Sunday, July 2, 2017

Today's MOZEN: CATCH-22

F LoBuono

One of the most influential books in my life has been Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Published in 1961, it is a complicated work that became one of the greatest indictments of war and the bureaucracy of how it is conducted ever written. It was eventually made into a well reviewed film in 1970.

Here's a very brief synopsis: In the early days of WWII, there was no restriction on the amount of combat missions flown by American bomber crews. In simplest terms, most flew until they were shot down and either killed or captured. Of course, morale plunged as crews did their duty under near suicidal conditions (The United States Army Air Forces, as it was known at the time, eventually instituted a 25 mission limit - a B-17 named the Memphis Belle was the first to achieve this mark). Heller himself flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier on a B-25 from Italy during the war and, miraculously, survived. Some, like the main protagonist in the novel, also a bombardier, Captain John Yossarian, thought it insane to continue to fly to certain death. So, he seeks a medical discharge for reason of insanity. In the circular reasoning that defines the ineptitude of the system, the Army, surprisingly, agrees. It IS insane to continue to do something that will certainly lead to your own death. However, there is a catch - the inevitable and irrevocable, Catch-22. Basically, it means that since he recognized the insanity of the whole thing, by definition, he couldn't be insane. Therefore, the Army would not classify him as such. Yossarian would continue to fly combat missions. And, on and on . . .

I could not help but think of Catch-22 when listening to White House spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, respond to ABC's George Stephanopoulis when he pressed her whether or not she endorsed President Trump's recent Tweet regarding the physical appearance of MSNBC host, Mika Brzezinski. She simply would not/could not answer the question directly. She kept reflecting the question back on itself. Instead of giving a direct answer, she would reply that the President has a right to attack when he is being attacked. Every time that Stephanopoulis pressed Conway to be more direct in her response by simply answering the question with a yes or no, she just brought it around again to the beginning, repeating the same statement over and over again. It was a classic case of double speak.

Can you see the Catch? Catch-22.

There is a constant deflection away from the real issues. In this case, that issue is whether it is appropriate for someone who holds the highest office in the land, the most powerful person on the planet, i.e. The President of the United States, to make comments that are misogynistic at best, and disgusting at worst.

THAT question was never directly answered by Ms. Conway OR anyone else in this Administration. There defense is: you can call it wrong but it can't be if the reasons for doing it are right. So, there is no need to change it.

Get it?


And, it goes on and on and on . . .

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