Monday, May 28, 2018

Et in Arcadia Ego

[Note: We met Mr. Weis when he posted a comment to a 2012 RAW post (A Soldier's Heart). He composed the piece below for the planned 50th class reunion of BGSU this fall. It expresses the meaning of the day as well as any piece of writing can.]

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
 In Flanders fields 
--In Flanders Fields,
John McCrae

 Remembering My Friend Doug Mabee

On the 50th Anniversary of his Graduation from BGSU:

          I have been asked to write a few words about my dear friend Doug Mabee, a young man who was generous with his hospitality, generous with his peaceful and gentle sharing, generous with the affection and caring that defined all his friendships.

          I met Doug through Eric Moore, also a member of the Class of 1968, and a close friend of Doug’s from the time they both started at Bowling Green.

Eric and I made regular late night, post-studying visits to Doug’s off-campus apartment during the 1967-1968 school year, where we shared a few beers, some progressive jazz, and the simple and soulful philosophy that is a tradition in one’s final year of college.

I was a junior that year, and I would see many of my one-year-older friends leave me behind as they graduated and moved on.  Eric contacted me in April of 1970 to share with me the sad news of Doug’s death in Viet Nam.

          Doug was my fourth friend to die in Viet Nam.  Aside from being my friends, they had other special attributes in common, and Doug perhaps exemplified those attributes most endearingly: modesty, humility, softness, an utter absence of belligerence or hostility toward others, an aura of peacefulness, an instinct for empathy, an ability to listen with deep caring and understanding, a gift for showing others that he liked them and was always glad to see them.

Each of these fine men perished in war, yet they were men of peace and love and acceptance.  I could never imagine Doug Mabee – not to mention Airnaldo Cantu, Terry Huebner or Ted Bartholomew – ever picking a fight with another human being.  I cannot imagine Doug Mabee ever hitting another man.  Perhaps that is what drew all of us together.  Ironically, these peaceful men – and our friend Doug Mabee – died in war.

          I wish Eric Moore was still alive to share his memories of Doug.  He would do so with great enthusiasm and honor. He passed away in 2002 in the Virgin Islands where he resided. I was close to Eric throughout his life, during which he gave me many fond memories and a few good friends.  Doug Mabee was one of those special friends – a friend whose memory will be with me for the rest of my life.

          A half century has passed.  Those of us still here look very different than we did in 1968.  Doug looks the same – a young face with glasses, a slightly awkward smile, an expression and a body language that always said, “I’m happy to see you.”

I am writing this wholly inadequate tribute to Doug Mabee one week before Memorial Day of 2018.  On this Memorial Day, as in every one, year after year, I will be alone in my thoughts of four young friends whose faces are still young and still so vivid in my mind’s eye.  And I will be wishing, for Doug and the others, that I could give them back the half century they lost.

          Thank you, Doug, for your service.  They say that “time heals all wounds.”  “They,” of course, are wrong.  All of you here today know that.  Some wounds leave scars that no years of longevity can heal.

Losing Doug Mabee to a war, now long ago, is one of those wounds.
--Bill Weis (Class of 1969)

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Another One BItes the Dust

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient
is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion,
but allow very lively debate within that spectrum
--Noam Chomsky  

Are you ready, hey, are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat 
--Another One Bites the Dust, 

Equality may perhaps be a right, 
but no power on earth
can ever turn it into a fact
-- Honore de Balzac
Once there was a newsman named Paul Harvey who was famous for his "Rest of the Story" radio show. By fleshing out the details, one could come to understand the ground of the story. This is the thing we are least inclined to do today.

In fact, we are loathe to move beyond the salacious. Too difficult, too sobering. But we will do that here.

This is not an apologia for Eric Schneiderman, newly-retired former New York Attorney General, three hours following the publication of a New Yorker piece in which two of his former girlfriends indicted him of what amounts to either rough sex play, or abuse.

Judged in the court of public opinion, he was already dead in the water. Another one bites the dust.

"Some women like this," he told one of the women, after he allegedly slapped her. He very likely believed it, or he would not have said it, and done it. Each of these two women stayed in relationship with Schneiderman for over a year.

This is not to victim-shame, but to state a fact: If the man you are with thinks this behavior is good, and you comply even if only in your continued presence in the relationship, how is he to know that it is not appreciated? Seen another way, could this not be part of an archetypal master-slave game?

Do we not read and watch films based on books like 50 Shades of Gray? Was it not heralded as some sort of revelation for women's empowerment? Some pain -- that's how the master-slave game is played. It's all good.

Sacher-Masoch's classic, Venus in Furs, argues for the power of the slave in such relationships, for the master does not exist without it.

One episode recounted in the article has Schneiderman's girlfriend Ms. Selvaratnam saying that after being slapped, "(I) got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down." If this were a typical case of outright abuse, the woman would be unlikely to come back at a much stronger perpetrator and "take a swing".

This sounds like game playing gotten out of hand. Maybe not your cup of tea, or mine, but for some, this is cricket.

When dungeon games are played correctly, there is always a "safe word", a way for the slave to stop any activity deemed outside the realm. This apparently works well for couples who abide by the rules.

But Mr. Schneiderman was too damaged to play the game well. His life is now ruined by the testimony of two women with whom he failed to be a consistent all-powerful character. He was weak, and not strong.

The New Yorker story states he awoke in pools of his own blood following injuries sustained while in drunken stupors. One woman bandaged his bleeding leg injury following one such episode, returning to re-bandage the newly-bleeding injury in his office the next day.

She had also seen him fall face down like a log following one episode of his getting wasted. Reading between the lines one finds a more nuanced story.

The woman said she had hoped that maybe she could help him stop his alcoholism. Of course, anyone in addiction treatment knows that cannot be done. The recognition and desire must come from the addict himself.

What seems evident is that Mr. Schneiderman was a runaway train in his illness, and it was only a matter of time before he was revealed. Unfortunately, there is no "#metoo" for the sick perpetrator of what he imagined a slice of society to approve. And Mr. Scheiderman is sick in the medical sense of the word, as the article belies his epic alcoholism and epsiodes of self-injury.

Like any typical functional alcoholic, those around him enabled his sickness to continue. As someone stated, he was "too valuable" of a commodity. So for all of his alleged objectification of the women in his life, the sadist was an object, too.

When the story broke, I told Ranger there would be a woman of color involved, and there was. Her statement that she was made to say that she was Schneiderman's "dark slave" is precisely in line with the sado-masochistic game. But it so offends our sensibilities that nothing can be heard beyond that.

As much as being a story about dysfunctional relationships and abuse, this is a story about a sick man who did not get the help he needed to be well.

So are we a prim bunch of morality policemen, or do we smile upon the panoply of sexual congress and call that freedom a good?

It would be nice if the rest of the story were told.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Eight Million Ways to Die

The neighbor ... shot at the dog from an upstairs window
 with a bow and arrow. 
The dog’s owner ran back into his house 
and came out with a Walther P-38,
a World War II souvenir.
The neighbor also ran outside with his bow and arrow,
and the dog’s owner shot him dead 
--Eight Million Ways to Die, 
Lawrence Block 

In modern war ...
you will die like a dog for no good reason
--Ernest Hemingway

He who has a why 
can bear any how
--Victor Frankl

Recently, we participated in a local initiative of our mayor's office, a community dinner called "The Longest Table". It actually takes place around a lot of 6-10 person tables at venues throughout the city. The purpose is to allow community members to voice their opinions on various topical matters, and to enjoy a civil evening of hopefully provocative sharing.

Last year was our first in attendance, and each table had its own monitor to facilitate discussion and note commonalities and differences. Sadly, this year's event was more of an ad hoc affair, and lacked that direction. (Perhaps because our Mayor Gilllum's office is currently involved with an FBI investigation.)

As a result, it was interesting to see how opinionated and righteous people can be, sans helpful direction. However, most people are not professional mediators, thus can be forgiven their indiscretions.

Moreover, in today's wired world, it is a small blessing when people actually unwire from their 24/7 media feeds in order to communicate face to face. That said, the comedown in empathy was palpable at the event. Mostly, participants opted out of dialog on anything of any import, probably because they know how quickly fever-pitch would be attained.

At our table, discussion was opened by a self-proclaimed former service member who began the usual rant regarding the badness of our current president. No one took the bait, to their credit.

But Ranger did engage with the man's second concern regarding societal violence; particularly, youth crime.

Ranger observed that extreme and life-like violence was a part of many young people's lives on video and computer, and that when young minds are bathed in this toxic brew there must be some causal relation between time spent and exposure to this extreme violent depictions, and possible anxious, anti-social or violent behavior in the consumer.

A young woman, a recent college graduate, insisted there was no research to prove such a linkage. Since we had no data before us, further speculation on the topic was D.O.A.

But let us consider the matter further here. Has the opposite been proven?

Is there research showing that prolonged exposure to violent media produces sound mental health and a sense of equanimity? Perhaps, it facilitates calm and reasoned thinking?

Shy of that, is there any proof that there is no effect from repeated and early exposure to such violent images and sounds? Have we even lived this "lifestyle" long enough to have a meaningful longitudinal study?

Everyone's favorite traveling protest show --the Parkland (FL) student marchers -- are  weekly  calling for a ban on and confiscation of all semi-automatic rifles. This would mean that 100-year-old rifles would be confiscated to quell the emotional demands of the teeny-boppers and their elder fellow travelers.

Okay. So we ban semi-auto rifles. What then about semi-pistols? Does this ban extend to our police? Or do they remain as armed and dangerous as a U.S. Army rifle platoon?

Let us not be goose-steppers here at Ranger, and take our collective heads out of the ground of public boilerplate.  

To wit: Toronto and London, both sites of recent terrorist killings, have draconian gun control laws. Yet the criminally crazy may still murder and maim en masse.

Just rent a van and mow them down. No aiming, no choosing a good site position. Sure, it lacks finesse and is as brute as murder can be.

But dead is still dead, whether via a slug from an elegant Walther PPK or under the tires of a moving van, dead like a dog in the street.

Outlawing any class of individually owned firearms will not stop the killing. While Ranger is not an NRA member, he acknowledges the correctness of their position that Americans are not crazed killers, and the U.S. citizenry is not the enemy.

When one is intent on committing an act of mass violence, the means for doing so are manifold. Remember that the last 16 years of war began with the commandeering of another means of of conveyance, the airplane, to kill thousands of people. There was no move to ban planes.

Banning semi auto or black rifle clones will not eliminate the problem. There is no simple solution to these episodes of violent crime.

We have a puritanical history, so banning things that can be abused always seems like a good idea. (Though it is odd that Democrats like this approach, as it has such a patriarchal, Big Brother overtone.)

But the holes in this argument to ban-as-solution are so big you can drive a truck through them.
Our own Temperance movement and the subsequent 18th Amendment (and it's subsequent repeal with the 21st) is a good example. If you want it and cannot buy it legally, you will get it another way.

In addition to alcoholism, obesity in the U.S. is a huge problem today. Big Pharma must love the profits, but the medical system is weighted down caring for the manifold illnesses consequent to a life spent in a state of Type II obesity-triggered diabetes.

So how do we change this poor behavioral pattern of overeating bad food choices?

Do we ban sugar? If we did, there are substitutes in defilade which still trigger the insulin response, and which would probably produce even worse bodily results.

Remember the Good Thing that liberals espouse, namely, that we are one world and irrevocably interconnected? If isolationism is not a good, and not even possible, then how can a ban on transnationally available goods work?

And yet, for a determined person, banning things within our borders begs only the simple question: how then do we get it here? Whether it is a moonshiner or an importer, someone will gladly oblige, if the price is right.

How does a waiting period to take possession of a legally-purchased firearm a measure that improves our security posture?

A resourceful mind can weaponize many objects. With any will, there is a way. Therefore, limiting access to discrete objects are not where the solution is to be found.

Guns, knives, planes, trains and automobiles are not the problem we are addressing when considering the problem of mass killings.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Earth Day 2018 + 8

--waterproof iPhone case, for your

Get out your white suit,
your tap shoes and tails
Let's go backwards when forward fails 
--Everything Old is New Again, 
Peter Allen

We can't return we
 can only look behind
From where we came 
--The Circle Game, 
Joni  Mitchell

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what
you've got 'til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot 
--Big Yellow Taxi,
Counting Crows 

 Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions 
--The Age of Aquarius,
The Fifth Dimension

We are not feeling too groovy about Earth Day 2018. Here are some reflections on Earth Day + 8.

Almost 50 years after the first official calendar declaration of our responsibility to be better co-inhabitants of our planet, and we have not come too far. Humans as good earth-stewards now seems a quaint notion.

More to the point, savages are us. It seems the Age of Aquarius has left the house, sans forwarding address.


--We have music that is no longer melodic. Instead of calming the heart of the beast, its purpose seems to inflame it and incline it towards violence and exploitation

--We use drugs whose side effects are often worse than the presenting problem

--We search for intelligence in the universe, yet fail to develop or recognize it here on earth

--Healthcare is an oxymoron

--Entertainment is violence

--News is entertainment

--Food is not nutritious, and is often the cause of disease. Diet food makes us fat: low sugar food pumps up the fat for the "mouthfeel", and low fat foods up the sugar. Both are efforts to provide us with food that satisfies us in the way that actual food used to

--In all of these things, the ersatz replaces the real

--We breathe contaminated air, and drink contaminated water

--We are "friended" by people who are not our friends

--Corollary: it matters that we are "liked" by them

--Among the younger generations, narcissism is up, and empathy is down

Where have the Flower Children gone?
The Baby Boomers, that largest and monied cohort, now spreads hatred 'round the world on its social platforms, the bilge every bit as toxic in nature and effect as any other environmental toxin. They call it a good.

AARP magazine says the Boomers seek housing in idyllic created and self-contained communities like The Villages in Lake County (FL). The landscape is clear-cut, and golf courses and boutique shops rule the day.

As one drives through these simulacra housing developments, one sees style blocs stuffed together, based upon price lines. How the residents find their way home among the homogeneity after a day tippling at the clubhouse, mystifies.

Marshall McLuhan foresaw that our technologies would not bring us closer, but rather separate us further. The radio or the telephone may bring us information, but we are separated from the reverence involved in creating an actual face-to-face meeting with a fellow. How many echelons beyond reality is the smartphone?

When one no longer sees or feels the actual presence of the other, he becomes less immediate, less actual. Our shared humanity takes a blow.

Atomic bombs, radioactivity, nuclear arsenals and DDT sparked the movement. If civil rights could be mandated and legislated, then surely the health and welfare of those lives could also be addressed.

However, the world goes on and it rides on money. And the quest for money and human well-being do not always jibe. So we have had Exxon Valdez, Bhopal, Deepwater Horizon, and far too many other planetary tragedies to mention, both large and small.

We belong to a global village, of sorts via our technological devices, yet seem no closer to empathetic understanding. Even within our own land of plenty we stand riven and ready at the least provocation to throw our verbal spears 'round the world, thus launching hatred into the already roiling miasma.

One may argue endlessly about the reality of global warming, but one may not deny the reality of resource depletion. Overpopulation is the elephant in the room, and one day, the earth will reach its carrying capacity.

There are 7.4+ Billion humans on the planet now. The number grows logarithmically, and the United Nations estimates the population will reach 8.1 Billion in 2025, and 9.1 Billion by 2050.

--you can't fool Mother Nature

Carrying capacity is a fact, as is the limited availability of drinkable water. Optimistic as one might be, these are two inescapable reins on our life here, and they are inextricably related.

Meanwhile, we with the leisure to debate such matters continue our niche political and religious debates regarding such things as abortion rights. It is of the fashion to always have an enemy.

Thus the brotherhood of man is a poetic chimera.

--Lisa and Jim

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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.

--Jim & Lisa

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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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