Monday, August 29

Bobo On The Couch

Note that Mr. Riley neither engages in, nor encourages in any way the inclination of others to engage in, anything resembling "psychology". The latter group includes persons of his acquaintance who are, in fact, "psychologists" by trade. Mr. Riley, who remains mired in the 60s, expresses a preference for the iconoclasm of R.D. Lang over the fantasies of Dr. Sig Heiler. Psychological insight should be left to the professionals of The Learning Channel.

Mr. Riley was once informed by one of the above acquaintances, in casual conversation, mind you, that his inability to remember his dreams beyond waking "must be for some reason", the implication being that said reason involved hiding deep dark secrets from himself due to "compensation", "dissociative complex", or fear of something-or-other the ancient Greeks used to tell stories about. Riley believes the reason, if there is one, is more closely related to the reason he can't remember where he left his car keys.

Not that he insists he is the picture of emotional health, which would of course place him "in denial". He freely admits that the opposite is the case, a fact he underscores on the Internet on an almost daily but not particularly "obsessive" basis. It is rather that he believes this to be the case with every human being on the planet capable of feeling emotion and has to question the philosophical basis of letting one small subset of that group decide to lock up another. He is forced to acknowledge, sadly, that somebody's always gonna be locking up somebody else for something, and sometimes for very good reasons. Riley's a practical man, which is why when psychologists finally manage to "cure" people of homosexuality or masturbation, say, or their erroneous insistence that intoxication can be enjoyable, he'll sign up. In the meantime, his repeated hurling of the phrase "poor potty training" at his adversaries is merely for its rapidly dwindling comic effect.

Anyway, the couch is open. David Brooks, please make yourself comfortable. What's your problem, exactly? Oh, How to win in Iraq. Very common form of delusion these days. Did you read the intro? We don't have much sympathy for delusion around here, unless it's accompanied by living on the streets amid fabulous and brightly colored animal life. Your particular brand of delusion we like to refer to as "willful".

"Andrew Krepinevich is a careful, scholarly man. A graduate of West Point and a retired lieutenant colonel, his book, 'The Army and Vietnam,' is a classic on how to fight counterinsurgency warfare. "

Y'know, I've been looking for a good book on how the U.S. Army was so successful in Vietnam. I'll pick that up as soon as I've finished Laura Bush's book on safe driving.

"Over the past year or so he's been asking his friends and former colleagues in the military a few simple questions: Which of the several known strategies for fighting insurgents are you guys employing in Iraq? What metrics are you using to measure your progress?

The answers have been disturbing. There is no clear strategy. There are no clear metrics."

I'm sorry, there must have been some mistake. I was told you were delusional, not that you've just come out of a three-year coma.

"Krepinevich's proposal is hardly new. He's merely describing a classic counterinsurgency strategy, which was used, among other places, in Malaya by the British in the 1950's."

Ah, yes, Malaya, the favorite example of the forced-relocation counterinsurgency plan among neocons who've recently regained consciousness, for the simple reason that it's the only time it's worked. But Malaya was a guerilla war, not an insurgency, the enemy were the minority ethnic Chinese most Malayans didn't care for, and they were fighting side by side with the same Brits they'd fought the Japanese with. Now, as I say, I'll be picking up Colonel Krepinevich's article just as soon as I finish How To Be A Respected Pop Vocalist by Ashlee Simpson, but maybe you can fill in some details for me. How exactly is this supposed to work in Iraq? We back...whom? The Shi'a? We relocate the population of Baghdad where now?

"You set up safe havens where you can establish good security. Because you don't have enough manpower to do this everywhere at once, you select a few key cities and take control. Then you slowly expand the size of your safe havens, like an oil spot spreading across the pavement.

Once you've secured a town or city, you throw in all the economic and political resources you have to make that place grow. The locals see the benefits of working with you. Your own troops and the folks back home watching on TV can see concrete signs of progress in these newly regenerated neighborhoods. You mix your troops in with indigenous security forces, and through intimate contact with the locals you begin to even out the intelligence advantage that otherwise goes to the insurgents."

Mr. Brooks, may I remind you that the first step towards getting help is admitting you have a problem?

We had a plan. It was called "overthrowing Saddam". Mission accomplished. When we first faced the possibility of an insurgency, the nation's brain trust met it with another plan. That one was called "Bring it on!" It, too, was highly successful. It's been brought on like nobody's business ever since.

"The fact is, the U.S. didn't adopt this blindingly obvious strategy because it violates some of the key Rumsfeldian notions about how the U.S. military should operate in the 21st century."

I knew this wasn't going to be easy. The so-called Rumsfeld doctrine, like everything else about Operation Shifting Rationale, was at the time a smokescreen for a political reality the Bush administration found unpleasant, namely that we could not muster enough troops for anything beyond a lightning strike without instituting a draft and/or waiting many months to build sufficient troop strength or an international coalition requiring time to reach a political settlement. The Bush administration was concerned with swagger, not military realities.

"Today, public opinion is turning against the war not because people have given up on the goal of advancing freedom, but because they are not sure this war is winnable."

Well, it looks like your time is up, which is a concept you're just going to have to get used to, Mr. Brooks. Public opinion "is turning" against the war the same way wind and water "are forming" the Grand Canyon. I don't think we are able to help you. But if it makes you feel any better, public opinion doesn't expect you people who got us into this cock-up to do anything but cover your humiliating retreat with plenty of flag waving, and we know you're up to that. And we're well on the road to rehabilitating your reputation as a wingnut. $250, please.


Anonymous said...

Had a conversation with a neocon and tried to remind him that we went to war because we feared being attacked with the "hundreds of tons" of WMDs that Saddam had. When he said that the WMDs had gone over the border into Syria I asked him why the dozens of spy satllites and aircraft we had over Iraq saw no movement of truck connvoys (which we would of attacked) he did the shift, said we were there to free the Iraquis and told me I was a commie!

D. Sidhe said...

Brooks is beyond the help of anything other than serious doses of exceptionally potent Thorazine.
Frankly, two-fifty is the *least* that dink ought to be paying us to read his drivel.

In any event, as someone who has clocked more hours with mental health professionals than Dubya has spent drunk, I'd like to, as they say, get some things off my chest. (No, not those things, that was *last* month.)

1. Just because you're a poorly-medicated paranoid schizophrenic doesn't mean the current president isn't hell-bent on taking your rights away, destroying the ecology that sustains you, and drafting you or turning you into Soylent Green. Well, okay, the last one's a bit unlikely.
My point is, just as chiropractors tend to assume all your problems come down to poor posture or tension, so do all mental health professionals have a vast blind spot which leaves them sincerely convinced that there is some sort of deeply hidden motive for anything they may happen to think they notice about you, such as missing that last thing they mumbled at you, or forgetting your coat, or a simple headache.
You can't really blame them, I suppose. The overwhelming majority of diagnoses they get to make are undoubtedly "depression" or "boredom".

2. That said, any actual psychologist who actually uses the phrase "dissociative complex/episode" to refer to a friend in casual conversation is, with all due respect, an irresponsible jackass who should be beaten about the head with the DSM-IV.
I'm not suggesting it's automatically a misdiagnosis in every case, but man, there'd better be a lot better reason than not remembering dreams for a professional to hit a friend with an impromptu DES Inventory, especially lately.

doghouse riley said...

Actually, she just told me "there had to be a reason". The rest was implied, not the least by the look she gave me. And I think the Soylent Green thing is more likely than a draft, at least with this administration.

D. Sidhe said...

They could combine the two: Soylent Army is made from Draftees!
Let's face it, this administration has not given us much in the way of reason to rule out even the most stellar of idiotic ideas.

I continue to believe that all mental health professionals are on some level sadists, though. I know I've told the story of the shrink who felt that my preservative-based migraine triggers were really just cover for some sort of repressed trauma involving raisins. (And peanuts, cheese, bright lights, loud noises, and that disgustingly-scented shampoo the housemate insists on using.)
Reminded of Oprah, who once suggested that on the question of whether one has been molested as a child, your only possible answers are "yes", and "I don't know".
Sometimes, forgetting your summer camp counsellor's name is just a cigar, so to speak.

I'd be less bitter on the subject, and therefore have to make fewer apologies for referring to people I don't know as irresponsible jackasses, if every time I needed a doctor or insurance company to take me seriously about anything short of gushing blood I didn't have to have a psych consult "just to rule out non-physiological issues".

Anyway, I've never been convinced that dreams are evolutionarily something your subconscious does for the benefit of your consciousness. It's not a movie premiere or anything; it's just electrical signals. And remembering them is overrated unless you hate your co-workers and delight in describing your dreams to them in elevators.

doghouse riley said...

Reminded of Oprah, who once suggested that on the question of whether one has been molested as a child, your only possible answers are "yes", and "I don't know".

There's 200# of Soylent Green goin' to waste right there.