MORE FROM THE WAR FRONT (IN THE BATTLE FOR MODERNITY)
1) I have been kos-posting some items that first appeared here, in hope that some memes might spread beyond this brilliant but rather inbred little group. Mostly I’ve been serializing my “Suggestions to the New Congress.” Alas, these postings appear to merely blip over there. Taking center stage? The usual tired ideas and same-old rants. The dems may be our only hope, but do not count on them for anything remotely resembling imagination or boldness.
2) While the (unambiguously-blatant) real winners of the last six years -- Iran and Saudi Arabia -- met last week in a summit conference to forge closer Sunni-Shia cooperation at the top levels (they don’t give a hoot about the continuing ethnic slaughter lower down, which - in fact - suits their purposes just fine)...
...a blue ribbon panel has reported about the state of readiness of the US National Guard and Reserves. The finding? “They are at their lowest level of readiness in decades,” said Arnold Punaro of SAIC and chairman of the Commission on the National Guard & Reserves. The fact that readiness has not been made issue #1 by the Democratic Party suggests that something is very wrong over there. Perhaps stupidity is contagious.
3) Want yet another example? Democrats have been writhing, trying to come up with a strong way to oppose the insane Iraq War without getting tarred by get-out-now specifics that make them seem eager to “cut and run” -- abandoning everything that we’ve already poured a trillion dollars and thousands of lives into achieving. Just because we can now recognize the Iraq Incursion for what it was - an almost perfectly-planned way to demolish Pax Americana, by destroying our alliances, our popularity, our readiness, our budget and our national cohesion - that does not require that we automatically cry out to “immediately withdraw,” abandoning those Iraqis who we’ve made dependent upon us, leaving Iran and its ally with total victory.
Why should we do the mad goppers the favor of letting THEIR horror be OUR political millstone?
There is another way. The Ideal Solution to America’s Iraq War Mess.
Ready? Here it is.
Declare that it is time for America’s wealthiest citizens to do what they always used to do, whenever the nation was in crisis. It is time for them to step forward and help pay for a war that is fought by other peoples’ children.
There is a high-octane publicity mill and incendiary propaganda machine, ready to pounce on any talk of a tax boost for the rich, so the slogans would have to be tested before focus groups, refined beforehand. It must be couched in strictly patriotic, war-fighting terms. Nothing even remotely “socialist” or interpretable as “class warfare” or “the politics of envy.”
Nevertheless, once the message is properly tuned, the logic would be simply inescapable. Other generations of the super-wealthy put their nation first. From the Revolution and the Civil War, all the way through to World War Two and beyond.
Yes, it appears that today’s rich - or at least the right wing of the aristocracy - is made of shallower stuff. This generation cares only about their tax cuts, justifying them as “good” when times are lean AND good when times are fat. Just the right thing during surpluses AND deficits, prosperity AND recession, war AND peace. It is an elaborate edifice of rationalization concocted over decades by well-paid intellectual shills.
Nevertheless, supply side rationalizations evaporate in the face of simple patriotism. It is time to turn their “either you are with us or against us” notions around, and into their faces. We can answer a tower of sophistry with one simple statement.
“You are supposedly the smartest people in America. Well, right now, we need more than just your money, but also your focus, creativity and undivided attention.
“Yes, America needs you to pitch in with cash right now, in order to stop bleeding future generations for this administration’s outrageous mistakes. But what we really need is for your attention to be focused on this problem -- on either winning this war or solving the problem by helping innovate an exit strategy.
“Either way, one thing is clear. You cannot treat our nation’s struggle as a little sepoy tussle, irrelevant to the voluptuous pleasures of the aristocracy. Nothing will focus your vaunted attention on helping to solve this mess better than a surtax on the rich, one that will last until all war costs are paid for... and then terminate the moment that is done.
“It is as simple as that. Apply your genius to fixing this war, so we can all move forward together into a future of market-generated splendor, achieving our nation’s urgent goals, restoring peace, prosperity and fiscal prudence while moving back to the natural benefit of peacetime -- (long the principal reason why conservatives disliked “foreign adventures”) -- low taxes.
That is the meme, the idea, that I’d like to offer to the Democratic Party. Instead of letting yourself get trapped into “setting a date for withdrawal.” Simply say “As long as we are in that quagmire, let’s gather our resources as if we really were at war. And let’s get the attention of our aristocracy focused on solving the problem.”
Finally, turning around and making a leftward blast for the sake of evenhandedness and credibility, a correspondent wrote in to me with this item:
Today I was reading an obit about Arthur Schlesinger and found this quote that seems to fit: "The left-wing critique of the Kennedy administration," he wrote at the time, was "a new expression of the old complaint by those who find satisfaction in large gestures of rejection against those who find satisfaction in small measures of improvement." In other words - the myriads of small improvements incredibly make the whole thing go round.
Next time: some more non-political, science and engineering items.