Friday, December 02, 2011

...but for Wales..?

It's early in the pre-dawn. Or late in the night, I'm not sure, but I'm up to go to work early. I checked the weather to see how fucking cold it is (it's fucking cold!) and made the mistake of checking in to a couple of blogs only to find this.

I'd seen this bill mentioned over at my pal Labry's place - she was spitting fire about it, good woman that she is - and it occurred to me that what I feel is just a sort of tired, sad, inevitability.

How many times in history have we watched this play out?

The frightful, desperate "enemy" that must be "defeated" at any, and ALL costs. The populace tittilated and terrified by tales of that enemy's desperate frightfulness. The group (or groups) that insist that "the old rules don't apply". The rush to "do something" that results in granting power upon power without a moment''s reflection of whether that power can ever be taken away.

I know I use this quote a lot, and, yes, I understand the irony of making that rigid old tartar Tom More into a petty saint of restraint and good government (the man who delighted in the aroma of crackling heretic, honestly...) but the words spoken here are NOT the words of Thomas More but of Robert Bolt, his playwright:
ROPER Then you set man's law above God's!

MORE No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact-I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God . . .

(He says this last to himself)

ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he's gone!

MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's-and if you cut them down-and you're just the man to do it-d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
And yet we are so fucking terrified of a bunch of raggedy ass Allah-pesterers that we won't give THEM the benefit of law for OUR safety's sake.

I'm so tired. Just tired.

And I haven't really even been all het up about this nonsensical "War on Terror" and the way it's got us hitting ourselves on the head, the way my pals Jim and Lisa have, say, over at Ranger Against War, ringing the changes of our eagerness to put down our legal trousers and hand the rod to our "leaders" and policemen and soldiers like a firebell in the night.

Or the way Greenwald has.

Or the way a hundred better writers, better bloggers, better citizens that I am have decried this silliness, this mouse blown up by shadows and smoke to the size of an elephant.

Because, really, I mean, people?

The fucking "War on Terror"? How stupid are we, collectively, to buy into this? We're supposed to be the adults here, the "We, the People" that those guys in the wigs supposedly put in charge to sort things out. We're supposed to remember things like that in wars, or lovemaking, capabilities count, not intentions. We're supposed to be able to see that these ridiculous villains are no more capable of actually "warring" on us any more than a sneak thief can "war" on your television set, or a Newberg high school freshman of making love to Angelina Jolie.

And that for all that he may masturbate frantically over her picture and describe the business as a "love affair" that it is not, and will never, be in HER best interests to describe it as such or act as if it were in fact.

And that a pack of reasonable adults should be able to sort this out about this idiotic "War" on some-forms-of-terror-perpitrated-by-some-groups-we-don't-like-but-not-others-that-we-sorta-do before their coffee get cold.

But we don't, we aren't, and we haven't.

And what the fuck more can I do?

I elected the goddam Democrat three years ago, worked for all my local sane guys, people like my Senator Merkeley, wrote letters to the paper, talked to anyone who would listen...

...and for what?

We're stuck right where we were about five years ago. A third of the U.S. public recognizes the insanity of this idiot's tale. But - and despite that more than three-quarters of the same public is more than ready to end the misadventures that the active pursuit of the "war" brought in train - the Third Gulf War and the God-Knows-How-Manyth-Afghan-War - the other third is still all about killin' us some ragheads.

And the final third is just too fucking stupid, lazy, poorly-informed...or something. To care.

So...what the hell will it take to make the point to the ignorant third and the radical-conservative-wingnut third that Sun Tzu sussed out, like, two thousand years ago - that fighting long wars is NEVER good for the combatant...even if it "wins"? That war makes people and nations do incredibly stupid things to themselves because those things seem "right" at the time?

I have no idea.

But just thinking about makes me tired.

I guess I always thought that if my country was to go to hell it'd be in some dramatic fashion. We'd hand ourselves over to the devils of authority and oligarchy in the midst of some titanic struggle with the Great Foe; the Soviet Union bristling with nukes or the Chinese hordes of Asia. We'd go down in a monumental crash of great rhetoric and epic protests, with the last defenders of the old outmoded liberties herded into the cattle trucks for the journey to the Utah camps. I never pictured my countrymen lying about on our dead asses while we drift along in a state of perpetual "war" with a bunch of sorry ass Islamic fantasists...I mean, can you THINK of a stupider way to give away the gift?

Bolt again:
MORE I have one question to ask the witness. (RICH stops) That's a chain of office you are wearing. (Reluctantly RICH faces him) May I see it? (NORFOLK motions him to approach. MORE examines the medallion) The red dragon. (To CROMWELL) What's this?

CROMWELL Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.

MORE (Looking into RICH'S face, with pain and amusement) For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales..!


Labrys said...

I don't know if I am a good woman, but I am a seriously pissed off one! Here is the thing that makes me feel tired and dragged down by an anchor of inevitability, FD: I believe the whole war on terror is a straw man.

I don't believe the Conservitards are actually afraid of a bunch of God-bothered Moslems OR really sympathetic to the God-bothered American Religious Right, either. I think they are wholly owned by corporate thugs.

And those not-good men know that without all the tools in place to control an angry, suffering populace (yes, the same one they are trying to wring dry into a new serfdom), that they will end up like the Old Regime of France....bleeding in the public square!

So, they prop up the fear of the foreign, the heterodox, and "gawd" and wrap the chains around the credulous. But for Wales indeed, Llewellyn was the last prince and the Red Dragon does NOT appear to be rising again.

Edward Longshanks knew how to stomp out fires of freedom. These bastards don't read that much history, but they have the right fucking boots.

FDChief said...

You are, and your ire at this nasty bit of cynical power-grabbery and the assholes from both parties that are profiting from it shows that better than anything.

In a way I respect the outright wingnut goofballs more than the "liberal intervention" Democrats. The GOoPers and their teatard offspring are outright semifascists, worshipping corporate power and military strength. They want to kill brown people abroad and employ brown people at home. I think they have no fear because we have been so supine all these years. I think they just use these "scary Welshmen" to go all Edward I on us.

I wish I could summon your fire. I would be Caligula and wish that all the oligarchic bastards had one neck.

But watching my own countrymen and -women sell themselves into slavery is just depressing and vulgar. To submit to Longshanks - or Attila or Genghis is one thing. To dive up our own backsides before Perkin Fucking Warbeck?

Simultaneously revolting and embarrassing.

Lisa said...

For Wales, indeed (or "Whales", as our local capital paper once printed it.)

perpetual "war" with a bunch of sorry ass Islamic fantasists...I mean, can you THINK of a stupider way to give away the gift?

No, I cannot. I am confounded as to why we dissipate ourselves over such unworthy foes. We have suffered a lost decade -- and worse! It's been a red herring, and we're poor readers of the mystery form. Throw in a little reality t.v. and you've got the makings of -- something -- to hold us in thrall.

"[I]n wars, or lovemaking, capabilities count ..."

Precisely. Blather and intent is not commensurate.

FDChief said...

I think that the ridiculous disparity between the actual "threat" and our country's response is what has me angry and depressed, Lisa.

I don't expect people en masse to be any wiser, kinder, or more thoughtful that they are; a wise man once said that the collective IQ of any crowd is the intelligence of the smartest individual divided by the number of people in it.

But I like to think that the republican ideal - the notion that given the opportunity, human beings can find a decent, honorable, utilitarian way to run their lives - is a good one, perhaps the best one invented. But it's like the U.S. public is engaged in a decades-long attempt to prove that ideal terribly wrong.

We've always had that perverse idiot-streak in us, from the Know-Nothing times on down. But the current situation, where about a third of the public doesn't seem to give a shit or have a clue and the other third is truly, deeply, horribly, toxically WRONG - wrong about economics (demanding a return to feudal oligarchy in return for "no new taxes"), wrong about war ("more rubble = less trouble"), wrong about the Earth itself and our relationship with it ("drill, baby, drill!")...


It's one thing to have political opinions. It's another to turn those opinions into a theology, and the Right has managed to make a good third of the U.S. public into a bunch of moron-grade monks in the Order of St. Ayn of Rand.

And I have no - no - fucking idea how we get out of this trap.

Lisa said...

a bunch of moron-grade monks in the Order of St. Ayn of Rand

You do have a way with phrases.

Yes, it is the absurdity of the thing. I don't expect people to have emerged from an M.I.T. think tank, but on the simple basis of imagining how to life a good life and a right life, wouldn't it seem that so many of the current national initiatives are simply idiotic, and contrary to most people's public and personal good?

That is the stunning thing -- people's unwillingness to think or to speak up. But Orwell et. al. saw it quite clearly. Dystopia, U.S.A. And I'm not even being dramatic, here. I travel the streets and see the businesses closing daily, I see the crime rising in my neighborhood . . . who can not see this and draw a conclusion?

rangeragainstwar said...

i'm tired also and i see it in you when the f word pops up frequently.
usually you do not do this much.
that's my job.

FDChief said...

Lisa, jim: I AM frustrated and increasingly angry. Not just because of what's happening but the WAY it's happening, with "average Americans" complicit with their own impoverishment, loss of civil rights, and the general increase in bad government.

One thing I was thinking about in your review of our boy Kilcullen, jim, was that how his real failing was how he didn't seem to "get" that his entire COIN structure rested on the notion that the foreign "guest" would do the fighting but that the real "problem" - the underlying dysfunctions or grievances that created the "accidental guerrillas" would be - would HAVE to be - done by the host government.

And that's ALWAYS going to be impossible.

Because most of these shitty little governments in these shitty little countries aren't "governments" in the sense we think of them, in the way you and I grew up with here.

The "government" of Afghanistan, or Zimbabwe, or Honduras, or Indonesia, is a formal way for the group that runs the government - the tribe, family, gang, whatever - to loot the treasury and capture the tax goodies.

That "government" is ALWAYS a zero-sum game; your tribe has to lose for mine to win.

Your war, jim, was all about that: the Saigon government was all about keeping the goodies for the Catholic francophone elite the Frogs left in charge. So until they fucked up in Tet the VC would NEVER have quit - why should they? They'd have died anyway, just slower and with less fun doing it...


FDChief said...

(con't from above)

So Kilcullen's ideas will never work. A good government - a government that represents the vast bulk of its people, that actually gives them the stuff they need to live - roads, bridges, honest weights and measures, protection from rapacious landlords, greedy employers, and monopolist "businessmen" - will not generate serious rebellions.

But the sort of shitty governments I'm talking about will ALWAYS generate them if the people in the out-group(s) have enough balls, are desperate enough, and get a little help from outside.

And...the ONLY way those governments can win is through genocide or genocide-levels of violence, as the Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka did against the Tamils.

A Western military can't go that Roman, not without losing any hope of legitimacy...and they can't keep the press out, either (since as muzzled as they can keep them something will always leak out per the Wikileaks footage) and will thus always be forced to be less-than-Roman...

Anyway, here's my point.

The U.S. prior to 1932 was a pretty anarchic place. Read the newspapers of the day and be amazed at how worried lots of rich people were; strikers rioting, anarchists rioting...violence everywhere, commies and race riots and God knows what all else.

But we grew up in the incredibly peaceful post-WW2 U.S. The parties had their loons - Dixiecrats for the Dems and Taft Republicans - but also had a pretty substantial overlap in the middle - Stevenson Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans. Politics was fairly equitable and tax money went pretty much to every white person more-or-less equally.

But the Civil Rights era and the Goldwater/Nixon/Reagan realignment changed all that. The Dixiecrats became the Tea Party Right, while the RINOs were driven out to become "conservative" Democrats.

The overlap is gone, except for an agreement about endless war. Out politics has become more like Zimbabwe's or Columbia's - zero-sum, winner-take-all. And the incredible lying and fabulating that has replaced it, well...we're racing to the bottom and I think the bottom is going to be pretty far down.

And there's nobody who has a motive to save this helldiver. The mainstream Dems are a mess, utterly devoid of any sort of real ideas or creativity. And the GOP is for the most part just fucking nuts - either convinced that we're such speshul snowflakes that we can't possibly crash...or fucking not caring so long as they never, ever have to pay another penny in taxes.

We. Are. So. Fucked.

Lisa said...

You have given a consummate overview of the trainwreck that is current U.S. military/economic policy and the complicity of our fellows in that project, in your last 2 comments.

Per, we're racing to the bottom and I think the bottom is going to be pretty far down --

Recent studies of U.S. grade school achievement compared to other industrial nations puts our students near or at the bottom, across the board. Something's rotten, but not in Denmark.