignobility of being told that things of beauty are not needed for their lives, and that they should get on with the business of a straight-jacketed life in the STEM industries (science, technology, engineering or math), IF you can manage it, and on your dime. If not, service "professions" await you.

Note that while all of this important stuff is going on, you are being distracted by the exploits of Miley, and before that, stories of various women who have killed their husbands, or their kids, or husbands killing wives, etc., or the Ohio three, or Caylee, or Jon Benet, ad nauseum. The news forefronts these salacious tidbits to you, which you then Twitter about, because it is something easy for us to digest, a special little pint of Ben and Jerries called "Bublegum News -- Not."

Since Warren Buffet or Rupert Murdoch will not be going into a Jiffy Mart anytime soon or jogging on streets outside of their gated communities, it is not much matter to them the tragic little stories of Christopher Lane or Joshua Chellow, et. al. Trayvon Martin would not have walked uninvited on their streets, and Mr. Zimmerman would not be guarding them. And further, why would anyone waste an instant on the sad little, all-too-common story of Trayvon Martin's death in a little Florida town? (It was my incredulity over the passion of the predictable knee-jerk reactions and media lynch mob which disgusted me.)

These are economic issues, and not partisan ones; Al Gore could not answer a reporter's question about the price of a gallon of milk, just as George W. Bush did not know the price of a gallon of gas. Other people work for them, discharging the daily minutiae of a life too busy to contend with such trivialities. Their employers operate on another rung of life. Reading the Wall Street Journal is an entirely different matter than reading USA Today, Foreign Policy different than People. The act of reading itself, a different one from viewing.

George Schultz asked in a recent interview hosted by the Commonwealth Club and broadcast on NPR, "How do you govern over diversity in an age of transparency?" It was the query of an overlord asking how to keep the minions in check if they have access to all the news that's not fit to print. Of course, the minions tame themselves, using their connectivity for not much that will benefit them beyond entertainment, which is the goal, of course.

There's not much more to say on peonage so entrenched and embraced, so I'll end with an excerpt from a Charles Pierce essay on the wisdom of interfering in Syria in Esquire:

Make no mistake. If we strike, we will be making actual war in Syria. Ordinary Syrians will not see our missiles as "bomb-o-grams," telling them with every deadly explosion that we're really on their side. We will be another belligerent making their daily lives brutal and deadly, and there will be enough of them to hate us for that to guarantee that we will have to make more war in that place, or in some other place, very soon. That is what we do now. We make war in a place without going to war in a place, and nobody is fooled except ourselves (Making War in Syria.)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

War Begets War

 --Miley, what America does best

"Therefore, my Harry, 
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds 
With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days." 
--Henry IV, Part II, Shakespeare

 I don't want you to be no slave
I don't want you to work all day
But I want you to be true
And I just wanna make love to you 
--I Just Wanna Make Love to You, Etta James

Just lemme put the tip in
--Richard Pryor

We at RangerAgainstWar often employ lyrics and quotations to make our point.  Here are a few for you.

Shakespeare needs no help from RAW (h/t to Chris), but the late Richard Pryor had a brilliant sketch about a lover imploring his resistant partner to "just allow the tip" in. We all know of course that if you do that, you get the shaft. Shouts all 'bout for just sending in war heads to Syria -- "just the tip".  Right-o.

And then there's Etta James telling her lover that she just wants to cook him bread and wash his clothes, if he will just be true to her. Substitute, "I just wanna make war on you," and you have the United States' 21st century version. End of lesson.

But we will ramble on, as it's fun to tell the truth.

The New York Times yesterday ran an Op-Ed arguing for bombing Syria on "moral grounds" (Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal.") We wonder if author Ian Hurd has ever faced having the prospect of having a mega ton dropped on him, and if he did, would would he think it very moral? We suspect that even if he were one bad dude, he wouldn't cotton to the idea. It's all about walking in the other guy's shoes, Ian, something that requires you understand a little about him.

Let's be clear about the U.S. position: We are so morally outraged at the use of chemical weapons to kill people that we have to kill some other people by bombing them ... not exactly Logic 101. Nor is it a consistent position, which claiming for "morality would seem to require.

If we go into Syria for "humanitarian" reasons, why didn't we go into Africa where millions of innocents were being slaughtered? Darfur has be
en experiencing ongoing genocide for over a decade, but no one advocates  bombing Sudan? Ranger just read an excellent book of reportage on the Rwanda genocides (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families.) Brutality beyond the pale, yet which failed to enlist one American bomb -- not ONE.

But let us shelve all this high-falutin talk of morality, and talk common sense. What sense is there in supporting al-Qaeda rebels whom the Syrians hate who hate the U.S. and who are at war with the U.S. in Afghanistan -- Hello? Politicos have offered plenty of stupid and immoral reasons for bombing and killing since the war in Vietnam, but we don't often hear arguments for peace and focusing on prosperity.

Make no mistake: Bombing Syria with cruise missiles and stand-off weapons has no relevance to the welfare of our nation. Not one million+ dollar missile will help to repair even the smallest section of sidewalk in Detroit, nor will our water quality, public education and general welfare will not be improved one iota.

Ranger had an up-close and personal experience with aerial bombardment during the Vietnam War -- an action which was sold as pulling a rabbit out of a hat in terms of its ability to settle an internecine dispute cleanly. Aerial bombardment has never stopped a nation from fighting, when a fight is what it wants. Air power can simply deliver death and destruction, it cannot resolve conflicts. The Germans, Russians, Japs and Brits soldiered on in the face of overwhelming air power.arrayed against them.

Bombing does not shake a nation's resolve, and may even steel it. It will surely gain you no friends. And what if the Syrian loyal forces fall as a result of our actions? Do we imagine they will be treated humanely and in accordance with the rules of land warfare? Are we willing to accept their annihilation as the price of our supposed "morality"?

We have a war machine out of control, and it is so under civilian guidance. This was not the Founding Father's intent, who sought civilian oversight to rein in the military. When you as a citizen risk life and limb, you think twice ... of course the problem today is, only 1% of the population bears the service burden for the hawkish wonks.

So, we will unleash our Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) because we don't like someone else using their WMDs all under the rubric of, "We'll never forget 9-11-01", or somesuch. Dr. Strangelove's got nothing on us. Like comic Ron White says, you can't fix "stupid". If you believe bombing Syria "just a little" is an important "slap on the wrist", that's stupid.

The highest moral imperative it seems is, feed the military-industrial complex ... it's a hungry beast.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tell the People What They Want to Hear

 You don't have to drag me down
I descend 
--Trouble, Shawn Colvin 

I'm Winston Wolfe. I solve problems
 --Pulp Fiction (1994) 

The trouble with this country is that there are 
too many people going about saying, 
"The trouble with this country is ..." 
--Sinclair Lewis

Egypt and Syria are convenient sops to sidetrack the discussion from America and Americans. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarek is back like the Ghost of Christmas past. Remember the passion you saw on the You Tubes at his deposition? Yeah, that guy, and those people. You are watching a Mobius Strip in real time.

You are told that social networking platforms which consume your lives are enabling the flash mobs of liberty to go forth, except it is just not so. Wildly entertaining, until you realize it is another crazy cat video in another guise -- and where did your precious hours go?

The truth is, the events in Syria or Egypt do not affect our national health and welfare, though they are a convenient distraction. How repulsive to realize that your country is enabling the military takeover of an elected government in one country (Egypt) and attempting to overthrow another by means of rebel proxies in another (Syria). In the meantime, we have fought two wars to impose democracy upon Afghanistan and Iraq -- nations in which we opposed rebellion and Civil War. It's all good of course, if you don't mind being Janus-faced.

Pity to see former Winter Soldier of conscience John Kerry suck up so badly in Ms. Clinton's shoes, but that is what power does according to Mr. Machiavelli. Secretary Kerry is naught but another guise of the disgraced Colin Powell, in another uniform. Is anyone vetting the source of the attacks? What is the sense for the Assad regime to use gas at this time? Will this be John Kerry's "roving vans of WMDs" moment? We can see Powell and Kerry bemoaning their fate as stooges on the same rung of Purgatory now. Two stooges ... who will be the third?

Mr. Kerry made his emotional appeal to do something based on the content of videos uploaded to YouTube by rebel supporters in the early hours of 21st August -- You Tubes! Well, this is what it has come to for the once-mighty Department of State, as former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren often highlights at his site (Gangnam-style being the most faddish though already demode.)

All of the Islamic countries are one step away from chaos at any given time. The effects of World War I continue to haunt the region, and WWI did not resolve the prior entrenched volatility. The British, French and other European powers stepped off when colonizing the natives of Africa, Middle and SW Asia became a too-costly proposition, so why is the U.S. stepping into the chaos? We are self-appointed "Fixers", but we do not operate with the elan of Harvey Keitel's character Winston Wolfe in the film Pulp Fiction, but rather the buffoonish duo of Jules and Vincent. And what do we stand to gain?

If this is so momentous a moment, why does Congress not reconvene to debate the wisdom of intervention and vote on it? Who is considering the worst-case scenarios: What are the potential reprisals from launching U.S. cruise missiles, and what if our roulette wheel chooses to support the wrong brand of rebels? And what if they lose?

Since there is no overt logic to our current amebic actions in these Islamic entities that are difficult to call "states", there must be a meta-rationale which has not been made public by either the President or the Congress.

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What We Say When We Won't Call it "War"

 I'm a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I'm a three line whip, I'm the sort of thing they ban
I'm a walking disaster, I'm a demolition man 
--Demolition Man, The Police 

Since time is short and you may lie,
I'm going to have to torture you.
But I want you to know, it isn't personal 
--Repo Man (1984)

Lies, lies in my papa's looks
Lies, lies in my history books
Lies, lies like they teach in class
Lies, lies, lies I catch on way too fast
--Lies, The Rolling Stones

What moral or legal imperative compels the United States to interfere in the Syrian Civil War?

Let's parse a typical argument for U.S. intervention from The Week magazine, with RAW's explication in RED:

"Still, the U.S. can't afford to passively await the outcome, said Dennis Ross in NewRepublic.com. It will be time-consuming and difficult to direct training, money, and weapons to the right opposition groups [how do we ascertain "RIGHT"?], so that Assad can be forced to accept a negotiated transition from power [=we can kick out another sitting ruler and replace him with someone we foolishly believe to be OUR GUY.] But consider the alternative: Eventually Syria will fall apart and become "failed state" [Syria IS a FAILED STATE.] Assad's chemical weapons would then fall into the hands of al Qaida-affiliated rebels [all rebels are "al Qaida affiliated; alternatively, how can we divine that "al Qauda affiliated rebels" would be the recipients of the munitions windfall, if there in fact are other sorts of rebels?] This brutal tragedy is already "one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century," but it could get much, much worse (8.2.13)."

Hyperbole leads us to believe action is the only option. However, our own Civil War was fought without foreign intervention, and roughly 750,000 U.S. soldiers died in that conflict, out of a population of 30 million. No Arab or Middle East state has seen loss on that level. Why not offer other nations fighting civil wars the same neutrality with which our nation fought?

Let us be clear: There are no "good guys", so who will benefit? Forget the Syrians -- how will intervention benefit the security of America? Have U.S. actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt or any other Arab or Middle East state produced any tangible benefit to the funders -- the U.S. taxpayer?

When did the U.S. get into the foreign Civil War Resolution business?
The U.S. is not the U.N., and the President is not elected to fight other people's wars. The U.S. Department of Defense is not charged with protecting the rebelling malcontents in other nations.

The U.S. has just fought two of the longest conflicts in U.S. history, and done so supporting corrupt, inept and non-democratic governments from rebels and insurgents. We call these COIN wars (counterinsurgencies), and they are based in fighting those who would advocate overthrowing their government, even when said government is questionable at best, and corrupt and non-democratic, at worst. Syria would be something different, and by entering it the U.S. would be fighting on both sides of the COIN divide. White man speaks with forked tongue.

We are inconsistent: We oppose National Security interventions into our personal lives, but accept U.S. intervention into other people's civil wars. The policy wonks who state that al Qaida affiliates will benefit from a Syrian Civil War have not explained how introducing U.S. violence into the picture will lessen the likelihood of increased al Qaida activity. Are we getting up in everyone's business to distract us from our own dismal circumstances stateside?

We are blinded by our military might: Intervening in Syria assumes that a military reaction will solve a political problem. The media has led us to believe that the misnamed "Arab Spring" is our offspring, and that we must be a presence in any violence in the Islamic world. However, the only reason the U.S. has forces in the area is to ostensibly protect us from terrorist activity -- which is not the case in Syria.

When we launch cruise missiles it will be an act of violence with no morally justified logic.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Wasps of Summer

You shall see things wonderful to tell.
You shall see a cow on the roof of a cotton house
 And oh so many startlements 
--Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

I sprayed it with flea spray
and the cat just fell over dead,
Just like that 
--Quoth Ranger to a woman who just
adopted a cat for her son

 She feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China 
--Suzanne, Leonard Cohen

[ed. comment: riffing off of Chris Hedges book title, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, RAW will be casting the net wider to look at society and where and how it makes meaning, and how that translates into war, which will justify the blog’s name. But for today, it is beans and bullets. L.]

Cutting the grass has been sketchy this year due to the monsoon-like rains, but as they say in the South, we need it. (Of course, it’s not enough to stop the sinkholes, and perhaps too much so that the nitrogen-rich pesticide and fertilizer runoff has shut down walking on our local beaches and swimming in the St. Johns waterway … but those are tragedies for another day.)

During a brief lull, Ranger had a slim opportunity to fire up his old walk-behind mower when he was promptly and unceremoniously bitten on the hand by three wasps who had made a nest under the ignition; he had failed to perform a visual reconnaissance. Though it hurt, Chinese medicine finds the stings to be most propitious, and a resultant sleepless night led to various meditations on the not-right state of things in the State.

As a gunman, Ranger is concerned about the shortage of ammunition in the touted World’s Only Superpower. Ammunition is the thing needed to operate the legally purchased objects called firearms which he owns. Even reloading components are scarce.

Last week Walmart – or, "your neighborhood’s friendly Chinese Consulate" – had 5.56/.223 Winchester Made in America ammo, but 3 boxes of 20 rounds each was the limit. Worse, however, than the limitation was the quality.

The bullets were visually inferior with no consistency and could easily have been remanufactured, but there is no statement to that effect on the box. The brass has different head stamps and the primers are corroded and of different colors indicating mixed lots. Dirt was also in the ejector slotted areas of the heads of the rounds, and the rounds varied in length.

Suffice it to say that this ammo, necessary for one to exercise the right of self defense, is questionable at best. This is not Mexican, Filipino, Korean, Turkish or Persian junk, but good old boy Winchester USA-made ammo.

While trying to avoid the “Made in China” label of shame, he still cannot seem to escape a shoddy product. His 2nd new Mini Clubman has been in the shop thrice for mysterious engine waning light problems, and the new car gets four-miles less per gallon mileage than the previous 2008 – even though he has tried using hi-test petrol (which he never did in the previous vehicle.) The computer is lying, saying the car is getting “36.3 mpg”, but manual computations show 32 mpg.

He’s waiting to meet the next tow truck driver since the last one said this problem is common in the new Minis.

Man must find daily succor somewhere, and food used to be a reliable momentary refuge, but not so today when high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and questionable additives lie in wait in most factory-produced food products, and the GMO’s fed to the livestock seem to be making even them sick.

If you want fat-free because your sedentary lifestyle is packing on the pounds, then it will be loaded with artificial sweetener, and if you want sugar free, you’ll get phony hydrogenated fats or engineered fats (inulin, Olestra) to give you that silky mouth feel that compensates for your lack of actually eating real food. You may, however, suffer some socially problematic unforeseen consequences of your better living through chemistry. Even good meats have fillers (unless you can find organic) and fish has color added to make you not feel sick at seeing the actual colors.

Bacon must have artificial maple syrup flavor, or apple, or “smoke flavor” – not natural flavors, mind you, but the simulacrum of the real thing. Mott’s apple juice -- "since 1842" -- is now sourced from China (would-you-like-some-Melamine-with-that?) After that discovery, it is now being used in his insect trap – but even the bugs will not slurp it. Why must we eat apples from China? And don't eat those "oranges all the way from China" (Mandarin), either.

The syrups on the grocery shelves have been sans maple syrup for a long time, but Aunt Jemima used to have a token 3% real syrup; no more. Now, the big catchword is “natural” syrup, which means precisely nothing. Everything carbon-based is “natural”, but not all is good to consume. We have lost the taste for actual sweetness, and do not know what actual meat should look like.

Living in Florida, we have seen the gradual encroachment of big floral scents and flavors to meet the taste of Sabor Latino over the last two decades. Now the fumes are ubiquitous: shower soap, dish detergent floor cleaner and laundry detergent is redolent with "grenade and lime", papaya and guava smells – things better suited to ingestion than infusion into one’s clothes or living quarters. Saith Ranger, he doesn’t want to smell like a French whore or a Tallahassee pimp.

All of this from three wasp bites which, though unpleasant, were “pure and natural”, and have probably always gotten the same mpg.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

COPD: Combat Outpost, Detroit

It's been a long time comin'
It's goin' to be a Long Time Gone.
And it appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long
Time, yes, a long, long, long, long time before the dawn 
--It's Been a Long Time Coming, CSNY

I have no choice but to dismiss you.
It breaks my heart, but I can't expose my guests
to your firearms.
It may be wrong of them, but they value their lives 
--Rules of the Game (1939) 

I mean - come on! You can have a Billion Man March! 
If you don't put down that malt liquor and chicken wings, 
and get behind someone other tha
 a running back who stabs his wife, 
you're NEVER gonna get rid of somebody like me! 
--Bulworth (1998)

  To me you were the greatest thing
this boy had ever found
And girl it's hard to find nice things
On the poor side of town 
--The Poor Side of Town, Johnny Rivers

 [Alternate title: COPD -- Chronic Obstructive Problem, Detroit.]

As Ranger grew up in Cleveland, he watches the unspooling of fellow Rust Belt city Detroit with keen fascination. Not that Detroit's bankruptcy claim is a surprise; hardly ... the nails have been being driven into that coffin for a long time.

It seems intractable: only a third of Detroit's ambulances are in service; police take 58 minutes to respond to emergency calls; 78,000 abandoned buildings; average home price: $7,000 (America's Most Miserable City, Forbes).

But idealism rears its head when he asks, "We're all Americans, right? Don't we all sink or swim together?" It's pretty to think so, no?

He asks, "Why have two Presidents used the Michigan National Guard (among others) to (re-)build two entire nations while a major United States metropolis flounders -- shouldn't nation-building begin at home?" It is biblical: "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; translated: "Don't go stomping about thinking to help others until your own house is in order." There is no answer apart from profiteering -- a time-honored human endeavor -- that answers the question.

Our friend FDChief @ GraphicFiringTable recently gave a precis of his wife's dissertation cataloging the ills that plagued that once productive city, along with her recommendations to her committee ("Heart of Darkness"). It is an apolitical, scientific approach and we can do no better than her findings.

She indicted generationally-disordered family systems, which dovetailed with a disordered city plan. Her suggestions were creative, including the idea of farming out city denizens to live cheek-by-jowl with more functioning citizens elsewhere in the hopes that they might assimilate some functional behaviors via proximity, much as average tea becomes the exceptional Jasmine through simple positioning next to the flower's blossoms, the fragrance now an integral part of its "tea-ness". Not that exposure or immersion therapy is a bad thing, but unlike inert Camellia sinensis, people are the wild card, no?

This idea parallels the actual plan implemented upon the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (2005) when scores of N.O. residents were transplanted across the nation. However, aside from the National Institutes of Health one-year study on the results of that experiment, DNORPS (Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Survey), we do not really know if new ideas can be impregnated into fully-formed humans en masse (shy of Moonie-type indoctrination.)

The core of the (our) problem is, the game's rigged. Why has Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad been on the New York Times Best Seller's list for six years? Because not everyone is born sucking a silver spoon, but some people have figured out that they might like to know some of the rules of the game. We then cry alligator tears over National Public Radio's expose of the usurious 29.5% car loans that poor people take out, without asking the salient question -- which is NOT, "Why are car lots financing loans for those people?"

That sort of simple-minded question does not address the heart of the beast, which is that Capitalism is a system of profit-making, and everyone wants nice things, and credit allows people to live beyond their means. And America has always been a Scarlet O-Hara nation ("tomorrow will be a better day"), and Thorstein Veblen revealed our conspicuous consumption which has not become a source of shame but rather, a foolish pride. Pawn shops and Payday Loans exist because they are a logical presence in our capitalistic culture. If people eschewed them, or had no need of them -- voila! -- they would be gone.

We recently met a woman from Detroit, "Beatrice", who shared a sad story which for her encapsulated one piece of the puzzle. Her daughter, who taught in a program for young unwed 13-14 year-old mothers, asked her class of 25, "How many of you have been on a proper date?" Precisely two of the girls felt that they had. Now, if one is an affluent mature woman and pays for artificial insemination, that is one way to civilly avoid the date trap. But for the rest of us?

As for what to do with the dregs? Ranger suggests a "strategic hamlet"-type program in which services can be provided more readily to a concentrated population. Rather than risk a potential Cabreni-Green, why not try a social program on the scope of those in Iraq or Afghanistan? Schools, hospitals, vocational programs, all from the ground up.

We could use Ms. Clinton's "It Takes a Village" concept, outstripping Reagan's compassionate conservatism and moving beyond having churches shoulder the brunt of the burden, as if to say, "Only God can help you now, you poor suckers." This would be a multi-pronged approach to social engineering, and would be stated as such. Detroit and its denizens need more than a tweak.

Deploy the National Guard to patrol and augment civilian police. Maybe even try a stateside "Sons of Liberty" program wherein the indig are trained, armed and paid to assist the police and not kill their fellows. Oh, and we have a program title, though it sounds unfortunately like a pejorative: OAF ("Operation American Freedom"). It has ring: "We are working for the OAF's". Get another Paul Bremer type in Army boots to over see the OAF Detroit Provisional Authority.

What idea do you have that could be added to our OPLAN? How to solve bankruptcy -- moral, economic, national?

And still the question hangs: "Do we pay taxes to build other countries or to destroy ours?" This question is exclusively aimed at America, which has been in this business since World War II, with Japan, Italy, Greece and beyond that -- South Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan.

Will any of those nicely reconstructed countries (save the last couple) now volunteer to rebuild a single city, Detroit? Where are you, Hugo Chavez?

[See another perspective, here: "What Really Ails Detroit"; an extended version will be published @ The Globalist 9.15.13..]

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013



Apologies to all Ranger readers. The last thing published to RAW was posted in error; it was not a post at all but some sundry links and quotes.

We will have something new up soon,

--The editrix

Friday, August 16, 2013

With A Vengeance

 Once a person was asked to step into this brutal century,
anything could happen 
--A Confederacy of Dunces,
John Kennedy 

Your love is like bad medicine
Bad medicine is what I need
Shake it up, just like bad medicine
There ain't no doctor that can
Cure my disease 
--Bad Medicine, Bon Jovi

 You can only kill those who never harmed you 
--Vengeance is Mine (1979)

Ranger does not quail at the sight of blood, but he stands in awe of the virtual violence dished out in heaping helpings to a ravenous audience apres the terrorist events of  9-11-01.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (or, "Men Who Hate Women") was published posthumously to much acclaim in 2005; it is now the biggest-selling ebook. The eponymous "girl" exacted vengeance via her computer hacking skills. She was Machiavellian and presented as autistic; she did not understand the more gentle human emotions like "love", mistaking it for opportunistic sex.

Popular television series "Golden Boy" features the youngest homicide detective in NYPD history, who gets there by planting evidence which indicts a "bad guy". He has earned adulation and rank by flouting the law, and each episode follows this template of a supposedly conflicted morality: Good guy does illegal things to get bad guys. The problem is, morality is not the issue in the arena of law, which is quite specific.

The ultra-violent series, "The Following" features an FBI agent who is chasing a nasty serial killer. However, the FBI agent killed a person in revenge before his appointment as a federal agent, so again, vengeance is rewarded. 

Bad characters mete out bad (unconstitutional) police work, and the viewers find this gratifying and/or acceptable as entertainment.The violence being acted out supersedes anything portrayed in X-rated films of the past, the only possible result in the viewer is exhaustion, or faint relief that the incessant violence has ceased. 

Why do we subject ourselves to such visual and aural pain? 

These entertainments suggest a moral lassitude among our law enforcement personnel, and an aggrandizement of the Dirty Harry template. In an easy analogy, Presidents G. W. Bush and B. H. Obama are Golden Boys, and our entertainment inures and acclimates us to accept the supposed ubiquity of the transgressive behavior.

[addendum: We, like everyone else, are long on grievances but short on solutions. A reader sent the following effort from the site, "Free Man's Perspective,  "How to Fix Detroit in Six Easy Steps". ed.]

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Buh Bye Motor City

 Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It’s the only way to live
In cars 
--Cars, Gary Numan

 I left that day with a lunch box full of gears
Now, I never considered myself a thief
GM wouldn’t miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years 
 --One Piece at a Time, Johnny Cash

 This place is cruel, no where could be much colder
If we don't change, the world will soon be over
Living just enough, stop giving just enough for the city 
--Living for the City, Stevie Wonder  

Detroit is dying, yet the news is more content with celebrity or the foreign hordes ... Egypt, Syria, whatever. (Hey -- do you know the meaning beyond Bey's "fierce new do"? The Guardian says "it might be the biggest news of all time." Be there, or be square.)

How did the fourth largest industrial city in America turn into a travesty of the American Dream? A city that helped the Allies win a world war through its prodigious munitions output? Where would the U.S. turn now for this industrial output? Certainly not Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Youngstown, Pittsburg, or any of the other former Steel and industrial centers.

The city's grim stats paint a desolate picture: Unemplyment: 15.5%; 1/3 of citizens live in poverty; 82.7% of population is black. 20,000 stray dogs roam the streets (like in Chernobyl). Urban planners suggest corraling the population so as to reduce infrastructure expenses (like COIN's "strategic hamlet"program for third world nations.)

Detroit is being urged to sell its prestigious 60,000-piece art collection -- why not? What need do such people have of things of beauty and value? Such things are the provenance of the wealthy and the winners. Just as the poorer schools lose their art and music programs first, so it goes with losers everywhere.

What does it matter to inner city Detroit that trillions of U.S. tax dollars fly overseas, or that Afghanistan or Iraq are still not viable states? We can bail out banks and auto companies, but how to bail out a city with no tax base or hope for a productive future? How is it that Ford and General Motors have survived, yet the city that spawned them hears its death knell? (I recently saw a KIA with government tags -- what gives?)

In "Crumbling American Dreams", author Putnam suggests the breakdown's roots lie in our loss of identity, both personal and national:

The crumbling of the American dream is a purple problem, obscured by solely red or solely blue lenses. Its economic and cultural roots are entangled, a mixture of government, private sector, community and personal failings. But the deepest root is our radically shriveled sense of “we.”

Epitaph for Detroit: Thy name is globalization. In a cruel twist, BMW, Mercedes, Kia, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda are all setting up factories in the United States -- but not in Detroit. The non-union South is a far more hospitable climate for the profiteering corporation.

You served your purpose, Detroit. No more unions; middle class on the descent -- there is no one left to occupy you.

R.I.P Detroit ... you were a contender.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Border Hordes

 with the breakdown of the medieval system,
the gods of chaos, lunacy, and bad taste gained ascendancy 
--A Confederacy of Dunces,
 John Kennedy Toole

A small thought:

Ranger is reading a book on the previous Dark Ages and specifically the Holy Roman Empire (HRE), a confederacy formed to defend members from the hordes like the Huns and East Goths on their borderlands. It disbanded when alliances shifted and with them, their enemies.

Fast-forward to the 20th century and NATO was formed to protect a nascent European identity from the Soviet threat, one which no longer exists. NATO was an analog to the protective posture of the HRE. Though today's Eurozone (EU) is akin in scope to the HRE, all member countries have their own military presence. Therefore NATO, as the analogized "military wing" of the HRE (which had served as a response to a Soviet eastern threat), is superannuated. NATO is protecting a modern HRE which has its own protective forces.

The United States needs to move on and end its NATO involvement.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Life in Absurdistan

 Looking for a lil shorty I noticed
So that I can take home (i can take home)
She can be 18 18 wit a attitude
Or ninteen kinda snotty actin' real rude
But as long as you a thicky thicky thick 
--Ride Wit Me, Nelly 

Sweetest angel came down
Took me by the hand
Said I've got things to offer you
Help you understand
--And the Band Played On 
 Simple Minds

It struck me odd to read that one of the Cleveland abductees, Amanda Berry, recently appeared onstage with rapper Nelly, who told her she had "some time to make up" after being held hostage by her abductor Ariel Castro (now serving a 1,000 year prison term.)

Nelly, whose iconic rap video features him running a credit card down a women's rump in a probable objectification of the feminine, sings mostly about being a bad dude and how he scores ass. What promoter would arrange for a traumatized woman to meet with the rapper who sings of cruising for an 18 year old with whom to smoke some "L in the back of a Benzie" after she (Berry) supposedly spent a decade in subjugation and degradation after having herself gotten into a car at age 18 with a man who ...

What sort of a mind fuck is this? Why not just stay in your cage and be a lump of flesh versus being welcomed into Nelly's crib? Of course, gender studies types will blather on about how Ms. Berry is owning her own objectification in her choice of location and person. Perhaps having been out of the loop, Ms. Berry does not even know who Nelly is, making the offense all the more pathetic.

And everyone cheered as the "house of horrors" in a dilapidated Cleveland neighborhood was razed, the event becoming a celebratory spectacle, the onlooker's profound ire directed at the "monster" owner Castro. But no one in the press has had the guts to pan down that street, multiplying that misery by factors unknown, and ask what has been accomplished here. Sister city in misery -- Detroit -- has reported finding scores of dead bodies in ramshackle neighborhoods; surely it is the same in Cleveland.

Art imitating life? Yes, promoters must make a living, too, but does anyone else see the absurdity of this  event?

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Did They Say Before Kristallnacht?

 --Mr. Holder's Lynch Mob 

[Lisa has been taking "news fasts" as an adjutant to a program of maintaining sanity and emotional equilibrium. Dr. Weil says it's a good thing, and she finds that nothing much has changed after a period away, anyway. However, what continues to stand out in sharp relief is the media's shameless bias and hatred.]

Take yesterday's Slate piece, "Jew Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me",  which uses the examples of disgraced public figures Weiner, Spitzer and Filner to ask, "Are Jews less likely to cheat? The data say no."  The title is neither funny, clever nor factually correct.

What an egregiously anti-Semetic non-descriptive title for this piece of non-reportage. This was not a story in the White Supremacist "Stormfront", but in a supposedly liberal, supposedly credible online magazine. Cocking my head, I thought, "O.K. -- someone thinks this is a clever title, probably borrowing from the Kenny Rogers song, but what does it have to do with the copy?"

When I asked Ranger why my feelings of revulsion at the title, he said correctly, "It's just offensive. It's racial profiling." And he's correct. Why is it that liberals -- who claim to be for the underdog -- cannot find sympathy for a people composing just .2% of the world's population? That is about 14 million people, versus say 1.6 Billion Muslims, who make up just under one-quarter (23%) of the world's population. Must not racially-profile Muslims or Blacks, but apparently we are happy keeping our old scapegoat the Jewish people in place.

The piece offers nothing beyond the author's decision to NOT BELIEVE a 2005 survey taken by the condom company Durex regarding its users self-reported behaviors. In that survey, Israelis were the LEAST LIKELY to respond they had an affair:

The survey included more than 300,000 people in 41 countries. On a list of possible “sexual experiences you’ve had,” the questionnaire asked respondents whether they’d ever had an “extramarital affair.” Israel came in dead last. Across the 41 countries, the average percentage of respondents who said they’d had an affair was 22. In Israel, it was 7.

Not one to be discouraged by facts, the creative statistician Saletan summates his piece with a Redbook survey of WOMEN to arrive at the non-conclusive statement that Protestants cheat probably a little more than Jews or Catholics. And this passes for reportage in an otherwise respectable publication. So ... why the pejorative title? 

Is this not as offensive as going through the list of black personages who have cheated and calling them "Mandingos" or some such? Why is Slate singling out one racial group and suggesting they suffer from a racial taint, as the result of a handful of examples? Is there a useful or positive message behind this non-story?

This is akin to the offensive "driving while black (DWB)"; we will call it, "Living While Jewish (LWJ)". Just as with blacks of a previous generation, Jewish people must be twice as good as a white Christian person to be free of contempt. This is probably a sour grapes extension of the Zimmerman non-story: Because some in the press are disappointed over not being able to skewer a Jew as a gunman (Zimmerman = not) killing one of their ACLU buddies (a black), they will go after their target population in another way. By any means necessary to disguise the egg on your face.

However, instead of the offensive and misleading title (these men did not leave their wives), why not ask compelling questions about these disgraced men like, "Did they remain married after their transgressions? Do they pay for their children and their family? Their schooling? Do they marry their sweet things more often, and do their offspring tend to matriculate into college more often?

"Disgraced" -- an interesting term, no? For the usually irreligionist Left, grace would seem to infer a status of moral rectitude, and morality is something enlightened Slate writer Saletan and ilk would argue vehemently against. Yet exploit the concept of morality they do.

Anyway, it's all piffle, right? Someone's misguided effort at humor, or not-so-cloaked prejudice. Hardly worth a look.

A tidbit for your Sunday.

{As an aside, my friend Alex Lickerman has written a brief piece today on morality fr. a Buddhist MD's perspective @ his blog,  HappinessInThisWorld.}

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rebellion Without Truth

 Where is the love
You said you'd give to me
Soon as you were free
Will it ever be
--Where is the Love,
Robert Flack

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
--Behind Blue Eyes, The Who

Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert
--Khalil Gibran

Nuclear arms in the Middle East
Israel is attacking the Iraqis
The Syrians are mad at the Lebanese
And Baghdad do whatever she please
Looks like another threat to world peace
For the envoy
--The Envoy, Warren Zevon

Ever avant-garde in simple matters, Ranger questioned the wisdom of hopping on the bandwagon of manufactured joy surrounding the so-called Arab Spring way back when it first sprung.

He asked in his April Fool's Day post (Reverse English) if the U.S. largesse in the form of 200 Abrams M1 main battle tanks to then- Egyptian President Morsi was such a great idea. Now we know the Egyptian military used those fine examples of speed, shock and firepower to depose the now so-yesterday Mr. Morsi.  We enabled the military to execute a coup versus a democratically-elected leader, leading us to say there is some element of hypocrisy or failure or both in that action.

We at RAW ask, as always, "Where is the rationale in such an action -- did the gift increase or decrease the chance for peace in the region? Did the weapons increase the ability of Egypt to develop into a democracy?" Leaders in erupting nations are likely to be given the old heave-ho overnight, so why encourage malcontents (i.e., most of the animated population) to vie for control over such goodies?

Must the United States always play the dupe, sending materiel goodies down the chute to the merest facsimile of a leader? Yet now we stand before Syria wringing our hands over the same question. Most "sensible people" seem to be saying, "Just send a little", as though somehow tossing some candy into the ring will allow the best man to emerge victorious. We have heard it all before: Assad (substitute your leader of choice) is a baaad man. We don't like bad men (we wear the White Hat, after all), so he just has to go.

Or do we just support everyone and hang our hats on hope and change?

Never mind that the nation over which he rules might be chock full of bad men in defilade, patiently awaiting their turn in the spotlight. We can only do what we can do, which is throwing some of the products of lucrative military contracts at a problem. Hard ware just compounds the problem.

One definition of insanity is repeating the same action in a similar situation yet expecting a different outcome. "Oh, but Saddam and Assad are different men," those on the supply-side claim. No -- they are all wolves in sheep's clothing ... but we do love us some lambs, no ... the meek, and all that?

At the risk of stating the obvious, tanks are offensive weapons for warfare, and are not designed for police functions like breaking up crowds, so why would we supply them to (Egypt / Libya / Iraq / Afghanistan)? Not only is the gift to a supposedly burgeoning democracy misguided, but they cost a fair bit, money that a nation under sequestration can ill-afford to fritter away. What does the U.S. gain from attempting prop up these corrupt regimes?

When our own nation teeters on the brink of insolvency, we cannot afford to play these games.

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