But Now Sit in Silence

Jessica Elliott

Jessica Elliott is a Midwest-based freelance B2B Content Marketing Writer specializing in Energy, Telecom & Hospitality Industries. She is a mother and dog lover.

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27 Responses

  1. Fish says:

    Good stuff. Thanks for sharing. My family’s Thanksgiving was similarly silent which was a good thing given the variety of religious and political differences among us.I’ve found that I prefer it this way, because I’m too much of a wanker to be nice and I much prefer enjoying my family’s company to arguing.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    Our family has the same dynamic; relationships strained to breaking, bitter silence.

    But as I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t new. I remember how it was during the late 60’s/ early 70’s, when Vietnam and Watergate and the general hippie counterculture led to countless ruined holiday gatherings and bitter office feuds.

    Even as a young child I remember the yelling, the bitter rage whenever someone would mention the war or the protests. The second hand stories of how “that long haired punk at work, and boy I told him, I said…” or my older brothers smirking about how they told off some old Establishment square.

    I think sometimes we forget why politics is important and why its worth fighting over.
    A million people died in Vietnam, another half million died in Iraq; Within my lifetime Emmet Till and half a dozen civil rights activists were murdered for daring to act like they were equal citizens.

    I wish that justice could come easily but it never does. We like to invoke our status as citizens of a republic, but overlook that this demands of us sacrifice, of not being passive or able to avoid ugliness.

    So I don’t regret my strained relationships, the unfriending, the silences. I wish it didn’t come to this but it really must.Report

    • In our case, it’s more that we’re now on the same page. Oh sure, there’s definitely still differences. And we chat about some policies. But, we used to banter over whoever was president and link that to the current policies.

      Now, I feel like no one is going to sit at our table and defend Trump. Not in the way they’ve done for past presidents. That’s where we’re speechless.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I think sometimes we forget why politics is important and why its worth fighting over.
      A million people died in Vietnam…

      A ton of this stuff transends politics, and we have a lot less control over it than we think, i.e. our elections matter less than we like to think.

      We were seriously in Vietnam from 1955 to 1973, that’s 18 years and 4 Presidents from both parties.

      Emmet Till died because of a nasty culture that wasn’t voted on and the civil rights improvements, although in part driven by the law, where also strongly driven by culture and technology changes.

      A President Gore would have gone to war over 911. We MIGHT not have gone to war in Iraq with a President Gore… but we also might have; all the options there were bad and there was also a strong posibility of Saddam doing something bad enough to bring us back.

      Obama took us out of Iraq and then found facts are stubborn things and had to take us back. Similarly Obama failed to lower the Oceans and stop Global Warming.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      A million people died in Vietnam, another half million died in Iraq

      But also tens of millions of people are living in a liberal capitalist society in South Korea instead of a socialist hellhole.

      In retrospect, it’s reasonably clear that the Korean War was worth the cost and the Vietnam War was not.

      Could we have known this in advance?Report

      • George Turner in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        There’s a lot to unpack before evaluating the two wars. Obviously, if one side fights badly enough, no war is worth the cost because the loser gets wiped off the planet without even impeding the victor. So built into such evaluations is an underlying “Was it worth it, as fought, given the outcome?”, which is a different question from “Was it worth it if it was fought differently and produced a different outcome?”

        The book “On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War”, which became required reading at Command and General Staff College, pointed out endless fundamental mistakes the US made from a Clausewitzian perspective, such as having no unified command, no clear goal, mistaking strategy for tactics, not understanding if it was on the strategic offense or defense or the tactical offense or defense, etc.

        The North’s goals were fundamentally the same in both wars. But the North Vietnamese knew that the Korean War ended in stalemate, so they made sure we didn’t see the obvious – that the folks in the north wanted to overrun and occupy the south. The solution in Korea was simply to stop them by setting up a well defended DMZ, with the threat of a massive sea borne invasion of the north hanging in the background. Then the fighting dwindled because neither side was going anywhere.

        This would have worked the same for Vietnam. The DMZ would need to extend along the borders with Laos and Cambodia, but once those routes proved futile the North Vietnamese would have quit using them, and the Cambodians and Laotians would grow tired of having Vietnamese cutting through their countries. There would have been no need to keep bombing the North to try and make them quit sending troops South, and no need for constant ground fighting. The war would have ended with far few casualties on both sides.

        Another obvious possibility was just to win the war by invading the North, much as we did in Iraq. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese ever said they’d respond to a US invasion by sending massive numbers of troops in, and that we would was merely a fear on our part that prevented us from pursuing the glaringly obvious goal of ending a war by quickly winning it.

        Perhaps the main lesson is that it’s possible to turn any war into a futile and self-destructive failure by having it run by people who are stupid, blind, or both, or who refuse to address the larger issues and just focus on whatever metrics are laying on their desk.

        Afghanistan would be a case in point. To win it, we either have to shoot all the crazy Muslims bent on jihad, including those coming in from Waziristan (west Pakistan), or we have to get them to abandon jihad and quit being crazy, or we have to crush them so that they realize that they can’t possibly win no matter what they do (occupy everything and get them to accept a new status quo in which they realize that military conflict won’t accomplish their goals).

        We’re not willing to do any of those things, so winning it is off the table. If they’re not willing to settle for a stalemate, and if anti-Taliban forces aren’t able to force a stalemate upon them, it means the only possible outcome is a Taliban victory, no matter how long we stay and how much we spend.

        So like Vietnam, under the self-imposed limitations (deciding to rule out a US victory as a possible outcome), where our policy can only end in defeat, the question becomes how many lives (on both sides) and how much money we’re willing to throw away to rack up another one for the “loss” column.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to George Turner says:

          it means the only possible outcome is a Taliban victory, no matter how long we stay and how much we spend.

          If we can politically stay forever because it’s not getting many/any Americans killed and the cost can be handwaved then it’s just a stalemate. We could be there droning them for 50 years, or until the facts in the region change.

          However I suspect 50 years of doing something like that would be cheaper than one 911.Report

        • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          I think that depends on how you do the accounting (aside from unknown unknowns).

          The Balance on economic costs

          They put the direct toll and physical damage at $55 billion, the economic impact at $123 billion, the Homeland Security cost at $589 billion, war funding at $1649 billion, and future wars and VA care at $867 billion.

          One could argue that the actual cost of 9/11 was $178 billion and the rest was the cost of our potentially unnecessary response, in which case the response cost 17 times more than the attack itself. Or you could argue that had we not responded, many more attacks would hit, plus we’d suffer the economic costs of being everybody’s chump.

          I’d also note that the cost of the response includes the cost of the war in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere, some of which were large affairs compared to Afghanistan. One source puts the cost of staying in Afghanistan at $55 billion in 2018, which would seem to be something easily sustainable. Another thing I’ll point out is that many of these outside cost estimates are mostly just accounting, as troops and equipment are shifted from one budget over to the Afghanistan budget, even though they’d still be in the budget somewhere. I’ve seem more than a few estimates that seem to assume that non-deployed soldiers don’t have to be fed or paid, and likewise with the equipment they use.

          That said, in Vietnam the fundamental choices we didn’t make were probably between A) spending very little to win it, or B) spending a fortune in dollars and lives to lose it. For a long list of bad reasons, we went for option B.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

            I just want everyone to take note of the conversation between two conservatives where it is agreed that burning 55 Billion dollars a year is a trivial matter, easily sustainable and in no way will damage our economy.

            Remember this, because a proposal that will cost “Half a Trillion dollars over 10 years” will be a frequently used attack line in the upcoming campaign.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I’m pretty sure that we’re all in agreement that the college educations that colleges dispense aren’t worth what the kids are paying for them, Chip.

              The tension, seems to me, exists between those who say that the colleges ought to be paid what they’re charging and those who don’t.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I think you skipped the part where I noted that most of that $55 billion is probably money we’d be spending on the military anyway, it just got shifted from the truck maintenance budget for Fort Bragg to a truck maintenance budget for Kandahar.

              Also unasked is how Afghanistan serves as the military’s most realistic training ground, bar none. We don’t even have to pay people to dress up like Taliban for the battle simulations.

              So the accounting question is how much of the cost is truly extra, and how much of that cost we’d prefer to avoid, and how that might compare to the potential harm to us if we abandoned the region.

              One thing that came to light in the recent Afghanistan Papers (which nobody paid attention too because impeachment) is that much of our spending made Afghanistan’s problems far worse. They did have a small corruption problem, so we threw billions around and gave them a huge corruption problem. That huge corruption problem then likely puts a lot of those billions into the hands of the bad guys, who use it to recruit and fund more bad guys.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                We would be spending as much on peacetime as wartime?

                I didn’t think an opinion of our budget priorities could be any more damning than mine, but you managed it somehow.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The world can be a bizarre place. During the Gulf War military deaths dropped because war is safer than letting soldiers commute to work or hang out in bars.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                Since we are paying thousands of people to be federal employees anyway, maybe they could do something useful with their time like building infrastructure or schools or clinics here in America, rather than Kandahar?Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                These particular employees just blow things up and break things. Do you really want them doing that over here?Report

              • …because war is safer than letting soldiers commute to work or hang out in bars.

                If true, it raises the immediate question, why do we pay them combat bonuses?Report

              • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Because of the staggering lack of fun women and hot bars in the Middle East. Sure, it would be different if we were fighting our way through Belgium, France, and Germany again, but lately we’ve mostly been mired in conflicts in non-touristy countries, places were most Americans won’t go unless they’re paid a whole lot of money.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Remember this, because a proposal that will cost “Half a Trillion dollars over 10 years” will be a frequently used attack line in the upcoming campaign.

              Warren’s medicare-for all-plan isn’t “$52 Billion a year”, it’s “$52 Trillion over 10 years”. That’s 100 times as expensive.

              Another difference is whether or not it’s new money. We have a military, we’re going to hire people, train them, & give them cool toys. “Train them” can also mean “drone stuff in Afghanistan” real easy and the new money cost is roughly zero.

              Obviously there are transition costs but it passes a smell test to think the military is able to do this and it’s just a redirection of priorities. Claiming we can restructure 5.2 Trillion of the yearly economy in some command-and-control top-down big-bang way where our politicians fire tens of millions of people doesn’t pass any sort of smell test.

              Yet another difference is I suggested a 50 year stalemate would be cheaper than a single 911. You could disagree with me by arguing you’d rather live with the occasional 911, or that the stalemate isn’t needed, or that there are cheaper options. At the moment you’re not disagreeing with me at all, you’re just pointing to the cost and claiming it’s a cost.

              RE: College debt.
              If you’re talking about college debt and not HC.

              Given how tangled a mess college debt is with every person’s situation being a one off, I suggest making dischargeable in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy Judges already deal with unpayable debt and conflicting interests.

              That would deal with the corner cases where you point to someone whose life is basically over because of debt.

              It would also prevent us from discovering yet again that colleges are good at raising their prices to suck up any “free” money that’s out there. There’s a difference between who is supposed to be helped by something and who actually will be. I also think a huge part of this success=college thing is a confusion over signalling and politicians trying to make everyone above average probably won’t end well.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Notice that my original comment didn’t specify what the “Half a Trillion dollar over ten years” would be spent on.
                You guys assumed M4A or college, but it doesn’t really matter does it?

                Because if any Dem candidate suggests “Half a Trillion dollars over ten years” be spent on anything- roads, health care anything, college anything, anything anything- the attack will be the same, because we’ve seen it time and again.
                “we can’t afford it, we’re broke, to spend is to tax…”

                So its good to point out that conservatives really don’t mean a word of it.
                Spending is good, deficit spending is fine, just so long as it is spending on things they happen to like.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Straw man.Report

            • Slade the Leveller in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Right? Remember the peace dividend? Good times.

              Here we are fighting an enemy whose Pearl Harbor attack fleet was 4 jetliners they didn’t even own. Talk about asymmetrical warfare!Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Saw this on the ol’ timeline.

    Seems apt.


    • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

      Is this one of them?

      “What right does Crazy Nancy have to hold up this Senate trial. None! She has a bad case and would rather not have a negative decision. This Witch Hunt must end NOW with a trial in the Senate, or let her default & lose. No more time should be wasted on this Impeachment Scam!”

      Or this:
      If Hillary got in… you’d be doing wind. Windmills. Weeeee.
      And if it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night.
      ‘Darling, I want to watch television.’ ‘I’m sorry! The wind isn’t blowing.’
      I know a lot about wind.”
      “It’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe,” the President said at the Turning Point USA conference. “You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right?”

      Or even:
      “So we had to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem. I have a son—he’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers. It’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe, it’s hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester. And certainly cyber is one of them.”

      OK, grandpa. Consider me owned.Report

  4. Dark Matter says:

    Love Trump or hate him, but don’t lie to yourself and pretend he’s like you. He’s not. And he’s surrounded himself by elite people who have no notion of what it’s like to live in your small town and fight for a shit job or struggle to find affordable health insurance.

    Certainly true. I seriously doubt this is a useful way to evaluate policy and we could say the same about everyone running for President. Warren’s claims of normal jobs ignores she’s managed to “save” or “earn” or something like $12 million dollars via book sales and whatever. Sanders

    If we want to talk about HC insurance and Trump, this is where he’s at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johngoodman/2019/08/13/we-already-know-what-the-trump-health-plan-is/#7f97736865e5

    That reads like a collection of good ideas that they’re either implementing or attempting to implement.Report