Recently it was reported that the Defense Department had asked the Rand Corporation to determine if “Individuals who hold or held a security clearance and handled classified material could become a security threat if they develop dementia and unwittingly share government secrets.”
Yet another example of Pentagon waste. We could and would have answered that question for lunch money: “Yes.”
Here’s the answer which probably cost taxpayers $640,000: “Considering the potential consequences of an inadvertent security breach stemming from cognitive impairment, we believe that further study of risk, recognition, and mitigation strategies is important.” *
The narrowness of the question is what bothers us.
What we really need, as a nation, is an answer to the question, “What can be done when key parts of the government are in the hands of fascist crackpots?”
Let us consider, for example, the then-Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, on January 2, 2021. He received the following text from Senator and former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney:
“In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th. There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into D.C., and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator—the President—is the one who commands the reinforcements the D.C. and Capitol police might require.”
McConnell, according to McKay Coppins’s reporting, did not reply. One can only assume it’s because his head was fully retracted and hidden under his carapace.
Now Romney is being driven out of the Republican Party and the U.S. Senate because he voted to convict Donald Trump in his second impeachment, and people are threatening Mitt and his family. Call us callous, but Romney’s personal safety is not our primary concern here. To paraphrase Hyman Roth, this is the business he’s chosen. He has money to burn only because he made an obscene fortune in the private equity racket.
Our concern is these new Brown Shirts. Romney is just an easily-identified canary in the unsafe, unregulated, unventilated, gas-filled and combustible coal mine that is today’s America. No one shells out nearly $2 million a year for personal protection without good reason—not even a man who has an elevator for his cars.
What about the rest of us? Are we destined to be just so much collateral damage when the Goon Squad really cuts loose?
January 6th was bad. A frothing lunatic stood before a howling mob and urged them on to attack and shut down the legislature—so that he could continue wreaking havoc at the head of the executive. They gave it a shot, but they failed. We’ll never know for sure how close we were to losing the whole shebang.
Now there’s a video clip making the rounds that, while completely different—and not in the good, Monty Python way—may be as frightening as January 6th.
The head goon himself, #45, stands before a red and white-striped background, hands clamped to the podium. No “air accordion” today. As he speaks, low, slow, and calmly, quasi-celestial music plays faintly in the background. It’s an autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, session—a flat-out attempt at mind control. He’s trying to create a zombie army.
Things were bad enough half a century ago, when the fat cat party welcomed the racist Democrats fleeing LBJ’s pro-civil rights agenda.
Reagan and Bush #43 made things worse, courting fundamentalist Bible-thumpers to stay competitive. You would think that aggressively pious souls would have been more suspicious of such an obvious bunch of Mammon-worshippers chanting “greed is good.” Alas, critical thinking is not their forte.
This, though—turning the party over to a violent cult, at a time when the natural world itself is literally howling at us, “stop with the business-as-usual”—that’s just certifiably insane.
Thoughts on Beginning Another Year
With this issue we begin our 268th year. After 26 fortnights of steady effort, we get to add an “I” to the “CCLXVII” up there on our nameplate.
We’re always prone to taking the long view, so milestones like these just egg us on. Looking backwards is easy, and it can be fun, as when we celebrated our 250th anniversary, 17 years ago.
Looking forward is different. Will our present staff be celebrating our 275th, in the year 2031? That’s hard to say, and it’s only eight years off. Our 300th? Let’s not ask.
What’s our point here? Maybe just this: a marker to remind ourselves that “Succession” is not just an amusing cable TV program.
* While we’re on the Pentagon’s case, it lost another F-35 the other day—literally. The Marine pilot punched out over the ’burbs of Charleston, S.C., and the $80-million dingus just kept on keeping on. Joint Base Charleston was reduced to tweeting, “If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.” Helpful, civic-minded citizens in the Charleston area responded by putting up “Lost!!!” posters of the jet.