American Diaper

You know, I once upon a time had some semblance of respect for Clint Eastwood’s work both as an actor and a director, but homeboy’s done gone off the jingoistic deep end in the last several years to the point he’s geriactrically crapping in his pants. He needs a diaper — an American Diaper — to contain the patriotic refuse he’s rendered in the past ten years to include J. Edgar, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. Give it a rest, Clint, and lay off the lost dream crap because it was, and is,  just that — a dream — something we learned from Inception. Clint’s latest directorial offering is entitled American Sniper. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, or read about it, or maybe even wasted your money to watch it at the theater? In case you haven’t, it’s based, loosely or not, on a novel with the same name written by a true, real-life American sniper, now deceased, by the name of Chris Kyle. Of all the projects Clint could have chosen to produce and direct, he chose this. Why? Maybe because Clint, since he’s nearing his expiration date, wants to go out with his head held high like so many before him, but what he doesn’t realize, and those before him didn’t either, is that up is down and down is up so by looking up, by holding his head high and proud, he’s actually unwittingly hanging it in shame. Oops, Clint crapped his pants — again.

I know that sounds harsh and overly-critical and completely out of character for me, but this time it’s true. I promise, even though it’s all lies. I wouldn’t be nearly as critical had Clint created a fictional account based on a character that did not exist in real life, but Clint didn’t do that. He created a fictional movie based on a real-life character meaning the truth was left at the door and this individual’s character and persona were air-brushed to paint him in the most positive light possible. Afterall, isn’t American Sniper a play on words and aren’t we intended to read that play on words as American Hero?

Frankly, I didn’t know about this movie until this past week. I had heard of Chris Kyle, but whatever I had read about him or knew about him was quickly obscured and written over by other data and information from the ever-quickening and overwhelming news cycle. So, when I first heard about this movie, I said the following at another blog as my initial reaction:

Does anyone know anything about this new Clint Eastwood movie, American Sniper, that everyone’s raving about and that’s breaking box office records?

Is it about Charles Whitman (an ex-Marine), the Texas Belltower Sniper, or is it about Lee Boyd Malvo, the DC/Beltway Sniper? Would American Beauty be a better title for this movie even though that Political-cartoon-Mc-Sniper-2015-by-Kaveh-Adel-Iranian-American-Cartoonisttitle’s already been taken?

I was going to link to a YouTube clip showing the sniper scene in the desert from the movie The Hurt Locker, but interestingly enough, or not, the only clips I could find made sure to edit out the part where the Iraqi sniper (or “the enemy” sniper) picks off the three intelligence operatives before the bomb patrol unit that stumbled upon the spies can figure out what the hell’s going on and where the shots are coming from. Instead, any clips of this scene only show the American shooters picking off the Iraqi sniper. When “they’re” doing the sniping, it’s cowardly and ignoble and unworthy of even a YouTube appearance, 158999_600but when “we’re” doing the sniping it’s heroic and glorious and high fives all the way around. The Hurt Locker showed sniping for the ignoble and unglamorous act it is, thus proving that contemporary war, if it ever was, is no longer about noble gallantry, but about kills, regardless of who or what the victims are, at any price. These are no gladiators. Give me Russell Crow who took on lions with his bare hands, not these pussies who hide in nests, suited up to the hilt, executing their “target” from a mile away and never looking their foe in the eye before taking that life. Snipers are closer to drone operators than they are to gladiators. It’s nothing to be proud of, and it’s certainly not heroic, or no more heroic than the maintenance staff changing the oil and tires on the Humvees, and yet we don’t see any Clint Eastwood mHumvee Armorovies about that, do we? American Mechanic, anyone?

Perhaps the Islamic State will counter with its own rendering, directed by Steven Spielberg no doubt if the price is right, called Iraqi Sniper. If they do, I’m betting it breaks the attendance records set by American Sniper — The Mecca Theater will be sold out night and day for six months running at least and Spielberg will be even more fabulously wealthy than he already is. Perhaps Steven can then take all that hypothetical newfound wealth and invest it in oil since we all know the price, a tax by and for the rich, will surely rise again and Spielberg can double his wealth yet again. It takes money to make money, doncha know? Don’t laugh — all is possible in this crazy, “brave” new world we live in.

Since Clint was so hellbent on making a movie mythologizing a real-life character, we have to ask, who and/or what is this Chris Kyle dope? Come to find out, he’s not a very admirable fella — certainly not someone who’s life story is worthy of the praise and attention it’s received and is receiving. To put it bluntly, because that’s the only way there is to put it, Chris Kyle, in my opinion of course, was an egocentric, arrogant Publicity Hound, not to mention a borderline sociopathic Glory Hog (in opposition to Navy SEAL tradition) and last but certainly not least, he was a proven (in a court of law) dishonorable and deceitful fabulist and slanderer. That’s what an American Hero amounts to these days — “the child is grown, the dream is gone.” But please, don’t take my opinionated word for it, read this Slate article entitled American Liar underscoring Chris Kyle’s pathological lying and Jesse Ventura taking him to task and suing his ass for it. An excerpt from the linked article for reference:

Why Jesse Ventura is likely to collect millions from Chris Kyle’s American Sniper.

Chris Kyle, author of the runaway best-seller American Sniper, was a military hero who killed 160 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq and is now the subject of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster. He was also a fabulist. Before his tragic murder in 2013, Kyle told a number of extremely dubious stories. In one tale, Kyle claimed he killed two carjackers at a gas station southwest of Dallas, and that his driver’s license directed local police officers who questioned him to contact the Department of Defense. Kyle also claimed he traveled to post-Katrina New Orleans with a sniper friend, set up his gun atop the Superdome, and picked off dozens of armed looters.

The 160 kills are confirmed by the Pentagon. But there are absolutely no records of, or witnesses to, the latter stories. They are, perhaps intentionally, unverifiable. But it wasn’t these fantastical tales of vigilante justice that got Kyle into legal trouble. It was another, much less exciting story—one that wasn’t just unverifiable, but verifiably false. That tale, conveyed in a mere three pages of American Sniper, has put Kyle’s widow on the hook for $1.845 million in damages. And it may soon make Kyle’s publishers wish they approached the veteran’s claims with great deal of skepticism.

Kyle’s legal difficulties emerged from a subchapter of American Sniper titled “Punching Out Scruff Face.” In it, Kyle describes beating up a former Navy SEAL (“Scruff Face”) after the SEAL claims American soldiers deserved to die in Iraq. Early drafts of the book identified the SEAL as Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and famed professional wrestler, but Kyle’s publishers removed the name for fear of a lawsuit. Nonetheless, in a radio interview following the book’s release, Kyle admitted that “Scruff Face” was Ventura, and he repeated the claim soon after on The O’Reilly Factor. American Sniper shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list, becoming a smash hit for its publisher, HarperCollins, selling more than 1.5 million copies by July of 2014.

There was, however, a problem: The Ventura story wasn’t true, and Ventura meant to prove it. So he took Kyle to trial, suing him—and, after he died, his estate—for defamation and unjust enrichment. In the United States, defamation cases are extremely difficult to win, thanks to the First Amendment. When allegedly defamatory statements pertain to a public figure, the plaintiff mustn’t just prove those statements were false. He has to prove the defendant made those statements with “actual malice”—that is, knowledge that they were false or with “reckless disregard” for their falsity. Very few defamation plaintiffs can make it over the high bar of actual malice.

Ventura made it. On July 29, 2014, a federal jury returned from six days of deliberations to award Ventura $1.845 million in damages—specifically, $500,000 for defamation and about $1.345 million for unjust enrichment. (In other words, Kyle unjustly profited from defaming Ventura, and so his estate must give Ventura some of that money.) Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, promptly filed for “judgment as a matter of law,” asking the trial judge to reverse’s the jury’s verdict because the jury clearly got it wrong. Failing that, she asked for an entirely new trial. The judge denied both requests, defending the jury’s verdict as legally and factually justifiable. Kyle’s widow is currently appealing the decision; her odds of winning appear quite low.

More at link

Nice. Way to go Clint. You too Bradley Cooper (any relation to Anderson?) — there are no silver linings in your, or this, playbook — you’re a money-grubbing opportunist, plain and simple, and if that involves partaking in a propaganda piece if the price is right, so be it. It’s all about me, isn’t it? — and if you think about it, that makes you and Clint the perfect candidates to mythologize Chris Kyle  on the digitized silver screen because it appears he lived by the same credo — shit-weaponit’s all about me. Hollywood, if nothing else, is so about that. Unless Clint meant the movie as satire, and if so, wow, way to pull the jingoist wool over their eyes.

To be fair, there are some positive things that can be said about Chris Kyle. He did reach out to wounded and afflicted veterans (taking them out to shoot antelope as surrogate “savages”) and he was an above average marksman. Does that make him a hero or even heroic? Hell no. And what of this hero talk and the implications of heroism? Do you little lost sheep need a hero so bad that you’re willing to carve a fragile and crumbling edifice of one out of rotten wood? Apparently so. Does the name Galileo ring a bell? No doubt greater than 50% of those who are fans of American Sniper and Chris Kyle have no knowledge of Galileo or Bertolt Brecht and couldn’t care less, but I’ll state what he, via Brecht, said for posterity, because it’s pertinent and applicable. Brecht’s Galileo said about heroism and heroes: “Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.” Unhappy indeed — so unhappy in fact, it must feed itself a steady diet of Happy Meals daily to make up for the deleterious deficit.

When fans of American Sniper and Chris Kyle are queried as to what makes him a hero, they’ll claim a couple of things; Firstly, that he’s the greatest sniper that ever lived with more kills than any other and secondly, that he saved lives. Let’s examine this case for heroism more closely. Yes, Kyle was an above-average marksman, but he’s not, by any means, the greatest marksman of all-time with the most kills (as if most kills in an illegal, mis-matched war of naked aggression is heroic) — that designation belongs to Simo “Simuna” Häyhä, a Finnish marksman who racked up 505 or more kills in The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940. He was so feared and loathed, the Red Army nicknamed him White Death. In fact, there’s even a “girl sniper” who racked up more kills than the steroidal liar, Kyle. Her name was Lyudmila Pavlichenko and she scored more than 300 kills during WWII. Apparently, Americans have a love affair with snipers that goes way back, because this woman was also seen as a hero not only in the Soviet Union but also in America where she made appearances to sold-out crowds who cheered her accomplishments.

As for the claim that Kyle is a warrior and hero because he saved lives, if we parse that claim with a bit more honest and impartial scrutiny, we see it’s ridiculously removed from the truth and disingenuously misleading. As the story goes, after failing the rodeo circuit (an injury is failing), he decided to pursue the military because, I’m guessing, he wasn’t too bright and he was too good for, or too lazy to do, anything else. Who knows what the real reason is/was ‚ since we know Kyle’s a pathological liar we certainly can’t and shouldn’t take his word for it. Considering the way he comported himself once he was immersed and vested heavily in his military career, the evidence reveals he liked killing and even said so himself on several occasions.

Honest accounts of the true death total for the Iraq War & Occupation, both direct and indirect, is well over a million people and probably closer to two million. The majority of that death total was non-combatant. Wrap your head around that. If America didn’t engage in this illegal war of aggression by Nuremberg standards, then those 1-2 million lives would have been spared, not to mention the countless other casualties resulting in a lifetime of torturous suffering for the afflicted. But I’m betting those lives don’t matter to those who claim Kyle saved lives. They matter to me because non-combatant, innocent lives are equal in my eyes, be they Iraqi or American. Kyle, in his enthusiasm to murder “savages”, willingly, and I’d say zealously, aided and abetted the illegal and aggressive invasion and occupation of Iraq, and as such is every bit as responsible for those 1-2 million needless deaths as are those who decided to invade Iraq for reasons people will not and cannot accept so they accept instead official fabrications reasons or contained unofficial fabrications reasons. He wasn’t brought to the “battlefield” kicking and screaming via a draft, he volunteered without a second thought. If we net all the lives, the ones he may or may not have saved with the 1-2 million needless deaths because of his and his comrades’ illegal presence on Iraqi sand, he helped take many times more lives than he could possibly have saved.

It’s pretty weak and specious to characterize number of kills as heroism, I would think. But if you must, if they must, Kyle is no match for Fat Man and Little Boy, who by official accounts killed approximately 220,000 people dwarfing Kyle’s paltry 160. It’s not even a comparison. Little Boy and Fat Man put all human heroes to shame if kills is the yardstick by which heroes are measured. And don’t give me that “but they’re bombs, not humans” bullshit. It’s the kills that matter and if those kills saved lives, not whether what did the killing was funny-clown-atom-bomb-wallpaperhuman or not. And officially it is claimed by most historians that the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan prevented a mainland invasion which would have resulted in many more deaths than were attributed to the dropping of the bombs. Also, Little Boy and Fat Man didn’t brag about it and gloat, and in fact, they sacrificed themselves in the process — something Kyle was unwilling to do. They didn’t contract a ghostwriter to write a book about their stoic heroism called American Bomb. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give special thanks to the progenitors of nuclear weaponry for the countless lives the advent of such saved for the past 70 years. One can only imagine the death toll without the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over humanity’s head. Einstein and Oppenheimer are saints, if not heroes. Was that absurd? Of course it was, just as this whole American Sniper propaganda business is absurd. That’s the point.

One thing’s for certain, more than a few celebs are up in arms about this movie, and the media is amplifying the differences of opinion. Much to do has been made of Seth Rogan’s and Michael Moore’s comments to include some other celebs, specifically Dean Cain, threatening to kick their asses for 1237787_525_350_winsulting his deceased friend and hero, Chris Kyle. It’s hilarious — and embarrassing — and great satirical material. I cover it all here at my Twitter account.

Moore is not correct, Americans aren’t taught that snipers are cowardly, not now and not in the past as I’ve proven earlier in this blog post by underscoring the female Soviet sniper’s popular tour of America. I don’t think snipers are cowardly, but I do think they’re superfluous and increasingly archaic. An atom bomb or two with the explosive capacity of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been much more efficient and much less expensive at achieving the 1-2 million casualties in Iraq, but then what fun would that have been? Kyle would have missed out on his hero status and he would have missed out on his admitted fun killing Iraqi savages. One such adventure had him picking off so-called insurgents crossing the Tigris river holding beach balls above their heads because they couldn’t swim. He sniped the beachballs and they drowned to death. Sounds like fun to me — something to do on a Sunday afternoon when you’re bored out of your mind and you get paid for it. Woo Hoo — what’s not to like?

They didn’t drop nukes not because they’re humanitarian, but  rather because you don’t make any money dropping nukes, and war is about money and profits. Those taxpayer dollars used to fund the Iraq War aren’t/weren’t a cost — it is/was a transfer of wealth from the increasingly struggling, dispossessed and disintegrating American middle class to the wealthy, elite shareholders of defense contractors and energy companies. Dropping a couple of nukes would have resulted in a similar number of dead and injured non-combatants and combatants alike, but it wouldn’t have been profitable, so it wasn’t considered. War, so long as it’s not on your soil and the chaos that ensues is controlled and contained, is good business. If there isn’t a war, one must be conjured just as the Iraq War was.

And what about Seth Rogan’s comments for which he took so much heat and later backpedaled on? I think he was spot on, especially if you consider the Tea Partiers’ perception of this movie, and let’s face it, that’s the sociopolitical demographic that’s responsible for this movie’s record-smashing success thus far. From a Venn Diagram perspective, it overlaps significantly with the sociopolitical demographic that made the Jew-hating Mel Gibson fabulously wealthy beyond his wildest anti-Semitic dreams with his The Passion of the Christ. For the record, I have never seen The Passion of the Christ and I doubt I ever will, but I’ll never say never as I just did. Back to Rogan’s comment. He said the following for those who don’t know already: “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.” Seth, at least spell the name of the movie correctly; It’s Inglourious Basterds, not Inglorious Basterds. Jesus!

Oh my God, what a horrible thing for Seth to say — somebody beat the shit out of him or better yet maybe a Navy SEAL like Kyle can blow this anti-American traitor’s head off or in the least snipe his beach ball so he drowns in a puddle of his own sweat, saliva and urine. Seriously, I don’t see the problem with his comment. American Sniper is a propaganda film about a prominent American sniper just as the movie (Stolz der Nation) within the movie Inglourious Basterds was about a prominent German sniper. The movie conveyed that the Good German is surrounded on all sides by enemies who hate Germans for their superiority and this sniper, against all odds and faced with overwhelming life-threatening danger manages to kill every last enemy in a small town all by his lonesome (the number killed was outrageous and lacked credibility). In fact, Germany was the overwhelming force in WWII and it was Germany that put country after country in the very position this German sniper was in per the propaganda movie despite the embarrassing and unglamorous truth of the account. It was the other way around from what was presented in the propaganda film, but the German people had to be brainwashed into believing Germany was the persecuted one fighting enemies who wanted to annihilate them for their righteous superiority. Sounds like American Sniper to me, or it’s close enough for Seth Rogan’s comparison to be called apple to apple and not apple to orange.

As I’ve mentioned, the nucleus of the sociopolitical demographic target for American Sniper is the Tea Party set. They’re a bunch of fruitcakes who will believe anything that fuels their hate-filled rage. They’d make great fascist fodder if they had half a brain, but they don’t, and they lack the resolve and self-discipline to make good fascists. They rile easy though and like to whine and complain and misdirect their anger and frustration and support wayward causes. This crowd has taken to abusing Jesse Ventura for having the audacity to sue Kyle for his slandering lies. They’re criticizing Ventura for taking money off Kyle’s emotionally and physically vulnerable and beleaguered widow, Taya. How Victorian of them. Taya, being a woman — and a widow no less, is entirely incapable of getting by without her big, strong, noble, heroic and, lest we forget, lying warrior husband. It’s 2015 and this mindset still exists. Of course, I think Taya knows better and is milking this publicity for all it’s worth, and in that sense she’s no different than the Kardashians — leveraging name recognition cache and exploiting it while the getting’s good. Here’s a YouTube clip of Taya panhandling a new book by her deceased husband that he allegedly wrote and completed prior to his untimely death. I’d like to see someone investigate whether Kyle really wrote this book or whether a ghostwriter wrote it and Taya and her marketing team are using Kyle’s name cache to strike while the iron is hot and recognize as much profit as possible while the braindead Tea Party public’s interest is still piqued.

If Jesse wants to be a real man, he should incessantly, day in and day out, harass Taya for phone sex and request she eat fallafil in the shower while skillfully loofah-ing her perky, supple, lathered and inviting breasts — and Jesse could write a children’s book with a chapter about sex and furnish Taya with an autographed copy imploring her to read it to Kyle’s son so that he may learn the ways of a real man. That’s what a real man would do, but since Jesse Ventura isn’t a real man, he won’t follow Bill’s advice.

Here’s a real man. This is the Tea Party set. This is America — or so they think. Juxtapose it with Ferguson or Washington DC and you soon realize that there is no unifying description of America, except insane perhaps. This fella wants to avenge the “honor” of Kyle and Kyle’s widow and he doesn’t have faith in the veracity of America’s system of jurisprudence unless it renders a decision in his, and his own’s, favor. I call that a poor sport and a cheater. But hey, he’s a Lone Survivor (another movie I will most likely never see) and war hero, so I’ll cut him some slack on the hangman’s noose he’s fashioned for himself. The scene of this video is comical in and of itself. People will do anything for money, dignity be damned. As for the Navy SEALS, if it was once an admirable outfit, it is no longer. You guys are fuckin clowns — you’re the real clown posse. From here on out, when I hear or see the name Navy SEAL(s) mentioned, it’ll conjure an impression of a pathetic and laughable military organization feigning to be noble and dignified whilst seeking all the false glory it can muster and turning that false glory into bling ca ching as fast as it can. There are no great men, only mice.

I’m not alone in my sentiment, and no, I’m not talking about the pathetic, disingenuous and sensationalist progressives like Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald. I’m not a progressive and their criticism of American Sniper is not my criticism. One person’s criticism of American Sniper and Chris Kyle that I share mostly with few exceptions is Alex Jones. Jones is over-the-top on a great many issues, but on this issue he is spot on and he keeps his analysis measured and tempered. I agree with 98% of his assessment. Well said, Alex.

Part of the problem with American Sniper is the Iraq War itself. Considering what I’ve mentioned above, it’s a foolhardy endeavor to present a heroic and positive message emanating from an illegal, immoral and ignoble war. The reality of sniping isn’t glamorous and praiseworthy. The Iraq War was a Clusterfuck and America and The West were criminal aggressors. A much better movie utilizing the Iraq War as the context is The Hurt Locker. It’s not a movie the Pentagon will use for recruitment. You won’t leave the theater feeling like a proud patriot after watching it, even though it’s  no longer in theaters. In The Hurt Locker, there are no easy answers — or any answers at all — only the raw madness of war. Here’s a sampling. This YouTube clip is the best sniper scene I’ve ever witnessed in a movie and it shows sniping for what it is. There is nothing noble and glorious or fun about it. Do you hate and despise the Iraqi snipers? You never see them, so it’s hard to hate them, but you sure as hell hate and despise the sniping. Now imagine you’re an Iraqi — wouldn’t you feel the same way about an American Sniper and sniping in general? It’s madness. These guys look like fools until they are finally able to get their bearings thanks to a level-headed comrade who can contain his emotions and think straight. There is nothing fun about this — it’s the hell of war — it’s insane — and Kathryn Bigelow (does she need Loofah protection as well, Bill?) does an excellent job of capturing and portraying it.

In an earlier blog post, The Igor Sanction, I commended Clint Eastwood on his acting and directing. I won’t withdraw or retract that commendation, but I will say and emphasize that this latest movie, and a number of your offerings lately, bite the big one, Clint. You hit it out of the park with Mystic River and Gran Torino, so I’m not sure what’s going on with you except to say you’re letting patriotism and jingoism get in the way of art. You’re a wealthy man — wealthier than most folks could possibly imagine and you can and do write your own ticket in Hollywood. You could have chosen any project to produce and/or direct and you chose this load of crap. It’s more than disappointing — it’s sad, Clint. Why couldn’t you have taken a page out of Sergio Leone’s book and told a fictional tale using the Iraq War as the backdrop even though the story wasn’t necessarily about the Iraq War, but it was a not so subtle, nuanced and apolitical statement about that war and war in general just as Leone did with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Clint, if you’re reading this and I know you are, I have a deal. Let’s work on your next project together and create a new genre in the spirit of the late great Sergio Leone. We can call it Ramen Middle Easterns versus Spaghetti Westerns. Our inaugural movie to kick it off can be raw and low-budget like Sergio’s pasta productions — and maybe we can even solicit the benefaction of Ennio Moriccone to provide the score for a minimal fee. What do you say, Clint, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? I do.

Finally, to wrap this long-winded rant up, if you were going to produce and direct an Iraq War movie based on a real life account, Clint, you could have told it like it really is, and not how the Pentagon and Kyle’s fans wanted it. It would have been a better story and maybe the focus wouldn’t have been Kyle, so much as it would have been about PTSD and the American military’s inability to deal with it effectively. Kyle’s death is the stuff of Shakespearian Tragedy. You missed a golden opportunity, Clint. There’s still time before you kick the bucket to redeem yourself, but I doubt you will. The New Yorker in Jon Krakauer storytelling fashion, told the excellent tale of Chris Kyle and his murderer — an impartial, objective, intriguing and compelling account that indicts the American military for gross negligence. Here’s the referenced excellent article — the real story. It would be ideal and fitting if Ventura took whatever was left over from his jury award after paying his legal fees and apply it to Eddie Routh’s defense and a lawsuit on Eddie’s behalf against the American military for its turning a cold shoulder on its responsibility. If there ever was an insanity defense, Eddie Routh is it, but the Tea Partiers want his head. The sweet taste of vengeance. Perhaps Clint serendipitously covered Kyle’s Shakespearian death with this line from one of his famous movies:

Chris Kyle clearly didn’t know his, and with Eddie Routh he bit off more Karma bullet than he could chew. You couldn’t write a better script, but Clint threw it in the trashcan and replaced it with feces.

Well, that’s it for now folks. I’m through slinging shit, for now, and I need to change my diaper and wash up before heading out to see American Sniper.

Until next time, remember, it’s all lies so lie well and for all the right reasons.

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42 thoughts on “American Diaper

  1. Cold, you simply must reveal to me where you grew up, where you spent your formative years. Somewhere recently you mentioned having gone to high school in Texas. Would Texas be the source of some expressions you use? If so, where in Texas? I spent some time in Texas (Wichita Falls) during my brief military “career.”

    Where the hell in the US of A do people say “based off” rather than “based on?” How can opposites be deemed to convey the same meaning? Welll…there IS “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less.”

    In this latest blog of yours you used, no less than four times, the expression “based off.” Here is one example: “Clint created a fictional account [based off] a character that did not exist in real life,”

    Once this matter is cleared up (and the hairs on the back of my neck settle back into place) I may have something to say about the actual content of your post.

    • Thanks for the catch. It is a predilection. I have no idea why or how I acquired it. It may have been when I was 13 years old and flew head first off my bike and smashed the ground so hard with my head it rang my bell and I saw stars for hours afterwords. Or maybe it was the time I was crushed in the giant box crusher at Kroger when I was six and was in a coma for several days suffering minor brain damage. Or maybe there is no explanation — it’s just one of those things you have to accept. I made the corrections.

      • The box crusher…it had to be the box crusher!

        BTW, you missed this one:

        “…it’s [based], loosely or not, [off] a novel with the same name written by a true, real-life American sniper…”

  2. Thanks for the The New Yorker link and the post overall. Lots of great observations. This whole affair is quite a tale. I shudder to imagine how many more Eddie Ray Rouths there are out there waiting to go off even as we speak.

    This line, referring to Kyle at the end, struck me as particularly ironic: Guns, she suggested, were part of the fabric of Kyle’s identity. After he returned from war, Kyle was “blessed to be able to serve countless numbers of veterans during hunts and shoots.” She added, “He discovered a new use for guns: healing.

    Yeah, right.

    • I shudder to imagine how many more Eddie Ray Rouths there are out there waiting to go off even as we speak.

      I wonder the same thing. What’s bizarre about Eddie Routh killing Kyle is that although Routh was clearly psychotic, he hadn’t really threatened to kill anyone but himself prior to murdering Kyle. What set him off, one wonders? Clearly Kyle didn’t establish a trusting rapport with Routh on the hour-long drive up to the shooting range. Rouch appeared to me to be a gentle and sensitive soul, whereas Kyle comes off as the bloviating braggart who can kill without a second thought. Perhaps this is what triggered Rouch to see Kyle as a demon — Kyle had a negative aura that Rouch’s psychotic mind picked up on and reacted to. I also wonder how this doesn’t happen more. It’s stunning that it doesn’t.

      About Taya’s comments, she’s a real hoot — she’s giving Sarah Palin a run for her money as the conservative poster female for the 2016 presidential election. Here’s a video of her shooting an antelope in a publicity stunt for the NRA gun crowd. You don’t have to be pro or anti gun to see the satirically cold-hearetd cynicism in this strategy. There’s no need for satirists when you have billions of accidental ones walking the Earth like zombies.

      “That was him providing meat for the family.” Bwaaaaahahaha!!! The poor, downtrodden widow with the perfect, pearly-white teeth — teeth that surely cost $20,000 or more to make so perfect. Meanwhile, there are some truly struggling single mothers out there making $12/hour who can’t catch a break — but we’re supposed to feel sorry for this multi-maiilionaire media darling. Jesus! Give me a break Tea Partiers — or better yet, please don’t, because this material is so amazingly priceless.

      • Christ, the apple certainly falls close to the tree with her, doesn’t it? Yeah, it was hard for me to get a read on Kyle at first through all the hyperbole, but bloviating braggart certainly comes through loud and clear after just a little bit of digging. And of the course the Tea-Baggers latching onto his legacy and all the rest – the Texas Stadium Memorial Service, the 200 mile procession to the funeral and all – I honestly have to wonder about the collective sanity of the American people these days. I mean I always suspected we were vulnerable to this kind of craziness, but the depth and the depravity of it all lately has taken even me aback.

        I definitely have more sympathy for Eddie Ray Routh, from the New Yorker account at least. He sounds like so many disaffected youths these days growing up cast adrift in a society that could care less whether they live or die. No, he was none too bright either, and his family and social background mirrored all that, and so he had two strikes against him by the time he was old enough to realize that anyone was keeping score. Like so many young men, he cast his lot with the military (and like so many as well, the USMC no less!) and came out on the other just another piece of damaged sausage, waiting to poison someone’s life. So bad, so sad, rub some dirt on it!

        But I digress. Like most American stories these days – the honest ones at least – there simply are no heroes here, only victims. But then you have to pinch yourself after considering all that and wonder, how can that be? How can we all be victims, and if so, just who is it that’s doing the victimizing?

        And therein lies “the hook” and the truth of your blog title. The lie. It’s all in the lie. Sure, the obvious lie that the government tells to us all, like all governments do, but which the US Government sees to have perfected more than any government before it. But much more than that, the lie that each and everyone of us have conditioned ourselves over many years to swallow, which is that hierarchical authority in general, currently personified by the US Government specifically, is for all intents and purposes all-knowing and all-seeing, and that we should all therefore pay it unquestioned allegiance, no matter how much our personal conscience tells us it’s not true.

        For my part, I think this is the basic disconnect that Eddie Ray Routh faced upon returning home, which is the one that all returning vets of conscience face when confronted with such completely disparate realities. Unfortunately for Chris Kyle, with respect to Routh at least, he didn’t. DAMN if this isn’t beginning to sound like a Zen tale of delayed equilibrium!

        Anyway, GOOD POST and thanks for making me think!

      • Thank you — it took some time to research it all and a lot of work goes into reviewing the links I place in my blog posts and of course formulating your thoughts into a coherent, structured and flowing narrative takes time and planning. Unfortunately, not enough people click the links but they’re a vital part of my blog posts so those who don’t click them only get half the story absent the special effects.

        For my part, I think this is the basic disconnect that Eddie Ray Routh faced upon returning home, which is the one that all returning vets of conscience face when confronted with such completely disparate realities. Unfortunately for Chris Kyle, with respect to Routh at least, he didn’t. DAMN if this isn’t beginning to sound like a Zen tale of delayed equilibrium!

        I like this description. My views are never final — I’m in a constant state of discovery and my assessment is under perpetual revision. PTSD is an interesting phenomenon that’s little understood, even by the so-called experts, but your description can go a long way to shedding some light on the affliction. I need to research this further, but I recollect listening to an NPR segment where it was asserted that the majority of PTSD cases are diagnosed in vets who have never experienced combat. If true, wrap your head around that. In Routh’s case, I think his military experience triggered his latent psychosis much as a bad acid trip will do for other mental cases waiting for the perfect trigger — and there’s no better trigger than the horrors of war. If so, Routh may have been misdiagnosed with PTSD, but that doesn’t let the American military off the hook by any means.

        Now consider Vietnam where the horrors of war and LSD intersected in the same time and place. Those who were prone to psychosis walked into a perfect triggering storm and voila — Apocalypse Now — and forever without end, Amen.

  3. Hey, in keeping with your blog theme and all, I’d be interested to seeing your take in a full blog post on the Lance Armstrong saga. Here’s a link to his latest interview:

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/cycling/30955902

    I have no personal axe to grind in any of this and find it to be a fairly provocative subject either way. I think it also speaks very strongly to the American way of doing things in general, which I think is Armstrong’s basic underlying justification, which was basically “I was the best anyway, I was simply taking measures to ensure that the official results reflected that.”

    • I’ll certainly consider it as part of a much larger theme involving the cannibalizing effect of hypercompetition — the win at all cost mentality even if it means there is no one, or anything, left to compete. I will say this, I sensed Armstrong was doping way back in the mid to late nineties when the mainstream American media shied away from the story taking shape in Europe. Must everything be competitive — even riding a bike? Why can’t people just ride the fucking bike without turning a relaxing and fun activity into something stressful and demanding? Christ, even something as mundane as spelling words becomes a competition. Achievement is possible without demoralizing competition, in fact, I’d say even more so and for all the right reasons. There’s nothing wrong with achievement for its own sake, not because you beat someone to a demoralizing pulp in a competition.

      • I was a recreational cyclist back when Armstrong was doing his thing, and thanks to my stint in the USAF I even got to witness the closing stages of the TdF in Paris 1990 and 1991. I knew from following the sport that everyone who was anyone was doing EPO in the 1990s just to keep up, so Armstrong’s initial 1995 justification, back before he got cancer, that “everyone was doing it” did indeed make sense. But after the crackdowns in 1998 and 1999 especially, those numbers began to dwindle considerably, so his contention that he continued to do it just to “level the playing field,” was completely false. And it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that if he was getting off scot-free while all of his main competitors were getting busted, that some sort of official fix was in. IMO the legend of Lance got so big that it eclipsed the TdF and the entire sport of cycling, something Lance knew then and wistfully remembers now. He can’t come out and name names now without instigating a complete shit storm of legal controversy, but that’s the big stinking turd that’s left on the carpet for both Armstrong and cycling to deal with now. In a way, I can almost sympathize with his plight. He was a world class liar for sure, but it was a lie so compelling and enriching – cancer survivor who transcends previous limitations to dominate the sport – that almost no one was able to resist it. And as quick as all those sponsors were to ditch him in the aftermath, you can rest damn sure that none of them are giving any of the money he earned them back. Anyway, quite a story.

  4. Why can’t people just ride the fucking bike without turning a relaxing and fun activity into something stressful and demanding? – Cold

    ===============

    Because life IS competition…even if you’re just a paramecium.

  5. From The New Yorker article:

    Just before 2 A.M. on March 5, 2010, Kyle was driving alone in central Dallas, near Love Field, when he lost control of his truck and crashed into a wooden fence, nearly ending up in someone’s swimming pool. A policeman found Kyle with “bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, breath smelling of alcoholic beverage, unsteady balance and nystagmus.” Kyle told him, “I’m stupid. I was drinking and driving. I missed the turn. It was my fault.” The officer arrested him, on a D.W.I. charge. Kyle slept in jail until the morning, when he was released. A judge later dismissed the charges.

    Well, isn’t that special. The judge dismissed the charges. If only all of us were that fortunate. If it was a Black guy, you can be sure those charges not only wouldn’t have been dropped, but instead the maximum penalty applied. Some guys have all the luck — until someone shoots them when they least expect it but should have.

    • Hell, D.W.I.’s a veritable badge of honor in parts of backwater Texas, especially if you’re a good ol’ boy with an interesting story to tell. I’m just surprised they didn’t offer to pay for his vehicle damages and charge the fence owner for putting it there.

      • Not many comments make me laugh out loud, but this one did. Great stuff, and having spent a portion of my life in Texas, you are exactly right in your description. DWI’s and state executions go a long way in defining the character of Texas. Still, I love Texas for better or for worse.

        Florida’s also pretty forgiving, at least the panhandle. One weekend way back when, some buddies and I were traveling to Jacksonville on I-10 at about 85 miles per hour. I was driving because I was the only one able to see straight even though all of us (there were four of us in the car) were stoned and drunk out of our minds. Stupid, I know, but that’s youth for you. It was my roommate’s car and we were heading to his home for a weekend none of us would ever remember but the process of not remembering was fun, no doubt.

        This car was a piece of shit although he treated it like it was his baby. Driving it was like wrestling a bull — the goddamn thing had a mind of its own and wandered all over the road no matter how sober and careful you were. Well, this particular night I was neither sober nor careful, so I can only imagine what it looked like from the officer’s vantage.

        My buddies were lighting up one joint after another — the car was so thick with smoke I had to crack the window because I couldn’t see the road ahead. I didn’t feel comfortable driving, but I felt even less comfortable with any of the others driving. So there we are, driving along, up in smoke, and zoning on some Pink Floyd when the blue and red lights start flashing in the rearview mirror. Oh shit, I’m thinking! Jesus fucking Christ, we are so busted! I’m going to jail — there goes my future — I’ll never be a senator or president now with a record.

        I pull over to the shoulder and the three other zombies in the car are laughing their asses off so hard the car is bouncing up and down and you can clearly hear them from twenty yards away — which is how far the state patrol officer’s car was from us. The car is full of smoke, there are beer bottles and cans strewn all over the place and these idiots can’t stop laughing when it’s no time to laugh, so I have to think fast and on my feet even though my head’s still in the stratosphere. I decide that the best course of action is to get out of the car calmly and respectfully and meet the trooper half way so he doesn’t get a peek at the Cheech & Chong movie playing inside.

        As I exit the vehicle a rush of smoke follows me out and the sound of maniacal laughter. “Act calm, act calm, act calm”

        Me: Good evening, officer.

        Officer: Were you aware of how fast you were going?

        Me: I hadn’t looked at the speedometer in a while — we were having a discussion, my friends and I and I lost track of the speed.

        At this moment, I can hear them all laughing hysterically in the smoke-filled car ten yards away and I’m ready to put my hands out to be cuffed even though the trooper hasn’t even asked me yet.

        Trooper: You should be more careful — it’s late and dark and you need to pay closer attention. You were going 85 miles per hour.

        Me: 85? Seriously? I had no idea.

        Trooper: You need to be more careful. Where are you all headed?

        Me: Jacksonville

        Trooper: You want to make it there alive, don’t you?

        Me: Certainly, sir.

        Trooper: Are you in the military, son?

        Me: No sir, but I’m considering it.

        Trooper: Have you spoken to a recruiter?

        Me: Yes, sir.

        Trooper: Which branch?

        Me: Air Force.

        Trooper: Let me have your license.

        Me: Yes sir, here it is.

        He heads back to his car and calls in the license plate and writes up the ticket. I’m in limbo right now, thinking this could go either way but there’s some breathing room. I try to empty my mind of all negativity and remain calm. Deep breaths. Don’t sweat. He finishes and exits his car and heads my way. This is the moment of reckoning.

        Trooper: Here’s your citation. Please be more careful next time and give that recruiter a call when you get back — the military needs good men like you.

        Me: I will officer. Thank you. Have a good evening.

        I walk back to my friend’s car, open the door as smoke continues to billow out from the herbal furnace of its interior.

        Friends: Well, what the hell happened?

        Me: I saved our asses from jail, you assholes, so do me a favor and shut the fuck up for a while while I process what just inexplicably happened.

        The trooper never filed the ticket. I called for months after to see if it had been filed in order to pay it because my check was initially returned. They claimed they had no record of the ticket on file. WTF? An alien? A guardian angel? It sure woke me the hell up, though. Things changed for me after that night. I took the experience as a warning. From there on out, I would travel in no car that didn’t have a proper ventilation system.

        True story. Aren’t they all?

      • the goddamn thing had a mind of its own and [wondered] all over the road

        ========================

        I guess it [wondered] whether to go right, left or straight 😉

      • Ahh, lower Alabama! My military travels took me to South Georgia (Valdosta) for most of the 80’s, so I traveled the back roads between there and Tallahassee Fl quite extensively. D.W.I. never even became a “problem” until damn near 1990. Before that the usual response was to take your keys and give you a ride home if you weren’t too far out of the way. Otherwise, they’d let you sleep it off in the drunk tank with no charges being filed. Y’all come back now, hear? Those were the days!

  6. More from The New Yorker article:

    it was hard to let go of being a hero

    I can attest to this — it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. If it wasn’t for commenting to blogs like Clusterfuck Nation and Moon of Alabama, I’d still be a hero today, so I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to the caring and compassionate commentariat at both those respective cyber spaces.

  7. Still more:

    Every one of the wounded warriors shot an antelope.

    Even if they had to shoot one that had been shot and killed already for those who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    I can also attest to the healing power of an antelope hunt. If you’re wounded, there is no better antidote than to wound — and kill if you can get away with it. It’s as though you transfer all your poisonous hurt and angst to your target, be it an antelope or a “savage.”

  8. Thanks, saw this linked elsewhere, went here and really liked it. Well done, indeed. I linked it with the following comment:

    “New (to me) voice in the wilderness I happened across today. He does a good job exposing the fetid bloviation surrounding both rotten halves of the American Sniper meme, throwing a klieg light on the false and state-serving dichotomy of both the liberal and neocon viewpoints. He then uses that contrast to subtly illuminate and define the distant foggy and less traveled peak of rational thought, based on valuation of freedom, that eschews simplified choices. Viewed in this way, the contrast generated between the two apparently “only” choices can then be used to reason out the solutions provided to kinds of problems by denying them both and focusing upon what is real.”

    • Thank you. Your comment sums it up nicely , and well-written. It’s smooth like a good scotch. I appreciate great writing. It’s as satisfying as a good drink — okay, maybe not as good, but close.

  9. Speaking of Comfortably Numb, Tina S. can bring it as effectively as Gilmore. She’s a real talent — a real hero, even though there are no heroes. I chose Comfortably Numb as a link embedded in this blog post above because I envisioned this song playing in Kyle’s head as he laid, ironically, dying on the shooting range. I’m sure Routh, from Kyle’s perspective, at that point was only coming through in waves and even though Routh’s lips were moving Kyle couldn’t hear what he said. No doubt Kyle was quickly losing sensation so his hands felt like two balloons — his distant ship of life on the horizon was sailing. The child had grown and the dream was gone. Fitting.

    • Wow! If that was actually her playing all of that (you can never actually be sure these days), that was just fantastic! I won’t say she had quite ALL the polish that David Gilmour would have applied to that solo, since he invented it, but that was one helluva good cover. Every generation stands on the shoulders of all those before it. Sure wish I had those kind of chops at anything!

      I noticed your comment on Comfortably Numb as well, Catcher, but didn’t bring it up. The Floyd, and that song in particular, are definitely favorites of mine. The Floyd themselves were of course evolutionary by-products of a 60s acid trip gone wrong in the person of founder Syd Barrett, but managed to stay relatively true to their roots of biting the establishment hand that feeds throughout their brief trajectory of superstardom in the 1970s, or at least as true as you can be while also raking in millions of dollars from those same sources as well.

      I can’t know what was going through Kyle’s head as the blood drained out of him, if indeed he wasn’t just killed instantly, but I think your analogy might be close to the metaphoric mark. It absolutely did seem to be poetic justice of a higher order though, I think we can absolutely agree on that.

      As to your larger point about the ability of certain artists to capture feelings, vibes, or whatevers in life, often only tangential to their primary points in the songs they present, especially at very young ages? I’m amazed and humbled. Everytime I begin to think that I might finally have my shit in one bag, I stop to consider these precocious souls, and then I go back to doing what I do, greatful for what little I’ve got.

      • And as far as war/anti-war testimonials, I’ve always found this one and this guy pretty compelling:

  10. I wanted to point something else out. DA, you did this yourself, innocently enough I assume. The media is prone to referring to those who assassinate people on very high pedestals by their full name meaning the middle name included. Eddie Routh is no exception. He’s referred to as Eddie Ray Routh. James Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. James Earl Ray. Eddie Ray Routh.

    Consequently, I will, in future, refer to this person as Eddie Routh or just Routh in defiance of their psychological manipulation. Routh doesn’t deserve elite assassin status as indicated by the media’s first, middle and last name rule.

    The only exception to this rule was Sirhan Sirhan for obvious reasons.

    They didn’t refer to Jack Ruby as Jack Leon Ruby because Oswald, who he assassinated, was not on an elite pedestal. But apparently Kyle was, so his assassin gets the three name designation.

    • No, I just used The New Yorker article name designation, that’s all Catcher. But I get your point, and I wonder if they didn’t fall for the same trap as well. That said, the first-middle name use is particularly popular in the American south, so much so that many times people won’t even know who you’re talking about otherwise.

      In the end, I don’t think either Routh or Kyle will be long remembered. Routh is a nobody already, outside your blog post and a The New Yorker article, while Kyle is a momentary blip on the Hollywood myth making radar, completely forgotten in the aftermath of a soon to be also completely forgotten Oscar ceremony.

  11. By the way Catcher, I think I should add this up front. I’m SO grateful to you guys who go to the trouble and expense to post these blogs, so that hangers on like me can read your stuff and add our gratuitous commentary on after the fact. You guys are doing the work – and in your case it looks like A LOT OF WORK! – while we’re reaping most of the benefit. Kudos to you and yours my friend!

  12. By the way Catcher, I think I should add this up front. I’m SO grateful to you guys who go to the trouble and expense to post these blogs, so that hangers on like me can read your stuff and add our gratuitous commentary on after the fact. You guys are doing the work – and in your case it looks like A LOT OF WORK! – while we’re reaping most of the benefit. Kudos to you and yours my friend!

    Awe shucks — thank you for the positive acknowledgment and it pleases me to know someone appreciates it and is grateful, although I’d have to say that’s not my motivation — to garner accolades — but it is icing on this dense layer cake I’m building at this space.

    People ask me what compels me. The answer is simple — it’s the power of Christ that compels me just as it compelled Reagan.

  13. I don’t know, DA, there seems to be something more to the naming of certain notable assassins. Perhaps it denotes the state’s complicity and the hierarchical nature of their sacrificial rankings. Having spent a portion of my life in the South, as you note, there is a proclivity to use the full name including the middle name, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Most people I interact with in the South don’t do this. So it can’t be because it’s a Southern thing. What are the odds of all these assassins being referred to by all three names in their daily lives?

    I forgot to mention Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s assassin. One of The Catcher In The Rye assassins.

    The guys who shot up Columbine, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, no three name status for them because they shot up a bunch of plebes. Same holds for the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza.

    I think there’s something to it all — what that something is, I have no idea.

    • Yep, you might have something there after all.

      I have a sort of loose connection with Mark David Chapman. I was living in Hawaii myself at the time he took a flight to NYC in Dec 1980 to murder Lennon, drifting around after a 3 year stint in the Army and basically wasting my time smoking the local herb and whatnot. When I heard about what that dipshit had done, I seriously wondered how much he and I and most of my layabout friends had in common. Malaise was pretty much the overriding theme of the time, and I wondered what little detour Chapman took that the rest of us didn’t that caused him commit such a stupid act. From what I’ve read of him since, he appears to be no more psychotic than about 50% of the American general population, and in my opinion he’s mostly just a frustrated obsessive introvert with delusions of grandeur, more than likely fueled by a large helping of drug fugue at the time, probably not that much different than me and any number of people I knew at the time.

      At any rate, it was all such a shame, although Lennon’s murder did have a sense of inevitability about it. He had made a huge number of bitter enemies on both the left and the right here in the US and in mother England as well. I’ve never considered any of the assorted conspiracy theories out there concerning his murder, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what it was. Let’s just leave it at that Chapman probably did a lot of well-connected people a favor when he murdered Lennon, whether they were actually assisting him in any way or not.

  14. Great movie! Love the over the top dramatic flair!

    The Exorcist is satire for some of us on the outside looking in who feel that life is but a joke. Mark David Chapman was not one of us — he took life, and himself, way too seriously unless, of course, he was merely a vessel directed by the Egregore in which case his name, and the personalization of his deed, is a way to obscure something that is much larger, deeper and more pervasive than we can ever hope to comprehensively consider. Just for you, DA — my favorite of the Hendrix litany:

  15. At least you got the title right as it just sounds like another pile of Hollywood shite. The enemy could be Gooks, Krauts, Redcoats, Commies or in this case Muzzies (who were Rambo’s friends remember). It makes no difference, it just allows Americans to feel themselves superior to everyone else – for a change.

  16. I got everything right, not just the title. But since you’ve mentioned “at least,” at least Americans aren’t atheists and vegans and communists and child molesters/rapists and PETA activists.

    • LOL. PETA is an American organisation run by American vegans. I’m sure that there are plenty of American atheists, although your country is better known for producing religious fundamentalists of the Christian persuasion and for financing Islamic fundamentalists.

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