January 06, 2011

The Republicans & Their Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade

"Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. ...When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. ..To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of “Continual Reaffirmation” that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission."

Any excuse, after all, to quote from Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I thought of that incomparable novel (I've often thought that Joseph Heller was the closest that modern America has come to Jonathan Swift and Gulliver's Travels) when I heard about the newly empowered Republicans in the House and their idea that any bill introduced must cite its Constitutional authority. There's just something about Republicans....the clannishness, the sense of wanting to belong to a club, the way they revel in conformity and groupthink. They love flag lapel pins, monolithic voting, yielding to authority, unthinking solidarity, dumb little rules that identify them as members of a clan, such as citing Constitutional authority for anything you bring up in the House.

I'm okay with it all. The new House will be fun. They are absolutely full of terrible new ideas, ideas that make no sense, that are wildly impracticable, but since the USA has passed that point of complexity that Joseph Tainter, among others, pointed out as the zone of diminishing returns, where each new accretion of complexity only causes the system to break down further, it really doesn't matter. Which makes me think of Catch-22's Captain Dunbar, Yossarian's foil and philosophical buddy, who sought out the company of extraordinarily dull and tedious people, because they made time go more slowly and thus gave the illusion of a longer life. While the United States swirls down the toilet, we will have the spectacle of that supreme corporatist, President Barack Obama, attempting to differentiate himself from the moiling Tea Party dunderheads by bleating "progressive" sounds from time to time, while the Republicans lurch farther and farther to the Right in an effort to draw clear distinctions between themselves and the ever Rightward-leaning President. Obama will chase their Conservatism, in other words, but he will never overtake them, because the capacity of the Right for truly loony ideas is insatiable, protean and inexhaustible.

It should be fun to watch for a couple of years. I don't think many rational people believe at all anymore that the political class in Washington, D.C. is capable of any kind of ameliorative action. Any economic relief for the peasantry is strictly an unavoidable by-product of the Power Elite's main focus and preoccupation, which is concentrating power and wealth in Washington and Wall Street.

No comments:

Post a Comment