Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The American Citizen needs to learn to listen to government pronouncements in the same way as the old Soviet ‘citizen’ did: listening intently BETWEEN the words and BETWEEN the lines, because in all of those marvelously orotund, upbeat Politburo and Presidium and Ministry press releases printed up faithfully in ‘Tass’ and ‘Izvestia’, there was always a sharp-pointed ‘bad part’ where the real news – the bad news – was hidden. Molls used to sneak tools to their jailed lovers hidden in thickly lard-frosted cakes. Government employees (‘apparatchiki’ would be the pithy old Soviet usage) in the pay of our own government do sorta the same thing: only instead of handing us a cheap, inedible cake with a tool in it to help us, they hand us a cheap, incomprehensible press release with the bad news in it. And while we (or our so-called watchdogs in the media) are still doing a Homer-Simpson drool over the cheap lard frosting they’re out the door. That jingle at the end of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons ought to be played at the end of every press conference.

Now comes a retired General (all four stars) and talks to the military newspaper, ‘Stars and Stripes’ (www.truthout.org/docs_2006/111806C.shtml). “We’ve never fielded a more effective fighting force”, he assures us. But in two years it could be “severely degraded”. A problem that doesn’t exist now, that could totally change the present situation, and the General can foresee that. Well if they have that type of crystal ball down in the E-Ring basement rumpus rooms, then how the heck are we in such trouble on the Eastern Front now?

The problem is, observes the military paper’s reporter, that educational institutions are not sufficiently emphasizing the importance of serving the country. Well, Lord knows that they haven’t. The old Left still retains its almost visceral distrust of the military, and who’s to say now that they’ve been wrong?

The new Left, seeking to inculcate the assorted values of the assorted Revolutions of the Identities, has been way too pre-occupied with teaching the Revolutions’ sort of stuff to be wasting time on such dead white European male stuff as Things Military and Things Diplomatic, let alone such quaint stuff as Citizenship. Men – sex-addled, sex-offending, violent, oppressive – are the real enemy, joining or even replacing the over-30 crowd and their stodgy, not-getting-it, oppressive dreck that used to be called ‘maturity’.

The director of the National Defense University’s Institute for Homeland Security blames it on the move to an all-volunteer military, since so many fewer Americans now have a connection to things military, and that is reflected in the entire disconnect today between war and the domestic life of society. Who can argue that there is a disconnect? Elsewhere on this site (“Homeless Partisans”) it was recounted that the toney, bosky residents of Boston’s swanky Beacon Hill recently got rid of a statue in ‘their’ neighborhood park, the historic Boston Common. The statue is a life-sized mounted group of Partisans riding on a dark, lonely, dangerous mission. It was “depressing”, apparently in a way that their defecating Lhasa Apsos and tasteful, tinkling, private white-tent parties were not.

But he tastefully and shrewdly avoids biting the bullet of noting that the Revolutions of the Identities have done more than their share of turning kids against war NOT because it’s a moral evil, but because it’s a Men-ly evil. Of course, the expectation that the success of at least one of the Revolutions would bring about a less-man-infested world diplomacy and a lessening of the male besotment with combat and war is no longer ‘operative’, as Nixon’s old PR flak would have said. But perhaps this is not the fault of the original plan – such as it was – but merely of its poor implementation. There’s some precedent for that excuse working nowadays.

The University of Michigan has a history faculty of about 25, not quite evenly split between gender-historians and identity-historians, and there’s not a single prof who trained in intellectual, political, or diplomatic history. Whether the students can actually read, and sustain attention long enough is only the first level of the Problem. Even if they want to learn and can learn, there’s nobody in the hire of this purported university who can teach them. No wonder it’s not only in rural or butt-crack bars that Fox infotainment is on over-sized TVs; even college grads consider Fox a two-fer: something you can learn from that also provides great graphics for conversation as the drinks and brews slide down and the time drains away. Catch a buzz and kill time while being informed that the WMD have indeed been found, the war was justified, we were right all along, and if only we (well, the troops over there, actually) push a little harder then things will work out great and we will be seen off as liberators. As Dwight D. Eisenhower (General of the Army – all five stars) would growf: Yah.

Imagine the “Titanic” with the Pentagoons in charge. The setting is the first-class lounge, a while after – unbeknownst to most passengers in the upper decks and classes – the ‘Goons had managed to run her up against a berg and rip her open like a can of tuna. A high-ranking, bemedalled Pentagoon chimes their attention with a silver spoon against a crystal glass: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of you on your splendid taste and shrewd insight in choosing “Titanic” and supporting us in our mission to get you safely to your destination. We have never sent to sea so magnificently appointed and powerfully seaworthy a vessel. I want to tell you that in the future our ability to sustain operational capability at a level concomitant with our very high standards may become severely degraded. I cannot tell you how deeply moved we all are by the willingness of our people down below – in their thousands – to put their entire heart and soul into the project of ensuring the continued operational success of this splendid vessel. Even as we speak, they are putting themselves on the line, using their own bodies as sandbags (of which we seem to have embarked without a sufficient supply) against the usual hazards posed by oceanic elements in this type of never-anticipated operational environment for which we hold much hope of ultimate success. Only the most pessimistic, malcontented and unsporting heart could suggest that our current inspiring circumstances should be considered as a struggle for simple survival rather than a resolute march to ultimate victory. Such jellied cream-puff stuff is not what Teddy Roosevelt would expect from the true red-and-blue-blooded leaders of civilization such as are assembled here this evening. To suggest that we have failed is unworthy of us. Nor is this the appropriate time to look backward and simply sit around asking questions; rather, this is the time for manly action. In conclusion, I would like to say that I am deeply gratified and impressed by the grace and concentration which so many of you have demonstrated during my remarks: as your champagne flutes began sliding off the tables and you began to tilt in these marvelous upholstered chairs, you corrected for the angle and kept everything on the level, even changing the angle of your head as your body continued to tilt at increasing angles. This is the sure indication of a people far too capable to ever know defeat. If you continue to hold your heads as you are now, you will see that everything remains on the level, and you may be assured that we of the senior staff are, as always, going to be doing everything that we can do. If you will excuse me now, I have to plan our arrival in New York, where we will be greeted as great and wise travelers. Please avail yourselves of the bar; it will remain open until we dock.”

Of course, there exists the possibility that many Americans are no longer sure what “Titanic” means, except that Leo got drowned, except not before he had a great time up on the front of the ship with the wind ruffing his hair. But he’s back now anyway. So whatever.

But both Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative – to the extent these terms indicate substantive realities or differences – are having the quintessential Titanic-moment: they are running up against something that they were certain was never going to be out there: for the Right, military and political failure on a massive scale; for the Left, Reality itself. For the Right, Americans never lose and our army is never defeated (and always wins by fighting clean and standing tall). For the Left, the only battle is for your Identity and its Idea and against its Enemies (usually some version of Men). That we might crash up against Reality in the middle of a quick, easy war in the East was not on anyone’s agenda. Reality not in the sense of a university course on some form of Identity ‘studies’, but Reality as it has been known since the time of the early Greeks and the earliest scribes of the Bible. Having refused to acknowledge its existence except as it might fit into our own preconceptions, we have wound up ramming right into it – which has only pissed it off.

Our domestic conceits – unacknowledged as such – laid down a rich manure that then nurtured the dragon’s teeth sown by the conceits of would-be conquerors, converters, and liberators of persons foreign. The Greeks, dead, white, European and male, must be laughing, from wherever they now are. Payback’s a Titanic.

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Blogger Davidco said...

Congressman Charlie Rangel is right for more than the reasons he gives.

Reactivation of fair Selective Service protocols (ie. a lottery, and vigilance on criteria for the exceptions to its operation) would indeed bring more attention to the fact that our 'professional army' is currently comprised mostly of indentured servants who seek by their servitude to negotiate a way out of the underclass. They thus submit to super-exploitation: unlimited terms of service in life-threatening situations and the tender mercies of life on welfare for their hungry families are only the most obvious austerities we impose on our indigent 'recuits'.

The political necessities incident to the raising of a citizen army (which can collectively say: "Hell no. We won't go.") are the only effective control the people have against both foreign adventures and domestic oppression when the legislature, the executive and the judicial branches have been totally coopted by the agenda of multinational corporate capitalism.

In today's technological society, a case can be made for a professional army but only if the people have sufficiewnt access to the levers of government to prevent abuse of authority.

We are faced today by the need to return to the draft - if only as a break (however tenuous) of last resort on federal power.

As a collateral benefit, wouldn't it be nice to have the Pentagon lobbying for better public schools to raise the quality of its inductees rather than for more Star Wars procurement?

8:59 AM  

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