Jerry Harvey, expert on management dysfunction and organizational behavior, has a classic finding called The Abilene Paradox. Basically, it discusses our inability to deconflict — agreement. We may all “want to do X but there are hidden voices saying, We should do Y because…” His story involves the disruption of a family afternoon in north Texas in the summer because his mother in law figured that he and his wife were probably bored. This resulted in a four hour car trip over beat up roads in a beat up, unairconditioned car to a Rexall Drug Store and Lunch Counter in Abilene. It was hot, it was dusty, it was a lot like the Texas in The Last Picture Show. When they finally got home and collapsed in the living room, there was dead silence punctuated by gas and burps from that fine Rexall Lunch Counter cusine for about 45 mintues. As Harvey tells the story, realizing that he was a trained social scientist with a PhD in Organizational Psychology and Behavior, felt compelled “to make a behavioral intervention.” So, he said, “That was fun now, wasn’t it?” To which his father-in-law responded by looking at him and visibly questioning the wisdom of letting his daughter marry this clown and then saying as only someone who’s from Texas or at least spent a lot of time there can say it, “SSSSHHHEEEEIIITTTT –that was awful.” The family did a post mortem, and when their reasoning got exposed — Momma thought the kids were bored and wouldn’t want to eat left overs, the kids didn’t want to deny Momma anything, Papa wasn’t going to push back against eveyone else so…the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in the early 70s, the road to Abilene was paved with kind thoughts and care for other people’s feelings. Book is a classic, and I recommend it to anyone — Harvey is one of my heroes along with Keith Richards, Guy Clark and Kierkegaard.

I am drawn to this example today as we observe the final drawdown of US Forces in Iraq and the casing of the colors… Although we were not militarily defeated and did eliminate a crazed dictator, in a very large sense this was a strategic if not ontological defeat for the United States. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq may rank historically with Cyrus invading Greece, Hitler Russia or Lee Pennsylvania.

This war was a terrible idea as a use of blood, power, treasure and time. Our soldiers performed incredibly well — the average enlisted guy in Vietnam served one tour of 11.5 months. Once. In World War II and Korea, once you got there, you stayed until you couldn’t fight anymore but there were long lulls between battle and fear. But in Iraq, it was never quiet, never safe, never secure, never lulled — every day, anywhere, was a day in combat. Everybody hated you, and if they didn’t, you figured that there was something wrong with them. As I talked to our kids returning from this cauldron, the general theme echoed one I heard from a British Peacekeeper in 1994 — “They’re all guilty bastards.”

Were there problems? Hell yes; war is nothing but problems. This one was fought so poorly that it makes you wonder if Rumsfeld, Cheney and Tommy Franks had bet against at some British bookies…their ignorance, stupidity and basic inhumanity wasn’t just criminal. It was of some other dimension — as if the DOD was run by Reptilian-Alien overlords. Bizzare…

Did we have soldiers do some bad things? Yup — every war has soldiers do bad things. But, the vast, vast majority of the American military served incredibly well, honorably and effectively. It was a bad idea; it’s the Iraqis country; we broke it, we fixed it, and we need to get our guys all home. Now.

So, it was with a certain degree of stunned outrage that the drumbeat from the Republican party managed to get through my skull. The leadership of the Republican party is so committed to reflexive condemnation of anything that this White House does that they’re not only willing to destroy the economy of the foreseeable future, the lives and hopes of millions of Americans; they are willing to denigrate the sacrifices of the people in the boots on the ground by saying that this war was in vain because we didn’t stay there.

If you recall when the agreement to end the war was signed, GW Bush was president, Condi Rice was Secretary of State, and Petraeus was still in charge of the Army in Iraq. That team didn’t negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement; the Iraqis want us gone. We just lost 4500 killed, thousands of lives shortened by wounds both physical and psychological fighting a war to bring self-determination and Jeffersonian Democracy to a nation made up of various ethnic, religious and cultural groups that all hate each other. As a whole, they want us gone, and we need to go.

Now the clowns are rattling their cages about Iran. Seriously, what do they expect to happen? The drone goes down in their country; we should bomb them? Was that Gingrich or Romney or Palin? Insane. Again, total lack of historical perspective on how the “great Game” or any game for that matter besides Monopoly is played. When a Soviet defector flew a MIG 25 Foxbat to Japan about 30 years ago, we totally dissassembled the plane, kept it for 67 days and returned it to the Soviets in boxes.

Of course, these guys are all operating in a vacuum. What we do to them, they can do to us. If we torture prisoners, they will torture prisoners. If we bomb indiscriminately, they will bomb indiscriminately. It’s important as this mess ends that we honor the victors, the American Armed Forces and Veterans who overcame the strategic defeat that was the whole war, and won an operational and tactical success in conditions of incredible difficulty.

So, while I find Barrack Obama less than a success, and I resent the mistake that you can have bi-partisan cooperation when only one side cooperates as being the worst of new age gibbersih made into policy, we need to make certain that he is re-elected but, more importantly, that the Democrats take back the congress, a greater majority in the Senate and begin to work dismantling the Oligarchs on the right side of the Supreme Court.

Busey-MonkeyOr, fuck it. At another site my pals and I have backed a mythical monster — Cthulhu — an anarchist analytic philosopher –my brother from another mother, Crispin Sartwell — and a dead Communist — Gus Hall — for President. We were being satirical we thought…but, if you can’t get your head out of your ass far enough to care this time around, just vote for our new ticket of Gary Busey and Callista Gingrich. What the hell — he’s beyond Channeling the Elder Gods certifiable and she’s obviously controlling Newt through a combination of shiny things and sexual deviance. At somepoint Gingrich will either choke on a ring or she’ll suck his brains out; might as well get it over with.

However, I am going to care. I’m going to encourage other people to care. I’m going to get goddamned irritable about people not caring and doing jejune parlor tricks with semantics. You know what the meaning is of “lesser of two evils?” The better choice. Our soldiers, our people and the world deserve to be free of these madmen for at least a complete term. It needs to be done, and if we don’t do it now, who will?

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I ve walked and I ve crawled on six crooked highways
I ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin
Heard ten thousand whisperin and nobody listenin
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin back out fore the rain starts a-fallin
I ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin
But I ll know my song well before I start singin
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

–Bob Dylan, 1962