Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I happened upon a 5-night miniseries of the BBC sci-fi series “Torchwood” last week.

This isn’t a blurb for the series but it raised an interesting scenario.

Aliens have come to earth (present-day England, to be specific). They cannot be stopped by force. In a secret communication to the highest levels of government, they demand a percentage of British children whom they will take for their own purposes (addicted to the rush of consuming them, it turns out).

So far so modern: children have replaced ‘women’ (except on the Lifetime and Oxygen channels, and such) as being ‘in trouble’. And the kiddies are in big trouble now. There are those aliens who want to eat them.

But that’s not their most immediate problem. The British government – whose homeland-security capabilities actually dwarf America’s – has decided that the only logical thing to do is to hoodwink the public into turning their kids over to the Army (for delivery to the aliens). And if the parents won’t give the kids up willingly, the Army (under the direction of a British government that has ceded command authority of the operation to an American general (a black general, as it happens)) has formulated a plan to take the kids by force, not only going into schools but even breaking into homes to get them – and authorized to use deadly force if need be. Not against the aliens, mind you, but against the parents. Even mere city police officers are out of the loop, and will be subdued if they attempt to protect their neighborhoods and citizens.

As the Framers so acutely saw – and hardly ‘quaintly’ – God save everybody from a government that considers that it has no other options in order to protect its own creds.

The government even issues blacklist execution orders for its marquis “Torchwood” unit, whose members have been – in the series’ scheme – successfully combating aliens for a century. And the team is almost wiped out by black-ops troops, except at the very end, when the survivors manage to come up with a plan that will eliminate the aliens. (Although at the price of sacrificing one kid, nephew of the head of the unit, who must be sacrificed in the scientific process of amplifying a sound wave noxious to the aliens … an easy-peezy good-vs-evil, feel-good American production this is not.)

So the kids are in mortal danger – and the government and its military forces … are the bad guys; the aliens, in their way, are merely making known their demands, and leaving it up to the human adults in the government as to how to meet the quota. I almost imagined a sequel in which the post-action investigation has the government and the military claiming that they were only following orders – but that’s just something an American might think about these days. And maybe a German.

The following thoughts occur to me.

First, having sat still while the government expanded the intrusive scope of its police (and military) authority domestically, the citizenry are pretty much defenseless against their own erstwhile ‘protectors’. The power that was amassed for the purpose of ‘protecting’ the citizens – and of course ‘the children’ – is turned against them.

Indeed, the Prime Minister and the American general have ensured the ‘loyalty’ of the troops by excluding their own children from the quota-lists, but warning them that if they refuse to obey orders then those children will be placed at the top of the list. A vivid example of how human ingenuity can turn not simply to ‘the dark side’, but to the genuinely diabolical.

I am reminded as well of some Beltway type who recently opined – in regard to one or another intrusive American law – that “It’s better to have the power and not need it, than to need the power and not have it”.

Which sounds kinda OK, until you stop and realize that the Framers, hardly less insightful than their organizational descendants, might have said the same thing. And yet they didn’t. And it could hardly have been an oversight on their part.

After all, there were ‘children in danger’, and ‘women’ too (as well, I suppose it needs to be said, as ‘men’) back in 1787. Yet the Framers did not provide for an easy amassing of government police power to extend itself into the very fabric of civil society, on the authority of the government’s illuminations as to what is and is not an ‘emergency’ against which ‘no other option’ exists.

The Framers seemed to have an abiding respect for the lethality of government police power when it is given too wide a scope. And they didn’t want it here (and probably wished that it didn’t exist anywhere on the planet, but they weren’t going to expand it here and then go and try to go to war against it everywhere else).

And worse, this modern-day government, inheritor of far too many baaad but somewhat effective examples such as Stalin and Mao and the German guy with the moustache, saw itself as the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not ‘good’ for its citizens. Goebbels said as much in regard to his propaganda efforts: “The truth is whatever the German government thinks it is good for the German people to believe it is” The Party ‘elites’, steeped in the latest cutting-edge ‘thought’, would lead the lumpen master-race to its grand historical destiny. Best not to stand in the way.

Tyrannical governments were once considered to be ‘monarchies’. And if George III and his predecessors were considered bad enough indeed, there were also the examples of Ivan the Terrible, the more outré Roman emperors, and thousands of smaller tyrants whose place in history was limited only by the small size of their territories and populations.

But the problem that has arisen in the last century cannot be ascribed to monarchy. The Communist revolution spawned a Party before it spawned a single boss-monster, and ditto Communist China. In both cases, I think the key that unlocked the Pandora’s Box of modern tyranny was the assumption that there was no power (no Power, I’d put it) above the government.

Yes, there was The People, but folks can be fooled, as Lincoln noted. If you can fool enough of the citizens into either supporting you, or just backing off and letting you get on with it, then for all practical purposes the Citizenry poses no real threat.

Thus the danger to modern democracies. A government is a government is a government – whether headed by a Monarch or a Party or a bunch of folks ruling ‘in the name of’ the whole population. And the Framers saw that – that they were in effect creating yet another instance of the old Leviathan, Government. Hence, like the villagers in an old vampire movie, they took huge and careful pains to create a structure that would prevent the monster from getting loose.

The history of democracy since the Framers’ times follows the movie script: after a while the young and the city-folk came to disbelieve in vampires, and considered the rules about garlic and cavorting outside after sundown and following a whole book-full of other careful procedures to be just so much primitive and ‘quaint’ superstition.

And the Thing once caged has returned. And multiplied. And taken advantage of all the apparatus of a modern civilization and its technology, and of all the weaknesses of human beings saturated by the blandishments of modernity (and post-modernity).

And of course, as even the government and Beltway honchos admit nowadays, if a ‘database’ is there, it’s going to be used – even if the authorities have to invent new ‘needs’. Governments do not leave their ‘power’ unused. Hitler said that about his armed forces, mocking the quaintly hesitant generals: Why do you think we have built this great Army – for parades? Or, as Madeleine Albright paraphrased it decades later in the service of yet other ‘emergencies’ and ‘good causes’: “Why do we have this wonderful military if we’re not going to use it?”

Why indeed.

The rise of what is called “preventive law” is thus anti-Constitutional, and profoundly so*. With a decline in the belief in God, and the models of totalitarian governments stuck in the minds of even the most high-minded modern elites, the modern ‘democratic’ State is now trying to satisfy its citizens while simultaneously increasing its control over them. It is doing so by taking over the tasks formally ascribed to God: omniscient, omnipotent, beneficent Protection.

But the only way for any human agent or government to prevent crime (or sin) is to assume the authority of God – its scope and depth. And this can only lead to a police state – whether ‘benevolent’ or otherwise (and no police state in history has remained ‘benevolent’ for very long; indeed, the Nazis defined ‘benevolence’ as applying only to the ‘master race’, on whose behalf the elimination of undesirables – as that classification was continuously expanded – became the primary preventive benevolence that the government could bestow upon its citizenry, those who were by definition ‘pure’).

The Framers would not risk their government having power ‘just in case’. All that power lying around is an invitation to disaster; an ‘idle power’ is the Devil’s workshop, they might have said. It will seduce the Leviathan back into the world of human affairs.

Instead, they would create a government that would “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution”. The People, as have all human beings, would accept that it is a grossly imperfect world and take their chances. Better that, the Framers saw, than to most surely wind up back in the claws of tyranny, however nicely draped and prettied up.

The Constitution was a pact to prevent tyranny; it was not designed to substitute for the wisdom or power ascribed to God. To consider the Constitution as indeed justifying a God-State (even if a secular, liberal one) is indeed to make a suicide pact of the Constitution, because any government trying to exercise THAT much authority is going to have to be Godding around with a very heavy hand indeed – and since the task is impossible, then for a democratic Republic only catastrophe can result. Oy.

But the Framers’ thoroughly modern enlightened organizational descendants, the ones who ‘get it’, have no such reservations about government power nor give a moment’s thought to the darker consequences of so much power (and can you say Iraq War?).

Strangely, since he was such a bloviator, Mussolini saw and said it clearly: nothing against the State, nothing outside the State, nothing above the State.

And this was thrown in the face of both Italian democracy and the Church. He would brook no opposition from ‘The People’. And he most surely wouldn’t brook any interference from God.

The State would not be answerable to any power – or Power – beyond or above itself.

In the postwar era this absolutely non-negotiable government position was buttressed by the assorted deconstructionist philosophies that ‘reasoned’ their way to the conclusion that God was just a societal bad-habit, a superstition, or to put it in a more ‘modern’ and ‘scientific’ way, a ‘construct’ that had only as much power as weak-minded folks were willing to give it. The truly enlightened and the genuinely independent human being refused such ‘training wheels’.

And government refuses such restraints, such boundaries, such limits.

The monarchs refused limits because they held themselves to be anointed of God and thus held the Divine Right to rule. The governments of the modern democracies refuse limits because they hold themselves to be, in the absence of any God at all, the sole Rulers and Protectors of the lives of their citizens.

One way or the other, you wind up with governments, some possessed of truly awesome power, that acknowledge no authority beyond themselves.

Limits are curious things. On the one hand they do indeed – well – limit.

On the other hand, they also shape. Without them, power simply bursts loose destructively, like water that bursts through a dam or overflows its banks.

Thus in the Biblical imagery the great Flood that almost destroyed human existence. Human existence lost is shape. Worse, it lost its Shape, that natural contour of being that was assigned to it by the Source of Being.

Powerful and Shapeless, the Flood consumed (almost) everything.

In the journal ‘First Things’, one George Cardinal Pell of Australia makes** the point that “conscience” is now being dictated by government policy and regulation, sometimes even in contravention of that government’s own stated ideals and founding vision and laws.

He is referring specifically to abortion, which in the Western Australian State of Victoria is now a service that every medical professional is by law mandated to provide, regardless of the professional’s own conscience. This, in spite of Victoria’s statutory Charter of Rights that guarantees freedom of conscience.

Thus the eagerness of politicians (in this case the Parliament of Victoria) to pander. Not even their own constitutive laws and visions will stop them, will not be allowed to shape or limit their efforts to please voters.

You don’t have to be a ‘believer’ to realize that when a government – especially by act of public law – overrides deliberately its own founding principles, then a dangerous frontier is being crossed.

But it also seems to me that this brings matters back to the days of Mussolini, and – more encouragingly – of the Catholic political philosopher John Courtney Murray.

Mussolini, as noted above, saw no use for the Church as representing any power over his State, any authority that might judge its actions. Nor did he accept that the conscience of any individual Italian could object legitimately to his State.

Murray, writing in the heady American days of the late 1950s, saw the citizen Grounded in an authority Beyond the State as a healthy corrective to, and participant in, the political affairs of the government. And after all, an individual who can by definition have no serious corrective input into the affairs of the State is not really a Citizen at all – but only a passenger ‘along for the ride’.

Which is pretty much what all ‘elites’ – Communist, Fascist, Nazi, nationalist, or the more recent kinder-and-gentler sort – presume the general mass of the citizenry to be.

Murray – whose insight was far ahead of Church practice, but hardly out of sync with the depth of the tradition – insisted that you can’t have a democracy without a Citizenry who, given their ultimate authority over their government, had to have a Ground from which to judge their government.

And more : had to have a Ground that would enable them to judge not only how that government ‘delivered’ for their own interests, but also how that government went forth into the world – on their authority – and involved itself in the lives of so many others.

The whole idea of a Beyond that has some authority to judge the doings of this world, that can and indeed must stand in judgment to limit and shape the doings of government, that must Shape the lives of the individual citizens so that they as Citizens might collectively bring their government’s actions into conformity with the Shape of humanity’s best interests … these are principles that no self-respecting Communist or Nazi or Fascist or nationalist could accept.

Ominously, they are not principles that any self-respecting ‘postmodern liberal’ accepts either.***

I am not going to make the following point: when the troops come for the children, breaking into homes and grabbing the kids out of the arms of parents who are being beaten back with truncheons, the British citizens – the film has them as working-class, maybe the types who would raise all hell at a soccer match – in the neighborhoods are unable to meet them with anything except bricks and sticks. It might be suggested that private ownership of guns would have stopped the plan then and there.

I’m not so sure. The best route would be for The People to ‘man up’ beforehand, remind their government that there is indeed a People in this country, and thus prevent it from even thinking about getting so invasive. A shootout between citizens and troops, while it may enjoy a momentary tactical success, isn’t going to end well for the citizens (unless, of course, there is a coordinated, nation-wide uprising). Troops will be killed as well as parents, and perhaps not a few kids caught in the crossfire.

And at the end of the day, Constitutional government will not be strengthened by such a cataclysm. Indeed, a People that has let its government get so out of hand that resort to gunplay is the only option left can pretty much be said to have failed its role in the Constitutional vision in the first place, and possibly has lost its own grasp of the Constitutional vision and its own Constitutional competence and skills.

Best, I would say, to start Peopling and so make shooting unnecessary. We need – may I say? – to People-Up.(How’s that? Gets the Constitutional sense across and avoids the genderist darkness of ‘man up’.)

Still, the thought that there are a lot of weapons ‘out there’ would give any government pause if it were to start daydreaming of ‘sending in the troops’ in order to quickly and efficiently impose some ‘emergency’ change. The film reflects accurately the vulnerability of modern Britain’s population.

Apparently, Dick Cheney was daydreaming in just such a way – We have just recently found out – so let’s not think that this is all science-fiction. Indeed, in terms of Constitutional integrity, I suppose it’s valid to call Dick Cheney a true ‘alien’, and his saucer-full of flying whackjobs and hackjobs with him: Yoo, Bybee, and the list goeth on.

And lastly, let Us not be deterred by those who would impugn Our motivations rather than face up to the problems. Consider, if you will: the bridge of the Titanic in that eternally doomed moment after the collision with the berg, the watch officer turning to the Captain as he arrives on the bridge to say “Captain, we’ve hit a berg”, only to have the Captain turn to him with a gimlet-eyed postmodern glare and respond “I question your motivation, saying something like that. Are you trying to make me look bad, you hateful person you?”

You see the problems We face nowadays. (And maybe can see how it was - as John Maynard Keynes observed in the 1950s - that the Brits went from being Romans to being Italians in just one generation.)

And We’d better face up to them quickly. God or no God, We are closer to eternity than anybody among the elite wants to admit. Let Us try to do better than they have.


*See: Eric S. Janus, “Failure to Protect: America’s Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State”: Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press; 2006.

**See the article ‘Intolerant Tolerance’ in “First Things”, Number 195, August-September 2009, pp. 9-12.

***Being an equal-opportunity skeptic, I would class current ‘conservatives’ as really being nothing more than Rightist-nationalists. Neither bunch is really willing to accept any Shape or limit to ‘government’, though they are both wrassling to get control of the unfettered power of government for their different purposes. No genuine Citizen will benefit from this frakfest. Nor will the Republic.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I won’t make a habit of this. But as always, I see something larger in the ongoing events here, and I’d hate to see a good opportunity for insight and reflection wasted.

I had Posted a few days ago (on July 22nd), and then made an Addendum or two as things went on.

Yesterday, it is reported, the Cambridge Police released its tapes of the original call to 911 from a passerby and then the radio transmissions between the police dispatcher and the officers responding to the scene.

Gates and also the news-reporting are the interesting bits in all this.

Much media concern is focused on the fact that it wasn’t the passerby (who has gotten herself a high-publicity feminist-issues lawyer named Wendy Murphy) who brought up the race of the men she saw shouldering open the front door to the home. Rather, it “was the police who brought up race”. Well, yes and no and mostly no.

The 911 operator, as is standard procedure, is trying to get some description of the Suspicious Persons (“SPs” in police radio lingo) that would be of use to the responding officers in quickly identifying the SPs. The 911 operator asks if they are “black or Hispanic”, among other questions.

This isn’t ‘racial profiling’. This is a way to whittle down the possible overall looks of an SP so that the officers don’t have to waste time when they get there (and possibly overlook the actual SPs in the time it takes to check everybody nearby).

If the SP were a mime – face coated with white facepaint – then that would be useful. If a person were an albino, or had warpaint smeared over his face and arms, or lots of visible tattoos, or an unusual and distinctive haircut, or was wearing a morning-suit and a bowler hat and carrying a briefcase and an umbrella … any such distinctive characteristics would be desirable to for the purposes of an initial police size-up of the various people at or near the scene. Indeed, a cruiser responding might see – say – the person with the bowler hat and briefcase and umbrella two blocks away and stop to ‘check him out’.

So the 911 operator isn’t introducing ‘race’ as a matter of racial-profiling, but simply trying to get a clear and quick first-description out to the officers.

Imagine, if you will, that this was a child-sex-assault and the 911 operator did not ask the ‘race’ question: if the attacker were white, and there happened to be a large number of black or Asian or Hispanic or Native American males nearby, the attacker might quietly get away while the police were laboriously checking on every male they came across. You see the problems.

As it turned out, the caller could only tell the 911 operator that one of the persons may have been Hispanic (the driver, apparently). So the police arrived only with the information that one of the men may have been Hispanic. (And was Gates’s driver still on the scene when the police arrived? Somehow, his presence has been almost completely neglected in all of this ‘reporting’.)

The first radio transmission back to dispatch from the scene is that “I’m up with a gentleman who says he resides here (background voice) but uncooperative.” The officer, prudently, then informs the dispatcher – and it would have been heard by all responding units – to “keep the cars coming”. This will ensure that officers whizzing through the streets know that their presence is still needed, in the estimation of the officer already on the scene.

The officer on scene then asks for the Harvard University police to respond; this is apparently a reflection of Gates’s insistence that he is standing on Harvard University property (and not his own property, as a matter of fact and law). So the police are confronted with a man on somebody else’s property, technically, and not “in his own house”. It’s not the ultimate bit of information, but it means the cop has to now bring in representatives of the property’s owner – to wit, the police of Harvard University.

The officer then commits implicitly the egregious faux-pas of not knowing who Henry Louis Gates is: “He gave me the name Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Harvard property.” So Gates has not said that he’s in his own home – as he later claims, among so many other things.

And as the officer is making this transmission, “(background voice)” is heard on the recording. So while the cop is on his radio trying to add more details to get this thing resolved. Gates is – at the very least – talking loud enough to be picked up by the radio mike. Rawther impolite – do they do things like this at Ivy faculty dinner-parties, talking at and interrupting persons trying to make a point? Mah mah mah. How un-elite.

Thus the transcript as it’s printed in the local paper of record. It seems there should be more, and I doubt that the police cut anything relevant out. But I think the paper’s editors did.

The paper, that step-child of the “New York Times”, the “Boston Globe”, ‘reports’ that the whole set of transmissions “leave vexingly unanswered most question about the incident that has captured world-wide attention”.

Well, it certainly seems that the paper and its reporters could have picked up on just the questions that arise from what transmissions reveal. But no.

Nope. No exploration of the evidence that is actually there.

Instead, a muzzy veil of “uncertainty”. Which is the equivalent of the destroyers laying down a smoke-screen to enable the damaged battleship to make its escape.

Because the paper initially went for the ‘classic racist-cop’ stereotype, that trusty, half-century old script. And now that it seems that such was not primarily the case at all, the paper will lay down the smoke of “uncertainty” so that the battleship Gates and then the paper itself can make their escape, while continuing to utter low gibbering innuendoes about racial profiling.

Marvelously, in the accents of Pure Objective Science, the paper notes that “brief snippets of a man’s voice can be heard in the background … What he says is difficult to make out, but he is speaking loudly and emphatically. At one point he appears to say ‘I’m outraged’”. The paper makes no mention of Gates’s original assertions – which the paper dutifully printed on the day of the event – that he had throat problems that day and couldn’t have spoken above a whisper (a photo taken quietly at the scene put paid to that crap as Gates is seen standing on the porch with his mouth in the shape of a wide-open “O”).

And then, equally marvelously, “Neither police nor Gates’s lawyer would confirm that the voice belongs to the Harvard professor.” Well, OK – nobody wants to jump to conclusions without evidence. There’s been enough of that in the past several decades … and can you say Iraq War? But who else was standing near the officer making the radio transmissions? Another police officer? Abe Lincoln? Or Gates.

Nicely, Gates’s attorney, another Harvard professor, the noted black legal expert Charles Ogletree, had nothing to say except that Gates was “pleased that the [passerby’s original 911] call revealed no racial bias”. Which is nice indeed, except that it’s not really the point here.

Beneath its ‘report’ – ‘article’ is probably closer to it – the paper prints a short piece ‘revealing’ that Gates and the police officer will be meeting with Obama for beer on Thursday. They can bring their relatives – which indicates that there won’t be much serious business to transact.

And yet, at the same time, the White House spokesman – Robert Gibbs – intoned that “a big part of this is an increased dialogue between both of he individuals here and their representation of both law enforcement and minority community”. Which doesn’t really work as a sentence in English – even as the language is construed nowadays.

One might be tempted to inquire as to just what “minority community” Gates will be representing in this play – the black community or the ‘elite’ professoriate community?

Anyhoo, the whole tempest is soon to fizzle out in a beer-mug (tea-pots are so quaint, doncha know?). Or maybe Gates will swill his Beck’s straight from the bottle. The poor police officer is advised to use a glass in any case – a photo of him drinking from the bottle will start a ‘red neck’ and ‘macho’ stampede, bringing out all the usual braying and bleating suspects, and We will be off to the races again.

And We have enough running to do as it is.

The role of the ‘advocacy media’ in the past half-century, which started off decently enough with coverage of the Southern freedom-marches, has evolved – or mutated – into something else altogether. And in the process the ‘press’ has abandoned its role in the Founding vision: instead of informing The People of the facts as best they can be determined, it now doles out only the Correct ‘facts’, or whatever it can say that will manipulate –and often stampede – people into the pathways that the self-proclaimed ‘elites’ want things to go.

And having become too entrapped now to easily back away from the catastrophe of propaganda in the name of ‘advocacy’, and too fearful of upsetting its ‘consumers’, that ‘press’ has frittered away as much as the Wall Street and Beltway ‘elites’, in Finance and War respectively.

Once again, although I do not intend this as ‘the last word’, We have to recall Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s rueful observation about his nation in the late 1930s: “Once you have gotten on the wrong train, walking back through the cars isn’t going to help”.

God help Us all. And indeed, God save the United States.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009



Maya Schenwar over on Truthout brings forth an article that is summarized on the site as “neglect, mistreatment, and abuse are the norm for active-duty soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder”.

Far be it from me to want to sweep under the rug any sort of mis-, mal-, or non-feasance perpetrated by the Pentagoons upon the troops.

But far be it from me to want to allow to pass for credible any sort of mis-, mal-, or non-feasance perpetrated by manipulative ‘advocates’ upon the rest of Us.

So while I am not here attempting the last word, either to hear myself talk or to convince you of the total rightness of my view, I’d like to kick a tire or two. Better to do it now than several oceans of mistaken ‘policy reforms’ down the road.

“As of the end of March, 346,393 US veterans were being treated for PTSD; 115,000 of those served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That number continues to grow rapidly.”

That is a hell of a lot of PTSD, which – by definition – involves trauma.

But that’s the first problem. And it’s a problem that has plagued the PTSD ‘diagnosis’ since its inception a couple-three decades ago. How do you define ‘trauma’, such that it causes such a serious syndrome of ‘stress’?

It’s a little easier with physical trauma – a missing limb, a life-threatening injury or ‘sucking chest wound’ or head injury … that sort of thing is clearly classified as ‘trauma’. A broken finger or toe is, rather clearly, not.

But once you’re into the realm of thoughts, feelings, and emotions – now you’re into much different territory altogether. No physician or surgeon can see any of those phenomenon, nor bring them into view with some deft knife-work.

This was known from the outset.

But the solution proposed by ‘sensitive’ medicine, liberated from the ‘hierarchical’ and ‘authoritarian’ medical model that was so redolent of ‘patriarchy’, was to allow the patient to define what constituted ‘stress’, and hence to diagnose him/herself. If the patient, therefore, reported ‘pain’ – and who could say if he/she did or didn’t experience the recurrent intrusive thoughts and other symptoms? By freeing ‘diagnosis’ and bestowing its power upon ‘the patient’, the medicine of the day took up ‘spectral evidence’ long after the law had abandoned its diagnostic and evidentiary value.*

This was, according to the usage of the times, trumpeted as ‘progress’ and the ‘humanization’ of therapy, and a major blow against structural ‘oppression’. And, as always, ‘patriarchy’.

But such progress came at a jaw-dropping price. There was now no way to filter any claims of ‘stress’, or the more imposing diagnostic moniker “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, through any professional assessment. If a patient said s/he had it, then the patient had it – and the therapist’s role was simply to treat it, and to make the pain go away (as the old song put it).

And again, to make ‘pain’ the trump to all diagnosis was to bring the old ‘spectral evidence’ demon back, this time in medical practice. If somebody says s/he has or feels ‘pain’, how can you test for it? How can you ascertain that independently of what ‘the patient’ says?

Practitioners who tried to impose some sort of assessment, especially if such assessment came to a conclusion other than what the patient claimed, were looking for trouble – and should start looking for a new profession. ‘Insensitivity’ was simply not done in the New Therapeutic Order. To refuse to make the diagnosis would be 'blaming the victim', and you could lose your career over that.

And, of course, given that ‘reforms’ and ‘brilliant new approaches’ have a tendency to ‘migrate’, then what would be good for the psychological therapy room migrated to all forms of medicine, and then into other areas of endeavor: education, job performance and productivity, even the military (where potential soldiers who felt they had had enough simply had to tell their drill instructor – in effect – to go away.

You can see where all of this was going.

And naturally, since the ‘patients’ were also voters, the pols were eager to support this new ‘reform’. What better way to make it look like you’re doing your job and earning your keep than to ‘give stuff’ to the voters.

And, as the military began to attract the attention of ‘reformers’ – specifically of the radical feminist persuasion – then the military brass quickly realized that if their civilian bosses wanted this to ‘go smoothly’, then they would use all their authority to make it go smoothly, and God could sort it out. They had their jobs and promotions and post-career options to think about.

This was on top of the feministical agenda of transforming the military into an ‘employment opportunity’, a ‘right’ that could not be deterred by ‘macho’ concerns about competence, physical capacity, adaptability to the demands of military life (military life would be utterly restructured to adapt to its membership), and the challenges of waging sustained combat (which was never supposed to happen again so who cared about ‘readiness’ anyway? – it was just a macho excuse to prevent women from exercising their ‘full citizenship’.)

And then, of course, war came.

And its stern tests graded harshly the mushy products of an era that didn’t see itself as ever being accountable to consequences. One thing about combat: you can’t just tell it to go away when you’ve had enough. **

Schenwar uses as her ‘hook’ the story of an Airman diagnosed with PTSD in 2007 (as if any military doctor can refuse; it isn’t worth the loss of job and career). This Airman gets “only a 15-minute monthly session with a military psychiatrist – mostly to prescribe medications and a brief bimonthly session with a psychologist”.

I hold no brief for the professional organizational integrity of military medicine and psychiatry – and more than I hold any brief for military lawyers or God-haunted Fundamentalist chaplains – but it can’t be hard to see an alternative explanation here, different from Schenwar’s oh-so-Correct plaint that the military organization is heartless in this matter.

Specifically, the military medicos have had to give him a PTSD diagnosis as a matter of Correct policy, and now have to somehow find a way to keep up the appearance of ‘treatment’ without dissipating their limited resources on this ‘case’ (and, by precedent, tens of thousands of other similar ‘cases’).

Worse, the use of medications has become the most ‘efficient’ and ‘cost effective’ way to do that. So what we have is an increasing use of medications to solve what may well have – at the very least – substantial elements of what used to be called ‘immaturity’ or some form of ‘developmental’ problem or even a character-problem.

This would be a problem in any civilian setting, but in the military setting – where ‘reality’ and ‘consequences’ can’t be wished away by altering your ‘perceptions’ or getting a friendly reporter to spin your story as a ‘victim’ – then a nation is setting itself up for a serious fall. Such a drop in combat efficiency – not only by a bad policy but by the acceptance of large numbers of developmentally ‘fragile’ (to put it nicely) individuals – is lethal to the very purpose of a military.
And that purpose – contrary to Correct enlightenment – is not to provide happy job opportunities, or to satisfy a hugely dubious ‘right to serve’, but rather to successfully sustain victorious combat operations. (And looking at it that way, perhaps Our rather poor showing in combat these days has something to do with all this.)

And Schenwar adds that now this Airman “has endured constant harassment within his unit”. Well, suppose he is ‘fragile’: his unit-mates may well be insensitive and impatient with him, but do you know of any human workplace where such a dynamic is not possible, and indeed understandable? (Which is not to say that I like to see ‘harassment’, although learning how to deal with it can be quite a maturing experience.)

And worse, especially in the military setting, any unit-member who can’t do the assigned tasks sets up the rest of the unit for extra work to compensate for the shortfall. And that’s bound to cause some upset, as well as stretch even thinner the unit’s effectiveness.

But there’s more. The Airman admits to having had “suicidal ideations” (which is a rather complex professional vocabulary for the average bear). In addition, temporarily assigned to such non-onerous duties as being a parking-space monitor on base, the Airman is not only embarrassed but suffers as well from “serious knee and back problems”.

The lad is something of a train-wreck, physically and psychologically. I’m not familiar with him personally, but the possibility of ‘maturational fragility’ looms rather large, simply from a reading of his multiple ‘issues’. And in an achievement-oriented organization such as the military – where failure to achieve stuff can get you and the unit killed, and wars lost … all of this is hardly unforeseeable.

The big question is not why the military won’t let him out, but why they let him in in the first place.

And here is where the feminized, ‘sensitive’, job-opportunity modern and Correct military is now paying the price of a too-thorough and too-easy rolling-over to the demands of the feminist agenda: having allowed in whole bunches of not-robust ‘soldiers’ and ‘sailors’ and ‘airpersons’, and having twisted reality into a pretzel in order to justify it without admitting to a profound falling-away in maturational and competence standards, the military now cannot either classify these individuals as unsuitable or start letting them out without seriously reducing its troop strength and creating an awful ‘back door’ precedent.

“The military has to cultivate a culture of commitment”, says the head of the Military Counseling Network. So it can’t start letting out everybody who should be let out, without devastating its retention numbers and creating a huge morale problem for those capable troops who would rather be doing something else, are yet willing to fulfill their commitments, but would start to wonder if whole bunches of unhappy souls were given a pass to walk out the door.

The military has nobody to blame but itself here. You can still get court-martialed for deliberately injuring yourself, thereby making yourself unavailable for missions. The sense of that is clear enough. But then, in the feminist Age, pregnancy had to be classified as “non-medical”, such that if you get yourself into such a condition (let’s not go into ‘finding yourself’ – as if by inadvertence – in such a condition) then you are not prosecutable for making yourself unavailable for missions. Indeed, you – not the military – can then say whether you want to stay in the military or – ummmm – not. And the brass happy-face it all as just a ‘thang’ that has no big effect on military operations or morale. WTF?

Now, with all of the ‘stress’ and ‘pain’ service personnel, the military is doubly in a bind. If they start letting out all the ones they probably never should have let in to begin with, they lose large numbers of troops. And they open the – you should pardon the expression – Pandora’s Box of having their ‘pregnancy’ policy – and much of the core of the feminist-driven program itself – opened to scrutiny. And that would not be a pretty thing at all. And most of the male troops have probably already seen through the bullplop anyway, even if the media haven’t chosen to.

And on top of this, you are now in a hugely demanding and losing set of wars, involving Fourth-and-Fifth Generation combat that is even more frakking than the old-fashioned WW2 stuff.

Good grief.

And, on top of that, your troops who are sufficiently capable of engaging in that sort of combat, but are not Grade-A combat paragons – the classic ‘hot dogs’ and ‘devil dogs’ – will indeed be far more exposed to genuine PTSD and will need serious help. And your ‘dogs’, hot and devil, are going to wind up carrying the brunt of the whole thing, thus burning themselves out (when, that is, they are not simply eliminated by hostile fire).

Do you see how a whole era’s worth of baaaad policies, accepted by a careerist senior officer corps, imposed by feel-good pols and doctrinaire advocacy cadres, have now ‘synergized’ into a frakfest, a train-wreck of lethal proportions?

And, last but not least, We are presented with a second PTSD horror ‘story’, this one about a female NCO “recently diagnosed with military sexual trauma” (italics mine).

You will have trouble finding that ‘diagnosis’ in any of the major professional listings. It apparently is meant to provide benefit-of-science to the experience of having had a bad or unhappy sexual experience in a military setting. Yes, there is the possibility of being genuinely raped and assaulted; but there is an even larger statistical probability of having had that ‘unhappy sexual experience in the military setting’, with all the possible sub-categories that are latent in that ‘unhappy’.

This, of course, takes Us back to the feminist insistence that women must be allowed to serve, but not in separate units (where, alas, their statistical inability to carry out the missions might become – the horror! – too obvious to spin away).

Their ‘plan’, evinced over the years, was that a) the military is too ‘male’ and too ‘macho’ in the first place; b) there isn’t going to be any more old-fashioned combat; c) the military can afford even a “20 percent reduction in combat efficiency and effectiveness” in order to feminize itself; d) but anyway feminization and combat efficiency aren’t mutually exclusive.

Consider, if you will, that these confident assertions are even half-wrong (hardly an impossibility when you consider the track-record of Beltway elites in matters military in the past 50 years). Can you imagine the lethality of their consequences upon military effectiveness?

Consider as well that their further assertions are also wide of the mark: that military command and education can eliminate ‘sex’ among troops – in the rear or at the front , and that mixed-gender units can be trained to see each other merely as fellow-professionals and not as sexual and relational opportunities. Among a largely teen-aged force, or a force composed of chronological ‘adults’ who really haven’t matured beyond a teen-worldview (also not improbable, when you consider how many cohorts of children since 1980 have now grown past the age of 18).

Do you have enough impossible things to believe before breakfast yet?

And yet this must be considered ‘national policy’, even ‘national security policy’, and it has been pursued doggedly for decades. Yes, I’m saying it is primarily a matter of national security, and not simply a groovy new approach to ‘job opportunity’ or ‘equal opportunity’ or ‘gender equality’ or ‘sexual equality’ or what have you.

None of this can end well.

And the media are best advised to actually try to follow Walter Cronkite’s path, rather than simply chirping respectfully about how they too share his illustrious professional heritage.

Because the America that fought and lost Vietnam was at least materially and economically strong enough to absorb that defeat; and its citizens resilient enough to buck up and get on with life.

That is not in any way the case today.

And all of those genuinely hurt troops … will wind up standing in line for treatment with much larger numbers of unhappy individuals whom the brass and the pols should never have brought into the military to begin with.

They will be the most un-noticed casualties of all.


*'Spectral evidence' is a legal term from the era of witchcraft and witchcraft trials: it means evidence that the person who claims to see it can see, but nobody else - not judges, not juries, not anybody ... you just have to take the person's word for it. Although, in a curious coincidence that was no coincidence, the law was soon to take up ‘spectral evidence’ again, in its ‘sensitivity’ to this, that, and the other claim of ‘abuse’ or the ‘repressed memory’ of same.

**A vivid dramatization of this occurred in the play and then film “Streamers” from the very early 1980s. Having killed two barrack-mates and then been apprehended by MPs, a black military recruit calmly orders them to let him go because he’s ‘quit’ the Army, is going to be leaving now, and they have no reason to be getting in his face with handcuffs. And he believes it. Now any modestly competent therapist could explain this as a form of mental imbalance, but the key here is that such behavior became ‘valorized’ – made to seem a ‘good idea’ and the ‘right thing to do’ not only in the military, but throughout American society and culture. Basically, it’s a variant on the old “I don’t want to play anymore”, although in a far more lethal setting than a kids’ playground.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I had a flashback reading the papers today. And yesterday.

The noted black Harvard historian, Henry Louis Gates, joined by a large assortment of commentators, is raising holy hell because he was arrested outside of his own house in bosky Cambridge.

Suddenly it’s 35 years ago. A black man is accusing the local police of racism – although, mercifully, not brutality – after an encounter with them. Many commentators, black and white, individual and organizational, are joining in the alarums, the jeremiads, the sermons and the lectures, the threats.

The story is here. The commentary is here and here and here.

So far so familiar.

But you ask yourself: can it really be? In America – in Cambridge, Massachusetts! – in the Year of Grace Two Thousand and Nine, is it possible that there exists a police sergeant so racist that he would actually try to pull stuff last seen in the Standard-Procedure Manuals of the Birmingham, Alabama Police and the Mississippi Highway Patrol during the Administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson?

As best can be made out the incident was this: Gates was returning from a trip abroad. He and apparently his driver were having trouble getting the front door to Gates’s house to open. In the broad light of day one or both of them shouldered the door in order to force it open. Somewhere right in here a passer-by saw them and notified the police of a possible break-in.

A police officer arrived – although it is unclear as far as I can see whether he arrived before or after Gates had effected entry into the premises.

At that point, stories diverge. The officer asked to see some identification, which is not unreasonable.

Gates, however, took umbrage and began to exchange words, apparently including a demand that the officer reveal his name and badge number (was the officer not in uniform to which both nametag and badge are clearly attached?)

At some point in the middle of this, a police sergeant arrived – either because he was near the call and also responded, or because the officer had radioed for ‘a supervisor’, standard and prudent procedure when a lowly patrolman is faced with an obstreperous citizen asking “Do you know who I am?” "Do you know who you're messing with?"

As a result of whatever transpired, the sergeant apparently made the decision to arrest Gates for disorderly conduct. Certainly, Gates is focusing his outrage at the sergeant in his comments to the media.

The sergeant is white.

The handcuffs were duly installed.

Gates, according to the police, was shouting. Gates claims that he had laryngitis or bronchitis and couldn’t speak loudly.

Today, the ‘Boston Globe’ runs a second front-page story. There is a photograph (on the continuation of the story on page A6). This photo itself is curious: papers don’t have roaming photographers any more, and it’s hard to believe that a photographer freelance or otherwise would have picked up on a possible break-in call in the middle of the day, let alone have been able to drive through Boston traffic in time to get there while the scene was still ‘active’. But here is a photo with an attribution line (“Bill Carter/Demotix Images”) so the efforts by the police to resolve the situation must have gone on for a while – Gates could simply have been whisked away in a squad car or ‘the wagon’ would have been summoned forthwith.

One officer, apparently white although he is standing in shadow, is standing behind Gates with his right hand extended on Gates’s right forearm, as minimal a form of restraint as one is likely to see in an arrest. A second officer is standing to Gates’s left, with one hand, palm down, raised to the level of his waist as if to say ‘Calm down, willya?’.

Gates, reportedly voiceless, is standing straight up, with his mouth wide open in the form of an ‘O’. Which is an odd thing to see in a man who cannot speak above a whisper. An observer even modestly familiar with human physiology would imagine instantly that Gates was shouting something loudly.

Standing in front of Gates, at the bottom of the porch steps, with his back to Gates and arms on his hips, is a police sergeant. He is looking off to his own right, with a look that could well indicate ‘God, do I have to stand here through this?’.

The sergeant is black.

One can only wonder what Gates was saying to his race-brother. Or rather, yelling. (You cannot physically whisper or even speak normally with your mouth wide open in the form of a perfect ‘O’.)

The entire thrust of the story, however, is that Gates was being subjected – wait for it – to police harassment and brutality for being black, being a black male, being a black male in the daytime, and many other such things.

Under normal circumstances, such a dust-up should not detain minds facing a national situation fraught with numerous problems and incalculable consequences.

But I see in this whole thing evidence of something far larger than a dust-up. In this I suppose I am in concurrence with Al Sharpton, the President of Harvard, the local ACLU, and a further cast of thousands.

But what I see is somewhat different.

First, this is a ‘story-line’ or ‘spin’ that has now become familiar by reason of being played out by the media for the past half-century. And while in the first few years of that half-century the Birmingham Police and the Mississippi Highway Patrol and numerous other law enforcement agencies were doing that voodoo that they did so well, in the past thirty-five years such has not been the case.

So it occurs to me that I am seeing played out yet again something that has been playing for decades, a ‘script’ that is thirty-five and more years old. Black man – innocent assaulted needlessly and gratuitously by cops – brutal and racist. It didn’t really work in the Watts setting, and only modestly so 27 years later in Los Angeles.

But here it is again. All I can think of is MacArthur’s dim eyes suddenly lighting up as he is informed that the North Koreans have invaded South Korea, just as his career was winding down and he was feeling, like Alexander, that there would be no more wars for him to fight and win. (Patton had been spared that by getting himself killed in an avoidable traffic accident a few months after Germany surrendered and his own great ‘war’ was over.)

I also think of a comment of Ben-Gurion’s in response to criticism about sending a secret team to Argentina to grab Eichmann and spirit him back to Israel for a fair trial in 1960: there is a new generation that doesn’t remember the war and needs to be reminded.

Such are the psychologies of old war horses and keeping a Cause alive.

The strategies associated with the fresh new race-relations of the Sixties are here given a new lease on life. There is still ‘racism’ in the country. All the old cast are eagerly heading to the studio to get their face in front of the adoring cameras. “We’re ready for you now, Miss Desmond.”

Well, if those old strategies haven’t succeeded in almost forty years and after billions have been expended, then is it unfair to ask if they shouldn’t be re-evaluated?

Or is it unfair to ask if the government back then – eagerly going into Vietnam for a quick and easy win, planning simultaneously to walk on the moon while also exercising the ‘leadership of the Free World’ – wasn’t a bit over-the-top in deciding that it would, by the by, also eliminate ‘racism’? (And, within a few years, adding ‘genderism’ to the target-list?)

And before We even get to those questions, perhaps asking if what happened at Gates’s house wasn’t actually something else altogether – perhaps a person who was of such a character and attitude as to say to a beat-cop “Do you know who I am?”

Apparently social and personal maturity isn’t a requirement for a super-professorship at an elite world-class university. And perhaps with reason: such judgments are soooo ‘subjective’. And where would the world be these days if its ‘elites’ were required to be socially and personally mature? One thinks of Peter’s guilelessly revealing question to Christ: If those are the requirements, “Lord, then who can stand?” Who indeed?

Mind you, I am not implying here that only black elites should exercise social and personal maturity. What might have been if there had been a bit more maturity and character among the Wasp elites surrounding Ike, or the whiz-kid elites inhabiting Camelot (the D.C. version, not King Arthur’s) – one thinks of Robert MacNamara, that paragon. And the greasy-glowing elites such as Gingrich and the Congressional Class of 1994, and … one could go on.

The whole country, this once-great Republic, and the world that is has helped to form and deform, could all have used a lot more maturity in its elites.

But it’s all gone, baby, gone.

And like a creatively bankrupt Hollywood, the suits are hoping to get back on top with replays and re-makes. So, in Cambridge, it’s back to 1973 or thereabouts, and see if things will still work they way they did back in that brash, thoughtless day.

As if We don’t have enough problems with the world of 2009, burdened as it is with the immaturities – white, black, polyglot, and omniglot – of all the earlier eras.

Gates now claims that ‘this’ isn’t about him (or, shrewdly, what he did and how much or how little maturity he displayed); no, “this is really about justice for the least among us”.

I fail to see how.

If I were a Cambridge homeowner, I’d be very thankful to know that passers-by were alert and decent enough to call the police if they thought my house were being broken into.

And while nowadays there’s always more than a little anxiety when confronting police anywhere in these post-Patriot Act days, I’d realize that the cop is just doing the job he’s supposed to do, and pull out my identification to show that I really lived there. And all would be well that ends well.

But – like the Beltway elites who passed the Patriot Act and all the other ‘Acts’ that have engorged the nation’s police powers – Gates glides majestically through his days in the sure and certain belief that he is ‘elite’ and not subject to the same complexities – and laws – as ‘the others’. Perhaps though, he is at least religious enough to give thanks to God that he is not like other men.

Me, I think that in this case those cops did a decent job, black and white. And maybe what’s in the eyes of that black sergeant at the foot of the stairs is just plain embarrassment that he has to have his guys subjected to the wide-open mouthings of a black man who thinks he is too good and too ‘elite’ for this world.

Perhaps Gates is too elite for this world; he can shuttle between Hahvahd and other bosky Wonderlands on the Ivy university circuit.

It’s all those oh-so-Correct Mad Hatter’s tea parties – on university campuses, in Beltway gardens, in Wall Street boardrooms – that have made this country and this world a tougher place for the non-elite to conduct a decent life.

Alice, Alice, We hardly knew ye. You figured out pretty damned quick that the Mad Hatter was truly mad and that the Red Queen was a nasty, self-absorbed, dangerous loon – elite though they were, there in Wonderland.

ADDENDUM - 24 July

There is some question as to whether the neighborhood had experienced a number of break-ins and attempts recently, and committed – as is so often sadly the case – by black males observed by passers-by. In which case the initial police response – several units and a supervisor – would have been quite justified.

Further, I want to say again that this is 2009, and that the civil-rights and racism matters have now been on the front-burner for almost half a century. A lot of other developments have happened in that half century and so it seems more than a little un-enlightened to be running the same old script (innocent black man beset by racist white police) as if this were still 1959.
In those 50 years: A) the very fabric of the black community, especially in urban settings, has been shredded by the effects of a sustained anti-religious, anti-family and even anti-male politics waged – with Congressional and media support – by certain elements of radical feminism; at this point, even in the Metro Boston area which is covered by the ‘Boston Globe’, armed assaults, with serious wounding and even killing, are an almost nightly occurrence even within the precincts of the black community; to consider that such assaults are merely the results of ‘racism’ – as if it were still 1959 – is either imbecilic and incompetent or treacherously intentional.

And B) the economy has now collapsed in ways that utterly undermine any hopes the black community has for participating in the national success (which has now evaporated); consequently, under-parented and certainly under-fathered (see Obama and Bill Cosby and Chris Rock on that) black males are even more liable to succumb to the temptations of violence and crime, even against members of the black community. Again, to espouse an analysis of this that blames ‘racism’ and nothing else since, is either gravely incompetent or cynically treacherous in its selectivity.

ADDENDUM – 25 July

It now appears that Obama has invited both Gates and the sergeant to D.C. for a beer. Time, as the saying goes, for ‘healing’, and for a bipartisan admission the mistakes were made all around.

But there is also the interesting fact that the police have mentioned that they have a tape of all the radio calls made from the scene, and that you can hear Gates shouting some very nasty things in the background as the police officer is transmitting.

This, of course, changes everything – as the Beltway playbook goes.

If they’ve actually caught you on tape doing what you loudly and victimly claim not to have done, then you’ve got to move fast (Teddy Kennedy wrote the book on this, forty years ago this week). Time to stop letting anybody think about what actually happened, and move things immediately to the ‘let’s just forget it’ phase.

And you especially want to go for the ‘mistakes were made on both sides – and I’m big enough to move on’ pose. So that anybody who still wants to linger in the fact-finding mode can be tarred as ‘hateful’ and ‘refusing to let go of this’ and ‘muckraker’ and what-have-you. Meanwhile, you – being a man (or woman) who is big-souled and future-oriented – can stand up on the high-ground you’ve spun for yourself and claim to be both victim and too big-souled to ‘stay in the mud’.


Nixon wound up in this situation, but the press wouldn’t let him pull such a scam, much as he must have wanted to.

But since the ‘press’ nowadays is into ‘advocacy’, and since they’ve been ‘advocating’ for half-a-century, then they’re not looking to puncture the balloon they’ve helped to build, and We can expect to be seeing the Beltway playbook followed pretty much to the letter.

Going to D.C. will be set up as an ambush. The decent cop can’t refuse to go without leaving himself open to the ‘stuck in the mud’ charge. If he goes, he can’t point out the facts without being open to the ‘ungracious guest’ charge – and here he’s the President’s guest!

So Obama, fresh from his stint as mailman for Teddy Kennedy to the Pope of Rome, will now become enforcer to clean up Henry Louis Gates’s repugnant little mess. But with a smile – and a manly face-to-face over brewskis.

It is a truly unlovely picture.

But then, Gates appears to have a very unlovely side.

As does this whole ‘innocent black man – racist white cop’ gambit.

Fifty years gone now – and a lot else – and there are a lot more factors in play than there were in 1959.

We are going to see – if this thing comes off – the equivalent of D.C. driving an Edsel down the street and calling it ‘progress’. In the Year of Grace Two Thousand and Nine, and of the Independence of the United States the Two-Hundred-and-Thirty-Third.


This sergeant deserves better.

And so do We.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009



McClatchy Newspapers reports that the Dems have just pulled off a shrewd and not-uncharacteristic bit of legislative magic: they have tacked onto a vital defense appropriation bill an amendment that will constitute the enabling legislation for an expansion of the federal hate-crimes law.

It’s become a sleazy bit of standard operating procedure on the Hill, tacking on stuff that you want but that you don’t trust the Congress to pass to a larger, more complex, but absolutely essential bill. This is basically the gambit of piggy-backing what is often totally unconnected material, and obviously material that is uncertain of passage on its own merits, to something that absolutely has to pass quickly, and which enjoys a strong chance of passage.

Congressfolk often do this with appropriations bills – where a little ‘pork’ amendment gets lost in the shuffle to get major budget provisions passed.

But it’s expanded now to include the type of ‘pork’ that is actually, I would call it, pander-pork: something not necessarily fiscal, but that you have to provide because you or your Party have ‘promised’ it to certain vocal Advocacies and lobbies, who will take out their ‘hurt’ on you and the party in very public venues if they don’t get what they want. And what you promised them.
In this case, it’s a bill to further extend the federal hate-crimes laws.

As always in these types of mania-law, the new legislation is carefully calibrated to generate a wave and a cloud of emotion, so that nobody will be tempted to really think about the law, or so that nobody will dare to object to it at the risk of being labeled ‘insensitive’ or as a ‘hateful’ person or as a ‘hater’ … and so on.

A vivid case – not always serious but in this case serious indeed – is made the occasion of the law. In this matter, it is the brutal murder of the young gay college student, Matthew Shepard, a decade ago in Wyoming. Having somehow attracted the attention of some ‘straight’ guys at a bar, he was taken out to a remote field, beaten and mutilated, and strung up on a fence and left to die. It was a truly reprehensible crime and no decent, mature Citizen can but be angered and saddened that this sort of thing can happen. We are a flawed species, although I am not pretending that that’s news. Or should be.

And as added insurance, the bill is named, telegenically, the “Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act”. As with so much of the sex-offense and ‘violence’ legislation, the name of the occasioning victim is tacked on to remind you that Correct sensitivity demands your immediate acquiescence and approval. Otherwise you’d best keep your mouth shut. Sort of like naming a law “An Act for the Protection of Nation and People” (“Reich und Volk” in the German original) – you sort of know that you’re going to make a lot of trouble for yourself if you say anything that indicates doubt or hesitation about the law.*

Senator McCain – for whom I hold no brief whatsoever – stated that it’s greatly disturbing to see the Senate (Democratic) leadership “take a totally non-relevant, all-encompassing and controversial piece of legislation and put it on a bill that is as important to the nation’s security as this legislation [the appropriations bill] is.”**

But of course, since everybody on the Hill has been doing this, for pork or pandering, for quite some time, the Dems can simply smile as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth and claim that a) this is ‘normal’ procedure for the Hill and b) the Republicans have done their share of it. Lost in the shuffle is any consideration as to whether such a practice – let alone the Shepard Act itself – should be considered ‘normal’ in any sense at all. The whole idea of a democratic politics in a deliberative democracy in which mature voters vote for mature representatives is that major proposed laws get major serious deliberative treatment in their own right, after which they are enacted or not-enacted.

This is where I think there is an interesting straw in the wind. It appears that there has been a great deal of difficulty in getting the hate-crimes extension accepted as a good piece of legislation.

Yes, the Dems claim that this is merely due to Republican tactical obstructionism and that the Republican objections deserve no respect or even hearing, since it’s all just ‘politics’.

But I don’t think that’s all there is to it. As with the violence and sex-offense legislation – which I call mania-law – We are beginning to see, finally, widespread and major concern, even by those professionals in law enforcement, mental health, and public policy, who must enforce them. And even by groups representing the ‘potential victims’ on whose behalf the laws are being rammed through.

We cannot rule out the possibility that at long, long last democratic and deliberative politics is starting to demonstrate its built-in ability to correct itself.

We recall that the last time this happened was with the McCarthy-ite stampede (hysteria, truly) against hidden Commies among Us, roaming freely and masquerading as nice folks. Nobody who grew up watching B-movie matinees on Saturdays back in the day can fail to recognize the alien pods that walk around in human form and must be exterminated.

But back then McCarthy and his stampede could be stopped relatively quickly.

Before him, on a much more limited basis, the internment of Japanese-Americans in the deserts of the West in 1942 ran on for just several years, and was then quietly ended. Although not before even the Supreme Court affirmed its ‘legality’ and before irreversible and profound damage was done to the life and livelihood of thousands.

Not so with much of the mania-law of the past few decades. The reasons for this are several, all inter-connected.

First, the media now no longer provide accurate facts, but simply accept faxes from the public-relations personnel and paid public-opinion manipulators of both the government and the lobbies of both Right and Left. At this point, the mainstream media (MSM) have for wayyyy too long simply been printing the faxes as ‘reports’, hoping to keep their ‘consumers’ of either a Right or Left proclivity ‘happy’. The idea of a reporter actually ‘informing’ Citizens accurately has been repudiated by most of the MSM (see Glenn Greenwald’s excellent observations on Walter Cronkite’s death here).

And talk-radio has replaced ‘deliberation’ and ‘thinking’ with juvenile outbursts of sass and vitriol that provide much heat but little light (to use Lincoln’s image).

Second, under the influence of allegedly brilliant philosophers (such as John Rawls) the Branches and the advocates and the self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and the lobbies and all the Beltway gang a) believe themselves to be ‘elites’ that ‘get it’, b) that The People does not exist, but only ‘people’ who are lumps that ‘just don’t get it’, c) that therefore in the interests of this or that ‘emergency’ and the sanctity of their presumedly ‘good’ cause pols, bureaucrats, and even jurists can and must steer the popular herd toward whatever broad sunlit uplands of perfection (perfect safety, perfect security, moral perfection) their elite instincts dictate, and d) that in this ‘good’ cause the Constitution and democratic politics have become ‘quaint’ if not actually tainted, perhaps irretrievably.

Which is a theory of government that Lenin and Hitler and Mao could love. And did. (Not so much Stalin, who really didn’t bother with public opinion – he simply eliminated any person or group of persons (the intelligentsia, the bourgeois, the kulaks, even the Old Bolsheviks) who did or might disagree with him).

This approach to politics is one of the great viral infections that survived the destruction of their great nurturing laboratories (Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, Maoistic China) and went on to infect the Allies of the West who, to all military purposes and appearances, had ‘won’.
Third, the Branches of the government are now so deeply enmeshed in their prior support for the stampedes – and perhaps still benefit from them – that they are actually still supporting them, against the corrective tendencies of democratic and deliberative politics.

The political Parties, led by the Democrats but later joined by the Republicans, embraced ‘feeling’ over ‘thinking’ and thus set themselves on the path of an irrational, anti-rational politics of manipulating public opinion by inflaming public emotions and actually undermining deliberation and thought. At this point, ‘pain’ and ‘outrage’ have so largely been allowed to trump sober and mature deliberation that few among the Branches can figure how to back away without being accused of ‘insensitivity’ and other ‘outrageous’ betrayals. Truly, in Jefferson’s vivid imagery describing the national adherence to slavery, the Beltway now “has a wolf by the ears”. ***

And so there is now in place – which has not often been seen in Western democracies – the lethal dynamic wherein the government itself is trapped into trying to prevent a ‘correction’ that would save and restore a democratic and deliberative politics.

This is not an ‘experiment’ – not any more than running Titanic alongside a berg and ripping open a third of her hull could be characterized as an ‘experiment’ in ‘progress’ to see how well she would hold up.

Of course, ‘experiments’ on ‘undesirable life forms’ was a major element of totalitarian medicine in both the German Reich and the Japanese Empire, under the justifiying ‘emergency’ - of course – of ‘war’. The government doctors reported much ‘progress’ for that period when they were “dress’t in a little brief authority”. Afterwards, they said they were only following orders or serving a ‘higher law’ of ‘knowledge’ and 'progress'.

So on top of actually having to try to stop a stampede, We are now bethump’t by a government that in many ways is trying to continue it.

So there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a palpable sense that the stampede is starting subside, through the healthy working of Our democratic and deliberative politics. But the bad news is that the Beltway and the Branches are so mired in the stampede – to their own political benefit – that they are still trying to keep it going.

Interesting times indeed.


*Certain laws, such as the recent Adam Walsh Sex Offender, Registration, and Notification Act, actually have almost every section named after an individual victim, and even a paragraph describing the crime against the victim in question. Then, ominously, each of the sections, content-wise, introduces sweeping new requirements, many of which are not only eerily and disturbingly close to old European ‘internal passport’ and ‘criminal passport’ laws, but have already generated wide Constitutional doubts. They will also generate huge and ever-increasing costs to States that agree to implement them, even as law enforcement and even victim-advocate groups express alarm at the complexities of enforcement and the watering-down of effectiveness in somehow ‘tagging’ truly dangerous persons.

**Lest I be misinterpreted here as being in favor of hate-crimes, or as being ‘soft’ on hate-crimes, let it be noted that there are already State laws in place that criminalize all such crimes. This is a federal-level law that not only adds an unnecessary layer, but actually shades into interfering with the Constitutional rights of States (under the Xth Amendment) to formulate and administer their own laws.

Things have gotten to this point because the national legislature – under the influence of vote-desperate Parties – tried to guarantee reliable voter support for themselves by putting themselves forth as the primary ‘protectors’ and ‘avengers’ of this or that favored group. Thus Obama’s recent ominous if well-intentioned assertion that his first responsibility is to “protect the American people”. He is not Lord Protector; he is President and his oath requires him – as it did the egregious frak Bush – to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” – which almost appears to be, frighteningly, as distasteful to him as it was to his treacherous predecessor.

***If you are close enough to the wolf to be holding it by the ears, then you can’t let go without getting your face and head bitten off.

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Friday, July 17, 2009



Associated Press reports that Harvard, U/Michigan, and a couple of other schools are going to be studying the military suicide rate, now the highest in American history.

I’m all for studying things. What are the frontal lobe capacities for if not for learning useful and factual information upon which We might base serious and maturely-reached decisions affecting untold numbers of human lives?

But that’s not guaranteed here.

After all, there are all sorts of factors that most very probably contribute to this monstrous problem but that cannot be discussed because many ‘elites’ – Hahvahd not the least among them – in universities and the Beltway created the very factors that have now burned together into a lethal synergy.

Yes, of course, the egregious frak Bush and his posse actually cooked up this war (now several wars). I’m not spending time on this point because it’s been rather widely put out there.
I’m interested in the hidden factors that cannot be discussed because they were created and imposed by the so-called (but hardly) ‘liberal’ elites. As Alberto Gonzales could not have thought up on his own the idea that the Constitution had become “quaint”, so too Bush & Co. only built upon the conditions handed to them by the Clinton years and much of the Democratic record of the past several decades.

The Bushisti took to heart Madeleine Albright’s observation (which she got from Hitler and possibly channeled through the Israelis): “What’s this great military for if not to use it?” Yeeeeeeee-hawwwww! Lit’s git soldierin’! Where oh where was Rhett Butler when We really could have used him, standing in the middle of an elite cocktail party and saying – over a cigar, if I recall rightly – that chest-pounding doesn’t win wars and ‘we don’t have what it takes to win this if we start it’. Rhett, Rhett, we hardly knew ye … oy.

In the first place, for decades now, the hard and serious realities of the adult world have been downplayed in a concerted push to make America kindler, gentler, and more child-friendly. Which somehow worked out – starting with the Boomers – into assuming that ‘the kids’ actually know more about life and living than the grown-ups do. (The Boomers were impressionable, film and TV-soaked youngsters when Jim Backus’s feckless dad was unable to do anything to help James Dean’s cute but angst-ridden son in “Rebel Without A Cause” in 1955.)

Ideological Feminism’s assault on ‘male’ and ‘macho’ wound up going after ‘serious’, ‘mature’, ‘careful’, ‘rational’ and ‘deliberate’ for good measure. ‘Thoughtful’ ceased to be a synonym for ‘rational’ and instead meant that you sent the appropriate card and flowers when occasion demanded. ‘Mature’ know meant over-the-hill, fuddy-duddy, stick-in-the-mud, obstructionist, and was proof positive that you just don’t get it.

Cohorts and then generations of kids were raised either without fathers or with fathers whose masculinity was constantly impugned by the media and even by the national legislature, supported by all sorts of legal impositions approved by the courts. The government – and then the President – became the functional replacement for God, responsible for making everybody feel ‘safe’ and even ‘happy’. Nor did the government – unwilling to piss off moist-eyed voters – want to retain God’s traditional insistence on ‘sinfulness’ that makes this world – and thus human life and human affairs and human history – an actual Vale of Tears for which one must prepare oneself.

Medications, junk food, and all sorts of distractions, diversions, and substitutes for actual accomplishment were slathered onto the young like a too-sugary frosting on a badly-baked cake.
Education became less concerned with teaching facts and how to think (there was no ‘reality’ anyway, only ‘perception’, so ‘thinking’ was not only ‘masculine’ and ‘elitist’ but also useless – thus brayed the elites). Instead, the satisfaction of mastery – even of the self – was replaced by the lathering on of ‘self-esteem’, as if that hugely valuable quantum was merely a commodity that could be given to a child like any other ‘gift’.

In the military, this emphasis on being ‘nice’ had particularly lethal effects. Of course, ‘war’ was now a thing of the past in any sense that implied violent, sustained contact with other human beings who sustained a competent resistance against you. So, it was said by the oh-so-confident ‘elites’, America could afford to lose a 20-percent loss of combat effectiveness because no other country in the world (the USSR was on its very last legs) could stand up against Us.

Recruits were now prepared for ‘careers’, even at the Service academies. The objective of military training was not to achieve a mastery over oneself – body, mind, emotions, and spirit – so as to be able to sustain effective combat operations and bring them to a successful conclusion. Instead it was to provide a ‘fulfilling work experience’; the goal of training was to provide a sense of satisfaction, not to achieve actual mastery of the self so as to master the battlefield.

Standards went by the boards. ‘Failure’ was too awful to inflict on kids, and they should be protected from it. Strictness, firm adherence to objective standards that measured and graded performance … these were part of the ‘macho’ military that had to go. The plan was to “reduce greatly the influence of white, male attitudes in the military”. Recruits were given little cards that – when waved – forced drill instructors to stop applying what little pressure was still permitted so that little Rufus or Muffy could have a nice ‘time out’. Sigh.

Things progressed rapidly. Congress and the Executive, after all, had their eye on voters, and women and children (could 17 year-olds somehow be allowed to vote?) were the most important demographics to be kept happy.

Did it require three or four ‘mixed gender’ sailors to do the task of two males? So what? We can afford it and they won’t be in harm’s way anyway. Did it take five female firefighters to crew a crash-truck that required only four males? So what? We can afford it, and how often do military aircraft crash anyway? Do we have to redesign the bolt of the basic infantry rifle so females can draw it? So what? We can afford it – and anyway, when will they ever really have to use the things?

Where grizzled military veterans insisted on preparing troops and sailors for the awfulness of a combat that had never yet been banished from human history, the cadres of Correctness overruled them or got them booted from the armed forces. Nobody got anywhere in the military unless they were ready to do kinder-and-gentler. It was a replay – in no small way – of Stalin’s purge of the officer corps in the mid-‘30s, which did not turn out so well for millions of hapless Russian troops when Barbarossa came a-calling in June of 1941.

Don’t misinterpret this. I hold war to be hell and I further hold that no human being simply comes back from sustained combat ‘the better for it’. It was not for nothing that the early Church required all Christians returning from military service to undergo a period of restorative repentance: those ‘quaint’ ancient folk rightly figured out that soldiering requires the doing of awful things, and if you survived you probably had done them better than your beaten and deceased adversaries. Repentant reflection – within the support of a coherent believing community – was undeniably called for if you were to ever be able to re-organize yourself and conduct a civilian life again.

But to send – and they now truly are – ‘mere babes’ into the maw of sustained combat is a form of youth-abuse that leaves Our recent brouhahas over ‘abuse’ in the dust.

So it’s a frak-up from hell now.

Females who were assured that they were equal to the challenge if they just ‘perceived’ themselves to be are now subjected to a Fourth-Generation War (rapidly evolving into a Fifth) that chews up anything and anyone not internally strong enough to withstand its myriad assaults on the human self.

And such internal, characterological incompleteness is hardly limited to females. Generations of young, un-fathered males are equally at a loss.

And what capable buckaroos actually do get to the field therefore have to carry the weight of sizable bunches of characterologically-insufficient unit-mates. Which burns them out at an incredible rate.

They keep saying We have 150,000 troops over there. Perhaps, in actuality, We have far far fewer.

And, getting back to the subject, suicides are reducing those numbers. And there are no doubt many times the number of actual suicides who have simply put up their little card and told Life and War that they don’t want to play anymore and want a ‘time out’.

Can anyone seriously think that all this hasn’t monstrously degraded Our military capacity?
And that’s even before you get down to the serious matters of strategy and tactics, not excluding Our increasing entanglement in ‘the graveyard of empires’, which most recently chewed up the Red Army in its own backyard. The Commies joined a long line of trophy heads-on-pikes that goes back to Alexander.

And We think that We’re going to do better?

And We expect these kids to do better? After what they have been deprived of in the name of Political Correctness for the past several decades?

Let Us not be so quick to laugh at those among Us who hold their lives together in the sure and certain belief that the earth is 6,000-some-odd years old, and that Adam had a pet dinosaur in the Garden of Eden or shortly thereafter. (An eerie echo of Fred Flintstone, no?)

We seem to be of the opinion that you can bathe children in some sort of permanent replay of early childhood, and expect them to hit the deck running when adulthood and reality start to trumpet their war-calls.

And, like the later Roman Empire, We find the solution in bringing in non-citizen mercenaries who were raised in less ‘civilized’, less Correct places, where a day’s work was the alternative to starving and where blood and sweat and tears weren’t just the name of some old band your parents liked.

Can it be any wonder that on top of the frustrations of a failing imperial occupation in the face of wily resistance, troops are falling to the pressures of sustaining a self that can metabolize such unpasteurized buckets of bloody reality?

And what senior commanders are left now – after the culling of the last decades – who will stand up for their troops?

We are the Red Army in 1941. Only without the vast reserves of scruffy but solid kiddoes who can handle the job if just given the tools. And maybe without any truly competent major commanders like Zhukov.

And let Us also take to heart Stalin’s shrewd observation: American money will take us only so far, comrades.

It’s one of the few things about which We can agree with him.


You might want to read one or both of the following books. 1) Stephanie Gutman: ‘The Kindler, Gentler Military’: New York, Scribner – 2000. 2) Brian Mitchell: ‘Women in the Military – Flirting With Disaster’: Washington, D.C., Regnery – 1998.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009



The Associated Press reported last week that the government’s plan to recruit more tugboat pilots for the nation’s commercial waterways “may have backfired”. Specifically, “the US tugboat fleet is increasingly piloted by captains who have spent as little as one year in the wheelhouse”.

More specifically: “We have the highest horsepower in history, pushing more tonnage than ever in history, with the least knowledgeable personnel in history. It’s a disaster.” The accident record of late, this senior tug captain observes, gives clear evidence.

Simultaneously, the NTSB has just released its report on a 2008 trolley accident in Boston where an operator blew through a stop warning and rammed another train. Charges were brought earlier this month against another operator on that same line, who was texting a girlfriend and rammed another trolley at rush-hour in the main station.

Remarkably, the government operatives involved claim that either there’s no problem or that what is required is more technology. A Coast Guard captain in charge of maritime licensing says that the old system had its flaws too and that the present master’s license apprentice policy – designed to “get people into the program” – has worked: it is “an effective program to get people into the program”. This is his response to the tug-masters’ assertion that their ranks have “become saturated with inexperienced pilots”.

In the 2008 trolley matter, the government reports itself amazed that more technology isn’t in place to help prevent this sort of thing. To which the drivers’ union adds benefit of an Amen-chorus: there is a lack of “safety culture” at the public-transit agency (Boston’s).

Neither the government nor the trolley drivers’ union mention an even more basic problem, one that is implied but ignored by the oh-so-carefully Politically Correct Coast Guard senior officer: there is a culture, and an underlying milieu, of irresponsibility that has crept into – or been imposed upon – society, and it has taken root now throughout American society and culture, even in agencies where the most acute need for responsible and competent command responsibilities are – it cannot be denied – very necessary.

At the Coast Guard’s own service academy, female cadets are not required to master disciplines such as karate or martial arts, and are allowed to substitute “interpretative dance” instead … it’s not the discipline of mind, emotions, and body that’s the objective, ya see – it’s just a thang to help cadets express themselves and feel a sense of achievement (after all, when would a Coast Guard officer ever have to rely on a coordinated and well-honed discipline of mind-emotions-and-body?).

At the Navy’s Annapolis, a two-foot step was placed at the bottom of an eight-foot wall so female cadets could climb over it; nor do they have to do pull-ups, since the idea isn’t to condition the body and force it to achieve unfamiliar levels of competence – the idea is just to get an un-coerced and ‘natural’ feeling of achievement and job-satisfaction. And after all, when would a naval officer ever need to rely on a coordinated and well-honed discipline of mind-emotions-and-body?

The Navy brass have an answer to that last question, by the by: the Naval Academy is not in the business of preparing future naval combat leaders – it’s there to help ‘persons’ prepare for a career in the Navy. After all, how much discipline and competence and maturity does it take to push a button when you’re told to? This is a concept of naval (and military) leadership that seems to have been taken straight from Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s flying Marriott-concierge suite, the USS Enterprise, hull designator NCC-1701-D, which will return after these messages.*

And We don’t’ think the country has declined to a state of the most profound un-seriousness?

How the frak did We get here?

I would connect the following dots: The civil rights movement of the 50s and early 60s envisioned the opening up of America’s opportunities to blacks, heretofore denied as a hold-over from the era of legal slavery. When affirmative-action was imposed in the later-60s the government and courts (for assorted reasons that they felt justified the scheme) made the mistake of requiring equality-of-outcomes, rather than ensuring equality-of-opportunity. In consequence, employers both civilian and governmental gravitated toward simply ensuring that certain ‘numbers’ of the favored minority became the primary guideline. And given that legislation, regulations, courts, and the media made it far easier for an unhappy job-applicant to ‘go public’ with his/her unhappiness … well, you can see where it would appear more cost-effective to managers simply to make sure they had their ‘numbers’ correct.

Further, certain strands of feminism became Politically Correct whereby ‘competence’ and even ‘maturity’ were considered both ‘oppressive’ and ‘elitist’. Generations of youth have now grown up with the impression that a robust sense of ‘entitlement’ was all that was necessary to make one’s way in the job-market.

Further, certain strands of feminism became Politically Correct whereby the typical American family was shredded, often resulting in fathers being absent. These persons had previously done much to fulfill the role of helping their offspring shape and discipline less-mature and productive urges into some working capacity to mesh oneself into exterior societal standards so as to obtain employment and sustain an acceptable level of performance. Generations of youth have now grown up with the impression that such competence is – at the most charitable – ‘quaint’, but more likely self-hating, oppressive, conformist, and unnecessary.

Further, certain strands of feminism became Politically Correct whereby the individual was to consider him/herself as primarily a ‘victim’ and a passive receiver of oppressive societal and cultural pressures. In which case the primary – perhaps only – role of the individual (excepting white, adult, male individuals) was to express outrage and make demands to become ‘un-oppressed’.

Further, the menu of those classes of persons covered by affirmative action was expanded so that by the early 1990s – now two decades ago – the list included almost all persons in the country except the afore-mentioned white adult males.

Further, the entire concept of ‘competence’ was generally pooh-poohed as merely a fabricated ploy to maintain the oppressive victimization of all individuals except the afore-mentioned white adult males. As were the concepts of ‘responsibility’ and ‘maturity’ and ‘productivity’ and – I would say – ‘adulthood’.

Further, in light of the official de-emphasis on ‘maturity’ throughout the culture and society (it was merely ‘ageism’), the youth of an applicant became irrelevant in the hiring process.
Further, in light of the official de-emphasis on ‘capability’ throughout the culture and society, all but the most grievous physical disabilities were considered irrelevant.

Further and finally, the assumption was made that if you have a ‘right’ to any job or career that you want to have (which is itself questionable) then you are by definition able to do it – and if you don’t seem to be able to do it, then that’s just some form of ‘oppression’ imposed upon you by stereotyped ‘perceptions’ and ‘attitudes’ and changing the situation isn’t something you have to worry about. The ‘right’ and your desire – magically – confer the competence. Magic indeed.

And all this in a society where children from increasingly disorganized home environments were thrust into – ummmmm – a very fluid and increasingly unstructured society; both of which experiences generated fantastic amounts of emotional distress and tensions which were often ‘solved’ by medication, prescription and otherwise.

In the Boston trolley cases, the offending operator in the 2008 instance is now revealed by the NTSB report to be “overweight, and a toxicology report showed the presence of over-the-counter sleep aid in her urine”. The Report “concluded … that [the operator] may have experienced a ‘microsleep’ based on investigation belief that she was at high risk of undiagnosed sleep apnea”. The operator was a black female, aged 24.

The offending operator in the 2009 incident was a 21 year-old female who had recently transgendered (I guess is the verb to use now) to male and was busy texting “his girlfriend” at some length, thus blowing into a main station at rush hour with a loaded train and ramming a similarly-loaded train ahead.

I am not trying to turn back any clocks here, nor trying to reinforce any old societal ‘stereotypes’.

But I do note that each operator qualified as a ‘multiple minority’ (if I may) in the imposed hiring-requirements. It is not hard to imagine that no employer, especially in government, would want to risk the consequences – including those to his or her own career – of disappointing such applicants.

In such a milieu, competence and the capacity for assuming and sustaining responsibility inevitably have become very secondary, when not actually irrelevant.

And – especially in government (We recall the military’s experiences) – there are jobs and tasks and missions that require precisely those qualities. Because they are assignments that are not simply ‘jobs’ or ‘career opportunities’ such as slinging hash or selling stuff, but rather missions that hold people’s lives in the balance.

Clearly there have been – as they say of the Iraq War now – some unintended consequences of the original scheme.

But they were hardly unforeseeable consequences.

There are now very many job-seekers who have grown up in such a milieu, and so many managers and employers – private and governmental, civilian and military – and so many office-holders, deeply enmeshed in the systemic mire that this scheme has created. It will take a massive political will and maturity to make the necessary corrections.

And the economy has collapsed. Which can hardly be a mere coincidence.**

This generation of Americans – all of Us breathing at this point – has a rendezvous with Maturity, to update FDR. And Competence, and Responsibility.

Let Us rise to the challenge.


*Readers whose cardiac primary care physician will approve the effort might allow themselves a moment to wonder if any of this has affected the performance of armed services, where NVOs (non-victorious outcomes) are much the rule these days. Readers might enhance this imagination-exercise by playing a CD or DVD of the old ‘Victory At Sea’ series while performing it.

**The red-suspender whiz kids graduated from the better business schools and partying like it was 1999 have – in the absence of mature legislative and judicial intervention – wrecked the economy; they were not ‘poor’ in any material sense, but then this isn’t about poverty but about maturity and capacity for responsibility. Although, then again now, it is increasingly about poverty – everybody’s.

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