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In the New Yorker magazine. founded today in 1925, an article on French (or Belgium or Russian?) actor Gerard Depardieu, cites: “Politicians in France speak to “citizens,” not to “taxpayers.” It is a country where the politics of income inequality has run wild. There is a new, and perhaps illegal, 75% supertax on those who earn more than one million euros per year. Depardieu was described as “pathetic” by their Prime Minister for being one of thousands who have fled the country to avoid such confiscatory taxes. New York City was attacked on 9/11 by those who thought the American way of life is soft, corrupt and indulgent. There is only so much a democratic government can do to even out the social tensions brought about by ever-increasing income inequality. There must be a leavening between the rights of citizens and that of taxpayers. Economic change must accompany political action. But the France of the onetime French Revolution is an ever-looming warning over the consequences of excessive income inequality, in those times, and in these. And not just in France.
After your additional comments and analysis, I’m even more concerned that the “Oath Department” at the Pentagon is asleep at the switch. If innocents like my old high school friend, you and I can detect these obvious incongruities, one wonders how we can trust the military to know whether the next drone target to kill is going to be a terrorist militant or a school marm. Obviously, we can’t! Our technological capabilities seem to be over-reaching our human ethics and intelligence capacity, and we are breeding the next generation of America-haters among the collateral damage.
From a friend: I’ve been doing too much proof-reading lately.
Actually, the two oaths are completely different. Officers indicate their rank in the first line, enlisted only their name. Then they are different again after the phrase “true faith and allegiance to the same”, with even more implications than you imputed, although I agree with your thoughts. Both swear to support and defend, but officers take the oath without reservation and will “well and faithfully discharge” their duties. Enlisted personnel have no such obligation. They only agree to obey orders. They can be shirkers, evaders, draftees, in short: cannon fodder. At least they both agree to do it with God’s help at the end.
The variance seems to me to imply a completely different world-view. The officer’s oath is about mind-set and belief and ability; there is no mention of following orders or even agreeing with them. The enlisted is about following orders, no thought desired. We could both go on at length about the implications of that.
I checked the military oaths for enlisted and commissioned members of the military (Google them), and found that they have an important difference. I took both of these in the Army, as an enlisted Private and then as a commissioned officer, Second Lieutenant. I don’t see anywhere that one oath supersedes the other, nor are they additive, and in fact some people enter service as an officer, and therefore might not take the enlisted oath.
It is very interesting that the enlisted oath requires them to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officer’s appointed over me,” as well as follow the Constitution, while the officer’s oath has no mention of following the orders of the President of the United States or the officers appointed over them. This strikes me as a very odd and disturbing inconsistency. It can only be interpreted as meaning officers only have an obligation to “support and defend the Constitution,” and the interpretation of how to do so is left up to them individually.
I also note that each oath stipulates the obligation to protect “against all enemies, foreign or DOMESTIC.” In light of the current furor over new documents regulating decisions to make drone strikes that indicate the U.S. can kill suspected enemies, including U.S. citizens, without any legal evidence, but just the suspicion they are dangerous to the U.S. The presence of “domestic enemies” in the military oaths that have been around so long is interesting in light of these new documents, just revealed in the news media today.
These newly revealed documents only add to my increasing concern about the apparent vagueness and weakening of judiciary standards and checks and balances in the decision-making and relationships between our elected civilian government, the intelligence community, the military and the judiciary. The greatest victim in all this may be the degree of public transparency necessary to the survival of this or any constitutional democracy.
In one exchange with a Congressman this morning, Hillary Clinton acknowledged that there was an over-reaction that led to war when the U.S. claimed that weapons of mass destruction were in the hands of the Iraqui government. I wonder if this was code language that explains why U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice cited in a TV interview mob violence as the reason for the Benghazi attack, and did not mention that it was conducted by terrorists, at a time she would have known the truth?
At a juncture when a public accusation that a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 was behind the death of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans might have lit a candle of retailiation that could have led to war across the middle east, or lack of faith in a Presidential candidate for re-election, is it possible that the geniouses in Washington decided the American people couldn’t handle the truth?
If you doubt the plauibility of this interpretation of events, consider that in 1968, recently released papers of President Lyndon Johnson confirm that he decided against accusing Richard Nixon of treason for blocking peace talks regarding Vietnam so the war in Vietnam couldn’t be concluded before the fall election, which Nixon won. The reason Johnson didn’t go public with his charges against Nixon was because Johnson’s advisors believed that such an accusation on the eve of an election could destabilize the American public.
If this suggests to you, as it does to me, that Obama’s advisors felt the American people couldn’t handle the truth that America was successfully attacked again on the anniversary of 9/11, and on the verge of another Presidential election, then perhaps you are ignoring the lessons of history. “Weapons of mass destruction” looks like just such code-language regarding Benghazi.
The new Steven Spielberg film, where Daniel Day Lewis looks like a photograph of the real Lincoln at least 73% of the time, is something more: it is a test.
It is a test of how much we are willing to trust the lawyerly class to govern our nation. We recognize rhetorical debates and deal-making dominating ethics and logic until the last minutes of the final vote on the 13th Amendment. The fundamental truth and benefits of human political equality is portrayed as secondary to securing postal managerships and other influence-peddling. We are taunted by how crass and dogmatic and vain is the human condition.
We are tested by this newsreel of a period film to wonder at how humanity has managed to move forward, occasionally, in the face our selfishly aggressive nature. Yet sometimes we do make progress, and this portrays such a moment, in all it’s angst.
Those of you who watch the Jon Stewart Show no doubt have noticed how often he and his research staff manage to hang politicians on the irony of contrary statements they’ve made in the past, by digging up vidoe of their previous ironic transgressions. I call this the Jon Stewart Effect. We often enjoy these clips immensly.
But it concerns me more and more that electronic journalism makes it easier and easier to dig up people’s past comments, and use them to make them look inconsistent or dangerous in the present. I see this going on now regarding Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination for Secretary of Defense. The Jon Stewart Effect is a “perfect” example of where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. We all make mistakes and say and do things we may regret. And we continue to learn from our life experiences. In Hagel’s case, his previous comments on Israel make sense in current terms, but are being taken out of context by those who choose to oppose him.
So, let’s be careful how we use selective clips of people’s previous remarks, made in another time and context. Such electronic wizardry can indeed become an enemy of the good. Howevere, for political comedy purposes, if the Jon Stewart Effect stays on his show, and out of the national news, I’ll have no complaints.
Few think the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was a bad idea. When a bill was proposed last week to approve a United Nations treaty that would extend the ADA principles to all U.N. nations, with the full endorsement of John Kerry, John McCain and the legendary former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who came to the Senate floor in his wheel chair to endorse the bill, the Senate, in its wisdom, rejected the bill. Why? Some radicalized right wingers suggested that the bill might somehow undermine the soverignty of the U.S., despite the fact that it was based on U.S. law.
To me, and to most thinking people of moderate intelligence, it’s just more evidence that our current Congress is dysfunctional, and is not effectively governing the country. I worry that the replacement of common sense deal-making by obtrusive demagogery in Congress is at risk of undermining the very stability of our society. Is Congress rejecting a functioning democracy at home and our global leadership role abroad in an attempt to create an isolationist, cowering culture intent on seeing shadows everywhere and seeming to be intent on reliving the Civil War?
It’s time to update our electoral processes, review our Constitution, get the money out of politics and expect our elected officials in Congress and the White House to govern rationally, which is what we elect them to do, right? Now, Senators, that you have embarrassed yourselves again, go home and have a nice Christmas reviewing your generous pension plan.
Five questions for which the debaters won’t have answers…
October 3, 2012
In the Presidential debates tonight, I doubt whether either candidate will have realistic answers for these 5 questions.
1. When will our endless wars and military occupations stop?
2. How and when will we unwind our spiraling national debt?
3. When and how will we implement election reform and restore civility to federal government?
4. How will each American receive the medical care they deserve and how will it be paid?
5. How and when will the banking and financial risk industries be separated again?
That’s right, DirecTV and Comedy Central have broken off negotiations over renewing their 7 year-old contract, over money, and so viewers of the Daily Show, the funniest, best and just about only candid and honest political TV news show on the air, will no longer get the program if they subscribe to DirecTV, like we do in Wisconsin.
If you, or someone you know and like, subscribes to DirecTV, or has any mercy on those who do, go online NOW to DirecTV and Comedy Central and tell them to grow up and settle their differences, or we’ll just have to sit out this election!
As evident climate change rages — the US saw the highest temps ever in the 12 months ending in June — the world goes on with its little wars, petty politics and fixation on Hollywood scandals. As our forests burn, our lawns crinkle in the merciless sun, our crops wither and storms rage through the countryside, the news media babbles on about the symptoms, but almost no-one locks in on the issues and the decisions that are needed for climate management and mitigation.
As the US moves toward our Presidential election, the talk is all about jobs and the size of government, and not about energy policy and transportation and the things that will effect us all, for eternity. As the future of mankind goes at risk, we cut out the manned space program. Heads in sand.
Doth the world fiddle while the climate changes? Isn’t it time for a new politics, and for building hope for a new world? Following from the EPA:
Climate change affects everyone
Our lives are connected to the climate. Human societies have adapted to the relatively stable climate we have enjoyed since the last ice age which ended several thousand years ago. A warming climate will bring changes that can affect our water supplies, agriculture, power and transportation systems, the natural environment, and even our own health and safety.
Some changes to the climate are unavoidable. Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades. The warmer it gets, the greater the risk for more severe changes to the climate and Earth’s system. Although it’s difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change, what’s clear is that the climate we are accustomed to is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future.
We can reduce the risks we will face from climate change. By making choices that reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, we can reduce risks from climate change. Our decisions today will shape the world our children and grandchildren will live in.