RANGER AGAINST WAR: September 2017 <

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This is Only a Test

--Congratulations, you were a "participant"

I never took the smile away from anybody's face
And that's a desperate way to look
For someone who is still a child 
--In a Big Country,
Big Country

 And why should I call your name,
When you're to blame
For making me blue? 
--Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,
Freddy Fender 

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace 
--The Genius of the Crowd, 
Charles Bukowski

[This is a prelude to our concluding segment on the stories we tell, "Circle Jerk III: The Frontier".]

I do not watch the news, as the mandatory agenda and relentless editorialization is onerous. But occasionally, it cannot be avoided.

Like Douglas Adams' holistic detective Dirk Gently, the gestalt does not escape my vision.  To that end, two segments in a recent BBC World News America broadcast neatly collided for me.

First was a story on the propriety of leaving graphic Syrian violence uploads on You Tube channels. The commentator suggested that discretion was the key as, "People live on their platforms." 

They live there, mind -- not just visit, not just type or read. Live. In a 5 x 8" screen. Even International Humanitarian Law would frown upon such living conditions.

 And the Band Played On

Second, catty anchorwoman Katty Kay was sputtering over the bipartisan meeting called by the President with Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Clearly, this move was in violation of the party line that Mr. Trump is untenable.

"But he's 'toxic'", said Mrs. Kay (her go-to descriptor for the President.) The horror accompanying her protestation had the desperate look of someone who has been gobsmacked: the gig was up. Nothing normal was supposed to happen, yet it did.

It sounded like the silence after the horrible scratch of an agly needle on a rare vinyl album; it will now never be the same.

Instead of what might have been interesting speculation regarding a meeting on healthcare that looked a bit like a convocation from the film, "Cocoon", we get Kay, beside herself, asking her guest for some understanding of this, to her, inexplicable event.

In an embarrassingly simple explanation, the guest explained to Kay that as the U.S. President is the head of the Executive branch, he is allowed to do this sort of thing. (In fact, he noted, this is exactly the sort of thing candidate Trump promised to do.)

In such moments one perceives that the vitriol against this "impossible" President is just so much night music, a nocturne designed to both palliate and arouse the insulted Clinton faithful. The media enabled them to feel a false sense of power by unceasingly feeding -- in fact, designing -- their corrosive hatred.

While the media story is that chaos reigns, the more banal reality is that the administration churns on, doing the work of government.

A responsible press would sift through the daily docket to find the boring but important news which merits coverage. Instead, you will hear about shoes, hands and the inappropriateness of Mr. Trump's every utterance because it is a cheap and easy way to entice the faithful to update their feeds without much thought.

These two stories explained why what should have been the story of the century -- analyzing and perhaps even celebrating the election by the people of a candidate far outside of the mainstream -- has gone missing. 

While this election could have spurred an honest and incisive discussion about why such a happening, that would require actually looking at the state of the American people. 

Instead, we have been trained to mock the President and all attendants, and have been offered no insight. Those who voted for him are stupid little puds worthy only of our derision (right?) Comedians like Jon Stewart may be proud of their legacy.

[Note: Mr. Stewart exited stage right, perhaps aware of the Roman circus - runaway train which he had ushered in. Because he could be sharp or funny, or because he had that elastic Buster Keaton face, it became o.k. to outrageously disrespect the news. But people began THINKING of that AS the news.

No one is funny today, however, though the disrespect continues. Both he and the now-retired David Letterman have left a much meaner world in their wake.]

Today, an inroads is always found to bring any disaster back home to Mr. Trump. We all know the drill: he is white and wealthy, therefore, he emboldens poor and marginalized people to crawl out of their hidey holes and disturb the rest of us.

At least, that is the media's story and they are sticking with it. It has incited their faithful to expulse untold reams of bilge over the last year.

(Addendum: The contrapositive of the story is that if we had a person of color or a woman President, the white men would not some out of their hidey holes, and their needs and concerns would be staunched. And of course, to the party line Democrat, this would be a Good Thing.)

But as with a hurricane, such passionate energy eventually dissipates. Perhaps some of the erstwhile livid and animated viewers are becoming like Sasha Baron Cohen's character Borat at the Texas rodeo, or maybe his rapt listeners. 

In the midst of Borat's impassioned diatribe about how the U.S. is going to win their "War of Terror" in increasingly contorted and ridiculously vicious ways, the supportive screams of the crowd begin to die down at his uttermost declaration (May you destroy their country so that for the next thousand years not even a single lizard will survive in their desert.)

At some point every dupe tires, and perhaps, realizes that he has been had.

And so it goes. All of the madness to which we have been exposed, causing us to to cry out against our duly-elected President, has probably been a proving grounds for the use of social media, like a test to see how wastewater permeates an unsaturated zone.

Meanwhile, some other people who know the score and see the futility, are reading Financial Times, The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, and are not spending too much breath on these things that obsess the lives of the hoi polloi.

The people who "live" on their smartphones and happily re-tweet endlessly unvetted "news" bits, have been played. They have proven to be someone's useful idiots, as they are pricked hither and thither, like hapless paramecium, whose thumbs cannot twitch fast enough (if paramecium had thumbs, that is.)

They were not even paid the $15 a Gallup Poll might have to pick their brains. By willingly surrendering their contacts and their wits, the angry re-Tweeters have proven quite useful to someone, as they dart under their Petri dish cover (i.e., smartphone screen).

Someone will use this enormous trove of free behavioral data you have provided. Count on it.

Cold comfort, but Big Brother loves you.

NEXT: Ranger on Vietnam

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Bridge Too Near

Science does not have a moral dimension. 
It is like a knife. 
If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer,
each will use it differently
--Wernher von Braun

[Note: "Circle Jerk III: The Frontier" coming soon.]

For the last few months we have been bombarded with emotional drivel about removing the statues of Confederate States of America heroes. (This being but one example of the copious multitudes of emotional drivel on the media tap that RAW chose to look at.)

But the opening football game of the ACC college season in Atlanta, GA, brought the matter into its technicolor hypocrisy for Ranger. Specifically, it was the location.

Why, you ask?

The game was held in the Mercedes Benz Stadium. You may know that Mercedes Benz, along with BMW, Volkswagon and IG Farben all supported Hitler with his racist fantasies. They robustly enabled his international criminality and crimes against humanity, and specifically, his program to eradicate the Jewish people.

All major German corporations actively engaged in the genocide by using slave labor subjected to abysmal conditions and starvation diets, and worked unto death, times. But it doesn't seem to bother us as we sit fatted before the football game in the stadium funded by their ill-gotten monies.

No, in fact, we are untroubled by the re-location of these same German industries to the Southeast right-to-work states in order that they may hire workers at one-third the cost they would have to pay workers in Germany -- and the U.S. workers have no benefits, to boot. This outrage gets nary a peep, while we seem to have the attention and energy to attack memorials of our own Civil War, and a few pathetic slogan-carriers who look like Cousin It frozen in time from the The Munsters.

While we see fit to attack our pathetic marginalia holding anti-Jewish signs at a march to retain Civil War memorial statues, we do not bother to attack anti-Semitism in all of its guises. In fact, it is a convenient good when enlisted by liberals to support a plethora of entrenched anti-Semitic organizations.

This is called "hypocrisy".

Are we the people who supposedly won War World II? Are we now become their servants?

Since we seem so keen these days to get up in arms, why do we not bulldoze their factories, and leave our CSA heritage alone?

Ranger would rather see a Confederate statue than a monument to a foreign-owned factory with blood on its hands employing non-Union labor to avoid paying what they would pay their own -- shades of 1945. Our Southern population is the newly-exploited cohort in a time-honored behavior for these companies.

And while we are in the protest mode, why not dismantle all NASA memorials to U.S. space programs since all or our efforts sprang from the efforts of SS Maj. Wernher von Braun and his Nazi comrades? Their factories also enslaved and starved workers in the V1 and V2 rocket experiments, experiments later happily assimilated by U.S. efforts.

This should be more egregious to us than a Confederate statue.

It's amazing how quickly we forget. Is it from convenience, poor education or lack of attention spans, or a combination thereof?

We vote for Rebels over historical Nazi corporations any day of the week.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Circle Jerk 2: Queensberry Rules

A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom
must be denied. And it is not true 
that the recognition of the freedom of others
limits my own freedom
--Simone de Beauvoir

So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me and we just disagree
--We Just Disagree
Dave Mason

It's funny how the colors of the real world
only seem really real when you viddy them
on the screen
--A Clockwork Orange (1971)

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are
--If You Wanna Be Free, Be Free,
Cat Stevens

self-flagellation does not equal integration
--Lisa (doing her best Johnny Cochran)

{We refer readers to the comment thread our previous post, Circle Jerk I. It is a candid and considered dialectic of the evolution and position of thoughtful RAW (link) readers. 

Think of it as "My Dinner with Andre", with gravitas.}

You didn't know?

FirstOne may think as one wishes, and believe what one wishes. Those are the primary and foundational human freedoms, upon which all others are contingent. There is no second, for we are not going to the next step of potential action, as actions are circumscribed by the laws of civil society.

This obviates the need to discuss the Charlottesville marchers. It is a full-stop, Q.E.D. right there.

However, seeing as our media and society has fixated upon, ostensibly, the topic of civil rights lately  -- with relish -- we will look at them to figure out the answer to the question, "Why?" and, "Is their concern genuine and relevant apropos their topic?"

If we agree that one's thoughts and beliefs are one's own, why the move to persecute anyone for his beliefs? We have not yet Orwell's Thought Police to torment and imprison us (though DARPA is probably working on that app.)

Don't Give Me No Hand Me Down News

Following the recent Charlottesville march supporting the retention U.S. Confederate War General Lee's statue, the media has been giving overwhelming coverage to supposedly mandatory contervailing thoughts and behaviors to the those of the marchers (whether stated or inferred). These are presented as necessary correctives to be imposed upon the dissenters.

To watch the talking heads is to imagine that we are like Captain Renault in "Casablanca", shocked that people believe different things. But Renault knew the game.

Maybe we are actually more like Gomer Pyle, USMC, with his authentic gesture of  profound discombobulation. "Gol-ly!"

The topic might make a nice solid 3000-level Philosophy course on ethics and morals ("Why do people believe what they believe?"), but focusing on conflicting ideologies -- and preferencing one -- is not the stuff of national news. In fact, no university (aside from Berkeley, perhaps) would have the temerity to go to the next step and instruct upon how to eradicate or silence difference.

Surely any true liberal arts activist would cry to the high heavens if freedom of expression were curtailed. At least, that is how the United States used to be run.

Morality may be neither judiciously nor judicially mandated. It may at times be a curiosity and a perversion, but it is NOT actionable news. It deserves no front page ink.

So why is this even a thing?

In parts of the South, blacks celebrate their 1865 emancipation from slavery, the religious likening Mr. Lincoln's War to Moses's dictate to Pharoah ("Let my people go".) Of course, it is not exactly the same thing, but this part of the analogy to Christianity holds: Jesus doesn't make much sense without the cross.

Erase the Roman soldiers and the Crucifix and you just have a gentle guy spreading platitudes about love. So you can't have Jesus without the cross.

While General Lee was hardly anyone's crucifier, he is a representation of the Confederacy. Being as the CSA was an actual separate entity within our nation, then if for no other reason than historical accuracy, scrubbing statues and other testimony from our midst makes little sense. The statues have stood for the last 100 or so years, so why the move to rent them now?

Kipling's Jungle Book and Twain's Huckleberry Finn have both been bowdlerized to meet the politically correct policemen's standards. But in doing so, they have lost the very fire against racism which they had contained. They are happy little stories now, with nothing to rub you raw.

Throughout the South, including in many predominately black counties, statues of Confederate soldiers stand, facing North. it is a reminder of the horror of the Civil War which the young nation endured to become a Union.

So what are we really talking about when we talk about racism? Why were the people duking it out in the street in Charlottesville predominately white people? Can we reify the viewed phenomenon in order to see it as more than a salacious bloody news bite?

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The marchers had a clear agenda and a permit to march, and they did so with the blessing of the ACLU. If we accept the media's presentation, they were mostly middle-aged white men who have been left behind in a technological society, and find value in identifying with the past.

They have either been adversely affected by the mandates of the Civil Rights era, or know someone who has been. The Equal Opportunity era was not about them, and racial quotas signified the end of white male dominance.

If they wish to march to preserve a commemorative statue, it is their right and they are permitted to do so. We moved through the Civil Rights and EOE era 50 years ago; the project was a judicial one, not one of neuro-engineering human thought and belief. In case you had not noticed, the human is not a perfectable organism; this is as good as it gets.

In any event, who is our Solomon, and who dictates what constitutes "right thought"? Who may choose and install our beliefs?

The Confederacy lost, and its sympathizers know that. Many have direct familial ties to that tragedy. For them, the history is living, and the desecration or removal of a monument is a felt offense.

They are like comedian Richard Pryor's black men who hold their crotches: Y'all took everything else ... we're just checking to make sure they're still there. The white marchers are checking.

Like a mute garden of stone, the continued existence of the thing will not affect history moving forward. In fact, the infinitely stronger argument is for the retention of the monuments as a reminder of the horrible sacrifices made all 'round.

The protesters are more difficult to understand. White and predominately young, they use the few and the worst placards of the marchers as their animating cause, signs expressing bigotry towards Jews and blacks. But Jews and blacks were not protesting, so what gives?

Who are these malcontents who gather to wale with such fury upon those with whom they ostensibly disagree? How are they mobilized to perform their violence? What fuels them, and what is their raison d'etre?

The protesters (not marchers) were crusin' for a brusin', fired up and ready to go. More agile and confrontational than the marchers, they looked like nothing so much as hipsters fancying themselves nuevo Che Gueveras. 

But they were not fighting the power. The protesters were goading the marchers into a reaction, and taunting is schoolyard bully behavior.

They were attacking a dissipated cohort. Those from barren former factory towns know the bounty once theirs will not return for them.

The protesters are reminiscent of the character Malcolm and his misfit cohort in Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. They probably hit the Milk Bar (Starbucks) after a performance, for how to fuel the next round of "ultra-violence"? (Maybe they just return to their group homes and take their medicine.)

The larger point is, they have achieved nothing by expulsing their anger upon a crowd of non-violent legal actors. In a charitable reading of what is their driving their hatred, perhaps the protesters are resentful that they may not retroactively join the Union forces.

But more likely, they are a bunch of prigs who are angry that they missed the counter-culture movement of the 1960's. Today, gays may marry, so we are really at the end of the line as far as finding civil rights causes to fight for.

Knockin' down statues and telling people they may not believe what they believe? Kind of embarrassing. Once they have performed their diffuse violence, the beliefs of the people they are protesting remain. Their action is rendered entirely impotent. Worse, they are guilty of intimidation and illegal assault.

Beliefs are inviolable. If anything, when the marchers confront such white hot fury they will be strengthened in their beliefs, for they have been transgressed upon, furthering their feelings of alienation and resentment.

Hypocritically, many of those same protesters exploiting the few anti-Jewish placards also support the BDS movement and would be glad if the Jewish homeland disappeared. These are the same people who would disallow Stanford Jewish student Rachel Beyda from sitting on a committee because she is Jewish.

But back to Religion 301

People believe different things, and in seeking meaning they often affiliate. Their associates and they often believe they are special in some way, perhaps chosen as favored by God. This is all good in Democratic Republics like the U.S. which have both freedom from coercion to believe and the concomitant freedom to believe anything. One's mind is terra incognita.

The Judeo-Christian doctrine brings many fine things to the table of civilization. But true Christians do believe that non-believers will go to hell upon death, while they will go to the Elysian Fields. Mormons and Urantians believe they will go to another planet upon expiration. If you are not a believer, you might find these things disagreeable.

The Dalai Lama makes it his business to love all, but dollars to doughnuts, there is someone out there who thinks he is the anti-Christ. Nonetheless, all may believe as they wish. One world is enough for all of us, as the song goes.

Freedom of speech, assembly, religion -- all very fine things, inviolable in even the smallest way, for the smallest abridgment would nullify the whole. Liberalism is not the State religion; we do not have one.

On the spectrum of black power and liberation, one might choose to affiliate with Marcus Garvey, Haille Selassie, Farrakhan's anti-Semitic Nation of Islam or the Black Lives Matter movement, Frantz Fanon, Malcom X or the peaceful Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. No one's gonna cold-cock you for it.

Yet the media gleefully reported the first white marchers to lose their jobs due to doxxing (revelation of anonymous marcher's personal data): a Chick-fil-A worker and a roofer. What has been accomplished? Proof that you are more powerful than they?

Do you feel better that these people are now unemployed? I do not.

I do not feel good knowing that there are vengeful bands of brigands in my midst, people hailed by many for inciting violence. Who is next on their list?

It was bully behavior and nothing to apotheosize in a functional democracy. Yet in a non-sequitur, the media rushed to feature black commentators on the spectacle, despite the fact that they were not a part of it.

The PBS NewsHour featured the usually reasonable Leonard Pitts and Carol Anderson , a black female academic from Emory, who said, either disingenuously or without understanding, that America needs to have a place for all Americans.

All, apparently, except the marchers.

Ironically, Public television had just concluded a six-part series on the American Civil War. Historian Shelby Foote gave informed testimony to the tragic regional devotion of Confederate General Lee, a man who had written passionately about the plight of slavery and the damage which the peculiar institution wrought on both Whites and blacks. He, like Jefferson before him, saw the permanent mark which would be left upon the nation.

None of the featured historians suggested Lee was a monster whose image should be struck from our collective memory. In fact, Lee's example is of nothing so much as the tragedy borne by capable military men who must perform their terrible duties, leaving unspeakable wretchedness in their wake.

The news cycle hasn't the time for such nuance, does it, when it is ultra-violence that keeps 'em tuning in.

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