Saturday, August 18, 2012


Maybe it's just because I've paid attention to a few of them by now, but it seems that each presidential campaign ushers in levels of intellectual dissociation unimaginable even in the last unholy go-round.  I don't expect the truth exactly, but I suppose there's a piece of me that anticipates something like honest rationalizations.  Or if I'm being scammed, then I expect at least enough effort on their part to willingly suspend disbelief and let me participate in the process.  Veracity is a tall order, in other words, but for god's sake, verisimilitude doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Some brands of doublespeak we're used to.  I mean, it's not as if the war machine has slowed down under Barack Obama's tenure, and if it's horrifying that we're all so inured to the serial bombing approach to foreign policy that the president can riff comfortable Newspeak ("riffing Newspeak" is an oxymoron, of course, but in 1984, Orwell didn't really predict the American style of saying nothing) before the Nobel Peace committee.  And anyway, it's not as though the trust was founded by the Swedish defense contractor who invented dynamite or anything--wait, it was?--well at least we can claim that there's a consistent equilibrium of irony when it comes to matters of death and war. 

I'm not intending to be centrist here.  There's a political party in this country that habitually speaks within the allowed contradictions (which is the definition of "conservative," but surprise, it's the other party), and then there are the sick fucks who want to take it all up--actually, take it back--to a more impoverished (intellectually and otherwise) level.  The former can be caught rationalizing for good intentions and consistency, but the other spews nothing but bullshit--the difference, as has been noted, is that with bullshit, the truth simply doesn't matter.  Nothing is believed by these guys.  You can pull apart the Romney campaign and try and piece together what the dude's convictions are, but, once you get past "wealth is good," the rest is merely expedient.  And even that is something he can't quite hold onto.  I mean, I don't fucking like politics, and yet some things crystallize with such bizarre bipolar clarity, it's impossible not to appreciate the absurd perfection of it.

I saw on the morning news the other day a regrettably earnest analysis of the claims made by a new group called Swiftboat Veterans for Truth  Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc., accusing president Obama of not killing Public Enemy Number One all by himself, as he would totally prefer you to believe.  Here's a news source, but all I only saw clips of the video itself, which I won't link to.  It had an (alleged) Navy SEAL growling (with Batman-like menace), "the work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not."   "You did not kill Osama bin Laden.  America did."  I mean yeah, we can spot the hypocrisy of this by imagining how Deadeye George would have handled things if it happened on his watch, and lots of bloggers have done that by now, but even that falls short of the contradictory perfection of the charge.

Mr. Smith, folks, is championing the Labor Theory of Value.  It (a) proposes that the "producers" are the people who actually do the work, supposing that the worth of any object or service correlates directly to the amount and quality of labor, the efforts of the people that had their hands on the hammers, and (b) explicitly downplays (or at least coughs up apologies for) the role of deciders and funders in that estimation.  It struggles to justify, you know, capitalists--Karl Marx was all over this--and it undermines hiearchies, such as the military (not that history's commies had a tough time with that particular contradiction, however).  This video, meanwhile, features soldiers who are disowning their commander in chief, and supporting a presidential campaign that is headed by one guy who's an Ayn-Rand-loving capitalist true-believer, and another guy who's Mitt friggin' Romney.  You have to admire the churchbell-sized opppositeness of it all. 

I mean yeah, Mitt, let's run with this.  You didn't create all that wealth, it was the workers who did.  Maybe you should have paid them instead.  Holy fuck, do they have any idea what they're inciting?

One thing I like to observe from time to time is that even if you're sold on various market theories as accurate descriptions of economic dynamics, people still use social measurements to estimate the success of one strategy or another.  The selling point of unregulated capitalism is that it's supposed to make people live longer and happier lives, permit societies to reach greater heights of achievement, use resources most efficiently, and so forth.  These are the kinds of things that the military's alleged to protect as well.  And of course, by 2012, the body of evidence for the American model is a tad inconvenient for those beliefs, and it's down at this point to the integrity of the brand itself, the consistency of the argument.  That the modern Republican party of the last 30 or 40 years could embrace some form of populism was always a shade ironic, but outright pulling for labor over management is a new feat of disingenuousness.  Despite myself, I'm impressed.

UPDATE:  I guess there have been some problems with the captcha thingie in the comments.  I obviously have no control over how it works, and I've just turned it off for the time being.  It's kind of fortunate, because it gave me a chance to soften my crimes against scholarship and the English language in the above post!


Inkberrow said...

Speaking of churchbell-sized oppositeness, these SEALs are but humbly reminding our ever-intellectually consistent President, "uh, you didn't build that".

Now it's true that Obama hadn't really gainsaid the existence of multivalent contributions to Osama Bin Laden's extirpation---any more than the entrepeneurs that Obama derided had ever denied the existence of schools, taxes, and transport infrastructure.

But this is business AND personal with these SEALs, who by all accounts are not breakaway or astroturfy "swiftboaters", by the way, but represent the well-considered sentiments of the vast bulk of America's servicemen and servicewomen.

The Obama administration's revoltingly self-referential and self-aggrandizing leaks of classified data related to this subject to the New York Times, among other sources, has managed to offended even Dianne Feinstein, not to mention actually endangering American and non-American lives.

Such leakage mattered to most liberals when it applied--sort of--to the repose of a long-decommissioned Langley pencil-pusher. Perhaps the Hollywood Left is the key connection. We had the hagiographical "Fair Game" for Valerie Plame, and now we're all breathlessly awaiting the hagiographical "Zero Dark Thirty" for action hero Barack Obama.

Yeah, doublespeak stinks, don't it?

Keifus said...

That's a pretty damn fair point, Ink. It's as if people tend to appropriate the credit of others for themselves when it's convenient, and discredit others when they try to do the same.

I didn't say I disagreed with basic idea of the video myself. Managers are necessary, but I generally think they're overrated. (But hey, so are scientists.) My point was that this is kinda the exact opposite of Mitt Romney's entire life and career, and kind of antithetical to military life, which in matters of operations, doesn't exactly celebrate willful individual-level autonomy.

Obama likes to take on the manager mantle when it makes him look good too, and I'm hardly his biggest fan. I think he's less indebted to it though. [And I could be wrong, but I don't think he's actually been campaigning this way, trumpeting what "he" did, though I could be wrong. Lots of Democratic types think he's crazy not to.]

Ben There said...

Greetings Keifus! I know this is totally off topic but speaking of book recommendations, check out "Who Stole The American Dream?" by Hedrick Smith. You'll dig it. Hope you are doing well these days.

Keifus said...

Appreciated! Also, ordered. Thanks.

I really should post something, eh?