The Wars Come Home

It was inevitable, really. After nearly ten years of a dominant and domineering political party governing with an iron fist, unfailingly promoting the most violent, punishing, and ruthless answers to every question, Americans have become very skeptical and cheap about doing anything other than hurting people, even themselves.  Cynical ploys to convert inchoate resentments into votes and attention, politicians (mostly Republican, but the disease is quite bipartisan), have, ever since then-Governor Reagan triumphantly used helicopters to tear-gas hippies at Berkeley, always have aroused the vengeful and domineering qualities that lie latent in human nature to accomplish their own, usually selfish, ends, basically because it works.  Angry people need something to be angry at, and the best way to channel that anger in “productive” directions for the party in power is to find some “other” to blame.  Did Jews, gays, or unionists cause Germany’s post-WWI travails?  Of course not.  Did Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, or ACORN cause the current unpleasantness in America?  About as likely.  But a society taught to be at “war” with something or other, incessantly, is much more malleable and easily hoodwinked than a society that simply seeks to solve its own problems and coexist in peace, at home and abroad.  But the Right is having none of that, for the obvious reason that it makes us look both lame and foolish, so more wars it is.

Those who have actually experienced war and whose bodies and minds survived the ordeal are much more skeptical, from Eisenhower on down, but are now either dying off or shut out of the conversation, while those who’ve done nothing but  cheerlead from the sidelines control our discourse, and the media, ever eager to cover drama, if not carnage and corpses, happily hand these cowardly and bloodthirsty charlatans the floor.  As powdered and cosseted  ”strategists” plot and plan the latest scheme for world domination, always just another war or two away, the lives, bodies, minds, and countries thus shattered become a distant and rather irrelevant abstraction.  Talking about “winning” becomes particularly important when everyone can see that we’re not, and might then want to start cutting their losses.  Nobody likes to lose, you know, and our military adventures have become the convenient replacement for the old Roman “bread and circuses.”  Except in our case, no bread is involved.  As far as government largesse goes, we’re Zimbabwe, but with freeways and relatively nicer dungeons.

Bush’s bellicose rhetoric probably represented the turning point; false, aggressive “patriotism” coupled with ridiculously overblown fears of the enemy gradually turned us from an already overly punitive and overbearing military empire to a rogue elephant that now not only embraced “preventive” war, an international anathema since Nuremburg, but also advocates for and loudly attempts to justify torture, illegal government spying, and the kind of ruthless stifling of dissent that used to be the hallmark of only our most frightening enemies.  With these changes, The United States inexorably lost what the New York Times called in a 2003 editorial opposing the rush to war with Iraq, ” an essential part of its glory.”  We went from welcoming strangers, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, to demonizing them and blaming them for our own problems.  We went from being the world’s beacon of freedom to its largest jailer, with or without due process or any semblance of humanity.  The home and founding advocate of the United Nations just unilaterally dropped out of the International Criminal Court, and then promptly committed astoundingly blatant war crimes, before all the world.  In the process we also, as it happens, went broke.  Coincidence?  I think not.

As Orwell wrote, “the goal of the war isn’t to be won, but to be permanent.”  Cowering citizens beset by a wily and implacable enemy won’t ask for anything of their government, since it’s inevitably occupied with more “important” things.  An economy in crisis and a government crippled by debt can hardly be asked to solve even the direst problems at home, so the gleeful war profiteering can go on, unencumbered by the noisy unwashed who might think a decent life for themselves might be a better buy than another war or two, since it is their money.  Sadly, we are now poor as a nation because of these choices; too poor to provide health care for all, too poor to maintain the infrastructure of which we were once so proud, and too poor to properly educate our children.  All we do, and that pretty poorly as well, is war.

Thus the dominoes of our many domino theories continue to fall.  Soon, in addition to finding that we can’t afford health care, we will also find that we can’t afford to stop global warming either, can’t afford to reform our flagrantly corrupt banking system, and can’t afford the sensible trade policies that might put Americans back to work; the cupboard, it turns out, is embarrassingly yet conveniently bare.  Just another case of “more will than wallet,” as Bush’s father patiently explained with suitably feigned ruefulness, evidently referring to wallets other than his own, after ten years of Reaganomics had laid us low for what by then was the third time.  Don’t think for a moment that Republicans start wars and trash the economy accidentally, given that every time they do so, they win by default, as they are now.  They aren’t nearly as stupid as they pretend to be, however convincingly at times.

They need a public that is both fearful and vengeful, and they’ve proven themselves quite adept at creating one, seamlessly shifting from threat to threat, enemy to enemy, like the seasonal colors at Pottery Barn.   And every time a Medicare-dependent teabagger calls universal healthcare  ”Nazi” or perhaps “communist,” another wealthy Republican consultant gets his wings, and the American people get sent up, again, before another Death Panel of their own making.


  1. Karen M says:

    We went from welcoming strangers, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, to demonizing them and blaming them for our own problems. We went from being the world’s beacon of freedom to its largest jailer, with or without due process or any semblance of humanity. The home and founding advocate of the United Nations just unilaterally dropped out of the International Criminal Court, and then promptly committed astoundingly blatant war crimes, before all the world. In the process we also, as it happens, went broke. Coincidence? I think not.

    Certainly, the meaty part of this post, although I also appreciated your pottery barn metaphor (so apropos), that blend of home decor & aesthetics with the horror of war & vengeance.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    It’s the new black; war goes with everything, which comes in handy because it’s driving. I felt this coming, the poverty that is, from so far away, but nobody could stop it.

    • Meremark says:

      It can be stopped. From hurting so many.

      Simple: We help ourselves. Cut the remote ‘representations’ and absentee overlords out of it. Yes we can. Have just us.

  3. Karen M says:

    After Katrina, I had a similar feeling about the wars coming “home.” After all, we had destroyed the Fertile Crescent, and now Nature had destroyed (with some help from mankind) our Crescent City.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was definitely the worst example of Randianism run amok, but they even managed to use that in their favor. “If government can’t handle Katrina…”
      Teh stoopid sometimes burns.

  4. sysprog says:

    The Fall Line

    Oh, say, you must see
    the new autumn war. My dear,
    it’s to die for.

  5. Meremark says:

    OMG, CH, you are so good, that is so indelible.

    Only I want the action plan, plan of action.
    Only there isn’t any one such.
    Only there is each their own one.
    All of it is individual preparedness.
    That’s when the community is together.

    • Meremark says:

      p.s. today’s planet pattern is a peak, or the peak, of the year.

      Next stop: May 2010. But I can check that later for accuracy. Just, plus or minus some wiggle room.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Peak for what? For whom? It’s all downhill until May 2010?

        • Meremark says:

          The peak of strength of planet influence; the ebb of human (nature’s) strength of determination or volition.

          Some ‘opportunity window’ times in life, an aware person can direct destiny, somewhere across a spectrum from individual to universal — that is, changing the eventuation (not to say ‘outcome’) of a private life, or of human history, or some partial order in-between. And in some ‘closed door’ times in life, nothing can be done and the only satisfying grace is standing pat, surrendering to the void, grateful to be humble.

          The distinction of the two types of times, and composite times amalgamating both types, is the epistemological (or existential) distinction between free will and predestination. It seems (to me) living experiences both, by turns. That philosophic arguments toward deciding knowing one or the other qualitative condition surmount and absolute, are arguments which can never end, decide, and know.

          A lighthearted aside regarding arguing philosophical propositions:

          ’3 Quarks Daily’ Prize in Philosophy
          The first place award, called the “Top Quark,” will include a cash prize of one thousand dollars; the second place prize, the “Strange Quark,” will include a cash prize of three hundred dollars; and the third place winner will get the honor of winning the “Charm Quark,” along with a two hundred dollar prize.
          The winners of the philosophy prize will be announced on September 22, 2009.
          One Final and Important Request
          If you have a blog or website, please help us spread the word about our prizes by linking to this post.

          The self-determination/pre-determination quandry, the veritable virtual thanng, live-or-Memorex, is that ineffable lightness of being of which some passages in some Art (like your wordwork, Hag) for some people ‘capture the moment’ into consciousnes … and that’s all we have there is. It ain’t an answer, ain’t no question: it’s an observation.
          So Art is pronounced ‘good’ where it reflects/observes the most moment for most people most often, as by the example I’m veering this to segue to, of Niehbur:
          The courage to change what is unacceptable,
          The serenity to accept what is unchangeable,
          The wisdom to ‘observe’ the distinction.

          Yesterday, (Sept.15 ’09), an opposition of Saturn from Uranus, (time previous: 1965), indicates a peak, an arrived ‘acme,’ of a certain inevitability, only to be done is accepting the unchangeable.

          In practical terms (of ‘modernity’ living), speaking for myself: know the chink in the armor, see the stone through the smallest aperture strike Goliath, hear the death knell of Nixon -to- Reagan -to- Newt -to- Dubya (air-quotes) Movement (air-quotes). [Facetious air-quotes by my own private political observation, that a supposed Establishment Movement is a contradiction in terms.]

          One instance I noticed is the House rebuking Wilson’s riotous racism. Which connects back to ’65. Civil Rights which ‘rights-wingers’ never have accepted in heart. Much the tantrum tirade defining ‘Republican’ ever since, during the last Saturn-Uranus cycle turning. Now it’s done (just not in a day, stay tuned through May 2010), so simply, in the people’s House we ruled: you can’t say that.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Unfortunately for them, the righties have too many embarrassing defeats to work into this cycle, and they spend the intervening years inventing and propagating a new history that vindicates them. Seems to me that “Democrats were aginst civil rights” has become as rotely axiomatic as “hippies lost the Vietnam war.”

  6. heru-ur says:


    Thanks for the normal fonts rather than bold. It was a very good article and I’ll say more later when I have time.

    For now, I’ll only say that we have been this brutish, violent, and arrogant from the very beginning. I fear only a crushing, total defeat will awaken the American to the realities that other civilizations have learned. The Europeans seem to have learned the very hard way that war brings only destruction. They are now, relative to us, very peaceful.

  7. rmp says:

    For too many members of our society, children are taught that there are only two outcomes to a conflict, especially when violence is involved, one side wins and the other loses. They don’t even think about two others, both sides lose or by far the best outcome, both sides win.

    Imagine if your Rethuglican parents went to a tea party on the hallowed grounds of our national capitol and displayed the disgusting, many racist, signs about our president. Whose parents totally ignore any facts or logic, whose hearts are filled with raging hatred, and whom are unwilling to recognize our president has done anything good for our nation or even has any desire to do so. Parents who totally ignore what our president inherited or the terrible damage your parents’ party did to our nation from 2000-20008.

    I was at a health care reform open forum last night where the advocate for single payer said his approach represented two words, love and logic.

    That should be the counter-campaign to all this nonsense. Love your neighbor and use logic when trying to get to a win-win resolution.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Good point, RMP… there might be a blog post in that. (BTW… I like the font style you’re using just fine. Keeps people from mixing us up, usually….)

      • heru-ur says:

        You two are different? Wow. Who knew?

        • cocktailhag says:

          Well, the Heel didn’t, at least one time, but alcohol was probably involved. Still, the author markings are awfully small, so I like a little differentiation. I only have funny type when I do archival stuff, because I’m too dumb to fix it.

          • heru-ur says:

            Well, I was mostly kidding around. Damn, no one thinks I am funny on the net and everyone thinks I am funny in 3D. How can that be?

            Ok, on the assumption that you or rpm might see this — rpm should try the font “Georgia” as it is very easy to read and would be distinctive.

          • cocktailhag says:

            As my mother used to put it, “Yes, you’re funny, but looks aren’t everything.”