Dan White, the author of this article is a confirmed and vocal “contrarian,” a breed we need ever more of in our country of “go along, get along” citizens.
This is why his article resonated with me. Several months ago I had an appointment at our local VA and found at the entrance was a display of baseball-style caps with identification of all the wars we have been in. For the hell of it, I bought two hats that fit my MOS. One said, “WW II VETERAN,” and the other, more colorful, one said “U.S.ARMY AIR CORPS”. My wife felt that they were sort of gauche.
In WW II, an egalitarian military composed of citizens, from all walks of life, fought, died, and won that war in less than four years. Today we have a “mercenary” military generally composed of an officer class of ambitious and “connected” young people, and the grunts who just need a job or were misled by government propaganda that they are saving our “freedom.” They have been in harm’s way for close to fifteen years and succeeded only in creating chaos and enemies wherever they operate. Today we are less safe than we were fifteen years ago. It is now more obvious that our “war on terror” is really an ambitious “imperialist war” to secure markets and resources for our corporate business sector.
After 9/11, the Bush administration sought to guarantee that our citizens would support our marginally legal military adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. by telling them that the “troops” were defending our freedom and should be thanked for their sacrifice by telling them “Thank you for your service,” when they saw a soldier. That rankled me considerably. What our military was doing was creating chaos in a part of the world that had nothing to do with “our” freedom. This was purely a “psy-war” propaganda move. A clever ploy to gain civilian support for meaningless perpetual wars on “terror.”
I’m fighting this PR ploy one-citizen-at-a-time by wearing my hat in public. When someone says, “Thank you for your service,” I reply:
No thanks are necessary. We did it because we had to. We were attacked by three well-armed nations with huge land, sea, and air forces, not groups and individuals lightly armed with knives, guns, and home-made explosives. We defeated these three nations in under four years and brought new forms of liberal governance to all three.
Now, after fifteen years of the phony ‘war on terror,’ our country is poorer. We have lost the respect of people around the world, and left vast sections of the world in chaos. I served because I had to and I believe we must oppose this perpetual war making and remake our democracy by winning back that respect as a nation of peace.
Since I live in a liberal city, many people will respond in agreement but the occasional person, who obviously was looking for a simple response, will just awkwardly slink away with a puzzled, “thank you.” Like Dan my hope is that people will rethink if they really want to thank someone for bringing chaos to our democracy and the world. – b. traven
Daniel N. White
What Bernard Fall Saw in Vietnam
Bernard Fall, the great French-American writer on the wars in Vietnam, wrote a piece in his Street Without Joy about his early days in Vietnam, during the French war there. Fall was in Cambodia doing interviews and research. Later that day he went with a pair of French officers that he just had interviewed to the local tennis club. He watched them in their spotless tennis whites play a full match of tennis.
Early on in their game, a Cambodian non-commissioned officer (NCO) came up to the court. The NCO attempted to get one of the officers to sign some papers he had. He got a brush-off — the French officers were busy with their game. The Cambodian NCO just went off to the sidelines, squatted on his haunches the way Cambodians do, full out in the tropical sun, and waited while the two French officers in their tennis whites batted the ball back and forth. Fall watched, with a feeling of dread coming over him, as the post bugler sounded Last Post. The colors were lowered, the Cambodian standing to attention while the French officers continued playing tennis. Fall wrote:
Something very warm welled up in me. I felt like running over to the little Cambodian who had fought for his whole life for my country, and apologizing for my countrymen here who didn’t care about him, and my countrymen in France who didn’t care about their countrymen fighting in Indochina…
Eventually, the game ended, the one officer went over to the NCO and signed the necessary document. The NCO saluted and wandered off. The French officers shouldered their racquets, called out to Fall to join them, and went off to the club for drinks. Fall summarized this experience:
And in one single blinding flash, I knew that we were going to lose the war.
What I Saw in Austin Texas
I had a moment like this recently in Austin TX. Not that I suddenly knew that we were going to lose our wars — I have known that all along. No, this moment was more. More than the realization about how completely useless the left is nowadays here in the US. The conventional political left, that is. And it is more than seeing how we have come to accept the new narrative of our world, our place in that world, and all the war-related-lies put out by the war party. My moment of clarity was about our future, and it is darker than just losing a war in Southeast Asia then, or in central Asia now.
A lefty event I caught back in September was put on by the local Catholic college, St. Edwards. Exactly 50 years ago, farmworkers in Texas struck for higher wages and marched from the Rio Grande valley, Texas’ prime agricultural region, to Austin to petition for redress against the gross wage and work insults they faced from so many of the reactionary Anglo landowners in the Valley. The United Farm Workers (UFW) fight in California had received national news attention. But this march was a major turning point in Texas society and politics. It is when the Latino sleeping giant first stirred.
The event was well promoted in all the lefty circles here in Austin. It had a good turnout that filled the floor of the St. Ed’s basketball gym. For once, the audience for a major lefty political event was not exclusively social security age Anglo. There was a good turnout of Latino Austin there. A good number of St. Ed’s ethnically diverse students also showed up, along with, for once (other than at the Bernie events), persons younger than 40.
This event happened to take place on Sunday, September 11. Consequently the left Catholic St. Ed’s promoters of the UFW event grafted on a Remember 9-11 intro before the main event. The organizer nattered on pointlessly* for a bit about the 9-11 tragedy. Then they hauled out a young Hispanic female AFD to natter on pointlessly some more on the subject. That ended with a call for us all to stand silently with our heads bowed for a full minute to remember all those killed on 9-11.
Far from being bowed, I saw red. Once more, 9-11 and the eternal kowtowing to everything Bush and the war party, brought along in its convenient wake, was being forced down all our throats. And here at a public event where it didn’t belong.
Piggybacking war propaganda on the memory of the struggles of poor-assed Mexicano farmworkers standing up and fighting for a fair shake is sick and vile.
The Silent Acceptance
I said this to all the persons sitting at my table, and told them that all this 9-11 commemoration garbage was nothing but more war-justifying-propaganda. It is more political narrative manipulation by them to keep the wars going. My table-mates were all on the younger side of the audience demographic—I recognized a couple of them from the Bernie campaign—and they listened sympathetically to me say this.
When I urged them to sit down and not take part in this nonsense – well, there I lost them. You could tell from their looking around the room that they were not going to unless everyone else was. There was not a single other table that did not already have everyone standing up and shuffling their feet. They all slowly got to their feet and played along. I stayed seated, and was the only person in the entire lefty audience to do so.
I talked to numerous attendees afterwards about this, and asked them if they could see that the 9-11 commemoration was war propaganda. Why did they let themselves be a part of it?
Nobody wanted to talk about it beyond saying that everyone else was doing it. The fact that everyone else was doing it was sufficient reason for them to do it; none were willing to stand up by sitting down.
I did not get any arguments from them about how the 9-11 nonsense this many years on was nothing but more war propaganda. But I had a terrible sinking suspicion that they, the leftmost Austinites there are, really did not believe it. They had internalized the media narrative of 9-11 America under attack: we must fight back against the threat, support our troops, etc., etc., etc., deeply enough to where it was now well-lodged in a reason-proof part of their psyches.
The terrible Bernard Fall moment for me there was not about the failure of the Left. It certainly was not about the Left’s grade-school infantilism of not wanting to look different in a group. Nor was it that the liberal class of Austin, Texas, has swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, the narrative of the war party for permanent war abroad. I have mostly known that about the left here in Austin for a while now. I rather doubt it is any different anywhere else in this country.
The Left is not going to do anything useful about ending the wars, not with the way they act and think here. So there is no domestic force on the horizon that would. Conservative America is almost entirely wedded to the war party. We are going to fight these wars as long as the war party wants to, and for them that is forever, but I have suspected all that for a while.
Our Very Dark Future
No, my Bernard Fall moment was knowing that our future is darker than we can imagine in this country. Bernard Fall knew in his moment that his France was going to lose in Vietnam. My revelation is that we will continue in our vile wars until a big enough outside force compels us to stop, and that can only be a catastrophe of economic failure greater than the Depression, or an environmental catastrophe such as a giant meteor hit, or our power-drunkenly stumbling into an even more vile and idiotic war involving nuclear weapons and tens of millions of deaths.
Those are the only forces big enough to stop the war party, and the first and last of these is fairly on the horizon. And one of them is coming. The darkness cometh, and I fear it.
* I am willing to take on any New Yorker who disagrees. Nearly a decade ago the Texas Book Festival had a panel of authors of books about 9-11. Four novelists, including Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less than Zero, and a non-fiction author who did the graphic novel account of 9-11. Mr. Ellis told how Norman Mailer had told him that 9-11 was such a big event that it could not or should not be written about for at least a decade. In the Q&A I set the bait by asking Mr. Ellis if he had then asked Mr. Mailer why then he did not wait about a millennium before writing The Naked and the Dead. Lot bigger event that, WWII, you know. Got a laugh out of them with that.
But then I asked them if any of them had taken a walk on the Capitol grounds — the event was being held at the Capitol building — and looked at the big monument on the grounds to Texas firefighters killed in the line of duty. None had, of course. I went on to explain to them that most of the plinth was blank, but one side was almost entirely filled by names of the Texas City VFD killed in the ’47 Texas City disaster. Every single member of the department was killed when the Grandcamp exploded, except for the dispatcher back in the offices. Empty casket funerals for all of them, because they were all blown to stray unidentifiable small pieces, mostly found later by birds and dogs and cats. You know, I said, I never have seen a single person wearing a Texas City VFD t-shirt wandering around showing solidarity with them and their sacrifice, and I would bet, you know, that within a week of the Texas City disaster there was not a single word any more on it in the New York Times, or in any other major media source.
Yet with 9-11 we here in the US, you in particular there in the NY media and literary world, keep coming back to it. Why is that? Texas City officially killed something over 700 people, and it is now generally acknowledged that 500 or so Mexicans were living in a ghetto next to the docks and they all got vaporized too, but nobody in Texas counted Mexicans back then so they didn’t make the official figures. Why does 9-11 get so much attention, attention by you? I specifically excluded the author of the nonfiction book—but aren’t all you unwittingly being a part of a propaganda narrative put out by the authorities for their own regrettable at best purposes? Do you see that, or do you disagree with my analysis?
Nobody on the panel wanted to touch that, but after a bit Mr. Ellis volunteered that Texas City was different, that it was a natural disaster. If Mr. Ellis speaks for the NY literary intelligentsia here, well, I am being kind to say that they really are all very dense to think that ships full of ammonium nitrate blowing up and in turn blowing up petrochemical refineries is a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. But that’s the greatest possible extent of any kindness I have for anyone in the intelligentsia to be so blind and cowardly about their at-best semi-witting participation in war propaganda by harping on 9-11 the way they have and still do. Or anyone from NY doing that, too.
A tip of the hat is due to Colin Kaepernick, as his example encouraged me there at the event.
This post also appeared on the Dandelion Salad blog.
13 thoughts on “My Bernard B. Fall Moment”
When I was still on active duty in the AF, I participated in uniform in several military formations in remembrance of 9/11. These quiet ceremonies struck me then (and now) as appropriate.
Today’s bombastic ceremonies? Not so much. I was watching the U.S. Open tennis tourney on TV, and they had a big 9/11 ceremony before 9/11, complete with an oversized flag and fighter jets screaming overhead. It seemed wildly overblown. Why a 9/11 ceremony before 9/11 and before a tennis match? It all seemed designed as a patriotic spectacle for TV.
Too many spectacles — not enough thinking. We’re being blinded by the flag and deafened by the noise of combat jets,
Bill.. Did the AF have any “military formations” to commemorate December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor that led to our pareticipation in WW II and to the deaths of over half a million American service people?
traven: Pearl Harbor was remembered, but I don’t recall specific military formations.
The small ceremonies I participated in for 9/11 occurred soon after the event. But as the years go on, the ceremonies grow more and more elaborate. One thing I never understood was the declaration of 9/11 as “Patriot Day.” It struck me as another way of denying the awful defeat of that day: the total incompetence of the Bush/Cheney administration.
Here’s a link to “Patriot Day”: https://www.army.mil/patriotday/
It’s one thing to mark solemnly those Americans who lost their lives on 9/11. But bombastic celebrations of “Patriot Day” are something else entirely.
Bill. This is a response to your response below to my question. I asked the question because I do not feel “9/11″ should be memorialized in ANY way. :”Patriot Day” and “9/11″, in my opinion are being memorialized in order to sustain the narrative that our perpetual ” war on terror” has legitimacy. That legitimacy has been shattered by using this “9/11” excuse to attack the world with drones and Special Ops in about 150 countries and to rationalize regime illegal regime change we are involved in. What is sad all of these efforts have come t ought and produced only chaos, instability, and domestic damage to our rule of law.
traven and Bill A.–Yes, precisely, the “Patriot Day” stuff and nonsense is just brainwashing fluid introduced into the noggins of a populace that finds independent thought increasingly difficult. It’s too painful, you see! Within days of the destruction of the WTC towers, Dubya and Giuliani stood upon the rubble and held a JINGOIST RALLY. No other way to describe their obscene joint appearance. I have secretly harbored a hope since that day that they absorbed enough toxic material to shorten their lifespans, but so far no luck. (Of course, the real boss, Dick Cheney, wasn’t sent into the toxic zone.) And so, for 16 years now, people in Afghanistan have suffered US military aggression for a crime they had absolutely no part of. As Michael Murry has pointed out here over the years, “victory” doesn’t matter. What matters is to keep the Military Beast fed, nourished by juicy contracts with all the “defense industry” behemoths. Everyone who feels “safer” here on the homefront as a result of these activities, please raise your right hand…and then you can use that hand to swear ongoing allegiance to this pathetic, disgraceful, Plutocratic Establishment. Or, in Mike’s own words: “to toady, genuflect, and crawl; To grovel, scrape and bow…” Because, after all, “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”!
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The author of this article quotes Bernard Fall from his outstanding book Street Without Joy: the French Debacle in Indochina (1961):
“And in one single blinding flash, I knew that we were going to lose the war.”
My own Bernard Fall moment came when I had to read Street Without Joy as part of my study materials at Counter Insurgency School, Coronado Island, San Diego, in the late summer/early-autumn of 1969, almost a year before my scheduled deployment to the now-defunct Republic of South Vietnam. Specifically:
Chapter 14: The Second Indochina War
“The point needs to be made, and made clearly before a new mythology becomes accredited which blames the military setbacks of 1963-64 not upon the military and civilian bunglers who are responsible for them, but on the Buddhist monks or the American press corps in Saigon.
The hard and brutal fact is that, for a variety of reasons which can be as coldly analyzed as the French defeats described earlier in this book, the strictly military aspect of the Vietnamese insurgency was being as rapidly lost in 1961-62 as its socio-political aspects were.”
Once I had digested this illuminating passage, I thought to myself: “After graduating from four years of high school in 1965; after a year of college; and after three years in the U.S. Navy, now you tell me that we already lost this war eight years ago, back during my freshman year of high school?”
I began then to appreciate the enlisted man’s slogan for what the next (and last) three years of my time in the U.S. military would mean: “We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop.”
The common-sense question then arose in my none-too-bright enlisted man’s mind: “So why don’t we just stop and win? Why continue to lose even more with every passing day?”
Yet my orders — or, rather, three sets of orders — received in July of 1969 said that I would spend almost another year learning (1 ) Counter-Insurgency Doctrine and (2) the Vietnamese language (Southern Dialect), followed by (3) another year’s deployment to South Vietnam as an Electrician/Naval-Adviser. At least two-more years of my life wasted on an already acknowledged futility. Why?
I figured out the answer to that question once I had spent a few months at the Defense Language Institute, Monterey. A standing joke at DLI asked: “If President Nixon is withdrawing the troops from Vietnam, how come I’ve got orders to go to Vietnam next year?” The punch-line answer: “You fool! How can Nixon withdraw you from Vietnam unless he sends you there first!.” Quite obviously, a complete withdrawal of the U.S. military from South Vietnam would result in the collapse of the current musical-chairs “government” in Saigon. The Nixon administration could not countenance this long-ordained, inevitable defeat, at least until after his hoped-for reelection in 1972, after which he could either continue the bloody stupidity for another four years or haul ass and dump the whole mess on the Vietnamese themselves. Given that the re-election of Nixon would have to come first, it became obvious that the “withdrawal” — an Orwellian euphemism for “retreat” — would have to stretch out “gradually” over at least three more years, consuming the remaining time that I would have to spend in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club. I would therefore become — had, in fact already become — a dragooned place-holder in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent, a dismayed and demoralized collection of surplus, powerless pawns of no real use other than providing cheap political cover for the exposed and shrunken political genitalia of my country’s Commander-in-Brief and his lunatic Praetorian Guard, or (as they like to consider themselves) “military leadership.”
My own Bernard Fall moment came almost fifty years ago as an epiphany revealing the past, present, and future all at once. The succeeding half-century of history has only reaffirmed and amplified it. As we enlisted veterans of the Fig Leaf Contingent (today’s Buy Time Brigade) learned the hard way: “We lost the day we started and we will never win until we stop.” Just stop the “wars.” All of them. Now. Time’s up.
Or, put another way:
Bring Home the Buy Time Brigade
The Buy Time Brigade is busted
It’s run out of money and luck
The guy at the top can’t be trusted
Because he does not give a fuck
He starts with his missions “accomplished”
After which he unravels the gain
Then spinning his endless excuses,
He covers up losses and pain
Commanding, Commandments, commanded:
He’s fallen in love with command
Stone deaf to how he’s been backhanded
By voters and their reprimand
The people don’t like what he’s doing
They’ve told him both time and again
They’re tired of his endless pooch-screwing
They want the war over by ten:
That’s minutes, or hours, or bedtime
That doesn’t mean weeks, months, or years
For those who don’t listen, it’s dead time
Like getting tossed out on their ears
The blood and the billions have vanished
It’s time for the twerp to atone
To Dante’s tenth level he’s banished
A new low for just him alone
Or maybe Dick Cheney will join him
To smirk at his armpit and sneer
Which Dubya will take as a coin hymn
A chant to make money and cheer
The Fig Leaf Contingent from Asia
Has come back again to be heard:
“Fuck him and his fucked-up Fantasia!
No Lyndon Baines Bush: Texas turd!”
And no more from old Tricky Dickies
Those Kissingers, Nixons, and Fords
The vampires who left us with hickeys
From bleeding our necks for their gourds
Just cut off the money and maybes
Just quit all the stalling for time
We don’t need these rats with their rabies
To rob us of our last thin dime
The Buy Time Brigade has no reason
Except to die fighting for zilch
To parasites we’re open season:
Our pockets and veins they will filch
Yet still with these gruesome reminders,
Obama has hired the same jerks
Who always advise bloody nonsense:
Like staying with what never works
“We’ll know what we see when we see it,”
Says Holbrooke of what he can’t state:
Like one damned good reason for staying
Where wise ones leave early, not late
Yet greed knows no limits too hyper,
And before all our regiments fade,
It’s past time to pay off the piper
And bring home the Buy Time Brigade
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006
I wrote that eleven years ago to help me maintain my sanity. I feel better now, even though I see that nothing has changed back in “the homeland.” Sure glad that I don’t live there any longer and never will again. What a moral and ethical — not to mention political and economic — wasteland where “Everyone else does it” explains and justifies what well-governed countries wouldn’t think for a moment of doing to themselves and others.
I always enjoy Dan White’s articles, but I have a few nits to pick here. I think I know his mind well enough from his previous writing to understand that HE understands that “the war party” is the US Ruling Class, of whom “both” the major political parties are servants. (Of course it’s no original observation on my part that there’s really only one party here, that of Moneyed Corporate Interests. The coin that says “Democrats” on the obverse and “Republicans” on the reverse. Or something like that–hey, I’m not a numismatist!) But for the benefit of the general reader, I think Dan should have clarified this. Now, as for “the left” in the USA…that would benefit from a bit of clarification, as well. I get the impression “left” is being used interchangeably with “liberal.” “Liberal!” is the new “Communist!” in the Book of Insults wingnuts hurl at anyone trying to display a little simple decency–or shall we say, even a little clarity of thought!–in this society. The “right” has moved so remarkably farther “right” that anyone who stops short of embracing their most despicable ideology, brilliantly encapsulated in “our” current POTUS, is liable to appear to be “a leftie”! There ARE actual Socialists (not mere “social democrats” like Senator Sanders) still drawing breath on US soil, believe it or not. And some of them are not white-haired old geezers like myself. Believe it or not! But allow me to end on a dark note: in the race between the US citizenry waking up and overturning this wretched Plutocracy under which we subsist and the arrival of the next killer asteroid…I’m afraid the odds favor the latter arriving first!!
For Mr White at his next “lefty” meeting: You have my permission to make copies of my poem “The Boobie Pledge of Subservience” and hand them out to all the attendees for their joint recitation at the beginning of the proceedings. Just to get things straight from the get-go about who makes the rules of American behavior and who accepts them uncritically.
The Boobie Pledge of Subservience
(from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)
I offer my obedience
I pledge undying love
To any symbol formed to serve
The needs of those above
Who rightly feel that I deserve
The fist inside the glove
I stand and mumble publicly
With fear upon my brow
Lest some mistake my silence for
An insufficient vow
Let all who see and hear me know
How easily I cow
Authority need never fear
I swear I know my place
I pledge to take the gauntlet slapped
Across my beaten face
The Seizure Class knows I’ll accept
Chastisement with good grace
About such things as freedom, I
Have not the slightest clue
By birth and class it’s come to THEM
I know that it’s THEIR due
To hand me down instructions as
To just what I must do
And so I promise faithfully
To play my scripted part
Each day I’ll chant Two Minutes’ Hate
To finish, from the start
Until I love BIG BROTHER from
The bottom of my heart
I swear to do as I am told
I will not think too deep
I’ll huddle in conformity
Just like the other sheep
To take my whipping like a slave
And utter not a peep
I pledge to stand up every day
Within my schoolroom class
And mouth my mantras on demand
Without backtalk or sass
Until the program makes me a
Compliant, docile ass
I swear upon my loyalty
To stuff my head with fat
And place my nation “under” “GAWD!”
Supinely prone and flat
With me then going “down” “beneath”
And “lower” “under” that
I swear to go to Sunday School
Upon the public dime
Each morning in my homeroom class
I’ll mouth my dreary rhyme
And if I leave out words
THEY can Indict me for my crime
I pledge and vow and promise that
I’ll swear from dusk to dawn
And never fail to chant or moan;
To never blink or yawn
And with each cry of “GAWD IZ GRATE!”
My own soul I will pawn
The Papal bulls and fatwas tell
Me all I need to know
Which isn’t much because I see
I’ve nowhere left to go
I swear to never set my sails
Against the winds that blow
The Popes, Imams, and Rabbis tell
Me what and where and how
The master’s overseer tells
Me which row I must plow;
To toady, genuflect, and crawl;
To grovel, scrape and bow
I’ll train to “hurry up and wait”
And do the Bulgar drills
To stand at rapt attention dressed
In military frills
Just point me and I’ll drop the bomb
No matter whom it kills
I pledge and promise on my word
To do the things I ought
To work for lower wages
So my labor comes to naught
I swear to vote Republicrat
To prove I can be bought
The Party keeps us all at war
Which makes us quake with fear
And so we give up all those rights
Our ancestors held dear
Which saves our enemies the need
To take them from us here
But I won’t think of bygone days
The past I’ll just rewrite
I’ll call my history “old news”
To make it pat and trite
Which sleight of mind will help me keep
Its lessons out of sight
With this capitulation I
Agree to sell my pride
Before I even own it or
It grows too big to slide
Into the shabby, craven cave
Wherein I must reside
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005
Seizure class: perfect.
9/11 is easy. The attackers were non-white and foreign, the victims mostly white and US. Over 3000 people were killed all at once. Big headlines. We launch the ‘long war’ on terror. We spend several trillion dollars and over 4,000 lives in a political farce to ‘protect the homeland’ after 9/11. So what about slow-motion catastrophes like the thousands of mostly brown people killed in mostly urban gun violence? No big deal, they’re poor and not white. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. It’s just crazy.
Of course, the fact that vastly more US citizens are killed in domestic gun violence than in uniform overseas is of no interest whatsoever to the US Congress (with a few bright exceptions, but they’re hopelessly outnumbered/outvoted). They are craven, cowardly toadies toward the NRA, and “the highest court in the land” signed off on the absurd theory that weapons can’t be restricted because of the need for “a well-regulated militia.” Who the hell’s in charge of this militia, the President of the NRA??