Saturday, November 11, 2017

Forget Me Not

--Forget Me Nots


Happy Veterans Day. It's an odd thing to say, looked at one way.

"Happy" is not the usual discriptor for the things a soldier must do. Is it a day for "Happy Veterans"? Are we happy that others -- the veterans -- do the things we would rather not think about, i.e., "We're happy that it is you, and not me"?

But to the aphorisms:

1) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the soul dying faster than the body.

2) PTSD = feeling, thinking and reacting to the unreality of a situation.

3) Moral Injury is the phantom pain of the lost soul.

4) It is simple to kill a man, but doing so is never simple, nor is it easy, unless one had lost touch with his soul.

5) Remembering is not the same thing as not forgetting. (Coda: Forgetting is not the same thing as not remembering.)

6) If I am at peace with myself, then meditation is superfluous. My life is my meditation.

7) What if your memories are totally false? Worse, what if they are true?

8) You can't live in the past, but the past can live in you.

9) Films like "American Sniper" are neither history nor entertainment. These reiterations provide a rebranding of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT). They seek to legitimize the illegitimate.

To be heretical, they are the iconic "early eight-month baby" in church-sanctioned shotgun weddings. They are the Immaculate Conceptions of the war theatre.

10) Counterinsurgency Rule One: "First, do no harm".

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

All Atwitter

--Dud Raphael foresee some Baby future Rangers?

Read more »

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Guns or Guitars

--Upwards, Kandinsky

 I started out clean but I'm jaded
Just phoning it in
Just breaking the skin
--Bent, Matchbox 20

 Between who you are
and who you could be
Between how it is
and how it should be
--Dare You to Move, Switchfoot

There's something wrong with me chemically
Something wrong with me inherently
The wrong mix in the wrong genes
I reached the wrong ends by the wrong means
--Wrong, Depeche Mode

Strangled by the wishes of pater,
Hoping for the arm of mater,
Get to me sooner or later
--Holding Back the Years,
Simply Red

Why, you do not even know what
will happen tomorrow.
What is your life? You are a mist that appears
for a little while and then vanishes
--James 4:14

[This is a re-post from 03 May 2009. We will be back next week with new thought. -- ed.]

Ranger waxes philosophic. (Next we know, it'll be a review on "The Secret" or "What the BLEEP Do We Know!?", and he'll be franchising energized waters):

Life does not have one beginning or end. Our beginnings and our ends are multiple, some beautiful, sad or just plain insignificant. Significance does not always attach to one's life.


What is the beginning? Is it birth? Is it anything at all?

Is the continuum the process and the life meaningless? Or does meaning accrue to the life, with the process being merely incidental? What assigns value to our lives? How does value accrue to a life which is simply an awareness briefly passing through the time continuum?

Is time even real? Is it circular or linear, does it compress or expand, speed or slow down? Does time even matter, or is it only our consciousness which gives it any relevance. Vacheron and Blancpain would like you to think they are demonstrating a phenomenon of importance, but maybe not. Without man, time seems meaningless. Like so many things, it simply is.

Our lives can be viewed similarly. Individually we are the center of a Twitter- and Facebook-centric universe, which is irrelevant, save to communication companies. Psychologists say narcissism among youth is on the rise -- little wonder. The Twitter egocentric universes exist exist inside a cosmos of expanding and contracting realities, in which any one reality matters little.

If there is a God, life shrinks to insignificance, and if there is none, we are still small, but without any imputed meaning. Did God exist for eternity, and if he did, why is this significant? Our own lives are insignificant regardless of religious, philosophical or political utterances to the contrary. Life gains particularity only at junctures of time, space and awareness.

At 16, a young man wanted a guitar with lessons, to which his mother replied, "Only hillbillies play guitar." Strange reply coming as it did from a Pennsylvania ridgerunner. Regardless, this teen received no guitar, but he did get a brand-new Sears & Roebuck Remington 30-06 rifle -- a hefty piece for a young shooter.

Both rifles and guitars strike chords in men's minds, some major, some minor, some suspended. Both lead to refrains and endings. Was this a beginning or an end? A rifle or a guitar was the choice. Chords and notes, or slings and shot groups?

A rifle can become a way of life, just as can a guitar.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Battle Implement

In my opinion, the M1 rifle is
the greatest battle implement ever devised
--General Georgw Patton

Let us assume that General Patton's belief is true. If so, you should know that the United States government has been selling the M1 as war surplus to legal, law-abiding citizens since the 1960's.

In addition, although a weapon of war these weapons were also sold for a minimal price to the Civilian Marksmanship Programl (CMP) for its purpose of training citizens in correct and safe shooting skills -- all prefectly legal and sanctioned by the U.S. government. Today, the M1 rifle is still used as a National Match rifle.

Some background

All of our armies since 1776 have used the rifle as their basic weapon. The rifle squad of the rifle platoon of the rifle company are the basic combat elements of any successful army. (Ranger, like all who wore crossed rifles as their branch designator, is trained as a basic riflemen.)

In 1871 it was clear that rifle marksmanship in the Civil War was deficient, so the governmet and private citizenry later formed the National Rifle Association (NRA) in an effort to ensure a basic level of rifle competency among all male citizens. To this end, the government also supported a Directorate of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM).

When Ranger was a young Boy Scout, any group such as the Boy Scouts, that had ten or more members received free ammunition and rifles from the DCM as a means of promoting civilian rifle marksmanship. This was in accordance with national policy.

The DCM supported all aspects of competitive marksmanship to include safety classes. Civilians and the government shared this function and the CMP still exists today.

Every civilian range that Ranger has visited has dual functions, serving both civilian and government entities. Federal and state entities cannot afford to run ranges that can be easily contracted from civilian sources.

In addition, police and sheriff's officers use these civilian ranges on contract, as do the Reserve Forces of all service branches. Ranges serve a social and recreational function as well as mission orientation one for the government forces. (On major military posts there is always a gun and skeet club that provides recreation to the soldiers.)

Government and civilian shooters compliment each other. Often times, civilian instructors provide instructions to military personnel. In my day, the military was tasked with supporting civilian marksmanship.

Because of his DCM training, Ranger entered the Army as a trained rifleman, later participating as a shooter in National Matches after qualifying in the DCM/NRA Small Arms firing school. This is shared to show that gaining rifle expertise was available to all citizens with the government's imprimatur, and the training often served as an entryway to later shooting projects in the Armed Forces.

Rifle expertise was not a thing to be feared. Somehow, this fact has been lost, as rifles have become a suspect and maligned.

As an aside, all of my childhood friends bought M1 carbines and 1911 A1 .45 calibre pisols from the DCM for $20 each, postage extra, shipped via U.S. mail. All of these men later served in the armed services; they are still proud owners of their DCM purchases.

Ranges are not places that breed trouble.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Son of a Gun, 2

People are dumb, panicky 
dangerous animals and you know it. 
--Men in Black (1997)

Is that what this is about? 
You're angry because you got lied to?
--Falling Down (1993)

Most folks can't afford to build an underground shelter but, 
with a little know-how, you can use and prepare your home 
to be a shelter against fallout or a biological or chemical attack. 
It's much simpler than you might have imagined
--Sheltering in Place: A Family Guide
(water filter insert)

Polls indicate that most United States guns are purchased strictly for the purpose of self defense. Prior to this recent trend, guns were purchased primarily for hunting and sport shooting.

Curios and relics are not a gun control issues, and should be separated form the current political discussion. Any efforts to regulate that collector market is a waste of effort any money.

But there is a real, palpable craziness afoot in the U.S., and the issue remains the "kill your neighbor" (K.U.N.) type guns. High-capacity military clones are the item du jour. Weekend gun shows have become military arms bazaars.

When Ranger began his marksmanship career, bullseye targets were shot with service rifles. While NRA matches are still of the professional old-fashioned concentric circle type, the majority of the gun world now uses picture-type targets of people, or silhouettes.

The focus of many gunman has shifted to shooting people.

For fun, go to a bookstore and peruse gun and survival magazines. The stock-in-trade for many is to prepare people for an impending conflagration.

Major gun parts supplier Brownell's has an online catalog filled with trick-out items for the aforementioned kill-type guns. (In a not-unworthy side note: many of the items in their catalog are listed as "Made in America".)

The madness can be seen in many arenas. Ranger recently bought a simple water filter and noted that the accompanying literature addressed survival -- "preparedness products" -- which might arise in vague future dire situations, as well. The "prepper" mentality has seeped into our culture through many avenues.

Before proceding, the fantasy tricked-out rifles do have sporting and hunting functions. A M-16 clone is legal for hunting in most states. The only requirement is that the user employs only five-round magazines and not the 60-round mags found in the catalogs.

To my mind, the problem is the plethora of K.U.N. guns on the open market. It is an open discussion as to how this issue might be addressed. Since the demand and easy availability of these guns is a fairly new issue, understanding that phenomenon might be a good starting place.

The media talking heads usually have no grasp of the subject matter. The "experts" were discussing "clip size" recently, but no modern K.U.N. gun uses a clip; all modern firearms use magazines. From these basic misunderstandings issues ever-wider misconceptions.

Further, the media coverage of the topic never mentions that one of the only industries which remains succcessful and employs U.S. workers is the gun industry. If all of the tricked out guns are outlawed, then unemployment rates will increase.

So herein is a contradiction: help the economy by limiting gun regulations, or potentially help the occasional nutters and career criminals who wish to commit wrongdoing with a gun.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Son of a Gun, 1

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town
--Don't Bring Your Guns to Town, 
Jerry Douglas

Walk away from trouble if you can
It won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek
I hope you're old enough to understand
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man
--Coward of the County,
Kenny Rogers

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
--Get Together,
The Youngbloods

[Note: some excellent related commentary has occurred in the previous RAW posting, It's Only a Game.]

What good are words in the discussion of gun violence and gun control in today's United States?

How can one be heard in a society where attitudes are sclerotic all-round? Events like the recent mass-shooting atrocity in Las Vegas only serve to tighten the cordon.

Ranger is a gunman and will remain so until death. I am not a threat to public safety and welfare. I am not an National Rifle Assocation (NRA) member, nor do I believe the members of that organization to be anything but honorable citizens.

Our society has been suffering a breech reaching back several decades between two sides who feel they are advocating for the same thing, namely: how does gun ownership comport with the safety of U.S. citizens. People draw their lines allying themselves with various movements and organizations, and like most such historical syndicates the high-minded ideology fails, the adherents left wallowing amidst a sea of partisanship. 

The factionalism displaces the urgent questions: "What is happening?", "Is this something new?", and "How can the threat be best removed and the safety of the largest number of potential future innocent victims be reasonably ensured?"

On one side are those who staunchly support the 2nd Amendment gun ownership rights. Theirs has been a love-hate alliance with the government since the nation's founding.

The role of citizens vis-a-vis guns has morphed wildly over the course of our nationhood. In the beginning, the armed citizen was not viewed as an adversary of the national project, but served as its linchpin, or at least, as a staunch pillar thereof.

Until 1840, the smoothbore muskets of the U.S. military were inferior to the rifles of the general public. Today, soldiers and police possess military automatic weapons far outstripping anything permitted to the citizens, weapons of war that they may use for any purpose.  

The Civilian Marksmanship Program brought citizens on-board as members in good-standing of their communities who would learn safe shooting skills. [Few discuss the conversion from gun owners as pillars of society to the suspects that they have often become today due to tragic events like the Las Vegas shooting. Ranger will discuss this in a future post.]

Opposing them are those who call for ever-stricter control over gun ownership rights. Their project, like those of the 2nd Amendment advocates, sees the primary issue of mass violence as the gun itself. For them, it is a simple equation: Limit the sorts of guns available and --voila -- the problem of gun violence goes away.

It is unlikely that these pro-control advocates even know that truly automatic rifles -- to include belt-fed and machine guns -- can be purchased simply by paying the $200 special tax required be the feds to own such a weapon. Do they know that no such weapon has ever been used in a violent crime?

Further, several elected leaders call for bans on M16 Black Rifle clones, mistakenly calling them "weapons of war". They are not, as civilian versions are neither fully automatic nor are they military grade.

Further, what if the citizens were permitted to have automatic rifles? Why may the police have them while the citizens they are sworn to protect may not? Check for yourself the photos of recent national disasters like the flooding in Houston or Puerto Rico: the soldiers passion out water have fully automatic rifles slung on their bodies. 

Why? Do the citizens exist for the safety of the police, or vice versa?

But if we are honest and answer the aforementioned urgent questions, we must define the problem and see what actual solutions are available.

Generally-speaking, the gun control rights activists are liberal West- and East-Coasters. Broad-brushing, they often belong to the middle- and upper social strata, their most privileged members are what might be called the Creative Class (versus the majority of those who inhabit the vast middle swath of the country).

Taking a flight of fancy for a moment, presumably, they believe in the infinite perfectability of the human being. Presumably to that end (or perhaps, to pervert or exploit it), they have created myriad outlets for your viewing pleasure and virtual participation.

A majority of these games, movies and programs involve extreme weapons violence of the most heinous sort. Hollywood and Silicon Valley is only too happy to exploit guns for fun (all virtual, mind you).

Following Hollywood's fashion, music and movie lead, see the omnipresence of violence and death being imprinted even upon the human body -- knives, guns and skull-and-crossbones on clothes and tattoos abound. To paraphrase Snoop Lion-nee-Dog on doggies and their bones, Hip Hop ain't hoppin' without guns, and Hollywood has brilliantly sold that decrepit bill of goods to all youth. (Their cover: they're just following the mode of the streets.)

But you can handle this incessant onslaught of blood and destruction and go back to your loved ones and merely tolerated ones unscathed, yes? And if you can handle technicolor gore, surely if one were a gun owner, one could show good trigger control in the face of a "Falling Down" type of morning, right?

Ah, but if you have the slightest doubt that the pressures of modern society might unhinge a vulnerable person, how could you in good faith partake in the creation and dissemination of said materials? 

And surely a gunman, say, a former military rifleman, might be capable of unleashing an onslaught of carnage with simply a good rifle and sight, no?

We love guns, until reality intervenes.

[To be continued ...]

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

It's Only a Game

At a time when the world seems to be spinnin' hopelessly out of control,
There's deceivers an' believers an' old in-betweeners,
That seem to have no place to go
--Hands on the Wheel
Willie Nelson

People forget
Forget they're hiding
Behind an eminence front
Eminence front, it's a put on
--Eminence Front,
The Who

And I don't know why I have to make a song.
Everybody talks about a new world in the morning.
New world in the morning takes so long
--New World in the Morning,
Roger Whittaker

Singing' don't worry 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright
--Three Little Birds,
Bob Marley

This is hardly a news story; not by a long chork. But it's what suffices today.

Ranger and I do not run to the latest media brouhaha, but this one is tangentially of local interest, so we will deconstruct it.

Black football players are kneeling again this week a la Kaepernick. It seems some sort of black-white provocation, and surely the media and the Tweeters are giving it legs. 

What is the proximal story, and what is distal?

Proximally, the United States saw an increase in media coverage of black interaction with the police over the eight years of the Obama administration. Concurrent with our now-ubiquitous social media feeds, beatings and shootings of blacks were uploaded in real-time, usually with no back story; certainly, no vetted back story. (That's the way they do it, today.)

The predictable reaction was increased social unrest, specifically in epicenters of racial violence. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was hatched. 

And bi-racial footballer Colin Kaepernick grabbed some ink by kneeling before his games. Kaepernick cribbed his move from religious University of Florida footballer Tim Tebow, who took to "Tebowing" before games in a petition to his Creator to keep him and his fellows safe during the game (and hopefully, to make all the viewers happy.)

Genuflecting is a position in the mode of solemnity before one's God. What this reverential position otherwise has to do with a prosperous footballer is not clear. It seems like so much grandstanding. Yes, you too can have your 15 minutes of fame.

Before whom are they genuflecting, and why?

So what is behind the Kaepernick's addition to the sorrows? He must feel badly that his unknown black father was a "shoot-and-scoot" kind of guy, his biological mother's baby daddy abandoning his destitute mother before Mr. Kaepernick was born. He was later adopted by a white family.

The reality must hurt, and it reasonable to assume that the footballer would seek for an answer to such despicable behavior. None can know the answer, but the charitable among us look backwards, to generational insults for explanation. 

Perhaps it was the selling out of Colin's ancestors by fellow tribesmen to European slave traders in a long-forgotten African past. Perhaps, the experience of relatives being slaves in America.

Whatever the genesis of his father's behavior, kneeling says, "This is an implacable Mobius strip" from which we may not exit.

It says, "This legacy of dysfunction is an ever-widening gyre, destined to continue playing itself out beyond me. I bow in sorrow before the inevitiblity."

But who in our nation has not known sorrow? 

Our Native Americans have reason for sorrow. So does the Vietnamese Army officer we know who spent 10 years in a re-education camp and took another ten making it over to the U.S. (He is now working in a restaurant kitchen.) 

Japanese spent time in internment camps during WW II. Jewish people were used as slave labor unto death less than a century ago in Nazi Germany, and were not welcomed by the U.S. as refugees in their time of dire need. A friend has interviewed Rwandan Masssacre survivors who carry on. We have reader at RAW whose family was touched by the Armenian Genocide.

And so it goes. What distinguishes one from the other? How does on hierarchicalize? 

I submit it is our response alone that dignifies and provides salvation to the former victim. One must choose for ascendence and life rather than blame and anger.

Meanwhile, the kneelers do nothing exalted, bring nothing uplifting to our consciousness.

In any event, the kneeling is a depressing sight, especially coming as it does from a man who was fortunate enough to have people lift him up in life after his unfortunate beginning, and who was then earning an eight-figure annual income. 

It seems like a gesture of solidarity, but does it comport with the facts? Florida State University had a decent black sports role model a few years back in Charlie Ward who went on to finance youth mentor leadership camps post-career (in the days before FSU players became better known for stealing clothes from department store, lobsters from Publix and raping young women.)

Or look at footballer Knowshon Moreno, who was photographed crying during the National Anthem.  He said he was, "excited", "blessed" and "privileged" to play this game,

Gratitude and generosity are the only positions from which one may reasonably expect to generate positive change.

But you must have the example, the imagination, to see that charity is a finer way to effect change than is an impotent gesture of solidarity. When one is gifted with largesse, charity become justice. It is there where Kaepernick et al. fail.

In any event, football  is a sporting event. People tire of the ceaseless calls for atonement, the politicization of everything. There has to be a place to get away, to celebrate good-natured rivalries, even if just for a few hours. 

If the kneelers want to be political, let them enter politics. The pay isn't that good (unless you like Tallahassee's Andrew Gillum, currently under FBI investigation for graft.)

A more sure route for a sports hero with bucks to make a difference is to funnel some of that money into school programs, to ensure young men and women can learn another way. I personally know of two non-profits making a real difference in this arena. 

10-year Army veteran Vincent Hunt's "Creator's Camp" is helping young people develop and realize their dreams, teaching them skills for becoming future intra- or entrepreneurs.

Another, Wings for Kids, is an estimable after-school program now in three states. They told me they would come to Florida if someone would invite them.

To the footballers: you don't have to kneel. You can make a positive difference.

I'll hook you up. It'll be dope, I promise.

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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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Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Circle Jerk

A republic, if you can keep it
--Benjamin Franklin

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, 
people will eventually come to believe it.
-- Joseph Goebbels

We try to hustle them, 
try to bustle them, try to cuss them
Another day, another dollar, 
another war, another tower
--Who Will Save Your Soul,

[War is our stock in trade here at Ranger. Apropos of that, this is the first of a three-part critique on our media's descent into madness, thereby committing a war for your mind, and why you feel so perturbed and menaced today, and think things are falling apart. They may be, but not in the way you think they are.]

Do you love me, now that I can dance?

The mainstream media (MSM) has pulled off a great moral and ethical heist, and it all happened so quickly -- in their would-be twilight -- as the cultural critics were singing their swan song.

Papers across the nation were shuttering their doors (166 since 2008) and the reporting profession lost more than 50% of its rank and file over the last 20 years (most in the last five years.) But just before the casket lid was closed -- in this watershed moment -- the media made a pact with the devil to save its skin.

To staunch their bleeding, they co-opted billionaire entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar's model in his oxymoronic "opinion news" tabloid, The Intercept (refashioned lately as a "national security blog.) Media "reportage" became a circus seemingly overnight, the players dancing madly under the protection of diaphanous Big Top of former respectability.

No longer was the oxymoron absurd, dastardly or a piker's error, and Omidyar's model provided to the media the way to the greatest resurrection since Lazarus came back from the dead. Five years ago, the standard press was moribund --DOA. Now, the MSM were players once again.

While the papers and reporters are still gone, the press has gained cachet by adopting a new paradigm: All furore, all the time, with no pretense of rigor, and no apparent goal to their delirium and agitation. The holy grail of fact-checking has melted away in favor of the newsish, "bystander cell phone footage caught ...", or "In a leak today, ...".

Righteous indignation projected towards the solution of a moral offense is one thing (we have laws to cover legal transgressions.) But that is not what we have now, though we may trick ourselves into believing it is so, or that such a thing might be quantifiable, adjudicatable or in fact, newsworthy.

What we have is a free-floating angst focalized toward any crumb we are fed. Smut is the coin of the realm, and if the news makers have no thing, insinuation and sneers will do. The goal is pandemonium, and an instantaneous and white hot fury is the expected response from even previously thoughtful and informed consumers.

Now, we are ridge runners all. Thomas Hobbes had it right: it is a war of all against all. The media found the keys to the kingdom when they learned to transmute itself into a Zippo.

"Fire 'em up!

The old woman at a 2007 South Carolina church rally for candidate Obama had it right. A controlled candidate Obama was trying to appear down-home. He requested that attendees get stereotyped cousins "Ray-Ray and Pookie" up off the sofa to vote.

The speech was dwindling down on its own enervation when the woman in the back (Edith Childs) harnessed the power of "call-and-response" with her well-placed shout out, "Fired up, ready to go!"

While the scholastic Obama himself did not quite light the fuse, once the bodies started swaying and fist-pumping, it was all she wrote. The crowd had self-ignited, and like a stadium wave, its momentum carried itself.

That was an instructive moment in modern politics. People LIKE to get agitated, whether for good or bad. Since we have now abdicated our rationale, we easily turn "Hatfield and McCoy" when our media overlords sound the alarum.

Judicious reportage is no longer needed in the face of vanity social media feeds. The New York Times' Jim Rutenburg asked if it was o.k. to cover Mr. Trump's Presidency solely from a position of opinion, so malignant, so sui generis was it to the average NYT's reader.

Our nation's paper of note decided that the President demanded a new way of being covered, despite the fact that he won the Presidency in a most mundane fashion. It had the look of a plebiscite, but it was a foregone conclusion.

Writer Matt Taibbi said that the news was signing its death warrant if it bought into this, and trust in press impartiality would be gone. It was a last stand for dignity. (Mr. Taibbi soon joined the other side, seeing on which side his toast was buttered.)

Turns out, we do not want impartiality; what we want is to be able to whank off with others who think like we do. It feels so good that we have ceded our wits to them. Dopamine and adrenaline are powerful motivators, and we will do anything to keep the supply coming. We may now be too ill, too drunk on the toxic brew, to give up our fix.

Co-opting and Re-directing Anger

President Obama's administration oversaw a renascence in the news of police clashing with black citizens, an issue which appears like a sine wave in the media. This time, however, the events combined with the ubiquitousness of social media, allowing the images to be uploaded and shared in real-time.

Nothing was off-limits, and speculation ran rampant before the least fact could be vetted. Nothing new was happening in actuality under Obama, but the presentation and reaction to is WAS new. WE now created our reality out of bits and pieces ingathered from the sources which spoke to our predilections.

This "news wobble" became obvious several years ago when noticing the headlines from the same major news outlet delivered to my two email accounts differed considerably. After pondering the matter, the only difference was that from the older email address I wrote to mainly conservative friends; the other, primarily liberal.

The news which arrived in the first box box tended to be more optimistic and "news-like", of the old ilk. However, my newer email received only incendiary coverage, angry and rarely offering balanced viewpoints.

The media is trafficking in your fear and anger, and selling it back to you with the halo of righteousness. You are co-opted into their project when you re-send their content to 5,000 "friends". You have become small-time Soma pushers and fail to realize your complicity.

News goes on auto-pilot, as you function like HuffPo's unpaid "content generators", adding your own glib comment. But unlike the HuffPo non-wage-slaves, there is no hope of gaining a writing day job for all of your efforts.

You are mental bondsmen, compelled by habit to "help the revolution". It's just what you do, sun up to sundown, and beyond.

Bad Brilliance

So, the MSM (which was on oxygen) made a life-saving move. They would co-opt and harness the anger of the black community. They have subverted a moral and institutional failing, stripped it of its facticity, and are using the ensuing white hot fury as bellows to keep them alive.

This should make you mad. Your outrage can now be directed to any issue of their choosing. You are like bulls with ringed noses.

Think about it: they did not raise your ire against president Obama for his inability to contain the racial violence which erupted under his terms, and the media now owns that real estate (i.e., your violent impulses). They are practicing their dark arts now, and have led you to another pasture, re-directing your anger upon a focalized point of easy derision, President Trump.

This is as fine a work of agit-prop as I have seen in my lifetime. It is legerdemain of the highest order.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017


--The White Rabbit, running behind

We can do "The Innuendo"
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done 
we haven't told you a thing
--Dirty Laundry,
Don Henley

Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation 
that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. 
This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; 
this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; 
this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force 
in the whole godless world
--Network (1976)

Just think of those shocks you've got 
And those knocks you've got 
And those blues you've got 
From that news you've got 
And those pains you've got 
(If any brains you've got) 
From those little radios
--Anything Goes
Cole Porter

The story here is not the story.

What is this madness engulfing our news? Y'say you are shocked that tribalism and racism exists in America? Really?

If you are in the above category, you have fallen prey to the media's skulduggery.

In a true democracy, the events in Charlottesville were a law and order failure, not a civil rights one. In the absence of a proper threat assessment, there were not adequate police on site to maintain order, and violence happened.

The new normal should be: lots of police on-station when people will be exercising their freedoms of speech and assembly, if it is a situation the press may conceivably exploit to pump up viewership. There will be a flash mob on-site -- count on it.

The recent Charlottesville march should have been a quiet affair. The United States is a Republic, and contains multitudes. We have freedom of speech and of assembly. The marchers in VA had a permit (and the blessings of the ACLU) to do so.

Had agitators opposing the march not made a rumpus of it, and the press not shined a spotlight upon it, it would have been an event of no moment. Tension requires two things in opposition.

In a democracy, we are allowed to hate who and what we hate, love who and what we love. There are no thought police. To borrow from founder Thomas Jefferson, the beliefs of another "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg".

The only rule is, we may not deprive another of life and liberty. Further, if we do so motivated by our hatreds, there will be an added designation of "hate crime" appended to the charge.

In 1978, the KKK marched in Skokie (IL) with the blessing of the ACLU. In contrast, today we are cudgeled en masse into outrage over the press's non-p.c. image du jour.

Meanwhile, within days the news cycle will direct your attention to something new to raise your ire, and you will have forgotten what had seemed so important yesterday. You will have invested no analysis into the things to which you are responding so viscerally, as there is no time or encouragement for you to do so.

Your opinions are handed to you, and they are designed to make you feel a constant undertow of menace. You have become Henny Penny, much to the delight of the press, for they are the dope pushers, and you are now a user mainlining their drivel.

The NYT recently ran a story on the "antifa" or "anti-fascist" movement. (The antifas are the liberal fascists, as opposed to the conservative ones.) They see their mission as muzzling the free speech of those with whom they disagree.

One of the group's members is quoted as saying, “You need violence in order to protect nonviolence ... [t]hat’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi would be rolling over in their graves at the madness. As liberal darling Noam Chomsky wrote, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all."

What the news will not tell you is, the antifas were illegally attempting to abridge the marcher's rights. That is all.

Do I really need to say this?

--by Lisa

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dog Day Afternoon

And when you turn on the evening news 
Mass confusion is the only thing you see 
Well there's no question that we need a new direction 
Cause we all could use some peace and harmony 
--Love Will Save the Day
Whitney Houston

 You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
You gotta stay together 
--Ya Gotta Be,

There is a choice. One may make a realistic threat assessment prior to taking a discretionary action (Like the Afghan and Iraqi Wars), or one may leap upon the braggadocio of an adversary who may be acting out of a feeling a threat and call it a legitimate casus belli.

The rational player should realize, if you have an insane adversary, to even reply is an insane act.

In the case of NoKo's Kim Jong-Un, a little sabre-rattling is most probably an adequate response. A display of force, like deploying an aircraft carrier group off of his shores, would allow Kim to save face. He may spin it to his people as he wishes. ("You see how important I am? Just look at their response!")

Instead of President George Bush's schoolyard bully reply ("Bring it on!") to Saddam Hussein, the President may instead choose to ignore the prod of inflammatory rhetoric, not chomping at the bit after every word. Like mothers used to advise when dealing with bullies, "Pay him no never-mind!", or "Like water off a duck's back". "Do not go down to his level." Bullies usually act from fear.

The President could act as a hostage negotiator with Kim. If we take his threat as viable, Mr. Kim is taking the NoKo people and the world hostage. It is important to note, the hostage negotiator cares as much for the dignity and survival of the hostage taker as he does for that of the hostages.

When dealing with various threats, politics is often hostage negotiation at an international level.

Bush disallowed Saddam his dignity; there was no way out for either man. In hostage negotiations one never corners the hostage taker. On an international level, especially when dealing with an autocrat -- and especially in the orient -- the leader should be allowed to save his respect. This all part of the game of realpolitik.

President Trump betrays his campaign platform of non-interference when he engages in tit-for-tat inflammatory rhetoric. He should be curtailed from his trash talk; following in the footsteps of GWB is not winning (as Charley Sheen might say.)

At the end of the day, Kim likes his Emmenthaler, American Basketball and Dennis Rodman. He should be satisfied with the opportunity to wallow in a bit of puffery.

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