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Stan Goff

Stan Goff

Posted: December 21, 2006 01:03 PM

Dumb and Dumber


The pundits exclaim. See the pundits exclaim. Exclaim, exclaim, exclaim.

The Commander-in-Chief pronounces. See the Commander-in-Chief pronounce. Pronounce, pronounce, pronounce.

(Just don't pronounce "nuclear.")

I must be living in a parallel universe where why everything that is deemed most significant by the New York Times, CNN, and Harvard professors, is hidden from me. I watch the television news; and, to crib a phrase, I see dead people. But the dead people have no signficance to the pundits or the Commander-in-Chief... to the New York Times, CNN, or the Harvard professors. They show the dead people, and the people crying over the dead, and even the little rivulets of blood pouring into the gutters... but what is significant, as it turns out, is that the President and the Generals are disagreeing again. What they say and don't say, what they think and don't thing, how they agree and disagree... is more important than the dead people and the crying people. Because they get to decide, and all the other people get to do is die and cry. The pundits and politicians are powerful; and they are alive and sleek as seals with expensive food; and they have the power to decide, so everything that goes on is theirs; and the dying and crying is interspersed with ads for virility enhancers and cars and chemically-enhanced foods, all advertised with models who smile and smile and smile.

The news models smile, too.

I remember a short film sequence of Charles Manson, the racist mass murderer who once captivated California with his counter-culture posturing. As he was being hauled off by police, he looked into the camera -- still inventing his mystique -- and made a series of faces, like character masks changing on fast forward, consternation, grief, mirth, fear, confusion, happiness... the expressions swept across his face like cloud shadows over the ocean on a windy day. Playing for the effect as sociopaths are wont to do.

That's the news models. Mechanically reflecting the appropriate facial expressions for each story, shifting from consternation to amusement with just a beat between them, like they are moving from the pumpkin pie to the cranberry sauce. They neither die nor cry; they just make faces and read aloud.

Now they are reading aloud about George W. Bush wanting to send more troops to Iraq and his Generals assuring him that this will not win his lost war back. They know he is dumb, dumb as a rock. They also know that they obey, because they are obedient, obedient as sheep, and the most they can muster on behalf of their own strong feelings is an elliptical contradiction. Big, strong macho men in scary uniforms, talking throw-weights and combat power, and their idea of rebellion is to kiss this venal blueblood's ass a bit less enthusiastically. Later on, they will exclaim -- as pundits -- Bush was dumber than we were.

Then there is Congress, now dominated by the Party of Perennial Identity Crisis. Will they step forward and stop these distractions? Will they at last ascribe significance to the dead and dying and crying, and say enough is enough, this war must end, and end now, even if it means a blow to the prestige of Imperial Power? Will they say the lives of these people and the will of not just the American people who are now opposed to the war, but the will of the occupied Iraqis who overwhelmingly want the US troops out NOW... will they say that these lives and these wills are more important than the risks to their political careers? Will they say, we followed a dumb man and a dumb plan to do an evil thing, and we now have to reverse this evil stupidity?

No.

What they seem ot be doing is joining their voices with the pundits and exclaiming that we not only absolutely must dither longer in Iraq, but what we really need at home is to increase the size of the US military.

We have spent hundreds of billions to build the military we have while we let the Gulf Coast drown and children become malnourished and medically neglected and permitted exponential reliance on fossil energy and profit to bankrupt the futures of our children... and this militarism for which we have mortgaged so much has... what? Left a bunch of people dying and crying, made a handful of people richer when they aready had more than they needed, and fixed not one goddamn thing.

So since this empahsis on military means to achieve questionable goals has failed so miserably, here is what we propose to do:

Leave the questionable goals unquestioned, and expand the military. Militarism so far has proven dumb; and we now propose to fix it by being dumber.