Overweening Generalist

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Garrison State: POTUS's SOTU Speech and the Semantic Unconscious

Around a minute into Obama's 2015 State of the Union speech we heard these words:

"Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."

Yeaaa...Nope. Unistat is strung out on policing the world on behalf of its owners and the other wealthy states in the world. It's pretty much Our Thing.

Get a load of what Nick Turse has say about what ZERO of our "news" outlets has mentioned, then feel free to tell us why "the shadow of crisis has passed and the State of the Union is strong."
Here's my favorite neologism - hey, 'tis new to me! - in 2015: "surrealpolitick"


Eric Wagner said...

Welcome back, Michael. I have missed reading this blog. Part of my robot self says, "Unistat 'is' strung out" why not "Unistat seems strung out" but the bigger question becomes "What then shall we do?" Tolstoy wrote an essay with that title which featured in the film Peter Weir film "The Year of Living Dangerously". (I just read a David Thomson piece on Weir yesterday.) (Man, my brain keeps going in the same grooves.)

Well, when I ask myself "What then shall I do", I see a number of options:
1. Tend my own garden. The character in the film does this, trying to help one family and hope for macroscopic changes.

2. Read a bunch of Bucky Fuller and attempt his style of problem solving.

3. Trust God.

Man, I really enjoyed seeing a new post on this wonderful site.

PQ said...

Welcome back Michael!!!

michael said...

[Apparently something happened to the commenting system whilst I'ze away on hiatus; the always erudite and charitable person "Anonymous" said he couldn't get a comment in, so I'm posting what Anon emailed me. I'll look into CapchaGate ASAP. - OG]

Anonymous said...

I knew you couldn't stay away from
your fans. The itch to share is
just too strong to resist. The OG
has always been a favourite since
it never is just about rehashes of
the same old crappe. I wish I could
claim the same but senility has its
own special rewards.

I'm glad to see the admission of
failure for their military adventure
I just wish we could reanimate the
dead natives and rebuild their
shattered countries while caring
for our own casualties from this

I notice no one is celebrating
the anniversery of the Magna Carta
in the 5 eyes countries.

I see they finally got around to
trying B. Brown for acting like
a journalist. It's enough to make
you channel Bill Hicks for explanations
of current events.

Looking forward to your next epic
even if Swift is a hard act to

January 22, 2015 at 7:20 PM

michael said...

Eric, PQ, and Anon: Thanks for the encouragement.

I've followed the Barrett Brown case since Michael Hastings's ultra-unfortunate death; someone close to him said he had been working on that story.

I think he should've gotten off with time served. Or not charged at all. But hey: I'm still trying to figure out where they've moved the goal posts. Chelsea Manning. Jon Kiriakou. The threatened penalties that drove Aaron Swarzt to kill himself. I wonder if we'll ever see Ed Snowden on Unistat soil again. If you were him, would you believe anything Unistat officials told you about how they wouldn't prosecute if he came back? I wouldn't.

And I don't think it's just Obama. I think it's about the people who REALLY run the country. As time goes on, even a damned eejit like myself can piece together what Peter Dale Scott, Michael J. Glennon, James Carroll, Noam Chomsky, and others have been saying: there is a Shadow Gvt. It seems fairly obvious by now, though no one talks baout it in corporate media. Not at all. But if true - and I say it's a slam-dunk - the implications seem fairly humongous.

Glennon writes about "Trumanite Networks" that, since the National Security State has been in place by 1947, have overridden the Madisonian Prez/Congress/Supremes.

It sheds light on Gen. Eisenhower's going-out speech warning of the military-industrial state. I shows who Domhoff's _Who Rules America?_ (last updated 2013; first ed. 1967) people are working for. It goes back to the mid-1960s, when David Wise wrote about an _Invisible Government_. Peter Dale Scott has used the term "deep politics" and "parapolitics."

It goes back further than that: to "radical" sociologists and historians in the 1940s and 50s, who are now persona non grata in academe.

It goes back to Walter Bagehot, a 19th century English prof.

Who am I leaving out?

michael said...

CORRECTION: Bagehot wasn't any Oxford don, like I had it in my mind. He was a journalist and essayist.

Psuke said...

So happy to see you back! I've missed the deep brain massage.

The increasing paramilitarization of our governing bodies has had me worried for...almost a decade now. And like Eric I'm not at all sure what to do, since even people who I consider relatively intelligent and informed like to think it's an aberration that will correct itself if liberals just keep gently pointing it out. I have serious doubts on that, but violence just reinforces and "justifies" the behavior in the mainstream mind, so what is left? I wish that question could be answered because I'm beginning to feel really sorry about the world my nieces are going to get.

Anonymous said...

It seems Harold Lasswell warned us in 1941 of "specialists in violence" dominating economic and political life. According to Nick Turse US special operation forces dominate approximately 70%of the planet now. Sounds rather global. Please allow me to play the devil's advocate for just a sec: Would you rather have ISIS dominate 70% of the planet? It seems ,to me, there will always be someone who will dominate in one way or other.

The "bacchanalia of expansion" in order to make us "safer" seems to make us (USA) also weaker. The more we spend outside the less we spend inside and consequently our infrastructure, poverty, etc. get left behind and unresolved.

Along some more global apocalyptic lines here seems to lurk another global threat:


Followed by:

"Present shock provides the perfect cultural and emotional pretext for apocalyptic thinking. It is destabilizing; it deconstructs the narratives we use to make meaning; it leads us to compulsively overwind, magnifying the stakes of any given moment; it leads us to draw paranoid connections where there are none; and, finally, its lack of regard for beginnings and endings - its focus on the perpetual now - drives us to impose order on chaos." (Douglas Rushkoff_ Present Shock_ p.261)

According to DR "there is no way back just through".

HOW? "First of all, who told you to think?" to quote Stephen Colbert. Why think at all? Why read and think when there is SIRI and SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING!!!!

To conclude in our global "Americeptional' way "Countries that are America: America 100% - Margin error:+/- Guam" according to Stephen Colbert.

Sorry if I went for too long here.


michael said...


Yea, I'm not sanguine about the idea that if we just keep pointing this stuff out, eventually we'll root it out. Clearly the Captains of Industry know the gvt, they bought will protect the natural resources hidden under the ground of far-flung areas and people. The "savages" who live there think it should belong to them, but the Thrasymachus-minded billionaires know the taxpayers will fund their paramilitary cops all over the globe to ensure the resources go to them (and our client states).

Perhaps, with the achievement of the sort of hi-tech military might we have now (and it's only going to get worse), there's no going back.

I'm with you in concern for younger gens too. I have no children. But I do have friends who have children, and I'm close to these kids and I feel as if they were "mine" and I wouldn't know what to say to them if they ask me how "we" allowed such stuff to happen.

michael said...

Alex- thanks for Lasswell's term. I remember first learning it in reading some Chomsky in the 1980s.

Semantic exercize: instead of saying "the police" or "the military" say "specialists in violence" and not cognitive effects in oneself, and social effects when you say it in front of others. ("Whattya mean, 'specialists in violence'?")

As I understand ISIS, they are not even CLOSE to having the means to do what the Pentagon does all over the world. They have no air force, and that's just the start. Furthermore, as I understand it, a big diff 'tween them and al-Qaeda is that they want to est. a Caliphate; al-Qaeda wanted to destroy Unistat. Both Islamic groups hate Unistat for one major reason: backing murderous kleptocrats in their region of the world.

My answer: C: neither of the above. (I took the far-too-easy way out.)

Re: constant war waged by Pentagon on behalf of billionaires, using our money and infrastructure and poverty problems in Unistat: my main model is outlined above: their concerns are not ours. That is, if double government "is" true. They'll just further insulate themselves and have private police forces or any of the publicly-funded police forces eliminate pests.

Re: AI as threat. Yea, I've been following the stories. Elon Musk even says he's worried. Hmm.

Thanks for the Rushkoff passage. I love that book. I love him. My answer about why think at all, etc: Because no matter how much we read and think, we only have MODELS for how things work. We don't know what we don't know, and therefore Things could develop in ways unforeseen - and possibly felicitously, aye - and we may as well stay in the game, keeping our lasagne flying?

PS: Please feel free to "go on" here; it's what makes the blog readable, AFAIK.

Bobby Campbell said...

Welcome back, OG!

In “Grunch of Giants” Bucky Fuller suggests that there is a group of powerful multinational corporations that uses the United States as cover for their authoritarian activities. That seems pretty likely to me, but I also doubt I have access to enough accurate information to even approximate the big picture. I wonder if anyone does?

I wish that I could do more to reduce the violence, intolerance, and inequality in the world, but I like Eric’s idea of tending one’s own garden, and radiating out microscopic change from there.

My favorite thing to do to balance out the situational horror of the system is to delve into the emerging disruptive technologies on the horizon. Change seems inevitable, control seems impossible, values seem neutral.

What happens post-scarcity?

Reality is what you can get away with?

What do we want to get away with?

Amor et hilaritas!