Monday, February 11, 2008

"Supporting the Troops"

Or "Insulting the Troops"?

Back in Novemeber 2006, Charles Rangel opened his considerable cake hole and offered this pearl of idiocy about our military:

"I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq."


Is he just that dumb, to believe this old canard from the Vietnam War days? Which, by the way, wasn't even true then?

I already knew it was untrue from prior reading I've done. But just to prove a point, five minutes with Google and a reasonable search phrase was enough to point me to this Heritage Foundation study.

And guess what? Lower income recruits are under-represented compared to their percentage in the overall population. Upper income recruits are over-represented, and the gap grows the higher up you go in the income strata.

Or maybe Rangel just doesn't care if it's true, and is just pandering for the anti-war vote.


Rangel is completely wrong. Not that surprising; politicians are often wrong, especially when they open their mouths.

No, what is most interesting here is that nobody in the media called him on it, except for Best of the Web, which then got many, many letters and emails from those who have served or know those who did.

They seem to have a pretty unified message for him:

When people wonder why I dislike and distrust the mainstream media, and almost all politcians, but especially the supposed "liberals", so implicitly and completely, it's because of things like this. They can lie all they want about the very military that protects their sorry, contemptible asses. Because nobody calls them on it.

And so it encourages the insiped "Bush Lied" bumper stickers and cute key chains that clever people hook onto the outside of their purses to count down the seconds until Bush is out of office. And it encourages rehashed My Lai massacre stories like Haditha, which feed popular misconceptions about honor or the lack thereof.


I try really hard to avoid getting all pissed off about idiots any more. Not good for my health.

But I know I've just about had enough of all this. The myopia about WMD. The demonization of Bush and Cheney because they had the gall to try to exert American power in pursuit of American interests. Hauling out old, tired "recieved wisdom" from the Vietnam era that wasn't true then, and is completely irrelevant now. The smug superiority of risk-averse know-it-alls whose first choice is always to do nothing, rather than try something, but who reassure us they "feel" deeply about it, to legitimize their inaction.

Facts have been reduced to trivia questions.

This allows our media and our politics to float about aimlessly, unmoored, bouncing randomly off of the latest piece of useless and often completely incorrect "news".

Lots of us accept this as normal.

It is not normal. We don't tolerate evasiveness and obfuscation in our kids or our spouses. There, it's called "pathological lying". And to the extent that we accept it, we are "enablers".

And so what we're doing is enabling politicians -- who really should know better than to just throw wildly inaccurate statements out there -- to do it anyway ... because nobody calls them on it.

Likewise, we enable the media -- who continue to fail miserably at their centrist, non-partisan watchdog role, yet continue to be mystified at their declining influence and revenue streams -- to do it anyway ... because nobody calls them on it.

Think about what this means. We live in a country where both journalists and politicians routinely put complete bullshit out into the public sphere with no regard for the truth. They play us for fools.

They think we are too stupid to notice, or care, that what they'e putting out there is either flat out wrong, or only partially true.

And they might be right.

I've never understood why people put up with this. To put up with it is to be implicit in the deception.

This is one of the reasons I have a blog. To call "bullshit" on charlatans and knaves like Charles Rangel. Politicians and journalists are two groups that have enjoyed privilege and power for far too long, and they've done it largely by controlling the use of information to their advantage.

Lets hope the sand is running out of that particular hourglass.