Friday, March 28, 2008

Deifying the Military.

I'v been thinking about the self-priming nature of military involvment.

The simplest expression of it is "they shall not have died in vain" but the process is actually more complex than that.

The longer version is that because the act of becoming a soldier and engaging in warfare involves trading in the moral codes that guide people within their civilizations for a different set that allows for random killing and dehumanizing certain groups, a protective shell is set up to prevent the remorse that such behavior would normally elicit. The protective shell, of course includes all the pomp and circumstance that we use to honor the fallen and the increased stature (and trust) that we place in veterans but the same shell creates taboos that prevent us from discussing warfare rationally. It simply can't be done without someone invoking the spectre of "dishonering the troops"

The tragic result is of course that the possibility of reconsidering bad moves or disengaging from a conflict that has not been emphatically "won" becomes exceedingly difficult.

And as seen from the outside, the behavior that results seems quite insane

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Too good not to quote

President McCain, however, can be expected to blaze new trails of American hubris. He is a "national greatness conservative" which can be described as a lethal combination of neoconservatism and Kissingerian realism (in McCains case, with the temperament of Frank Sinatra on too much coffee and nicotine.)


Monday, March 24, 2008

Taking back Patriotism!

"Patriotism" is a word that has suffered severe abuse of late. While it used to mean love of one's country, it is rapidly being twisted to mean love of the military and blind acceptance of the staus quo.

I happen to consider myself patriotic. I love my Country deeply. I particularly love the fact that I am free to point out when I think my Country is acting in an immoral manner and needs to change course.

People who don't understand this and instead use "patriotism" as a code word to enforce conformity sadden me.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Open Letter to Ana Marie Cox....

I appreciate your efforts and your honesty. Now here's my concern. It is well known that a major part of the sales effort behind the Iraq war involved repeatedly using Saddam Hussein and OBL's name (or Al Qaeda) in the same sentence so that the association was burned into the public awareness even though there were no statements you could point to where the connection was directly asserted and therefore could be pointed out as a lie.

You just used the phrase "He is for a muscular use of American power" which is sort of misleading because we all know that "muscular" in that context is a euphemism for "explosive".

So now we have the candidate repeatedly asserting that the Iranians are assisting Al Qaeda in Iraq knowing full well that A: Al Qaeda is just a brand name and the group in Iraq bears little connection to the terrorists who actually attacked us and B: They are NOT being aided by Iran.

Perhaps you can begin to appreciate my concern when the Candidate for CiC is using sloppy language in order to justify as you put it a "muscular" posture. We've already been down this road and the consensus opinion is that it sucks.

My other concern is that for McCain's sloppy language and deliberate conflation of different enemies to succeed, it is necessary that the public continue to be misled. This is where you come in. JK has already gone on record noting that McCain is being dishonest but the coverage surrounding the candidtae continues to be complicit in the effort to mislead.

Did I mention that Scherer just fell for the oldest trick in the book by diseminating a damaging video link accompanied by the public apology for the link.

The public needs to know the truth of what's happening in Iraq and you guys need to stop helping the candidates lie about it.

And I mean that in the nicest way possible.....

Ahh... the core assumption.

The U.S. should not -- and has no right to -- invade, bomb and occupy

Mine appears to be a minority position but I have never been able to figure out why the moral calculus that regards murder as a capital offense suddenly changes if the victim isn't a US citizen.

Even conceding that the world doesn't make sense on that basis, there's still a very carefully thought out doctrine (ratified by the USA after WWII) which states that war is only justified in self defense and that agressively attacking a country that isn't directly threatening you is criminal. (In the case of Nuremburg, it too was regarded as a Capital crime.)

So what has changed? Why does every moral calculation one could bring to bear on the subject suddeny become irrelevant when the actor in question is the US military?

What distresses me even more is the degree to which even asking such questions is treated as a taboo. The energy that has gone into the denunciation of anyone willing to ask those questions as "America haters" is directly proportional to the degree to which there are no good answers. While the cone of acceptability is shifting ever so slightly, I couldn't help but notice that Obama felt it necessary to make sure that he understands that ourt enemy is "Islamic extremism" as if that phrase actually means anything.

If Freedom is to mean anything at all, it has to mean the Freedom to question whether we are in fact wearing the white hats.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Among things I find infuriating....

Instead of providing liability protection to companies that did their patriotic duty, House leaders would establish a commission to examine intelligence activities in the past that helped protect the country from further attacks after 9/11.

The damage thats being done to the concept of patriotism by this gross misuse of the term hurts me deeply.

I was totally unaware that my Patriotic duty included violating the law, trampling the Bill of Rights and underrmining the Constitutional separation of powers necessary to preserve Freedom.

But if Dana Perino said so, I guess it must be true!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Re: Obama

In response to: The Post-Fairytale Fairytale

When I compare my own attitudes to those of the archtypical "average American" I'm tempted to just throw up my hands and hang it up.

But for whatever reason, I'm finding that I'm actually enthusiastic about "the least of three evils." Perhaps I'm just hopeful over what the success of Obama's message would say about that archtypical "average American" mentioned above.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Re: Misplaced trust

I think one of the fundemental problems is people have this odd belief that physical authority somehow imparts moral authority.

While the requirements to become a policeman (for instance) include a modicum of intelligence and the lack of a criminal past, they obviously aren't insurmountable.

Likewise, the NSA and our intelligence agencies are staffed with people who A: like the idea of being spies and B: have passed whatever requirments are set up. But they're only people. There is nothing in particular that prevents them from being bored, superstitious, excessively curious or just plain stupid. And human nature itself suggests that the less supervision or accountability there is, the more likely for abuse to turn up.

The amount of covering up already going on suggests that bad behavior has already taken place but the sad fact is that if what's already taken place doesn't come to light, then the activity that eventually WILL cause the house of cards to tumble will probably be something more appalling than I have the imagination to even consider