For every post I make, there’s probably 5 in the hopper that, for one reason or another, I never post. Here’s a excerpted year in review of posts I didn’t finish (reverse chronological order). Two/day for the next week.
1. In regard to a bunch of analysts trying to parse and infer from Obama’s big war speech.
- Political analysts are a strange bunch. Forever trying to determining the “tone” of what was said. Maybe it’s a generational thing. A nation of children raised by mothers who themselves were forever trying to understand that which was left unsaid by their own husbands. My mother was the same, forever admonishing us boys in the house that, “it’s not what you said, but how you said it.” Perhaps some learned the lesson too well. In any event, of course tone is important, especially if your interlocutor doesn’t have much to say, but when someone stands up in front of a few million people and gives a televised speech for near an hour, the importance of tone quickly gives way to, that which was actually said.
2. American mythology
- The myth of America dies hard. In school I studied history, among other things now mostly forgotten. It was a decent program, heavy on the west with a few impressive, yet token, 300-level nods to Africa and Asia. The professors were all interesting, highly credentialed, and earnestly fascinated by their chosen area of expertise. Yet still, they all had a blind spot you could fly a predator drone through when it came to the American project. There was always a disconnect between what the country did and what the country was. They enjoyed intriguing us with the bad: the Middle Passage, Old Hickory versus the stillborn and the subsequent Trail of Tears, Reconstruction, the “virgin targets” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Diego Garcia, Cambodian and Laos bombing raids, and on and on. They knew Jefferson had to butcher Locke with that ridiculous “pursuit of happiness” line to get around the pesky problem of slavery, but they still got misty eyed talking about him and the other founding fathers. It was like traveling to Oz, finally peeking behind the curtain, and then falling to your knees in veneration.
If the people who know all the terrible shit perpetrated by the government are still only milquetoast reformists who believe tapping the compass can right the ship, what hope is there? None. American government is and always has been a cabal of occasionally well-read yet pathological misfits who built themselves a world-encircling empire. The can-do, bootstrapping allusions politicians are always referencing in their speeches? They’re not talking about the American people. They sing their own praise, an ode to an order of people more bovine than fox. Stubborn, callous, and seemingly unstoppable. Iraq, Vietnam. These aren’t aberrations or departures. These projects are the project.