Aug 12 2005



Lard knows I am not the most velvety of bisques when it comes to comprehending the politics of war. I am quick to boil over, and somewhat lumpy. Which is to say that, because of my impatience and clunky intellect, I often have trouble grasping the gist. But I know the stench of patriarchy when I smell it, by gum.

Take, for example, this Iraq war. Here is what it looks like to me: a bizarro-world cockfight. A bunch of sleazy old fucks opening up dented old cans of whup-ass on each other by feathered proxy, for no clear reason except their own entertainment, the taste for which proceeds from a combination of sadism, madness and teeny-weenie complex. Cheering from the bleachers, waving fistfuls of money, are the low-lifes who sell death-enhancing gewgaws to the government, and the racist godbag homophobes, and the opportunists who sell ribbon magnets to the racist godbag homophobes. In my sloppy analogy, the hapless roosters are the soldiers, but I don’t know who the screwed-over and dead civilians are. The sand on the floor of the ring, maybe, covered in blood and rooster shit.

This morning, because I am back on my steady drip of so-called mainstream media–although I still haven’t whipped up sufficient masochistic froth to make it through one of those Yell, Pundit! Yell! shows –I read Mark Shields’ August 8 essay at CNN.com.

Shields appears to have caught a whiff of the cockfight ethos when he complains that “the elite of the country seeks to make war little more than a spectator sport.” He alludes disparagingly to the fact that “without apparent embarrassment, [the Bush administration] champions a policy of military escalation with no personal participation.” It’s true, too. As Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan and others have pointed out, you don’t see the fruit of the Bush loins putting their rich honky asses in the way of any insurgent incendiary devices in Iraq. Shields is disgusted.

It shouldn’t, he says reasonably, be just working-class kids who get sent off to the slaughter. Sing it, sister. But then, instead of suggesting that perhaps no kids ought to be sent off to the slaughter, he lapses into the romantic patriarchal patois of the nostalgic World War II buff. A really decent war should belong to everybody. “Moral logic” demands that there be a draft. It would really bring the country together. And he quotes a bunch of old fucks who, unlike the knobs in the current administration, understand the value of noble deportment in wartime. Valor, heroism, sacrifice for the noble cause, and all the other chivalric gingerbread that makes a fella proud to be an American can’t really manifest to a sufficient degree unless the privileged classes are in on the bloodlust, too.

In other words, there should be honor among patriarchal oppressors.

I, on the other hand, would argue that there should be impeachment among prevaricating presidents.


1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. AndiF

    I just did a rant at another site about “noble sacrifice” so I guess I can control myself here. I’d like make Wilfrid Owen’s poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” required reading for every politician and pundit but I doubt if they’d understand it since it isn’t written in meaningless platitudes.

    I’m just waiting for someone to come along and detail all the things we could’ve done for the poor in this country with the money that’s been spent on the Iraq war because the prez thought he needed an ego boost, better polling numbers, and Iraqi oil. That way I can put all this depression to really good use.

  2. Finn

    Bravo on a great essay, Twisty! Loved the mix of food references with the cock fight analogy. Brilliant!

    Every day, I read about the Iraqi conflict and I still can’t figure out why the f-ck we’re there in the first place. Every single time, I stew it over and over again, and all I can come up with is a Family Penis Theory. “Daddy lost there once, now it’s my turn to kick some ass.”

    You’re a Texan, right? Maybe you could speak to the nature of boys and their Dads in Texas. All I know of families and Texas is a failed long-term relationship with a suburban girl from San Antonio and the family of cannibals in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” So, you see what I’ve got to go on. I have visions of Dubya and Daddy gnawing on my femur post-draft-shot-in-the-ass and laughing while Barbara nibbles my giblets.

    It’s a horror, I tell ya!

  3. ae

    I’m just waiting for someone to come along and detail all the things we could’ve done for the poor in this country with the money that’s been spent on the Iraq war….

    Your wish is my — well, someone’s — command: http://costofwar.com/

    See, for instance, that for the money we’ve spent on this war of choice we could have funded world-wide AIDS programs for 18 years. Goddamn, I hate these people.

  4. Twisty

    The thing is, the Bushes aren’t Texans. Their peculiar brand of assholery is pure East Coast.

  5. nicky

    Darling Twisty — I just made a similar, and extremely less eloquent, post on another blog about this whole unspeakable war as the latest example of an eons-old militaristic teeny-wieny size comparison. As (for better AND worse) I am a resident of Tennessee, where a recent raid on an actual local cockfighting conclave has the citizenry all hot and bothered, I especially appreciate your analogy.

  6. ae

    Saw the play “Not About Heroes” last year, and I would like to posthumously award Wilfred Owen the Congressional Medal of Honor. This would be for back when ‘honor’ actually meant something. (Not to mention ‘congressional.’)

    Ah, Mark Shields. I remember watching a few focus groups on C-Span during the early days of sElection ’04, and Shields was one of the journos invited to sit in (via two-way mirror, that is) and then interview Peter Hart for his take. Shields was remarkably normal in his perceptions, which was cheering, though I never really feel that these guys (and they are usually guys) have had nearly enough Critical Studies classes. Their credulity and, yes, WWII-Greatest-Generation misty-eyed mythologizing really get in the way of any real analysis.

    Why did I just remind myself of this? Must run. Have to jump off cliff.

    Wait, more Bertie! That’ll help!

  7. Finn

    >The thing is, the Bushes aren’t Texans. Their peculiar brand of assholery is pure East Coast.< Oh no you don't. Don't cheat me out of a chance to go hatin' on Texas. Besides, the East Coast has lobster.

  8. Finn

    Bush I
    Ross Perot
    Bush II

    3 strikes and you are OUT, Texas!!!

  9. curiousgirl

    “The thing is, the Bushes aren’t Texans.”

    Twisty–thank you,thank you, thank you. Yes, they aren’t. Careful what you pretend to be and all, but the Stupid Cowboy Good-ol-boy Bumbling Asswipe act our president puts up is just that an act. At least he Cowboy/Good-ol-Boy bit is.

    They’re from Connecticut! Not to mention that Tanglewood in Houston where the Bush compound lives on a block of public stree that is closed to taxpayers, is hardly down home. Gimme a break.

    If you want more confirmation, don’t forget this:

    In Texas, only the gays and the women cheer from the sidelines. Not so, boarding school and Yale.

  10. Tony Patti

    Great Post, dear Twisty. But if they did bring back the draft, it seems to me that war wouldn’t be nearly as popular a concept, especially among the privileged.

    But I’m sure that if they did bring back the draft, they would bring back that Civil War loophole where you could pay for some poor soldier to go in your place so that the children of the politicians responsible could still avoid it.

    I missed the draft by the skin of my teeth, thanks to being born in the strangely lucky year of 1958.

  11. curiousgirl

    Or you (you rich guy who doesnt want to get drafted) could just sign up for the Texas air national guard and, drink yourself into a stupor and not report for duty.

  12. AndiF


    Thanks for mentioning the play; it sounds really interesting. As I live in the boonies, I’ll probably never get to see it but I found that Samuel French has published the play so I can at least read it.

    I should also thank you for the earlier costofwar.com link but I’m currently occupied wondering just how much jumping off a cliff hurts.

  13. Kelley

    Bravo, Twisty! Another brilliant piece. Wish I could say the same about the outcome of the recipe you e-mailed me (chicken with rose/raspberry/lime sauce). If you look northeast (up Ky way) you can probably still see the plume of smoke from my dismal failure. Take heart, I’ll try again. I never did lay claim to being a good cook…just an adventuresome one.

    You bring up a good point. Why hasn’t bush been impeached? When do those proceedings begin? Clinton lies (albeit to a grand jury) about a blow job, a topic which has absolutely no bearing on the well-being of this country, and all hell breaks loose. Ken Starr spends millions of taxpayer dollars to find NOTHING.

    bush, on the other hand, LIES about the “reasons” for sending troops to Iraq, and I don’t even hear questions being asked on Capitol hill, much less see an investigation begun or grand jury convened. Hmmmm… At least when Clinton got the blow job, nobody died for it!

  14. Aaron

    I do like the idea of national service, for people of all social backgrounds. But not off killing brown skinned people, or any sort of people. I’d love to see kids of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds off doing something useful and constructive together, while learning to not treat each other with contempt and all. It’d be like summer camp. I’m not sure how the whole deal would work, but it’s not such a bad idea.

  15. antelope

    One good thing about Texas is Molly Ivins. If you must do mainstream media pundits, I’d say that’s a very sane place to start. You can find her at http://www.workingforchange.com/columnists.cfm – which of course doesn’t LOOK like a mainstream media site, but they put her in papers all over the country fairly often. The ‘liberal media’ trying to keep us complacent, I suppose.

  16. PrissyNot

    Have you all forgotten what “we” are so “nobly sacrificing” for????? IT’S THE OIL!!!! Besides which, that bush person shouldn’t be impeached, he should be institutionalized. Has no one but me noticed that he is CERTIFIABLY INSANE? We go to war because he’s having paranoid delusions about weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of somebody that did something bad to his daddy (let us not forget) and nobody says anything. He persists in this delusion to the detriment (death) of several thousand people, and nobody says anything. He makes delusional claims of being on the side of America, while he routinely screws over the middle class (us little people) AND NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING. AND PEOPLE KEEP VOTING FOR HIM!!!!

    At every major turning point in my life, where I stopped doing something that was really bad for me, I asked myself a simple question – “What’s wrong with this picture?” I think it’s time for someone to step up to the plate and ask America, WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE????

    Put him in the loony hatch, folks, and lets go back to our barbequed tofu with mushrooms, leeks and asparagus, done in a pleasant sauce of raspberry vinegar, mustard, olive oil and soy sauce with a little soupcon of fresh garlic and ginger.

  17. Twisty

    “Have you all forgotten what “we” are so “nobly sacrificing” for????? IT’S THE OIL!!!!”

    I’m not so sure it is the oil. I think oil is the motivation that conspiracy theorists favor because the reality is too psychotic to contemplate. I don’t think it’s paranoid delusions, either. I think they’re doin’ it for kicks.

  18. John M. Burt

    I don’t know if Bush is certifiably insane yet (or should I say, more certifiable than he was in 2000), but he does seem to be losing it, what with flipping off reporters, and that slip when he said he was “saddened to hear of the death of Peter Degen- er, Jennings”. God, he almost used an insulting private nickname while pulling a long face at the guy’s *death*!

    And it’s true, Bush is not a Texan. His claim to Texanhood consists of his having bought a ranchette on which he can play cowboy when Dick needs to get him out from under the grown-ups’ feet.

  19. Josh Narins


    You are missing self-fulfillment. After Viet Nam, there became a real risk that elites wouldn’t be able to distract people with wars ever again.

    We can erase the stain of Viet Nam, at the same time that we set ourselves up for endless wars.

    I regret that Gore Vidal thought to name his book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” before I copyrighted the phrase.

    He is obviously aware of the neo-conservative philosophy, which says that peace makes people soft, and only war will make real, um, how can I say this, without offending too much? men.

  20. Steph

    Y’all bring back the draft, and you’ll flood Canadian immigration.

    I’m not sure we want to deal with your war problem quite so directly. Because it isn’t 1972 anymore and well, draft dodging doesn’t seem to be an easy way to enter Canada.

    Just saying, in my friendly, Canadian, polite way.

  21. aeonsomnia

    IMHO, some of the members of Bushco pushed for war to get oil. I believe that many of them (including Bush the younger himself) are trying to cause events to happen that’ll lead up to the “Rapture” that so many of them are eagerly awaiting. Watch the 700 club or TBN sometime; ask some people at your local fundie church what they think. See if the Rapture doesn’t come up in the conversation.

  22. ae

    Steph, my partner and I have already taken the Skilled Worker Test, and I’m about one R*msfeld speech from packing up the U-Haul, sweetie! ;-]

    Twisty, your theory is just too bonechilling to contemplate. That said, a war of choice on top of the world’s 2nd largest oil supply, instigated by the former head of the world’s largest oil services company, whose pack of jackals actually wrote their wet dream down, making quite plain the theory girding it: Make the World (read: Israel) Safe for Democracy!; a war for which the madministration did not plan properly, outfit their soldiers properly, employ enough troops, secure the borders, gather and confirm intelligence, engage (and maintain) allied support (Don’t forget Poland!!), and on and on and on. Hmmm. I’m starting to feel that bone chill…

    But while I see that it is a craven pursuit in every regard and while I am so down w/ exposing their Chaos Benefits Us modus operandi — insecurity and terror are built into the system, I get it — I think these assholes are driven by money, power, and messianical zeal (even if that messianical zeal is Capitalist first, Baptist second). I’m saying they’re burning down the building for the insurance money and to build their own dream house in its place, and you’re saying that they’re burning down the building to watch it burn?

  23. ae

    AndiF, I think you’ll enjoy “Not About Heroes” if you are a fan of Wilfred Owen’s. The playwright is not unclear in his intentions. It is unequivocally anti-war.

    Re: jumping off cliffs, I’m thinking we start here. =)

  24. StealthBadger

    Amazingly beautiful argument and analogy (especially appropriate was the crappy position the people who “just happen” to live in the battleground are in).. but I’d argue that the two manly men aren’t the people who are flexing at each other as they hold their driven-mad-to-the-point-of-rabid-frenzy cocks. So to speak.

    They’re the fight promoters.

    It’s not in either of their interests for the fight to be won, so much as that the fight happens, and that it’s a good show.

    If the cockfight ends, Bush no longer has “war president” meat to throw his base, and a nebulous enemy to hang the blame for everything from roadside bombs to crappy chili in 7-11 hot dogs on. He no longer has the economic black hole of the military-industrial complex in full swing to send money to his friends, and indirectly, himself. He no longer has the laudatory platform to place whoever the GOP wants to run for president in 2008. He no longer has (besides Madrid and London, which were gifts of incalculable price to all those who treasure war) a ready source of bloodshed, chaos, and death to point at as the consequence for failing to adhere to his grand vision. In short, he’s just an intolerant, inhumane spendthrift, who also happens to be a well connected, morally bankrupt swinging dick who likes to play responsible grown-up. Among other unpleasant things.

    Now let’s look at bin Laden.
    If the fight ends, he no longer has the largest, most expensive, most complex, open 24/7 terrorist training facility the world has ever known. It’s even better than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, because it’s more centered around urban combat, rather than having to fight those @%&#ing attack helicopters out in the country all the time.
    He no longer has the biggest, splashiest, recruiting poster in the world, with his greatest enemy handing him every talking point he ever needed, and proving every argument he’s ever made with every action.
    He no longer has to worry about his radical fanbois turning on each other, they’ve got the U.S. Military to shoot at. Which fundamentalist organizations tend to do once they have time to sit down and realize that they DON’T all agree with each other on every little detail of how the sandals of this or that holy person was constructed. I’m not kidding… remember how much furor went on over whether or not Jesus owned the clothes he wore, or how much pull with Allah Mohammed’s in-laws (male, of course) had relative to his blood relatives, so to speak.
    He no longer has (besides Madrid and London, which were gifts of incalculable price to all those who treasure lashing back at a population in order to make a point against the economic and social elites whose points you really disagree with) a ready source of bloodshed, chaos, and death to point at as the consequence for failing to adhere to his grand vision. In short, he’s just an intolerant, inhumane spendthrift, who also happens to be a well connected, morally bankrupt swinging dick who likes to play responsible grown-up. Among other unpleasant things.

    See what I mean?

  25. Twisty

    AE, nice burning building/insurance money analogy. Here’s why I think it isn’t at odds with my cockfight analogy: it wasn’t a point in my post, but it’s a fact that, for the filthy rich–even for the moderately soiled rich–making money is itself a form of entertainment. Cockfights, which are ultimately about gambling, are therefore also about money. Any money-making entertainment which bolsters socially-conditioned masculinity and validates penis size, such as blowing things up, burning things down, and killing things, is the ultimate patriarchal entertainment. Cockfights and burning buildings both fall into this category. As do pointless wars.

  26. Twisty

    Yee-haw, Stealthbadger. Well done.

  27. Twisty

    I agree, Josh Narins, that patriarchy is nothing without war. The noble manly war hero is one of its premier myths, and ass-kicking is its only solution to anything.

  28. Progressive Traditionalist

    The real reasons behind the was are a bit more than just oil. It’s about profiteering, much like the policy of prolonging instability in Central America in the 80’s.

    I received an e-mail from a friend in Spain recently. He spoke about the bombings in Madrid. There was no knee-jerk reaction to suspend civil liberties there, as the was in the US & UK. The memory of Franco is still to alive in their minds. In his words, “The Spanish people are much too wise for this.”

    I like the cockfight analogy, but the fact of the matter is that there is something much more sinister at work here.

    “Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.”
    — Benito Mussolini

    The whole “War on Terror” is full of side benefits for the administraion as well. It’s useful leverage in getting the American people to agree to things they otherwise would not.

  29. Mandos

    1. I’m not sure that depicting the Iraq war as a Bush/bin Laden fight is quite correct, and infact that depiction might play into the hands of one or both sides in negative ways. I don’t think bin Laden deserves credit for the Iraq war as much as he would like to claim it: a lot, if not most of the insurgency is home-grown. And I don’t think that Bush deserves to have the Iraq-9/11 link validated. Separating the matters of Bush and bin Laden deprive both of power.

    2. I think violence will always be entertaining even in any hypothetical post-patriarchal world. It may be that patriarchy loves violence, but other things love violence too. Frankly, I’ll admit unashamedly that I do like my (occasionally violent) sci-fi television.

  30. StealthBadger

    Thank you. The original post was, in and of itself, a beautiful thing. I only say in and of itself because the subject matter is so damn depressing. Let’s hope that soon we have something in politics that’s equally inspiring. Multiple Bush Administration indictments regarding the Plame affair would be a start…

  31. Twisty

    Mandos, I mostly sympathize with your point #1. I used the visage of Osama in my picture as a joke, because so many people think he is Saddam Hussein, while, of course, assuming that readers of I Blame The Patriarchy are sophisticated enough to know the difference. I don’t believe Osama B.L. is responsible for the insurgency in Iraq, and I do believe that the US invasion of Iraq was scheduled well in advance of 9/11. Of course, as long as he remains at large, we’ll be at war with somebody.

    As for your point #2, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that predictions for post-patriarchy– which are necessarily made under the auspices of the current patriarchy–and especially the ones that entail the preservation of dystopian elements of patriarchy, must fall under the heading of “fantasy.” Who knows what could happen if the main defining force of society were to crumble?

  32. ae

    Dang, I’m late coming back to the party, but a quick thanks and clarification: I wasn’t implying that I needed another analogy or that yours was incomplete; just wanted to hear your further thoughts on the question of their motives.

    I can see that ultimately they want to preserve their privilege, and I can see that that privilege is both preserved and enhanced by violence. I mean, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, right?

    In my simple fury, I forgot that while I was blaming these assholes, I needed to focus my blame on the patriarchy as the meta-source of all cock-related fighting, fowl or fatwah. Good grief, what was I thinking? I thought my patriarchy-blaming chops were better honed than that! Anyhoo, when you put it that way, their doing anything ‘for kicks’ makes perfect, nauseating sense.

    Stealthbadger, I agree w/ every word except for the idea that w. “likes to play the responsible grown-up.” This guy doesn’t even like to play the part of an adult! He can’t pull it off, having had no practical experience w/ it in his lifetime.

  33. ae

    P.S. Twisty, it’s because of your reply to Mandos’s point #2 that I love you. (Willingness to make out implied.)

  34. Mandos

    Well, yeah, anything is possible in the future, but some things are more likely than others. You still have to make a plausible case. To me, as long as there is an incentive to violence, there will be violence, and there are lots of gender-neutral incentives to violence. I mean, there’s nothing patriarchal about the desire to eat (witness this blog), and there’s nothing patriarchal about the desire to eat *well* (again, witness this blog), and there’s nothing *necessarily* patriarchal about a lack of scruples…or is there?

  35. Twisty

    I dunno, Mandos, I guess it boils down, as everything eventually does, to the definition of patriarchy. I define it pretty broadly, as the dominant culture. It has saturated every aspect of human existence, including eating and anti-patriarchy blogs and, for all I know, the “laws” of physics.

    Which is why I disagree that I have to make, as you suggest, a plausible case. Because “plausible” is nrcessarily defined strictly in terms of patriarchy, the very system that would, theoretically, no longer exist after the Twistolution.

    I am often faulted, in patriarchy-blaming circles, for my failure to be “practical,” but I believe there is also some potential value in wild hypothesis and sanguine conjecture. I mean, do ya think we’d have Motorola flip-fones today without Starfleet communicators?

  36. Twisty

    AE, you betcha with the Oceania/Eurasia thing. It’s creepy how frequently 1984 gets cited these days.

  37. Sam

    Twisty, I am going to make an effort to use that excellent Starfleet communicators to Motorola flip-fones analogy when describing the crucial importance of radical politics to people (I’ll give you full credit). It’s gonna take all sorts to sort this mess out and as I wrote about Andrea Dworkin upon her death, “It is the radicals among us who necessarily push at the status quo’s edges and expand what we as a people reconsider imaginable.”

    I recommend a very fair article from Mother Jones demonstrating the need for liberals and radicals in any successful movement, one to attend to immediate needs and the other to keep the movement moving.

  38. Mandos

    It all depends on what you see as prior. I think that some things are demonstrably prior to social constructs and relations. I simply can’t imagine that thermodynamics, for instance, cares about patriarchy.

    I’m also deeply suspicious when someone implies that Their Cause MIGHT VERY WELL be the great panacea to all kinds of human ills. Feminists are not the only ones who say that. Why should I believe them and not cause X?

  39. Keith Sirchio

    I don’t mind you using one of my images for one of your diatribes; mind a little bit if you manipulate the photo, but just make sure to give props where props are due, especially if it represents the central theme of your attack..thanks.

  1. Chris Abraham

    On Cindy Sheehan and Breaking Eggs to Make Omelettes

    Dear President Bush, you really need to be careful and generous with Cindy Sheehan….

Comments have been disabled.