Wednesday, April 30, 2014


--Mr. Sterling and his "tranny",
according to a comment thread at the SI site 

The left wing is broken,
the right insane 
--Pretty Pink Rose,
David Bowie

That's "tranny", not "nanny".

I'm shocked, aren't you? Mr. Sterling, the white basketball dude, said some negative things about black men and how this has a negative impact on how whites view the franchise, and now he's banned from going near a b-ball court again.

Well, at least that. Feeling better now -- how 'bout you? Or at least, I think I'm supposed to feel better. Naw, on second thought, I feel worse. We have freedom of speech in the United States, and what is protected is not just what you like. Incitement to violence is not protected, but expressing bigotry is not the former.

Among the roundup of talking heads on NPR's Diane Rehm show this morning was Michael Eric Dyson doing his predictable patter, about how the black man owns his negritude and transvalues the odious N-word into a symbol of his empowerment and re-habitation of his black body from the colonizing white man, who is not allowed to use the word.

Dyson is beside himself regarding the "entrenched racial biases that persist," but his outrage only extends to the bias that inhabits the headspace (or perhaps, the viscera) of the white man, which I suppose co-opts the person of the white female, too. {Forgive me, but I've had a particularly noxious exposure to Post-Structuralism which leaves me unable to brook too much of Professor Dyson's cant without feeling vaguely ill.}

Dyson will not allow himself to consider the prospect that blacks using the N-word is a self-loathing behavior. Can you imagine President Obama calling himself "one crazy nigga"? Me, either. By professor Dyson's metric, blacks may use the N-word, but if a black man like Bill Cosby (that old fuddy duddy) speaks of a problem in the black community, he is banished from the universe of cool.

And somehow, we are all o.k. with this, 'cos Jay Z. makes a lot of money throwing down his rap. And money makes you a Big Man in America.

Ms. Rehm then asked the panel if we might not draw some connection to the "Crazy Rancher Dude" (NYT's Gail Collin's term; and she has the temerity to talk about "freedom"?) who recently spoke in the NYT about black malaise in America. Not comme il faut, but he IS a rancher in Nevada, after all. Permit me to draw my own connections.

I've seen those people/families to which the rancher refers, sitting on the tattered sofas on their sagging front porch at 1100, perhaps someone drinking out of a paper bag. Lives without hope in my quaint, magnolia tree-lined city (on the off-streets, of course), in Cleveland, in D.C., in wherever. Do you think this is a problem? Me, too.

But laughing at "Crazy Rancher Dude" who's worked most of his 68 years is not an answer. It doesn't make me feel good. It makes me wonder how crazy are my fellows to even waste a moment missing the actual problem, which is the dismal lives of the people whom the rancher spoke of.

Ah, but fixing a problem takes effort and innovation. A Tweet is a mere 140 characters.

An older student, Joyce, once ask me a big question. (Joyce was really "Annie" on the student log, but she explained that "Annie" was a "black person's name", much I suppose as "Sarah" was the name appended to Jewish women in pre-war Nazi Germany.) Joyce asked after the murder of James Byrd, Jr., the black man who was dragged behind a truck in Texas, "Why do white people hate us, Miss Lisa?"

"Why do black people hate us, Joyce?", I asked. Hatred and exclusivity seems hardwired into our genome.

It will be a choice to stop, if we ever can.

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People, Think!


We're having a lot of rain here in the Florida panhandle.

This picture made me think: "Does this even LOOK like a good place to build a road?"

I'm just sayin'.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed

 It also means you could fuck around with anybody
just as long as they aren't also a member.
It's like a license to steal. It's a license to do anything 
--Goodfellas (1990) 

Gonna be some sweet sounds
coming down on the night shift
I bet you're singing proud,
I bet you'll pull a crowd 
--Nightshift, The Commodores
Subtitle: National Triage

Sometimes it is easy to doubt that rationality exists in this world.

For example, the United States is now sending troops into Poland. Imagine: In September 1939, world War II in Europe began because the Nazis and the Soviets crunched Poland in their pincers. The war started over Poland and when it ended, Poland was a shell of country dominated by the Soviets.

The war did not accomplish squat for the Polish, and now U.S. troops are moving in -- aren't we 70 years too late?

What rationale can justify pushing U.S. troops East towards Russia? Forget Putin, as we have no control over his actions. What we need to do is to question the rationale for our presence in the region. Are we secretly paying the Poles for providing the U.S. black site prisons in the Phony War on Terror?

Surely Poland has proved itself as thuggish as any of the thugs, and this is said only to acknowledge the fact that there are no Good Guys, the U.S. included.

Why is the U.S. so belligerent and expansive in the Ukraine scenario? How has this become our problem? After all, we tucked our tails and ran from Iraq and Afghanistan, and this was done without the opposition forces even having a military force structure, yet now we want to lock horns with the Russians? [Some interesting commentary can be had at "Ukraine, Unleashing the Dogs of War", and "Ukraine, Through the U.S. Looking Glass".]

Are we insane?

Allow me to tie this into a modern tale of American reality:

I could not sleep yesterday morning, so I took a ride through my town of Quincy to the 24-hour McDonald's for a coffee.

At 0430 there were two young children running wildly and hyperactively through the restaurant, and they weren't customers. They were the kids of an unmarried single mom working the night shift. These kids were there because of numerous reasons, but my point is, why don't we square up our own backyards before casting about to enter problems elsewhere?

Let the Europeans handle their problems and let us focus on things like unmarried moms, inadequate to non-existen Childcare for the working poor, and all the other myriad things associated with our national decline. Does the Butterfly Effect mean, when an eagle flaps its wings in Poland, a single mother in Quincy, Florida, feels the effect?

It's sure not "Wind Beneath My Wings" or "sweet sounds, coming down" on her "Night Shift".

Forget Eastern Europe, let's staunch the bleeding in the Homeland.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

The Book Club Ladies

--author of The Kite Runner

 They tried to make me go to rehab
but I said, "No, no, no"
--Rehab, Amy Winehouse

And the preacher said, 
"You know you always have the Lord by your side" 
And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran 
Twenty red lights in his honor  
Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord 
--Faraway Eyes, Rolling stones 
(for Ranger)

As a follow-on to Ranger's expression of exasperation in his previous post, I offer the following five-year old correspondence from my book club, discovered last night whilst cleaning out files.

They tried to do the Right Thing. First there was Three Cups of Tea, then, The Kiterunner. They even wanted to branch out into essays, and someone suggested David Brooks' end of year best essay round-up as a possible source.

But when Lisa made her suggestion, it became clear why she segued into persona non grata of the group:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lisa###"
To: gs9@###.net

Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 3:18:26 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Book idea

I wanted to add one more to our list of considerations:

"Our culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses".  Since you mentioned David Brooks' essay choices in The New York Times, the book includes "When Islam Breaks Down," named by David Brooks as the best journal article of 2004.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "gs9@###.net"
To: Lisa
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 9:38 AM
Subject: Re: Book idea
Thanks for this idea, Lisa.  It looks very worthwhile but it's depressing just reading it (that's why I sent this just to you); I am too depressed already to read it right now.

I've been meaning to say that I would really like to read your Letter to the Editor about Haiti.  Although your position shocked me initially, I really would like to understand it and give it more thought as I respect your intelligence, etc.  I tried to find it on the Democrat website.

Take care, and hope to see you soon! 


You see, the group began by wanting to understand world events, but to feel good about them. Moving from fiction would not allow that sense of comfort, but even the author of their beloved fiction, The Kite Runner said otherwise. When "The Help" came up on the agenda, I was gone.

Further down in the same letter thread I found the group's unofficial keeper of minutes had described me thusly: "And Lisa, what a bright addition you must make to any gathering!"

That is Southern Lady-speak for, "What a grand irritant you are!", akin to the ubiquitous, "Well, isn't she precious!" So Ranger and me are on the same wavelength, sort of.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Late Night with Ranger

 --Ranger was a Winter Ranger, 
but he was no Captain America 
(then again, not even Captain America is)

 Our scientific power has outrun
our spiritual power.
We have guided missiles
and misguided men
--Martin Luther King Jr
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men
Read more a

  Take that money 

Take that money

Take that money

Take that money
Watch it burn
Sink in the river
The lessons are learnt 
--Counting Stars,

And moreover, it’s ironic how the tactics
of the enemy are the only available means
for defeating the bad guys.
To conquer evil and restore liberty,
one just has to have more power at their disposal,
although directed toward a good end.   
--Salvation and Superheroes 

He didn't like to be alone.
Even more, he didn't like being with people 
--Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout 
(with some editorial gender license)

Rangers are noted for their fighting abilities during the "hours of challenge", but as we age the only thing we can do is to be old men lost with our thoughts.

These are my thoughts in the dead of night. I've been writing for years against war and the words are soft and ineffective. They lack a bursting radius or effective range. They do not cover dead space in my defensive fire plan or posture. I cannot maneuver or affect the outcome of anything, even as it relates to my own life.

My free speech is a privilege that affects nothing. We only have value as consumers of the bilge printed and spoken daily by our "news" outlets. Both political parties support war, and both sides of the ideological divide will see and report only what fronts their agenda. Regardless of the pretty cant or ardor of the presenter, all are blind; a half truth is a whole lie.

We are all electronically connected, chattering on about a world beyond our ability to comprehend. We claim to proceed with goodwill, and use descriptors like "evil" about those things we find repellant, not understanding that the term is not always a pejorative one for others who find a perfectly moral and reasonable rationale behind their actions. It is a parochial life, lived on increasingly sophisticated devices. Perhaps we think the faster we can pump out the words, the sooner light will filter through the chinks.

Marshall McLuhan saw that technology would serve as both a shock and a protection from this stimulus-shock. The "closer" we become in our global technological village, the farther we become. "We have put our central nervous systems outside us in electronic technology," he wrote, in what he described as a "suicidal auto-amputation". Like our primate cousins, we can stare at lots of data, without necessarily grasping its meaning, either to us or to others.

We celebrate a "Warrior Ethos", but how many actual individuals are warriors, and have our lives improved from all of this hard power? Toughness trumps smarts, perhaps as it has ever been. Toughness equates with competence and patriotism, and without those things one is an outsider, suspect.

Some feel that being armed with paltry ineffective assault rifle clones will transform them into a formidable 18th century militia capable of resisting an incursive government, while others amuse themselves to death chattering on about "The Crazy Rancher Guy, slurping soda in front of their computers, having never actually humped a rucksack or ranched cattle. The toughness has been overlaid onto our dialogs, both Right and Left, and our violence is barely contained.

When watching the evening news the questions come, predicatbaly and incessantly: "Why do I care if Taylor Swift is carrying the torch for young American women, or if Croatia is protected by NATO? Why do I care what the Serbs, North Koreans or Iranians happen to be doing in their crummy little countries? Why is the Ukraine or the Crimea of any concern to me?"

When I see the aid packages going to Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, I think of the 30% of my home county that lives in poverty, or the 49 million American living with "food insufficiency". I see church missions going abroad to address poverty over There, while cities like Detroit are dying on the vine for their poverty needs -- material poverty, poverty of mind and soul, educated in the cauldron of hatred flamed by the usual hatred-mongers.

We are dying because we do not know how to live. Living is minding your own garden.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who Goes Nazi?

For your interest, until our next post:

A friend recently brought this Dorthy Thompson essay from the 14 Aug 41 issue of Harper's to my attention -- "Who Goes Nazi?" It remains a provocative piece.

Here's the conclusion of her "parlor game", for your reading pleasure:

 It’s fun—a macabre sort of fun—this parlor game of “Who Goes Nazi?” And it simplifies things—asking the question in regard to specific personalities.
Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Nazi in a crisis.
Believe me, nice people don’t go Nazi. Their race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them.
Those who haven’t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they don’t-whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Nazi. It’s an amusing game. Try it at the next big party you go to.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day, 2014

--The Earth Day Show (Paresh Nath, UAE)

The mockingbird sings it, it's all that he knows
"Ah, what can I do?", say a powerless few
With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye
Can't you see that their poverty's profiting you
--My Country 'tis of Thy People You're Dying,
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Today is Earth Day, one of those quaint relics from a recent past when we gave lip-service to actually being good stewards to our planet and its inhabitants. 

Welcome to Earth Day 2014-style in Florida, where a greedy oil firm began fracking this year in the sensitive Florida Everglades under the radar, without a permit. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the fracking began sometime between 30 Dec 2013 and 1 Jan 2014. 

The Dan A. Hughes Company of Texas was fined $25,000 for this outrage, a slap on the wrist. Who and what does Florida prioritize -- the health and welfare of its citizens, wildlife and invaluable tourists, or a carpetbagger oil profiteer? Ask our Governor Rick Scott (R) -- who profited nicely from his work as Chief Executive of the felonious Columbia/HCA corporation -- and you can guess the answer (Though Scott was not implicated in the scandal and no charges were raised against him personally, Columbia/HCA admitted to fourteen felonies the year after Scott's resignation as CEO. The company agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million, which was the largest fraud settlement in US history.)

Progress Florida, a non-profit citizens advocacy group, sent out this petition (below) today:

Quoting from the Tampa Bay Times story (Oil company drilling in sanctuary fined $25,000 for violation that could be fracking), they wrote, "Gov. Scott’s DEP is so in bed with polluters that their consent order about the Hughes Co. violation fails to even mention fracking, citing 'a confidential trade secret.'"

Anyone may sign the petition. If we cannot even be bothered to do that, we deserve what we get.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Only a Game

 JUST DO IT -- it's one of advertising's most successful campaigns. But Nike's defining 1988 slogan was being used successfully 20+ years before in an Ohio cornfield. 

Back in 1965 when Ranger was a young ROTC cadet he had a tough old Master Sergeant, Nick Kolivas, who owned the slogan well before the sports store. He constantly yelled at us: "Just do it!" It silenced any grumbling or complaints on our side.

Nike's winning 1988 logo was preceded by the also powerful, "There is No Finish Line." When Ranger recently saw these words on a T-shirt he thought, "What does this imply?" It is the perfect analog to the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

If there is no finish line, does this imply there is no starting line? When does a War on Terror start, and where and when does it end?

Today the runners are gathering on Beacon Street in Boston to run the 118th Boston Marathon, mindful of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which was a gruesome application of the finish line metaphor. Is that marathon, with its finish line bombing, a perfect example of the "Long War" that all PWOT enthusiasts embrace? Was it just another senseless act or does it make sense at some level beyond our consciousness?

In every terror awareness training I attended we were taught that we must think like the terrorists ... but is this even possible?  Do the terrorists know what they think and why they think it? Do our leaders share this inability to  recognize the significance of their policies? Is the motive --> consequence clear?

There is no finish line because we cannot even determine the starting line. Democracy should be about growth, humanistic endeavors endeavors and the dignity of the individual. If the world operated on logical rules, then terrorism is the opposite of that construct.

The nihilism of terrorism is what we will never comprehend, regardless of how many terrorist courses we attend. That understanding is rational; what does not fit is the reactions of the United States to recent terrorist events.

When we rely on assassinations, unauthorized surveillance and various iterations of military violence as a response to terrorism then we have become as incomprehensible as any nihilist or terrorist. As long as there are criminals, crazies or crusaders willing to cause mayhem there will never be a finish line.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Age of the Oligarchs

--Media Rules Us
Angel Boligan (Mexico)

 and in the needle mountains there are lakes
so cold and clear that the dead who sit
on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests
look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders
--Woodrow Wilson, David Young

Robert Parry agrees with our previously-stated concerns over the new "vanity media" (supposedly in opposition to "legacy media"), writing that we are entering the "Age of the Oligarchs":

So, if you want to find critical reporting on U.S. interference in Ukrainian politics or a challenging analysis of U.S. claims about the Syrian chemical weapons attack, you’re not likely to find them at ProPublica, which is backed by ex-subprime mortgage bankers Herbert and Marion Sandler and is edited by well-paid traditional journalists from the mainstream press, like Stephen Engelberg, formerly of the New York Times. Nor at FirstLook.org funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Though both ProPublica and FirstLook do some fine work on certain topics – such as the environment and privacy rights, respectively – they haven’t shown much willingness to get in the way of U.S. foreign-policy stampedes as they run out of control. Presumably, that would make their funders nervous and possibly put their larger business interests at risk.
Another new media “oligarch,” Washington Post owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has shied away from reining in “the neocons who brought us the Iraq War.” He has left neocons like Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl in charge of the opinion section of Official Washington’s hometown newspaper. Their positions on Syria and Ukraine have been predictable.
. . .
 # # #

Truth is a pathless land.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life in Absurdistan

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye
--In Memory of W. B. Yeats, 
W. H. Auden

 Those morons out there? Shucks, I could take chicken fertilizer and sell it to them as caviar. I could
make them eat dog food and think it was steak. Sure, I got 'em like this...

You know what the public's like? A cage of Guinea Pigs. Good Night you stupid idiots. Good Night,
you miserable slobs. They're a lot of trained seals. I toss them a dead fish and they'll flap their flippers.
--A Face in the Crowd (1957)

We at RangerAgainstWar don't think we are like Lonesome Rhodes in Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd. But whoever you pay obeisance to just might be.

Ranger and I had a chuckle over the weight of absurdities reported weekly in the media. He felt that all stories post 9-11-01 regarding terrorism should be reported under a warning banner, like cigarettes: "Nothing herein reflects reality."

The manner in which the average American interacts with the stories that concern him makes him complicit in his own stasis and impotence. Vaclav Havel's 1978 essay "The Power of the Powerless" indicts the behavior, now enhanced by our ability to broadcast over multiple social platforms and feel as though we are accomplishing something.

"For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system." Some stories which we had encountered on that day, which did not tell the truth:

  • NPR reports, "Russia is trying to topple the stability of the Ukraine." What stability?
  • Why do we cry over the recent Washington mudslides, instead of asking why people build on unstable mountainsides?
  • Why do we insist on the parity between the sexes, and yet seem confounded when a recent economic report declares that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns in a similar job? In response, Obama is now pushing for full pay disclosure in Federal contractor situations, as though this will solve the problem. In fact, the disparity is due in large part to women's biological choices, something with which men do not have to contend. Yet women are burdened (faux "liberated") by the superwoman persona which media overlays atop them.
  • Why do gays want to marry in a church which does not sanction their behavior? Certainly a civil union according all of the rights of partnership should be allowed, but if we are to obey our Constitution, we would understand the separation of church and state, which is not the same thing as the obliteration or coercion of the Church (and vice versa.)

Wouldn't it be nice if we just told the truth? The broadcasts could shut down by 3 p.m. We could go outside and take a walk, get some sun after work, be healthier in mind and body. We would not need so many meds or doctors.

On second thought, that would not work at all.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Do People Watch the Weather Channel?

 And Mr. H. will demonstrate
Ten sommersets he'll undertake on solid ground
Having been some days in preparation
A splendid time is guaranteed for all 
--Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, 
The Beatles 

Forecast: Sunny, Windy, Cooler

There are some things I do not understand.

While eating breakfast at a motel this week, I sat at a table facing The Weather Channel and wondered, "Why do people watch it"? Surely it's not to sock away clever cocktail party banter.

Competing with a scroll of weather across the United States were four inane weathermen, whose hopeless banter ran the gamut from shock and awe over past weather events ("The hail was 3.5 inches, PLUS ... it was baseball-sized, PLUS!") -- featuring video of smashed auto windshields and felled trees -- to the inspiring tale of the Jersey Shore boardwalk being rebuilt.

Just to prove all was well in Jersey, their weather girl on-site held a deep-fried Oreo in paper she said she had just bought on the boardwalk, sat on the sand while gingerly placing the delicacy beside her (a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips) and lay back waving her arms and legs maniacally, mildly obscenely for a full-grown woman in possession of her senses, and showed off her "sand angel" to the admiring applause of the four at Weather central.

Next up was a triptych of weather in three cities: Buffalo, Charleston and Cleveland. Under each was a childish drawing of a garage, a flower and a window, informing the watcher what activity might be well-suited to the day ("cleaning out the garage", "planting flowers", or "washing windows".) Seriously? "Well, honey, the Weather Channel said it would be a good day for you to wash windows."

Beyond this, why do we devote seven minutes of the local evening news to the weather? Couldn't it be done in 30 seconds with a weather graphic, leaving more time to expose viewers to actual news?

Why are we fascinated by the forecasters ("fore" + "casters"), a magical bunch like wizards and rune casters? Theirs is not a science, but a guesstimate based on models and conjecture. Often, they fail miserably.

Why not just go outside with a bumbershoot in tow and enjoy the day?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Unaffordable Care Act


Many think President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided a medical salvation to a large proportion of the 47 million heretofore uninsured non-elderly Americans. In fact, it has compelled perhaps 1.6% more people to buy insurance in 2014 than were insured in 2013.

Even taking the rosier figure of 5.4% of the number of previously uninsured, this is hardly a success story.

Moreover, having insurance coverage is not the same thing as being able to pay for actual healthcare. To risk stating the obvious: Beyond paying one's insurance premiums, one must then pay for the actual medical care one seeks. It should seem obvious that many of the people who failed to buy health insurance failed because the cost of seeing a doctor was beyond their purview.

The big story, however, is the "ugliness of spirit" (to quote Paul Krugman from his "Health Care Nightmare") in the United States which the ACA has revealed. Over half of our State's governor's are rejecting additional Medicaid coverage, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott being one. Odd considering our not-compassionate conservative Governor Rick Scott made his money in the legally contentious, once-largest for-profit health care company in the U.S. (Columbia/HCA); one would think he had a heart for such issues.

From Krugman's piece:

The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy — recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.” Indeed.

Florida CHAIN, a group lobbying for "increasing the access to affordable quality healthcare, published an informative piece on what the legislators "hope you don't read and remember." From that brief round-up is this on the "spite tax":

  • $500 million: A conservative estimate of the “spite tax” that Floridians will pay in 2014 – i.e., the amount of STATE taxes and fees that Floridians must redundantly pay to block access to what they already paid for with federal taxes

How Obamacare has played out in Florida is that the Medicare - Medicaid population can no longer access medical care from the same doctors they had previously seen. Bottom line: doctors are unwilling to accept the 80% remuneration from Medicare when they will not have access to the 20% previously covered by Medicaid. (Meanwhile, many of those accepting full Medicare reimbursement grow rich from providing often unnecessary procedures or prescribing unnecessary or unproven medications hawked by their friends representing the interests of Big Pharma.)

What is the linkage between Obamacare and the refusal of doctors to accept patient who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid?

Whatever the linkage, signs were in place in doctor's offices in 2012 stating that should the healthcare act pass, they would no longer be treating their patients who were dual Medicare + Medicaid recipients. These are the patients who will neither be able to afford the ACA coverage nor the medical care itself -- our neediest citizens who should be protected by such governmental programs.

The best parsing of the 1,163 pages of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (HR3590) and the 337 pages of the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010″ (HR4872)—known collectively as the Affordable Care Act— can be found at this post on Dr. Lickerman's blog. A liberal M.D., he explains clearly why the Act will not be a boon to the average health insurance customer.

There is no need to compress his compression, but this is an example:

"Consumers currently have almost no ability to “vote with their feet. Thus, no competitive pressure exists to motivate insurance companies to lower their premiums at all (remember, just because there are multiple plans on the exchanges doesn’t mean they’re being offered by as many companies)."

The insurance companies grow rich, the doctors grow rich, and the poor go without care. A Federal mandate that people buy health insurance ≠ being able to afford health care.

Medicare patients who also qualify for Medicaid are being turned away from their doctors in Florida -- is this how Obama's vision was supposed to play out?

We need a new law that requires all doctors to honor Medicaid patients (bureaucracy rules.) If Congress would provide this legislation, then then Mr. Obama should use his flanking policy by issuing an Executive Order. If a doctor accepts Medicare, he should be required by law to provide care to Medicaid patients. To do otherwise is simple money-grubbing.

Ranger will bet the farm that our leadership class does not have a problem finding premium health care, paid for with our tax dollars.

Addendum: Yesterday's press covered the death of young Florida mother Charlene Dill who collapsed at one of her three jobs for want of healthcare for her documented heart condition. She fell into the "Medicaid Gap" because she lived in a state which would not expand Medicaid coverage. Her case is not an isolated one.

--Jim and Lisa

[cross-posted @ milpub.]

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--The Toady Awards

You have done enough.
Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?
Have you left no sense of decency?
--Joseph  N. Welch,  McCarthy Hearings

Surely there must be a special rung in purgatory for those politicoes who shuttled off any cape of honor or shame in order to extend the longevity of their political lives. At least, a recognition of some kind.

Just as there are the Emmy's and Tony's, there should be an award for the best performance by political toady, so RangerAgainstWar presents: The Toadies.

Colin Powell's 2003 performance at the United Nations Security Counsel arguing for the existence of the non-extant Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was a classic; he shall be the inaugural member of the club of men of little decency or integrity -- the water boys of the Great Men. The grade school props of the drawings on the easel with the little Photoshopped arrows of mobile chemical units touring the countryside made it that much more heartbreaking of a job.

Now John Kerry is implicating Russian President Putin for behaving like George W. Bush, except he is being less-than forthright about the analogy. Mr. Kerry has fallen from being a man of principle (read his Winter Soldier testimony) to a toady; we nominate him as the newest recipient of the award.

Who would you nominate for The Toadies? What action would earn the nominee this award?

Nominations are hereby open.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye

--A toadie in Winter Soldier camouflage
"In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart...."
--a young John Kerry, Winter Soldier Hearings (1971) 

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

From Secretary of State John Kerry's reply to a question about Russia's actions in Ukraine on the CBS news show "Face the Nation," March 2:
"Well, it's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning willful choice by president Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations. Russia is in violation of its obligations under the U.N. charter, under the Helsinki Final Act. Its violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest agreement. You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext. 

"So it is a very serious moment, but it is serious not in the context . . . of Russia-U.S. It is serious in terms of sort of the modern manner with which nations are going to resolve problems."


Y'don't say? Well, I don't know about you, but a president making a unilateral choice to invade another country? ("Vlad the Invader"?)

I don't believe I have ever heard of such a thing, have you?

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Capt Mbaye Diagne - "A Good Man"

Capt. Mbaye Diagne and his wife, Yacine
The West's post-Holocaust pledge that genocide
would never again be tolerated proved to be hollow,
and for all the fine sentiments
inspired by the memory of Auschwitz,
the problem remains that denouncing evil
is a far cry from doing good
--We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow
We Will Be Killed With Our Families,
Andrew, Gourevitch
You see the truth, it needs no proof
Either it is or it isn't
('Cause he is the truth) 
--The Truth, India Aria

  “…the war about the genocide was truly a postmodern war: a battle between those who believed that because the realities we inhabit are constructs of our imaginations, they are all equally true or false, valid or invalid, just or unjust, and those who believed that constructs of reality can—in fact, must—be judged as right or wrong, good or bad."
"While academic debates about the possibility of objective truth and falsehood are often rarified to the point of absurdity, Rwanda demonstrated that the question is a matter of life and death.”
--We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families 

This week marks the 20th anniversary Rwandan Genocide, 100 days of slaughter over which 500,000-1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 20% of the country's total population and 70% of the Tutsi then living in Rwanda. It was both a civil war and a genocide.

Most of the world stood by while the mutilated bodies floated down the rivers. Writer Andrew Gourevitch wrote the definitive book on the events with his, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families.

Please do yourself a favor and read this story (or listen to the broadcast) by BBC's Mark Doyle, "A Good Man in Rwanda" an homage to Capt. Mbaye Diagne, a United Nations peacekeeper in Rwanda -- "The bravest man I have ever met."

“He had a sense of humanity that went well beyond orders, well beyond any mandate" said General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian United Nations Commander now a senator in the Canadian Parliament. Capt. Diagne was killed nine days before he was to have returned to his home in Senegal, ironically by a Tutsi mortar round -- the very people whom he was trying to protect.

Nothing good comes of war, and certainly putting poorly equipped, unarmed UN forces in the midst of such a situation is madness in the midst madness.

Words matter: You are not "keeping peace" when you are in the midst of hostilities of all against all.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

The New Media

That is why I lie to her and she to me
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be 
--Sonnet 138 (Lie with Me),

 Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody 
--Gotta Serve Somebody, 
Bob Dylan 

As a teenager, Michel believed that suffering
conferred dignity on a person.
Now he had to admit that he had been wrong.
What conferred dignity on people was television 
--The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq 

And then it just becomes an industry
of... cool 
--Almost Famous (2000)

More on how the media creates and feeds myth, and subtracts from the truth:

The integrity of reportage is being keenly challenged due to economics, and venture capitalists like eBay's Pierre Omidyar are stepping in to the breach to provide what he calls alternately "crusading journalism," or "opinionated news"; what friend FDChief calls, "vanity media".

Omidyar's new online journal, First Look Media, will join Vice Media, Business Insider and Ozy, among others, in presenting news with a spin. It is "Entertainment Tonight" for a hipster 21st century, and he has recruited names like Glenn Greenwald (The Guardian) and Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) to unabashedly front their take on the news they will report.

But "opinionated news" = agenda news (or, propaganda). Is it any different to get fed a line by someone you think is "on your side", than it is to read a Murdoch publication or listen to the Drudge Report or Fox news? You can dig some truth out of CounterPunch or Fox, by why should you have to? There are only so many hours in a day, and opinion will never reveal the truth until you get the facts and decide for yourself.

Greenwald is being disingenuous when he asserts that no one is a tabula rasa, ergo, writers should be opinionated. We may as well give up on our jury system if we do not believe a reporter can do his job in a disinterested manner. To be well-informed, we should seek more facts, less opinion. I can be wrong all on my own -- I do not need someone mainlining his thoughts to me like a pusher.

Mr. Greenwald, one of the reporters to whom Edward Snowden released his NSA documents, seems like a nice guy. He started out on Blogger with the ugly brown wallpaper, like the rest of us -- an attorney who began writing on public matters from a Constitutional viewpoint. But As Omidyar's star mouthpiece he is getting swept up into the cult of personality, and says being "boring" is a cardinal sin of the press. "Aggressive adversarial journalism" is where it's at.

It is sad when an educated man like Greenwald argues for the integrity of biased reportage. His dialog with the NYT's Bill Keller was embarrassing for the number of faulty syllogisms and the "new news" party line propaganda he peddled. He says we want personalities to interpret "the words and actions of political officials", but that is so patronizing. There are objective truths which precede the Postmodernist's savvy "post-truth" worldview, and presenting those facts is what news writer should do.

In her "Still Mad as Hell", The Times Maureen Dowd wrote an excellent analogy of Chaveysky's fictional newsman Howard Beale in the 1976 film "Network" to today's broadcasters who will "tell you what to think":

Chayefsky said his 1976 masterpiece was “a rage against the dehumanization of people” addicted to “boredom-killing” devices — a dehumanization that has gone to warp speed as we have entered the cloud. He said it was about “how to protect ourselves” from “the illusion we sell as truth.”

I totally get that this is a democracy with all of its attendant freedoms. We at RangerAgainstWar champion those freedoms, assuming that most people will (as the beer adverts say) consume responsibly. But there must be something pure to consume, if one is to operate from the facts.

Reflection is also a necessary antecedent to responsible decision-making and action; it is the pause that refreshes. If there is no gap -- no space between the stimulation and the act -- then we are operating in the realm of the paramecium, reacting aimlesslessly and instinctively to stimuli.

Sadly, our sped-up lifestyles involve a rapidity of information dispersal and consumption demanding instant response and judgement, akin to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink which champions this knee-jerk response.

It is like listening to a call-and-response spiritual in a Fundamentalist church. Recent brain studies confirm that our actions precede conscious decision, so the reversion to spontaneity and away from rationality appears to be an innate human default. We are the paramecia with an overgrown neo-cortex.

Perhaps the ubiquity of easily-boarded social platforms and instantaneous uploads is more of a burden than a release, for it keeps us so busy and tired that we do not have the time to process all that runs across our minds in a day, leaving us operating on a hamster wheel of feeds.

The requirement to respond instantaneously in a social milieu requires a reversion to group-think, so affiliation with social networks of "like mind" is of primary importance.  Crowdsourcing is essential in order to attempt to access the significance of any act in real time. However, that ingathering of input is too often drawn from affinity-based media.

We are all babes in this new frontier of social networking, and being frontiersman we look to exploit opportunities. We can't blame the Greenwald's for trying to hitch their wagon to a star. But in today's emotive entertainment stew, sanctioning opinionated writing writing under the imprimatur of a newpaper's banner seems a fool's errand at best, duplicitous at worst.

Revisiting FDChief's earlier-mentioned post reminds us that we both began blogging in late 2006. Blogging was a way to get out the word and to find fellow travelers.

Many of us here met via Phil Carter's early military - policy blog, "IntelDump". Mr. Carter was an early friend to RAW, and like Mr. Greenwald, an attorney. Both have moved on to projects less pure but more lucrative than their early efforts in the medium. [Mr. Carter joined, then left, the Obama administration. He is now on the staff of the policy think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS began around the blog "Abu Muquwama" whose founder -- Andrew Exum -- has exited down the rabbit hole of other, unknown, greener fields.]

We feel FDChief's frustration as what began as a promising project (the honest intensity of the blog) has being co-opted by Twitter "feeds", Facebook posts and the vanity press. The good guys have found new, profitable homes, and when you have a landlord, you may not change the interior too much.

The myths of Echo and Narcissus are cautionary tales for our new "echo chamber" clannishness. Echo was punished for adultery with Zeus by having her voice erased, except in foolish repetition of another's shouted words. Thus all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.

Echo fell in love with Narcissus, who fell in love with himself (his own reflection), thereby risking an impossible love, ever-receding in its falseness. She, repeating his words, he who stands entranced before his own image, unaware of his adoration of his own reflection.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Ranger, in a Rumsfeldian State of Mind

 It was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take 
The New York Times, The Daily News.
It comes down to reality,
and its fine with me cause I've let it slide 
--In a New York State of Mind, 
Billy Joel

For your consideration: a Ranger zen koan or poem ... we don't know the correct genre (though we'd care to know):

There are those that care,
but don't know;
Those that know,
but don't care;
Those that don't know,
but don't care;
Those that don't care to know,
or don't care to care.

Those that wanted to, 
but never dared.

--by Ranger, at the deep end of the pool

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