(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY MAY 30, 2018) — Social media and the 24/7 “talking heads” news cycle have robbed too many citizens of the precious ability to critically think. Young people, millennials and greener, have proven especially vulnerable to this given the evidentiary witness of short attention spans, zero newspaper usage, heavy video game use, an obsession with quick-cut popular media, a loss of sensitivity, an unhealthy self-absorption characterized by an entitled, “everyone-gets-a-medal” mentality on the one hand and a scary self-loathing on the other, plus little to no content that challenges them mentally and intellectually.  THE PLANET generalizes here the make the rhetorical point that serious consideration of the many issues that face local, state, and national governments has been assigned to the past tense.

A great example occurred over the Memorial Day weekend, when  President Trump’s lack of military service became an “issue.” Trump isn’t the first and won’t be the last President without doing his pushups for Uncle Sugar. Stop the presses! Lincoln didn’t serve, either. Just as they didn’t want a monarchy, the Founding Fathers clearly didn’t want military service or a military mindset as a necessary condition for the Commander in Chief. They saw the wisdom in keeping it strictly a sufficient condition. Moreover, they didn’t believe in forcing military service on citizens. They clearly wanted civilians in control of the executive branch, and rightly so. While a strong military remains vital for the autonomy of any nation, only civilian reigns can insure that a white-walled bull headedness doesn’t perform a bloodless coup that THE PLANET sees as having already taken place.

The five-star general himself warned in his outgoing presidential speech of the scary “military-industrial complex” that even in 1960 cast its lugubrious shadow over freedom and civil liberties. This menace, one that killed JFK in 1963, has had one overriding objective: To keep America on a constant war footing. Thus, the Cold War (1946-1990) morphed into the War on Terrorism (1990 to present). Only a separation of powers has kept the war mongers in some kind of check.

The more the President of the United States remains a civilian, the more America can avoid the dangerous sort of “homeland security” rhetoric and outright bullspit we hear each Memorial Day from becoming routine chat. The fancy words we hear draped in Kate Smith has sent more young men to their death than Grand Theft Auto. Thank a veteran for his or her service. Yes. But do not praise the war machine. There has never been nor will there be a “moral war.” Wars that have to be fought only reflect a slightly higher ethical plane than those fought for some combination of material, geographical, economic, or political gain.

THE PLANET has known (and loved) many veterans, including those who saw combat in and under hellish conditions. Not one of them has wanted to be called a hero. Not one of them came out of the experience as a fan of war. They didn’t want honors or parades. They loathed speeches and jingoism. They didn’t want to be singled out for something that many, in the times of conscription, were forced to do against their will. The only ones we’ve known who wanted the silver helmets and signed certificates were those who spent their time flying desks in “peacetime” — you know, the phony brave. As for the veterans who paid a steep price, we should never glorify what they did as anything other than their duty, because they don’t want us to. They don’t want to get all choked up by patriotic music, marching bands, or the empty words of politicians and speakers just for doing their best to save their hides.

The more we Glorify the inglorious, the more we “God Bless America” when there isn’t a God, a blessing, or a United States, the more we engage in pointless discussions that dominate the age and put the Republic in greater danger.


“Fresh dawns of new days: THERE is your blessing, general” — Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice.



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  1. dusty
    May 29, 2018 at 11:26 pm #

    It is fine with me if a president has never served in the military. But if such a person disparages those who have and do serve, I have a problem with that. Also, if that man is a coward, I have a problem with that. And if that person chooses to start conflicts which are wholly unnecessary resulting in the deaths of real soldiers, I have a problem with that.

    • Bull Durham
      May 30, 2018 at 7:16 am #

      I agree, Dusty, service in the military shouldn’t be a benchmark for a president, but that president should also not choose to denigrate those who did serve, such as John McCain, and shouldn’t use his speech before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers to tout what he claims is ‘his’ record. We’ve had a mixed history with presidents who were also soldiers. Washington, Ike and JFK and others on one side, Grant, a great soldier, miserable president, Nixon, Naval officer, terrible president on the other, and there are many other examples. And by the way, while Lincoln did not serve in the US Army, he did serve briefly in the Illinois militia as a Captain and served in the Blackhawk War (though he didn’t see any action).

      • danvalenti
        May 30, 2018 at 7:26 am #

        Good observations. I didn’t know about Lincoln’s service in the militia.

        • dusty
          May 30, 2018 at 10:46 am #

          Still though Lincoln did kind of die representing his country

          • 12 Gauge
            May 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

            Lincoln died representing railroad and canal interests. That’s far different than giving ug
            P the ghost for your country.

          • the Real SHH
            May 31, 2018 at 5:38 am #

            Is there a conspiracy theory you don’t believe in?

  2. The school committee
    May 30, 2018 at 1:19 am #

    We spend 800 billion on weapons and people to use those weapons.Our commander in chief should be respectful of the a prisoner of war.Our prisoners of war should know his President will not devalue his loyalty to his country in the media for the world to see.The president should not be ignorant.

    • dusty
      May 30, 2018 at 2:38 am #

      Are you kidding? This guy INVENTED ignorant!

  3. The school committee
    May 30, 2018 at 3:42 am #

    Yes he did,he knows words lots and lots of words and they are really good words and he stated some of them are big big words.

    • Mr. Fritz
      May 30, 2018 at 4:11 am #

      Exhibit A – critical thinking. I rest my case.

  4. The school committee
    May 30, 2018 at 3:46 am #

    Fox is now saying the president lies alot.

  5. Jonathan Melle
    May 30, 2018 at 4:35 am #

    What is the USA’s #1 non-farm export? Answer: Weapons of war! That’s right. We arm the World with weapons of war. When the Cold War ended in the early 1990’s, the USA gained market share in weapons exports after the Russian economy collapsed. Who do we think we are kidding? Our nation loves war, weapons, and money!

    • The school committee
      May 30, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

      We have to live in fear and have a enemy for our economy to work

  6. Still Wondering
    May 30, 2018 at 5:20 am #

    Peace through strength. Did you know that 17 U.S. citizens held as hostage/bargaining chips have been released since the beginning of Trump’s presidency? And not a penny paid as ransom (unlike the Obama/God).
    MAGA… fulfilling campaign promises since 2016

  7. Pat
    May 30, 2018 at 5:55 am #

    Also a public school system and colleges that purposely do not teach critical thinking skills anymore. Instead students are taught to follow the herd, go with what’s popular, don’t question anything, and anyone who thinks differently from you is suspect and should be either kicked off campus or publicly shamed. Students are receiving an education that is very superficial and discourages any kind of deep thinking. This is the kind of learning environment that a liberal education is giving to students.

    • Mr. G
      May 30, 2018 at 7:07 am #

      Pat, this is simply not true, at least not at the college level. I agree that most teachers are liberals…or they likely would not have gone into such a service-based profession. If you wanna change the way things are taught in local public schools, become a teacher and get some of your regressive friends to do likewise. In college, while the banning of a couple of high profile, incendiary speakers made headlines over the past couple of years, most campuses welcome dissent, debate and teach critical thinking quite well. There are plenty of right-wing campus organizations that are very active and not squelched. Again, I think the problem you are perceiving is another case of demographics and numbers. More college students, and more young people in general are, and always have been liberal and progressive-minded. They are still optimistic, filled with hope and the belief that they can change things.

  8. Mr. G
    May 30, 2018 at 6:57 am #

    Dan, thank you for this. I feel precisely the same. Honor those who served, but NOT the war machine. And there has indeed been a bloodless coup. In fact, it really looks to me like the ongoing, constant buffoonery of the current administration is a planned distraction; “…look over there…that guy is saying some REALLY nutty things…” all the while the economy is being driven by the defense contractors who are in super-high gear and practically giddy with cash euphoria. The most poignant line above though is, “Moreover, they didn’t believe in forcing military service on citizens.” I think if the puppet masters have their way (and this is not a party thing – “they” have been ascendently in control for decades, it is just becoming more obvious or perhaps they just feel secrecy is no longer necessary) there will be forced military service again in the very near future.

    Thing two, I firmly believe that at least part of the problem with today’s significantly more entitled youth is the expectation levels put on them in school and in society in general. The bar is set VERY low and then the kids are not held to even those expectations.

    Finally, isn’t it reins? I say that only because I have seen reigns substituted several times recently to meas the strings that control a horse, or metaphorically, the strings that control whatever and I am starting to wonder if the Websters changed something on me and I missed it. Or was it one of your…inscrutable puns?!?

    • danvalenti
      May 30, 2018 at 7:29 am #

      MR G
      Great comments. Yes, it was one of my little puns. I throw these things in to amuse myself. I had one in the previous post as well. I liked “reigns” for its implication of a monarchal control. I also love when readers are sharp enough to catch and enjoy them!

      “When the reign comes, they run and hide their heads” — The Beatles

      • Thomas More
        May 30, 2018 at 11:23 am #

        I can’t agree G. I don’t know where you get the idea that the expectation levels on the kids are lower than ever. The competition to get into a good college is as high as or higher than its ever been. To say that kids are held to the lowest of expectations is a huge generalization. There are plenty of good kids out there from whom much is expected and they do perform. Back in my high school time which was very long time ago the laziest kid in the school could graduate and walk over to Kellogg St. and get a job in the shop as it was called. North Adams State was $75.00 a semester and $600.00 got you a BS and a job. As much as you may think it is, it’s no picnic being a kid today.

        • The school committee
          May 30, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

          True,they are smarter ,personable and nobody’s fool.Most college grads are progressive.

          • 12 Gauge
            May 31, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

            Exactly what is a progressive in your mind? This should be good.

  9. NIB
    May 30, 2018 at 8:47 am #

    Let me remind everyone that Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hirohito all served in the military before ruling their countries.
    How’d that all turn out?

    • 12 Gauge
      May 31, 2018 at 6:55 pm #

      And Teddy Kennedy served in the war on women.

  10. H
    May 30, 2018 at 10:53 am #

    How about W? And Cheney? Very upset with Councilor Mazzeo last night, she stated late into the session how J I’ve didn’t take a pay increase? That is all she had on her mind at that late hour. Jiv showed us last night why he gets the big bucks, he even out shined Benke, who perennially kicks ass.

    • dusty
      May 30, 2018 at 2:04 pm #

      Mazzeo really said that? And did the superintendent blush and say “aww shucks mamn”?

      that is like thanking the addict for not stealing his mothers purse

  11. The school committee
    May 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    The councilors represent those that can pay tax increases.No balls

  12. h
    May 30, 2018 at 1:07 pm #

    Tune in to the G-Man tonight and get real news. City Council and the bootlickers on Early Show have no shame. Mazzeo should resign along with Cindy and all the rest on the school committee, Cameron should fo live in Bermudaand take flip flop DTR with him

  13. The school committee
    May 30, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    The time to consolidate is not now says McCandless, we have SPEDin all the sick buildings

  14. dusty
    May 31, 2018 at 12:51 am #

    There was an article in a recent local newspaper in which McCandless states that he looks at school consolidation “with serious regularity”. Whatever that means.

    He also talks about the increase in the school budget and about the increased amount of disadvantaged kids…some of which have no boots. Perhaps they have no boots because the school taxes are so high that the parents cannot afford boots. Or maybe the parents cannot afford boots because the kids cell phones cost so much.

    He also mentioned that 12.5 percent of the Pittsfield students choose to school outside of his system but he does not discuss why.

    Either way, he got his annual increase and is probably doing an Irish jig to the ABBA tune MONEY MONEY MONEY.

    • NIB
      May 31, 2018 at 11:27 am #

      Or the kids don’t have boots because the parents are too high to dress them properly, or spent their money on drugs instead, or the kid just didn’t want to wear them.
      He won’t mention the why on the 12.5% because he’s part of the reason why.

  15. Spagirl
    May 31, 2018 at 3:02 am #

    School consolidations will eventually have to happen. Mr. Superintendant and Mary Tyler Moore will have no choice, but all is well in Pittsfield. There are no problems here. It’s summer!! The tourists are coming.

  16. The school committee
    May 31, 2018 at 3:26 am #

    This budget like all budgets is in the end your ward councilors budget and not 1 councilor will cut the budget.The coyncil has got to say to McCandless that your operating with 2 million less.All other accounts are not real as we see last year salt and sand cost 1 million more than budgeted,this year Police OT 200k short……
    Mrs Behnke called all school principles and told them that they all had 200k to spend just weeks ago do they could clear the books without giving this money back.Councilor Simonelli is aware of this practice and they all pretend it does not happen.This extra ,yes extra money is spent irresponsibly by the schools…..ask why she does this every year……that is your Police OT

    • dusty
      May 31, 2018 at 4:50 am #

      The mayor could get a handle on this……if she wanted to. If she cared enough but


  17. Ron Kitterman
    May 31, 2018 at 6:27 am #

    I don’t think we’ve seen a civilian in the white house since Harry Truman drove away with his wife in their 54 Buick and waved good bye to 3 people watching

    • Thomas More
      May 31, 2018 at 10:32 am #

      Good story Ron except that Harry Truman left Washington on a train to Independence, MO. This was in January of 1953, many months before the 54 Buicks hit the showroom.He was also in the army for a time during WWI.

      • 12 Gauge
        May 31, 2018 at 6:48 pm #

        Truman was also in the KKK. It’s a democrat thing.

  18. Fugimoto Hockalugi
    May 31, 2018 at 7:07 am #

    The 13 Presidents who did not serve in the military are: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William J. Clinton and Barack H. Obama and Donald Trump.

    • dusty
      May 31, 2018 at 10:59 am #

      and the next one, later this year, will be Mike Pence who probably would not be accepted in the military anyway

  19. h
    May 31, 2018 at 11:04 am #

    So trump didn’t think countries wouldn’t fight fire with fire with his tariff war, he has created. Canada now imposing a tariff, and they’re our ally. this clown needs to be removed

    • NIB
      May 31, 2018 at 11:23 am #

      We import far more than we export. Our trade deficit with Canada was 12-14 billion in 2016 alone. Tariffs won’t hurt us. Do the math if you are able. Or do you think if you give someone a dollar and they give you a nickle you are making out well?

      • The real Shakes His Head
        May 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm #

        Our Federal Government budget is what, 4 Trillion dollars a year? that 14 billion trade defecit really killed us

      • h
        May 31, 2018 at 5:15 pm #

        Canada’s our closest Allie,lighten up.

        • Herb Pease
          May 31, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

          The are our number one source of hockey pucks eh.

          • danvalenti
            May 31, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

            Didn’t Don Rickles invent the hockey puck?

          • danvalenti
            May 31, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

            Didn’t Don Rickles invent the hockey puck?

  20. CosbiesLadies
    May 31, 2018 at 11:10 am #

    If you missed Gaetani’s Show last night you can stream at next Monday or Tuesday, he compared the size of city government in 1970 compared to 2018. The difference was glaring.

    He states that thecity must trim their budget by seven percent per year for four years.He identify’s how to do it and it is must see t v for the intelligent. hewas a wildly successful businessman and we should heed his words. He has the E P A on the ropes now, and we should see them coming to Pittsfield soon, there is no one like Faetani in this city.

  21. mi
    May 31, 2018 at 11:35 am #

    I seen the show. He’s my new guy. A question though, would he be allowed by Law to cut every department by seven percent, thought the state has constraints on that. I am with him on that, and like the idea of the water situation he proposes and the idea also of zero tax increase!

  22. Trumped Up
    May 31, 2018 at 12:01 pm #

    I’d vote for him with those promises, but really, election is a couple years away. We need to support him now with the water, rates would be a killer for my Family.

    Support the Trump tariffs. Canada has not always been the ideal partners to the U S and can remember G E shipping parts to Canada to be reworked which resulted I. Job loss for us here.

    • Spagirl
      May 31, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

      Now it’s a tariff war. The U.S. will not have an ally left.

  23. dusty
    May 31, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    One of the best parts of the Trump policies is that he is not going to waste a lot of taxpayer money on stupit stuff like fixing roads and bridges. Soon the whole country will have roads as nice as Pittsfield and everyone can hold their heads high. Other countries will be SOOoooo jealous.

    • Spagirl
      May 31, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

      Now it’s a tariff war. The U.S. will not have an ally left.

  24. Edward R. Murrow
    May 31, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

    1. Lincoln did serve–the Black Hawk War?

    2. I note that a succession of war heroes lost a presidential election:
    1992–GHW Bush to Billy Bob draft dodger
    1996–Bob Dole to ditto
    2000–McCain lost nomination to Nat’l-Guard-but-really-worked-to-avoid-Vietnam W.
    2004–John Kerry (well, he did serve)
    2008–McCain loses to that “stoner from Hawaii”
    2012–neither served
    2016–neither served

    3. Otherwise in the 20th century:

    I don’t think Harding served, Pretty sure Coolidge didn’t. FDR had a desk job in WWI. Truman served in WWI. Ike, of course, did. JFK did (PT-109 happened? didn’t happen? JFK screwed the whole thing up?)
    LBJ took one flight to Asia ( and the plane took fire) during WWII and then FDR told him to get his ass back here because that ain’t good for a sitting Congressman to do. Nixon, I believe, served in WWII in the navy. Ford, not sure, but I think service in WWII. Carter was in the navy but not sure where/when. Reagan was “too old” but did films for Uncle.

    3. “executive branch in control of civilians”–you mean the reverse, I’m sure.

    4. Mob killed JFK for sleeping with the boss’s girlfriend–and not putting a lid on Bobby, as if the mob didn’t help in 1960. Cooke County, anyone?

    • danvalenti
      May 31, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

      We have corrected #3. Thanks for pointing out our error.

    • danvalenti
      May 31, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

      We have corrected #3. Thanks for pointing out our error.

  25. H
    May 31, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

    Where have you gone…Ed Muskie?