[lit-ideas] Re: RR (Fictions and Realities)

  • From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2004 12:24:11 +0900

On 2004/06/08, at 12:11, JulieReneB@xxxxxxx wrote:

> Is there any reliable source for the # of American servicemen killed in
> Afghanistan?
> Julie Krueger

Don't know. But on the subject of fictions and realities, here is a 
piece I recently contributed to bestoftheblogs.

In the latest issue of Harper's  magazine, Lewis Lapham's "Notebook" 
column contains the following paragraph. The reference is to all of 
human history.

>  Misjudgment in high places can be accepted as a constant; so can the 
> habits of mind that favor criminal incompetence and the pretensions to 
> imperial splendor. I don't find it surprising that when the United 
> States was attacked by Saudi Arabian jihadists we responded by 
> attacking a secular regime in Iraq. Germany in 1914 declared war on 
> Russia and invaded France. All governments enchanted by the story of 
> their own magnificence fall afoul of the same stupidities--the waste 
> of money, the misreading of foreign intelligence reports, the 
> breakdown of interior lines of communication, the inability to see 
> further than three feet into the future. The variable is the character 
> and quality of the excuses.

  It hardly needs saying that Lapham finds the quality of the Bush 
administration's excuses remarkably poor. He traces the enfeeblement of 
the character of contemporary excuses to the Iran-Contra hearings.

> Ronald Reagan was president (a man who was himself hard-pressed to 
> know what was true and what was not), and it was no longer necessary 
> to work up a plausible alibi. It was enough to lower one's voice to an 
> agreeable murmur and say, with a gracious and accomodating smile, "I 
> can't recall."

  It is sad to recall that this statement, uttered by Reagan, may have 
simply been the truth. The current Warp Resident tries, suggests 
Lapham, to imitate the rhetorical style of his National Security 

> The technique is as easy to learn as the vocabulary of corporate 
> advertising and, with the proviso that one must keep a straight face, 
> a form of address that lends itself to the earnest recitation of 
> heartfelt nonsense.

The shocker is how many Americans, who conceive of themselves as 
tough-minded, rugged individualists, lap up and repeat the nonsense in 


John L. McCreery
International Vice Chair, Democrats Abroad

Tel 81-45-314-9324
Email mccreery@xxxxxxx

 >>Life isn't fair. Democracy should be. <<

To learn more about Democrats Abroad, see these websites

        In Japan: http://www.demsjapan.jp
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