Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Joker, why did you join my beloved Corps?
Private Joker: Sir, to kill, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: So you're a killer!
Private Joker: Sir, yes sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Let me see your war face!
Private Joker: Sir?
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: You got a war face? Aaaaaaaagh! That's a war face. Now let me see your war face!
Private Joker: Aaaaaaaagh!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Bullshit! You didn't convince me! Let me see your real war face!
Private Joker: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: You don't scare me! Work on it!
Private Joker: Sir, yes, sir!
--Full Metal Jacket, 1987
Let me see your war face!
Wolf Blitzer sure ain’t no R. Lee Ermey but twenty minutes into the latest Republican “debate” and I was starting to have Full Metal Jacket flashbacks.
War war war! Kill kill kill! Bomb bomb bomb! Terrorism! Security! Make America great! Lemme see your president face! Let me see it! Aaaaaaaagh! Sir, yes, Sir!
No really, think about it. Bunch of uncomfortable looking dorks with funny haircuts all standing in a row, scared shitless, shouting nonsense, and pretending to be warriors…
Every one on the stage was trying to convince us of their war face. Aaaaagh! Everyone of them was talking about killing the bad guys, taking the fight to enemy, invasion, boots on the ground. Bleeraaaaaagh! War Face! I’m a lean green terrorist-killin’ machine, Sir!
And really, wouldn’t it be great to just once have a debate moderated by Gunny Hartman?
I digress, but at least it would be entertaining, right? That would be worth a couple hours of your time. R. Lee Ermey doing Gunny Hartman, dressing down the candidates, goddamn, wouldn’t that be great? You can learn a lot about a person, watching them sweat under the pressure of a screaming drill sergeant.
Which is more than you can say about the latest shitshow.
I mean, honestly, what have you actually learned from these so-called debates? Anything? Anything at all?
One of these people might be your next president. No, really, and ain’t that a thought to keep you wide awake and sweating in the night?
Supposedly, Tuesday’s debate hosted by CNN and moderated by Wolf Blitzer was about national security.
Oh, sure, right, national security. Of course, when you put it like that. National security. We’re all concerned about national security, aren’t we? We gotta keep our country safe for God, motherhood, and warm apple pies.
And let’s start right there.
What exactly is this national security we’re talking about?
When I say national security, what do you think of? Terrorists, right? Sure, terrorists, but what kind of terrorists? Are they all the same? Do they all come from the same place? Are they all motivated by the same ideology? Do they all hate us for our freedoms? Do they? When we talk terrorism on American soil, we always bring up the Big One, the Great White Whale of Terrorism, Moby Dick – September 11th, 2001, but those were mostly Saudis, weren’t they? So are the things that drove those terrorists the same things which motivated the terrorists who attacked a
Planned Parenthood Clinic Conference Center in California last month? The terrorists who attacked Paris? Same as the ones who used to blow up British soldiers in Belfast? Or bombed the Khobar Towers? Or the Tokyo Subway? Or the Moscow subway? Or a train in Spain? Or do you just wave your hands and mumble “Globalwawrnterrorism” and start handing out the medals? And whatever happened to Ebola? And all those Illegal immigrants? Russians? Chinese? European style socialism? Iranian nukes? Drugs? Global Warming? Easy birth control and the sexual revolution? The Equal Rights Amendment? The National Debt? False flags? Super Hurricanes? Creeping Sharia Law? Banks too big to fail? Gay marriage? End times and Mayan prophecies? Killer robots? Secret FEMA tunnels under Wal-Mart? Fluoride in the water and chemtrails in the sky?
I mean, national security? What exactly are we talking about here?
National security, the term means something different to every candidate and to every voter – or non voter if we’re talking about the majority of Americans, which may be a national security matter in and of itself. But, again, I digress.
When CNN declared this debate about national security, none of us even started out on the same page. We didn’t define the terms. Wolf just sort of waved his grizzly white man-beard of freedom about and made some vague reference to “national security” and next thing you know we’re all running around whooping like lunatics, shooting our pistols in the air, and smashing bottles over each other’s heads like something out of a John Wayne movie. War face! War face! Aaaaaaaaaagh!
I waited a week.
I waited to see if the candidates themselves would provide some clarity.
None did. Surprise surprise.
Oh, well, serious times. That sure clears things up. Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?
Say, just for argument’s sake, Captain Obvious, when isn’t it serious?
No, really, when in the last 240 years of American history hasn’t it been a “serious time?” In the last hundred? Okay, last fifty years? Last decade? When was it time to elect some frivolous leadership? You know, when the most important skill a president might have was making balloon animals and telling fart jokes? When was that? Well?
You know, it’s pretty hard for me to take these people seriously.
They talk about national security as if they’re experts, as if they have a defined outline, as if we’re all agreed to the terms and definitions. As if they really are serious men with serious answers to serious problems.
If you actually listened to these people last Tuesday night, it’s just gibberish.
I went through the debate transcripts, line by line, sound bite by sound bite and … it’s just gibberish. It’s sound and fury signifying nothing. Less than nothing. Nameless, shapeless dread, it’s armpit noises and fart jokes.
You could pick any exchange at random from the transcript and upon detailed analysis it means nothing.
Take this piece right here:
Moderator (Conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt): Mr. Trump ... [APPLAUSE] ... Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It's an executive order. It's a commander-in-chief decision. What's your priority among our nuclear triad?
Okay, stop right there.
Let’s just hang on a minute. Back the war wagon up.
It’s an executive order? What is an executive order?
Hewitt was talking about aging bombers as if the old B-52 workhorse was the only nuclear bomber we have in inventory (it’s not), or as if it hasn’t been continuously updated (it has), or as if our Minuteman III and other various nuclear capable missile systems such as the sub launched Trident D-5’s weren’t updated and modernized on a regular basis (they are). What Hewitt was getting at, of course, is that he apparently believes we need a fleet of new manned bombers, new missiles, new submarines.
And he apparently thinks you get those things through an executive order.
Hewitt apparently believes the president just sort of waves his gold scepter and the defense contractors start crapping out ships and tanks and fancy new jet fighters.
He called it a “Commander In Chief decision” – which could not possibly further from reality in any fashion whatsoever.
Hewitt’s statement, his question, is mind boggling in its wrongness.
And nobody, not one person on the stage called him on it. Not one.
None of the candidates on the stage, all of whom want to be the next president of the United States of America, not one of them, apparently knows how ships, planes, missiles, and weapon systems are procured.
Hint, it’s not via Executive Order. No way. No how. It is a decades long process that involves tens of thousands of people, dozens of legislative actions, research, development, review, revision, redesign, reallocation, cancellations, and it begins and ends in Congress. The president has very little to do with it, because typically acquiring a new weapon of any complexity spans multiple administrations. For example, the F-35 Lightning II was first proposed as the Joint Strike Fighter in the early 90’s. Eventually the government settled on a basic design and began actual procurement in 1996. The first production aircraft came off the assembly line in 2006. The existing aircraft are full of bugs and in testing and redesign at the moment and full production doesn’t begin, if it doesn’t get cancelled first, until 2018. That’s George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and whichever one of these clowns we pick to sit in the White House next. Five administrations. That’s a single seat airplane. Wanna guess what it takes to design and procure a new nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine?
And how did Trump answer the question?
Donald Trump: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.
And it was very important? What was very important? How was it very important? How does that have anything do to with the question asked?
We need somebody who knows they’re doing?
Are you sure? Because that would seem to rule out any of these dolts.
Trump: But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out -- if we didn't have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can't just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn't care. It was hand-to-hand combat.
What does any of that mean? Particularly in relation to the question asked? It’s just gibberish. What does Syria have to do with supposed replacement of aging strategic systems? What does Iraq have to do with it? What are you saying, that you intend to fire nuclear missiles at the world’s oil supply? REALLY? “If we didn’t have the power of weaponry today?” What? What the hell does that even mean? If we didn’t have the power of weaponry today why we wouldn’t have the power of weaponry today!
Trump: The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he's saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear -- nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That's in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.
Climate change is real. It’s entirely conceivable. Millions of people are conceiving of it right now. It’s conceivable to all but the most obtuse. It is adversely affecting our national security right now, right this very minute, and it’s only going to get worse.
What’s also apparently inconceivable to Trump and the rest of the buffoons on that stage is the idea that the President of the United States of America can focus on more than one thing at time. They all seem to have this idea that the President has some kind of To-Do list and he works on the first thing until it’s done. Then he crosses it off and starts on the next one. Okay, nobody bother me, I’m working on the Iranian Atom Bomb thing and it’s like really hard and this is probably going to take me like a couple of hours so you guys keep it down out there.
Trump says the single biggest problem the country faces right now is … “some maniac.” Some vague undefined madman trying to get a bomb so he can something something war face aaaaaaaagh! Not something concrete, not any of the myriad problems that actually exist right now, from energy to infrastructure to rising seas or even the Islamic State, no, it’s the bogeyman. Can’t be any more specific, just … some maniac. Yeah, that’s the single biggest problem our country faces. That. Vague. Thing. There.
Hewitt (still gamely trying to get a concrete answer to his bullshit question): Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.
And here it comes, the definitive answer from the guy who says the most important thing is somebody who knows what they’re doing. Here it is:
Trump: I think, uh, I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.
Shit’s getting old. We need new stuff. What’s your priority when it comes to planes, missiles, and submarines? Oh, well, uh that would, um, be, I guess, er, the power, man, the devastation, that’s very important. To me. See? Oh, the powerful devastation of the devastating power you say? Well. Okay. Let’s go ask Congress for some money to, um, upgrade the powerful devastation, because it’s like powerful and devastating and we wouldn’t want to have a devastation gap. I guess. And, really, if the biggest threat we face is this vague thing that we can’t define, what better weapon than an upgraded vaguely defined powerful devastation … thing. Nuclear. Something. Booga booga.
If Trump had dismounted by claiming he could see Russia from his house, he couldn’t have been more full of shit.
And if you think Rubio corrected Trump’s idiotic nonsense, or Hewitt’s, you haven’t been paying attention.
None of the people on the stage, not the candidates, not the moderators, knew what the hell they were talking about. Not at all. Not even in the most general of terms. And after a week of reading through various reactions, it’s fairly apparent most of America has no goddamned idea either.
They’re all babbling idiots.
None of these people have any clue as what constitutes national security. Worse, it’s not even that there’s no agreed upon consensus, they don’t even have a personal concept or clear vision in their own heads and none of them hired anybody who does either.
Honestly, national security? Really? How do you know there’s a problem, when you can’t even define what the problem is?
Like clucking chickens running about in the barnyard. They’re all terrified, but they really have no idea why.
And it’s infectious, these frightened Chicken Littles, the feathers are flying and they’re squawking out vague alarms and scaring the crap out of everybody else, the sky is falling! The sky is falling! and nobody really knows what they’re afraid of, they just know something terrible must be happening. Something, nuclear triad, terrorism, madman, maniacs, it’s the powerful devastation, yeah, that’s the inconceivable part of maniacs with global warming war face war face aaaaaaaagh!
Hewitt: Dr. Carson... [APPLAUSE] ... you mentioned in your opening remarks that you're a pediatric … neurologist … surgeon...?
Sweet Wookie Jesus, fuck me.
Ben Carson: Neurosurgeon.
Hewitt: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We're talking about ruthless things tonight -- carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?
Again, let’s just stop right there.
I thought we were talking about national security. Instead, suddenly we’re talking about carpet bombing? The indiscriminant area bombardment of military targets and civilians – to include children and old people and pregnant women and non-combatants and innocent bystanders and schools and homes and daycare centers and shopping malls and playgrounds and so on? That carpet bombing. Is that the carpet bombing we’re talking about? How exactly did we get here? And people in the audience were clapping, cheering, carpet bombing, fuck yeah! America! And who are we talking about carpet bombing? Toughness. Ruthless? Could you kill innocent children? Like hundreds of thousands of them? Just carpet bomb the shit out of some kids? You know, for national security.
Since when, since when, is the willingness to carpet bomb children a trait anybody wants in an American president?
Ruthlessness? When did that become a virtue?
I dunno, this guy, what if he doesn’t have what it takes to bomb some children? I mean, fuck, we might as well just give the country over to the tree-huggin’ tofu-eatin homos, man! What would Jesus do? He woulda bombed them little cocksuckers for sure, you bet, I mean, shit, his dad done kilt like a whole darned nation of firstborns, Amiright? And then, and then, the guy who was just called out for being supposedly kind and inspiring and all Christiany Christ-like in his Christian evangelicalism, yeah that guy, says oh sure, ruthless, yeah, I can totally do that. Carpet bomb some kids? You bet. It’s not exactly brain surgery, right?
Carson: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we're going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They're not happy about it, believe me. And they don't like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me. Sometimes you -- I sound like him. [APPLAUSE] You know, later on, you know, they really realize what's going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it's actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.
Hewitt: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It's like...
Carson: You got it. You got it.
You got it. You got it, baby. But abortion, yeah, that’s a sin. Can’t have none of that. Nope. Nope.
Hewitt: That is what war … can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?
Carson: Ruthless is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are, and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done. [APPLAUSE]
And the crowd cheered.
It was surreal, here we are, talking in all candor about carpet bombing children no less, but, yeah, I wouldn’t say ruthless. No, I’d call it something more heroic sounding, terrorist pre-neutralization for freedom or something. But, yeah, Imma cut your head open and carve out a chunk of your brain and you’re gonna love me for it, Baby. You’re gonna love me, even if I have to lobotomize you.
Honestly, it couldn’t have been any more creepy if Carson had finished up with, “It rubs the lotion on its skin! It rubs the lotion on its skin!”
And the crowd cheered.
Read the transcript for yourself. Go through it line by line, questions and answers.
It’s all gibberish.
It’s all war face aaaaaaaagh!
It’s people who have no clue whatsoever talking to people who have no idea whatsoever.
This isn’t even political theater. It’s the political equivalent of standing in line at the deli behind two dipshits arguing over who would win a fight between Boba Fett and the Gorn Captain.
It’s long past time to dispense with this nonsense – and I mean nonsense in the sense that it doesn’t make any sense. Non sense.
Here’s what I’d like to see: A job interview.
A job interview with America.
I want a series of interviews, each candidate, alone, in detail, in front of a camera. Everybody gets the same questions. Everybody gets the same amount of time.
I want them to answer questions in detail without moving the goals posts. In fact, moving the goal posts would count against them. Point value, with running totals on the screen. Candidate has avoided the question x number of times.
I want running fact checks by a double blind group of experts. Again, with a running total on the screen. True, mostly true, some true, some false, mostly false, total fucking bullshit ding ding ding, posted in real time.
Don’t tell me why the other guy sucks, tell me what you would do, specifically and in detail.
First interview: The Economy
Explain your economic policy in detail, step by step, here’s a Dry-Erase board and a marker, show your work. If it takes ten hours, well, then it takes ten hours. It’s the single most important topic America faces right now, we don’t expect it to be simple. You may consider this similar to defending a doctoral dissertation. Start by demonstrating a thorough knowledge of the current economic situation. Then give us a detailed summary of how you will create jobs, pay off the debt and reduce the deficit, grow business, revise regulations, and address the tax code. Provide supporting information and references and the relevant footnotes. Don’t give us any crap about it being too complicated either, if you can’t explain it to the general population, you can’t explain it to the idiots in Congress. We’ve got a battery of non-partisan experts back here, they’ll be stopping you periodically to examine specific points and request additional information. You may begin.
Second interview: Foreign Policy
Give us a complete rundown of your foreign policy. Address how you will approach each problem in detail (we might need multiple segments for foreign policy, each night devoted to a different area). For example: ISIS, when you say that all options “are on the table” explain precisely what that means and what the consequences are. List each option and explain them in detail. Start with the nuclear option, then conventional war with and without coalition/UN support, military action short of war, non-military intervention, diplomacy, and so on. Describe precisely how many American casualties you, as president, are willing to accept to achieve each goal, you may round to the nearest power of ten (i.e. 100. 1000. 10,000. And so on). Describe to the nearest billion exactly how much of the American treasury you, as president, would be willing to spend on this endeavor and exactly where that money will come from, including skyrocketing gasoline and energy prices and how many generations you expect it will take to pay off the tab. How many lives. How much money. How long.
Third Interview: Domestic Policy (three days)
First sub-interview: Describe how you will address the concerns, rights, and liberties of all Americans – not just the ones who voted for you. Describe the difference between “inalienable rights” and “legal” or “civil rights.” Describe where you believe each form of rights depends from. Describe which rights you believe take precedence over others, why. Explain why or why not you believe some citizens’ rights supersede others. Explain when it is acceptable for government to deny rights, be specific. For example: if you oppose same sex marriage, describe why, describe in precise detail why it is legal and moral for you as head of government to deny rights of your fellow citizens. You must answer this and other social issue questions as The President, i.e. you may not use your religion or political party’s talking points, you must describe your support or opposition strictly in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. Period. Again, we have a panel of experts back here and we’ll be fact checking each point. Let’s start with abortion.
Second Sub-interview: Give us the general outline of your Energy, Immigration, Education, Health, Technology (including space and exploration), Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Veterans Affairs policies. Again, we will expect a basic knowledge of each subject to include comprehensive solutions for current and expected problems.
Third sub-interview: The military. Explain how you see the military’s role in America. Start by describing in precise detail when it is permissible for the military to overthrow the democratically elected government of the United States. No, this is not a trick question. Show you work, including the specific articles of the Constitution and US Law. Next, describe in detail when it permissible for an armed citizens militia to march on Washington, overthrow the US Government, and install its own ruling body. Again, cite the precise articles of the Constitution and US law which permit this action. Describe exactly what you think “a well regulated militia” means as used in the Bill of Rights. Describe exactly what you would do should such a revolt occur during your administration, and why. Explain when military action short of war should be used in foreign conflicts. Explain when war should be declared. Explain your order of priority for military force, i.e. is military action near the first thing you would try or the last? Why? Be specific. Do you consider military action diplomacy by other means or a failure of diplomacy? What is your military experience? If you served, why? If you didn’t, why? Did your children serve? Would you be willing to send your own kids into battle? Why? Why not? Be specific.
Final Interview: Staffing and funding
You say you’re ready to lead on day one. Prove it.
Describe the top ten challenges facing America right now. Put them in order, worst to least. Why? What are you planning doing to address these issues? No hand waving, either present a coherent solution or don’t bring up the subject.
Who are your top ten picks for the Supreme Court? Why? Describe each in detail. Explain what you would expect from each choice and how you think it will shape the future of this country in a way that is fair and equitable to all. Explain your vetting process, show your work.
Who are your first, second, and third choices for each position on your cabinet? Why? What are their qualifications? What was the vetting process – and do you use the same vetting process for all even though their skill sets are vastly different? What do you expect from each position? Why should the Senate confirm them? Why should America trust them to provide you with rational, expert, and timely advice?
Give us three candidates for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Why? What do you consider the most important qualifications for this position? Note, we’ll be cross-checking this against your previous answers vis a vis the military’s role in Foreign and Domestic Affairs.
Who would you select as head of the CIA? NSA? The National Science Council? NASA? The Federal Reserve? The EPA? Name the people you have in mind for ambassador to Russia, China, Israel, the UK, France, and the UN.
Who will you turn to for religious or spiritual advice? Why? What are their qualifications?
Extra Credit: List your financial donors. In detail. All of them. This is an optional question in the same manner that a Breathalyzer test is optional during a traffic stop. You don’t have to answer, but if we have to share the road with you then we have every right to know if you’re sober and it’s the same thing here. You want to be president? Then we have every right to know who you owe and decide if we want them running our country. If you don’t agree, look directly into the camera and explain why.
And we fund the whole thing with a tax on political donations. SuperPACs are going to run our country? Then they can pay for the privilege.
You want to see my goddamned war face?
There you go.
We do not need a war-president. We need an executive. We need a diplomat. We need a wise man or woman who understands the challenges facing us. We need someone who will address our growing needs for clean energy, clean water, affordable education, affordable health care, and especially economic opportunities for the working class. Not a single republican candidate has addressed those issues. Not a single republican candidate has spoken about the future -- they have only spoken about retaliation for the past.
-- David Gerrold, Author, via Facebook