The rant of the moderate…
Note: This has been moved and reposted from Tuesday to today’s blog.
In one of my rare absolute statements, I am reduced to saying, “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
The rant is reproduced in full below, with the warning that it is indeed a rant, in every meaning of the word.
While catching up on the laundry that I did not have a chance to finish while I was in Paris watching the finale of the Tour de France this Sunday, I chose to put the move 2001: A Space Odyssey in the DVD player.
This movie is an outstanding example of minimalism in storytelling, showing not telling.
This movie would not make the impact today it made in 1968 when it was released, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the special effects, which hold up well despite the 37 years of age. The special effects still “work”, in most cases better than the effects in many recent movies, especially in the depiction of space flight in the near future.
Why would it not make an impact?
Because we want everything spoon-fed, for that is what the modern market demands today, and that is what the modern sensibility requires for any impingement, no matter how minor, upon our jaded consciousness.
Complexity is cast aside in light of a simple answer that works in a movie for cheers and laughs.
Unhappy endings are discarded because they do no bode well for the box office.
Movies that require thought to understand are rejected because they do not play well with focus groups.
Complexity, that is for the intellectuals, and those nerds are the outcasts from our collective youth in high school.
Who wants to play to them?
For me, I have a different problem with minimalism. It is an example I find difficult to follow when I write (or read) because I get the point very early, so the showing necessary is tedious for me and I tend to prefer the more concise telling.
On occasion, I attempt at minimalism in making a point, today for example, where I attempted to make a point regarding the continual outcry by so-called “conservatives” (for which my preferred appellation is “right-wing”) against the American press for not reporting on the “good things” in Iraq.
A comment from one of my readers, one whom I feel is among the most intelligent people around, proved my point (read the post first, then the comment which I reproduce below) by missing both the irony and the ultimate argument:
I respectfully disagree.
I think that logic is a bit skewed. I think the press wants to be there in case there is a tragedy. In light of the one two years ago, perhaps they feel an increased likelihood of such a tragedy.
As to the coverage in Iraq, history and economics prove repeatedly *bad* news sells more *papers* than good the majority of the time.
You just made my point:
“As to the coverage in Iraq, history and economics prove repeatedly *bad* news sells more *papers* than good the majority of the time.”
In other words, contrary to the assertions of your “conservative” colleagues, the press does not *want* us to fail in Iraq, they are just trying to sell papers…
Sometimes, being subtle DOES make my point, doesn’t it?
The very fact that one of my most intelligent readers did not get subtle irony nor ultimately the point I was trying to make in a minimalist fashion proves to me that my worst fears regarding the American culture, and by extension, the American populace, are true.
Somehow, I feel the yeoman farmer of the Jeffersonian ideal devoted more thought to politics than the average, middle class adult concerned with career and family life.
Why do I feel this way?
Because many of the adults I was exposed to in my distant youth were exemplars of that Jeffersonian ideal, they were farmers in Western Tennessee, surviving off the land, not accepting government subsidies, and selling what they grew.
They THOUGHT before they did or said ANYTHING.
All things eventually change, all sub-cultures eventually die, and most of my relatives died in nursing homes after selling their land to corporate farms.
Old traditions die hard, but everything must die eventually.
So, given this 100+ year tradition, why the bellyaching now?
Is it because the self-labelled “conservatives” (who are not truly conservative in any real meaning of the word, as they have proven so amply in the last five years, and are better labeled “right-wingers”) are not the tough guys they like to strut about pretending to be but instead are really whiny crybabies who cannot stand any opposing views?
It certainly seems so…
All of Iraq may not be the disaster depicted on the evening news, but from a commentary by someone who was a self-described “former optimist” can be read the following:
The Green Zone has changed a lot since I was last here, around 18 months ago, and so has Iraq. But from what little Iâ€™ve seen in the last 24 hours, I wonder whether itâ€™s for the worse. The security situation has deteriorated so badly that journalists rarely venture out unless theyâ€™re embedded with U.S. soldiers. That wasnâ€™t the case early last year, when foreigners could walk the streets outside the Green Zone, shop in local markets, and, most important to journalists, talk to the Iraqi people. Those days are long gone.
The situation inside the Green Zone is scarcely better. Heavily armed troops guard government buildings and hospitals, menacingly pointing their weapons at any one who approaches. Soldiers manning checkpoints can use deadly force against motorists who fail to heed their instructions, so the warning signs say, and I have no doubt theyâ€™d exercise that right in a heartbeat if they felt threatened. All this fear and tension, and inside a six square mile area thatâ€™s supposed to be safe.
Amid this insecurity, confusion and oppressive summertime heat, my mind keeps returning to one thing: Dick Cheney. I donâ€™t understand how the U.S. vice president concluded recently that the insurgency terrorizing Iraq was in its â€œlast throes.â€? Weâ€™re obviously not reading the same newspapers. The mere fact that there is a Green Zone should tell you something.
The optimist in me says the U.S. will eventually train up the Iraqi army and police to the point where they can fight the insurgents alone, keep the country stable enough for the government to govern, to hold elections, pass laws, recover from economic sanctions and war, and move toward democracy. These are long-term goals, but itâ€™s difficult to imagine theyâ€™re reachable when a prominent business inside the Green Zone is a carwash that specializes in detail work on tanks.
Is it really that bad in Iraq? Itâ€™s hard to say because the international media cannot adequately cover the war and Iraqâ€™s reconstruction because itâ€™s simply too dangerous. I would love to write about new schools being built and local village leaders learning about democracy, but I canâ€™t go out to see such things. Maybe thatâ€™s why American friends whoâ€™ve never even been to Iraqâ€”or read a book about the country for that matterâ€”tell me I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m talking about when I say things are so bad.
Say what you will about whether the United States was justified to invade this country. Weâ€™re well into the game, and itâ€™s too late to argue over who got the ball first. But prior to April 2003, there were no suicide bombers in Baghdad, there was 24-hour electricity and people went out at night. Now, if you drive into town from the airport, there is a legitimate possibility you will get killed. How long can the insurgents keep it up? Who knows, but they havenâ€™t let the dust and heat of summertime Iraq stop them. Letâ€™s just say that the insurgency doesnâ€™t take the day off because of weather conditions.
For more, see this article: Dispatches from the front in Iraq
In and near Baghdad, at least, things are WORSE than they were 18 months ago, and until the right-wing stops their collective asinine whining, stops to think and actually acknowledge reality, then idiocies like this will continue:
Insurgents and other criminals have infiltrated Iraqi police ranks due to poor screening procedures by U.S. forces, according to a joint report released Monday by the U.S. Defense Department and State Department.
“Recruitment and vetting procedures are faulty,” said the report from the inspectors general of both departments.
“Despite recent improvements, too many recruits are marginally literate; some show up for training with criminal records or physical handicaps.”
The 100-page report went on to say there was “sufficient evidence to conclude” that insurgents were “among the ranks of the Iraq police service.”
The United States has set a goal of training and equipping 135,000 police by the end of 2006.
“This emphasis on numbers overshadows the attention that should be given to the qualitative performance of those trained,” the report said.
“There is a perception that training programs have produced ‘cannon fodder’ — numbers of nominal policemen incapable of defending themselves, let alone the Iraqi public.”
The report said Iraqi Ministry of Interior officials believe they would be better able to screen candidates, instead of the current process in which coalition military personnel conduct background checks on all incoming recruits.
The inspectors general team that carried out the study agreed with the Ministry of Interior, the report said.
Another key judgment in the report said Iraqi police training should be immediately handed over to the Iraqis. Otherwise, the coalition will be “destined to fall short in helping to create an effective police force.”
In other words, pull your head out of the sand and acknowledge that we have a problem, or the problem will get worse.
Blaming the messenger won’t help.
UPDATE: At least one blogger who is self-proclaimed as right-leaning but not drinking the party kool-aid actually has done an analysis instead of blaming the messenger and putting his head in the sand.
The idiocies I’ve seen from the so-called “liberals”, who are in no sense of the true meaning of the word liberal but instead far more rigid fascists than even those who were defeated barely 60 years ago, are no different than the right-wingers who are self-styled but false “conservatives”, and these so-called “liberals” are better labeled “left-wingers”.
Our language, and our politics, have been hijacked by ideologues who only care about their own agendas, to Hell with what is good for the nation as a whole.
I am reduced, as all rational people are when confronted with insanity, to quoting Shakespeare, “A plague o’ both your houses!…”
At this point, I wish both the left-wing AND the right-wing would go to Hell.
Those of us who don’t quote the talking points and refrain from jerking our knees at every instance are tired of the bullshit.
Just because we are “moderate” does not mean we do not have definite, deeply-held views, it just means that we are willing to actually consider OTHER points of view, and on occasion, actually CHANGE the way we think.
Learning, in other words, changing the way we think, is what differentiates us from “dumb animals”, isn’t it?
There are a LOT of dumb animals out there blogging.
Are you one of them?
Do you add to the chorus of “the liberals think” or “the conservatives think” when you are NOT a member of that “side” and have no true clue of what your opponents really think and feel?
Do you rant and rave about how the other side is wrong and therefore evil, with no attempt at a logical, self-consistent argument about the positive aspects of your position?
If your answers are “yes”, why are you writing?
All you are doing is adding to the noise, NOT adding anything positive or productive.
Go indulge in your mental masturbation alone, don’t impose it upon the world, because it is screwed up enough as it is without your addition of non-thought.