"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 4 August 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

A Few Good Unmentionables


[These are promo pictures of Demi's new film, GI Jane, and she's bald. Is she still married to Bruce? It's kind of like Aliens comes home. I'm all for women in the military except, of course, my family. Actually I am a pacifist. And a feminist.]

It was only a few years ago that

Demi Moore was fornicating with

Robert Redford. She paid the

price for adultery in the


Scarlet Letter. That she now has

been chosen to star in G. I.

Jane despite this tawdry record

is no accident.


For years we have oversimplified

America's loss of direction by

blaming the '60s, Nixon, and

the Vietnam War. The calamitous

collapse of our most significant

(and credible?) enemy has left

us grasping at straw men.

Despite the US effort to arm

potential enemies as rapidly as

possible, the military still has

a difficult time finding

potential threats that justify

their existence. Still, the

military's current problems only

start with ontology.


[Sexual Misconduct in the Military. Soldiers marching. I thought that was what joining the military was all about. At least that's what teenage boys said when they joined after high school. I went to college. Plenty of sexual misconduct there too! Hey, it's what life's all about. It's in the genes.]

Gen. Dennis Reimer says, "The

Army has to do what it has to

do." CNN takes this to mean that

they will continue to

investigate "all" sexual

misconduct. To other ears, it

sounds like a clever update of

boys-will-be-boys. Though the

military denies that this will

turn into a witch hunt, this is

probably a relief to only those

wiccans among the troops.


[Picture of someone seeing the light and thus being 'saved.']

In the absence of a more obvious,

concrete mission, the military

is lost somewhere in the

minefield of our cultural

values. One solution to their

present crisis might require

soldiers to take a vow of

celibacy. It's not such a

stretch - anyone left who still

believes there are enemies on

the planet (and not just

potential consumers) is

obviously a man of faith. And

hey, the turn of the millennium

is as good a time as any for a

recapitulation of the crusades.


[Colorful picture of toy soldiers. Reminds me of that Pupcage song: 'when I was a boy, wrapped up in corduroy, melting my army toys'.]

The military's interest in

defending themselves in an

infowar has less to do with war

games than keeping the enemy - and

the public (if that's still

a distinction) - from finding

out who is sleeping with whom.

Remember, this is the same

military that used to have a

standard procurement process for

prostitutes. But those were

simpler times. Today, the

ethical relativism implied by a

don't-ask-don't-tell policy has

more than a few paranoid

soldiers guarding their rears.


Yet, the deepest problems (as

always) stem from military

metaphysics, and it is here that

our armed forces are truly

mything in action. Ever since

the end of World War II, the

military has become an

increasingly abstract body. That

people in the military

inhabit a different reality from

the rest of us has long been



[Picture of army iconography. It's cool and glorifies war. Cool. I wonder if sexual scandals in the military actually help their conscription rates.]

They share the same market,

though. The military is also a

business, after all. And during

the Cold War, they manufactured

memes. Patriots, Smart bombs,

brilliant pebbles, Star Wars,

Peacekeepers, and other assorted

MADness were weapons with an

explosive force that detonated

in the mind. The final proof

that war is now only a concept

was the platonic Gulf War, a

trade show for the armed

forces' vaporware.


[A nice photo of Paula at play. She spends most of her time suing Presidents. Here, though, she's caught in a rare moment of joyful rest.]

In three generations we've gone from

the specter of war, to War and

the Spectacle, to a war that was

simply spectacular.

Paradoxically, achieving this

level of technical perfection

has made the military

superfluous. On top of

that, most of the people

in the military can't stand the

commander in chief. And what

kind of example has he been

setting, anyway?


[This is the military's logo for military sex.]

While the media tries to figure

out who was what kind of slut,

the allegations of a double

standard in the military seem

perfunctory. Joseph Ralston

pulled out before it was too

late; Kelly Flinn (who also got

screwed) didn't get the chance

to finish. Focusing on the

distinction between martial and

marital, you lose sight of the

real double standard: In

peacetime, the military is more

interested in defending the

military than they are in

defending us.


The geopolitical climate could

change, though, and we may yet

need to call upon the military

to defend our lifestyles, if not

our lives. Yet, the integration

of the military will have

changed some things on a

fundamental level. The threat of

traveling co-ed, but chaperoned,

to fight in a foreign land may

motivate more than a few to flee

to Canada. Maybe we can make

a propaganda piece for the new

draft with a very special

episode of Friends.


[This is a picture of a real soldier with a gun, marching in front of a big marble stone, probably one of his buddies' tomb. But I am pretty cynical. I mean, these guys are defending democracy and the free market, right?]

The military's current campaign

of ethic cleansing represents

the tightest feedback loop yet

for the strange attractor that

is "family values." Considering

the collateral damage already

inflicted on the troops, the old

guard may not have to worry

about boy-girl-boy-girl seating

in Arlington. Either way, the

attempt to outflank us civies by

achieving a higher level of

moral perfection is certainly

admirable. For this, we salute


courtesy of Paige Phault

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