Where good taste, clear and distinct ideas, and graceful modulations tend to be viewed with lowering suspicion.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Cockpits will not be televised
GROSS: You had the opportunity to actually sit with men who are actually controlling drones. This was in Vegas, am I right?
Mr. SHACHTMAN: Yeah, so north of Vegas, pretty far north, you go up past the city, past the big prison that's out there in the desert, and you keep going and going and going to this little, you know, sort of one-street town with a mini-casino off the edge.
And just past the casino, inside the gate, is a pretty nondescript office building, and inside that office building is basically a series of cockpits. And each one of those cockpits has guys flying in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I heard a Republican say something intelligent today -- it was Huntsman, declaring his candidacy, and saying something that made sense -- to me at least.
Part of the clarity came from that 10,000-mile perspective he touts. Part came from the generational FAIL that he pinpointed as the first in living memory.
Interestingly, none of the print media stories about his speech that I've looked at, including the Boston Globe, the NYT, WAPO, LAT, etc., had the lines that seemed powerful to me. These asshats can maunder on about his credentials, his complex non-appeal to asshats of the right, etc.
"No matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them by forces beyond their control." -- Brilliant, true, true. No matter what USians do, how hard they try, the game is done.
Oh, ok, oops: That wasn't Huntsman, that was Mara Liasson on NPR, introducing his speech. His actual statement followed her pungent intro. He pulled "UNAMERICAN" out of his ass.
But that sense of being caught in larger magnitudes of cause, of ruin, of debacle is timely and right, and perhaps it is latent in the talented, honorable gamesmanship of Huntsman. It just might be, and if so, it's a powerful message -- far stronger than all the declarative chest-beating of the seven dwarfs last week.
What connects with people is that the tracks on which we ride are not just out of all our hands, but everybody's hands -- the hands of elected leaders, presbyters, bankers, billionaires -- Chuck Norris's hands. There really is a deep, deep fatalism taking hold. Not surprising, given the infantilization, de-education, and mass reduction to the common denominator of shitfaced folly that has been the primary mission of the US media for 60 years.
So what I'm hearing, maybe, in this guy, is, he's got a word-gun, a major weapon. He's locked on to something powerful that people will hear and they won't care whether he's a Morman or a Tabonga. For the ephebe, the Tabonga is perhaps the least interesting evil monster Dan and Jack Milner ever spawned -- no easy FAIL.
What did Mr. Huntsman say?
Mr. Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, declared that it would be “totally unacceptable and totally un-American” for the nation to pass on a less successful country to the next generation.
“It need not, must not, will not be our permanent condition,” Mr. Huntsman said at a New Jersey park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. “We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation.” NYT
This resonates -- if you buy the argument that he's selling fate (I have no idea whether fate is part of the Mormon vocabulary) -- because it is true. It is true because this is the trending reality, which is driven by corporations.
Take just a few points which a lot of people don't seem to have picked up on. For the past 90 years or so, corporations have been the nodes around which USian loyalty, sense of fealty, of community, of obligational priority, of history, have formed. The private sector successfully turned around the original idea. No longer is it a minor parasite upon the public; rather, all our loyalties bend to the monsters of production and economic success. There is our religion. The state, the nation, the idea of the larger public res, is now the parasite. All this spewing of hatred toward the government, toward Obama, is merely the bilious churning of that displacement.
So there's no question of thinking we're going to "elect" someone to fix things. Things are so out of our hands -- our small democratic hands. They're in the hands of a Who. Or perhaps in no hands at all, just like the housing bubble.
Therefore we are not looking to select someone with hands to fix things. We're looking for someone to eat the sins of the corporations, while looking manly and Reaganesque.
Perry has the look. Romney has the look of the old school corporate ceo, but that's not what we need. Those guys ruined us -- we understand as much -- and they continue to do so. We want a guy who can look big, strong, and cool (so much depends upon the size and shape of the head) while taking it up the arse, visible 10,000 miles away, or from space, by the elongate dong of the Tabonga. We don't know what the next power on earth will be, though we have our suspicions. All we can do is prepare ourselves and our descendants for the movie that will follow its installation.
Perry has the look, but Huntsman has the weapon. The thing about having the weapon is, you still have to aim it. There is where Mr. Huntsman will go astray. He'll shoot the right gun at the wrong thing. And blast my wayward thought that here was a guy who saw it straight. Told it plain. Made it sing.
If a system of US-type private liberal arts colleges like this one gains ground in Britain, the result will be to relegate an already impoverished state university system to second-class status. So far, British society has held the view that the education of doctors, teachers, social workers and so on is too momentous a matter to be left to the vagaries of the profit motive. This is why though there are already one or two private universities in the country, nobody has a clue where they are. This new college, however, could be the thin end of an ugly wedge. Why should Grayling, Dawkins and their chums care about that, though, when they will be drawing down mega-salaries for what is reported to be an extremely modest amount of lecturing?
In the US, getting yourself a decent education depends in part on the whims of the well-heeled. It is they who decide whether to obtain their tax breaks by donating a new theatre or lab to your college, or whether to find some more devious way of avoiding the inland revenue. This new venture in Bloomsbury is said to be backed by multimillion pound funding from private investors. While the Graylings and Colleys spout on in the classrooms about humane values, they are in the pay of those who would not recognise such things if they were to move into their living rooms.
Kia weaves some thinking about Pan's Labyrinth and her reading of Benjamin Constant on usurpation into a rich post, of which this is but a sliver:
When this logic of despotism establishes itself it spreads downward; the whole system is maintained by lesser functionaries who, to prove their competence, must be sharp, resolute and prompt in dispatching threats to order, in neutralizing anything that may undermine their place. While they thus wage a quiet war against external enemies (the journalist who demands information, the writer of protest songs, the dissenting activist, the widow of the partisan denied a pension, the victim of land theft) they are waging another secret war against themselves, against the enemy within. People who are willing to make a sacrifice of their inner selves will naturally turn to making a sacrifice of others. More.