RANGER AGAINST WAR: December 2017 <

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Do You Hear What I Hear?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's to a more civil 2018.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mistletoe Banned!

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

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

Breaking news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


--by Lisa and Jim

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Up the Down Staircase

--the great Terence Stamp, as Priscilla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Off With His Head

--The Red Queen has spoken

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subtitle: It really IS an Idiot Box.

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

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

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

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

This is not an apologia for the Droogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't buy it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all nothing new.

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

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

Does Anyone Really Need to Say This?

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

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

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

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