Devoted and Selfless Consecration

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To mark the anniversary of the death of a veteran, the United States Government sends out a framed “certificate” like the one pictured above.

My father was proud of his service, but he was not a hero decorated for valor or a high-ranking officer, his experience of combat was limited (quite more than enough at that, he would say), and, more to the point, the war in which he fought was won by a self-consciously democratic nation: No reason why this later commemorative message should be anything other than “government issue”: That it makes a good first impression and brings back fond memories of Dad is good enough for us, anyway. So what if they happened to spelled our family name wrong, without capitalizing the “L” in MacLeod? “MacLeod” may be the most common of Scottish names, but the USG is the USG. If the Nazis had won, maybe their commemorations would have been perfect, but they didn’t win.

The signature stands out, and Dad in his last years may have been Obama-deranged enough to dislike the certificate on that basis alone. In his earlier years, I believe he would have been more accepting. The ink seems a bit thick, and I will assume until and unless informed otherwise that it was done by “autopen.”

The most interesting thing to me about the document is, however, its sacralized language, not its production values. It recognizes “devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country.” The negotiation of plural and singular from the United States which “honors” to the “nation” that awards for service to “our country,” before finally returning to the United States, reflects a familiar and very American problematic. In short, it’s not entirely clear who or what is doing the awarding, but each of the various named collective entities seems to represent something slightly different, almost a different identity or sense of identity or mood. The two sentences and signature together amount to a cloud of patriotic signifiers whose combined import is to be intuited rather than processed rationally.

Yet if we do not know exactly who or what is awarding the certificate on behalf of exactly whom or what, or what for that matter the certificate certifies, exactitude may not be available to us: After all we are dealing with something rather mysterious, with a “consecration.” The word and its variants are rarely used or seen other than in relation to Lincoln, but there is one at the center of this document. The undebatable assertion is that the citizen soldier – the conscript – or his service, or his “self” through his “devotion,” belongs or came to belong to the realm of sacred things, to facts of the nation or country that are more than merely political.

The sacred essence of the American state is not a common topic of discussion, but the state or nation or country itself, or we ourselves, on behalf of itself or on behalf of ourselves, deems or deem it the proper topic in relation to the final questions.


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(1)

My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.

DONNIE TRUMPO HAS INVOKED A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS AND HE’S WIPING HIS ASS WITH OUR MOST SACRED DOCUMENT THIS IS THE FOURTH TIME I HAVE EXPLICITLY TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAD BETTER STEP UP

If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.

SORRY YOU’RE GOING TO BE FIRED AS WELL BY THIS CANCER ON THE AMERICAN STATE IT’S GOING TO BE WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER BUT THE COUNTRY’S FREEDOM IS ACTUALLY AT STAKE HERE DESTROY HIM LIKE A GREAT AVENGING EAGLE

Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.

IF I EVER MEANT ANYTHING TO YOU MY G-MEN AND G-WOMEN YOU WILL BURN THIS MOTHER DOWN

Jim Comey

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Quinnipiac finds: “By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.” You wonder whether that number has to hit 20 percent before Republicans stop circling the wagon around an incompetent, scandal-plagued and uniquely dishonest administration. (At least Richard Nixon’s White House could keep its story straight.)

And yet Republicans (in Congress and in right-leaning media) by and large embarrass themselves by defending the president, eschewing calls for a special counsel, remaining unconcerned with the precedent of firing an FBI director investigating the White House and confirming some of the worst nominees in history, including an attorney general who appears to have reneged on his promise to recuse himself and raised questions about his participation in a scheme to fire Comey under false pretexts.

You do wonder when a political survival instinct will kick in.

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Inside the White House, opponents of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s second national security adviser, want him out. This week, they’ve made their campaign against him public, leaking to reporters details about the rocky relationship he has with his boss and trying to paint him as someone hell-bent on overseas nation-building projects that are doomed to fail. The timing isn’t accidental. The effort to damage McMaster comes as the Trump administration decides what its policy should be in Afghanistan, a debate that’s pitting McMaster against Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist.

“McMaster is pushing this Afghanistan policy through. I think some people are giving him the rope to get it through, hoping he hangs himself with it,” one senior intelligence official said.

The Afghanistan strategy McMaster is pushing, with the support of Defense Secretary James Mattis, would send roughly 3,000-5,000 U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanistan, according to a separate source familiar with the internal deliberations. These troops would be sent to help bulk up the Afghan National Security Forces, which, after years of U.S. assistance, are still struggling against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and a small Islamic State presence in the country.

...But the NSC is not walled off from the internal power politics of the Trump White House, and staffers reading the tea leaves see they still need to curry favor with people like Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, if they’re to have their voices heard and survive in what one source described as the White House’s “Game of Thrones for morons.”

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