News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Suicide or migration?

Suicide is painless,
 It brings on many changes,
And I can take or leave it if I please
     (Theme song from MASH)

The Week summarizes a comment about those suicides in China and what motivates them  (We have the same problem on our South  Dakota reservations and in our military):

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the spate of suicides at Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds iPhones for Apple and PCs for Dell, said Lee Gomes (Forbes.com.). At least 20 workers at Foxconn plants in southern China have attempted suicide in recent months, 13 of them successfully. In the search for culprits, the most obvious is Foxconn itself, which pays so poorly that its workers “can’t afford even the entry-level consumer electronics products they spend their days making.” The company used to make workers sign a pledge “that they won’t blame their employer if they try to kill themselves,” until the press raised a stink. Blame also falls on the Chinese government, which has encouraged breakneck economic growth even at appalling human cost. But in all the finger-pointing, don’t forget the Western consumer—that is, you and me. Working in one of Foxconn’s factories “is nothing any of us would wish on anyone we knew.” Yet we depend on those plants “for the gadgets we love so much.”

For 50 years that I have been covering business in one  capacity or another, we have had an influx of illegal aliens pour into our country.  In the 1960s, there were a number of factories in the community I covered as a journalist that would have periodic raids to round up the illegals and send them back across the border.  They took work in the drudge shops, such as foundries, forge shops, and did stoop labor on farms and packing plants.  Those that were caught and sent across the border soon returned.  Nobody much cared.  The prevailing attitude was that the United State was a safety valve.  If those hungry and dissatisfied people were not "wet-backing" into the U.S., they would be fomenting violence and international disorder south of the border.  In the name of hemispheric order, we let them come in and made only token attempts to enforce our immigration laws.  These people performed work of a nature that no  one wanted to do for long.  Employers needed the work done.  And the people in charge of government and business thought it was better to have them gainfully employed in the U.S. rather than causing political mayhem in their home countries, which could not provide them employment. 

 We have had the same process take place within our borders.  Our young people migrate out of the Great Plains into more cosmopolitan areas.  The lack of jobs at the level they seek is a part of the problem, but by no means the total motivation behind their decisions to  move.  The culture of the Great Plains is something that educated, talented people find bleak and oppressive.  Teachers from K through college see the brightest and most capable students leave for opportunities to work and live in ways that do not exist and, often, are held in disregard on the Great Plains.  The desire to prepare for and acquire more stimulating and satisfying lives was a factor that every teacher confronted, and why they expected to see the most promising students migrate away.  At one time, a college president increased the enrollment of our institution and enhanced its academic reputation by emphasizing that it would prepare students and make them competitive to succeed in more sophisticated, cosmopolitan cultures.  He devised the slogan "A gateway institution" to describe the college's mission.  Enrollments increased and the student body became noticeably more ambitious and diligent. But state officials and business leaders were offended by the ploy and the president was forced to find another slogan and not recruit students on the basis that the college was preparing them to create lives in other places. 

Unlike the illegal immigrants who sneak into the United States to work or the people who leave the Great Plains to find more satisfying and rewarding lives,  the workers at Foxconn in China have no way to seek better lives.  So, many commit suicide.  It seems a better alternative to them than a life of drudgery, frustration, and wage slavery with no prospect for a better future.

Suicide has a devastating effect on the living who the suicides leave behind.  It is the ultimate form of rejection.   The suicide says in effect to those who remain behind that they provide no reason for someone to stay in this life.  In some cases the social climate is why people choose suicide.  The lives of the survivors are forever changed.  They have to confront the fact that they might be part of the hopelessness that motivates someone near them to commit suicide.  They might even be a major cause.  Even if the thought of their implication is suppressed, it is not easy to  live with and casts the shadow of doubt that survivors cannot escape.  Most people who survive the suicides of those close to them retreat into denial.  Their quality and value as persons is called into question by suicide, so they contrive reasons which absolve them of any part in the motivations.

 To a lesser degree, people who are left behind when other people reject the community and culture they are in to seek a more tolerable life elsewhere suffer a similar sense of rejection and dismissal.    When people leave one job for a better one or move from a community, those left behind often mount angry slanders about them,   When former students with whom I have stayed in touch leave one job to take another, presumably better job, their employers nearly always terminate them on the spot with the old "clean our your desk and never come back" routine when they  submit their resignations.  Implied rejection makes people furious. 

The news about suicides on the reservations is largely met by racial slanders.  Suicides in the military meet those elaborate rationalizations that place blame elsewhere.  When young people commit suicide because of discrimination and  bullying, the reactions of those who discriminated and bullied are generally more of the same.  Whether it is employers and communities that talented and aspiring people want to get away from or reservations and service organizations over whom people choose death, it is more than most people can handle to consider that these are entities for which death seems a preferable alternative to many and are our cultural creations.

Suicides generally involve mental health issues that are complicated and often not understood.  We can understand the suicides in the Chinese sweat shops as caused by hopelessness.  The present for those workers is sheer drudgery and the future promises nothing else.  We can blame the Chinese executives for creating hopeless conditions.  But then we face the suicides in our military, on our reservations, and among our bullied high school students.   People can deny any involvement in what creates the hopelessness, but they can't deny that hopelessness exists.
.

Should anyone find the consideration of hopelessness oppressive, we offer Dorothy Parker's "Resume" as an approach to the matter: 
 
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old generals never die; they drink too much Bud Light and retire

A volcano in Iceland created the conditions.  It let loose plumes of ash, and aircraft were grounded.  Gen. Stanley McChrystal had to get from Paris to Berlin, but nothing was flying.  So, he got on a bus with his staff and a reporter from Rolling Stone And cases of Bud Light Lime (which tastes like a Lifesaver.  He could have been fired for bad taste.).  They all drank and  talked and said things that the reporter wrote down, things that got McChrystal relieved of his command.

McChrystal has an impressive military resume.  He is highly educated and is an expert in special operations, as what the U.S. military is trying to do to settle down Afghanistan so that we can stop wasting money and young American asses.  And brains.  But most people who have served in the military and paid attention to the rules knew he was going to get fired.  He did  not defy orders from the commander-in-chief like Gen. MacArthur did.  (MacArthur could have been court-martialed.) He didn't f***k up in carrying out his mission.  He did not publicly disagree with the policies he was to carry out.  In fact, he helped  create and he endorsed them.  He let his mouth and those of his staff reveal mentalities that bring into grave doubt whether they have the minds and character to do the jobs they are assigned. 

He, no doubt, knew what was coming.  He most likely had his resignation written and in his pocket when he went into the Oval Office.  But to keep his job, he had better have a compelling explanation  for the things said about the President and the other people who were maligned and abused.  He apparently didn't.  So his resignation was accepted, and within a few hours, a new commander was announced.

Few of the things quoted about Obama and his administration were directly attributed to McChrystal.  It was staff members who said them, and by implication they expressed the attitude and thinking of the command staff.  Rolling Stone squeezed some bad shit out of the tooth paste tube and there is no way on heaven or earth to put it back.  And so, you get rid of the people who generated it.  What the quotations show is that people are being petty, mean, disrespectful, and low down.  That disqualifies them for the job with which they were entrusted.  They have shown mental and professional weaknesses of a nature that casts doubt on their level of performance and on their intellectual credibility.   McChrystal's resignation was accepted, but you can be sure that some military rectums in Kabul are going to feel some command boot toes as they fly out the door to their new assignments on the permanent latrine detail at Camp Armpit, S.C.

There are some of those knowledgeable and authoritative observers who say that McChrystal did not commit insubordination;  he merely exercised free speech.   McChrystal did not really say much himself, but he allowed his staff to say things--things that are in violation of the Universal Code of Military Justice.  That is the law which applies to the military, and it has quite a list of provisions for what is termed insubordinate conduct.  Article 88 addresses what was reported in Rolling Stone quite specifically

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
And the guidelines for application specify how things said in private should be treated:

... expressions of opinion made in a purely private conversation should not ordinarily be charged. Giving broad circulation to a written publication containing contemptuous words of the kind made punishable by this article, or the utterance of contemptuous words of this kind in the presence of military subordinates, aggravates the offense. The truth or falsity of the statements is immaterial.
There are other of those authoritative and knowledgeable, keen minds who insist that McChrystal was merely trying to get President Obama's attention to meet his military needs.  Considering that McChrystal operates in concert--or should--with the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the embassy officials assigned to Afghanistan, it would seem that he has appropriate lines of communication established, but the general's staff chose to depart from the rules of military protocol.

McChrystal's boys reflected more the culture of the blogosophere than they do a military organization--any organization, for that matter--that has a real job to do.  The comments  were personal, mean, petty, intended to be slanderous, and reflected that degree of low-mentality and debased attitudes that renders their opinions worthless.  The comments were intended to do harm.  They were the expressions of people ruled by ill will. People of ill will cannot be trusted.  Or respected.

Obama defined the departure point.  He said differences of opinion and discussion are welcome.  Divisiveness is intolerable.  That is true in the military, where the firing of the person in charge can deal with the problem.  It is true in any organization, but sometimes not as easy to correct.


Sitting around making malicious talk about other people, particularly those in leadership, has become an American pastime.  There is a difference, however, between making legitimate observations about someone's performance and behavior and doing it merely to malign others and massage one's own ego.  I have worked in places where malicious gossip was not tolerated.  If one got caught making comments about the character, mentality, or competence of an individual, one had to be able to substantiate the comments or be fired.  I have also worked at places where the personal derogation was  the usual business. In the latter instances, the organizations were dysfunctional and the people were the kind that one took great pains to avoid.  As the political chatter and the blogosphere evidence, there are those who choose to lead lives of ill will and dishonesty, however petty.  When they are put in positions of power and leadership, the country and world become the kind of places where people of good will and  good purpose do not want to--and cannot--live.

The firing of Gen. McChrystal was not a retaliation for the exercise of legitimate criticism or protest.  It was a necessary move to restore some sense of order and direction in a war that lost its objective and purpose in Iraq.  What caused the lapse in McChrystal's conduct as a general is not clear.  Generals do develop humongous egos, and egos tend to nullify any intelligence in those who allow them to grow out of control. 

When free speech becomes a license for imbecilic rancor, it becomes a cancer and a danger to all free speech.  And when people show mentalities of such peevish small-mindedness and debased malice, they need to be identified and removed from any positions of responsibility. We can only hope that the firnig has just begun. 

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Stuck on stupid

    I, too, am not terribly happy with the Obama administration's handling of the oil spew.  I side with Lt. Gen. (ret.) Russel Honore. He's the man who was put in charge of restoring order to New Orleans after Katrina.  His idea is that the stopping of the spew and the cleanup should be put under one central command which has the power to coordinate and order measures--the military rule of command and control--to be taken.  He endorses Obama's battle language, but he thinks the power of a battle-field command is required.  A contributor to CNN, Gen. Honore says that if the battlefield idea is used, it would involve making every effort to stop the oil before it reaches the beaches and wetlands.  That would mean putting every U.S. asset in place and using the offers of foreign help to clean up as much of the Gulf sea as possible before the oil gets a chance to assault the beaches.  Such measures would entail the complete deployment of the Department of Defense assets and military command over civilian assets enlisted to help with the control and cleanup.

    There is one problem with Gen. Honore's plan.  It would require the rule of martial law, which would bring into question the rule of military authorities over civilian governments.  The terms could be worked out so as to support cooperative efforts with the states and cities, but it would be an arduous task, which the current political climate makes impossible.  Obama's oval office speech was roundly criticized for its flaccidity--with the Republicans getting orgasmic at what they regard as Obama's Katrina--but then when he extracted a $20 billion fund from BP to provide compensation for those whose lives have been ruined by the spew, the Republicans started hollering "shakedown."   

    There is a  contingent of people who are so fixated on destroying and denigrating Obama (Dana Milbank calls it the Obama Derangement Syndrome) that they are willing to sacrifice their countrymen and the country itself to their hatred of him and his agenda.  And they also sacrifice true facts to any  misinformation and disinformation they can contrive.  This contingent is quite willing to destroy the country in order to vanquish Obama, and one need only to look at those who were allowed to be the voice of the tea party to see the racial motivations behind their hatred.  The fact is that any attempt to bring the full complement of resources to bear on the oil spew would erupt into a frenzied obstruction against anything that could be represented as a Marxist, socialist, Nazi, Muslim, Kenyan-based takeover of America.  Obama and his advisors are smart enough not to get mired down in the muck of juvenile resentment  and malicious derangement that grip so much of the nation's electorate.  Instead, it seems better to quietly and mildly maintain a course of decency, support, and recompense for the people and the environment that is being destroyed by the oil spew.

    I share Gen. Honore's military impatience at what seems to be unorganized attempts to deal with the spew.  There are time when full authority to  command and control are needed.  That means being able to kick the butts of those who obstruct and impede the carrying out of strategies aimed at dealing with problems.  There are times when the quibblers and detractors need to be shoved aside and held in abeyance until a job is done.   As an example of military expedition, I recall when we were setting up the redundancy system for the guided missile outfit I was in.  The system was designed for four or five independent lines of communication between the radar-fire control area and the launcher area.  That included the primary cables which ran above ground so that they were readily accessible for maintenance and repair, a field-phone system of wires which ran along another route,  a radio system, and a backup system of cables which ran underground.  The problem with the underground cable system was that the agreement with the German government after it was no longer under occupation did not permit any underground military installations. For example, the missiles I worked with were kept in underground bunkers in the U.S. and the launchers were elevated to the surface when they were to be fired.  In Germany, where I was stationed, they were kept above ground on  launching pads which were vulnerable to weather and attack.  This vulnerability was compensated for by deployment strategies which made the redundant communications system crucial.  The U.S. had to negotiate a special exemption for an underground cable system.

    When the exemption was finally worked out, the troops had to start working on the trench to get the system in place as soon as possible.  We were sent out with our entrenching tools to begin the work.  As the men went out to start the work,  there was a constant stream of bitching, comment on how stupid the project was, and, of course, many suggestions as to how the job could be done more efficiently.  The launching platoon sergeant, M/Sgt. Jack Bradley, called the troops into formation and said, "The objective is to get this trench dug and the cables working, and we will use whatever tools we have available.  I don't give a fiddling f*ck if we have bulldozers or teaspoons, we are going to get that trench dug and this system working.  You can either do it as  bitching soldiers or as a stockade detail that is not allowed to bitch."  So, we bitched and dug.  We did get the route of the cable system laid out by removing the surface soil, and by that time the Army arranged for German civilian contractors to come in and finish the actual trench.   The point was that all the standing around and making suggestions ended and the job got underway with whatever was available to do it with.

    Sgt. Bradley was a prime example of the cuss-order-and-act military.  Few soldiers could put more f-bombs sprinkled with plenty of goddamns in an English sentence.  He was affable but nobody f*cked with the troops under his command.  During a general inspection, he was chided because he was not wearing all his medals.  He responded, "Sir, how many f*ckin' uniforms am I expected to wear at one time?"  He had served multiple combat missions during World War II and Korea, and did not know what to do with all the medals he earned.    And he was relentless about my bunk-making skills.  At an inspection review, he told the troops that if they intended to go AWOL they should take bunk-making lessons from Newquist:  "He's one of the few soldiers who can make up a f*ckin' bunk to look like he's still in it."

    Gen. Honore gained momentary notoriety after Katrina when he responded to a reporter's question by telling him not to get stuck on stupid.  When people are in dire straits and need rescue and help,  standing around quibbling about the job rather than getting it done is stupid.

    While there seems to be some indecision in the Obama Administration about what to do, the nation has got itself stuck on extraneous stupidity.  Rather concern itself about stopping the spew and cleaning up the waters, it is standing around indulging itself in mindless blather.  It is doing just what irritated Gen. Honore:  getting stuck on  stupid.

    BP, government agencies, and news organizations have invited  people to suggest ways to plug the spew and clean up the waters.  If those suggestions are to have any value, the one's with real possibility have to be sorted out from the stupid.  Among the latter was the suggestion that we do what the Russians did when they had runaway oil wells on land and sealed them off with nuclear blasts, which melted the strata and sealed the wells.  That is, it worked the first two times.  On the third the blast fractured the strata and created multiple fissures for the oil to pour through.  And as geologists have pointed out, a nuclear blast would not only give the oil more routes to escape, but you'd then have radioactive oil to deal with.  Still, there is a raging group that castigates BP and the government for not using nukes on the spew.

    It is not expediting control of the well and implementation of the cleanup when people who know something and possess the tools of thought and action have to waste time analyzing stupid.  Ideas and possibilities need to be analyzed, but they need to come from people who actually know some of the hard facts of nature and and science and have some qualifications to offer advice.

    To see the Obama Derangement Syndrome at work, one need only look at the South Dakota blogosphere.  One blogger whose agitation over Obama goes into derangement overdrive at times, devoted a post to an identification slug that some low-level photo studio staff member used on a White House picture of Obama.  The slug contained the word "hero," which has more to do with the bravado of rivalries among photographers than it does any self-assessment from the subject of the photos.  "Hero" is a traditional slug to designated the best picture in sequence taken on a specific assignment.  However, this blogger tried to make a case that the slug was evidence of White House narcissism.  One can marvel, to a degree, at the phobic malice directed toward anything Obama, but the absurd pettiness of using a photo slug, which is only known to those who reproduce the photo, as the basis for a denigration is more than a bit chilling.  Gen. Honore's epithet would seem a more than charitable description.   

    The most salient criticism about the Obama administration is that it is too considerate of its phobic opposition.  It is suffering fools, and it is allowing them to impede work that needs to get done with the greatest expedition.  That includes not only stopping the spew and cleaning up the waters, it includes providing health care to the 47 million who can't afford it, it means adding jobs instead of outsourcing them, and it means getting out of endless and hopeless wars. And if Obama wants to keep his promise to American, he may just have to resign himself to a one-term presidency.

    When Rep. Joe Barton apologized to BP for the escrow account that the White House insisted upon for dealing with the oil spew, he said he did not want to live in a country that allowed such things to happen.  Obama could do something more for the people of the country.  He get could refuse to get mired in stupid and force the issues so that people will know once and for all if this is a country they can live in.  For those who contemplate the Second Amendment solution recommended by Nevada senate candidate Angle, we remind that bullets fly both ways.  But if oil spews and the gospel of environmental pollution are allowed to prevail, there won't be any country to fight over. 

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Dysfunction: oil on water, finger up butt

    I sat Tuesday's election out.  I think that this was the first time since I've lived in South Dakota that I have not voted in a primary or general election.  For one thing,  after spending the morning in a dentist's chair, I did want to risk an encounter with the drill-baby-drill crowd.  The only vote that was consequential was the tax opt-out on property taxes so the county could repair some roads.  The roads need repairing,  but the changes in property tax assessments are unfair.  In the  county,  range land is taxed at the same rate as highly productive crop land,  and I left the decision on the opt-out to those who have reason to give a shit.  The opt-out lost, which means that there will be a lot of stupid bitching about bad roads and many suggestions that money should be diverted from education and public payrolls to fill the pot holes and break-ups.  And close the damned public library.  Grind up the bricks and fill pot holes with them.  Use prison labor.  Prisons are one of South Dakota's few growth industries.  In time,  South Dakota's population will be either inmates or those who guard them.

    The primaries seem superfluous to anything going on in the world.  The dolts with tea bags hanging from their hat brims offer an alternative only for increased stupidity.   The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war the U.S has ever been in.  And the death toll for American troops has gone over 1,000. Add that to the almost 5,000 killed in Iraq, and you get some hard evidence of how we support our troops--just keep sending them to be killed in wars that cannot be won.  Like some of my fellow veterans,  I think that part of the post traumatic stress syndrome comes from fighting in wars that have become morally and intellectually indefensible and unending.  It is unpatriotic to criticize stupidly motivated and implemented wars, but it is also impossible to escape the implications of being ordered into immoral absurdity.  One wonders how long it will take for the military to break down under the stress of it all.  And by military, I mean the troops who have to follow orders, not the the geniuses who make them up.  Columnist Bob Herbert in The New York Times has the best take on our perennial wars:

    The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military. 
    I also find it incomprehensible that those who bitch and whine about the nation's deficits always blame the attempts to restart the economy and never mention those wars.  Why is it that some people feel they are patriotic America-lovers only when they are getting some fellow citizens killed in useless and pointless wars?  One of the reasons I did not vote is the repugnance at participating in a political system that has become a form of madness.  I am among a growing number who are beginning to think that the only way to reform politics is not to participate in them.  To participate is only to continue the absurdity.  You can't have a fight when one side refuses to fight.

    And then there is the oil spew in the Gulf.  Obama has tried to approach his political tasks with cool reason.  And that is his big mistake.  His opponents have no interest in addressing real issues faced by real people and finding reasonable solutions for them.    They would rather bring the nation down than solve real problems.  They would rather stand around and say that Obama is not doing enough because he is not throwing temper trantrums.  But the administration is playing along.  It is afraid to mention that the oil spew could be the economic trigger that shoves the recession into a full-scale depression.   Instead, they keep repeating the line that BP will pay for everything.   Those who condemn big government are now complaining that big government has no solutions for the oil spew.  The oil industry has the solutions.   Even the mad generally are not that stupid.  The oil spew was created and is being exacerbated by an unregulated big corporation.  But so it goes.

    We have real problems that our current political system cannot fix.  It can only make matters worse.  It is absurd to participate in a system in which one side revers ignorance and stupidity as virtues.  I suppose if you can't fix stupidity you celebrate it.  So, one political party is behind a stupid-pride movement,  Land of the free and home of the duh.  We've been there before.

    Back in the 1920s, America's most prominent artists and intellectuals found that American culture was not at all tolerant of brain power in any form.  So, they expatriated. Mostly to Paris.  From the early years of the twentieth century through the Great Depression, American writers wrote a mass of work which examined the culture of America.  It created a huge but incisive criticism of the small-mindedness and petty peevishness that dominated American communities.     But as Germany began to respond to its defeat in World War I and the Nazi movement became a force in Europe, the writers, artists, and other intellectuals drifted back to America--along with those Europeans who sought to escape the growing cancer of Nazism.  America never liked to be criticized for its cultural failings, but its leaders dealt with them rather  than denied them.  It was this willingness to front those factors that detracted from American life that characterized the greatest generation Tom Brokaw wrote about.  The struggle against small-mindedness and its venality is never easy and never-ending.

    When liberals grew incensed about the Bush Administration, they had reasons that went far beyond politics of the petty.  After 9/11, the nation gave that administration full support.  In fact, all but a few supported it to the point that they ignored the fact that his agenda moved America into fascist frenzy that jeopardized defining rights and freedoms.  And as it mounted the war on Iraq, it became apparent to a significant minority that the justification for that war was suspect.  Our own people were not finding weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda.  But a majority of Americans were whipped into a fearful frenzy by the false propaganda.  And so we are stuck in two wars that decimate our troops and drain our resources. And a driving force in American politics to to heap revenge on those who found the Bush administration an intellectual and moral disaster. 

    Obama was elected when a majority realized that America was in a hole of moral despair, and seemed able to only keep digging.  Obama promised to stop the digging, but his efforts have seemed feeble because he tried the bipartisan card.  And we know now that his opponents are interested only in defeating him and everything he stands for, not in the problems being faced.  Health care is a case in point.  It has been an issue because it is a problem that 47 million Americans do not have health care coverage, largely because it is beyond their means.  The jobs that once supported the health care system by supplying coverage have been shipped to China and other Pacific Rim countries.   Those jobs no longer carry the benefit of health care.  Opponents of health care reform have defined their attitude.  The people who don't have health care, they contend, don't deserve it.  Giving it to them will socialize medicine, they say, and turn America into all petty and absurd accusations they can muster--at once Nazi, fascist, communist, etc.

    Political parties have devolved into juvenile fan clubs.  They will vote for any moron that strikes their fancy and their lust for ignorance.  The discourse, as exemplified by the South Dakota blogosphere, resembles primary and middle school playground taunts.  On the national level, the leading movers of political discourse are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman,  and the multitude of people who so revere the bliss of ignorance and so hate any use of intellect.  Ignorance and stupidity are a cult.  It has many members.

    A brief time of audacious hope has sunk into a reality of hopelessness at the  relentless stupidity that dominates the political landscape.  The oil spew is representative of that landscape in general.  A  churlishness has spread throughout the land from the gushers of ignorance and malice which intend nothing but the suffocation of minds.

    In South Dakota, criticism of life in the state is generally met with the invitation to move out if you don't like it.  What the purveyors of that invitation refused to realize is that what the state calls its brain drain of talented and aspiring people is that so many people have accepted the invitation.  The question now is, where to go?  Haiti?  If there is no geographical place of expatriation so that the mental forces may regroup, there is an  intellectual expatriation at least.  It is to stay away from politics in the form it has taken. 

    Critics and doubters of America have said from its inception that the masses cannot sustain a viable government.  Their churlish bickering and small-minded resent;ment will obstruct any efforts to make a workable democratic nation.  America has refuted that contention in history.  But now it has reached a point where the ignorant and resentful have found new numbers and demagogues who appeal to their hatred of the thinking class.  They cannot be engaged  in dialogue because they have obstinately inserted their heads into echo-chambers that affirm  their ignorance.

    On the South Dakota blogosphere, many bloggers have withdrawn or sharply curtailed their participation.  They are symptomatic of the withdrawal from moronic politics.  It is an intellectual expatriation.  As is true in American  democracy,  the nation is getting what it wants.  War and oil spews.  God bless them.

    NOTE:  Tom Friedman gets at the matter more incisively.   

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