Greetings from one of the attic dwellers in Canada. We've been mocked as being eternally uninvited to the party going on downstairs. However, lately it seems more like someone has called in the cops to break up the bash. Canadians probably obsess over "America" even more than the Europeans and pretty much every other country, and why wouldn't we? You guys are the 800-pound gorilla in the global room, and when thing start going to shit down there, you can bet it's going to hit the fan up here too.
I was a year old when Vietnam ended, and I'm wondering how low the national mood was back then compared to today. Vietam was obviously an epic American ass-kicking, and the sense I get from some of your articles is that many Americans are finally waking up to the fact that they've been getting kicked in the teeth by their own governments and corporations for another 35 years since then. In clinical terms, you would be looking at a major PTSD patient whose shattered delusions of grandeur have been twisted into an ugly rage spiral — all of which is now being expressed in, um, the Tea Party Movement?
Joe, many questions come to mind, but one of the most pressing is this: can you point readers to some kindred spirits of yours on the web who write in the same mold?
And, do you see any Hunter-esque gonzos coming down the pike? If he sensed a new rot creeping into the scene back in the early 80s, his ashes must be doing the funky chicken over Obama not even bothering to coat the horseshit with honey these days.
Little Bush made it easy for Obama to give away the store. The Cheney-Rove brain trust decided to put it all out in the open, damn the torpedoes, and the trick worked. Official White House policy, officially posted on the official White House website, officially listed criminal government actions that would have put Nixon in a fucking gas chamber. You don't have to know much about the system to realize the powers that be always have the ability to simply move the goalposts when it suits them. But BushCo seemed to be saying something else altogether, something to the effect of: "The goalposts don't even exist. And, for any of you legal Luddites who think the 'rule of law' does exist, or at least should exist, well, it only exists insomuch as our legal flunkies interpret that it exists. Which is to say, the rule of law doesn't exist in any other way than we say it exists. Try to think of it as the Rule of the Rulers of Law. Or something like that. Whatever floats your boat. We don't fucking care anyway."
Following an act like that, Obama can now take one long, protracted piss on the American public, and he doesn't even have to call it rain.
It could all lead to electoral disaster, but if Dems are going to rule like Repubs anyway, does it really matter all that much?
One last question Joe, just wondering where you're at with the Doomer type stuff out there these days — obviously impossible to predict timelines for these sorts of things, but if it does go bad at some point and the food trucks stop running, where do you see all that American civilian and military firepower gunning for first?
Well, in 1975 when the war ended, America was a different country. Damned near everyone was quite happy to see it over, some because they were glad to see an end of the horror and expense, others because it had become boring television. All we have left to document that war for your generation is what the media said at the time. Which is rather hyperbolic and full of gaps. Many of us who protested and whatever, felt that ending the war was a pyrrhic victory. Sixty thousand dead, 160,000 wounded and at least a million on the other side. Not to mention the wasted resources that could have done so much to lift the American people toward what we could have been, an educated, self-realized people. I feel my generation, or at least the best among them, were on the cusp of that before the war.
Anyway, the right wing ideologues and their following made big noises about "if we had only put more resources into it, and turned the generals loose to fig — yada, yada." They spread that shit around until most knee jerk non-thinkers had it stamped on the tip of their tongues as their official answer to any question regarding the war we couldn't win.
You could go down to the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars club and listen to ‘em piss and moan about how the politicians fucked up what should have been a certain victory. Even then, about half of us at the VFW and the American Legion Halls were out back smoking pot. And mocking the old guys saying all that shit, mostly the World War II vet set, whom we called "Big Vet."
As might be expected, all the New York intellectuals were doing their usual jerking off about the "meaning" of the war. As if any war meant anything but death for the anonymous "little people," both yellow and Caucasian, and profits for the big dogs. People like Norman Mailer were making essentially the same arguments you mentioned, that Nam shattered illusions and was a blow to white masculinity and all that stuff. The average American scarcely knew who Mailer was. Only intellectuals worry about such things as American masculinity, as if all of our peckers were linked together in some sort of sort of unified field.
To my mind the most important effect of the Vietnam War was that the 14-year war conditioned Americans to accepting ongoing warfare as an ordinary backdrop to their lives. Since then we've always been at war somewhere to some degree or another. It's language has penetrated the way we think. Corporations launch a marketing "offensive," We declare a "war on drugs." Likewise, the language of capitalist finance and war meld. Twenty thousand dead civilians become "collateral" damage. The aggregated corpses become "damage." The cumulative result has been the Orwellian Newspeak so nicely summed up by Gore Vidal in the phrase "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace."
The history of the era had to be rewritten to keep the military industrial complex and its associated rackets in business, lest we all end up unarmed, peace loving, educated people. So staring with lest the countercultural movement, starting with Newt Gingrich, the Heritage Foundation, et al, tens of millions were spent rewriting the Sixties era as the beginning of the end of America. Since then the neocon forces have perfected misinformation to the point of stirring up more meanness in this country than I would have ever thought possible Even the John Birchers are making a comeback.
And the Teabaggers? Looks to me like its national base, if it really has one — it's hard to tell how much is neocon media manipulation and how much is real — are pretty much the same ignorant characters as always. The frustrated, ill educated uninformed people who want to less government but more benefits, and to pay for operating the country with tax cuts.
Writers in the gonzo-esque mold? I really don't know any more than you do on that matter. I'd say James Howard Kunstler for one. You may not think of Jim that way, but if he were writing his stuff in 1970, he would have been seen as gonzo. But I'm not sure just who is out there. I really don't cruise the web as much as you might think.
But Hunter was one of a kind. Realistically speaking, Matt Taibbi is probably as good as Hunter was in many respects. But Hunter was the first. Taibbi is better than Hunter in nailing down the facts, but strains too hard at times to be entertaining (who doesn't?) Still, I have a lot of respect for Taibbi. Also, Hunter's political position inasmuch as he had one other than personal freedom, might be called armed and drugged-out libertarian. It was a different era. If Hunter were starting out today, I doubt Hunter could get published by mainstream mags and book publishers. Publishers' legal fears and all.
Regarding "rulers" who do not give a fuck: Nobody in either party has cared for the past 30 years. Only the Democrats feel compelled to keep up the charade. You are wrong about the way the legal system of lackeys works. When it comes to twisting the interpretation of the law so you can steal from the people, violate privacy or otherwise move the Constitutional goalposts, don't blame that on the politicians. We have a Supreme Court for that purpose.
I don't know why everyone seems so outraged at how we've been pissed on by the Obama administration. Actually, it's a long standing tradition. The same old crew of elites has always been pissing on the citizenry down here. They've just had different presidents holding their dicks for them. I wouldn't worry too much about it "leading to electoral disaster?" Our electoral process IS a disaster. The electoral college is designed to thwart the popular vote. And regarding "If the Dems are going to rule like t
he Republicans anyway." Neither party rules. Corporations do the ruling. Politicians conduct the public sing-along about democracy.
Like anyone else who has soberly observed this age of peak everything, and the avaricious clowns in charge of our future, I'm a doomer. Even if Abe Lincoln, FDR or Gandhi were in charge at this point, I'd be a doomer. But with enough booze, I can gut it out in relative cheer. As for making predictions, I try to avoid it. You see, I am in the racket of appearing as if I might know these sorts of things, so publishers will pay me money. It's a delicate balancing act. Readers believe way too much of what I say, and my wife doesn't believe anything I say. Fortunately, my dog is a good listener and never comments, unless there is bacon involved.
And finally, your question as to who we Americans bomb next will bomb next. The possibilities are endless. Given that up there in Canada you don't carry guns, I kinda like the idea of bombing you guys. Maybe we could win a war for a change. Barring that, maybe Australia. The place is so big and empty I doubt we'd hit anybody. Hell, it would take 'em a year to notice it.
But I'm sure God, Wall Street and the Pentagon and will let us know when the time comes.
In art and labor,