Okay, so that's it for gerrymandering. Yes it was a long road. Circuitous and even long-winded. But I think you'll agree that I explored this matter... this guild protection racket by the Political Caste ... a bit deeper than you've seen it before. Perhaps a shorter version will find a published home. If not, well at least spread the word.
1. I am very skeptical of state-by-state attempts to fix the problem, which are usually utterly hypocritical. I plan to vote (with a pang) against Prop 77 here in California, simply because if it passes, it might prevent the change in power in the US House of Representatives that we all desperately need, so that one of our branches of government will start investigating once again. (If ever we needed divided government!)
2. Still, an experiment in franchise-based reform is called for, so let's choose one state. One that was already a core site of desperate voting problems. Let's pick Ohio. Urge everybody you know, in Ohio, to vote yes on redistricting reform! If it passes there, then it will prove that it really can happen. Maybe we can get up a groundswell to deal with the problem nationwide. I don't expect it. But miracles happen.
3. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in a ridiculously gerrymandered district, where your (legislative) vote has been rendered meaningless in November even if you agree with the party of the district, there is another way. Urge everybody you know to re-register in the party of the district. Be a member of that party and speak up to empower the moderates of that party, especially in the primary. The only election when your vote can matter.
And finally on to other matters!
I just returned from four days at the Army’s National Training Center, at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, to inspect & drive Humvees, then participate in a unique on-camera team/marathon to design a replacement vehicle, suitable for the 21st Century. It was all for a new History Channel show that should air in spring of 2006 called “Future Tech.” (Tune in!) A fun, exhausting rush, playing soldier designer with five other guys, all of them super-bright. And we came up with a doozy of a vehicle.
The Great Purge Redux
Ah, but it was more than just fun with skill,applied to a patriotic cause. My trip only reinforced a growing conviction about something that is desperately worrisome going on in America today. Perhaps the most worrisome thing, though not a single pundit or politician seems in a hurry to address it.
Many of you have heard this before, but I am charged to say it again. We are living through a deliberate and relentless drive, on the part of a small minority of super-empowered fanatics, to purge, oppress, harass, intimidate and re-shape the highly professional and apolitical United States Officer Corps.
Please, all you liberals out there. Do not automatically fall in line behind C. Sheehan and Truthout and those oversimplifiers who are currently dissing the US Military. This is a trap and it only serves the interests of those fanatics. Why maintain a divide that should not exist? Between you and the crew-cut, conservative, but intelligent and values-rich men and women who have dedicated their lives to our protection. (Especially since the military was the first nationwide institution to desegregate, remember that?)
The members of our military - and especially the US Officer Corps - are VICTIMS right now, not villains. Their professionalism in the Balkans and Afghanistan (two operations whose success reflected on an earlier era of maturity and competence) was everything we could have wanted from an agile, calm, determined, skillful and decent Pax Americana. The current Iraqi mess - a flip into apparent incompetence - cannot be their fault! Indeed, right now these soldiers, airmen and marines are suffering and dying in a war whose surficial aims had some worthy elements. (Can anybody deny that it was a horrid betrayal to leave Saddam in charge, in 1991? Or that we owed it to the Iraqi people to somehow help get him off their necks?)
But the WAY in which it has been done... so blithering, costly, bloody, clumsy, with the only long term beneficiaries being Tehran and Riyadh.... This intervention followed doctrines that were systematically the opposite to every doctrine that worked so well in the Balkans and Afghanistan. It could not have been worse planned and more horrifically executed had it been designed with that purpose in mind.
(How ironic that conservatives told us for decades "We lost Vietnam because of meddling by amateurs, by politicians." Only now amateurs meddle daily in Iraq, to a degree that would have made LBJ blush. And one of those amateurs was the same fellow at the helm when we lost Vietnam.)
Only now, to make things (vastly) worse, there is a relentless purge of the US Officer Corps, ongoing as we speak. This should be THE giant scandal exploited by the Democrats, who - if they were smart - would overcome their distaste for people with crewcuts. (Get over it!) People with crewcuts who stand between our Constitution and the cold wind. People who stand between our rights and a return of the Old Darkness.
Enduring insurgent bombs on one side, political meddling, rampant cronyism and corruption on the other, things would be bad enough for our military men and women. But the Great Purge adds pain upon pain and gets worse every year, as over a hundred fanatical neocongressmen appoint just as many 18 year old religious fanatics to each of our military academies, in an orchestrated effort to stock zealots at the bottom of the Officer Corps...
... while Donald Rumsfeld and his henches continues to ream and harry and harass those apolitical and superbly educated flag officers at the top. (The US Officer Corps is the 3rd best-educated clade in American life, after University professors and medical doctors. Get used to it.)
I know many officers who are bearing up, silently, under pain inflicted by monstrous, super-empowered amateurs, perching atop their chain of command, using them as toy soldiers and ravaging the careers of any who resist.
The fact that no democrat will step forward to document and then denounce this travesty not only reflects sixties era reflexes that are way out of date.
It also makes me deeply ashamed.