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Monday, January 21, 2019

The Naked Emperors

Silverfiddle Rant

I stumbled across the fascinating resignation letter written by Army veteran and longtime NBC contributor William Arkin. He's no Trump fan, but he is disgusted with the media's 24/7 Trump bashing. He also excoriates the press for a dangerous lack of independent analysis and criticism of our shambolic, destructive and wasteful foreign policy:

"The longtime contributor said he was alarmed by how the media instinctually responded to Trump’s desire to end U.S. involvement in foreign wars by arguing against it without much thought, leading it “to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war.” (Mediaite)

Those two criticisms--of the press and of the foreign policy establishment--hit home for me because I have been making a similar case for years.

The Infotainment Media Complex Stinks

Our press is a disgraceful rabble of tabloid tattlers, preening prima donnas, partisan cheerleaders, crouching propagandists, hidden agendaists, pseudo-intellectuals, and dime store "experts." They all need to stop taking sides, stop rubbing elbows at cocktail parties with the elite DC grandees, and start grilling them. Daily. We need a press that Questions Everything. 

A people's press would submit our rulers (and the edicts they excrete) to withering examination. And btw, how is it that all those congresspeople abused their staffers, paid them taxpayer money to shut up, and we never heard about it until it somehow slipped past the protective press phalanx that protects their fellow DC elites?

Our Foreign Policy: A Continuous Loop of Insanity

Our foreign policy establishment is a moldy, cob-webbed shelf of crumbling yellow books stuffed full of arrant nonsense and discredited shibboleths.  Arrogance and purblind ignorance make a dangerous combination, and our nation and the world have been paying the price for decades while the press cheerleads and abets.

Here is Arkin's thoughtful but scathing critique of our foreign policy "experts:"

To me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested.

Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict

And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one county in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

I agree. What say you?


  1. I largely agree with his commentary, though admittedly it runs counter to my job security.

    It’s an interesting intellectual exercise to consider the desire of acting as a bulwark against Iranian regional hegemony on the one hand, and having a largely hands-off policy on the other. The withdrawal from Syria only strengthens that hegemony (with the added flavor of Russian bases).......though our adventure in that country was ill conceived to begin with.

    Though the conflicting messaging about Syria aside, POTUS’s desire to end foreign military interventions will have more clarity were he to discuss Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Libya.....and of course Iraq & Afghanistan.

    I could free style for endless hours on this sort of topic, but that’s a nutshell version.

    1. We cannot withdraw from the world. I bet a very small percentage of US citizens know that protecting international sea lanes is one of the fundamental missions of DoD.

      Carrying out such mission with partners who share the burden is a worthwhile mission. So are missions such as our quiet security assistance to the Philippines after 9/11. I don't know the minute details, but I think that can be chalked up as a success, or at least a model of how we help others help themselves and let them do the fighting.

      Like everything else today, foreign policy debates have been reduced to third-grade cartoons.

      The other disturbing aspect of public foreign policy debate is that the serious people writing serious articles do so to advance the viewpoint of a think tank or lobby.

      What you and I realize but many others may not, is how much of the ME policy debates are proxy fights between the Iran Camp and the Israel Camp. The big coup was getting Saudi, Egypt and other Sunni nations to publicly acknowledge their willing coalition with Israel.

      The Outrage over the Khashoggi murder was just a pretext for Pro-Iranians to attack that coalitions. Don't get me wrong: The Saudi regime is brutal--they butchered that poor man like a hog, but the ME is a brutal place, and that was not an anomaly for that region.

    2. Your spot on regarding the two camps. Israel is not far away from incurring a significant retaliation for striking Iranian & Syrian targets around Damascus.

      And our partnership with the Philippines has been largely successful, in fact.....the Marawi siege wasn’t finally ended until U.S. involvement tipped the scales. Unfortunately, Dutarte is playing the role of a son-of-a-bitch rather well, and threatening our long relationship by courting China and trash talking us.

  2. Our founders understood the dangers of becoming engaged in foreign entanglements. But that understanding changed most dramatically in the 20th century following WW II. We knowingly and willingly installed ourselves as the world's policeman. Then we simply assumed the mantle of arbiter of all things good and the judge of all things bad.

    We are so involved and so interconnected globally it is hard to see how we disengage without causing serious dislocation and even chaos in some situations.

    No doubt there is a method by which this could be done successfully. It seems no one, including and especially Trump, has enunciated a clear and solid way to do so. It is clear we can not simply pull the plug and go home. The negative consequences will be too great.

    1. The Trump Admin has laid out the process. You're too busy shouting "Orange Man Bad!" and listening for echoes to listen.

    2. By “laying out the process”, you mean sending a string of conflicting messages, and being rather coy about his prefacing discussion with Erdogen.

    3. "Tariffs BAD!" isn't a rebuttal to Trump Trade and Foreign Policy.

    4. I don’t really care....you like YouTube. I don’t have conversations with YouTube. But who brought up tariffs?

    5. You prefer conversations with newspaper print articles? Who knew you could do that...

      Aren't tariff's the primary argument against Trump's trade policy? And isn't "tariff's bad" the way that the argument gets presented by the media to the citizens?

    6. If you're confused as to America's current trade policy, blame media, not Trump.

    7. Not confused, just wondering why you bring up tariffs on a topic on foreign/military policy. Much more appropriate in a topic on trade policy.

    8. Trade is the alternative to "military" policy. It's either the House of Mut or the House of Montu. And believe me when I say that it's the road to Mut that's lined with sphinxes, not Montu.

    9. Nietzsche said the newspaper had replaced the prayer in the life of the modern bourgeois, meaning that the busy, the cheap, the ephemeral, had usurped all that remained of the eternal in his daily life.

      -Allan Bloom, "The Closing of the American Mind" (New York: 1988), p. 59.

    10. In other words, Karnak no longer stares West (towards the Valley of the Kings and the eternal) or East (towards the temples of the living kings). It peers down the Avenue of Sphinxes and ride's Kamutef's "shuttle".

    11. o your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. [...] I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.

      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Norvell (June 11, 1807)

    12. "There is nothing new under the sun"!

    13. ...and the MSM and most of America remains in the dark about US economic policy

  3. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly
    The media's got no choice but to lie ...
    Can't help servin' them Globalists!

    Every politician must perform coition
    With Big Money Masters from On High!
    Now heave a sigh!

    Tell me they're venal, tell me they're bad
    You can't tell me nothin' I know that ain't sad
    Can't help servin' them Globalists.

    ~ from the New Musical "HOBOAT" - Apologies to Jerome Kern

  4. SilverFiddle wrote:

    "Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict."

    ABSOLUTELY! but hasn't that been true ever since we achieved a satisfactory conclusion to World War Two?

    Disastrous African skirmishes in Mogadishi and Somalia?
    Endless War in the Middle East and North Africa?

    What SilverFiddle said above applies equally to EVERY conflict in which we've become embroiled for the past SEVENtY-ONE years.

    "WAR," apparenly, is enormously profitable, so why should the Makers of War Materiel [Eisenhower's Military-Industrial-Complex!]and the polticians who are greatly enriched by MIC lobbyists feel any concern or accept any respnsibility for the hundreds of thousands of young America lives who've been snuffed out, hideously maimed, or driven mad, and the families whose lives have been forever blighted, as long as MOOLA keeps rollng in by the megaton?

  5. There was a time when the print media often declared their politics their masthead. Maybe they still do, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that the infotainment media is a recent edition to America’s low politics. Of course, back in the 50s, most people didn’t read the daily newspaper ... or if they did, they went immediately to the sports section, the funnies, or the crossword puzzle. I’m not quite sure what it is that keeps the WaPo or NYT afloat these days. But I think we’ll find that people who read either the Post or Times, are inclined to agree with their politics. The same is true for people who watch either CNN or FoxNews. Worse, how many people gather their understanding of the world on HuffPo, Salon, or other heavily opinionated rags? Personally, I would have no problem with any of this if people were more skeptical of what they read or hear from the so-called fair, balanced, or trusted news source. How many people today are even able to distinguish between fact and opinion? It has to be a low number.

    As to our statecraft, to parrot what Dick Gregory once said, we have plenty of politicians, but too few statesmen. American diplomats have been incompetent since the days of John Hay and Elihu Root. This incompetence can only be described as gross; its failures have sent our young men to early death, long-term injury, permanent disfigurement. Even so, it is our fault ... the voter, because we’re the people who select the president, and he’s the fellow who chooses his cabinet. Meanwhile, the people working in the sub-top floor levels at foggy bottom represent government bureaucracy at its worst, people who are making a nice salary and long-term benefits for doing little more than offering poorly educated guesses about what to do next in (fill in the blank).

    I fear that as a country we’re stuck in stupidstan; there’s no way out.

  6. About the Infotainment Media Complex...

    On Hating The Face of a Teenage Boy:

    The Covington chronicles: on hating the face of a teenage boy.

    One of the most chilling aspects of the hatred fanned by the duplicitous reporting on the videotaped incident regarding the Covington students and the 60-something Native American has been the venomous rage directed against the face of one of the students, as well as the conclusions drawn about the expression on the face and what it might signify about the person. . . .

    “Bullying” doesn’t even begin to describe what has been done to Sandmann by supposedly responsible and thoughtful adults. Even if the original story of what occurred had been true—and it was most definitely not—the depth of the rage would be way out of line. . . .

    What is it they “recognized”? A face that is now permissible to hate, apparently; they’re not shy about writing about their hate and signing their names to it. That face is white, male, and supposedly “privileged” (whether they know a single thing about that person’s actual life circumstances or not). I have come to think of it in a kind of shorthand as hatred towards the “frat boy” in their minds.

    And it’s not new, although I’ve never before seen a national eruption of this hatred expressed towards someone who is not yet an adult/

    This hatred is bigoted and prejudiced, pure and simple. The hatred’s origins lie not just in the work the media had undertaken to shape its audience towards feeling this hatred—although that is most definitely part of it—but it also is an opportunity for the viewer to draw in all sorts of historical references to other white men and/or boys they have grown to hate, and to make often-absurd parallels.

    Our political/journalistic class shows us what kind of people it is made up of every single day.
    Meanwhile, I hope the voters of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio remember who hates their kids on sight, and vote accordingly.

    UPDATE: From a friend on Facebook: “Is no one else finding it sadly ironic that the country is in an uproar over a kid who practiced literal nonviolent inaction during a highly questionable confrontation – on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?”

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Also from Facebook: “Most people, to include conservatives, are now conditioned to unquestioningly assume racism on the part of conservative leaning people. The only behavior which would have placated the mob would have been for the boys to have bowed their heads, averted their gaze, and removed their hats while groveling.” Actually, it’s not clear that even that would have been sufficient.


    SNL Writer Offers Blowjobs in Exchange for Someone Punching a Covington Catholic Student in the Face

    1. And Covington Catholic School is closed today (Tuesday) because of all the threats.

      Hatred ginned up by the leftwing Infotainment Media Complex -- hatred directed at kids.


    2. And this is why I use an alias: I don't want my students targeted.

    3. Meanwhile... 3,000 miles away a new "narrative" begins to emerge...

    4. FJ,
      Can such a "narrative" be permitted?

  7. As for the High School Kids, and the "Indian" story, or So Called Story!
    Now that it was proven to be a farce, at least the media should do the right thing and Correct their judgmental error, and at least apologize for your slander and libel story of this bunch of innocent young men whose families are now receiving death threats. Is that too much to ask?

    1. Tune in tomorrow, Frankie. We'll discuss this topic further.

      I look forward to your take.

    2. RWF is certainly a busy one posting his comment above all over the internet. We look forward to his more detailed take on the issue as well.

  8. Viz. War -- do you remember when going to war was a really big thing? Like Gulf War I, and the media in the UK predicted at least 45k allied casualties?

    I scorned their comshill bolshevik pacifism back then and I still do. But now we're always at war and never seem to win. Accident, design or both?

    Speaking of war, the same left that scorned the military back then and before, wants to kill and torture a bunch of high school kids.

    "SNL Writer Offers Blowjobs in Exchange for Someone Punching a Covington Catholic Student in the Face."


    1. LSP,
      Sometimes, the news is too much for me to stand!

    2. Morning Parson!

      Interesting how so many issues have flipped, isn't it? We are in crazy, unhinged times.


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