Saturday, April 14, 2018

Up Against The Wall

 --The fall of the Berlin Wall

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall 
--Mending Wall,
Robert Frost

 It is not the strongest
of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent,
 but the one most responsive to change
--Charles Darwin

When you believe in things 
that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way 
Stevie Wonder

We approached this election as a people assaulted and insulted, both from within and without. The wall with Mexico was a campaign promise to give some succor to these bruised people.

Democratic institutions generally do not build walls, but rather, bridges. That said, border protection is a legitimate concern for any nation, and building a wall with Mexico became a campaign promise. And like all campaign promises, it provided a simplistic and easily-imaged solution.

Every president enters with some good ideas, but also some not so good. The wall may fall into the latter category. Not because a nation does need good border defense, but because there are better alternatives. Less iconic, but more effective.

This proposed wall is both a symbolic and actual gesture against the seemingly most porous point of entry, giving a sense of power to a people who have felt vulnerable and transgressed upon since the terror events of 9-11-01 (and probably before that).

But true defense in the 21st century is based upon mobility, and not static lines.

According to a Center for Migration Studies (CMS) 2017 report, illegal Visa overstays from all visitors to the United States (including those from Mexico) outnumber the "entries without inspection" (EWI) from across the Mexican border.

It is estimated that two-thirds of those who arrived in 2014 did not illegally cross a border, though the Department of Homeland Security does not release actual numbers. 

A 2017 DHS report estimated 629,000 visitors to the United States — just over 1 percent of all travelers — remained in the country at the end of 2016 after overstaying their visas as students, workers or tourists. However, Mexico is still the leading country for both overstays and EWIs, with about one-third of undocumented arrivals from Mexico in 2014 being overstays.
The problem with the wall solution is, static defenses like walls have been OBE time and again. Think of any of the great walls, now fallen: Hadrian's, China's or the Berlin Wall. Or the Maginot and Siegfried and Winter (Gustave) Lines. All linear defenses ultimately were breached.

The concept of a static line defense has become superannuated by the wars of the 20th century. No commander will do a static defense. Bataan taught that lesson.

Another challenge for a Democratic nation would be the fact previously mentioned at RAW, namely, that an obstacle is useless unless covered by fire. Are we willing to go all Berlin Wall on Mexicans?

Probably not, since even the most hardcore wall advocate must see that Mexicans are the ones building the United States these days. Heck, legals would probably be the ones building the wall.

In contrast, a mobile defense would be more realistic, for several reasons.

A mobile border defense would present a better cost/benefit ratio than would a fixed wall. The European precedents include Germany's Grenzpolizei (Bundesgrenzschutz) and France's Central Directorate of Border Police (DCPAF). 

Why not get innovative with border protection and get the citizens on board with the project? To that end, why not have a draft for service in the Border Patrol?

In the tradition of VISTA or the badly-gutted Clinton initiative, Americorps, service in the border patrol could become part of a mandatory post-secondary service modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Further, a prerequisite for future military service could be a three-year stint with the Patrol. Future officers could not be commissioned until their Border Patrol service is completed. Officer selection could take place in that initial placement with the Patrol.

This envisions Border Patrol service as a sort of quasi-military function (moreso than currently). A person need not enter the Army proper, but could spend one's entire career border patrolling. (However, the Patrol would have to maintain its quasi-military shroud, as an outright militarization of the patrol would be seen as an act of war by Mexico.)

Since defensive measures are always in-depth, what guarantees that the Mexican government will provide a depth of operations on their side to assist this proposed mobile defense? The politics would have to be groomed immaculately.

The United States would need the complicity of the Mexican government to identify the shifting areas of main threat, as the success of mobile defenses is based on that knowledge. 

"Strong point defenses" could be emplaced around major U.S. border cities, with "zones of security", and discrete mobile forces could be garrisoned there to neutralize local penetrations and to provide local area security. This denies illegal immigrants their local active and passive support (without which they cannot thrive).

Traditionally, this border function was the purview of the Texas Rangers. In the military, this is "rear area protection" -- defending the border in depth.

The Wall is a simplistic image of unassailibility, but walls are made to be breached.

A multipolar, focalized and local mobile defense is the more 21st century answer to achieving border security.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Last Supper

--Cherish Perriwinkle, 
died 6.21.2013

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled
was convincing the world he didn't exist.
And like that, poof. He's gone. 
--The Usual Suspects (1995) 

So long as little children are allowed to suffer,
there is no true love in this world
--Isadorea Duncan

Bless the beasts and the children
for in this world they have no voice,
they have no choice
--Bless the Beasts and the Children, 
The Carpenters

It's a jungle out there
Violence and danger everywhere 
It's brother against brother
Pounding on each other 
--It's a Jungle Out There,
Randy Newman

[In honor of International Women's Day.]

Funny how things come back around, sometimes with new meaning the second time. 

This time it is one of the harrowing and absurd tragedies visited upon the little people in life, in out-sized proportion to the rest of us.

RAW wrote in 2013 about the local rape and murder of 8-year-old Cherry Perriwinkle ["Prelude to the Finale"]. While in  Jacksonville recently, her story was back in the news Valentine's Day 2018, only adding to the grotesquerie of her story. 

To recap: the man who killed this girl predated upon her mother's indigence. His offer of food and a $50 Walmart gift card must have seemed like a small lottery win for the poor mother. Except, poor people do not often hit the jackpot.

Would you entrust your daughter to a stranger in the hopes that she might get her cheeseburger? While it is easy to say that her mother made a poor choice, the fact is undeniable: Cherry lost her life due to her family's economic insufficiency.  

The Jacksonville Times-Union devoted ran a four-paragraph piece (not online) of her killer's sentencing, offering some grim details offered by the public defender:

"He gagged her, he raped her, he sodomized her, and then he strangled her," State Attorney Melissa Nelson said in her opening statement. "He gagged her with such force her gums and her nostrils bled, he strangled her with such force her eyeballs bled. She did not die quickly, and she did not die easily, in fact, hers was a brutal and tortured death."

Please do not save all of your ire for the defective misfit who committed this crime, for if you do, any lesson is lost.  

People today have become too emotional and outraged at the drop of a dime. After the angst du jour is gone, it is off to the next fire. We might do better to stay rational in the face of what we might like to claim is "outrageous" behavior.

A simple thought: What people call outrageous happens with such regularity that they might lower their reactivity and ask simply and with deliberation, "This is factual, so, what now?" 

Cherry Perriwinkle's murder is monstrous, unspeakable. But too many people now become outraged over things against which they are impotent; worse, against things which are ill-defined, and sometimes, are not actually problems.

The hominid family contains myriad genetic freaks and perversions. Some members harbor violent impulses, and some act upon them; these are not concealed facts. Some might say that the most egregious behaviors result from genetic mutations, but more likely, we are all somewhere on a universal behavioral spectrum, and given the right circumstances are capable of things we don't want to confess.

To vent outrage upon a discrete actor like Cherry's rapist-murderer would be to tie a nice Hollywood bow around this actual story of want and depravity, and life is not tidy like that. The subtext to this murder trial is just as compelling as the actual crime, for without it, this particular murder could not have happened.

Lisa decided to conduct a perhaps macabre thought experiment: what does Cherry's story share with the accusers in the #metoo movement? Are the shared elements valid, and do they help illuminate any of the public angst being expulsed in all media outlets regarding female exploitation?

No disrespect is meant to any players, and this is not to victim shame or blame. And certainly, this girl's story and the cohort she represents is more horrific by orders by orders of magnitude than, say, any accusation against a Harvey Weinstein or Charley Rose.

We will consider only the female's who describe sexual predation. [Certainly males, albeit in fewer numbers, also find themselves in similar situations.] The challenge is to uncover the connections, connect the dots and to determine when and if the chain of connectivity breaks. 

Further, how should we define the problem? Does #metoo represent any cohesive cohort?  Do they present a clear platform, and is it actually a problem? If so, is it one of perpetration or perception alone, or both? Is it soluble?

The media has fatted us all winter on a glut of sordid exploitation tales of attractive females climbing the ladder of success on the coattails of powerful men. These "sexposes" exacted the requisite banal outrage of the viewing audience. 

The usual suspects were netted (predominately powerful older men). A social media movement was born (#metoo) and the media has been devoted to covering the "new" female outrage. Eventually, predictably, just like after Watts or Ferguson, the furore will die down.

There will be nor furor for the child in Jacksonville, though much like the actresses in Hollywood, her mother appealed to a more powerful male figure for assistance.  Certainly the perpetrator was a criminal in a way that the men of the #metoo movement are not.

One might also say Gwyneth, Salma and Uma also made poor choices regarding Hollywood producer Weinstein, but they were operating from farther along the power dynamic curve. At the least, they had transportation or cab fare, and could have left the scene of their reported exploitation.

But operating on a principle of charity, on a sliding scale as far as egregiousness, what is the commonality among these offenses?

Whether it is for want of a McDonald's cheeseburger or a part in a Hollywood film, the attempt to gain favor from a powerful male is the constant, and concomitantly, the desired liberation or power that comes with that. Because such transactions are entered from a position of a power imbalance, they must by needs end that way.

Maybe we are trained early on to pay obeisance to an all-powerful God the Father, and that is a hard archetype to smash. But if children like Cherry had economic sufficiency, and their parents were given proper education parenting skills, such children could at least grow old enough to face the next hurdle of potential exploitation, like those faced by their economic betters in Hollywood or Washington D.C.

Maybe men and women both would be served by a unit of moral education in primary school (reinforced later in secondary). Of course, values clarification is heretical to most public school boards who must honor and protect diversity. Further, who would be our Solomon?

For many of a more liberal bent, if a person who has achieved the age of consent and wishes to trade his or her body (much as we trade our mind-power in the workplace) for goods, who is to say otherwise? To them, the body is owned exclusively by the inhabiter thereof, and can be bartered into another fungible asset as long as all parties are on board with the terms. 

But for those who buy into that construct, there must be allowance made for the emotions entailed by a quid pro quo gone awry. This is where the disingenuousness and hypocrisy enters, for if one has economic security and the exchange is a discretionary one, who is to criticize either party? 

Moreover, is it that element of shame which makes the female in such a transaction "reveal all" at some future time? What is the impulse to both partake in the "crime" (for those who do so discretionarily), and then to condemn it? Is she seeking moral absolution via support groups, and the subsequent denigration of the male?

If you focus on the nugget, you cannot see the big picture. You cannot fight an effective battle if you don't know what you are fighting for. You can expulse your angst, if that feels good to you, but you will not accomplish much.

We are all somewhere on the green brick road: Cherry was at the beginning, and met her demise in her desire for a McDonald's cheeseburger. Gwyneth, Salma and Uma were a little farther along the path, their desires, a bit more lofty. 

The question is, how do you move along it, and how far will you go? Are you willing to use yourself, and how will you do that -- by creating something, or by trading yourself in a direct exchange for goods?

Humans have free will and often make poor choices. Some are up, and some down. And thus ends the lesson on why parity shall never be reached.

Submitted for your consideration.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hokey Pokey

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much 
to go back an' pretend 
--I Am Woman, 
Helen Reddy

 Hell has no fury 
like a woman scorned 
--The Mourning Bride,
 William Congreve

True madam; 
those who have most virtue in their mouths, 
have least of it in their bosom  
--She Stoops to Conquer,
 Oliver Goldsmith 

The awful thing about life is this:
Everybody has their reasons 
--The Rules of the Game (1939

 [edited 1.18.18.]

Here's an amuse-bouche for your consideration. Since Hollywood is populated by people who compose part of America's aristocracy, and their cause du jour has been taken up the Democrats, it becomes a topic worthy of consideration. 

The recent Golden Globe Awards provided a great insight into the confused state of liberal politics. The relentless topic,  imbued with all the sturm und drang which the actors were capable of summoning, was the exploitation of budding starlets by male Hollywood machers.

We are all shocked to hear the news, right?

Well, not so much. And yet, at least one powerful man has been dethroned weekly for his bestiality toward the distaff half over the past couple months. A Lollapalooza for the newly minted grotty males.

At the event, especially incongruous was the abundance of female Hollywood crusaders wearing six-inch heels and cut-out, skin-tight mini dresses, also made up to the nines. Yes, people deserve the right not to be pounced upon like Sylvester the cat on Tweetie Bird.

But we must also be honest about who we are, which is a welter of hormones, visual cues and socialization, and then some. 

This behavior has only been going on for, oh, say a couple of millennia (more likely, since the hominids entered the world scene.) It is hormones, hair, fur, coloration, size, power and ... the search for favor, patronage and protection. The behavior on the "casting couch" is the stuff of legend.

It is largely why men form garage bands and drive sports cars and become Harvey Weinsteins: because they lack something, they compensate with power. The woman who has value to trade understands the transaction (though she may regret it after the fact if the reward falls short of her expected quid pro quo.)

For example, crusader Sharon Stone revealed perhaps the most flesh at the ceremony in her cutaway dress, she of the beaver shot in the 1992 film, "Basic Instinct". We understand that is tame per today's standards, and also understand the difference between the auteur and the art.

However, considering that movies and music induct most young people into the adult "world", and further, that most of these actors and actresses have no compunctions regarding correct behavior either on- or off-screen, it seems a tad hypocritical to circle the wagons now.

What has been the motivation for the recent dreadful exposes?  The question are, "Why now?", and, "Why this?".

Women are either reading from 1971's Our Bodies, Ourselves, or Fifty Shades of Gray. Further, if the former, we are also taught that the latter is all part of the play, all a path to women's self-empowerment.

So why would an empowered woman using her body as she sees fit need the Nanny State behavior of the newly patronizing Democratic Party? These ideas are incongruous. Capitalism relies on the free play of the marketplace of commodities.

We are talking here, obviously, of women whose sights are set on buying success in powerful arenas via acquiescing to sexual favors demanded by those in positions of power. These are not women submitting to abuse from a male partner. These are women engaged in discretionary though (if, as claimed) distasteful sexual behavior in a bid to gain favor.

These are not the pathetic cases of "No means no" violations, of not being respected after a night of partying at a frat house or drinking Boone's Farm under the bleachers during a JV game. Nor are they cases of ingenues filing papers in the office and being devoured by the Big Bad Wolf.

(Meanwhile, actual cases of unbidden male brutality go largely unaddressed by the Hollywood criers as they and their victims are generally not as sexy as a Salma Hayek or Gwyneth Paltrow -- one of their own. It seems not all women are equal.)

Most well-socialized people understand the culturally accepted signs, signal and semiotics of sexuality. In fact, desire and availability are signaled by various cues that Hollywood itself has so nicely immortalized. If one is a naive "40-year-old-virgin", one need only watch some rom-coms to get a feel for the play.

With this crusade, the Democrats have latched onto what they hope will be a winning cause. Who does not have a mother, sister, niece, daughter or wife? Who could be for sexual exploitation? And yet, the current media elites who are spinning the women's cause to great fanfare are hardly denizens of purity.

Moreover, the U.S. still has not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), an effort at equality which failed to gain ratification following its introduction in 1923, and died after its extended deadline in 1982 (Ironically, Nevada -- the only state with legalized prostitution -- was the first state to re-introduce 2the legislation in 2017, the 45th anniversary of Congress's submission of the amendment to the states.)

So rather than re-hash a topic so over-determinded with social, biological and religious aspects, why not simply stand for human equality?

What is the purpose behind this goose chase? Will they engulf these men with their vagina dentatas, hoping the men will rue the day they traded skin for position? What then?

Power disparities are obdurate things. The woman who seeks to market her wares is a fungible asset. She must achieve on her own, rather than using her sex to obtain favor, and then crying foul. That is not cricket.

Old line Democrats are jangling against the revelations of this time-honored brokerage. When Nancy Pelosi defended accused Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich) by saying, "He is an icon in our country" and was a great Civil Rights crusader, she drew flak from her fellows. (Sure, he's a bit of a whore-dog, but the good image outweighs the bad; see MLK, JFK, etc.)

Liberals want it both ways in the play between the sexes (there really are only two, but you can mix, match or delete as you will): a nanny state to control and condemn human behavior, plus absolute liberty for one to do as one pleases. These are non-consonant ideas and contrary to reality. To hold both at once is, at best, callow; at worst, disingenuous.

They wish to legislate the rules of the game, while concomitantly saying a human may do anything he wishes in the boudoir. Where is the junction?

One might say the women in producer Weinstein's orbit had been predated upon. Alternately, one might say they were empowered women who traded one good for another in a time-tested barter system; a tit-for-tat, if you will.

The female accusers were all in the immediate purview of their alleged attackers, either on a friendly basis, or hoping to get cast in some upcoming production. One might argue that these were savvy businesswomen, engaging in transactions which they allowed.

So, how do they transmute into being piteous victims? Perspective is all.

 If the woman gets the job, she has been successful. If she does not, then she may feel used. Claiming victimhood in a bona-fide capitalistic transaction is not being honest.

It may be that this current outrage is connected to the current president of the White House. As they could not prevent his residency, they will now knock every privileged older male out of his erstwhile safe box, so to speak.

While it may be something to do, it does not suffice as a policy or a political agenda. It is retrograde, and the advocates are not addressing the fact that women's rights have been an issue for some time, yet this arena of behavior has not changed.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you lose. In the past, people sucked it up and moved on. Today, victimhood travels with it's own life support system (and those who exploit their being hard done by often become an Oprah Book-club selection.)

In the "Gotcha!" era, a secondary win can be salvaged by crying foul on a perfectly legitimate game ... if you should happen to lose.

Submitted for your consideration.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Precedent for the President

--candidate Clinton blowing his horn

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need  
--You Can't Always Get What You Want,    
The Rolling Stones 

Television is not the truth!
Television is a God-damned amusement park! 
 We're in the boredom-killing business! 
 --Network (1976) 

And there's winners and there's losers
But they ain't no big deal
'Cause the simple man baby pays for the thrills,
the bills, the pills that kill 
--Pink Houses
John Mellencamp 

[Note: This a non-partisan social critique. It is is neither an apologia for nor a defense of Mr. Trump. RAW never shills for any candidate.]

Whenever I happen upon it, the evening news always richly rewards me with insight into the current liberal mental cul-de-sac. The 4 January 2018 PBS News Hour interview with sorta non-2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden was no exception.

The blindness and anger which hobbles so many today can be understood by watching the life and person of Mr. Biden, and seeing how the fight in him is rendered impotent by his habitation inside of the straight-jacket of the hypocritical Democratic party line. It is why he is destined to never be President, despite the release of his new book and twice saying in the interview that he would not rule out running for office.

Biden is a kind of tragic figure. Once the rebel and provocateur of the Sunday morning talk show circuit, he has now assumed the mantle of a proper elder statesman. Beloved by his Delaware constituents in his 35 years as senator, many of the rest saw him as a bit kooky for his opinions. (To them, he was the tamer East Coast's version of California's oddball Governor Jerry Brown.)

But like Robinson's Minivar Cheevy, Biden's curse is to be a man out of time. At first, ahead of it; now, he has been passed by.

He ceded his 2016 run to the inevitable heir to the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton (who's own shelf-life had expired when the feminist movement lost steam, somewhere in the 80's). And like Senator McCain who did the same for President George Bush in 2000, you rarely get a second chance in the ring.

It must sting to see the once-outspoken nature for which he was censured harnessed by the successful runaway train of opinions that is the new President. If it had been allowed to him, Biden might have been buffed up and possibly been able to go toe-to-toe with Trump. But he would have had to have dropped the obedient-righteous act which has been beaten into him for decades, so not likely.

To see Biden's hesitation in answering a question on the fitness of the President is to be reminded of the reason many Democrats continue to fail.

It all seems so obvious: when the Democrats curse the President, they are by extension damning his electorate and supporters, which is to say, a largish chunk of the United States. Their relentless derision, disdain and outright insults cling to the people who approved of and elected this President, and this does not play well in Peoria.

This very simple not-winning feature of their incessant condemnation and high snark is what they miss; pardoning the pun, it is the elephant in their room.

Mr Trump won because members of the Democratic Party (DP) defected to the other side, and they did so from every demographic. Thenceforth, those Democrats have been enfolded by the shrill party diehards into Hillary Clinton's reviled cesspool of "undesireables".

People do not take kindly to being labeled as fools.

In the interview, Biden noted a sea change in candidate quality when President Reagan succeeded the very "Presidential" Jimmy Carter, suggesting the current President is an equally lame actor (except moreso.) But instead of riding his newfound high horse and bemoaning this "unbelievable" state of affairs, Biden and his fellows would do well to step out from behind the curtain and recognize the Land of Oz for what it is.

In a big fail, Biden et al. miss the fact that former Hollywood B-actor Reagan was the shape of things to come. George Herbert Walker (1989-1993) was a brief retrograde move towards the non-performer, but his disdain of the camera and the image was becoming superannuated -- was, in fact, already moribund.

Candidate Bill Clinton blew his sax on Arsenio Hall's show in 1992. When Monica Lewinsky, his au peche mignon, was revealed, it was a no holds-barred black humor-fest in both the realm of the MSM and online entertainment industry. (Ms. Lewinsky calls herself "patient zero" in the brutal new word of social media evisceration.)

George Bush landed in full military regalia on an aircraft carrier, a feat almost as impressive as Hannibal's crossing the Alps with his 40 elephants. Barack Obama connected with fans via MySpace and Facebook accounts.

Mr. Trump is but the inheritor of that venerable tradition, amped-up for 2016 standards. Time moves on, carrying us into ever newer scenarios, speeded up by the connectivity of an anonymous and unvetted ether world ever-more insinuated into people's every moment.

Guy Debord, Alvin Toffler and fellows saw decades ago what we are now passing through: the Society of the Spectacle, aided by mass undifferentiated information. The mash-up is not entirely a pretty one. Following the blip that was GHWB, all Presidents played to the masses, some better than others.

The politicians who can accept the reality and function efficiently and with respect (both to the voters and by extension, their candidates) will succeed. Any notion of what a candidate "ought" to be has now been knocked out of the park.

As any self-help book worth its salt can tell you, it is not what "shoulda-coulda-outta" that will fix you, it is seeing what IS. Incredulously, the DP's have yet to accept what is, calling it everything besides the reality, which is simply: "it is this". (It is an as-yet unknown impulse which disallows these people from accepting the reality.)

Summoning his best Democratic patter, Biden comic-tragically concluded by saying his party must do better to address the needs of the middle class. But is that not what Democrats are supposed to do?

But they didn't, did they? And it is their failure to speak and act honestly on behalf of the non-sexy, non-pet categorical average person which lost them a momentous election, and which saw their heir-apparent KO'd by the non-party favored 100:1 long shot.

The naysayers who refuse to see and accept the truth are not viable, and will only grow increasingly so. "It shouldn't be" does not comport with what "is". 

Apparently, the reality of election 2016 does not comport with the image the now very proper Mr. Biden has of what a president should be. Perhaps the people are also not what he thinks they should be, namely, obedient zombies true to their school.

Today's reality is, social media has allowed new alliances and points of view. The participant's fealty is to his own knitted together community's media feed, the created thing which informs his reality.

However, the most important point lost on the arrogant disbelievers in election 2016 is this: it is not they -- our elected officials -- who give the imprimatur to the next President, but rather the People themselves who elect all of them. A government by, of and for The People.

Elected officials, low to high, serve us, feeding at the trough of our tax dollars. Civil servants all -- humility be thy name.

Sorry Joe, but your idea of what constitutes "presidential" has been bypassed. As in the Dark Tower, the world has moved on.

Sans judgement, change is a constant, and only in hindsight may one evaluate and decide if it was helpful, harmful or benign. There is no holding back the floodgates of the new.

If anyone should know this, it is the crusading liberals who forever seek to smash every societal shibboleth.

So if they wonder where this impulse to reject the trappings of the "presidential" emerged, they could do no better than to look at themselves.

The hope is that the deniers will grow fatigued with the their omnipresent disdain and begin to exit their Slough of Despond, and work to create a positive new day.

Even Asian cage fighting gets boring after a while, right?

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Do You Hear What I Hear?

--all of the talking heads today
follow Henny Penny's lead

And we'll never be royals
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us
We crave a different kind of buzz
--Royals, Lorde

 Nothing really matters
Love is all we need
Everything I give you
All comes back to me 
--Nothing Really Matters,

 In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
Don't worry, be happy now 
--Don't Worry, Be Happy,
Bobby McFerrin  

For those voters who did not elect President Trump, 2017 has been a year in which there was no surcease of sorrow.

Presumably to avoid OD'ing on Wellbutrin, they have made a cruel and wicked game out of firing on anything that moves in the White House. It is not even done in the best spirit of American satire -- it is ham-fisted, and done with Gallagher's mallet versus Mark Twain's fillet knife. It emanates from a dark and heavy impulse, antithetical to the frontier mentality, the Yankee can-do spirit that embodies the best of our nation.

Here is a  simple wish for the New Year: that the people I once considered my fellows put aside their fear and loathing of President Trump and have faith that the System will work, as it always has. If it comforts you, know that correctives happen every four to eight years, like clockwork. Whatever you thought was great but lost will be coming around again (possibly, in an improved guise.)

But Jeez Louise stop the incessant harping and haranguing stemming from the misbegotten elitist meme that "He is not my President". That's just stupid, forget counterfactual. Mr. Trump is your duly elected President.

 If it helps, think back to 2000 and the unfortunate "hanging chads" and the infamous ballots of Palm Beach County (why is it always Florida?). In that case, Mr. Gore just might have had the better claim to the Office, but the fight was ceded and we rallied behind our then-President, the one who brought us our current misbegotten and most unexcellent and tragic misadventures in the Middle East.

Every day's news cycle for more than a year now has been naught but bloodsport against the person of Mr. Trump (with the occasional bombing, opiate addiction story and weather disaster thrown in for good measure). The talking heads are, as comedian Jon Stewart said of the ilk to which he aspired to belong before hanging up his spurs, "turd miners". Even he -- the original Pied-piper of the new "opinion news" -- tired of suiting up daily in his Hazmat garb. 

Sadly, for the new breed, there seems to be no enervation in their non-stop caustic derision. Snark and nastiness is us.

This writer has tried, vainly, to counter the fearmongering and anger that has besieged her from all 'round. However, such efforts at rationality are epic fails, only serving to amp up the unfaithful and to ruffle my normal equanimity. The wise Lisa politely demurs.

No President may enact too many changes in four years. Rome was neither built nor burned in a day. Mr. Trump is surely discovering the confines that bind him.

Trade in your doom and gloom Nostradamus vagueries, "Well, we haven't seen the end of this ...". Instead, ask yourself, "What do I wish I had done today at this time next year? Do you really think disseminating fear, loathing and news-ish bits on the President is the best use of your life?

The blind arrogance of the once for-the-people Democrats is the most confounding and disappointing thing
. When Mr. Obama disdained the "guns and Bible" crowd, and his presumptive successor Hillary Clinton pushed it a step further with her gleeful dismissal of "the despicables", those tone deaf party regulars failed to realize a very big reality, namely: that is us, or at least, a large number of the people they were elected to represent.

The United States has a venerable tradition of being parochial and armed. Put another way, we take our civil rights seriously. Blame it on King George and the brigands called our founders who seceded from the Royal Way.

In the 2016 election, we saw the corrective that occurs in a democracy when our public servants believe themselves entitled. In this new day of personal entitlement, the hackneyed boilerplate of the party apparatchiks seems fusty even coming from a New/Old School Obama. 

He promised to extricate us from the Phony Wars and Terror (PWOT ©), but did not deliver. He presided over a renascent breakdown in race relations and the revelation of a new descent in the condition of the erstwhile entitled: the middle-aged white male, about whom it was revealed to be the only demographic losing in the mortality - morbidity sweepstakes

Sans judgement, the 2016 election was most remarkable, as it gave the lie to the received truth that pet candidates would always be shepherded into office on the large coattails of their wealthy sponsors. This writer remains curious and hopeful regarding this administration. The main fear is the New Hatred which has become de rigueur and a supposed sign of enlightenment. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

All we are saying, is give peace (in the Homeland) a chance.

Here's to a more civil 2018.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mistletoe Banned!

-- Even the New Yorker was fooled in their 
1939 depiction of the act as consensual

Santa baby, and fill my stocking with a duplex and checks
Sign your 'x' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
--Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

Breaking news:

Beginning in 2018, the purchase or possession of mistletoe will be banned in the United States after it was reported last week that Santa Claus was using the plant's seasonal reputation as a kissing post as an excuse to grope and grab unsuspecting mothers while their children were asleep.

Unfortunately, the shocking revelations came too late for this year.

Francine Millet-Wenzel, 67, of St. Olaf, Minnesota ((in the ironically-named Otter Tail County), was the first to report Mr. Claus's unwelcome advances last week. (Millet-Wenzel has some local renown as a Top-40 You Tube poster of funny cat videos featuring her own beloved white Persian, Woofie-Heathcliff, in various improbable scenarios weekly over the last ten years.)

She said the attack occurred in 1967, when she was babysitting her niece. In a wavering voice, Francine said, "It hurt. I have never baked another chocolate chip cookie since that night."

Actress Salma Hayek was credited with encouraging Ms. Millet-Wenzel's shattering accusations.

When asked why she finally decided to come forward with her story, Millet-Wenzel cited a feeling of solidarity with Hayek [the actress who recently spoke out against serial molester Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.] She said that she felt a resonance when viewing Hayek's portrayal of the long-suffering artist Frieda Kahlo in the 2002 film "Frida".

"Men [referring to Kahlo's husband, artist Diego Rivera] can be such brutes."

She offered a societal perspective, as well. "Living through the Civil Rights era, one became aware that the focus was on empowering those who had less. I knew that now was the time to begin the dis-empowering of those against whom that whole effort had been arrayed."

The former grade school English teacher waxed poetic when referencing Shelley's poem, "Ozymandias". In an unseasonal wish born of trauma, Millet-Wenzel said disparagingly, "That's what it's going to be like for these fat and entitled white men when women have our say -- 'despair'." It's time these villains get their just desserts."

She was not thinking of cookies with her last statement (though apparently, Mr. Claus, was.)

Asked if she was afraid to come forth with her revelation, she courageously said: "Not at all. I feel like Rosa Parks on that bus, or Michelangelo chipping away the unnecessary bits."

Further, she was asked if she feared a backlash from the male community in St. Olaf. "What do I care about that?" she said, confidently. I have my cats, and pussies are better than a man any day of the week."

With the air of a woman vindicated, she then offered to show the interviewer a local PBS affiliates' short feature on the popular antics of her beloved Persian.

--the now-defunct The American Weekly 
offered a prescient and more menacing take
in 1948 on the newly-revealed assaults

After her story was run by the local CBS affiliate, an avalanche of the now all-too-familiar stories poured forth from around the nation. Now it seems, St. Olaf was not the epicenter of this tragedy.

Santa's avuncular appearance and inextricable association with classic holiday stories and music -- his iconic image spread on everything from television specials to gift wrap-- had lulled these unsuspecting mothers into a sense of safety. Mr. Claus depicts himself as a hale well-met fellow, but the facts suggest anything but.

As this outrage continues to spool out, what some say are too-drastic protective actions are being considered.

Several females members of Congress have formed an ad-hoc committee and are presenting an appeal to Homeland Security to issue a nationwide Orange Alert: Do not open your doors late at night to even the most benign-looking strangers, especially during holidays. If you have a chimney, secure gratings which will deter entrance to your home from alternative avenues of ingress.

One of the committee members, Rep. Jackie Speier [CA-D], discussed the possibility of enlisting a consortium of the National institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to study how the male hormone testosterone works to enable a potential predator to assume various guises in the service of securing their prey.

"Men are known to impregnate women into their 70's," Ms. Speier said, despondently. "Think about Pablo Picasso and Charlie Chaplin. This will be a protracted battle for women, a Long War, if you will."

According to his accusers, Claus's ploy never varied: he brought gifts ostensibly for the children and at their behest, no strings attached. But when CBS interviewed the beloved Christmas fixture, he justified his frotttage by stating coolly, "Hey, we all know there's no free lunches, right? 

Dispassionately, he continued: "Look at me -- I work like a dog to make Christmas Day a good one for kids, and what do I get? Milk and Toll House cookies, every time. Would a lasagna or meatloaf be so hard?". He concluded with the victim-shaming typical of previous predators with the rhetorical, "What did they expect?"

The numbers of victims are expected to climb, and reports say that Mr. Claus has sought refuge back in the North Pole, which has no extradition treaties with the U.S. Our requests to interview Mrs. Claus were denied by her spokesman, Mr. Elf.

[Notably, there were only five reports from the state of California, a state known for suspending its disbelief and love of all things elfin and fairy-like.]

For now, it looks like our Santa Claus is more Krampus than St. Nicholas.


--by Lisa and Jim

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Up the Down Staircase

--the great Terence Stamp, as Priscilla

Ever tried "punctuation sex", Henrietta?
Hyphens are kisses, commas are maybes,
and a period is a definite no.
And then of course, there's the...
limitless realms of semicolons and apostrophes.
I shudder to think what
an exclamation point might mean 
--Up the Down Staircase (1967)

~So... You actually make money by dressing up like a woman?
~Oh, sure. You can make a fine living in a pair of heels
--The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power
--To His Coy Mistress,
Andrew Marvell

In the previous piece we asked, "How and why has have the grotty gropings and sexual mis-adventurism of the powerful -- the previous bailiwick of the tabloid news -- become a part of the national evening news cycle?" A newly-prim Blanche DuBois may have begged her sister Stella not to hang back with the brutes, but brutes are what we are, after all, so why are we surprised?

But so hopped-up are the liberal harridans on their outrage du jour that it does not matter to them that this skulking behavior is not political news, nor is it anything new. Neither is it the sole domain of either gender.  

To wit: it is not behavior unknown to Democrats. Right. In fact, sexual voyaging should more acceptable to those of a liberal bent who reject an Old Testament vengeful "Thou shalt not" kind of God, no?

We speculated that the Angry Birds of the news desks are scatter-gunning in their efforts to damn the current power elite as enabling this behavior (which obviously has stolen the Presidency from the Other Rightful Power Elite ©), and to thereby redeem the liberal cause in the process. If achieved, this would be a notable two-fer.

Since their wildly speculative new machinations do not seem to gain much traction, they are going back to the tried-and-true. They figure that by the sheer weight of lead which they are throwing, surely something will stick.

Here, yer own humble boots-on-the ground reporter broadcasting from Ground Zero -- i.e., the most liberal college in the university -- reveals the twaddle for what it is. What follows are three archetypal examples of hypocrisy as witnessed by me, up-close and in-person.

They demonstrate why liberalism has become irrelevant and can no longer provide guidance for a better world. Sensationalist outrage has transcended reality. They advocate both for and against bigotry and the needy as it suits them, thus losing any claim to a consistent or meaningful agenda.

#1: In a Human Sexuality course, a Gore Vidal-narrated video on "other genderedness", "Middle Sexes", was shown. The film glamorized the world of the Asian "girl boys" -- young men who vamp as women. This behavior was depicted as a time-honored tradition, suggesting that perhaps half of Asian men choose this path.

Despite the happy voice-over, the constant was that they were performing in one way or another for curious tourists. It was a lifetyle borne of economic need. Nonetheless, the focus was on the "sex positive" aspect of the behavior.

The program concluded with the story of a man who left his wife and child to marry one of these girl-boys whom he had met on vacation. The man said he was not gay, and when the interviewer asked if the male genitalia of his new partner bothered him, he protested vociferously, "No! Just look at her -- she's beautiful."

Indeed, the boy posing as girl was lithe and petite, and his make up was impeccably applied, but his situation is that of being cared for because of his created appearance by a married Western man. This seems the height of objectivity and disingenuousness.

But wait, there's more! The kicker occurred outside of the classroom, where a flyer advertised an upcoming talk by an immigration lawyer and social worker who worked to liberate and integrate former workers in the sexual tourism trade into United States society. In a nutshell, "We will apotheosize the Freak, but when you tire of it, we will welcome the refuse of your misadventure, too."

This sounds a little like having your cake and eating it. Stripping the ethics from the argument we can say say this flip-flopping will ensure that therewill always be jobs for lawyers, counselors and social workers, a cause for the liberal die-hards, and sex for horny tourists with money.

Moral: You can't be both against a behavior (i.e., trafficking in sex with minors or sexual tourism), and for it at the same time. (Well, not and be taken seriously.)

#2: In the same class, the instructor provoked a discussion on gender expectations. One woman insisted that she should be able to walk down the street naked and not be groped or propositioned by a man (no word on women).

Perhaps for her, one might agree that would be a fairly reasonable expectation, but not so for most women. C'mon, folks, this is either a red light behavior or a sign of mental instability.

We have cultural norms for a reason, and bearing a lot of flesh is a symbol signifying a desire. Maybe her view would be correct in a nudist colony, but is it really pretty to think that this should be a cultural norm for all of us?

One hapless young man offered that, while he thoroughly abided by the "'No' means 'no'" message, if he were clubbing and saw a woman with a drink wearing a tight dress up to her buttocks and wearing 6-inch heels, he would presume that she might be receptive to at least an opening gambit. Given no quarter, his honesty drew howls of execration from the females, who were now animated by the liberal professor to argue for what never was and never shall be -- a gender neutral society. (At least, if there were, they would die out pretty quickly due to lack of interest.)

Interrupting the moment of uproar was an African-American woman who daily sat with a group of her fellows in the back who spent most of their time on their PDA's. Praise be to her, for she could take the callowness no more.

"I'm just talking for myself now, but when I'm wearing that party dress up to here and got my 6-inch heels on, my hair and nails done, I expect to be in some man's bed by the end of the night."
That was all, and she went back to the computer. I applauded her. (Does anyone hear the sound of two hands clapping in a silent sea of 40 brainwashed liberal wanna be do-gooders? I think not.)

To my surprise, following that admission, one brave girl from the defending cohort admitted that her roommate had a closet full of "Shame Shirts". The credulous professor professed ignorance as the student described the behavior as that of co-opting one of a man's nicest shirts for one's own following a one-night stand. A spoils of battle, as it were, thus showing that women could be players, too. (Who knew?)

Moral: Denying the facts in favor of a preferred reality does not make it so.

#3. (While it is hard to choose a favorite this may be it, as it so nicely encapsulates the hypocrisy being discussed)

After waiting over five minutes to speak a presenter after his talk at a recent symposium, I thought to press forward as one of the organizers had cornered him. The man was explaining a series of photos he had seen of early 20th century Jewish scientists, and was animatedly trying to get a response from the implacable speaker, to no avail.

"I mean they all looked ALIKE, with those faces and noses ... y'know what I mean?!?"
He was smiling, and seemed bemused by his racial acuity, but he was not getting the laugh he'd hoped for. He then noticed me waiting patiently behind him and trundled off, the curious smile still on his face.

I thought, "How incredibly tone deaf." The speaker had mentioned the Rwandan Massacre, and how facial features were one means of determining who was to be eliminated. He had also spoken about the lineage of soldiers in his family, dating back to the Battle of Culloden (1746), and the miseries suffered by the various fighting men. Mostly, he was an economist, and he was considering how to meet the needs of society with diverse peoples.

It was surprising to hear such bigotry from this esteemed member of our Philosophy Department. What followed was equally surprising, in context.

The next presenter was a Jewish professor with one of "those faces and noses". His opening gambit was a visual in which he went for the cheap and easy laugh among the gathered liberals about "The Orange Man" (i.e., our President, Mr. Trump.) He had not not heard what was said on the same dais a few minutes earlier, when he and his were someone else's punchline.

Why was this person, who's categorization was the object of another equally educated person's derision, demeaning and categorizing Mr. Trump? Was he simply trying to fit in, to say, "I'm one of you -- please like me!", or did he really hold a contempt for this man of whom he knows not, but who he felt qualified to disdain? Unknown.

Liberals have become hateful, exclusionary and arrogant. They are the new Bubble Boys in the American political arena, such as it is, the media maestros, organ grinders playing the tune in the do-si-do of hatred.

The Mobius strip of disdain shows that they have lost whatever high ground they once occupied.

Moral: One may not hate a group and concomitantly claim for righteousness or inclusivity.


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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Off With His Head

--The Red Queen has spoken

Well, I talk about boys, now,
What a bundle of joy!  
--Boys, The Beatles

 One way or another I’m gonna find ya
I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha 
--One Way or Another, Blondie

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes.
There's too much fraternizing with the enemy.
--Henry Kissinger

 'Cause I gonna make you see
There's nobody else here
No one like me
I'm special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention 
give it to me 
 --Brass in Pocket, 
 The Pretenders 

And you're boring, and you're totally ordinary, 
and you know it.  
--American Beauty (1999)

The Game of Cat and Mouse: Can't Have One Without the Other

Subtitle: It really IS an Idiot Box.

Today, we'll peep in on the Battle of the Sexes, cos, hey, the news outlets say it's news. We are RangerAgainstWar after all, and in the annals of martial history this one has been going strong since time immemorial, with nary a durable truce. (And just like the Wars on Poverty and Drugs, it has a zed chance of conclusion of hostilities.)

Comparatively, in the longevity arena, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is a piker.

My stupefaction at what passes for media news is boundless. Over the past couple of weeks, the news ventured credulously into the oft-lurid territory of power and sexual dynamics, games as old as the day is long.

That commentators like Public Television's Mark Shields and David Brooks must feign shock and play "Captain Renault" to the female anchors tests the limits of credulity.

This is not an apologia for the Droogs

In last week's Public Television's Friday news roundup, Mr. Shields perhaps unwittingly let some ray of sunshine fall upon the Trump Administration when he circumambulated around the story, trying to tie up the requisite disparate parts.

Saith he, because Mr. Trump is who he is, he may be making male rutting behavior that much more unpalatable to the masses. Well, certainly he gave it a college try, but for attributing any Good Thing to the current White House, Mr. Shields will no doubt get a wrist thumping .

The thing is, since most of these newly-revealed sexual improprieties occurred many years hence -- many during Democratic presidencies -- are we to assume that Democrats have a certain "Penis Protection Society" for its wayward male members?

Why were we not shocked then? Perhaps the slippery morality of the bobos allowed the secretive behavior to continue. Are we entering a more morally black-and-white time?

Do you think that you're made out of gold and-uh, can't be sold? -- Jimi Hendrix

The horreur du jour is simply: Powerful men are taking sexual favors from guileless women. Are you as shocked as I?

Mrs. Clinton may not have won the election, but the press is giving her revanchist acolytes their moment in the sun to skewer the feral (mostly) White Men via yet a new avenue.

The doughty liberal women rejoice as they lasso the powerful men like so many head of steer. Those leading this charge have been handed the Consolation Prize in the never-ending Liberal Collective Anger Sweepstakes.

These bruised yet stalwart Hillary Clinton minions are trying to make the power-money-sex troika sexy headline news again, some 50 years hence.

The Bad Boyz have been dropping like flies. Senator Al Franken, Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein, newsmen Charley Rose and Matt Lauer, etc. And no longer are the accused innocent until proven guilty.

So horrid is their behavior that the trap door must be opened as if on a Vaudeville stage and the perp must then disappear presumably into a gulag run by female prison guards like in a bad Russ Meyer film.

Feminists demand this behavior -- Who knew? -- stop, and that the alleged perpetrators be summarily dismissed from their area of operations. A hundred years on, The Perils of Pauline have been re-packaged for modern consumption, with Wonder Woman to the rescue of the hapless Pearl White.

The press states that Mr. Trump qua Trump has ripped the scab off some great festering disease in our society committed by men much like him. As an archetypal powerful white male, he is the great abettor and enabler of this great undertow of exploitation.

Don't buy it.

First it was the press's frightening indictment that the President was responsible for a renascent white supremacist movement. Now, it is as though the fictional character Don Draper from tv's Mad Men has infected American men with some new, as-yet unseen, aggression.

We secretly yearn for that ur-Male, but want to castrate him when he arrives. Just look at the number of military programs, movies and video games produced in which the macho protagonist fights and gets the girl(s), too. It is the whole cake and eating thing.

The heady combination of power and sex is as old as Salome's dance and Delilah, and then some. It is capitalism at its finest: Opportunity meets availability. Consumption occurs 'til satiation, or until the Next New Thing comes down the pike.

Since one may not re-engineer the chemical makeup of the human being, one would need some broad, consistent and formative re-education to change unwanted social behaviors. Unfortunately, the United States is burdened by both a highly-sexualized, and a highly Puritanical background, resulting in some deep schizophrenia regarding relations between the sexes.

More to the point: why is this headline news, and why when the alleged offenses are often many years after the fact? Rather than some great awakening on behalf of the offended, it is not hard to imagine that powers arrayed against these powerful men troll about to find these women, offering the correct incentives for their testimony.

Of course, we are talking here of grown women, not minors. Consenting adults. It is a game they chose to play when they entered the fray of competition (in Hollywood, politics, etc.), and a price many are willing to pay, to give favors in order to receive.

It is an understood if unsavory quid pro quo. Don't cry wolf when it is you who walked into the wolf's den.

This is all nothing new.

And who are these men? Does power confer privilege only occur among the entertainment and political set (entertainers of their own sort)? Does sexual favoritism and exchange not transpire among the more mundane, simple folks like you and me?

How does everything old get new again, entering our never-ending chorus of outrage and indignation? Are there not other topics more worthy of coverage on the nightly news?

Does Anyone Really Need to Say This?

Watching the media coverage evinced no response so much as, "be an adult, and be smart. If you don't want to get dirty, do not play with dogs or pigs."

Shame on the press, for they know that firing at this target will leave them with Maggies Drawers flapping in the breeze every time.

[Update: An unedited cy. of this piece went on 12/4/17.]

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