Tuesday, May 15, 2007


This morning’s reading brings a curious sequence of straws in the wind.

Alex Koppelman over on Salon reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, ex-JAG, reserve JAG, JAG appellate judge, senior JAG) boasted to a Marine who had gotten birthday wishes from the governor of SC (they certainly do like to be seen with uniforms, those Southrons; perhaps they’re attracted to them, as other demographics also are) that he Graham was going over to Ramadi in July and would “walk down the streets where the insurgents had a parade”.

Feh. As Churchill opined “In victory, magnanimity”. But of course, that presumes an adult mind and spirit sufficiently evolved and capacious to platform the virtue of magnanimity. Graham hasn’t got those kind of chops. Indeed, as has been discussed on this site, the JAGs are looking for a few morally mediocre folks (and given the challenge of getting up in the morning as a JAG, that’s both shrewd and prudent; see below). The banality of immaturity – especially of the American Southron macho type – comprises American’s unique corollary to Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’. Immaturity – maturational mediocrity and unripeness, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, morally – as the grease that speeds the path of evil. Yeeeeeee-hawwwwwwwwwww! The road to hell paved not with good intentions, but with the spent casings of .45 slugs fired into the air in bumptious assertion of a deformed efficacity. In yer face!

But of course: we aren’t winning. It would in a way be of some consolation to know that the JAGs were only deploying Churchill’s adult spirit in the alternative: “In defeat, defiance”. But that presumes that one is mature enough to see and ‘process’ the fact of one’s defeat. And the defiance would be of a distinctly Churchillian kind: sober, serious, resolute, efficacious; possessed, in short, of a gravitas emanating from the very spirit and soul of the soldier. Splendid. But it is not Graham, nor any of his ilk.

Graham’s is a macho, fratboy defiance only modestly better than the darkly-grooved and stained ‘stubborn’ and oppositional you-can’t-make-me defiance of the Unitary Deciderer himself. It is the queasy assertiveness of the semi-solid, underdone personality that senses the imminent danger of its own guilt and weakness being exposed and must seek to escape the truth about itself. Not so much whistling by the graveyard then, as it is in-yer-facing by the graveyard. The graveyard of actuality and consequences and one’s own weaknesses and failures … and if those be ghosts, then they do indeed walk.

And they made him a lawyer. And an officer. And a judge. And elected him to Congress. To the Senate. No wonder the 109th Congress did everything except make Bush’s horse a god.

Meanwhile, on another part of the ranch, Andrew Sullivan reports that the junior JAGs who did what they could to defend the Gunatanamo detainees have – by the by – been passed over for promotion (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/05/punishing_the_l.html. Gee. What a coincidence. The colonel JAG in charge of the ‘defense’ team opined that four of the six on the team who were up for promotion were ‘passed over’ because they had been warned that actually defending the accused “could be detrimental” to their careers. Thus military justice. Thus JAGgery.

Thus I say again that while Bush may have perverted the generals, he did not pervert the JAGs. That organization is already, in its very essence, perverse. Bush – and Darth Cheney – simply realized that the JAG way was perfectly suited to the subversion of the rule of Law in pursuit of quietly predetermined objectives. And the JAGs had perfected this vicious kabuki over 50 years of piously administering military justice under the ‘reformed’ Uniform Code of Military Justice. The JAG way was utterly congenial to the unripe character of an addictive personality and the machinations of a treacherous power-mad subverter of the Republic.

I think that being ‘passed over’ may be a blessing of Biblical proportions for these young JAGs, if they are able to rise to the opportunity Grace and Heaven have provided. In being cast forth into the desert of civilian life they will cease to be implicated in the Pharaonic stubbornness that is dooming the current regime. And perhaps they might even find themselves – personally and professionally – experiencing a new birth of freedom. There is precedent, and substantial precedent. It will require a certain ripeness, a ripening – more specifically – but any mature adult knows that such is always the Journey that must be undertaken. Nor is there any shortcut. Nor is there any substitute: uniforms, rank, medals, status, role, or place. There is only the willingness to follow the Pillar of Fire into the darkness, hoping and seeking to be equal to the day. And should their determination flag, they have monstrously clear examples of moral and maturational failure among their seniors to refresh their resolve. May they respond to this Call, and prosper. We need all the wise and honest lawyers We can get; We appear to be suffering a surfeit of the other kind.

In that regard, Heather Havrilevsky, Salon’s TV commenter, observes (http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2007/05/14/sopranos/) “just how many layers of self-deceit it takes for the man [Tony Soprano] to get up in the morning, given all of the brutal acts he’s committed”. Naturally, one thinks of JAGs. But We have to prepare for this reality: everybody connected with furthering this Iraq debacle is – for the purposes of moral and psychological consequence – going to be experiencing this particular type of Post Perpetration Stress. Whether the individual admits it or not, and no matter how the individual handles it and deals with it, there are going to be invisible deformations even where there are no physical wounds; psychological, characterological, moral, spiritual. We have to understand this, because even more than the German people, We allowed this to happen to them, We allowed this monstrous situation to develop, We have allowed it to go on.

And to Us they will return. Hugely insightful, the ancient Christian Church required all soldiers returning from war to undergo a ritual period and ritual ceremony of ‘cleansing’, based on the profoundly sage insight that war – whether you win or lose and no matter how good your intention – is a viciously and insidiously infectious thing, and will wreak damage on the spirit and the soul even if it foregoes wounding the body.

If We must go shopping, let it be for the wherewithal to meet the needs of those who return.

And, finally, Glenn Greenwald, again on Salon (www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/05/14/thompson/print.html), reports on Fred Thompson’s latest sermon on the value of the Rule of Law and how only the Republicans (as presently constituted) can be trusted to uphold it. It can be said that at least in the time of Nixon nobody really imagined that things could get so bad, but We cannot make that excuse now. Nor can Thompson, for this reprehensible performance.

Perhaps he is merely posturing in order to play to the current Republican base; perhaps – as one of the former Nazi judges asserted in “Judgment At Nuremberg” – he stayed on the bench precisely and purely to modulate the horror and the evil. But if it is Thompson’s vision to retain the current base and still restore the Rule of Law, then his vision is flawed, if not witlessly execrable, to begin with.

And if he is truly planning to restore the Rule of Law, then he cannot in the same speech demand the pardon of Scooter Libby (see “Libby No Baddy?” on this site). Accountability is going to have to be accepted, with all the consequences. In that regard, Mr. Justice Scalia is not setting a good example. He has developed a stock response when interlocutors question him about his and the Court’s egregious intervention in the election of 2000 (now separated from us by an aching abyss of might-have-beens): we should just get over it and move on, opines Scalia – a defense which no doubt many of the defendants that have appeared before him in his career would surely have loved to have made. Should Mr. Thompson be sincere – and there is no reason to presume that he is – then his restoration of the Rule of Law will not be able to rely totally on the Supreme Court. Although, if torture might help, Mr. Justice Thomas will be glad to concur.

We here must highly resolve …

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Blogger David said...

Prior to Constantine, Roman christians were barred from service in the army and suffered, for that reason, accusations of lack of patriotism and were thrown to the lions in the arena.

The reason was not imitation of the pacifism of christ but, strangely, the first commandment. Each soldier had to take an oath of fealty to the emperor as a god - much like the personal loyalty oath the german soldier took to the Fuehrer.

Now our emperor 'W' claims to be the mouthpiece of god's will like the some mad warrior pope. Where is the church that will anathematize such nonsense?

7:29 AM  

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