Our longtime friend-of-the-blog Sven (from Defence and Freedom) dropped by to ask what the hell was wrong with us? Why hadn't we had any content here for so long? And it took me a while to consider that, yes, I should say something, rather than let this place just drift along into the darkness.
First, we've taken massive casualties. Look at the right-hand column. There, under "bar staff"? Seven names.
Well, here I am.
Lisa and jim, from Ranger Against War) left us after the 2016 election. Lisa, largely because (so far as I can tell) she went headfirst down the Trumpkin rabbit hole. She had been Trump-curious during the runup to the 2016 election and by that autumn had completely bought into the idea of Trump as a "rulebreaker" and "iconoclast" that was what was needed to shatter the corruption and oligarchy that had and has overtaken the United States.
She's right about the problem...but there was a massive dustup over her choice of solution, and we "parted brass rags" as theBrits used to say, and she decamped.
Jim, sadly, seems to have just given up in disgust. If you go to the RAW site and go to the comments on the last post, the second comment is jim's, and he says: "I cannot take fire from inside the perimeter.
If Lisa wants to write about Trump then i'd respectfully request that she start a new blog and not use up the RAW that we built so artfully."
And that's it. Radio silence since then.
We lost PF Khans some time shortly after that. He was already getting quiet, and I have to reach our to him and say how grieved I am for him. The ending of the Umpteenth Afghan War is hard for those who gave their youth and their strength in fighting it. I'm still certain that it had to end and that the ending we got was as good as ever possible...but that doesn't change the grief and loss that comes from seeing that end. I'm sorry, PFK, and I hope you and yours are bearing up.
Mike has just got too much else going on, and has largely (as so many others have) moved over to Twitter and the other short-form social media.
Seydlitz (of the immortal memory!) had moved on long before 2016. I miss his insightful wisdom and should be better about looking for him where the runs these days.
Sheerahkhan was a very rare poster and is evident (when he is) only in the comment section these days.
So it's just me.
I've - as everyone does - got a lot going on, too. Work. Home. Family. Other interests outside geopolitics. Knee surgery - I had both knees replaced at the end of the summer and I'm still achy and tottery on the new parts.
And I'm also sick and sad at what I'm seeing here in the Land of the Big PX.
But to explain that I have to go back a bit and give you some dreaded backstory.
I was born in Whittier, Califormia, in 1957 - yep, Dick Nixon and I are homeboys - to a chemical engineer of the 1951 postwar Cornell crop and his buxom redheaded HomeEc major wife. I was raised in what was a stereotypical Father Knows Best Fifties and Sixties middle-class white Protestant household in Chicago and outside Philadelphia as his big company moved my father around in classical Mid-Century Big Company fashion.
The old man was a poster child for Mid-century Middle Class White Guydom. Golfed. Smoked a pipe - an actual no-shit serious pipe (I still remember the smell of his favorite bowl, something called "Heine's Blend" that came in a big blue-and-white faux Delft tin...).
And was Republican because...of course he was.
So I was.
We stood for all things that Mid-century Republicans stood for. Prosperity. National greatness. Low (but fair) taxes. "Personal Responsibility" - sure, we accepted the New Deal, because nobody wants their granny to die in poverty, but you had to pull yourselves up by the bootstraps, goddammit!
We were "Rockefeller Republicans"; "liberal" on social issues - we didn't care who you screwed or what you did so long as your fist stayed away from our noses - but "conservative" on fiscal and geopoltical ones.
I think the beginning of the end came in the Civil Rights era and Vietnam.
One thing that my parents, lovely complacent white folks that they were, couldn't deny was that the Land of the Free was kind of a tough place if you weren't...well, what they were. And they wanted to see that change.
They were also pretty smart people, and as such refused to fall for the classic blunder of supporting a land war in Asia.
And so it hurt them - my father most - to see the Dixicrats peel off and become Republicans, and to see Nixon cynically manipulating the war for political gain. While no fan of LBJ and the Democrats...these were the first cracks in the marriage.
Then came Reagan - who my father had seen and distrusted in the embryonic stage back in California - and his "voodoo economics" and his magical thinking and the goofy foreign policy adventures (Iran-Contra disgusted him and GHW Bush's pardons made him furiously angry; treason was treason and should be punished, the public be damned...).
And then came Newt Gingrich and the movement that metastasized first into the "Tea Party" and then into the real lunatic fringe, the QANuts and Three Percenters and the whole freakish shitpile of imbeciles and bigots that we have today running the rest of the GOP scared.
Thank God he died before Trump. That alone would have killed him, seeing that we both knew Trump from his shenanigans in the Tri-State area back in the Eightes and knew him as the ridiculous, egomaniac, corrupt buffoon he is...
And that's not even to take into consideration the mad rush on the American Right to return to the economic ways of the Gilded Age and Lochnerism. Tom Jefferson had some pretty goofy political ideas, but he was right about this - a democratic republic cannot be governed by a polity of wage-slaves. If your livelihood depends on the largesse of your patron - whether that patron is the Duke of Sandringham or Jeff Bezos - you cannot act against the patron's interests.
You can have a concentration of great wealth, or democracy. Not both. We Rocky Republicans were totally jake with the 90 percent top marginal rate, remember?
Today's GOP does not.
Anyway...that was my road to Santiago de Compostella - through my father's eyes, watching his beloved GOP become the party of Critical Race Theory and January 6th and the Bundys and Taylor Green and - even more terrifying - Tom Cotton, who has all the right Falangist genes and none of Trump's insane emotional problems.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I see this country as poised on the edge of desuetude.
We have 30-40% of the U.S. public who, in the face of a pandemic, insists in fantasy "treatments" like equine dewormer while spurning effective vaccinations.
That insists that perfectly normal elections have been "stolen".
That is willing to believe, and act with violence to support, in the craziest things that their "leaders" say.
That supports a Supreme Court that appears poised to throw out not just the most sensible firearms regulation but the legal concept of "nondelegation" that will undo the Twentieth Century.
And I despair.
The U.S. needs a "conservative" political party (and the electoral reality of the US means that there will be only two large parties, one "liberal/left" and one "conservative/right").
But it needs a sane conservative party.
And it doesn't have one.
Right now we - all of us - are confronted with perhaps the single most massive issue we will face over the next century; the way we are heating up the Earth's atmosphere.
It's not a mystery. C'mon! About 200 years ago we the human race started burning stuff - first wood, then coal, then oil - and all that smoke had to go somewhere. The receipts are impossible to ignore. It's going to push us close to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum if we don't do something, LOTS of somethings, and that is a world unlike anything we know.
And the mantra of one of the two political parties we allow ourselves in the US is "Crisis? What crisis?"
Confronted with that...well, spending three or four hours writing a post about field artillery seems...louche, at best.
I'm sitting here as almost half my country becomes something I don't even recognize. Or, worse, that I recognize as a bad dream from earlier times; No-Knothings, Klansmen, Birchers. All the whackaloon things that I thought that We the People had outgrown.
Is the Left a treat?
Christ, no. Idiotic things like "Defund the Police" ensure that my impatience with the American Left has not grown any lesser.
(Mind you, the Portland Police Bureau is still an incompetent shitpile of ignorance and arrogance just as it always has been; we'd be better off to replace it with a troop of sentient raccoons...)
But what the hell is a democratic republic going to do when damn near a third of it's citizens think - and act - like wearing a piece of fabric over your nose and mouth is an intolerable assault on Freedom?
That's just not supportable.
Look at the Congress this past summer?
A bill to fix all the things we know are breaking or broken - bridges, electric lines, roadways - and to help people and to bring some change to the warming climate - has been deadlocked despite massive support from the public largely because a handful of the notional "Left" - Manchin and Sinema - have been bought by big money - and the Right would rather own the libs than help out (although 13 of them finally did - good on you, Baker's Dozen! - and are getting pilloried all over the conservative airwaves for doing it).
We can't even fucking govern ourselves anymore. Geopolitics? How the hell can we hope to do that when we can't even rule ourselves?
So I'm looking around me and seeing an end to the nation and the people I thought I lived among and grown up in .
And I feel like Smokey the Bear standing helpless, with my dungarees and shovel and hat, watching all the trees in the world burn down around me.
Because watching a politically-indigestible minority of my supposed-fellow-Americans cheer enthusiastically for a New Gilded Age and home-grown Franco- or Peronism?
The only response I can come up with is an inarticulate roar of rage and anguish.
And who wants to read that?
Which is why I've been so silent.