Little Democratic Sins; American Militarism

Secretary Panetta accidentally disclosed military or diplomatic secrets in a press conference. I am not going to tell you more because I don’t want to be charged like reporter James Rosen of Fox News or have my phone surveilled. Oops, my phone is probably under surveillance anyway because hundreds of thousands, or millions are, we learn today: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily. What’s the chance I have been slighted by not being surveilled, I ask you?

And what’s wrong if all this information is accessed by a large government agency since government is, by definition, benevolent? Take the Internal Revenue Service as an example at random. It will still be in a position to exercise indirect but strong control over more than 15% of the national economy as per the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). And what would be wrong with this? Don’t we trust the IRS to act for the benefit of all Americans and to respect their persons and their privacy? Why not?

The Good Lord is extending a hand to get completely rid of the IRS. Are we going to seize it?

YES

NO

Still a propos of Obamacare, there is news about the people for whom the whole huge reform was implemented, the vulnerable uninsured, those who were most expected to benefit. According to today’s WSJ (06/06/13) of those who currently lack health coverage, an astounding 22 % say that they will benefit by Obamacare. It’s astounding because 29% say they will not! (No, not a mistake. I did not accidentally reverse the percentages.)

The President of Stanford don’t know English too good:

“Can a faculty member make better use of their time…” (Bolding entirely mine.) Engineering education or political correctness?

The rage against Monsanto continues weeks after the Supreme Court voted unanimously that protesters are out of their cotton-picking minds. A few days ago, Japan and Korea announced they were stopping imports of US wheat because genetically modified wheat had been found on some Oregon farm mixed with the virginal kind. Monsanto says today that it may have been sabotage.

On the one hand, anyone can assert anything against anonymous doers without fear of legal repercussions. On the other hand, many (most, all) of the Monsanto enemies are such obvious fanatics that they could have done it, of course. Reminds me of lynx stories and before that of spotted owl stories, all concocted, in the same general area, that brought economic devastation to the region and massive long-term unemployment.

Make no mistake: those who attack the Monsanto corporation hate corporations in general, and through them, they want to destroy capitalism itself. The fact that 85% of them are ignorant, inarticulate fanatics who could define neither “corporation” nor “capitalism” means little. You don’t have to know how to spell “machine-gun” to be lethal. There is the 1% who are completely conscious and goal-oriented. I have known them since 1958.

Capitalism is the only social arrangement that has durably lifted the hundreds of millions from age-old misery. Monsanto’s enemies are baby-killers, most inadvertent, some quite conscious. The latter’s grandpas were employed by a virtuous government organization called “Gulag.”

Yes, of course, I am waiting for my Monsanto check. It’s been long in coming.

Some conservatives criticize President Obama for being unresponsive. It’s not always fair. Why, just yesterday, he answered Republican critics of his apparent coverup of the Benghazi terrorist massacre. He appointed to a sensitive position the liar who had lied on his behalf and on that of the Secretary Clinton on six different Sunday television shows: “Fuck you,” he said. I used to not dislike the man personally. His pettiness is changing this fast.

Today 06/06/13 is the anniversary of the 1944 Allied landing in France. Blood-thirsty, militaristic destructive Americans bastards! I was a toddler but I remember some of the liberation of Paris from the German National-Socialists, three months later. Here is my memory:

“How I helped win World War Two.

A column of trucks flooded the avenue as a far as the eye could see. (The small body that held the head that held the eye was in my mother’s arms.) The trucks overflowed with big, loud, laughing men in distinctive dun-khaki uniforms. People were shouting greetings and waving flags. It seems that an American soldier jumped off his vehicle, swept me up into his arms, and kissed me on both cheeks. That may have been because my mother, who had wanted her second child to be a daughter, processed my long blond hair into Goldilocks-style ringlets. That I am straight today is a testimony to the robustness of genetic programming. My mother always insisted the kissing soldier was black. On the one hand, she may have made up this detail for colorful effect; she was that kind of woman. On the other hand, there were so many trucks the soldiers may have belonged to a transport unit and hence, probably to a black unit, in the segregated US Army of the day. It was August 1944. I was two-something and my family lived in one of the better city projects right on the periphery of Paris, near one of its main access roads. One thing that bothers me about this visual and auditory recollection though is that we lived on the east side of the city. American soldiers should have been arriving from Normandy, in the west; yet, the memory is clear.

Parisians knew from London radio of the slow advance of the Allies after D-Day. All fabrics had been strictly rationed for two or three years. Nonetheless, before the American forces reached Paris, my mother had sewn a makeshift tricolor French flag. The blue came from my father’s old military service flannel sash (a forgotten and now incomprehensible item of clothing).The red came from a Nazi flag. My father was a policeman. He had stolen it from a German general’s car he was supposed to guard. The Germans were packing up at the time and very nervous. He might have been shot on the spot if he had been caught. At a loss for white, my mother made the middle band of the flag out of one of my cloth diapers. That’s why I have always felt I played a part, although a small one, in the liberation of Paris, a symbolically important phase of World War Two.

I was born and conceived during the Nazi occupation of France when life was tough and entertainment scarce. My father was a Paris cop, as I said, and his life was more than tough then. His life was not so tough, however, that he did not have the energy to make my mother pregnant one more time before the Liberation, this time with twins. There was little to eat besides rutabaga, for some reason, and milk was rationed, of course, so my mother breastfed me for the longest time. I was precocious. At one point, I think I was able to ask for the breast in grammatically perfect French. It must have been embarrassing for her. Or perhaps I made this up on the basis of bits and pieces I picked up while I was growing up, like some of the other early recollections in these truncated memoirs.

From the days before the Liberation of Paris, I remember mostly fragments as of still photographs with partial voice-overs, glimpses of German gray-green uniforms, and the vast, beautiful fire of the Paris general mills, a mile away. The fire had been set by bombs dropped by the US Army Air Corps. It’s a little known fact that the Allied bombed the hell out of France right before and during, and immediately following the Normandy landing. The French never complained much. They were different then, and too sick of the German presence to bitch about collateral damage. When the air raid siren warning sounded, my mother would wrap me up in a blanket and take me down to the basement of our seven-story apartment house. Some tenants were jaded at the end and they did not bother to take shelter. The basement was a crowded but not especially tragic place. It smelled of the apples that tenants dried there in the dark, on beds of sand spread on wooden shelves.”

From: I Used to Be French: An Immature Autobiography. (Forthcoming, I hope. Order now)

About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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28 Responses to Little Democratic Sins; American Militarism

  1. McHenry says:

    In light of our new hero Mr. Snowden, I’m awaiting your next post, “Huge Democratic sins”

    • Mc Henry: Not really, not all that much of it is new. What’s new is that Obama continued to do exactly what leftielefts were excoriating Bush for. .\

      The Obama administration has done much worse.

      Go ahead and write the essay if you wish though.

  2. Terry Amburgey says:

    “The Obama administration has done much worse.”

    And I, personally, find it absolutely infuriating.

  3. Terry: What are you gong to do, write him a strongly worded letter?

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      “Terry: What are you gong to do, write him a strongly worded letter?”

      BTW, when I saw that the ACLU is suing the white house I renewed my membership. I’m willing to back up my concern for civil liberties with money. Are you?

  4. Bruce says:

    Picture a couple who built a restaurant business from the ground up into a five star establishment. They worked 16 hour days and seldom took vacations. They chose employees carefully because hiring a thief or jerk would hurt their business and image. They had a budget and knew they had to stay within it. They listened to their customers and made menu and decorating changes as necessary to accommodate them. They sought out and hired the very best executive chef who had a proven track record of performance in top flight restaurants. They stuck to principled business practices that got them through the rough times. They put most of the profits back into the business and the place flourished.
    Now picture their son who inherits the restaurant. His parents think he’s the greatest, and he has always been told how smart and wonderful he is. His parents only splurge was to send him to the finest schools. Owning this five star restaurant makes him a celebrity and he loves being in the spotlight.
    The restaurant reviews continue to give the place rave reviews. When he’s not golfing, he shows up when told there will be high rollers dining that he can schmooze. He drives a Bentley with vanity plates that read NYBISTROKING. He moves out of his modest childhood home where he lived until his parent’s death into a luxury penthouse condominium. The chef retires, instead of hiring a pro, he promotes his loyal friend who tends the bar to the position. The new chef changes the menu and only offers “healthy” food. The son says he did not know of these changes until he heard some complaints. The health department takes exception to the cleanliness and it’s reported by one of the networks. They’re picking on him unfairly and must have a secret agenda to undermine him. The service goes from bad to worse because he cuts staff from 65 to 49 to avoid the consequences of the Affordable Care Act. There’s a scandal when a hidden camera is discovered in the women’s bathroom. Still, it’s not widely reported until after the annual restaurant reviews. Then microphones are found under the dining room tables but nobody knows who put them there. The restaurant revenues continue to decline. The place is failing, the son insists it’s not his fault, his loyal bartender insists it’s his parent’s fault. In a year the place is bankrupt and up for sale.
    Does this son sound at all like the amateur we have in the White House? Too bad government is not run like a capitalist enterprize, we would only have to put up with a failure for a short while.

  5. Terry Amburgey says:

    “Terry: What are you gong to do, write him a strongly worded letter?”

    Alas, since I’m not a conservative crackpot my options are limited; no bombing abortion clinics or black churches or true ‘poison’ pen letters. No stockpiling firearms and ammunition.

    Mostly I’ve been engaging in arguments with those progressive friends that have forgotten that “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I don’t bother discussing it with conservatives, scratch a conservative and you’ll find an authoritarian fascist just beneath the surface. One of the most damning things about President Obama’s current situation is the identity of his strongest supporters. And I end up strongly agreeing with Rand Paul……what a bizarre state of affairs.

    • Bruce says:

      Since you’re trying to get in touch with your objective side, both sides have done their share of bombing. You can’t generalize about bombers. Bill Ayres good, Tim McVeigh bad. Bill Ayres lives on, Tim McVeigh is dead and burried. When you mentioned stockpiling firearms and ammunition I figured you were talking about the Department of Homeland Security. The only stuff left on the shelves for us crackpots to buy is some old .38 target ammmo and some .410 shotgun shells. Next thing you know they’ll be buying up all the heirloom seeds.
      It’s great you’re arguing with your progressive friends about freedom. You are far more likely to get them to think about what’s happening than a conservative would. Have you found them to be receptive? Remember they are in love, and like the battered spouse, they may cling to the very monster who is beating them more all the time in spite of the most sincere, heartfelt promises to do better. They are if nothing else emotional and can turn on you in a heartbeat. To their way of thinking, progressives have the monopoly on compassion, and they guard it with their lives. Don’t get between their kindness and caring or you will have hell to pay. Is President Obama have the most transparant administrations in history? You shoud answer yes first, then when your friends are lulled into thinking you’re still on the team, slip them a little truth here and there.
      It sounds like you’re trying to be fair. Maybe it’s like the parent who defends a child who is acting up in school. After a few years and numerous episodes of lying and deception you finally realize the problem is the kid, not the teachers or school administration. I have actually found conservatives to more hold their supporters accountable. What political future would Teddy Kennedy or Robert Byrd have had as Republicans?
      Theoretically, who would you want your daughter to date if you had to choose? Rand Paul or Bob Menendez? Bush or Clinton? Which one would be the fastest to pack you off to an assisted care facility never to be seen or heard from again?
      p.s. It’s Black churches with a capital “B”, or you may use African-American. Looks like you could be falling under the Rand Paul spell after all.

    • Terry: I was also wondering if this turn of events caused you to wonder about your own past choices. Did you do anything wrong? Did your judgment lapse. Was your criticality asleep when you voted? How surprised are you, really?

      You keep proffering gratuitous insults about conservatives. I suspect you don’t know any, not a single one exceet me. Except for “stockpiling” weapons (for which there is no evidence, just a principled defense of the Constitution), nothing you say applies to conservatives.

      Let me repeat: Conservatives want a smaller federal government. Conservatives want a less intrusive federal government.

      With the sounds you make repeatedly, in 1776, you would have sided with the King and his Hessian mercenaries because of your deep distaste for disorderliness

      You are also confused about the historical roots of fascism (or pretend to be, I don’t know). Fascism comes from the Left of the political spectrum:

      Mussolini was a socialist journalist before he invented Fascism in Italy.

      Nazism= National Socialism.

      In Germany, there were hundreds of thousands of SA. They followed socialist ideas. Hitler had the leadership massacred and sent to camps. That was a few hundred people. What happened to the hundreds of thousands ho were not assassinated or imprisoned?

      What happened to the millions of German Communists after Hitler took over?

      You should read Delacroix on Fascism and on Communism, on this blog.

      etc

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        “It’s great you’re arguing with your progressive friends about freedom. You are far more likely to get them to think about what’s happening than a conservative would. Have you found them to be receptive? Remember they are in love, and like the battered spouse, they may cling to the very monster who is beating them more all the time in spite of the most sincere, heartfelt promises to do better.”

        The battered spouse comparison is very apt. I’d say it’s about a 1/3 not receptive 2/3 receptive split and I’ve yet to see any rhyme or reason as to which friend comes down which way. At first I thought the most progressive people would be the most repulsed but many are even more repulsed by the idea of giving any ground to conservative critics and want to rally ’round the president. I don’t understand since the president’s strongest supporters are conservative wankers like Sen. Lindsey Graham.

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        “You keep proffering gratuitous insults about conservatives. I suspect you don’t know any, not a single one except me.”

        You and every single member of my family and all of my in-laws. Well, not my 83 year old mother but she has severe senile dementia so she’s effectively a conservative with all the same thought processes.

  6. Terry Amburgey says:

    @Bruce
    Cool story ‘bro.

  7. McHenry says:

    “In God we Trust…because, what else do we have?”
    -a short and frustrated essay by me

    The American government has been spying on us. Not just spying, but constructing a massive data mining device that tracks as much data as possible (even the price of potatoes) with the intent to predict the future actions of humans.
    As I’ve gone about usual life since this was all released last weekend, many who have overheard my bitching inform me that this is old news, that is has been going on for at least 7 years.
    Admittedly, my entire knowledge of world history and politics comes from my half finished reading of “patriots history of the United States” and Andrew Marr’s “history of the world” on audiobook. Also this blog. So, this announcement is totally new to me. And I am dumbfounded.
    I imagine it is what William Wallace as played by Mel Gibson would have felt in the scene where he is captured by the English after a hard fight for Scotland, only to look up and realize that the man who took him off his horse is the man he fights for and rightful king of Scotland dressed now in English garb.
    I did not battle for Obama, or do much at all really, unless annoying the public for petition signatures on the affordable health care act (the only job I could pick up at the time) counts, but I did support him.
    Romney is a Mormon, but I think even the pyramid scheme religion that brainwashes its youth might be less intrusive than the incredulous violation of privacy now in practice. Or would it have happened anyway? Probably.
    In my mind (the part that read half a book and listened to another) this is a huge problem because I think that our American democracy was just like a football team at the start of a season. At the start of every season (in my 4 years of play) the coach stands before the team and proclaims a truth that is valid until the team faults: at the start of the season, all teams are 0-0. Their record is perfect, no loses. The coach will then issue a challenge, “can you be perfect?”
    He asks this of himself as well, as the decision maker on game day. The players are assigned their tasks, that if carried out thoughtfully, knowingly, should keep their combined image perfect. One blunder on anyone’s part could be the cause of that one lose, that one blemish to perfection.
    I think the failure of this administration is their own inability to recognize the power of our symbol. Is perfection possible in politics? Certainly not, but as a whole, the United States from the get go represented that commitment to excellence, to the start of the perfect season and the intent to play that way.
    With this recent leakage of our government violating our long held rights to privacy, we lose. Our record is tarnished, any number of wins and a 1 in the loses column is a failure, even just one. “Freedom is not so free” the rest of the world can say, “even the nation that put a leash on their rulers could not teach them to heel.”
    I know there are many such reasons to say this about our government, but in my life, this is the moment that government loses my trust forever. I used to think that surely some government is useful to ensure equality, opportunity, but I would take more equality for less unknown intruders in my life.
    A symbol of excellence is a powerful thing, something worth upholding, but a trampled rag is something you leave by the curb. This recent leak aught to change many minds about government, because to carry on thinking it is here by us and for us is to ignore the facts.
    Have faith, they are being fair in watching our lives the president asks? Yes, I’ll have another stupid-pill, thanks!
    And one last thing that is killing me since I found out the govt forgot what America was, is that now every conspiracy theorist madman in my life (and I live in Santa Cruz so there are A LOT) gets to dance round and proclaim “told you so!” The told you so’s are coming out of the walls faster than the music did on my worst acid trip.
    Their paranoid delusions have paid off! Blah!

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      @McHenry
      You’ve done a great job capturing the profound sense of betrayal that I feel. And I fear that there is more to come in the near future.

    • McHenry: A good place to start decreasing intrusion of government in your life is to stop thinking of the federal government as a foot ball coach. There would be less invitation to intrusion if more peoeple though of th e federal government as a combination janitor/security guard.

  8. david says:

    @ terry, if you scratch the surface of a conservative you’re more likely to find an anarchist than a facist. too much government for conservatives to be facist.

    these intrusions were why the constitution was crafted to limit the powers of government.

    • David: You are facing an uphill battle: Way up there in Ontario. Terry knows American conservatives I don’t know. It’s his kind of porn. I keep telling him that the Tea Party member’s main weapon is the folding aluminum picnic chair but he insists on having nightmares about us.

  9. Terry Amburgey says:

    @Jacques
    Your skill in missing the point is exceeded only by your capacity for being factually incorrect. You claim that:

    “…these intrusions were why the constitution was crafted to limit the powers of government.”

    In the beginning there were the articles of confederation: “The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution.[1]”

    The articles created a weak national government. As a consequence:

    “On March 4, 1789, the Articles were replaced with the U.S. Constitution.[2][3] The new Constitution provided for a much stronger national government with a chief executive (the president), courts, and taxing powers.”

    At some point in time you may want to read The Federalist. It’s a much better source for understanding U.S. history than watching Sean Hannity.

    • Terry: There is something in me, perhaps my foreign accent, that induces you to keep serving me the Wikipedia version of high-school Civics. I don’t know what I said that triggered this litany of platitudes. Nothing you say contradict my short version.
      PS I graduated from high-school, That was in America, after my third year as a senior in high-school, including two in France. It’s not as if I had not been there!

  10. Terry Amburgey says:

    @Jacques
    “Let me repeat: Conservatives want a smaller federal government. Conservatives want a less intrusive federal government.”

    I want to point out exactly how wrong you are yet again but, to begin, I need to make sure we’re using the same words to mean the same things. A simple yes/no question to start: Is the military part of the federal government? That will help with the ‘smaller’. As for the ‘intrusive’: Is the national security complex (CIA, NSA, FBI, etc) part of the federal government?

    There are two questions, I don’t believe them to be ambiguous. There are 4 possible responses: no/no, no/yes, yes/no, yes/yes.

  11. Terry: Do, I really have to go back to multiple choice?
    This is sill,y again.

    Just to play your game . Conservatives believe the only function of government is public safety, including from foreign enemies.
    Thus they want small government and, as well, adequate government-led defense. In the past twenty years, defense budget minus benefits earned by members of the military (a form of welfare) has seldom exceeded 4% of GDP. That figure is compatible with “small government.”

    In France, for example, “big government” consumes over 60% of GDP. That’s really big government. I fear we are going that way. (I am sure Michel always wanted to be French. Barack, not so much; he does not know where France is. If he know, he would conceal the fact.)

    )I The problem is with everything else the federal government is doing and first, and foremost, with Social Security.

    The second problem is with big government’s many ways to impede productivity. Another topic, of course.

    Don’t bother to tell me what other nation-sates are spending on defense. I only care, and only a little about what the Communist gangsters in mainland China spend.

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      For those unfamiliar with obfuscation ala Jacques:

      Let me translate Jacques meandering avoidance of a straight answer. Conservatives LOVE big government and intrusive government. There is no amount of money that they are unwilling to spend on the military, spying, the police, and prisons. Since they aren’t willing to tax for the money they borrow it and balloon deficits (look at the deficit by year data).
      What is it that they hate and want to NOT spend money on? Social spending such as education, healthcare, and pension programs. It’s not the case that conservatives hate big government, they love it. What they hate is spending money on people. Billions for corporate plutocrats, not a cent for hungry children.

      • Conservatives on spying? Now? Only one week after Mr Snowden’s revelations? You are jesting, surely.

        I gave relevant numbers. That’s straightforward enough.

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      “Conservatives on spying? Now? Only one week after Mr Snowden’s revelations? You are jesting, surely.”

      Who set up Mr. Snowden’s programs? Who are their strongest supporters? Hint: organize your thoughts around the year 2007.

  12. Terry Amburgey says:

    My apologies. The @Jacques should’ve been @David. He is the one who needs to actually learn US history.

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