Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Guns of August – A Completely Open Thread

A hard if not impossible act to follow, I’ve struggled to find anything further to say on US politics which hasn’t been expressed in comments to and from Chris in his recent ‘Sell Me’ diary.

So forgive this oblique and perverse turn to the personal, as I turn my fire to the Month of August which, in recent memory, has always been the worst month of the year.

I don’t know why that is. I always look forward to August as a sun-baked time of relaxation away from home or – if staying at home – a sneaky enjoyment of the absence of others and the emptiness of the roads and transport system.

But for all its promise, August has always let me down…

In the past it might have been family holidays: that longed-for time together which never delivers its promise, or is vitiated by arguments you should have had earlier, or the sense of being ‘on hold’ until life begins again.

In recent years, for me, it has always been the occasion of some major calamity. For two years in succession not so long ago it was the knock-on of my divorce from my second (American) wife. This year, there has been a major family crisis as a close relative suffered a breakdown having had their drinks laced with pscyhoactive substances during a rock festival.

T.S. Eliot said that “April was the cruellest month” but am I alone in finding August the darkest and most ominous.

I partly put this down to the overstaying of summer, shortening nights despite the heat, and – yes I’m going grand here – the legacy of World War I. After all, it was in the summer of 1914 that the battlelines of the Great War (and perhaps the whole twentieth century) were laid out. Barbara Tuchman’s classic historical account of this, The Guns of August, still remains one of the most important books I feel I have never read, and was instrumental in Kennedy’s thinking during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So, in the absence of having anything particularly interesting, insightful or provocative to say about US politics, I’ll post the following poem which (engendered by the host of associations above) suddenly came to me while thinking of an open thread.


August is always hell

The first guns erupt

Along with breakdowns and divorces.

Tied up with treaties and entreaties,

Insecurity comforts us,

And before we know it

We’re on the road to dissolution.

It almost feels inevitable.

The mobilisation works on its own

A move to war that endorses war.

But nothing is so incorrigible:

Our anxieties promote our paranoia.

Whether in the feedback of a panic attack,

Or self-violating metaphors of rape,

Soon memories work as delusions.

We are our own worst enemies.

We don’t see the present.

We don’t see each other.


We rush to occupy unavailable space.


We overestimate the force of our offensiveness:


Overstretching our supply lines and opening our flanks.

August is always hell

And we have to pay for it

Lingering in the trenches of our error

For a lifetime

Many lifetimes


How has the hell of August been for you? And what does it bode for the future of the world?  


  1. DTOzone

    but for me, I think August 2010 will forever be the month that I just truly stopped giving shit about my country.  

  2. sricki

    Particularly Thursdays in March. **shrugs** It’s different for everyone I guess.

    A kind of crappy anniversary (of sorts) coming up for me in October, too, but seasonally Spring is the worst for me as a rule.

    Here in my neck of the woods, August just sucks ’cause it’s HOT.

    But Brit, I am sorry to hear that a loved one has suffered such a frightening and traumatic experience. I hope s/he is recovering as quickly and thoroughly as possible. I hope all improves soon, my friend. Let us know if you need anything.

  3. HappyinVT

    I play Kindoms of Camelot on that evil Internet site Facebook.  Day before yesterday I attacked a city called…nobamaville.   🙂

    I giggled all day after I wiped the floor with the dude.  I apparently have a latent, if virtual, nasty violent streak.

  4. creamer

    Have to check to see if he can get another cortizone shot.

    Really leaves me sad as his days are obviously numbered.

     On the brighter sid eI’m going to coach my 5 yr old Shane’s soccer team. The flip side of that is dealing with a leauge organazation that really struggles to function. ( along with never having played soccer.)

     And similar to DT, I really find myself being mad at my countrymen. A Bangladeshi cabbie was stabbed in NYC after his assailent ask if he was Muslim. I watched Maddow tonight who’s show about New Orleans really seemed to highlight our inability to put that city back together with some compassion for those who struggle in this world.

    Just prior to Reagan I remember watching the religous right comming into its own as a political force, and the cold war rhetoric about the “evil empire”.(also Iran hostage cisis)I found it surreal. Theese people were not the same Americans I learned of in history and civics classes.

    Fast forward 30 years and nothing has changed but the targets. Islam for communissim. Hispanics and middle easterners for blacks. (We can always go back to fearing blacks). Evangelical Christianity wants a new crusade against Islam.

     Its not that I don’t give a shit about my country,( and I dont think DTOzone has given up either.) But it seems like such a heavy lift right now. I mean its 2010 and we have people that call themselves Tea Baggers!  

  5. Hollede

    I love fall in general and is absolutely my favorite time of the years. It is also always silly season for politics. However, it is different now.

  6. spacemanspiff

    On how Obama fucked up….

    All this “woe is me” over November is a little too late.  The time to worry about November 2010 was when:

    *** Obama cut his big pharma/hospital lobby deals,

    *** torpedoed the public option,

    *** reaffirmed the most egregious affront to a woman’s privacy,

    *** came out for more offshore drilling,

    *** used phony Katrina talking points to sell the safety of oil rigs,

    *** flushed a good woman down the crapper over a phony report about to be given by a rightwing nutbag,

    *** stands behind the co-chair of his catfood commission when he took swipe at Social Security, and who knows what other stupidities are on the horizon.  

    The truth is, it’s too late for the “woe is me”.  What’s done is done.  The only thing that may save the sorry asses of the Democrats will be the Republicans.  


    Is this is it?

    That’s why you want to primary the man?

    2 years in office and these are the scandals which will doom his presidency?

    So many questions.

  7. Hiroshima Day is an odd one for me.  Had family in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Had family on both sides, in both theaters, and part of my mother’s family went back to the Home Islands after the debacle that was the Internment, and losing sons in the 442nd.

    It sort of sets the tone for the month for me.

    My birthday is early, and this year it was spent in some fine company, and the relationship has taken some odd twists and turns, and grown oddly complicated, hopeful, joyful, bittersweet, and more.  My adventure here in Colorado is drawing closer to a finale, and it may not be the one I thought. My job back in Phoenix may or may not be there when I get back, so I am looking for more permanent employ out here. Not quite what I envisioned when I came out here, but life has a way of illustrating my old Sensei’s maxim: Expectation leads to disappointment.

    I have a batch of queries off to agents–and BTW, anyone who knows an agent who likes hard edged science fiction or hard boiled fantasy without an “urban” edge, drop me a line, because I’m still shopping the novels around–and am working on resumes and trying to see if I have to jump ship here in CO or New Mexico.

    This has been my August though:

    Got to say that Durango is a lot more like NoHo than Cortez. Could settle in nice out here. Have to see, I suppose.

  8. HappyinVT

    It’s my favorite month.  Leaves are changing, the air is crisp and cool.  Apples are crunchy and tart.  Pumpkins get carved (and stolen last year ~ bastards).

    And, the absolute best part ~ winter and snow are around the corner!

  9. fogiv

    August has been pretty great.  After being laid off, I’m settling into the new Federal job and adjusting to the change of pace and style that provide the contrast between the Federal government and the private sector.  We’re caught up on bills, settled well enough to function in the new house, Jack is talking up a storm, and the older boys are happily beginning a new school year.  Oh, and I got a new toythat I love, love, love.

    But Monday turned out bad, and the rest of the week has been very difficult.  I’m really tired, and going on little sleep — last night I got six hours in a row, which is not just the high water mark for the week, it’s also more than I’ve had since Sunday night combined.  So, if this comment makes little or no sense that’s probably why (in conjunction with my more everyday communication deficiencies).  Anyway, some background:

    About two years after I was born in California’s bay area (where my parents finished and fine-tuned their respective post-secondary education efforts), we moved as family back to relatively remote northeastern corner of the state, the same area where the Fogiv family settled in the 1870s after coming westward from Ireland by way of New York, Pennsylvania, and Missouri.  Deep roots there.

    For the first few years, we lived in a small trailer in the mountains while my Dad sought work as a teacher, and Mom worked at the nearest community hospital as an RN.  I remember lots of snow, and melting crayons on the wood stove.  Gold and silver were the best, should you wish to give it a try.

    Once Pop caught on at the local High school teaching History, Government, and Economics, my folks had a secure enough source of income to buy a house in the sparse little high desert community that would become my hometown.  It was an old Victorian, built in 1881, and I remember vividly the first time I ever sat foot inside, at around four years old.  I loved it instantly — not for it’s 19th century charm or hardwood floors — but for the short row of toy trucks that I found neatly aligned along the baseboard of the living room.  Otherwise, the house was completely empty.

    As it turns out, the toys belonged to a five year old rascal of a kid who lived up the street.  The house had been empty for some time, and the hardwood floors made a great arena for truck racing.  That kid came to be like family to me.  We grew up together, we shared everything (including those trucks after he’d come to collect them).  The laughs, pain, and awkward moments of adolescence; the fear, then obsession with girls, bikes, swimming, baseball, swimming, hot rods.  Everything.

    Josh and I have been close friends nearly all our lives.  Today, he lives about 45 minutes away with his wife and three children.  We get together often, and stay in close contact nearly all the time.  Not a week goes by without one or the other of us checking in for a chat, at least by phone.

    On Monday, Josh took the day off from work to drive up north to visit his Mom in the hospital, as she is recovering from open heart surgery.  Sometime around 9:00 am,  Josh’s car drifted into the center divide of Interstate 505. He overcorrected, and when the car reached the opposite embankment, it rolled several times.  At this hour, he lies in an intensive care unit here in Sacramento, fighting for his life.  Fortunately, he was found quickly and flown to one of the finest trauma units in the western US (UC Davis Medical Center).  Josh arrived there as ‘Fred Doe’ with a broken pelvis, leg, and clavicle, flail chest, brain swelling, and severe internal injuries (collapsed lung, bilateral pulmonary contusions, contused liver and spleen).  His wife didn’t find out until about 3:00 PM, after they’d identified him.  I got a call from my wife at about 4:15, as I walked across the parking lot to my car.  I’ve been at his side almost non-stop since, doing all that I can (which is infuriatingly little).


    Josh is the absolute best kind of friend, a great man, a devoted and doting father, a prankster quick with a smile, and a genuinely generous and caring soul.  Apart from my own parents, no single human being has ever tolerated my existence more than he has.  He has always been there for me, on my brightest days and amidst my darkest nights.  He has earned my eternal respect, love, and gratitude.  

    I am truly sorry for your relative Brit, and wish them a speedy recovery.  Let us all remember to cherish our friends and family, as much as we can, and at all times.  Ultimately, they are everything.  Most else is completely forgettable.

  10. spacemanspiff

    I never comment over there but my trigger finger is itchy.

    That place is a hot mess. I’ve noticed it is cyclical. nyceve and slinkerwink are reaaally out of hand. The are really pushing their luck. Meteor Blades has banned bigger personalities before and he won’t hesitate to do it again.

    So much delicious flames and trolling going on.

    Must resist…

    Must not…

  11. HappyinVT

    here’s a fun fact for you: the Baltimore Orioles (that’s a baseball team, Brit)  🙂 is guaranteed to have it’s first winning August since … 1997!  It’s also the first winning month, period, since June or July last year.

    I may be a Yankees fan but it does my heart good to see the Os win some games.  My brother, Baltimore fan since he played Little League in the 70s, calls me a “pity fan.”  I’d think they’d take whatever fans they can get at this point.

  12. fogiv

    local (to me) music writer takes Beck to the woodshed over the ‘restoring honor’ rally:

    Glenn Beck is an asshole. There. I’ve said it, and I’m not going to mince any words. Because any hot-button talk radio opportunist of the Caucasian variety who stages a “Restoring Honor,” i.e. a “Taking Back America,” rally on the very steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, and on the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, and who compounds this middle-finger salute to a large swath of America, not just people of color but white people too, by inviting the quitter and fellow opportunist loudmouth Sarah Palin to also deliver a speech, is a hemorrhoidal, pus-infested butthole of the lowest order.

    Whole thing is worth a read:


  13. DTOzone

    he was in the US to lend his support to those who are seeking justice for the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre in India.

    He had a message of religious tolerance for the American people. The more I read about what happened in India in 1984, the more it doesn’t seem so far-fetched here anymore.  

  14. louisprandtl

    My mother was born in this month. I travelled to Ohio and Maryland, saw some cutting edge work in nanotechnology at couple of Universities in Ohio. Met some great graduate students from Korea, India, China and France. Very few American grad students are getting trained in the technology of tomorrow.

    My summer classes ended. It was great teaching after eight years. I had lots of fun teaching till I caught one student openly plagarizing his project and final exams. It soured the whole experience.

    I was offered a new position this month which I’m likely to take and move to a mid Atlantic state sometime next month.

  15. spacemanspiff

    March On!

    Commentary by Black Kos Editor Deoliver47

    Last year I posted a diary called Coalition Building 101 , calling for a massive march on Washington, using the image from the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

    On October 2, 2010 a broad based coalition is doing just that, and I was pleased to see that there was a diary on the rec list, by oxfdblu linking to the information about that effort.

    Go check out the rest of it over at Daily Kos!

  16. Shaun Appleby

    Nothing quite captures the heroic futility and the ‘end of days’ quality of the Great War quite like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s August 1914.  For those with a penchant for the historical and ironic, not to mention it’s a crash course in the social swerves and shifts of the early 20th Century and the intricacies of dour Russian political philosophy, it is not to be missed.

    An excellent beach holiday book for when you are relaxed and feel like contemplating the grim, inexorable but liberating hand of fate laid on us without prejudice.  Oh, the sands of time…  And the tragedies, as Hubie has noted, which free our souls from the past.

    Pass the coconut butter and a Marguerita, please…

  17. Hollede

    and I am kind of glad. I suspect now things will begin to pick up around here again. Summer is a slow time for all things political (thus the traditional nutty goodness of most August’s8~), but we have an election here in just two short months, and we really need to get our asses in gear. Either that, or say helloooo to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell.

    So please, will someone write a diary to kick off the real political season for us. Motivate us. Tell why it matters to get excited about and vote in the upcoming elections.

    Anyone, please write some sort of “September to Action” diary. I can’t do it, ’cause it looks stupid to have three Hollede diaries in row:~P

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