Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Short Essay on the Brainwashing Effect...

The question of “Can we resist the influence of the media?” is a question that many red- (or blue) blooded Americans has asked. The “media” itself needs to be broken down into manageable chunks. Those being: News, Music, Literature, and the Government.

News, in it self, can be a very influential media machine (monster?). News Media can warp and stretch stories to their liking, or report only one side of the story, and in extreme cases, not report anything at all. To my knowledge very few “credible” news organizations warp stories to their liking. The more likely scenarios which people encounter are the single side and no story topics. Here, the people who write about the stories are able to present the side that will generate the most interest and consequently the most money. Here, because people are only presented with one side, they automatically see the person whose story is not heard to be found guilty. Also, when something tragic happens to the parent company, the news organizations may not report about it. In effect, the Americans who are subjected to this are in effect brainwashed into thinking what the writers want.

Music is much trickier subject to take. Because not many people today listen for what the lyrics have to say, but to the beat and catchy tunes (this would also explain the huge popularity of rap and hip-hop), not many people are listening for any redeeming quality or message. But because messages are inherently part of music, certain messages tend to gravitate towards certain genres. Sex and gangs tend to populate rap and hip-hop, while politics tends to stay in punk. Your Ex-Girlfriend has rock, and your truck has country. Really, most people I know do not listen to music for messages; it is all about what kind of riffs and beats you like. There is no media influence in music.

Literature and writing can be forceful mediums of influence, and I stress the word can. This is explained by the people themselves. There are so many different styles of writing and genres of books, that a book store is literally filled influence. “Buy this book. It has sex, drugs, and lies! No buy this one! It has sex, drugs, lies and spaceships.” This is a constant cycle that will never end. Society is filled with crazy people who want an “Earth-Federation” or a “Knight in Shining Armor.” In the end it breaks down to: What are you as the writer trying to express? What market are you trying to sell to?

The Government can fall into the news category, but is so huge that it can be described as its own separate entity. Here propaganda rules the roost, with tons of “support this, support that” and “support that or your un-American.” Just look at. The American government is constantly at war: the War on Terrorism, the War on Recession, and the War on Drugs. Here we can take out part out a very famous quote, “War is Peace.” Taken from George Orwell’s book, 1984, “War is Peace” says that when the country is at war then the people are all united and little uprising or “un-Americanism” can occur, and when it does the government can quickly put it down and discredit it.

It’s sad what has happened here, but it is, what this writer believes anyway, to be the truth. The American people have taken it for granted that the media and the government (who then promptly screw them over) to think for them. We elect people with Ph.D.’s in law to represent ranchers in Montana. Why? Because he can think for everybody else, even though he has never roped a bull, let alone stepped on a real working ranch. If the American, no….the Worlds People do not start to think for themselves then surely we are all doomed to be ruled by the privileged few and will see the downfall of democracy as we know it. Hell, it’s a stretch, but the Constitution is the road map towards that way of life. When the “Founding Fathers” drafted the Constitution, they set up the government to be filled with the richest, most “educated” people around. The basic people would elect “educated” people to further elect the person who they think should run the country, usually another rich, “educated” white man.

There is no way out of this monster media machine. The American people have left the media alone for too long and now there is no end in sight to growing influence of the media. Red, White, and Brainwashed indeed.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Michael Moore...

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves why Michael Moore wrote Stupid White Men. We also must ask why it was included in our reader Rereading America. I believe I found the answer with in Moore’s own text, Idiot Nation. It is because, in fact, America is a nation of idiots. Fortunately for those people, Moore lays it out plain and simple, and in his typical fashion, proceeds to blame the government, in turn blaming the people who voted them in, and somehow in the end makes himself out to be an almighty deity sent down from the heavens to educate our illiterate asses. To this I say, “Fuck you, Michael Moore!”

But I digress. Moore does have some solid points of view, if not a little skewed. He is correct in saying that America’s schools are crumbling and everyone wants to fix it, but nobody is willing to step up to the plate. Having myself attended a, for lack of better words, shitty and corrupt school, I have seen Moore’s views first hand. The school was run down, cracking at the seams, and run by a morally corrupt principle whose only concern was moving up the job ladder. The text books were from the mid 1980’s and the science equipment was cracked and broken. The teachers were trying to make the best of the worst and were suffering from de-moralization. To boot, just as Moore had wrote, the school boards only concern was the test scores from the state mandated tests. I remember the kids going home stressed, beat down and exhausted. I would be lying if I said the Cumberland County school system was tolerable.

While I do understand Michael Moore’s reason for writing this excerpt, he never provides a solution to the problem at hand. He even takes a few lines to bash President Bush about the election of 2000, his school grades and his overall intelligence. Why this in the excerpt is not fully understood until the entire book Stupid White Men is read and understood. Moore even provides a list of ways to subvert the school system, after providing us with his personal rebellious history. Again I ask why? He blames the government for every little thing that is wrong with the school system, but he never takes the time to actually think that maybe it partially his (and others like him) fault for constantly interrupting, subverting, and distracting the schools faculty from doing their jobs of teaching the students and improving the education system.

What’s worse is Moore goes off on a tangent of how he was bumped up to the second grade because he was so smart in first. And yet again I ask, what does this have to do with America being this so called Idiot Nation? While the little anecdote is interesting, it leaves me to wonder what its purpose is in the larger context of the writing. Is this an attempt to prove to the larger audience that he is in fact, smarter than the rest of us? Unfortunately for Moore, I believe that most Americans can see through this. But I might be wrong considering how well Moore’s orchestrated lie Fahrenheit 911 did in the theaters.

Moore does provide lots of facts and figures. Just two being: Forty-four million Americans cannot read or write above a forth grade level and a test given to 556 seniors at fifty-five American universities. Dealing with the first “figure,” Moore conveniently forgets to add how many of them are recent immigrants or mentally handicapped His “figure” should have been paired down to Americans who cannot read above a forth grade level that have at least completed elementary school. I would bet my bottom dollar that the figure would be much, much smaller. While I have no reason to doubt his second figure, the lack of a name or source is very disturbing indeed. How do I know he did not just make the figures up off the top of his head? Another factor is this: most of those tests lie. In my own research, I have found that most students will lie out their ass on test that do not count for a grade, are state run and are cutting into time that could be used for something better. I remember a high school run “What have you done?” survey. Questions that were found on this test ranged from “What drugs have you used?” to “How many times a week do you have sex?” Well Edmond North, not that it’s any of your business, but I have done cannabis (lie), cocaine (lie), heroin (lie), and methamphetamines (lie). I have unprotected sex ten times a week with five different girls (lie). In the end the school had to throw the test out after it was discovered how many students severely embellished or outright lied on the survey. Teenagers are not to be trusted.

Overall, after cutting though the fat and bad meat, Michael Moore’s text, Idiot Nation, does provide a fairly clear view of how bad the America’s school system really is. Capitol Hill should stand up and take notice of what Michael Moore is telling us. But if they can’t even answer some questions about their constituents, I don’t believe they will understand the message.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
God Damn it...

I got my kilt today. the bastard fits but my ass to damn big for it to fit properly... Weight Loss here i come!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Cheney Says Shooting of Fellow Hunter Was Based On Faulty Intelligence

Believed Shooting Victim Was Zawahiri, Veep Says

Vice President Dick Cheney revealed today that he shot a fellow hunter while on a quail hunting trip over the weekend because he believed the man was the fugitive terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Mr. Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on Saturday was not al-Zawahiri but rather Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire
lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on "faulty intelligence."

"I believed I had credible intelligence that al-Zawahiri had infiltrated my hunting party in disguise with the intent of spraying me with pellets," Mr.
Cheney told reporters. "Only after I shot Harry in the face and he shouted 'Cheney, you bastard' did I realize that this intelligence was faulty."

Moments after Mr. Cheney's assault on Mr. Whittington, Mr. al-Zawahiri appeared in a new videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera to announce that he was uninjured in the vice president's attack because, in his words, "I was in Pakistan."

An aide to the vice president said he believed that the American people would believe Mr. Cheney's version of events, but added, "If he was going to shoot any of his cronies right now it's a shame it wasn't Jack Abramoff."

At the White House, President George W. Bush defended his vice president's shooting of a fellow hunter, saying that the attack sent "a strong message to
terrorists everywhere."

"The message is, if Dick Cheney is willing to shoot an innocent American citizen at point-blank range, imagine what he'll do to you," Mr. Bush said.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow...

I've made my decision not to return to Saginaw Valley State University next semester. Where I go from here is unknown. During the summer I'll be living with in spitting distance of Yuba Community College, or I could return to Michigan and hit up Ferris State. Right now i'm gonna play the rest of the semester by ear and see what happens.

My new kilt will be arriving in two days provided UPS dosen't misplace (read: lose) it. That's the big news right now. And i can't wait.

For Spring Break i'll be heading down to Detroit to spend time with my Aunts and Uncles. The only plans i have right now are to go to at least one Players Club show. What becomes of it i don't know. But that Saturday morning, they are having a ton of little kids, so we'll see if any get become scared of me or not...

John

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Charged and Ready...

Spikes charged up
I’m full of energy
Music’s blasting in my ear
Crowds roar is barely heard
I’m bouncing like a maniac
And the nights barely started

I’ve been over and under
My head’s in the clouds
I’m surfing the crowd
My head hurts like hell
Been smashed on the floor
And I’m ready to get some more

Pogo, Mosh-pit, Skanking fun
My ears are bleeding
Clothes and ripped and torn
Caught in the crowd
The night’s still young
Let’s get this pit started

Friday, February 17, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Okay that's it....I've had it.....

Editor of AutoWeek:

After reading your January 2, 2006 magazine, among other dealing with similar cover subject materail...all i can say is this...

The Big 3 (GM, Chrysler, Ford) automakers can just keel over and DIE!!!!!

I am sick of retro designs impeding on true automotive design progress. While i have no problem with the Chevy HHR and the Chrysler PT Curiser (those being of retro-design but not pulling on any one car or theme, unlike the others), the Proposed Pontiac GTO, Chevy Camaro, the Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, and all make my want to vomit in my wastebasket. Why are the high end, high power, mass produced Domestic cars going retro? More importantly, why is occuring at all?

I'll tell you why. It's becasue the largest voting block this country has ever known, The Baby Boomers. Yes...the very people reading this...i blame you. If you want a car that reminds you of earlier times, go and buy a classic. You know...a 1969 GTO, or a 65 Mustang. Don't pollute the market segment with your old designs and old-school looks. We (Gen Y and Gen X) don't want them. We want our cars, not mom and dads. We want a small 4 or 6 banger that can make 300 horses and still get 30 MPG. Not a 400 Cubic inch V-8 that make 300 horses and get 10 MPG.

At this point your are prolay thinking, "How can he know what the entire youth of today want?" I say look around. For every classic muscle car you might see, you will see 3 or 4 import tuners. NASCAR is reaching it's limit in viewers, while D1 Drifting is gaining popularity as we speak. Trans Am racing has lost it's street cred, while the JGTC is gaining more and more around the world. People....there is not a single JGTC car that is "retro." Why? It's not what the people want! Why are there no retro cars in Europe? Japan? Because Fiat, Honda, Nissian, and Peugeot have realized that the future of the company does not depend on the Middle Aged!

I say if you want to re-invent a classic name plate: Make it cheap, make it tuneable, make it fun to drive, and for god sakes...don't design it after something in the past.


John Lewakowski....One Pissed Off Teenager

Johnny Rumble:
Needless Battle...

Busted lip and a broken nose
Assualter connects again
Lying on the ground
And coughing up blood
My face is a mess
And guts tied in knots

Not police brutality this time
And not even family abuse
Some mod got pissed off
And he kicks me in the chest
Don’t know how much more
Of this beat down I can take

I feel my own rage building
Seeing nothing but red
Another kick to the rib
My heart is racing
My minds in overdrive
And a stomp to my chest

My head hits the pavement
Brains are scrambled around
I can feel blood running
Exiting my battle wounds
I taste the concrete floor
Soul is knocking on heaven’s door

I hear boots a running
Yells are ringing out
The Punks have come lately
The violence is over now
Help me up and carry me off
And I live to fight another day

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Mirror...

Walking on broken glass, my feet feel no pain
By body is all tensed up from the strain
This time has no end. I will struggle on
And escape is exile, where I do not belong
My life is not perfect, there are happy endings
My time is not right, there was no beginning.

Chorus:
I look in the mirror, to see what I am
Full of hatred, remorse, pain and suffering
I will take that leap of faith, I will become a man.

Where am I going? What are my dreams?
Is it here? Solitude, left for dead with out any gleams
I think about future and what’s inside my head.
Filled with empty hopes, only thoughts of dread.
Where is my team to catch me when I fall?
They all left me, up against the wall.

Chorus:

Walking on broken glass, my feet feel no pain
By body is all tensed up from the strain
This time has no end. I will struggle on
And escape is exile, where I do not belong
My life is not perfect, there are happy endings
My time is not right, there was no beginning.

Chorus:

I will take that leap of faith, I will become my own man.



In other news....Hot Topic finally got some more kilts in...and finally I was able to get one...happiness prevails today. Photos will be coming soon.

Johnny Rumble:
Ian Spears...

Ian Spears is the greatest friend I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Maybe not the great person, but he was most assuredly an awesome friend. Through all the good times and the rough, from the wastelands to the highlands, he was always by my side, pushing me farther than I had ever gone before. Hopefully, I did the same for him.

Ian has a kind of personality that really rubs against you, until you get to know him. I remember him being incredibly outgoing, easy to work with, and at times, a real slut. He is always with a different woman every night, but in time he did fall for one particular girl. And when she rejected him, he fell into the biggest depression he ever had. It was bad; he almost gave up on women until he graduated. For Ian, this was about the same as suicide. Fortunately, he came out of it and went back to his normal sluttish ways.

Physically, Ian stood at about six foot six inches. At about 195 pounds, he wasn’t imposing, just visible. He always wore a bright smile and friendly expression. The kind of expression you would see on a perma-stoner. He had fairly short dirt blond hair that he wore in an English Mohawk style. His ice-blue eyes seemed to search the area. Some people said they were looking for trouble. His closest friends knew they were looking for something else. The best way to describe him was as a big, happy, albeit horny, kid.

The two things that will always stick with me are when we skipped the last day of school to go hot tubing, and when we bridge jumping. First, the hot tub. Located in a gated community, we had to break in to gain access to it. When we did, all hell broke loose. We (4 guys and 3 women) got liquored up, and dress down. Jensen and Ian were both in the nude, and I was helping myself to my bottle of 21 year old Glenmorangie. And a 12 year old bottle of Old Pulteney. Sadly, about ½ cup of the Glenmorangie got wasted. Right in the middle of one of my gulps of it, Ian said something so hilarious, that I shot the scotch right through my nose. Which brought a roar of laughter. Not to mention a ton of pain to my nostrils. Ian that day introduced me to my future girlfriend. While I was piss ass drunk.

The second “incident” also happened while we were under the influence of bottled stupidity. Ian, me, and about four other people decided to go bridge jumping in an Oklahoma thunderstorm into a flooded river. Like I said, bottled stupidity. We drove to 122nd and Sooner, found the bridge to jump off, and pulled over. This particular bridge ran over a tributary of the Canadian River. The river, however, was about 60 feet below us. After a preliminary swim (how we didn’t drown I don’t know), we climbed over the hand railing. Ian and I were going to be the only ones to jump on this fateful day. We had already played Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who would go first. Ian lost (or won, depending on how you look at it). As he was looking down, he lost his nerve. So…I…helped him on his way. One shove, 60 feet, and an impact later, he was looking up at me inventing new cuss words. And at about this point, I was starting to lose my nerve as well. But I guess I got to a point were I just didn’t care about anything. College, my girlfriend, my financial issues, my family, my pickled liver and kidneys, I just stop caring about any of it. I took the plunge. It was the pure freedom. For those 3 seconds I was nothing and everything.

When I hit the water, I didn’t feel anything. Just as I broke the surface of the water, the first thing Ian yelled was (appropriately, seeing as how fat I am), “Tidal Wave!” I just saluted him with one outstretched finger. When I related my experiences on the bridge to him, we got into a big philosophical discussion about the feeling of freedom, then into what is freedom, and into 3 other topics about freedom. It was liberating not to talk to a conservative adult about politics.

Ian and I had many intellectual conversations, mostly about human emotions, Women, and the state of Scotland and Ireland. It was the ones about emotion that made me think about my life. He told me one thing that stuck with me, “In life there are straight roads and there are crooked ones. While the straight roads are the simplest and easiest to travel, it’s the curved ones that are the most fulfilling when you look back. You see some corners that were shallow and some severe. When you look at the severe ones, you may think, ‘How did I make it through alive?’ And then you remember that those times were the times where you friends were there for you. The times when you had the most fun. What would you rather travel? A straight road or a curved one?” And of course being Ian, he also added, “Besides…it’s the blind corners where you can’t see who you’re sleeping with tonight.” Ever so insightful. But what’s so great about what he said, is that it erased all of my worries, all of my depressions, all of my potential suicide.
When I met Ian, I was going through a particularly rough spot in my life. But after that one evening, every time I went out on an expedition with him, I was enjoying myself. We caused chaos in the streets, in the taverns, and in the bars. I went home feeling good about myself every damn time. Ian Spears saved my life. At this point in time, nobody knows where he is, but one thing’s assured, I owe him a big debt of gratitude. Wherever you are my friend, this whiskey chaser’s for you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
Spirit of ‘77

I remember from back in the day
Way before we became a fashion
Back when Punk was fun and full
Of the energy that I crave today
Where did the life go and how much
Longer are we gonna be around
Let’s return to our roots, return
To the days of old, when only thing
That mattered was the next show.

Chorus:
Let’s get back to the spirit
Back to energy and back to the fun.
Let’s get back to the Spirit of ‘77.

Back then a good day
Was one when you woke up, still alive
And able to go drink in the park with
Your friends and street family.
With nothing on our minds and few
Cares to ever think about, we set out
Always on the look out for a cheap brew
We got caught drinking in the sun
But we didn’t care. We had our music.

Chorus:

CBGB’s was still new and open
We used it as a haven for reckless attitude
And Hilly never cared, he kept bringing
Us back. Never worried and never lacking
Now our birthplace is gone, never to return
Does anybody care? I doubt it. But if
A dance club closed, the city raises hell.

Chorus:

Let’s get back to the days when punk was fun
Back to The Ramones, Back to The Damned.
The Sex Pistols, and The NY Dolls.
To the days when we had a message
A message of fun and rampant destruction
So here’s my plea, let’s get back before
The chaos, before the corruption.

Chorus:

Johnny Rumble:
Erich Remarque...

Erich Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front, while a classic war novel, is also a novel covering many different issues. On the surface, Reamarque wanted to write a book different from every other published book out there. He wrote a book about from the “enemy” side of the conflict. However, when one looks at his history, Remarque served with the GermanyGerman army, forcing to ask, “Is this really a book that is different from every other war book out there?” I answer no. All Quiet on the Western Front follows the same formula as every other book out thereMost books I read about the same subject. Put main character in war, wound character, kill his friends, make him\her crazy, kill or remove character and or plot. Exciting.

Quick comparison. All Quiet on the Western Front versus Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts. Paul Bäumer and Jake Grafton both are developed in much the same way. Both suffer tremendous losses, are wounded in the line of duty, and both start to question the war. Grafton looses his co-piloted, and Bäumer looses his close friend and company commander. The difference between the two is the nothing but a few dozen years. Remarque’s takes place in World War I while Coonts’ takes place during Vietnam. The two stories are so similar that if you just change a few dates around, the stories are almost interchangeable.

The main character, Paul Bäumer, is a young, school-age man, who, like many of his friend, signed up for the war thinking that it would be a short conflict. Most of the kids’ wealthy parents were ecstatic that war was happening, while only the poor and downtrodden seem to know what is about to happen. Throughout the book, Paul suffers from hunger, the death of his friends, injuries that have him hospitalized, and then ultimately, the loss of his life.
Paul is constantly put into bad situations and some how manages to return alive, if not a little bruised. In Chapter Nine, Paul gets lost while on patrol in No Man’s Land. While trying to get back to his lines, Paul comes across a dying French solider, and tries to comfort him in everyway possible. While this is going on, he slowly starts to lose his mind. He thinks only about his family, his friends, the dead man’s wife, and withdrawals into the “What If?” stage. It is during these passages that one can see exactly what happens to a solider caught in a war for four long bitter years.

Remarque’s book isn’t the “Greatest War Novel of All Time” as the cover suggests, but it is definitely one of the most important. To date, is remains the only book in wide circulation world wide telling about the German side of World War One. It tells of the struggles and shortages that were suffered by a choked, routed, and smashed army filled with inexperienced troops. The violence in All Quiet on the Western Front compares to that of the film Saving Private Ryan. There are scenes of decapitated bodies, rotting corpuses, and grotesque and painful death. Somebody has to stop this madness that is occurring.

Remarque, it would seem, likes to tell the stories of suffering as much as he likes to tell stories of peace and happiness. In almost every chapter there are scenes from the front lines, both West and Eastern. Plus in every, and I mean every chapter somebody dies or becomes a casualty. The author wants us to feel like everybody in the war was a casualty and everybody died. While one could say that happens, war also happens to bring out the best in some people. Take Audie Murphy for example. He was the most decorated American solider in World War Two. He put the lives of other in front of his own. Murphy was decorated with many awards, including the Medal of Honor. While his company retreated Murphy stayed and directied Artillery fire to cover the retreat. Then there is Sgt. York of World War One. Sgt. York spent many days behind enemy lines sniping for the allies. He became so good at his job that a whole German company surrendered to him. And these are just two people out of the countless hundreds of heroes. These people rose to the occasion and some lost their lives in the process. Remarque makes it out that the man who jumped on the grenade to save the platoon was a stupid loss of life. One died to save the lives of many and this is how Remarque thanks him? The amount of people spinning in their graves due to Remarque shouldn’t be that astounding.

Another thing that is not impressive about All Quiet on the Western Front is the absolute repetitiveness of the chapters. They (the characters) are in the trenches, then on leave, and then back in the trenches, on leave…it’s a never ending cycle. The only stimulation that occurs in Chapter 10 when the cycle is broken, if only slightly. Paul is put into the hospital for most of the chapter. Even then the dreaded cycle still occurs. Paul’s company is tasked to help evacuate a village when artillery strikes and the wounds occur. In action then out of action…it never ends. My brain is more intrigued watching NASCAR. At least that can be a little unpredictable at times.

Unfortunately, Remarque just regurgitates ideals and truths that everybody already knows. Most people know that “war is hell,” and can be very bloody. So why write a book about it? And more importantly, why is this book critically acclaimed? Simple I think it is because…Human nature is fascinated by death. Look at the number of media items that portray death and humans at their worst. We are fascinated by blood and excessive gore. Talk to media publishers and they will tell you that sex and blood sell. So the next question that has to asked is, “Why did Remarque write All Quiet on the Western Front?” I believe the answer is quite simple and plain. Money and Notoriety. He saw an opening that he knew he could fill and did so, becoming a very famous and widely read person.

While we’re on the subject of ideals and truths, let’s compare All Quiet on the Western Front to George Orwell’s 1984. While both go into the thought process of men under stress, 1984 delves much deeper and is much more thought provoking. Allowing the reader to, in essence, become the main character allows for a much more personal touch to be applied. 1984 executes this perfectly, while All Quiet on the Western Front leaves you feeling left out and disconnected. Why? Orwell develops his characters with much more personality and much more mental capacity. Remarque tells a story of the war and not of his main character. It’s almost like reading a biography. Not fulfilling.

But the one thing that still boggles me to this day is, “Why are teenagers being forced to read this sub-par book?” Remarques book is filled with feelings that normal everyday teenagers feel every day. Emotions such as: despair, loneliness, hatred, and anger. Every teenager has felt the range of emotions brought forth by this book. Why are they being subjugated to this? Answer: because it was the first. Never before had somebody told a story that was beyond the conflict and the fighting, a story that dives into the primal nature of man at war. There are tons of books that have been written since that do a much better job, but because teachers think that the first is always the greatest, teenagers are stuck reading a boring, repetitive novel that they had no interest reading in the first place. I had to read this book and write a review essay much like this one in the tenth grade. Needless to say I was the only one with a dissenting opinion.
Erich Remarques novel All Quiet on the Western Front is, at the surface a good book and a decent read, but when looked at deeper and more thoroughly, this book is more likely to delegated to look pretty on a bookshelf collecting dust while more interesting reads such as Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, and George Orwell are pulled out, dusted and read much to the entertainment to the reader. All in all, the only good thing that happens in All Quiet on the Western Front is the last page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Johnny Rumble:
James Fallows....

“The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a debacle not because the government did no planning but because a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge.” (Fallows, 2004)

No sentence in the history of journalism could be truer. Here James Fallows make the argument that the leaders of the United States (Rumsfeld mostly) did not listen too, and at points even ordered the ignorance, of his advisors and those around him. Here I will comment on and critique several issues of importance. So let’s get started shall we?

“Thomas Warrick, the State Department official who directed the Future of Iraq project…explained the importance of preparing for war by saying, "I'm nervous that they're actually going to do it-and the day after they'll turn to us and ask, "Now what?"" So he pushed ahead with the project, setting up numerous conferences and drafting sessions that would bring together teams of exiles…"Democratic Principles and Procedures" was the name of one of the groups, which was assigned to suggest the legal framework for a new government…The "Transitional Justice" group was supposed to work on reparations, amnesty, and de-Baathification laws. Groups studying economic matters included "Public Finance," "Oil and Energy," and "Water, Agriculture and Environment." (Fallows, 2004)

Mind you this was taking place in 2002, one year before the conflict began while America was still playing in the mountains of Afghanistan. I fully applaud what Warrick did. He stood up and got the ball rolling towards a free and self-governing Iraq. Sadly, the projects finding will go largely ignored by Rumsfeld and others. Why? Let’s press on.

“For their part, the Iraqi participants emphasized several points that ran through all the working groups' reports. A recurring theme was the urgency of restoring electricity and water supplies as soon as possible after regime change. The first item in the list of recommendations from the "Water, Agriculture and Environment" group read, "Fundamental importance of clean water supplies for Iraqis immediately after transition. Key to coalition/community relations." (Fallows, 2004)

Let’s repeat that…“Key to coalition/community relations.” Fact: Most Iraqis outside Baghdad do not have clean, running water. Fact: Collation Forces bombed water pumps and water purification facilities during the conflict. Opinion: Iraqi’s don’t trust U.S. troops

“One of the groups making economic recommendations wrote.”Stressed importance of getting electrical grid up and running immediately-key to water systems, jobs. Could go a long way to determining Iraqis attitudes toward Coalition forces… “(Fallows, 2004)

Fact: Due to Allied Bombing, in July 2002, power plants were only up to half of the pre-war level, and were working on an on/off schedule. Today, the power plants still are not up to 100%.

“A second theme was the need to plan carefully for the handling and demobilization of Iraq's very sizable military.”

And yet this crucial piece of advice was completely ignored, leaving thousands of gun-toting poor, at a time when looting was still going on. Smart move…

“Next the working groups emphasized how disorderly Iraq would be soon after liberation, and how difficult it would be to get the country on the path to democracy-though that was where it had to go.”The removal of Saddam's regime will provide a power vacuum and create popular anxieties about the viability of all Iraqi institutions…” (Fallows, 2004)

Fairly straight forward and yet startlingly accurate predictions, but everybody seemed really surprised when anarchy ensued in Iraq. Why? Because Ahmed Chalabi told everybody that governing post-war Iraq would be easy, and everybody believed him. No, what surprising is that Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) claims that “…one would really have to be a simpleton.” Some how, in some way, the government missed, or blissfully ignored, all the evidence that Iraq would be a long-term commitment, and trucked on without any advice on the aftermath. Gentlemen…the reports were right there. Why did you not see them?

“The CIA also considered whether a new Iraqi government could be put together through a process like the Bonn conference, which was then being used to devise a post-Taliban regime for Afghanistan… The CIA believed that rivalries in Iraq were so deep, and the political culture so shallow, that a similarly quick transfer of sovereignty would only invite chaos.” (Fallows, 2004)

The Central Intelligence Agency doesn’t seem to have intelligent people at the helm. Very few times in history has a prolonged occupation been successful. Most times, when a “liberated” country is given the reins to itself, peace, prosperity, and happiness is brought about much quicker and infinitely more smoothly.

“Because detailed thought about the postwar situation meant facing costs and potential problems, and thus weakened the case for launching a "war of choice (the Washington term for a war not waged in immediate self-defense), it could be seen as an "antiwar" undertaking…during the months when the Administration was making its case for the war-successfully to Congress, less so to the United Nations-it acted as if the long run should be thought about only later on.” (Fallows, 2004)

Wars are lost or prolonged when people fail to think about the long term effects and long term logistics. To boot, it would seem that Bush and Rumsfeld wanted to go to war with Iraq. So the question has to be asked, “Is the rest of the world really that far off when they call the U.S. ‘War Mongering?’”

“In September, Lawrence Lindsay, then the chief White House economic adviser, broke discipline. He was asked by The Wall Street Journal how much a war and its aftermath might cost. He replied that it might end up at one to two percent of the gross domestic product, which would mean $100 billion to $200 billion…The Administration was further annoyed by a report a few days later from Democrats on the House Budget Committee, which estimated the cost of the war at $48 billion to $93 billion…by the end of the year he had been forced to resign. His comment "made it clear Larry just didn’t get it," an unnamed Administration official told The Washington Post when Lindsay left…no one who remained in the Administration offered a plausible cost estimate until months after the war began.” (Fallows, 2004)

The classic “you’re with us or you’re against us” issue. Lindsay provided some figures that the press and public were hungry to get, appeared to be an “anti-war” supporter, and got fired as a result, all because he was “subverting the government and spreading propaganda.” Lindsay, wherever you are, you have one supporter right here.

“When Administration officials talked about models for what would happen in Iraq, they almost always referred to the lasting success in Japan and Germany-or else to countries of the former Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe.” (Fallows, 2004)

Problem is that Iraq isn’t Germany, Japan, or the Eastern Bloc, or even anywhere near it. Iraq was filled, not to mention surrounded, by extreme Islamic fundamentalists. Also, in Germany, Japan, and the eastern block, the citizens were mostly left to themselves, to do what they wished, and to live normal lives. The Baaths in Iraq were constantly sticking their fingers into people’s lives, messing them up, and in a lot of cases, killing them. If people were suddenly free from that persecution, most would go absolutely nuts with the freedoms they had, which brings to me to…

On April 11, when asked why U.S. soldiers were not stopping the looting, Donald Rumsfeld said, "Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." (Fallows, 2004)

What?!! So Rumsfeld is just going to let the riots and looting continue until the people have had enough? Is it just me, or does that seem like flawed logic? What he is saying makes about as much sense as “I’ll let the dog eat off the kitchen table until he has had enough.” If you do that the dog will never stop. Okay, let’s do a quick recap before we move on. So far we have determined that: 1.) the Government has ignored all post-war strategy. 2.) The Government was/is pro-war. 3.) Rumsfeld is an idiot that should be shot. Okay moving on…

The one success that Rumsfeld can be proud of is the lack of the mass number of refugees that were predicted. This can be attributed to the quick, precision aerial attacks on “key target,” along with the quick movement of ground troops, but once again he proves himself brainless…

“…again the question arose of whether what lay ahead in Iraq would be similar to the other "small wars" of the previous decade-plus or something new. If it was similar, the NGOs had their checklists ready. These included, significantly, the obligations placed on any "occupying power" by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was signed in 1949 and is mainly a commonsense list of duties-from protecting hospitals to minimizing postwar reprisals-that a victorious army must carry out. "But we were corrected when we raised this point." Sandra Mitchell says. "The American troops would be 'liberators' rather than Occupiers, so the obligations did not apply." (Fallows, 2004)

So American troops are not obligated to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Does Rumsfeld actually believe that the world will accept this? I’m sorry, but American troops may be liberators, but what are they after the war is over and they remain? I would have to say they are Occupiers, not because they invaded, but because they are occupying the country in the transition period of governments. Hopefully Rumsfeld, in retrospect, realized the mistake he made with that comment and corrected the issue at hand…but I doubt it. And then there’s the all time sin against the US Army…

“The newspapers were full of leaked anonymous complaints from military officials who thought that his efforts to streamline and "transform" the Pentagon were unrealistic and damaging. But with his dramatic metamorphosis from embattled Secretary of Defense to triumphant Secretary of War, Rumsfeld's reputation outside the Administration and his influence within it rose. He was operating from a position of great power when, in November, he decided to "cut the TPFDD." (Fallows, 2004)

And the all the Army’s planning goes down the toilet. For those of you who don’t know TPFDD, it is the Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data. Acting as the Army’s “paper brains,” telling them who, what, when, where, and how to move troops and equipment in times of war or exercise, the Army is able to map out exactly what will happen over a period of time.

While the non-“tipfid” method worked in the short term for Afghanistan, it left much of the country to the legitimized warlords from the Northern Alliance. Rumsfeld was on a mission to cut the Army’s number to the lightest, most mobile, effective force acceptable. Unfortunately, this left the Army quite ready for the war, but not for the post-war security that need to occur. Rumsfeld, during the build up, was trying to the numbers of deployed troops to 75,000, while the Army’s simulations were pointing well north, up to 400,000. The one thing that Rumsfeld always seemed to forget about was the post-war operations.

If the world’s Armies learned something out of the Balkans conflict is that you can never have too many troops on the ground. There the numbers were something like 200,000 troops to five million civilians (1/25). Order was quickly restored and nary has a peep been heard out of the Balkans since. Here, Rumsfeld wanted to use 75,000 troops to 25 million (1/333.3)! Fortunately, the Army was able to 200,000 troops on the ground, but that still leaves one solider for every 125 people. These are disastrous numbers for a peace-keeping mission. In this writers opinion, Rumsfeld should have been fired, drawn and quartered, and left publicly humiliated after the first time he jerked the military around. As more evidence…

"In what I came to think of as Secretary Rumsfeld's style," an Army official who was involved in the process told me recently… Our people came back with the understanding that their numbers were far too big and they should be thinking more along the lines of Afghanistan"-that is, plan for a light, mobile attack featuring Special Forces soldiers. Another participant described Rumsfeld as looking line by line at the deployments proposed in the TPFDD and saying, "Can't we do this with one company?" or "Shouldn't we get rid of this unit?" Making detailed, last-minute adjustments to the TPFDD was, in the Army's view, like pulling cogs at random out of a machine. According to an observer, "The generals would say, Sir, these changes will ripple back to every railhead and every company." (Fallows, 2004)

I believe that it would have been more efficient for Rumsfeld to hold up the “tipfid” and rip it to shreds. Moving on…

One of the many things that Rumsfeld did too disregard the Army’s numbers was too effectively remove the biggest supports of those numbers, the then Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki. Rumsfeld was never a supporter of Shinseki, even going out of his way to humiliate Shinseki. Fourteen months before his term up, Rumsfeld announced Shinseki’s replacement, turning the incumbent into a lame-duck. This was just one of many cold, calculated slaps to the face. In the past, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), had told the military that they could not participate in war-games, meetings, and the sort relating to the upcoming war in Iraq.
“One man who was then working in the Pentagon told me of walking down a hallway a few months before the war and seeing Army General John Abizaid standing outside a door. Abizaid, who after the war succeeded Tommy Franks as commander of the Central Command, or CENTCOM, was then the director of the Joint Staff-the highest uniformed position in the Pentagon apart from the Joint Chiefs. A planning meeting for Iraq operations was under way. OSD officials told him he could not take part.” (Fallows, 2004)

Most people would find it important to include any and all organizations that were going to participate in upcoming operations. Not Rumsfeld. He, through past actions, has positioned himself as a person who zealously believes in absolute civilian control of the Department of Defense. What’s really funny about the whole thing is that this is Rumsfeld’s second tour of the OSD. His first came under the Ford Presidency. Didn’t anybody learn the first time?

“He (Shinseki) was scheduled to testify, with Thomas White, before the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 19..In a routine prep session before the hearing he asked his assistants what he should say about how much the operations in Iraq were going to cost. '"Well, it's impossible to predict," a briefer began, reminding him of the official line. Shinseki cut him off. "We don't know everything," he said, and then he went through a list of the many things the military already did know. "We know how many troops are there now, and the projected numbers. We know how much it costs to feed them every day. We know how much it cost to send the force there. We know what we have spent already to prepare the force and how much it would cost to bring them back. We have estimates of how much fuel and ammunition we would use per day of operations." In short, anyone who actually wanted to make an estimate had plenty of information on hand.” (Fallows, 2004)

The problem was that everybody was keeping mum, fearing they would lose their job. Rumsfeld was keeping everybody silent because of the potential for public backlash at the campaign. What I and certainly others want to know is, what else is Rumsfeld hiding from the public? Okay, because I am getting sick of writing this I will start the wrap up here. James Fallows article “Blind into Baghdad” is one of the most truthful and exposing pieces in the past 50 years. About the only issues I have with the entire article is at the end. Here Fallows issues out blame, and while certainly warranted, he does so in a fashion that seems to be a left wing attack on the Bush Administration. Other than that, about other quarrel I had was when my printer jammed printing out page 20 of “Blind into Baghdad.” While Fallows could have shortened the length, it wouldn’t have exposed all the wrongs committed from 2001 to the invasion. With all of that said, the entire Fallow article can be summed up with this…

“What David Halberstam said of Robert McNamara in The Best and the Brightest is true of those at OSD as well: they were brilliant, and they were fools.” (Fallows, 2004)